A blog meet-up on the beach?

Friends of ours own some amazing gites in La Rochelle and have finally set up a blog and website to promote them a bit. They have some free slots available this summer so take a look by clicking here!

La Rochelle has hundreds and possibly thousands of holiday homes available to rent and this year with 11 direct flights from the UK and Ireland, La Rochelle is set to be busier then ever. If you wanted to have a relaxing week or two surrounded by sunflower fields, our pals gites are perfect (this year in any case, the crops can be rotated!).

What is a gite? It is basically a self-contained house or apartment (generally house with large grounds) with every utensil required to spend a few weeks living like a local or relaxing in peace. In the USA I guess these are called Villas or Condo’s to rent?

Why am I promoting their website and blog? They are friends, I want their website and business to succeed and more importantly, would love to meet more fuelmyblog people in La Rochelle this summer. Thomas Hamburger Jnr is popping in for a cafe, who else?!

So this got me thinking of hosting a blog meet up on the beach in La Rochelle, with free wine and wifi organised and we could even live blog it! Here is a link to the local airport, ryanair are a great source of cheap flights, I fly with them almost weekly and often pay £30 return including tax.. So now there is no excuse, free wine, oysters and wifi, with my friend’s gite and hopefully good company, this could be a Pimms moment!

Take a look at the gite if interested, drop them a line. If you fancy meeting up in La Rochelle, drop me one 😉

10 top tips for using Google

I have been busy recently and have failed to keep up with this blog, I intend to get back up to speed over the next few days.

Moving on from my post yesterday about what Google would do if they bought Fuelmyblog on the Fuel blog, it made me think about Google and the fact that many people simply use it to search, so, here are ten tips on using Google and making it a better experience.

  1. Calculator – Type in a maths problem, Google will show the answer, and this works both in numbers eg (1+33)*2 and words one plus thirty three times two, it will even do a combination eg  1 plus thirty three, *2.  Go on, try it!
  2. Precision Search – Using quotes will return an exact search,  removing them will return an assortment of unrelated pages.
  3. Dictionary –  Type define then any English word, the result will give you a quick dictionary definition.
  4. Maps – Type a town or city, sometimes with a County or State and Google will produce a map, click on it you can view driving directions, satellite views etc.
  5. Books – Go to books.google.com type in a writer or book title, and view the scanned book online.
  6. News – Go to news.google.com type in a subject and see up to date news results.
  7. Alerts – If you want to see who is writing about you, your blog or anything of interest, go to the following link here, then simply type in the search terms ie fuelmyblog, determine the type, I prefer comprehensive (search everywhere) and get an update via email as it happens, you can then track everyone that mentions your subject.
  8. Weather – Want to search weather easily?  Simply type weather followed by the name of the place ie weather la rochelle, hit return!
  9. Lucky? – If you have never tried it, typing a site name eg fuelmyblog in the search box followed by clicking I’m Feeling Lucky will take you there direct, no search results.
  10. Link – Who is linking to you?  Type link: followed by your URL and see who links to you eg link:fuelmyblog.com.

There, ten simple Google tips, if you have any other gems, leave them in the comments, Enjoy!

Trains with Wifi

This blog is not going to read like a diary of events from day one of founding Fuelmyblog, that would make a great book!

I want to write about other experiences and findings that I feel either help the community or all of us in day to day life. My post today was going to be all about the first coder I found for Fuelmyblog. I’ll put that off until next time.

Right now I am sitting on a train at 10pm UK time traveling down from Wakefield back into London. Wakefield is in the North of England, you can see on the map below, the journey back to Hertfordshire (near London).   It takes around 2 and a half hours, and it is now 10pm.

map of Uk

What is so incredible for me is that now, I find myself working at 10pm (in fact I find myself working at 3am lots too!). In previous “real jobs” when I finished work at 5.30pm, I would now be collapsed in front of the TV, trying to put to bed the fears and disruptions the next day would bring.

Not now, I am traveling on a National Express train and have to say, it is really great. I feel compelled to write about them and their service. The coaches are clean, comfortable and “silent”, people are asked to turn mobile/cell phones to silent and respect others when they answer the phone. It is pleasant and the only sounds are the gentle tapping of laptop keys.  Right now, I have a vicar sitting beside me reading what looks like a bible, and another guy sleeping in front of me. The overall ambience is of total relaxation and strangely calming.

From time to time, a buffet cart passes by with the server quietly and respectfully asking if you would like anything. I missed my first train this morning due to a total lack of parking, instead of paying over £100 for a new ticket, the guy on the service desk managed to play with things and found me a way of only charging me £30.  Expensive but in fairness a good saving and something they didn’t have to do.  When you are miles away from home (right now, over a thousand) it is nice to feel relaxed and in control, National Express Trains seem to have created this.

Oh and the Wifi is free of charge..Yes, I am writing this using good solid Wifi at over 100 miles per hour, my ears are popping from time to time but the web is constant! I would totally recommend anyone visiting the UK to take these trains, you will not find a more pleasant mode of transport in the UK, by booking online you can make huge savings, I paid £30 return today, this can be found for as little as £18 return, which from London to Scotland could be a great deal.  If you book your train tickets on the day of travel this could cost over £200 each way..be very careful!  The site can be found here

Technology has enabled us to connect with one and other in ways it would never have been possible just ten years ago. I am glad that services such as trains are embracing technology and helping us stay connected, without the wifi, I couldn’t have said goodnight to the kids via webcam on Skype, had a chat with a friend in LA on twitter and emailed a guy in Australia.

This is not a sponsored post!  I just write about great service and things that I feel everyone should know about, if a service is bad, should I write about it or forget about it and never use them again? So please help me here, should I write about the odd product or service that is bad? Do you/Would you?

Next up..Kanhai, the coder from India..

First Post is the hardest

This blog is going to provide a useful insight towards starting an online community from behind the scenes. In January 2007 I started a blog community called Fuelmyblog. Since then, many things have changed and I have spoken to a huge number of good people from diverse backgrounds.

My work and career background is in sales. I was the Sales Manager of a very profitable computer reseller called Vitesse Plc for seven years, we were based in London, during my final year at this company, I implemented and introduced an online ordering system, we turned over £500k of sales in the first year online, which amounted to 5% of our overall sales that year. Prior to that role I worked in a bank, sold cars to businesses and was a Private Investigator for one year. Every role I have ever taken has taught me many lessons. None, however, more than running an online start-up.

I had zero experience of how to market a website nor did I have any experience of the players in the internet, two key success factors. I have simply applied all the skills I learned from selling to private individuals and businesses and the aftercare and service that is required to keep customers happy, becoming an expert takes time, keeping people happy takes care and attention.

From an outsiders view, working on the internet is fun, easy and can be very very profitable. The truth..? The truth is that I am writing this post on a Saturday afternoon. I worked on Christmas day and have not had one day off in just over one year, no bank holidays, no weekends. Nothing. Do I regret anything? Not at all.

Why blog it? There is no better way of telling a story or communicating than blogging, blogging is no longer the future, it is here, now and should be embraced by everyone.

I will try to post regularly on this blog, it will be a mixture of experiences, lessons learned and people and sites discovered.