blog

from island to island

Liam on ballet

We’re reading a Horrid Henry story where he’s doing ballet, so I say “hey, maybe you should try that?” Liam say “Ballet’s for girls.” “Some boys do ballet,” I said. “I’m not the sort of boy who does ballet,” was his...

Sunday Walk: Laddersedge Country Park, Leek

A little different this one – mostly along side  what seems like a stream but is I believe a canal feeder canal on one side and Leek golf club on the other. Still, pleasant enough. Where it gets a little interesting is when you cross the stream and climb up into the woods – there’s a beautiful woodland  (lots of bluebells in Spring!). Parking is either on the left or lower down the hill on the right. Both are signposted off the A53 south of Leek. More details to...

Sunday Walk: Deep Hayes Country Park, Leek

And what a hidden gem this one is! We drove right past it going to last week’s walk at Laddersedge. It’s a little south of Leek, off the A53 Stoke road. Turn right into the park just after the canal bridge, and there’s a spacious car park at the visitor’s centre by the lower pond. Good choice of walks, which are signed by the usual posts painted various colours. We circled the lake and crossed via the ‘stepping stones’, then down to the canal side walk.  All in all a good walk, especially enjoyed by Liam because it wasn’t too far or too...

Sunset bike ride

Caught this sunset on my evening bike ride behind Biddulph Grange Garden yesterday, on what might be one of the last, post-work twilight rides. Goodbye summer, it’s been...

Tumbleweed Connection, Sussex

It was my favourite album as a teenager, and it still stands the test of time. But on idly reviewing the album on Wikipedia today, one thing struck me now that didn’t 40 years ago. The album cover photo, which at the time seemed so evocative of the American West, is so clearly England. Bluebell Railway in Sussex in fact. The ‘Daily Telegraph’ advert is the giveaway. (Photo from...

A Ride around Shutlingsloe

Started at The Hanging Gate pub. Up the hill a little, then left onto a steeper bit.  Passing a stone cross on the left, get to the top and then it’s downhill. Only don’t do as I did, and take a left halfway down – it just goes to a farm!   Instead, continue downhill past a couple of old quarries-turned-carparks, then left into the valley that is Wildboarclough. It’s a great, gentle climb alongside the stream (what is the headwaters of the River Dane, lower down). Then it’s a sharp left and a very steep climb up towards the Chapel. At the top, you can go down on the road into the forest, or left on the bridleway. I went left, and down into Macc Forest. I kept left, down and up, and came out on to the road above Ridgegate Reservoir that heads back up towards the Hanging Gate. Total time: 1hr 15 total distance: 9 miles...

Best Analytics Metrics for 2016, Part I

I’m often asked what are the key Metrics to look at within the wealth of data that Google Analytics offers. My answer is this: anything, so long as you drill down to some more meaningful level. For instance, of course Bounce Rate is a fairly useful indicator of how engaging a page is – but not particularly for your site overall. So a good, indeed essential, use of BR is say at the Landing Page Report level. Better still, refine that report to view high traffic pages that have a BR of say over 50%, and straight away you have a hit list of pages you should look at with a view to reducing BR and pulling visitors further into your site. After all, you’ve done something right to acquire the traffic, maximise it (by adding a clear Call To...

Always Segment!

Custom or advanced segments give you the real insights within Analytics.  Off the shelf reports are fair starting points, but every business is unique, so one of the key building blocks for good GA are segments. For instance, image how better the insights will be from the Landing Page Report if you segment by Demographics and/or device… Or picture the power of a segment that refines your E-Commerce goals by Traffic Source! As always, the GA Gallery is a great repository of segments that can be adapted to you particular...

“Because I don’t like them”

So it’s Liam’s birthday party. Someone asks “Why are there no girls here?” Liam “Because I don’t like girls.” And everyone went...

Grammatically Ambivalent

I love the way kids are ambivalent. They can happily tell you one thing in one breath, then the oppositie in the next. So I’m asking Liam about his Afterschool afternoon, and what he had to eat. “Cheese sandwich. But it had cucumbers on it. So I asked the dinner lady to take it off.” What did she say? “Nothing. She said ‘Just eat it'”. And: Liam: “There were other kids there in uniforms like mine.” Me: “So they were in red sweaters?” “Yes. They were...

Cornwall

From our recent trip to Cornwall. On the sea wall at Charleston.

And I would cycle 1,000 miles…

And I have! I’ve just clocked up the 1,000 miles mark for 2015, almost all done on my commute to & from work. Because I don’t care for riding in the dark, I limit my commuting to BST, so yesterday saw, I think, my list commute for the year. And courtesy of a cool site called the Strava Multiple Ride Mapper here’s a map of the year’s...

Possibly the best Android Home Screen replacement

I’ve tried many replacement home screen launchers for Android, but have recently found and fallen in love with Themer http://themerapp.com I was driven by a desire to lose the Lollipop Google Search box on the top of every page – something I used rarely and that took up a lot of screen real estate, and Themer deals with this perfectly. With hundreds of themes to choose from, I found myself switching to a new theme several times a day before settling on a favourite. There’s a split between themes that deliver all you’ll need on just one screen (which is quite a challenge considering all they need to do), or themes that show elements over 3 or so screens. The challenge is to find one that shows what’s important to you – I need easy access to my fave apps, the weather, and a big clock. Many of the themes focus on screens for weather, news and the media player.   I’ve barely tweaked the theme or played with the built in widgets, but that’s entirely possible. Overall, its a brilliant app. And it’s...

Remarketing gone crazy

Here are some fine examples of bad remarketing. Giffgaff As a happy customer with several SIM cards, I don’t need another. Remarket me a top up, a phone, anything but a SIM card. Wrong: targeting visitors who logged on with products they are bound to have. Better: showcase optional products or services to people who log in Gumtree I’m selling a car, I don’t need to see 3 cars for sale. Unless for comparison purposes, but I did that when creating the ad. Wrong: target visitors who searched for a type of car, regardless of status. Better: target free ads with paid options/upgrades.   In short, there are so many pitfalls with remarketing, but there are also many ways to avoid them. Try setting exclusions, or frequency-capping the number of times an ad is shown to one user. There’s a great resource on remarketing...

Still waiting for the Windows 10 upgrade?

Wait no longer! If you visit http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10ISO you’ll be able to speed up the process. While this page will also let you create an ISO image, it’s main value is in forcing the W10 update.

Running commentary

In which Liam is encouraged to provide a commentary on our walk around Adlington Hall, Cheshire....

Using the new Google Tag Manager

The latest incarnation of the Google Tag Manager make it a must-do to implement for Universal Analytics. Easy to use, easy to deploy, and it make a whole load of analytics features a dream to implement. For instance, in the old days we’d put our analytics code into the site, then add event tracking code like: ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘button’, ‘click’, ‘nav buttons’, 4); to a link. With GTM, we have no need to add any other code beyond the overarching GTM code. Everything else is done within the Tag Manager console.   Here’s a quick step-by-step guide. 1. Create an account and a per-website Container, and add the GTM code to the top of the pages. 2. Create the general Universal Analytics tag. Tags are the things that get fired by triggers, so the one tag you need firing across the site is this tag, so make sure the Trigger is set to fire on ‘All Pages’! 3. Then for more specific actions, we need to create Trigger-Tag pairs: in other words, a Trigger to fire a Tag.  So set up a Trigger that fires when there’s a click of a link to an external website, and a associated Tag that makes this trigger create an Event. 4. Finally, don’t forget to Publish!   More to...