March 2012

I started my blog back in December 2010 and it's still going strong. I've posted at least once post a month since then, so feel free to browse through the archives.

Astrolight 1.2 Update

My Astrolight red flashlight application has been updated to keep the screen from locking. I had heard from users that sometimes they wanted to set the phone down while playing with cameras and eyepieces – but when they went back to the phone they’d have to unlock again. Which could be pretty bright depending on your wallpaper! Get it from the Windows Phone Marketplace.

New Moon in March 2012

Last night I went to Scarborough for some ‘Astro Dog Astronomy‘ and took these lovely pictures of the New Moon in March 2012.

This photo was actually taken with a lens borrowed from Annette Newby – thanks! It looks great, and you can see a close up below.

As well ask the new moon, Jupiter and Venus were pretty close by giving us the fantastic view of these two great planets that we have been used to for the last few months. Venus is on top in this photograph…

And how could I resist getting a close up picture of Jupiter with three of its largest moons in view.

I had a great night, and I also managed some firsts. While I had seen the phases of Venus before, I’d never seen them with such clarity, and a definite first was seeing detail on Mars (including ice caps and dark features!) Very impressive.

Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse

I’ve been using the Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse around three weeks now, so I feel like I’ve got a good idea of what I think about it.

Overall, it’s a great little mouse. Very portable, very simple – however it has one weak spot which really annoys me, though I should be used to it by now…

Here are the mice I use today from left to right:

Out of these three mice only the Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 has good and consistent middle click capability. While the Arc Touch Mouse does actually support middle click, it’s not very good.

When you want to scroll (the equivalent of the mouse wheel) you slide your finger up and down the touch strip. I’m quite happy with this, it works pretty well. There’s even a vibration built in to give you some feedback. You can also tap at either end to page-up and page-down, or give it a swift swipe to enable kinetic scrolling to speed things up.

But to middle click you need to double tap right in the centre of this touch stip, and sometimes it just doesn’t seem to work. I find this most frustrating when trying to close multiple tabs in Visual Studio or Internet Explorer – you’re doing twice the clicks and half the time it doesn’t work as expected.

However, seeing as the magic mouse doesn’t even support middle click, I should be used to it by now. I just think it’s a shame that the touch strip isn’t a clickable button too. That would solve the problem.

Now that’s out of the way, lets get onto the good stuff. The mouse is small and light which suites me just fine – and it works really well with the strange way I hold a mouse (-90 degrees). The design is fantastic with a really nice touches like the magnetic dongle holder on the bottom.

Because the mouse flattens out, it’s really easy to fit into any bag. I’ve noticed an improvement here, because I used to use a Wireless Mouse 5000 which is still pretty small, but gives a noticeable bump in my work bag. This Arc Touch Mouse is a lot more sleek, which is very cool.

Overall I’d definitely recommend the Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse to people who like small mice. And finally, if you are worried that having a big gap is a problem for you, see if you can try it out in a store. I was worried at first but after a while I’ve really grown to like the light feeling.

Think Visibility March 2012

Last weekend saw the 7th Think Visibility conference at the Alea Casino in Leeds. Not only do Think Visibility conferences have great speakers, they also have butties for breakfast, plenty of food for lunch, pick and mix and a well stocked bar.

SEO for eCommerce

Though I’ve never been the lead developer or architect of an eCommerce site, I’ve worked on quite a few before. Barry Adams gave some very interesting advice for people looking to optimise the experience. Thinking about things like ‘basket countdowns’ is really fascinating – for example, people are going to spend more if they think they’re going to get free shipping.

Link Building Lessons from Swiss Toni

Jon Quinton from SEOgadget gave a talk about how he does link building. The most important take away from this for me is that lots of different tools are required to capture, scrape and analyse possible links – a problem that I’m actually trying to solve with the various SEO tools I’ve built.

So, I’m #1 in Google, Now What?

Kean Richmond gave a super interesting talk about design, which is something really different for the usual crowd of an SEO conference, and he gave an insight into how best to design stuff to make things easier for the user. He’s also published an interesting post about the Think Visibility experience (and his slides) which I suggest you check out.

25 Useful Things you can do with WordPress

Dan Harrison of WordPress Doctors gave us all a rundown of 25 tips for WordPress administrators. A few of these I’ve already implemented on a couple of my sites. You can find an ebook of WordPress tips on his website.

Saying Stuff is Dead… is Dead

James Carson gave a very entertaining talk about why people say that stuff is ‘dead’. My favourite part was his introduction to something he calls The Inbound Model, which is a great read.

Understanding Google Crawling & Indexing

The last talk of the conference was a high level explanation of how Google will crawl and index pages by Pierre Far of Google. I found this super interesting, though I guess it’s all stuff I kinda knew anyway. Pierre didn’t comment on ranking factors though, instead just referring to it as ‘magic’ – hmm.

For me this was the best Think Visibility I have attended, and I’ve had so many ideas since. Thanks to Dom Hodgson for arranging everything, and my buddies from Branded3 for keeping me company.