All posts in Blog

Using a Filco on a Mac?

This Karabiner script may be useful

I recently made the overdue conversion to a mechanical keyboard, the Filco Majestouch 2 Tenkeyless (with Cherry Brown switches). It’s an absolutely superb keyboard but I fancied customising it a little so went for some blank white custom keycaps.

82a72129_vbattach232120

Anybody who has used a Filco or similar keyboard on a mac knows that you need to do some tweaking to get it to behave like a mac-native keyboard. Namely, switching the CMD and OPTION keys, and configuring the function keys as you prefer for controlling media, volume, etc. All of that is made fairly easy with this incredible little bit of software called Karabiner (previously KeyRemap4Macbook).

All was working perfectly, however it was bugging me that I had an entirely useless key – the PC’s Application Menu key – sitting on my bottom row getting no use, so I decided to map it to a key combination I use fairly regularly – minimise. I could have mapped it to expose, launchpad, dashboard, or any number of useful things, but they were already mapped to function keys and I’ve gotten quite used to where they are.

If you’re interested in doing the same, open your private.xml file (tutorial here) and paste the following code:

<!--?xml version="1.0"?-->

  
    Change Menu Key to Minimize
    private.menu_to_minimize
    
    	__KeyToKey__ 
    	KeyCode::PC_APPLICATION, 
    	KeyCode::M, ModifierFlag::COMMAND_R
  

If you can think of anything better to use that key for, let me know. I’m tempted to try mapping it to Hash, as that’s quite a pain on macs, but I’ve already re-mapped the Back Tick to Hash and that works pretty well.

Unbelievable Straplines

You know those logos that you’ve seen, the ones that look so phallic it simply can’t be an accident. Or the domain names that actually read as something rude. The lack of forethought seems to have spread over onto straplines too, and these stand out more than you could possibly imagine on the back of a van.

I was driving back from a meeting in London when I found myself behind a Plumbase-branded transit van. Aside from the usual annoyance of not being able to see past a hi-top van on a windy country road, I was hit with the sudden urge to smack myself in the forehead. Ladies and gentleman I present to you the Plumbase strapline:

“Plumbase: You’ll keep coming back…”

Plumbase van

How did the designer not notice this? How did the chap wrapping the van in vinyl not notice? How did the guy who picked up the vans not notice? How did the driver not notice? A quick google shows that I’m not the only other person that noticed!

Really? You don’t see what’s so bad about it? Let me break it down; if you sell parts or services that fix something, the last thing you want to tell your customers is that they’ll be back again! It stirs all sorts of mixed emotions like “Oh maybe what they sell me won’t fix it the first time” or “Maybe the part I buy there will break and I’ll need another” because honestly, why else would anyone need to keep coming back?

I’m going to type the first five ideas for straplines that pop into my head and I bet not one of them is that awful:

  • Supplying the industry since 1994
  • UK’s largest heating and plumbing merchants
  • The no. 1 choice for plumbers
  • Over 180 branches nationwide
  • We’re here when you need us

And I’m not a copywriter! So it got me thinking, why don’t small companies seem to hire copywriters? It seems to be thought of as an option for higher budgets, but in reality it’s a fundamental requirement of every piece of advertising you ever do. Just like design. You wouldn’t try to build your office by yourself, and you wouldn’t get your plumber to do it either. I’m a designer with a good grasp of what works and what doesn’t in copy but even I hire a copywriter (usually the superb Allday) whenever my client allows it.

Other funny straplines

Got any others you’ve found? Share them in the comments and I’ll add the best ones to this post. I feel a little unfair picking on Plumbase alone, there’s got to be more!

Hello Nottingham

Another year, another city. At least it feels that way. This year it’s Nottingham and after just a couple of weeks I’ve already fallen in love with the place.

I’m fortunate enough to be living in the heart of Lace Market, a one minute stroll from the Nottingham Contemporary, the Galleries of Justice, the Lace Market Theatre and the Capital FM Arena, there really is no shortage of things to do or culture to take in. I also seem to be surrounded by design agencies, arts colleges and some awesome independent businesses, so it’s perfect for me to continue my career as a freelance designer and meet some new creative folk.

How long I’ll stay remains to be seen

I’m charmed by the attitude of everyone I meet, a complete contrast to London, and equally contrasting is the cost of living. I’m currently shelling out less than 25% living expenses compared to an identical apartment in the center of London. However, I do feel disconnected already. Be it because I’m yet to form a network here or yet to discover my new local, I find myself contemplating the two hour drive down to a friends’ in London most weekends, and much more than I’d anticipated.

Working from home

One of the things I love about being a freelance designer is being able to work from anywhere. I’m one of those people that can sit with a laptop and an internet connection on a busy train and still manage to focus completely on my work, but equally I appreciate the benefits of my office space in Chichester and am glad to have been able to set up a decently-sized home office in Nottingham as well.

I always find that clients tend to prefer working with people from the same local area, but more and more I’m struggling to understand why. I have a client 200 miles away that I see more often than most of my clients who were located less than a mile away, and with mobile phones, Skype, Twitter, email, Dropbox, BaseCamp, etc. There simply isn’t any need to be in the same town these days. I won’t usually even contemplate taking on a job until I’ve met the client in person, but that doesn’t mean we need to be from the same area at all, I regularly drive across the country to meet people and in all honesty I welcome it, I don’t get to see enough of this country outside of work.

I’m happy I’m here. That doesn’t mean I’ll be here forever, but in this day and age, why should it?

Are your RSS feeds a security risk?

We’ve all done it; you’ve had a long day at work and you write a quick blog entry when you get home, late at night, forget to spell-check it and release it into the masses blissfully unaware. The next morning you read the drivel you posted and edit it for grammar and spelling mistakes, hoping that nobody noticed.

Only, they did.

It showed up in their feed-readers as soon as you hit publish, archived for all of eternity should they so wish. In this instance, it’s only a few spelling mistakes and typos, it’s not a huge deal and in all honesty, only the particularly finicky would have noticed anyway.

But what about when it’s something a little more controversial?

Picture this if you will, you’ve just had a majorly bad dealing with a supplier/client/colleague and in the heat of the moment you log onto your blog and write a lengthy rant declaring their incompetence. 5 minutes later realisation hits home and you delete the entry immediately. Phew. Or not. What you forget is that a (possibly large) number of people may already have received that post in their feed-readers, and your seemingly final act of deletion is rendered completely useless should they hesitate to refresh their feeds – or worse – save the article on purpose.

That’s not the only scenario of doom and despair. Say for instance, your company has a blog, and you have a hidden category that only employees can post to and view. This category contains some potentially dynamite material in the wrong hands and oops – you just forgot to choose the category and published it to the default, sending it out to all of those lovely feed-readers. There’s no undo, you could take your entire web presence offline and those feed-readers will still have a copy of your private moments.

Then there’s the personal blog, you’ve got a few categories for personal (let’s say, emotional) entries, maybe you’ve got one for ideas for the next big invention/startup, and another for your terrible love poetry. You mark these entries as private and think nothing of writing them once you get into the swing of things, occasionally you’ll forget to mark it as private displaying it on your front page for all of 10 seconds until you realise, but that’s okay, you fixed it.

Wrong.

RSS feeds could potentially ruin your business, livelihood, relationships and reputation if not given the appropriate consideration. Don’t get me wrong, I love them and use them excessively, but let us not for a second consider feeds to be harmless, useful little channels through which we spread our news, let us take them as seriously as we would take committing something to print in a very large publication, because effectively, you are, and the internet has a far bigger reach than any printed publication.

So, what can we do about it?

Obviously, we can all take a lot more precautions. Read, re-read and re-read. Do an all systems check before launching, and generally exercise a lot more caution, but personally I think that we as web developers can do more.

Let’s look into flagging entries for changes and the ability to disable local caching in feed-readers. Let’s put a delay on the RSS publication say 15 minutes after the article itself is published. Let’s develop the RSS spec to take into account these measures and let’s work together to find more solutions to a problem that we have barely acknowledged even exists yet. Because if we don’t, we may live to regret it, and we all know that prevention is far, far better than the cure.

Is Google Analytics reliable enough for client work?

Last week’s massive data loss has got me reconsidering whether or not Google Analytics is the right solution for my clients.

I’ve long been aching for a logfile-based stats package as I’m utterly fed up of implementing and changing goals and filters and having to restart the stat-count from the time of implementation. A logfile-based solution will apply your new filter/goal retroactively and instantly give you some stats to work with. I’m tired of waiting a month after implementing the smallest tweak before being able to report anything back to the client.

However, a logfile-based solution with the advanced features and adaptability of Google Anayltics is not cheap. Or pretty. Of all of the systems I’ve been able to test, Urchin (which Google Analytics is actually based on) is the only one that comes even remotely close to the functionality I need – and costs an arm and a leg for it.

I’ve looked past the JavaScript-only counting, I’ve endured the countless downtimes, I’ve put up with the 6-24 hour delay in reporting, and I’ve forgiven the odd data loss, but the (possibly) final straw for me has come in the shape of last week’s massive data loss. For a period of over a week data was lost on at least 9 of my major accounts relating to the e-commerce tracking – the most important feature of Google Analytics for me. This has completely skewed my conversion rates, my goal conversion rates, the average transactions/amounts etc. Bascially, that one week of last data can equate to me writing off the entire month for reporting. The only thing worse than not reporting at all is reporting bad data.

Of course, who am I to complain whilst Google Analytics is a free service? Well, I’m a user. They’ve lured us all in with a gorgeous interface, awesome functionality and the best price tag in the world – having coerced us away from paid solutions for the most part – it’s their responsibility to provide a service that’s equally as reliable in my opinion. Why? Because it was their intention to have us reliant upon them. It’s a completely closed platform with no interoperability or export function to speak of. Once you go Google, you can’t go back. This is another of the reasons for preferring a logfile-based solution – logfiles are controlled by you.

I’m going to do some research this week to find an alternative solution, I’ve been playing with Woopra a lot recently and I love it, but again it’s JavaScript-based and appears to have little conversion rate and marketing tracking built-in at this stage. Great for brochure sites, not quite there yet for the big guns.

The most frustrating part of the recent outage is that I had a programmer looking at the checkout processes on the sites that were missing data for hours searching for any inkling of a bug, I briefly toyed with the idea that it could be Google’s fault but thought better of it as normal visits and page view etc. were still being counted – it was only the e-commerce tracking that was missing. I had our lead programmer spend the better part of a day trying to hunt this bug down which equated to at the very least a loss of £750 billable time.

That’s probably enough to warrant an Urchin license (£1500 for 100 sites).

Love letter to the BT complaints department

I’ve had some pretty crappy service from BT of late, here’s a love letter I sent them on 7th April, I’ll let you know if/when they reply:

Dear BT,

I’m pretty appalled at the service I have recieved. 3 months ago I moved house, and informed you beforehand in order to transfer the line. The line is still not working, despite the many attempts I have made to report the fault.

Your operatives have hung up on me unintentionally mid-call (usually while transferring to another of your million departments) no less than 12 times. Once I actually managed to get through to somebody to report the fault, and received a text message the next day indicating that it had been fixed.

It hadn’t. Not only has your phone service been questionable, but I haven’t received one single email or letter telling me my new phone number or account number. Therefore every time I actually manage to get through on a phonecall – we have to jump through hoops in order to find my account. That adds an extra £2 to each phonecall. I should be billing you, not vice versa.

I’ve never received such poor service in my life, and this is an absolute shame, because I have been a customer of yours for many years and until 3 months ago had no complaints to speak of.

I’m at the point now where I would like to request a full refund for the 3 months of service I have not received, and a termination of my contract. If only I could actually get hold of an English-speaking operative to explain this. The last customer services representative I spoke to refused to put me through to his supervisor (despite requesting it no less than 4 times) adamant that he could resolve my issues. Of course, he only inflamed them.

I’d like to hear back from somebody as soon as possible.

Regards,
Spencer Lavery

They’ve definitely made my Top 10 list of Companies To Avoid Like The Plague™. Not even for the fault, but for the dreadful customer service via the phone, and their useless website.

An update: 7th May 2008

This matter was finally sorted today. After 4 or 5 missed calls from their customer services department (always when I was right in the middle of a meeting typically) I spoke to a very nice Irish chap who got it all fixed for me. The faceplate was apparently replaced on March 11th (though nobody told me) and so, my line has been working since then. I didn’t know this because one of my phone cables had stopped working, but that isn’t their fault. I’ve now been refunded the line rental I paid during the start date and the date of the repair and I also have a working line. I’m happy as pie.

Bottom line with BT is: if you have a problem, kick up as big a fuss as you can. They almost certainly read this blog entry and handled the matter in a better fashion accordingly. But do, I repeat; do double-check your phone and cables, else you’ll be in the same embarrassing situation as I was this evening after complaining about the service for ages, then meekly admitting “oh actually, it works, sorry”.

Calibri for Mac, Lucida Grande for Windows

If like me you’re fed up of using Arial and Verdana as the body typeface on web sites, why not experiment with two very nice typefaces present on OS X and Vista.

Calibri comes bundled as standard with Windows Vista and Office bundles post-2006 and should therefore be present on a large portion of visitors machines.

I’ve noticed a lot of people searching for “Calibri OS X” and the like, more than likely sharing the same problem as me – just how do you get Calibri on a Mac? Well, for testing purposes I copied the TTF file from one of my Windows machines over to my Mac and hey presto – it worked.

Read more about Calibri on wikipedia here.

I’m offering the TTF file as a download here strictly for those wishing to test how Calibri renders on a Mac, who also legally own the right to ‘possess’ the typeface by owning a legitimate copy of Windows Vista or Office post-2006

Download Calibri.zip

Lucida Grande is another humanist sans-serif typeface and has been included with Apple’s OS since X. It is especially popular among web designers who have seen the light and use Macs, and incredibly envied by those on Windows machines. Fortunately, Apple have caught on and have now begun bundling Lucida Grande with the Windows version of Safari, which you can download here: http://www.apple.com/safari/

I’ve also noticed a lot of people searching for “Lucida Grande Windows” and the like, more than likely sharing another problem with me – just how do you get Lucida Grande on Windows machine? Well, luckily for us some clever chap cloned the typeface as a TTF file a few years back and I had it saved on my hard drive. Unfortunately his site is down now so I can’t provide a link, but I’m very grateful, as I’m sure you will be too.

Read more about Lucida Grande on wikipedia: here.

I’m offering the TTF file as a download here strictly for those wishing to test how Lucida Grande renders on Windows, who also legally own the right to ‘possess’ the typeface by owning a legitimate copy of OS X or Safari

Lucida-grande.zip

Implementation

So, how do we take advantage of these two decent-but-underused typefaces? It’s simple, just add the following to your stylesheet for Calibri:

body{
	font-family: Calibri, 'Gill Sans', Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;
	}

Or the following for Lucida Grande:

body{
	font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Gisha', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'Lucida Sans', Lucida, Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;
	}

By specifying Arial and Verdana we are also allowing those users that don’t have Calibri or Lucida on their system to see the text rendered in Arial or Verdana, instead of their default typeface (more than likely Times New Roman).

Problems with this method

I’ll be the first to admit that this solution is far from trouble-free. The most difficult thing to account for is the different sizes, ratios and kerning of the typefaces. They don’t just differ slightly, they differ a lot. This can lead to problems such as orphans appearing in navigation menus, overlapping elements, all sorts basically. Always test your designs on both Windows and Mac with each of the typefaces turned on and off at different points to test each possible outcome, and try and tweak the font-sizes to cater for all.

Disclaimer

I have searched high and low for legitimate ways to purchase both the Lucida Grande and Calibri typefaces but was unable to find any. I have offered the files here for download as a temporary measure in the hopes that somebody may one day point me to a site where I, and my visitors are able to purchase the above typefaces. I will then replace the download links with the purchase links.

New addition to the family

I’ve been wanting my own Staffordshire Bull Terrier ever since my childhood companion Pugsy passed away 6 years ago, and when my good friend John came home with Herbie – the cutest little blue staff I’d ever seen – I knew I needed to go and check out his brothers and sisters and find myself a new little friend.

It was quite a drive there and back but boy was it worth it, having been late to the party the pickings were slim but Ronnie and I, the runt of the litter, were inseparable from the moment I walked through the door. He didn’t handle the drive back very well but he seems to be settling into his new home very well indeed, thankfully.

My New York adventure

Okay, because of I don’t like things to be messy I will attempt to sum up the entire 3 weeks. Please note, this will be difficult as I haven’t been keeping track myself what with all of the timezone changes and whatnot.

“The Chancers Inc” – Season One. The TV show I got picked for, will be shown on T4 on Channel 4 after Hollyoaks on a Sunday. Should be starting at the beginning of September.

It all began on a Monday, I think. Whatever day it was I caught the train up to London and dropped my single suitcase off at the hotel room. I found out that one of the girls that was in the final 6 (Dutchy) was also staying at the same hotel (ready for our 6am flight) so I gave her a call and we met up and went for cocktails and a smoke. She had a friend with her, and we spent most of the night speculating on what New York might entail. Both of the girls told me I should be a model and it kind of set the tone for the rest of the trip.

So yeah we crashed out at about 3, up at 5 and met by the camera crew at Heathrow at 6am. Filmed, at 6am! It wasn’t fun, but then we got upgraded to First Class and got to chill out in the VIP lounge at the airport with Serena Williams so I perked up a little. Slept through the entire flight, like a baby. When we arrive in NVC before we could even drop our shit off at the hotel/apartments we had to go to some super ultra cool whatever bar and meet Scoop and his team and Joe Buddens and rap in front of them and all that funny stuff. Then we went back to the hotel and got a reasonably early night, knowing we’d have to work hard the next day.

Ok so now I’ve totally lost track of what happened on which day so I’m just going to give little undated snippets of what I can remember. I’ll list the people just in case I make reference to them:

Camera/production/direction crew: Jade, Emily, Emma, Serena, John, Adam, Simon, Ben, Phil, Sonya, Jess.. and more I forget. “The Chancers Inc.” 6: Me! Dutchy (female singer), Tempa (female rapper), Angel J (female singer), Bronz (male rapper), Damn Trouble (producer/dj).

We were then taken to the AV8 studios on 9th Ave. (which was to be our home for the next 2 weeks) and we had to record a jingle for Scoop’s show on Hot ’97 FM. Easily the biggest hiphop/r’n’b/urban radio station in the world. We were split into 2 teams and to cut a long story short the team I was on made a better jingle and it got played on Hot ’97 the next night. And a good few times since, I believe. Whilst in and around the studio we bumped into/interviewed/met Wyclef of the Fugees, the Madd Rapper, Punch, Elephant Man, Mobb Deep and Steve Dent (Puffy’s brother-in-law, one of the best engineers in the game, and our engineer for the 3 weeks).

I was quite shy at the beginning, especially in the presence of celebrities so Scoop decided to whisk me off to Germany with him for a few days while he did some shows. I had a fucking blast. The first one was at a big hip-hop club in Frankfurt and they got me up on stage with them in front of about 2000 people and I kicked a verse at the end. At the airport just before that I met Tony Touch and he gave me a copy of his new album and I interviewed him and shit and it was great. He’s a cool motherfucker.

So yeah being on stage at the club was rather exciting, I got a decent response and I really enjoyed it. Totally wasn’t expecting it. Scoop’s brother Kendall was teasing me on the plane saying that Scoop would drag me up on stage but Scoop was adamant that I “wasn’t ready” so I didn’t sweat it. Glad I did it though. Got to chill out in the club after the set and enjoy the attention with the obligatory “By the way, I’m famous” towel wrapped over my shoulders.

Then the next day we went over to Stuttgart for the big MTV HipHopOpen festival and I went on stage in front of over 10,000 people (like, just after Xzibit!) and kicked another verse. The crowd response was fantastic and I loved every second of it. That time around I really wasn’t expecting to go on stage because unlike the previous night Scoop didn’t bring me on stage for his set, instead he just called me out afterward and introduced me. I was crapping myself but as soon as that mic was in my hand it was just autopilot, and I fucking rocked it! Had like 10,000 with their hands in the air, apparently. I was too busy rapping to notice.

Then I had to sign autographs and stuff and we went to the afterparty and it was all a bit surreal. That same night we had to fly back to Frankfurt and from there fly back to New York. So in Germany I got to stay in 2 beautiful 5 Star hotels but didn’t actually sleep in either, simply dropped my bags off. Such a waste. Oh yeah, we had some trouble at immigration and I almost didn’t get back into America but Scoop sorted it all out. At the MTV event I met the Yin-Yang Twins and they even showed me some love after I went up on stage, which was nice.

And oh, the day before I went to Germany we had a big photoshoot with a guy called Jamal who does The Roots’ covers, and the photos came out really, really well. I’m just emailing him now to see if he’ll send me them for personal use or whatever. He said he would.

So yeah I went straight from JFK airport in NYC to the studio and wrote/recorded verses for the singles we had been asked/told to make. I felt a little out of the loop having been gone for 4 days but everyone welcomed me back in really quickly and it was all lovely. After we’d done the singles we were told to make a mixtape and basically had 3 days to fill a CD with original music (bar the beats, of course). We did it. I loved every second of the mixtape because I got to showcase my individual talents and whatnot.

For the singles we were asked to make one track that would be suited to a party, and one that would be suited to a club. We succeeded, but in doing so I had to turn myself into a generic pop-rapper and talk about the same old bullshit, and I formed a little alter ego that the others in the group named “Phobe Kenobi”, and that alter ego of mine bought so much jewellery that his arms ached when he wore it all (it’s SO cheap out there). It’s all good though, I did it with style and I showed versatility, and a willingness to be moulded without losing my roots, because after that I jumped straight on the mixtape and recorded a song called “My Life”, which is like half-heavy metal, half-hiphop, and 100% me. The amount of credible sources that have told me that that song will (not could, or might. Will!) reach the Top 10 in the UK is ridiculous.

At some point in there I also designed the graphics which were to be painted onto a minivan that was going to be driven around NYC as promotion. I stayed awake for over 80 hours in order to get the design finished by the deadline and after that I said fuck all the design shit and left it to the person who was paid to do it. The reason I took over was because the graphics he did first of all were fucking pathetic, and at least with me having done the van graphics, all he had to do for the flyers, posters and mixtape cover was re-position things, so really I designed it all, yet he got paid for it. At least I got to make it look good. And boy, did it! When we went out in it people would huddle around the van and take photos and ask for autographs and all that crazy shit. It was fun. Even giving out flyers on Times Square turned fun when my boy Bronz (the guy I was sharing an apartment with) battled a local emcee, and fucking ripped him.

Somewhere in all that there was a bit off hoo-hah and Bronz and I nearly fell out because I misunderstood something he was saying to me. He was telling me to just be myself but I thought he was saying I was fake, or something, but the only reason it got near a fall-out was because the camera crew were stirring to try and get some excitement, luckily Bronz is a very mature chap and we sorted it out off camera very swiftly.

Off yeah and we were VIP’d/backstage passed at a load of gigs and stuff, but we were so busy we couldn’t go to many of them. The ones I did go to I went and saw/met M.O.P, Talib Kweli, Kanye West, Slick Rick and Common, and it was fucking great. I got so used to being VIP’d that I started turning down nights out if I wasn’t VIP’d, haha. We were VIP’d and backstage passed at a D12 gig on Thursday and I was going to interview them and everything, but we were too busy. That kinda pissed me off.

As I went to Germany, Scoop gave the others a few treats to make up for it, between them they got to meet Ashanti, Irv Gotti, G-Unit, Ms. Dynamite, DR Period, Dame Dash and Mark Ronson. The camera crew were even luckier and got to meet a fuckload more people that didn’t want to meet us (The Chancers Inc.) like Nas, DJ Premier and Beastie Boys, to name a few. I managed to convinced on of the crew to get my some Beastie Boys’ autographs though and they came back with the autographs on a piece of the original fucking artwork for thier new album! I’m beyond chuffed and it’s so getting framed.

Err yeah that’s about most of it I think. Our singles got played on Hot ’97 and are being stocked as white labels in Beat Streat, Music Factory, and Rock & Soul, because we took the copperplates down there and played them to them and got some really fucking good (honest!) reactions. The last couple of days was spent promoting our gig which was on Friday and getting our tracks on the radio and other mixtapes and getting interviews and all that promotion stuff. The gig went rather well and despite what we were told would happen, we managed to rock the fucking crowd, and everybody knows that underground NYC crowds are the hardest to rock. Someone from Bad Boy Ent. came in to ask us to turn down the music (their studio is right above the club we performed at) but ended up staying and asking us to work with him the next day, but unfortunately we had to fly home that day, and apparently he was quite a famous dude.

So yeah we flew home last night and it really did suck to leave the other 5 at the airport. It sucked to leave NY period. We hadn’t formed friendships in that 3 weeks we were more like a family, but the cloud does have a silver lining because it’s almost a definate that they’re going to make a Season 2 of the programme and fly us back out there to make a proper album and release the singles and whatever if we all agree, and it looks like it may be a very tasty record deal indeed. If not we’ve all agreed to meet up and shit anyway.

Throughout this trip I lost count of the amount of times I was told I’m going to be “the next big thing”, or “the new Eminem, and not by character by popularity and record sales” and shit like that by very credible unbiased sources. Scoop himself said it. It’s hard to keep my ego sensible, but who says it needs to be when I’m looking at both a tasty collaborative record deal, and a VERY tasty solo record deal. We’re meeting up in the next week or two to talk business. I can’t wait, cause after one afternoon of super hardcore NY shopping, I’m broke again. Doesn’t matter, I got a ridiculous amount of free clothes on top and I even got a spanking new stereo aswell, just need a US to UK converter ting and I’m laughing.

Right, now I’m off to bed, and if you think that was a long read, try bloody typing it!

So I’m going to be on TV

Quite out of the blue I heard about a competition being run by Channel 4 and decided to send off a demo CD of mine. Somehow I managed to make it through all of the auditions and into the final 6, and now they will be flying us to New York City to film a documentary about us trying to make it in the tough NYC music industry.

I keep pinching myself to be honest and I’m ridiculously nervous, but opportunities like this don’t come around very often and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.

I’m going to college to study design!

Exactly 2 years and a month since I bought myself my first computer and began to teach myself how to code HTML and use Adobe Photoshop I have finally bitten the bullet and decided to go back to college. After 3 years of hard graft working full-time at various companies around Bognor Regis I’m finally giving up my reliance on the wage and getting myself schooled! I’ve got a part-time job lined up but I’m not looking forward to the pay cut at all!

I am however looking forward to the course – a BTEC National Diploma in Graphic Design, and the tutors seem fantastic. I just can’t wait to learn all of the aspects of design that you can’t teach yourself within Photoshop or from online tutorials. Less technique and more theory please.

Fingers crossed in two years I will either be on my way to University or a full-time position in the design industry!

My first design commissions

I’ve been really lucky these past few months, despite having only taught myself Photoshop and design over the past couple of years I have met some amazing people who have given me some great opportunities to work on live projects.

I’m heavily involved in the local and not-so-local music scene and I’ve been fortunate enough to have ben working on a number of different album artwork and gig flyer projects. I’ll be adding as much as I can to the portfolio but for the moment I just wanted to say a huge thank you to Becomes The Water Of Death, BlazeRock and David Hodges.

In September I’m heading back to college in Chichester to study Graphic Design properly and learn beyond the capabilities of a software program – and I can’t wait! At the moment though I’m over the moon to be able to get some practice in and see where it all takes me.