Thursday, February 07, 2008

Go Figure

As all will, well... should know, I have set up (and this associated blog) to not only do good, but make good, too.

As yet, while I think the first can warrant a tick, I'm still kinda working on the second. Getting there, but... a ways to go.

I think I blogged a short while ago about an educational foray back into the world of online media, and the help and insights I gained, though to date can't do much about becuase they need major dosh. Hence my scoping out the weird and wondeful laternate universe of VCs Business Angels.

But one thing has rung in my memory since, which is the advised target of 500k unique visitors to get taken serioulsy as an ad medium.

I think I can do it. I just have to focus on what will make the offering unique, attract an audience and keep them loyal... and telling others.

Which is all quite an ambition. Especially as, at the 'mo, there is one of me trying to do this.

So I was quite interested in this piece about an outfit called Shiny Media. All very inspirational, and a big up to them. Thing is, for their 3.5M unique visistors they have a staff of 20+! That's one person per 150,000, which is what I have managed. So, at the end of the day, it remains a numbers game.

No wonder it's taking me a while. I must get in touch.

The world's larget rubbish dump

Reported in the Independent this morning, this is absolutely amazing!

"A 'plastic soup' of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean is growing at an alarming rate and now covers an area twice the size of the continental United States, scientists have said."

Known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" or "trash vortex", it is estimated to contain some 100 million tons of flotsam!

"The vast expanse of debris – in effect the world's largest rubbish dump – is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting 'soup' stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan."

"Plastic is believed to constitute 90 per cent of all rubbish floating in the oceans. The UN Environment Programme estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic."

And some people still insist that rubbish thrown out to sea doesn't constitute a problem!

Addendum (Junkk Male) - Well, someone seems to think there's an angle.

Kite ship makes significant fuel savings

I saw a piece on the MS Beluga Skysail on TV a few weeks back and wondered just how much energy the giant kite might save in terms of fuel costs.

Well, Reuters are now reporting that the vessel saved some 15 to 20% of its daily fuel needs by deploying the giant kite, cutting fuel consumption by some 4 tonnes per day. Now that's not an insignificant saving. I wonder if they're thinking about fitting giant kites onto many more cargo vessels now. Strange how things go full circle - from Sail, to Steam, to Oil & Diesel, and back to Sail.

I wonder what might be worth?

Sadly, not for sale.

But what I did find rather suprising, in a nice way, is to see what something do do with 're' was up for. Though quite how they funded that cocks an eyebrow.

So, maybe that bodes well for

Also, and again sadly, not for sale though.

Creativematch - The million dollar 's' bought for UK domain name

NEWS/GO3 PR - Reading below the lines

I normally have a fair bit of time for what comes out of the Green Party Press Office, and am usually happy to print it with little, if any comment 'as is'.

I fear that this must be an exception; not so much for the content (which you, as big boys and girls, can make judgements upon for yourselves), but as an example of what I personally don't like seeing, and as much as I do, in matters of headline grabbing.

Here's what I got:


Event: MEP Caroline Lucas speaks at ‘C’s the Day’ cancer prevention event
Place: Friends’ Meeting House, Ship St, Brighton
Time: Saturday, February 9th, 10am-4pm. Dr Lucas to speak at 2.15pm

CANCER is often caused by environmental factors including toxic chemicals added to household goods, pesticides and poor air quality, local Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas will tell a Brighton cancer-prevention day.

Dr Lucas said: “Levels of breast cancer are rising across the EU – especially in eastern Europe and the UK, where one woman in nine will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lives.

“An increasing number of scientists are pointing to the link between toxic chemicals – especially so-called gender-bending hormone-disruptors – and breast cancer, which kills more than 10,000 people each year in the UK alone.

“Similarly links are being found between pesticide use and cancers. Yet these technologies are all growing apace – the Government and EU simply must exercise caution, and put human health above the profits of their friends in the companies that manufacture them.”

I am in no doubt that amongst many consequences of modern life, 'pollution' (however that may be defined) is high on the probable causes of cancer.

However, I do not believe that headline to be an accurate representation of the situation, and while the more qualifying statements below do express it better I fear that, to me at least, this did not come across at all well, no matter how worthy the thinking (and, one presumes, call to action) of that last para.

Desperately seeking Susan. Or Bob, Carol, Ted & Alice

Last night I attended an investment funding event at (and, I think, co-sponsored by) the University of Worcester School of Business.

There were others involved, with the lead being a brokerage called Beer & Partners, but also Advantage West Midlands as well.

Initially billed as a 'Dragon's Den', I almost didn't go because of the connotations of that sick show, but in the form of a 'Business Angel' Panel, which it was, I am glad I did.

A well-attended event, there was a good 100 folk there, so interest was high. And I recognized a few faces.

The panel comprised some experienced investors, though the names meant little to me: Mike Weaver (head of Beer in this neck 'o the woods), Kerry Jones, and Jim Walker.

The latter came out with the quote of the evening, which at least made it for me: 'Any product which addresses environmental issues is now really important, and top of any investor's list'.

And the pitches were all from 'green' businesses, which was a complete, if pleasant, surprise. There was an automotive fuel efficiency device and two energy monitoring devices/systems, which is an area I know quite a lot about of course.

At about 10mins, with feedback from panel and Q&A, it all scooted through in a very interesting hour.

I was mainly there as all that I am up to has hit the next hurdle of actually getting what I am doing to market, and into profit, and for that I know I need people with me. So, interestingly, earlier that day I had been engaged in just such an effort. And pretty encouraging it was, too. One was an interview, whereby a very talented and savvy post grad was seeing why she would want to spend a month here. I hope she got the answers she sought, and hence will. The other was with a marketing guy who for once was not looking for an upfront fee before doing anything. And he is both local, experienced and connected.

But as I do think investors may well still be part of the mix, I was keen to see how one might package the proposition.

Three interesting products. Three personable chaps pitching. But I was encouraged, because I had been thinking what I was up to and capable of would not be up to the task. Yet I felt my pitch, when it comes, would stack up very well in comparison. And the judges, though I suspect being very nice about it all, seemed interested and keen to develop things with these guys, though I actually had some reservations from my knowledge of market conditions, in several areas, for at least a couple of them.

Also interesting was the pitches. All were cut off. And all were cut off by spending too much time on what it was at the expense of how it would make money, and where, with who, etc. An easy mistake to make, and one I have done a lot by being the creator and not so focused on the profit motive aspects.

Also of note was the amounts requested, especially with some fairly hefty capital-requiring proposals, and/or also with significant staffing levels of senior folk for as yet unproven market concepts. Numbers of £150k were being mentioned, which can get gobbled up in a flash! Heck, I could do that with Junkk just on a sales director for a year.

Speaking of which, one the angels mentioned something I did not know, which is that supermarkets expect associated marketing budgets to be attached to any 'product' they engage. Worth bearing in mind for RE:tie.

There were also several other panel questions that seldom were addressed in the pitches, but were good to know as being important for inclusion and also as points of priority in such pitches.

IP was seldom highlighted, but is obviously key.

But the one thing that stood out above all that these guys were looking for is the management team. In place... and on the case.

And that is what I don't yet have, and must soon get.

Thing is, this event got me no further, just as have any conversations I have had with in theory 'innovator-supportive' Gov//NGO organizations, as to how I find such folk.

But I'm clawing closer... I think.

Water, water, everywhere......

..... and but few drops of common sense in sight!

Today, our esteemed gov. (through DEFRA) launched its strategy for the future of securing water supplies in England. See this report from Government Network News.

The strategy's proposals include:-

- "The aim to reduce water usage to 120 litres per person per day by 2030 from the current level of roughly 150 litres per person per day, through a combination of efficient technology, metering and tariffs."

i.e. We'll all pay more through new tariffs. Sounds like all stick and no carrot to me!

- Possible mandatory metering

Shouldn't this have been done years ago? At least for any new developments?

- New proposals to tackle surface water drainage.
"proposals include introducing surface water management plans to co-ordinate activity, clarifying responsibilities for sustainable drainage systems, and reviewing the ability of new development to connect surface water automatically into the public sewer."

'introducing surface water management plans to co-ordinate activity' - Meaning what exactly? Make it up as you go along?
'Clarifying responsibilities' - like, admitting that now one has any that they are accountable for now?
'connect surface water automatically into the public sewer' - errrrm, no! Surface water runs off into the public storm drain system. And the ideal thing would be to make such surface water run-off much slower in order to inhibit flooding.
And wouldn't it have made really good sense to make it mandatory for all new development to incorporate rain water harvesting systems for grey water usage? That would achieve a much bigger consumption reduction target very easily.

And, of course, lots of proposals for consultations on things like flooding and erosion.

But not a single comment about better enforcement to make the various water authorities fix and repair the zillions of leaks that our current potable water distribution system has.

All in all, it looks like another complete waste of taxpayers money, designed to provide jobs for government sponsored quangos and agencies who talk, talk, talk and talk, and do, well, very bloody little! Sorry, there is one outcome that is inevitable; it will hit every one of us in the pocket, as usual, as it will certainly make us pay more for the water that we do use.


I can't believe it has taken me this long to post this up.

Probably one of the biggest events we're taking part in so far, with hopefully major benefits for the cuases of both the RE:tie and message of second use design.

MONTH - Next

FIELD: Enviro-related
WHEN: 12-13 March
WHAT: ECOPACK '08 (and Packaging Innovations)
WHAT... MORE?: Does what it says on the... er... pack. The premier UK trade event for what can, and should, come in the world of packaging. Note that in addition to 'Innovation' they also are talking 'ECO'. Of course, some can honestly, if immodestly, make the claim to be both.
WHO: Me!!!!!! I have just been asked to be a speaker on both days, which is a genuine honour and real endorsement of the concept. Now all I have to do is figure out what to say!!!
HOW: As far as I'm aware, it's free if you register.
COMMENTS: It's a trade event, so you'd need to be pretty keen on your packaging to go just for general public interest. But the stand is ready and waiting to tickle your fancy!!!!

This is posted as a new blog feature.

The little things

With a Mum next door I need to keep an eye on all day, I am quite sympathetic to those in a similar position, and appreciative of any efforts to help.

Hence I was more than interested in a BBC piece, fronted by Tony Robinson, pointing at a booklet by the Alzheimers Society, called 'Putting Care Right'.

However, in downloading this PDF, I am minded of some design principles I'd really like to advocate, especially when it comes to web publishing (and a few hard cover books taboot).

It can be done, and may even be an option here, but as it is not obvious that is in fact a good first point:

1 - clearly point upfront to a/the eco-print option!

Then there are a couple of others:

2 - Don't use reverse text. It gobbles ink!

3 - Make the most of the page. If you have to have a super-cool design, fine, but for printing just get the info across in as economical a way possible. Small pictures and fill the page.

Yes I know, I should leave it on screen. But at often a few Meg I actually deem printing and deleting the file possibly more eco (see a previous Prof's Poser), and in any case defy most to say this is not something they'd prefer printed out to refer to and carry about, for instance when visiting a home.

What is it bears do in the woods again?

I fear I am getting oversensitive to anything that smacks of overkill on the MWCC front, so must tread cautiously here.

I merely pose a question, having watched a BBC news slot about bears not hibernating in a UK zoo on account of the warm weather.... caused by.... you guessed it.

Do they usually do this? I'd have thought things were tad different as they are in an less than typical enviornment, namely a zoo pen in the more temperate UK.

So are our ursine chums usually tucked up over the winter months?

Sadly these days my trust factor in the science I am fed is so low that lack of such context simply makes me even more dubious.

And for some, if shown to be 'a stretch', it simply provides ammo to discredit other stuff that certainly should be making us take note at unusual weather/climate (whatever, I just gave up on a blog with two scientists knocking spots off each other on the correct usage of these. Who cares!!) anomalies.

No sh*t!