There is now a forum on the MCQN.com website for people to report bugs, and post any suggestions or comments.
It'll mainly be of interest to people in the beta testing, but there is an opportunity for everyone else to help out too!
To make PeerBackup easier to set up, it comes with a set of ISP webspace details pre-configured. So if you aren't using your ISP provided webspace for anything else, you can store your backup there. Obviously the more ISPs I have details for, the more people will be able to set things up easily, so I'm putting a call out for ISP details.
So, who's your ISP? If you could tell me the name of your ISP, and ideally a link to their website or even better a link to details of their webspace details, either in the comments or over on the ISP details discussion I'd appreciate it. Thanks.
Parallel Worlds is a cool digital art project. They attach a projector onto the side of a tube train and then as the train travels through the tunnels images are projected onto the walls of the tunnel, so to passengers it seems like there are fish swimming alongside, or tree roots dangling from the roof of the tunnel. I love this light-hearted and fun hi-jacking of the public space.
Another step towards completion. The second beta release was sent out today, so more people have access to the new improved version of PeerBackup.
Remember, there's still space for you to sign up for the beta programme if you haven't already.
Like me, my mate Jon has been honoured to be asked to be a best man. The other day (before I accidentally kicked him in the shin playing football... sorry about that Jon!) he asked me if I had any hints or links to help him
embarrass the groom prepare his speech.
I'm not sure that I'm the most qualified to give advice, seeing as I didn't seem to spend too much time writing it - I started it on my train journey back from Egham one day, and finished it in a couple more evenings. That said, it seemed to go over okay on the day...
Tradition dictates some of the speech for you: the best man's speech usually follows the groom's, so you generally start by thanking the groom on behalf of the bridesmaids; and you generally finish with a final toast to the happy couple.
So the only bit you get to play with really is the middle, and how hard can that be? ;-)
Once word gets out that you're going to be best man, people are usually eager to offer their thoughts and ideas, and to share their experiences of best man speeches they've heard.
A while back I read Working the Room by Nick Morgan, which I'd recommend for anyone doing any sort of public speaking. It advocates basing your speech on one of the archetypal stories or myths: the quest (or hero's journey); stranger in a strange land; rags to riches; revenge; or boy meets girl. Working the Room gives a page of explanation for each of the stories.
Although boy meets girl sounds like the obvious pick, for that story the boy loses the girl through some misunderstanding before finally winning her back, so it didn't match what had happened with Neil and Kuljit. Instead, I figured the quest would be more suitable, showing Neil's journey through life to find true love.
With the quest providing a basic framework, I set about talking to Neil's friends and family to gather stories to use, including some useful material from Neil himself one evening in the pub when he'd had a few too many. In the latter scenario, make sure you write the material down or (as I did) text it to yourself, as you're unlikely to be in a state to rely on your memory! I then chose a handful of the stories and ran them together along a rough timeline from when I first knew the groom, through to him meeting his new wife and them falling in love.
Props are always well received, with embarrassing photos of the groom being a common choice. With some help from my housemate, Scottie, I worked in some jokes involving bubblewrap, and the air horn I let off at the end of the speech had the added bonus of waking up anyone who'd found my speech too boring.
Now that the speech is written, you can turn your attention to its delivery. Practice is key here; I must have run through mine half a dozen times. That will give you an idea of how long it will last, and also identify any parts or phrases that you have difficulty with. I didn't script my speech, just had a set of (numbered!) 3"x5" index cards with brief reminders of the stories so that I got them in order but I did script the odd sentence here and there that I'd struggled to find the best wording for during the rehearsal.
Ideally you should check out the room beforehand. I didn't have chance to do this, and so was a little alarmed when we sat down for the meal to find that there wasn't enough space to get out from my seat, which made my initial joke a tad difficult. Luckily we decided to run all the speeches from the other end of the room and it wasn't a problem in the end. Incorporating something into your speech that requires you to move about the room can be a good trick to take your mind off the speech itself and help you calm your nerves and relax.
Finally, remember to speak loudly (so even old Aunt Ethel at the back can hear you) and more slowly than you think you should - you'll have a natural tendency to rush through the speech as you know what it says, remember everyone else is hearing it for the first time. And don't worry about it too much - everyone wants the speech to go well, so they're all on your side!
Steve Pavlina does an excellent job in exposing the problem with the oft-quoted "80% of businesses fail within the first five years".
Whilst I don't think that everyone should rush out and bankrupt themselves starting a business, I think the black-and-white assumption that businesses have to last for many years in order to be a success is flawed. The main difference between starting a new business and getting a new job is that you have more visibility of how well things are going :-)
After what seems like far too long, up-and-coming indie band The Fray have their own website!!!
Plus they've just finished recording a new twelve-track EP and there are five tracks available on the website for you to listen to (in Realplayer format rather than mp3s for some unknown reason - missed opportunity there I reckon!)
Polite ambition. I like that description, given that I'm politely ambitious myself.
As of yesterday, when I sent out an email to the first group of lucky users, the PeerBackup Beta Test Programme has started!
Woohoo!!! A pretty major, and slightly scary milestone - I've sent my software out into the world for real people to use. Hopefully they'll all like it. Or at least tell me if they don't, or what about it they don't like, or want to improve, or wish that it did.
As with most things software-development-related, Joel Spolsky has written an article about running a Beta Test programme. In it, he advises at least four beta releases; at least a fortnight between releases; 100 beta testers, making sure that for each release there are some testers getting your software for the first time.
Before reading that, I'd been slightly optimistically expecting to spend around a month beta testing before the first proper release of PeerBackup. I'm still aiming to come in slightly under Joel's "eight to ten weeks", if only so that I'll still hit it after adding the extra things I've not realised I need to do yet...
Making sure that for each release there are some people getting PeerBackup for the first time makes sense too. I know that I would spend the most time playing with some software the first time I get it. So if you've signed up for the beta programme, first off: Thanks! and secondly, don't worry that you've not heard back from me yet, you'll just get an even more solid and fantastic version soon...
I'm also a bit short of the "recommended" hundred beta testers, so if you're running Windows and have broadband, there's still plenty of time to pop over to the PeerBackup page and sign up. Go on, you can tell your grandchildren that you were there at the start of the revolution in easy-to-use, Internet-enabled backup software. Or something.
At the moment, I have no idea whether or not I'm going to attend. The cost is one problem, given that I have zero income at present. The "Why don't British businesses blog?" theme is another issue - there could be useful things to learn, given that I'll be into full-on promoting my business by then, and blogging will be a part of that; but my business is already blogging and my conference-going itch is really the sort of geek melting-pot of Reboot, or Open Tech 2005. Working on my networking skills would also be good, but again there are more cost-effective ways of doing that locally that I've yet to take advantage of.
I might see if I can find out a bit more about it, and maybe even volunteer to help in some way as that'd help prevent my usual wallflower behaviour at such events...