Good karma: bikes, CVs & Mac Repair (Birmingham, UK)

En-route to a NYE party, I spotted a motorcyclist in real trouble on the Hagley Road (Birmingham, UK). He was obstructing the junction I was about to use, so there was no way of avoiding the issue.

At first, I thought he was drunk and would be the recipient of a dressing down. As I got closer I was concerned the rider was having some kind of medical emergency (stoke?) and reached for my handset in case I needed to call an ambulance.

As it turns out, the rider had managed to stall his bike and was struggling to prevent it from falling over. I positioned my car behind his bike, slapped on my hazards and jumped out. In no time, the bike was back in the upright position and the rider was on his way, thanking me countless times in the process.

2012: more deposits to my karma account

I ended 2011 with a good deed (motorcycle incident, I am not inferring anything about the NYE party) and am kicking off 2012 with a couple more.

Tomorrow I’m off to help a friend set-up an online CV in the hope it improves his changes of finding a job after his former employer went belly up in December.

And, right now, I am letting you know that Kimbley Computer Services are offering Mac Repair to anyone in or around the Birmingham area. I noticed this little fact whilst browsing G+ earlier on this evening and thought a little shout out would fit in well with this very random post.

This is a competitive industry (search term wise) and a link from here can’t do any harm. Good luck with the new venture, James!

How to get the M.O.A.B (Call of Duty: MW3 tip)

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 - available 13th November 2012
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 – available 13th November 2012

I have just uploaded “How to get a MOAB (without camping)” to my YouTube channel.

The video features a quick game of Capture the Flag on Underground with some commantary, in which I provide some hints and tips for anyone struggling to get their first MOAB (Massive Air Ordinance Blast / Mother Of All Bombs).

For those who haven’t seen one yet, the MOAB is a hidden kill streak which comes along at 25 kills (or 24 if you’re using the Hardline Perk), similar to the tactical nuke in Modern Warfare 2. Unlike MW2 the MOAB doesn’t end the game and kills arising from kill streaks don’t count towards your tally.

So, without further ado, here is the video:

How to get a M.O.A.B (without camping)

1. Use the tactical button layout. This allows you to drop shot and/or take cover without moving your thumb off the right joystick. Whilst this can help you to kill opponents, it is more useful for staying alive.

2. Invest in a gaming headset. Again, this can help you to kill your opponents (a process known as “sound whoring”) however it is more important for staying alive. A few times in the video I appear to turn around randomly, however I have actually heard someone approaching and decided to meet them before they shot me in the back!

3. Use the Specialist set-up. Personally, I use the perks Sleight Of Hand, Hardline and Dead Silence. The use of Hardline means I get my first specialist perk after 1, 3 and 5 kills. Typically these will be Quickdraw, Assassin and Scavenger, although you can use whatever you feel comfortable with. After 7 kills you end up with all of the perks and all of the gun proficiencies so your original choices aren’t all that important.

4. Don’t camp. Yes, camping is the easiest way to get a MOAB but it’s really boring. Those bullets aren’t real, you know! Be aggressive but use your head – move from cover to cover and push into the enemy spawn. As you see in the video, this works for me more often than not!

In terms of gun choices, go for what suits your play style. I prefer the PP90M1 with silencer and rapid fire. For my secondary I use the FMG9 (akimbo) but they don’t get used all that often.

I hope you found this post useful. Good luck 🙂

Theo Paphitis sold La Senza for £100m. 5 years ago.

In the summer of 2006, Theo Paphitis sold his majority stake in La Senza for a cool £100m. Just a few months later the same buyer snapped up his lesser known brand Contessa, for a sum “in the low millions”.

Further to both purchases, private equity firm Lion Capital consolidated their number two position in the lingerie market (behind Marks & Spencer) by integrating the 60 or so Contessa branches into the La Senza brand.

But why am I talking about this now, some 5 years after the sale? Somehow the La Senza sale slipped under my radar and, as a result, I’ve made myself look like a bit of an idiot.

Since the middle of November I have been offering free advice to winners of Small Business Sunday, a weekly Twitter competition hosted by Theo Paphitis.  In an effort to demonstrate what was on offer, I posted this #sbs SEO freebie for La Senza.

The post was intended to illustrate the kind of advice I have been giving to #sbs winners: mainly search engine optimisation (SEO), but a little bit of pay per click (PPC) and conversion rate optimisation (CRO) where relevant.

At the same time, I wanted to be a little bit clever….

I know Theo Paphitis reads his Tweets and I’m fairly sure he’s seen my interaction with the weekly #sbs winners. Therefore it didn’t seem that unlikely that he would see the #sbs SEO freebie for La Senza and appreciate the subtle sales pitch.

Unfortunately, I failed to check that he still owned La Senza. Fail. Massive fail.

To rectify the situation I am going to do an #sbs SEO freebie for his newest brand, Boux Avenue, although I can’t see this having the same impact it could have done, had I done it properly first time around.

#sbs SEO freebie for LaSenza.com

For the past month and a half I have been giving back to #sbs, offering free SEO to the weekly winners. Thus far I have reviewed a total of 19 websites, representing just over half of the 36 winners since 23rd October and, to the best of my knowledge, the advice has been very well received.

I’m sure some people still think this is a sales pitch, so I thought I would throw up a quick post to illustrate exactly what you’re getting in one of these reviews. In most cases, the focus is on SEO (search engine optimisation), although I have been known to touch upon CRO (conversion rate optmisation) where relevant.

So, if  Theo Paphitis chooses you as a winner of Small Business Sunday, here’s an example of the #sbs SEO freebie I’m offering:

******
#sbs SEO freebie for Theo Paphitis La Senza

To: Weekly #sbs winner
Subject: #sbs SEO freebie for LaSenza.com

Dear Theo,

Congratulations on your #sbs win this week!

It may help if you read this really basic introduction to search engine optimisation. Should you require something a little more detailed, you can’t go wrong with Google’s (free) SEO starter kit.

I have taken a moment to review your website and have listed some possible improvements, below.

Your sitemap

A sitemap file helps search engines crawlers navigate and index your content.

At the moment, LaSenza.com doesn’t have a sitemap, so I would suggest you head over to http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ and create one as soon as possible. From the various file types that will be generated, you only need to save sitemap.xml and sitemap.xml.gz.

You should then upload the files so they occupy they reside at lasenza.com/sitemap.xml and lasenza.com/sitemap.xml.gz respectively.

Finally, sign up for a free Google Webmaster Tools account and register your sitemaps following the step by step guide. You will then be notified in the event Google finds any problems with either file.

In respect of lasenza.co.uk, you do have a sitemap.xml file but this times out while loading (see here). This may or may not be a problem (I’m not sure how patient the Google bots are), however I would suggest running the generator listed above and saving the sitemap.xml.gz file, which is essentially a zipped up version of what you have already. Don’t forget to register both files with Google Webmaster Tools!

Use of page descriptions

If you look at this site: search of your .co.uk domain, you will note the page descriptions are a bit hit and miss. This is because the <meta name=”Description”> tag hasn’t been fully utilised and in some cases is missing completely.

Every page on your website should include the following code just after the <title> .. </title> tags:

<meta name=”Description” content=”Enter a short (160 character max) description of your content here”>

Failing to do this can needlessly hinder your performance in the search engines.


Use of image names

In the context of SEO, images can be a very powerful asset if used correctly. Aside from appearing in image searches, they can also improve the SEO score of any given page.

To illustrate my point, consider this image of one of your bras (well, one of the ones you sell (I hope)). As it stands, the file name is “AW111_184.jpg”, which is of no benefit for SEO.

You have 70 characters at your disposal, so use them wisely. I always suggest the following format:

[Company Name] [Brand/Category Name] [Brief Description].jpg, for example:
La Senza – Womens Underwear – Black Padded Bra.jpg

Benefits

You’re already the #1 result for “lingerie” searches, however you don’t appear on the first page for related terms such as “womens’ underwear”. Implementing the above changes is likely to result in many more first page positions.

I also note you use Google Adwords extensively. Improving the search engine score of individual pages can result in a lower cost per click which, for a website with as much traffic as yours, could result in substantial savings.

Additional improvements

There are additional improvements, such as integrating social media sharing tools, however the changes listed above are likely to have the most significant impact.

Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards,

Adam Arnold
Director

Smarter SEO Limited
Technology Centre,
Wolverhampton Science Park,
WV10 9RU.

******

I always reach out to the weekly #sbs winners and from now on will be sending this post as an example of what you can expect.

If you have received an #sbs SEO freebie in the past, I would really appreciate it if you could leave some thoughts below.

How to activate PS3 / PSN party chat

For console games there are two separate sound sources: game and voice. Anyone who has played Modern Warfare 3 will have noticed problems with the latter, which can make it quite difficult to communicate with one another.

MW3: an alternative to in-game chat

About 10 days ago I signed into PSN and received a message asking for my Skype ID. When I replied, I was told to keep an eye on my computer. A few seconds later, I answered an incoming Skype call and, through my laptop’s speakers, could hear the instructions “plug your headset’s USB into your laptop”.

I removed the USB portion of my Sharkoon’s from my PS3 and popped them into my laptop and haven’t removed them since! Within 24 hours everyone on my PSN list had switched over to the Skype solution.

The benefits of Skype

The difference is astonishing. Imagine switching from a 40 inch HDTV to a 12 inch SD television: you would probably wonder how you made do with the SD box for so many years.  At the time, it was the best TV on offer, but once something better comes out your perceptions of “good” are altered indefinitely.

In addition to better voice quality, I’m convinced the Skype solution is helping my MW3 connection. Whilst I can’t really prove this, I suspect Skype handles the voice data more efficiently which leads to better connections to the host (bearing in mind MW3 uses a peer to peer system).

PS3 party chat system > XBOX Live (???)

The XBOX is way ahead of the PS3 in terms of social interaction and Microsoft’s party chat system allows users to communicate one another without the need to be in the same game.

While non-gamers assume we’re all social hermits, I’d rather spend an hour interacting with my friends on PSN than sat vegetating in front of the TV. Gaming isn’t as geeky as it was in the 90s.

Until now, this required us to be in the same party in the same game (or use a telephone!). However, using Skype means we can communicate outside of the previous boundaries, much like the XBOX Live party chat system.

However, we can even go one step further. Yesterday I was speaking to a mate driving home from work via Skype on his iPhone, whilst the rest of us engaged in virtual warfare. Now there is nothing to stop XBOX users doing the same, so don’t think I’m trying to start an XBOX vs PS3 debate.

Get Skype on your PS3 or XBOX

I’ve heard rumours that Skype is coming to the PS3. If it does, you can expect a better version on the XBOX before too long (don’t forget Microsoft now own Skype).

In the meantime, the following video should show you everything you need to know:

Looking to improve you COD: MW3 k/d and win-loss ratios? Subscribe to YouTube.com/iKingOfHouse for hints & tips on getting better at Modern Warfare 3.

Cyber Monday: Surround Sound Headsets

While surround sound headsets can be used for watching films or listening to music, they are more commonly found atop the heads of better than average gamers.

Looking to dominate the COD: MW3 leaderboards? Subscribe to YouTube.com/iKingOfHouse for tips on playing super aggressively! 

If I can quickly take you back to January 2009, I picked up a copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and found myself having a less than enjoyable gaming experience. Whilst this got better as I learned the maps and discovered which weapons, perks and killstreaks suited my play style, I still found myself losing out to players who seemed to know I was coming.

A friend asked me what headset I was using and laughed at my answer. Apparently my Bluetooth earpiece (formerly paired with a mobile phone) doesn’t count as a headset in the context of gaming.

Before long, I picked up a Sharkoon X-Tactic V3 [US link], which is essentially a European version of the Tritton AX Pro [US link]. I now enjoy games (as well as TV & music) in full 5.1 dolby surround sound and now I’m the one who knows when my opponent is nearby!

The following video is borrowed from YouTube partner Woodysgamertag and compares a gaming headset to a standard (and expensive) surround sound speaker set-up.

Surround sound speakers vs a surround sound gaming headset

Finally, if you’re a gamer and aren’t quite sure whether you should fork out for a decent headset, the following video from another big YouTuber should help with your decision.

Mike, more commonly known as Onslaught, is an absolute beast at first person shooters and he firmly believes that a surround sound headset will make you a better player:

Buy a gaming headset and become a better player

 Cyber Monday Deals on Gaming Headsets
Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk