Friday, November 23, 2012

Endomondo discovers how to get my money

When I logged into Endomondo the other day I discovered that in the process of redesigning their website, they had also decided to hide some of the useful stats from us users who weren’t paying them any money.

I could have started shouting and screaming at this point, since they’d had the temerity to take away my free toys. But frankly $20 a year for a very useful service is a price worth paying if it helps them to keep the lights on.

Of course this approach only works for sites that offer a valuable service, it probably wouldn’t work for quite a few sites (I’m looking at you Facebook!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Windows 8 – How bad are these apps?

For most of my time I’ve been using Windows 8 much as I used previous versions of Windows and stayed well away from the new interface and apps. But I’ve recently started playing with some of the apps and frankly it’s all quite disappointing.

For a start, every app seems to take an age to fire up. This makes no sense, I have a reasonably specced laptop and yet apps take longer to load up than on my phone, even though the apps do the same thing! I really hope this is a problem with the apps, rather than the underlying platform, since at least the apps can get updated quite easily.

The other problem is some of these apps are pretty buggy. We’ve been playing solitaire on our Windows PCs for over twenty years and I can’t remember it ever crashing before, but it’s just happened about 5 times in the space of a few minutes. Ah well, maybe one of those updates advertised in the store is for solitaire? Hard to say since the store keeps telling me I’m not connected to the internet, even though I definitely am. And when I do manage to access it, I can’t actually get to the updates.

I’m not sure the good folk at Apple will be quaking in their boots at the moment.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

UK postcode data is free, mostly

Today someone posted a comment to my site saying this

at [redacted] you can find a full uk postcode database with all postcodes and long / lat values. it is the only source i found where northern ireland is included. there is a download fee, future updates are free though. it contains approx 1.9 million postcodes and is complete and correct. despite the costs it seems to be recommendable for commercial projects given the completeness of the data and the update-service.

This immediately smelt a bit funny, so I headed off to their website. First I noticed the company was registered in the British Virgin Islands, which looked slightly odd. Next I checked the IP address of the commenter. Apparently he/she was located in the Philippines, which also seemed a bit strange for someone talking about UK postcodes.

So I’d be inclined to think this may not be the best company to buy UK postcode data from. But more importantly, this level of postcode data is available for nothing, with a few caveats (Northern Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man are missing). Just grab it direct from the Ordnance Survey or from my website or a host of other sites packaging up the data in various ways.

Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with paying for postcode data, I provide the data for nothing and don’t promise to provide any kind of level of support, though I try to answer any questions people have. So if you want some kind of guaranteed support, paying might make sense.

One thing the free postcode data is missing is address level data. Whereas there are 1.8 million postcodes, there are 28 million addresses in the UK. To get hold of this data, you will need to pay money. And if you do want to pay for postcode data, this is almost certainly the dataset to buy, since it probably won’t cost much more than the smaller dataset and is much more versatile. And if you do decide to buy this dataset, I suggest buying it from one of the Royal Mail’s approved resellers, rather than some random dodgy site.

Update – I’ve only just been made aware of the fact that even the PAF dataset can be free if you are a small charitable organisation or a micro business. I’m not sure of the exact requirements you need to meet to get it for free, but it is certainly worth looking into.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Windows 8 start screen and search is broken

imageBefore I start, I have to point out this is not a me too complaint about not liking the new Windows 8 user interface. I have no problems with it. Or at least I didn’t have until it started to look like this, with no icons. If I press the little [–] button at bottom right then small versions of my icons appear and I can then see the full size versions of them if I click somewhere on the screen. But if I want to search for an app, although Windows says there are apps there, nothing appears in the main window. Search results for settings and files do appear however.



I have no idea how it got into this state, or why, or how to get my icons and search results back. Since this is, I think, the only way to get to applications, this is kind of frustrating. It seems I now have to search round in Explorer to find the relevant EXE…

Update -  Turns out the fix for this is the old favourite, a reboot…

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Windows 8 - The Module DLL C:\Windows\system32\inetsrv\rewrite.dll failed to load

After installing Windows 8, one of my AppPools in IIS kept stopping with the error ‘The Module DLL C:\Windows\system32\inetsrv\rewrite.dll failed to load’ appearing in my Event Log. Since I’m not really using the IIS URL Rewrite module, I tried removing it from IIS, but this didn’t fix the problem. But uninstalling it via Control Panel did fix the issue. Not sure what the underlying problem was and obviously this isn’t a great solution if you are using the URL Rewrite module, but it worked for me!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Windows 8 – what’s all the fuss about?

I’d read a lot about what a bad OS Windows 8 is for desktop systems, since it’s all about adding features for use on tablets. So being the masochist I am, I thought I’d install it on my desktop machine, a none too modern Dell box with a couple of monitors. Several hours later, it was done and I hit my first problem. Windows didn’t like my mouse. This made navigating round the new user interface a little tricky. But after swapping out the mouse for another one, things got better.

So the big complaint about Windows 8 is that the Start button is no more. But move the mouse to the bottom left of the screen and a little Start popup appears. Click on that and most of your apps are listed. For the ones that aren’t, just start typing and a list of matching apps appear. And here’s the important thing about that search facility, it’s much faster than the same search functionality in Windows 7, which always seemed to hang for seconds before doing anything. The learning curve for this was about 5 minutes, although I have to admit I do occasionally mistakenly click on the task bar rather than the Start popup.

So the biggest issue seems to be a non issue, for me at least. The things that I like so far are much faster boot times, a task bar that stretches across multiple monitors and a much improved Task Manager. Nothing revolutionary but welcome none the less.

I then installed it on my laptop. Much the same experience, although Minecraft no longer runs due to my graphics card driver not supporting OpenGL. I am not popular with my daughter.

There are shedloads of new things in that Start screen, but as a desktop user I was more concerned about getting to all the stuff I currently use and that all works fine. So what’s all the fuss about?

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Executing multiple SQL statements against multiple databases

In my day job, each of the customers running in our hosted environment have their own SQL Server database. As we develop the software that runs on top of these databases, we often need to update the schema of each database. I knocked together a little console application in C# to do the job and here are the interesting parts of it. First, we need to get a list of the available databases, which can be achieved quite easily.

      List<string> DBs = new List<string>();
      // get list of available databases
      SqlCommand command = conn.CreateCommand();
      command.CommandText = "select * from master.sys.databases where DataBase_ID > 4";
      using (SqlDataReader reader = command.ExecuteReader())
        while (reader.Read())

Next, we need to execute the SQL updates. This isn’t quite as easy as you’d think. If you want to execute multiple SQL statements with GO statements between them, SqlCommand.ExecuteNonQuery won’t handle them. Fortunately SQL Server comes with some assemblies that solve the problem. So you need to add references to Microsoft.SqlServer.ConnectionInfo.dll, Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.Sdk.Sfc.dll and Microsoft.SqlServer.Smo.dll. Once they have been referenced, the following code should be able to handle any SQL you throw at it.

      foreach (string database in DBs)
        Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.Smo.Server server = 
          new Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.Smo.Server(new ServerConnection(conn));
        server.ConnectionContext.ExecuteNonQuery("USE " + database + "\nGO\n" + sql);

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lets build a socialist network

It was five years ago. We’d driven down to Spain to see my dad and as we sat in his living room I was amazed to see my teenage nephew and his mate typing ferociously on their laptops as they chatted away on the social network du jour (I’m guessing Facebook but I might be wrong). I remember thinking at the time what would happen if we could harness all that energy into doing something productive.

What I hadn’t realised is that Facebook had already figured out how to harness that energy. Most websites (ignoring the ones that sell stuff) draw viewers in by producing interesting content and make their money through advertising on the site. Facebook works in the same way, but it doesn’t produce its own content, it gets its users to do that. In fact it’s a brilliant system since the content that is produced helps to decide what adverts should get shown, but I can’t help feeling there’s a better way. If I write some content, I want to have the chance to earn some income from it. I know from my experiences here that the chances of me making a reasonable amount of cash are pretty low, but I still think the system where the advertising network takes a cut and the content producer takes a cut is a fairer approach.

I think there are two approaches possible. The first is to build a competitor to Facebook, where the users take a cut of profits. I think this could have a few problems, how do you decide who gets what?, how do you stop fake users signing up just for a cut?, how do you stop click through fraud to increase earnings?

So here’s another option, we develop open protocols that allow different sites to hook up together and provide similar functionality to Facebook (and Twitter and Google+ and LinkedIn). There’s not a lot to it as far as I can see, the basic actions are add a friend, follow someone (that’s pretty much RSS), like something, send a message to someone and publish a message (that’s essentially a blog post). None of it is rocket science. And then we all have a choice. A geek like me could mash all my social networking stuff together on my own site and have the chance to earn some money. Ordinary users could continue to use the services they want, new services would crop up that aggregated all your social networks together. Everyone wins…

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Bike It example Windows Phone app source code

I started to write my own biking app for Windows Phone then found an app that was much better than I could hope to achieve. So here is the source code for my app, which might be useful if you want to do something similar, or just want to see an example Windows Phone app. Be warned, the code is not particularly pretty.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Endomondo and the app that will never be

I’ve written before about the two bike apps I’ve found for my Windows Phone, MyBikeMap and MapMyRide. I was so convinced that they were the only two options available that I started to write my own bike app. I got quite far with it, then I noticed a new app, Cyclocomp. I downloaded it and was quite impressed but decided it had a fatal flaw, it lets the phone go to sleep, the same problem that MapMyRide had. Wondering if I’m doing something wrong or am using these apps in a way nobody else is I had a look around for a review of it. That led me on to another app Endomondo. So I thought I’d give it a go and was immediately impressed.

The user interface is simple and elegant, the displayed stats can be configured to whatever you prefer, the map takes up the whole screen and you can even receive pep talks (and you can turn them off!). And even better, the data gets uploaded to the Endomondo website where you can view the map and see lots of geeky stats about your rides. And you can even enter challenges with other users, challenges that I am bound to lose since there’s clearly some very fit, active people on there. My only complaint is the map occasionally seems to get confused and stops showing the trail of where you’ve come from. But for free, it’s pretty much perfect.

And it rather puts my feeble effort to shame, so I guess my bike app won’t be seeing the light of day…

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I don’t rate Rated People (or maybe I do)

You’ve probably seen the adverts where Phil Spencer, the man whose remarkable negotiating skills can sometimes get £5,000 knocked off a £500,000 house purchase, tells us about this remarkable website which can connect us punters with local tradesmen. To me this seems like a good idea for a website and I have some work that needs doing, so thought I’d give it a spin.

So I filled in my details, entered the job details and waited for a response. And then, nothing. OK, not entirely true, I received a couple of text messages and emails. A couple of days passed and I received an email telling me that I hadn’t had a response and maybe I should expand on my job description to get a response. So off I went and updated the description and hit submit and then I was presented with a 404 error (for the non technical, this means the website is broken). So I tried again and got the same result (definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results). And I gave up at that point.

OK, slightly annoying, but no worries, I’ll drop them an email and let them know and I’ll update the description later when it’s fixed. So I go to their contact page. I can ring them, but not at this time or I can send them a tweet or write on their Facebook page or add a comment to their blog. No feedback form, no email address. I didn’t particularly want to berate them on a public forum, maybe the problem is something specific to me, so none of those options appealed. Yes, yes, I see the irony, I am now berating them quite publically (hello my many reader), but I’m annoyed now.

So, so far, Rated People is something of a failure for me. I think if you’re going to be spending a bunch of money on TV advertising, quite a bit of effort should also be spent on the product…

Update – A funny thing happened today, I got a call from Rated People, specifically due to this blog post. I’ve ranted about a few companies on here and never got any response from the company involved, so it was a pleasant surprise to get some feedback. I should also say that I did eventually manage to update my job description and also got a response from an interested builder, who is repairing my pointing as I type. So it would appear my initial review of Rated People may have been overly negative. And what’s more, Phil Spencer is no longer doing the voice over on their ads…

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Smart phone + app + bike mounting > bike computer

I recently took possession of a new Nokia Lumia 800, thanks to work, and immediately thought it would make a great replacement for my Veloset GPS 600 bike computer. Hearing Windows Phone didn’t have many apps, I thought I’d have to write my own biking app, but it turns out there are already a couple available, both free.

The first is MapMyRide. This initially seemed pretty good, but it has one fatal flaw, it lets the phone go to sleep. If you want to look at the map as you ride it is pretty tricky. You really don’t want to be fiddling with your phone when you’re riding.

Next up is MyBikeMap, which has one big advantage in that it doesn’t let the phone sleep, so I can look at my map all the time during my ride. It’s also well designed, with a simple user interface and showing just the pertinent information on the screen displayed when riding. It’s not perfect, my main complaint is the lack of support for miles, but it’s hard to complain too much when it’s free and it does most of what I want.

The final piece of the puzzle is something to attach the phone to my bike. I went for this mounting, primarily because it came up first on a Google search. The phone fits it perfectly and I was pleased to realise I could leave the zip open slightly to still have access to the buttons and I was able to use the touch screen through the plastic cover. But it does have a somewhat major problem as I found out today. Although the coupling between cover and bracket on the bike is perfectly adequate when riding on a road, if it gets a jolt then the cover (and the phone) can go flying. And you might not even notice until you look down some time later.

The design of the mounting is kind of weird, the cover is attached to the bracket not once but twice. One of these couplings is pretty secure, but the other isn’t. So the solution I’ve come up with is to glue the weaker coupling and I’m hoping this solves the problem. But you may want to consider this issue before purchasing this mounting.

But other than the teething problems, I’m pretty happy with this set up. It’s great to have a map in front of me as I ride, since it gives me much more opportunity to try heading off down a road or track that I don’t know without worrying about getting completely lost. And it makes me think the market for high end bike computers may not last much longer. Why spend £200 on one of them when a smart phone can do the same job? 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

KmlLayer error handling in Google Maps

Two years ago I noted that the KmLayer in Google Maps didn’t provide an event to inform me if there was a problem when loading the KML. Things have moved on and an event has been added to the API at some point. Usage is as follows.

  var kmlLayer = new google.maps.KmlLayer(url, { map: map });
  google.maps.event.addListener(kmlLayer, 'status_changed', function() {
    if (kmlLayer.getStatus() == 'OK')
      $('#status').html('KML loading problem - ' + kmlLayer.getStatus());

Saturday, April 14, 2012

How to increase your AdSense revenue

My proper website has been around for about 12 years. For most of that time it had very few visitors and the money I made from advertising was minimal. Then a couple of years ago advertising revenue started going up. It’s now plateaued but I earn a nice wedge of cash ever month, not enough to give up the day job but enough to add a decent amount to my income. So what’s my secret and how can you do the same thing?

Firstly, you can optimise the placement, colours and number of AdSense units. Now this may well improve your revenue but the problem is it is almost impossible to figure out if revenue increased due to changes to your ads or just due to random fluctuations. Take a look at my daily income over the past month.


There’s a lot of volatility in those figures. Admittedly you can slice the data in different ways which can produce better results but even with no changes to my ad setup, the daily numbers are all pretty volatile. And if you aren’t making a lot of cash from your ads, your figures are likely even more volatile. So I figure if you want to optimise you ad setup, then you need to be looking at weekly or monthly numbers, so the feedback loop on changes is going to be pretty slow. To be frank the limit of my optimisation of ads is to increase the number of ad units to three (the maximum allowed and also probably the maximum number that wouldn’t be too annoying to a user of you site).

So what did cause the increase in my income? Simple really, an increasing number of visitors. My graph of monthly visitors and my graph of monthly AdSense revenue are almost identical. So unfortunately the answer to the question of how to increase AdSense revenue is another question, how to increase the number of visitors to your site.

And the answer to that question is actually pretty straightforward I reckon. The first part is fully within your control - Produce a lot of content of a reasonably quality. i.e Content that search engines will consider to be of value and hence index. The second part isn’t completely within your control, gain some inbound links from reputable sites. I actually think this will naturally follow from producing content that people appreciate.

In some ways I can’t help thinking this is the business model that Facebook has adopted, get a shedload of content (although in their case its helpfully created by their own users) and shove ads on it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fun with flags

The Big Bang Theory hasn’t been quite the same since the geeks started to pair off with girlfriends (since half the humour was about them failing spectacularly in their endeavours with the opposite sex), but Sheldon’s recent video podcast ‘Fun with flags’ was rather splendid.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Creepy ads

I’m used to visiting a website and their adverts then following me round the web afterwards. It’s happened with Dell and some property website. They even seem to make an effort to show me relevant stuff (laptops I was looking at or properties in the area I looked at). Then after a few days they disappear. I find it a bit creepy and it’s a bit of an eye opener to realise what the ad companies know about me (or about the cookie that’s sat on my machine).

But there’s an advert that’s been following me around for months now, for LeanKit Enterprise Kanban. I’m pretty sure this ad can’t be getting shown to everybody on the web, since this is a pretty niche product, so I can only assume it’s appearing because I visited their site ages ago. This has gone beyond creepy, this is just plain weird. Is showing me the same ad for months on end actually effective? Are the advertisers paying a premium for it?

Friday, April 06, 2012

Cross browser selectSingleNode for XML in Javascript

Internet Explorer has a non-standard method available in XML documents returned from AJAX calls called selectSingleNode. Pass in some XPath and it returns the first node that matches the XPath. Other browsers have ways of doing the same thing, but they are more long winded. So in short, I like the IE implementation and since I don’t fiddle with XML in JavaScript that often I often forget that selectSingleNode is not supported on all browsers (and if you’re wondering why I use IE as my primary browser, it’s because it’s still, just about, the most popular browser out there).

So here’s a cross browser version of selectSingleNode (not my own work, copy and pasted from somewhere I can’t remember on the web)

    function SelectSingleNode(xmlDoc, elementPath) {
      if (xmlDoc.evaluate) {
        var nodes = xmlDoc.evaluate(elementPath, xmlDoc, null, XPathResult.ANY_TYPE, null);
        var results = nodes.iterateNext();
        return results;
        return xmlDoc.selectSingleNode(elementPath); 

Update – This no longer works in IE10, since selectSingleNode has been removed from the XML document returned from AJAX calls. This can be worked around by setting the response type of the XmlHttpRequest, like so

xhr.responseType =  'msxml-document';

More info

Update – There’s a more fully featured version of this now available

Monday, March 19, 2012

Business Optix blog now live

The blog of my employer Business Optix has gone live. We’ll be posting there as we roll out new features to our web and desktop products, along with tips and tricks to use the current software and any other company news. Keep up to date by signing up to the RSS feed.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Veloset GPS 600 bike computer review

My first foray into the world of bike computers was a Sigma 1609 device. I quite liked it, since it was simple to use with a clear display, big chunky buttons and a very low price. The only minor downside was a certain amount of faffing around required to get it configured initially since it needed to know how big my wheels were.

But one day on my ride to work, a driver decided it would be a good idea to pull out at a junction without looking to see if anybody was coming and knocked me to the ground in the process. As I dusted myself off at the side of the road I heard a crunching sound and realised me and my bike had successfully got to the road side but my Sigma hadn’t.

So it was time to get another bike computer, since they are quite addictive. Being a map geek, I thought it was time I bought one with GPS, so I could map my routes on my PC. The Veloset GPS 600 caught my eye, since it was probably the cheapest GPS enabled bike computer available.

And it when it arrived first impressions were good, coming in a nice attractive box. But firing it up was disappointing. For some reason it uses a butt ugly font to display text and since it’s only a small device it’s not only ugly but difficult to read as well.

imageAnd things got worse when I fired up the accompanying software, which is possibly the ugliest software I’ve seen in my life. For people used to fondling iPads and the like, this will probably be a grave disappointment. But it does what it needs to do, importing data from the computer and displaying it in various graphs (speed, altitude) and on a map. It does consistently show my average speed as being higher than my maximum speed, which my basic grasp of maths suggests is incorrect, but other than that it seems to function correctly.

Which can also be said for the bike computer itself. It’s not the prettiest device ever but it does what it needs to do, displaying current speed, average speed (this time accurately!), distance covered, altitude, journey time etc. I’m not particularly keen on the touchpad buttons, since it’s easy to press them by accident and it’s impossible to press them at all when wearing gloves. Also on occasion the GPS seems to take a while to switch itself on, so the starts of journeys are sometimes lost.

So in conclusion, it’s the cheapest GPS enabled bike computer available and it shows in the presentation. It’s not a device you’ll fall in love with, but it does do everything it needs to do.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Finding a UserPrincipal for an email address

I wanted to let users log in to our application using their Windows user name or their email address. In order to achieve this aim, I needed to get hold of a UserPrincipal from the user’s email address so I could then test the password they entered was correct. It took quite a lot of searching to find the relevant code, so I thought I’d post the pertinent part here.

      PrincipalContext context = new PrincipalContext(
        ContextType.Domain, Environment.UserDomainName);
      UserPrincipal user = new UserPrincipal(context);
      user.EmailAddress = "";

      // create a principal searcher for running a search operation
      PrincipalSearcher pS = new PrincipalSearcher(user);

      // run the query
      PrincipalSearchResult<Principal> results = pS.FindAll();

      foreach (Principal result in results)
        // do something useful...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The scale of the universe

If like me you find it hard to grasp how the tiny the tiniest things are and how massively huge the biggest things are, then have a look at this

I’m not sure our minds can ever fully comprehend these different distances and sizes, but maybe it’ll help…

Monday, January 30, 2012

Let’s outsource the bankers

The main argument for bankers earning vast amounts of money seems to be that in a global market, they’ll just bugger off somewhere else if we can’t match the money available elsewhere. But the odd thing is, for the rest of us, globalization has led to stagnating wages as jobs have been outsourced to countries with cheaper labour. Odd that the free market doesn’t work in the same way for the rich as it does for everyone else.

So if we assume that maybe this argument is a bit of a fib, and assuming we can find decent replacements in some far off land who are willing to work for a much smaller pay packet, can’t we just outsource all our bankers along with some of our well paid CEOs? That’s some offshoring I wouldn’t mind seeing.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Developer interview questions

A while back I had to interview some people for a developer role at work so came up with a few questions, combining a few from the web with some of my own. This is essentially a note to myself for next time I’m interviewing.

What's a jQuery selector? How would you select an item by its ID? By its class?
Give some examples of JQuery UI effects and widgets and what they could be used for

What's an interface? Compare and contrast with an abstract class
How does memory management differ between .NET and a non-managed language? How can we make .NET behave more like a non-managed language?
What are generics? Why use List<> instead of ArrayList?
What's a virtual function? How does it relate to OOP?

What is a RESTful web service? Why are they preferred to SOAP web services?
What are the common data formats returned by an AJAX web service call? Is one better than the other? What about if you wanted to call it from a fat client?
Name and describe several HTTP status codes
Name the various HTTP verbs and when they are used

Your application has a performance problem, how would you investigate the issue?
An error occurs in your web application but only in production and only happens occasionally, how do you go about tracking down the problem?
What are some of the issues around multi-threaded applications?
Discuss some ways of ensuring code quality remains high in a project

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Do it yourself inbound link alerts

Embedded Analytics provide a nice service that will email you whenever somebody clicks on a new link to your site. I’ve been signed up for a while and it’s interesting to see who’s linked to my site. But I received an email last week informing me that my site had so many inbound links that I would have to start paying for the service. To be fair the amount they were going to charge me wasn’t a lot, but I couldn’t really justify spending money on something that is essentially just a way to waste a bit of time for me. And I also figured I could probably do the same thing myself through the Google Analytics API, since this is what Embedded Analytics uses.

I’m assuming that Embedded Analytics uses the source for visitors to your site to spot new links. There is a downside to this since it won’t spot links that have been added but have not been clicked on, but generally these won’t be that interesting, since they presumably are links on low traffic sites.

So to implement this requires a few steps. Pull out the data from Google Analytics and store this data somewhere (DB, XML file, whatever). Then next time we pull the data out of Google, check for new URLs in the returned data and send a notification of these new URLs. Embedded Analytics also goes a step further and validates that the links are valid and that the pages containing them are available from the web. I was only really interested in the first part of this solution so have written a piece of code to pull out the URLs using the Google Data API for .NET. The rest of the work is left as an exercise for the reader!

using System;
using Google.GData.Analytics;

namespace GoogleAnalytics
  class Program
    static void Main(string[] args)
      AccountQuery feedQuery = new AccountQuery();
      AnalyticsService service = new AnalyticsService("DoogalAnalytics");
      service.setUserCredentials("email", "password");

      DataQuery pageViewQuery = new DataQuery("");
      pageViewQuery.Ids = "ga:202885";
      pageViewQuery.Metrics = "ga:visits";
      pageViewQuery.Dimensions = "ga:source,ga:referralPath";
      pageViewQuery.Sort = "ga:source,ga:referralPath";
      pageViewQuery.GAStartDate = DateTime.Now.AddMonths(-1).ToString("yyyy-MM-dd");
      pageViewQuery.GAEndDate = DateTime.Now.ToString("yyyy-MM-dd");

      DataFeed feed = service.Query(pageViewQuery);
      for (int i = 0; i < feed.Entries.Count; i++)
        DataEntry pvEntry = (DataEntry)feed.Entries[i];
        string host = pvEntry.Dimensions[0].Value;
        string path = pvEntry.Dimensions[1].Value;
        Console.WriteLine("http://" + host + path);


Friday, January 06, 2012

Another take on peer to peer lending

It seems a little strange to me that at a time when banks are meant to be desperately trying to increase their balance sheets, they are offering such meagre interest rates. I dunnow but maybe offer some decent rates and people will shove their money in your bank? But it seems they have decided it’s better to offer crap rates and hope we are too stupid to realise we can get better returns elsewhere.

So for a few years I’ve been stashing cash in Zopa and getting a return that manages to beat inflation by lending money directly to people, with the caveat that there is a higher level of risk than having money in the bank.

But I’m obviously not the only person to choose this option and rates have been falling of late. And although I’m happy to finance personal loans, i did have a hankering to lend money to businesses, especially since this seems to be something else banks are failing to do properly*

Which is where Funding Circle comes in. This is peer to peer lending but the other party is a business. Interest rates are currently some what better than Zopa. Time will tell how bad the default rates are but I’m going to drip feed some money in there and see how it pans out.

*I always thought banking was pretty straightforward, take in money from deposits, then lend it out to other people and skim a bit of profit from the transaction. Simple and a bit boring. Maybe they should have stuck to this slightly dull job, rather than inventing, buying and selling insane derivatives that nobody understands and nobody can quantify the associated risk. Get back to doing what you’re meant to do and people might get off your back a bit…