Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Don't buy a Samsung not-so FlashCAM!

It’s always nice when other people make mistakes so you don’t have to; not so good when you’re the crash-test-dummy yourself. Sadly, I throw my hands up and admit my mistake and urge you not to repeat it. For down the slippery slope I have descended lies only frustration, aggravation and the desire to play quarterback with a new purchase.

I’m talking about my new Samsung FlashCAM – a devise so annoying I wish it came at truly disposable price point. Alas, I have parted with more money than I can knowingly discard. And I need a camcorder over these next couple of weeks so I must make do. However, it will be retired at the earliest possible opportunity. (It might not even be deemed charitable to give it away!)

I was fooled by its cute styling, its YouTube friendly sticker and the fact it wasn’t a Sony. (I’ve had issues with them in the past too!) I wanted to purchase a Canon HD camcorder but they are not readily available in Bosnia and Herzegovina, at least not in the shops near me. Still a model from the Legria range will remain on my wish list unless another ‘dummy’ alerts me to some hidden dangers!

Thursday, 11 June 2009


Those new to online video might be forgiven for thinking this vlog is nothing more than the fanciful ramblings of a sadly deluded individual. But they would be wrong. I've watched Peter's story unfold, from his 'First Try' video and the ensuing media storm that surrounded him. His story is truly inspirational. It also teaches us an important lesson about social media.

People are only too old to engage with social media if they think they are too old.

It is a mistake to assume all new technology based communication is automatically the exclusive presereve of the hip and the young. Peter also stands as a fantastic case study of how starting with what you can do can open doors to unimaginable opportunities. He says his viewing figures are going down but I'll contend that his influence continues to rise. And yet some of you reading this are already making a list of reasons why it worked for him and wouldn't work for you. Why not stop making that list and make a YouTube video instead!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Creative Cravings?!

‘Creative Cravings’: really not the most compelling name I’ve come across; however, CafePress are based in the States and we are not. I was searching for UK-based company that provides a similar type of service. So, cringe-worthy name notwithstanding, we’ll give them a go. On the plus side the fact I created an online shop, designed and ordered WeDoAdventure merchandise to be delivered to our UK address all from the other side of Europe, and without any human interaction, must almost certainly be chalked up as progress! I guess wisdom says wait to confirm the quality of the finished products before starting to shout about it. So watch this space...!

Monday, 1 June 2009


‘Bing’ just opened itself a window as I launched Internet Explorer. Rather than click the ‘x’ in disgust I decided to put it to the ultimate test, what would under other circumstances be called ‘Googling oneself’! ‘Binging’ doesn’t sound too healthy when used in that context so I’ll refrain from attempting to coin a phrase. I typed in ‘Matt Hellyer’ and hit the magnifying glass. The ‘real me’ took the top four places and six out of the top ten, the first page of results.

What were those searchable online references to my good self? First was my Myspace profile page, even thought this lays mostly dormant these days. Next was a YouTube video on my talk74 channel, one that wouldn’t make my top ten most viewed. Novi Most, the charity I work with, took third place with their Bosnian website and my talk74 channel page took fourth. My previous employer’s dot com came in seventh and rounding off the page was a published comment from the Times Online.

Search is one of the most powerful drivers of internet traffic. Twitter, and similar services, are boosting the power of recommendation to generate interest but anyone wanting to be found online should still be bothered about search. So am I happy with Bing’s performance? In truth it doesn’t tell me too much. My experiment was flawed in that I searched for my name; only people who already know me can do that. To be truly discoverable online I need to turn up in results to searches for things people are actually looking for!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

My Face Featured on iPhone!

Someone mentioned in a emails recent that they thought I’d probably have a Blackberry, or similar device. I don’t. Last time I checked Bosnia and Herzegovina still did not have a 3G network. Wifi hotspots are not unknown but there are still rare around Mostar. My Smartphone is still in a drawer somewhere and I use my wife’s faithful old Sony Ericsson Walkman phone of about four generations ago!

This morning I logged onto Facebook to find a friend telling me of their shock to find my face staring back at them from the second page of the featured videos on their new iPhone. I apologised for any undue stress this situation caused them. It was the same video I mentioned at the beginning of the month, the one where I give a few thoughts on St George’s Day. This, again, is just another argument for putting stuff out there. I took an idea, made the video and put it where people can easily find it (YouTube, in this instance). That’s why more people are watching my video than the better one you could make but haven’t got round to!

So there may be little point me owning an iPhone out here but it seems that doesn’t stop me showing up on yours: you have been warned!

Friday, 29 May 2009

Your Content Laid To Rest!

James used to work for Politico make videos every week day. I miss his take on American politics and current affairs. But the reason for featuring this video here is it tackles the issue of online accessibility. The internet has the power to make access easy for people, wherever they are. As he says, this does not always go down well with 'The Man'. (It's probably not helped by the fact that some of the web's most ubiquitous names still have yet to turn a profit.)

As a content provide to you make you content available to your users / followers / audience / customers? Or do you employ annoying layers of, seemingly unnecessary, login and verification is a blatant attempt to mine data? Heaven forbid you actually charge for what you upload!

I agree with James that the most important bits of information will leak round any form of online premium or protectionism policy. Putting a wall around your content could be the best way to let is rest in peace.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

An almost unique web presence!

Over at our WeDoAdventure blogspot I’m blogging about life as we find it in Bosnia and Herzegovina. To my knowledge there is only one other English blogger, blogging in English, from this country. The Fraught Mummy from Brits in Bosnia also blogs on the joys and challenges of motherhood – something I know nothing about! It’s strange to think that we’re the only two English voices representing life in an entire nation. Strange it may be but it does lend a uniqueness unattainable if I were to, say, be blogging about life in Liverpool. That’s why I wasn’t particularly surprised when a co-worker told me today they’d been introduced to another English person living in Mostar who’d heard of us. I’ve noticed our blog content (and YouTube videos) show up well in relevant searches, but when they said they had mentioned ‘WeDoAdventure’ – asking if that was our slogan – I had to smile. Not only does the mighty Google machine recognise we’re here but incidents like this are an encouragement our content is captivating enough to be remembered by real people!

Why is this important to you? If you’re doing something you believe people will want to support, or buy into, blogging and online video is on way to start a conversation with them that costs you nothing more than your time and a little ingenuity. As far as making you ‘searchable’ platforms like Blogger or YouTube may well prove more effective than your current dot-com, they will certainly provide a greater chance of interested people stumbling across your web presence.