Wednesday, March 30, 2005

12" Powerbook

Nice eye-candy, getting used to actually working the thing

I needed a new laptop (my trusty old Thinkpad is on its last legs). Since WandD is getting properly underway, this was becoming ever more important. I needed a laptop that would be both:

  • Small and light
  • Usable on the move (wifi, bluetooth etc.)

I had my eye on getting an Apple Powerbook because I had been impressed by OS X (for its usability combined with the power of the console when needed). I finally took the plunge on Monday and so I've had it for two days now, and whilst I'm still getting used to the keyboard shortcuts and other bits and pieces that are different between any operating systems, I'm impressed!

There are other benefits to us having a number of different platforms between us - principally that it becomes a lot easier to test and to see our work as any of our potential visitors might.

...[Read More]

Monday, March 21, 2005

TOAD - Cannot open Clipboard

I have recently upgraded from TOAD 7.3 to TOAD 8.0. For those that aren’t aware of TOAD it is a tool by Quest Software designed to make database and application development and administration tasks faster and easier.

Since the upgrade I have been getting an annoying, but rather amusing error.

In order to test and prove the data is correct I often extract the data from the various databases and use excel to do a row-by-row comparison. TOAD has a nice feature whereby you can save the results of a query in various formats. My preferred way of working is to save the data to the clipboard and then paste it into the excel spreadsheet. Fairly frequently during this process I get the below error.

I don’t think there is a pattern to the error, and I haven’t been able to find steps to reproduce it, but I get this error a handful of times a day. I find the best thing to do (although it doesn’t always work) is to open another program, copy and paste something, and then return back to TOAD and try again. If this fails, a restart of TOAD seems to do the trick – that’s the annoying part. The amusing part is this:

If you look again at the error message you notice there are two buttons. The first “OK”, nothing odd in that, however the second raises a smile every time I see it. Don’t forget this error (as reported by TOAD) happens when TOAD is unable to open the clipboard. Needless to say the Clipboard button seems a little out of place. When the button is clicked the message “Cannot Open clipboard” is put on the clipboard, allowing you to paste the message to your hearts content.

Sad maybe, but it still makes me smile, and after a long running query has finally finished only for TOAD to refuse to copy the data, that smile is about all that stops me screaming.

If anyone has found a satisfactory work around, I would love to hear from you.

...[Read More]

Sunday, March 20, 2005

London Networking Expo

Networking event near Marble Arch in London, Saturday 19th March 2005

I have just got back from my first 'official' networking event for WandD. It was a fantastic event and I enjoyed meeting lots of interesting people as well as listening to some outstanding speakers.

I enjoyed learning about lots of other peoples' businesses and, of course, promoting our own. I will write more about the speakers I heard and the people I met later. Check back for more.

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Friday, March 18, 2005

Forming a company

WandD becomes limited

Duncan and I are now directors. WandD Solutions Ltd is a limited company, with a registration at Companies' House, number 05403386.

Next step is opening a bank account (I think we're going to go with Bank of Scotland) and then becoming registered for VAT.

...[Read More]

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Choosing an accountant for WandD

How much fun can you have in one day?

I spent all day yesterday meeting accountants. Following the advice from Business Link and others, I met three kinds of accountant / accountancy firm:

  • 8 partners, 30 employees, nice offices near Embankment
  • Smaller firm based further out from the centre of London
  • Michael Austin, of blue dot consulting

As you will have guessed from the descriptions, we've chosen Michael as our accountant. The main part of the decision was a gut-feel trust of him and the enthusiasm he has for helping our business succeed. Even in the first (free) meeting, he was brainstorming ideas to help us succeed and suggesting ways of maximising our chances.

In addition, he will help us set up our systems to handle most of our own bookkeeping and offers advice and regular meetings for a flat-rate. It didn't hurt that he laughed at me for bringing my checklist of 10 things to ask your prospective accountant and any time I lapsed into consultant speak and said things like 'vertical segment'. I told him I was meeting other accountants on the same day and he asked 'how much fun can you have in one day?'. A big part of the reason for choosing blue dot consulting is that the meeting with him was fun.

Another interesting part of the day was that one of the other firms may actually become a client of ours, which would be an interesting sales pitch, but more on that later.

...[Read More]

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Forum for small businesses

I'm on the lookout for ways to increase our exposure and meet people who have mutually-beneficial skills. Trying to go about this in a few ways:
  • Established online forums (e.g. checking out Ecademy)
  • Offline networking (aka actually meeting people - if you're in the UK and fancy meeting in or around London, get in touch)
  • Getting involved in the early days of interesting projects...this is what this post is really about
I came across this forum for owners of small technology companies. It doesn't yet have a huge readership, but it looks like being a great resource for advice, making contacts and meeting people from all over the world.
...[Read More]

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Sex & Cash Theory

I am in an unfortunate limbo position at the moment. I am having to do everything in my power not to hand my notice in and work full time on WandD. What's stopping me? Well uncertainty, money (or lack thereoff), and almost everyone I know saying it is a bad idea.

Hugh "cartoons drawn on the back of business cards" maclead, has this to say, which I think sums up my dilemma perfectly.

Keep your day job.

I’m not just saying that for the usual reason i.e. because I think your idea will fail. I’m saying it because to suddenly quit one’s job in a big ol' creative drama-queen moment is always, always, always in direct conflict with what I call "The Sex & Cash Theory".

...[Read More]

Things got broken, things got lost.

Kitchen Confidential: great book if you have a strong stomach

I've just finished reading Anthony Bourdain's book, Kitchen Confidential. It's a great book if it's your kind of thing - uncensored and in your face. If you have a strong stomach and want to read about pirate crews in the kitchen, this book is for you.

I love cooking, and I'm sure I'll post more in the future about food. For the time being, though I just wanted to share two things about Bourdain's book:

  1. He's inspired me to get a really good cook's knife
  2. He ends with a phrase that I thought applied well to a lot of adventures, including the one we're experiencing starting WandD: "Things got broken. Things got lost. But I wouldn't have missed it for the world."

...[Read More]

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Introduction from Duncan

Live the dream

I read last night that everything you do should be fulfilling 'the dream'.

In an embarrassingly non-technical way I am sat on the 08:01 to London Bridge writing this with pen and paper. Amazingly enough it is currently snowing (and has been for 2 weeks, although nothing has settled), even more amazing is the fact the train is on-time (no leaves on the line, no signal failure, no broken down train, no delay)

This is not the dream.

This is NOT the dream.

My dream is to be able to get out of bed and start work. My dream is to want to get out of bed and start work. My dream is to run my own company and work for myself. My dream is to run my own company and work for myself doing something I enjoy. This dream is fundamental to me, fundamental to WandD, and therefore fundamental to this blog.

Hi, my name is Duncan, you can read more about me (or at least the same stuff with a different background / font / color...) at I graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2002, after four of the hardest years of my life. I am the proud owner of a 2:1 in Computer Science from one of the most highly rated universities in the field. It wasn't easy, it was a lot of hard work, lates nights and coffee. While most of my friends were at the pub/cinema/etc I (along with the other people on my course) were in the labs working. Third and Fourth year computer scientists were the only undergraduates at the time with 24 hour access to the university. I would like to say I didn't need it, and never used it, but that would by lying. Despite all of this I loved it. I would gladly have my time over again, and wouldn't change anything for the world. The thing is, once you have found something you love you want to keep doing it. For whatever reason I enjoy coding / programming (whatever you want call it) so spending all night in the lab getting a program to work wasn't actually all that bad.

So you join me now, about to embark on the next step. Working for myself, working with Will, doing something I love, namely designing and writing websites and all that goes with it.

...[Read More]

Some background from Will

I've wanted to run my own business for as long as I have had any thoughts about what I wanted to 'do' or what I wanted to 'be'. I remember not liking the options in the careers advice sessions at school and very much wanting to go for it at many points along the way. After a maths degree and graduate maths course at the University of Cambridge, I went down the route of getting experience working for other people and gaining contacts, knowledge and skills in someone else's company. Now, two and half years later, after working in IT, finance and strategy consulting roles for household name companies, including IBM, Cable & Wireless, Nokia, private equity, banks and government, I'm ready to be building something of my own.

Duncan and I have been running small-scale enterprises ever since sixth form at school. Neither of us can remember exactly how we met, but we played a number of team sports together, including on the (unbeaten!) basketball team at the age of 11 or 12, so it's been a while - more than half our lives to date. Sports have featured heavily in our mutual experiences and the teamwork and hustle experiences are no doubt going to feature in our future as well. We're different in many ways, we have different builds, styles and strengths, but we've played at similar levels in our chosen sports and always used to finish long-distance runs within seconds of each other (OK, he used to win, but I reckon I could take him). We're different in business as well, but our skills overlap and complement each other.

Looking back, there's a thread running through - a story to be told, through the sports and watching each other's back, the years before university when every day was a brainstorm and a daydream, our first business in sixth form, our one-off ventures such as Pannal Cricket Camp, Gordon Blue home restaurant for charity, WDJ Publications making unique 18th birthday presents for our whole circle of friends, being in South Africa, in a tiny room with a view of table mountain at the height of the dotcom boom, daydreaming about millions of pounds in venture capital, struggling to keep WandD alive through university and jobs in the City, gaining the skills and experience we needed, through to today. We're going for it - WandD is becoming more than the dream. We have no illusions, we know it's going to be hard, but it's going to be hard work for ourselves, building a company and that means a lot to us.

It is a dream, but if you don't chase the dream, you'll wake up one day and have missed your chance. Better to regret something you did than something you didn't do.

Keep coming back to WandD uncensored, and we'll share more of our experiences with you in more detail as we go along, and I'm sure there'll be new ones along the way. That's the point, after all.

...[Read More]

Monday, March 07, 2005

WandD becomes Uncensored - Web site design, London, UK

Life at is about to become exciting. WandD-uncensored is the second-leg of a journey, the first leg of which started at secondary school when two kids met.

We hope you check back regularly and together we can follow the WandD story. A story that starts when William and Duncan become Will and D who become W and D, who become WandD, which becomes ...? (you'll have to keep checking back to find out where we take it).

WandD in a nutshell

Marketing guru Seth Godin said, "If you can't state your position in eight words, you don't have a position."

Taking this idea a step further we would state the position of WandD as:

Our Business is getting your business online.

What is WandD Uncensored

WandD uncensored allows us to write down and publish all of the random ideas that we all have. We have split it out from our main website in accordance with our design philosophy of having clean, uncluttered websites.

Further information / questions

More information about the website design, and other services we offer is available at

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