Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba is the largest island in the Bay and approximately half of its area is covered by a National Park, which is home to the highly endangered Cat Ba langur. (Believed to be only 60.)

Cat Ba Island means ‘Women’s Island’ and legend has it that three women of the Tran Dynasty died, each of their bodies washing up on a different beach. The inhabitants built temples for each of the women and the island came to be known as Cat Ba.

Cat Ba’s position at the head of Haiphong Harbour made it an important strategic location in the Vietnam War, known as the American War to the Vietnamese.

It was heavily bombed during this period and craters can still be seen in various places across the island.

Another significant remnant of the war is the Hospital Cave which served as a secret hospital, military base and safe house for Viet Cong leaders.

Hospital Cave, (Off Ha Sen Road, 10km from town). A 17 room underground hospital and hideout which was in use until 1975. It’s a real life James Bond underground lair. Get tickets from the café on opposite side of road.

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6 Tips for Building Lasting Relationships with Clients

Building and maintaining client relationships is a central part of working life, and this is particularly important for freelancers and small businesses. Whatever type of product or service you are providing it is an essential consideration that you have lasting and trusted relationships with the people who provide you with work. You can be the very best at what you do, but treat your clients badly and you’re going to lose valuable projects.

There are some simple steps you can take to build lasting client relationships. As with the relationships in other areas of our lives, the way we interact with work clients should be based on mutual trust and respect. By communicating openly and honestly we can quickly turn these interactions into something more personal, working together as people rather than business contacts. Providing the best work efficiently and on time are the basics of freelance work, but we can go beyond this by learning more about our customers, teaching skills and sharing knowledge, and creating networks.

This post outlines six steps to maintaining lasting relationships with your clients; simple yet powerful ideas that help everyone involved enjoy the best rewards.

Clearly Plan Projects

When you receive a brief or are asked to draw up a quote, it is crucial that you prepare a clear outline of the project. Maybe your client will provide an accurate and detailed set of specifications, or perhaps they will be a little vague in what they actually expect as a project outcome. Whatever the case, the sooner you establish a project outline the sooner both parties can see how the work will unfold.

A project plan should be framed around clear objectives, the end product your client expects on delivery. Once you have established what needs to be produced you can work out a detailed timeline and agree on a deadline. This is also the time to offer a quote and settle on how much you’ll get paid; along as this is agreed from the outset there shouldn’t be any awkward disputes further down the line. Throughout project planning and price negotiations you and your client should be friendly and open to communication. This leads on to our next tip.

Communicate Openly and Effectively

Communication is essential in every part of our lives, not least in our work and business relations. In today’s world of mass communication there is a huge variety of ways to keep in contact with your clients, from email and social media, to phone calls or even old-fashioned paper mail. You should make yourself as available as possible for clients to get in contact, and reply promptly and politely to any enquiries.

Regular updates on project progress ensure smooth development and helps iron out any problems as soon as they arise. Freelancers sometimes keep a rather more erratic work schedule than regular nine-to-fivers, and days off don’t necessarily fall on the weekend. When you know you’re going to be offline for a day or two, it’s a good idea to let your clients know in a friendly note, so avoiding any mysterious absences when they try to get in contact.

Share Your Knowledge

Generally, your clients come to you for a specific service or product, but you undoubtedly have a variety of skills and breadth of knowledge beyond the work you are asked to deliver. As you get to know your clients better you may discover other areas you can help out with, share your knowledge and apply your skills to a wider range of problems than your client expected you capable of. In sharing your wisdom you go beyond being simply a service provider and become a teacher. By doing this for free you will boost your client’s confidence, potentially leading to a wider scope of projects, extra work and extra pay.


In addition to sharing your skills and knowledge with clients, it also helps to share contacts from your address book. Your clients probably commissions work from various vendors for different services; if you can link them up with trusted and powerful contacts to provide theses services your clients will develop confidence in your advice. This networking may also be reciprocated: when your client links you up with their own contacts a web of rewarding relationships can grow.

Manage Time and Meet Deadlines

Getting work completed well and on time is essential to maintain client relationships. If you have planned the project timeline clearly and realistically, fitting it into your overall work and life schedule, then this shouldn’t be a problem. There are numerous software packages and applications available to help with time tracking, and good old-fashioned calendars and diaries are great for planning your work and seeing how it relates to your other commitments.

When you set out your original plan and quote a delivery date, it is much better to over-estimate than give yourself too little time. By allowing extra time you open the possibility of delivering early, which is bound to make you client happy and pleased with your efficiency. If things go wrong and you think you’re not going to meet the deadline it’s best to let you client know as soon as possible to avoid any nasty surprises. This leads to our final tip.

Be Honest and Be Yourself

All human relationships work best when both parties are open and honest, including our relationships with the people we interact with through our work. Be honest about your capabilities, how long it takes you to get things done and exactly what skills you have. If you mislead your clients about what you can provide then there will be disappointment all round, the relationship will fail and you will lose work. If, however, your clients know what to expect from you then they can build trust in your work and you abilities to deliver.

It’s also important to be yourself, don’t pretend to be a bigger operator than you really are. Freelancers, while working on a smaller scale, do have many advantages over bigger businesses by being flexible and personal in their work relationships. By recognising these advantages you can get to know clients as people and friends, and so develop strong and rewarding relationships.

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Keep Your Customers From Straying

Follow these 8 simple methods of building business relationships that last

During these economic times, people are more selective on where they spend their money. When they do decide to open their checkbooks, you want to be their first choice. Therefore, it’s important your current customers choose to stay with you. Even if your business is doing well, your customers can leave as quickly as they came.
There’s more to business than just a transaction. Building a relationship helps you establish a bond. Some customers are even willing to pay more for a product and/or service if they have a personal connection with a company. From a PR perspective, building relationships is cost-effective because the only cost is your time.

Here are eight ways to invest in these relationships:

1. Touch base frequently. If they recently placed an order or you provided a service, ask them for feedback. Showing you care about their satisfaction level speaks volumes about your commitment to them. It can also provide you with an opportunity to gain insight on other products and services that you can offer to gain new business.

If they have not done business with you in a while, check to see how you can help them. It may also serve as a reminder that they may need your product or service.

2. Pick up the phone. If most of your communication takes place via e-mail, it’s still important to pick up the phone occasionally to touch base with your customers. Personal interaction is an important element in building a relationship.

3. Branch out. You may have a particular target market in mind, but to reach it doesn’t mean that you network with just that group. Find groups that don’t mirror your target market and build relationships with their members. That is the benefit of networking. People you meet know people who might be future customers.

4. Become a resource. Stepping out to assist someone doesn’t always mean you’ll get an immediate return on your efforts. Refer a customer to them, help with an event or offer suggestions. When they, or someone they know, are looking for a product or service that you offer, you’re more likely to be foremost in their mind. The more you get to know them, the more you’ll be able to offer assistance by knowing their needs.

5. Write a note. Adding the personal touch of a thank you note to show customers your appreciation for their business is priceless. For the best impact, send it immediately after the event.

6. Tailor your approach. Your customers vary in work load, style of communication and desire to share information, so your approach should be just as diverse. If your customer doesn’t appreciate your just stopping in, then call in advance to set up a time or invite him or her out for coffee.

But your approach needs to be genuine and within your comfort zone or it may backfire on you. If you aren’t comfortable with face-to-face interactions, you may want to start by picking up the phone.

7. Be prompt with inquiries. It shows your commitment to a high level of service and establishes confidence in you and your company. Also, if an issue arises, take action and make it your priority to resolve it immediately. Sometimes errors and how we resolve them provide an exceptional opportunity to show our commitment to the customer–take a bad situation and make it a positive.

8. Listen, listen, listen. Your customer may provide cues that might be your gateway to providing a personal touch. If they indicate that their child is heading off to their first year of college, or they are taking a long awaited vacation, jot these things down on a calendar so you can ask how things went when you do a follow-up call. Or they might state that it was their birthday last week. Put that on your calendar so the following year you can send a birthday greeting.

Building any type of a relationship takes time, whether it’s a personal or business relationship. It’s an essential part of your business to help maintain and grow your customer base. As part of your daily to-do list, make a point to touch one customer every day. You may be surprised at the impact.

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Common Internet Business Terms You Need to Know

Jumping into the online business pool may not be as easy as some people think. For social media immigrants, wading through complicated online business terms can be confusing. You may be wading right into a world full of jargon and abbreviations that just leave you in the dark. This article will help you understand frequently used terms when it comes to online marketing, selling and websites. It will also help you understand popular terms and popular websites and their uses to help get you started on your journey.


Above the Fold – a term borrowed from print, any part of the website a user can see without needing to scroll down. Often reserved for breaking news or content/products the website owner would like users to focus on. Advertisers also pay more to be featured above the fold in websites that have heavy traffic.

Account – Often a personalized and unique login linked to one user for websites. Accounts are created by users in order to participate, buy or sell on a website or network. This often involves giving a valid email address and creating a personal password.

Active User – A website user who actively posts and logs in on a regular basis, makes purchases and generally has some sort of activity on the website. See idle user.

Affiliates – Websites that work or affiliate themselves with each other to form a network of similar websites selling similarly themed products of services. Also known as affiliate network, and sometimes simply as a web ring. The term web ring dates back to the early 1990s and is considered archaic.

Affiliate Marketing – Marketing strategy or model used by affiliate websites to create/generate traffic to partner websites, where the affiliate features advertisements or links to the partner for a commission or portion of the revenue.

Aggregate – A type of website that collects information from around the web and presents it online

Analytics – A way to measure a website’s success through an analysis of the websites unique visitors, locations, keywords typed into search engines, links clicked etc. Used as a tool to measure a website’s performance and return on investment.

Anchor Text – Words on a clickable link leading deeper into a website or out of the website. In many cases anchor text is a description of the link it leads to.

Applications – Software that can run in mobile form or be incorporated into browsers to extend the user experience or as stand-alone products i.e. Angry Birds.


Bandwidth – A limit or the data that can be downloaded from a website during a certain time frame, usually a month. This is determined by your host website or your subscription and also determines the number of visitors the site can handle before it crashes.

Banners – Clickable advertisements usually featured on websites in the form of a banner – some banners feature expandable coding which allows them to “expand” when a user hovers the mouse over them.

Below the Fold – The part of a website that users can only see when they scroll down, often older features, content, text or products. Some advertisers opt to be featured “below the fold.”

Blog – An online journal or equivalent often featuring discussions, posts and other features. Blog is a shortened form (portmanteau) of the terms web log.

Browser – Forms of software application users use to connect to the World Wide Web. Browsers allow users to locate information, retrieve websites, images or video.Popular browsers include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Safari.

Business to business – Business that specializes in selling goods and/or services to other businesses. Also known as B2B.

Business to customers – Business that specializes in selling goods and/or services to customers. Also known as B2C.


Cache – A browser action that allows the browser to save information i.e. passwords or usernames for certain websites.

Call to Action – Ad copy or written aspects of advertisement that encourage users to take action such as “Join Today” or “Buy Now.”

Cart – An online equivalent of a shopping cart, where a user can see a list of all the items for purchase.

Click through – The action of clicking on an advertisement on a website and visiting the advertiser’s site. Often used to calculate traffic (the amount of people clicking on the advertisement) versus sales (the amount of people who actually buy once they hit the new site.)

Cloud Computing – Using virtual or “cloud” cyberspace to store or house data, usually online. Also virtual infrastructure for file storage, hosting and more online

Cookies – Code incorporated into a website that saves user data and preferences for future visits to allow for faster browsing.

Contextual Advertising – A marketing model that allows advertising to be customized to match a website’s content, i.e. yarn ads on a crotchet community website. Contextual advertising also relies heavily on the analysis of the demographic that visits the website or a user’s personal preferences.

Cost-Per-Action – A form of Internet advertising where advertisers pay the site owner only when users complete a sale or register using the link provided on the page. Also referred to as Cost-On-Completion.

Cost-Per-Mile/Thousand – A formal calculation to show advertisers how much it costs them to show an ad 1000 times, the most common way to measure online costs.

Content Curating or Curation – The process of blogging by creating links to other blogs and content, a common feature for websites like Pinterest and Tumblr.

Conversion – The rate/percentage of customers who visit the site and actually buy. Often computed as a percentage of website traffic.


Data center – A large building where servers are often housed and protected. Multiple services can coexist inside one data center and web hosting companies often maintain their own data centers.

Date of Delivery – The estimated delivery period of a product/good when purchased.

Dedicated Hosting – A form of Internet hosting where the hosting company sets aside a single server for a specific website or an individual customer and his/her websites alone.

Domain Name – The unique name or identification string websites use to establish autonomy on the web. Domain names create a virtual autonomous area specific to the control of the domain name owner – see Domain Name System or DNS.

DNS – Domain Name System or the process of assigning unique Internet Protocol addresses to domain names in order to route web traffic to the correct website. Basically the traffic controller of the World Wide Web.

Drop Shipping – A business model where a virtual merchant or retailer sells products online but does not keep a permanent inventory of the goods/products offered. Instead, the merchant accepts orders from customers via a virtual storefront, then contacts a distributor/manufacturer who then will ship the product directly to the customer.


Encryption – A form of security that scrambles or encrypts user data in order to protect customer information..

Ecommerce – Buying or selling products over the Internet using virtual stores, websites and more. Considered to be the sales arm of many e-businesses.

Electronic Funds Transfer –Used to refer to several methods of transferring money from bank or credit card accounts via computer. This can involve wire transfers from one bank to another, payments via debit or credit card, direct deposits or direct debit and other electronic methods.

E-newsletter – A short text and image email often used by businesses to inform customers of promotions, new products and more. Often a supplement to a subscription.

Enterprise – Used to refer to large companies or businesses or used to refer to products meant for large companies or businesses versus smaller business models

E-tailing – Or electronic retailing, where existing stores create virtual storefronts designed to sell specific goods to create a virtual mall/shopping area.

Exit page – The page where customers normally “drop off” or leave a website. The exit page often contains fundamental flaws or content users do not agree with.


FAQ – Also known as Frequently Asked Questions, a list of answers to common questions new visitors to the website ask, such as the store’s return policy or shipping policies for International Orders.

Flash – Technology developed by a company called Adobe meant to interact with websites, especially for animation, video and other interactive website elements.

Flash Intro – An outdated form of Internet marketing that uses a flash video as an introduction to the website.

Forum – An area of the site that uses online bulletin boards where customers/users of the website can interact, create and respond to discussions (known as threads) and ask questions or for help.

Front End – The aspect or interface of the website that allows users to interact with the website features (click, drag or change objects on the websites.)

Front Page – Also known as the index, often the first aspect or page of the website the visitor gets to see.


Geo-targeting – A marketing practice that allows websites or advertisements to target customers by using their geographic location i.e. by offering special promotions for a certain state or county. This can help smaller business run ad-campaigns or large enterprises easily break down their marketing strategies by state, county or even by postal code.

.GIF – A type of image file optimized for the Internet. Often features moving or animated parts.

GUI – Graphical User Interface, or the image-heavy front-end user interface a website uses to make their website more appealing/easier for users to navigate.


Hit – A unique user accessing a website – this translates online as a request from the visitor’s server to the website’s service. It is no longer considered an accurate measurement of site traffic, as multiple clicks into the website can translate as multiple hits.

Hosting – Web hosts provide hosting services to clients that allow customers to place their own website on a shared or individual server. Typically this includes Internet service, data backup and the ability to store data in a data center.

HTML – Hypertext Mark-Up Language or the basic computer language used for coding or creating websites.

Hyperlinks – A navigation element on any website that creates a path to another webpage, image, resource or document. Also known as link, hypertext or html link.


Idle User – A user who has signed up for the website but does not spend any time on it.

IP Address (Internet Protocol Address) – A set of unique numbers that distinguish every single computer that connects to the Internet, which appears as a set of numbers and can be recognized by any website/server all over the world.

Integration – The ability of a website to use multiple platforms i.e. Facebook for comments or forums/message boards..


JavaScript – A now rarely used code inserted into websites, often considered as Web 1.0.

JPEG – A type of image file primarily used online.


Keyword – Words that are typed into search engines that can help find information, often as part of a query.

Keyword Density – The ratio of keywords that appear on a webpage that are relevant to a search engine query. Search engines use algorithms to measure keyword density and determine whether the website is relevant to the user’s search.


Link Building – A process that involves creating links to your website from other external sites. Link building is an important aspect of online marketing – the more websites link to yours, the more traffic you have.

Log-in – The action of typing in a username and password to access a site or area of a website.

Loop – A programming error that causes customers to end up in a loop, i.e. clicking buy and then returning to the catalog page.


Mailing List – The electronic equivalent of the mailing list, often a list of customer emails that have authorized the site to send them newsletters and the like.

Market Research – An aspect of ecommerce dedicated to researching online habits and preferences, as well as research.

Merchant – The seller of the product or service online. The merchant may not necessarily be the website owner.

Merchant account – The account a merchant uses to transact with the merchant bank.

Meta tag – A code hidden in the site’s programming that “tells” search engine what the content of the site or page is.

Micro blogging – A form of blogging popularized by Twitter, which allows users to blog up to 140 characters.

Mobile-enabled – A website that has been optimized for viewing for mobile or tablet users.

Multi-Author Blogs – Blogs featuring more than one writer or author, often a supplement of larger websites for newspapers, universities or other media outlets. Often edited and curated by a larger group or body.

MLM – An abbreviation for multi-level marketing or a form of marketing that targets different demographics using different forms of media i.e. print, radio, TV, online, micro blogging, etc.

Mutual Linking – A process by which two (or more) websites agree to host links to each other to increase traffic.


Natural Search Results – These are the non-paid or non-sponsored listings that appear on search engines, usually below the sponsored results.

Navigation – The process of moving from one part of the website to another, usually optimized and simplified to provide the best user experience.

Navigation Error – A mistake in the site’s coding that causes customers to head to a dead-end or dead area of the website.


Opting-in – The process by which customers sign-up on the website or via email to receive updates, promotions and the like from the website.

Opt-out clause – A required marketing clause mandated by Federal Law that allows customers to opt-out or unsubscribe from email newsletters, email promotions and other online marketing materials.


Pay-Per-Click – An online advertising model where advertisers pay the website host an amount depending on the number of “ad clicks” originating from the website.

Payment Gateways – Internet services that allow access or connect ecommerce sites to Merchant Accounts and grants the ability to authorize transactions from the Merchant account to other accounts.

Payment Modes – The various payment modes an ecommerce website allows for its users, such as credit, debit, bank to bank, PayPal and more.

Payment Processor – Usually a third party service that processes credit card payments, bills the bank and other operating services.

PayPal – An ecommerce business and website that allows users to make monetary transactions globally by allowing money transfers via a PayPal account. PayPal links to the merchant or individuals’ credit/bank accounts and then serves as a money transfer platform.

Premium Account – Usually this refers to a “paid” account (as opposed to a free account) a customer can upgrade to when signing up for a website.

Phishing – An Internet scam, usually used through email or the creation of fake websites, where culprits harvest data from customers with the intention of stealing or defrauding customers.

Platform – A computing platform usually consists of hardware and its software framework that allows a program or application to run. This is usually a complicated system that includes the operating system the hardware/software will function on and its programming language.

.PNG – A large raw image file created with Adobe Photoshop.

Privacy Policy – A legal document incorporated into a website’s terms and conditions that disclose a website’s policy towards user information.

Programming Language – The computer language used in programming that allows websites/programs to communicate instructions, often an artificial language that is math-based and logically sound i.e. HTML, Java, CSS and more. Programming language can also affect the way a website is viewed or its performance, as different browsers interpret the language differently.

Pre-order – the option to order a product before its official release date for extra items, discounts or freebies, usually at a higher price. Often used for products arriving with a lot of hype i.e. video games, new editions of bestselling books, limited-edition figurines, etc.


Query – The formal term for search words typed into search engines.


Robots – Or bots –these are online programs designed to perform mass actions or one specific action, often to harvest data or phish..

RSS – Short for, or an abbreviation of Rich Site Summary, a syndication tool that turns websites into a web feed. RSS is usually used to websites or blogs that are updated daily, if not hourly to keep users in the loop. RSS means that the site owner no longer has to manually update their blog/website across several different platforms or programs, and users can receive them without hassle on their mobile or personal computer.


Secure Socket Layer – A form of credit protection for ecommerce sites that scrambles credit card data and provides an additional layer of security specifically geared towards purchasing online.

Search Algorithm – The mathematical computation that governs search engines and how they pull up websites as answers (results) to a query.

Search Engine – Websites that allow users to search for information by typing queries, phrases or keywords and then use a computation to search for the most relevant answers.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization or the process of creating content for websites that can easily be found by search engines using algorithms (see search engine algorithms.)

SERP – Search results page or the page that pops up after a user types a keyword or phrase into a search engine. SERPs will show the links to the most relevant websites, usually with a short summary of what the websites contain. They can also return images, videos or whatever else the user has specified in the search.

Server – This type of computer acts like a go-to connection to the Internet and is designed to host and power websites, as well as provide bandwidth allocation.

SMS Marketing – A form of marketing that focuses on using short message service, usually through an automated system that informs customers of promotions and the like. SMS Marketing is often done in conjunction with social media marketing.

Social Media Marketing – Marketing strategies that use social media like Twitter or Facebook as a platform and rely extensively on social media’s power to create hype or buzz.

Social Networking – A type of website that allows users to interact, often built on similar interests or a system of “adding” friends/other users into a private network hosted by the website.

Social Networking Site – Sites that primarily focus on social networking like Facebook or Google Plus. These sites allow users to create a profile page once they sign up, add and categorize people into a network, sub networks, Circles or more.

SPAM – Bulk, automated, unsolicited email usually used as a form of advertising but now often associated with phishing.

Stickiness – A concrete measurement of how long each user/visitor stays on the website and the average period of time they spend browsing content.


Tags – Labels on websites or blogs that give the reader or search engines a basic idea of what the post is about.

Tag Cloud – Usually a collection of tags on a website so users can navigate entries or pages according to interests or how they were tagged.

Terms and Conditions – Legal terms and conditions that users agree to when signing up or purchasing from a website.

Text Link Ad – A form of advertising that only uses text and is often inserted into websites, blogs or Search Engine Result Pages.

Traffic – The number of unique visitors that visit the website’s front page, and subsequent pages in a single time frame i.e. number of visitors per day or per month (unique visitors), number of hits per page or number of hits on the front page. Also known as website traffic.

Troll – A user that specializes in aggravating other users by posting irrelevant or deliberately provoking comments on message boards, forums or in the comments section of a website.


Unique visitor – Someone who visits a website within a certain time frame who has never visited the site or any of its pages before. Websites are generally rated by the number of unique visitors or views they have within a day, a week or a month.

URL – A web address or location of a resource within the Internet; also known as Universal Resource Location. URLs have to be unique in order to generate a hit and are often short so people will remember them.

User – Users are generally defined as people or visitors who have registered or signed up for a website/service/catalog.

User curation – Websites where the content is largely user-generated. Users decide what the top content is. They do this by regularly submitting links and through systems that “vote” the links up.


Validation – The process by which a user validates his or her identity, usually by clicking on a link sent to their registered email.

Visitor – Someone who visits a websites but makes no purchase or does not create an account. However, visitors often browse content and can turn into users.

Vlog – a blog that consists primarily of videos uploaded by the user, popular on websites like YouTube.

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Review: Like a Virgin by Richard Branson

like_a_virginI was recently nominated and sponsored by my company to attend a leadership program to empower me with tools I might need on my new journey. On the introduction day of the course we were all handed a “pack”; in this pack was the first days material for the course, and this book of Richard Branson, Like A Virgin: Secrets they wont teach you at Business School.

We went through the different aspects of the course, and what was expected of us. For the last part, we all had to read this book, and write a review! It was very exciting, and I immediately decided, I’m not going to let this stand over until last day, and I am going to read this, make notes & write the review. Do it properly, like the rest of the “educated” people of this world would expect you to do. Well, that theory did not hold up for long. As I got deeper into the book, and progressed on this course, I actually noticed my shift in opinions and my “conventional” approach to matters in the business world.

I had an idea of who Richard Branson was at the time, and what he does. I have always liked the Virgin funkiness, and the vibe you get from their stores and outlets across the globe; outside the norm, opposite to what you would expect from your traditional health club or cell phone store, but yet professional and efficient at the same time. Almost like they got the formula exactly right for having fun at work.

The man himself

Born in London on the 18th of July, 1950, the British entrepreneur released the first issue of The Student on January 26, 1966, at the age of just 16. This magazine was Branson’s first successful business venture. Diagnosed with dyslexia, it was difficult for him to perform in the conventional education system as a student, but soon discovered his ability to connect with others.

24 Oxford Street, London, 1971 with Richard behind the till, he sold his first record in his Virgin Record Shop. Only one year later Virgin Records was launched, and signed contracts with artists like Roy Orbison, Devo, Genesis, Lenny Kravitz, Janet Jackson and The Smashing Pumpkins. It was later sold in 1992 as EMI.

In 1984 he reached for the skies, and started Virgin Atlantic Airways. It started of with a single route from Gatwick to Newark, by 2010 the airline carried 5.3 million passengers, which made it the eighth largest UK airline at the time. The Virgin Group just kept on growing in all sorts of directions, and consists today of more than 400 companies.

Richard’s passion for life and his hunger for adventure drove him to several world record-breaking attempts. He first tried in 1985 the fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing, which failed, but managed to beat the record the following year with the “Virgin Atlantic Challenger II” by 2 hours. In 1987 he crossed the Atlantic with the “Virgin Atlantic Flyer” his hot air balloon. He has made several attempts to date breaking records in all sorts of ways. In March 2004 he set the record for crossing the English Channel, from Dover to Calais in 1 hour 40 minutes and 6 seconds in his amphibious vehicle called Gibbs Aquada.

Like A Virgin

Richard Branson is not your typical corporate business figure. He has a very unusual take on business and that is very evident throughout this book. People and a positive attitude is a constant in the short chapters. By maintaining a healthy and transparent relationship with all the staff in your company, the Virgin group has a framework that cultivates customer satisfaction and employee curiosity that inspires both employee and customer loyalty. A mutual investment. He believes in investing in his people, and they will invest in the company. Empowering your people and showing appreciation is a way of life at Virgin that encourages people and growth -sometimes the difference between success and failure.

It also becomes abundantly clear that without taking risks, you will not progress. One has to make mistakes, and not dwell on them -but learn and move on. “The brave may not live forever – but the cautious do not live at all” one of Richard’s own quotes. Taking risks, and learning from your mistakes is part of any entrepreneurs course of life; how you recover, adapt and change your direction is what sets you apart from the rest.

One has to stay focused and not lose site of your targets if you want to succeed in this world. Richard shares his experience of the past 40 years on starting up ventures in all sorts of areas in the business world. No fear for taking on the Goliath’s he shares the advantages small businesses and entrepreneurs has over the big sluggish giant corporates out there. Money is not the only thing that matters, you need to love what you do and do what you love!

Whether you are looking for investors, partnering with friends or wondering about office romances, Richard shares it all in this secret guide (things “they” don’t teach you at business school). At the core of all the Virgin businesses, there is a very fresh and attractive element of fun that triggers curiosity amongst customers and keeps employees motivated. How were these foundations built? Is the customer always right? Is first impressions really as important as second impressions? How did the the risky name Virgin survive the 60’s? These are some of the questions Richard covers in his book, as well as questions from journalists, entrepreneurs, students and business owners from all over the world.

Throughout his career, Richard had the support of his family, friends and equally important mentors. In the busy life of a successful entrepreneur one has to seek out and find the balance between life and success to be able to flourish. In this entrepreneurs guide to the galaxy, you will find the answers to many mysteries not taught at business school, and where to find this balance.

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Beethoven’s 5 Secrets

Vocal Version

Dont only practice art,
But force your way into its secrets,
For it and knowledge can raise men to the Divine.

Ludwig van Beethoven

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Spartacus: Vengeance

Liam McIntyre

Liam McIntyre

Actor Liam McIntyre will replace the belated Andy Whitfield as Spartacus in the second season of the popular TV Series, Spartacus: Vengeance, previously Spartacus: Blood and Sand. When McIntyre learned of Whitfield’s death, he said, “You can’t imagine how sad that day was.” Executives spent months deciding whether to keep the show going after Whitfield left — and who should play him. To earn the role, McIntyre had to work out intensely by lifting heavy weights — sometimes while running, he said. Starz received regular updates on his physique, and eventually he beefed up enough to win them over.


Spartacus: Vengeance

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Horse & Hound


These Great Danes are humongous, but such nice animals.

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Hero’s 96 Hours with Froyo

A Few weeks ago I got so impatient with HTC and their promised upgrade for the HTC Hero to Android 2.1, I ended up “rooting” my phone and upgraded with VillainRom‘s version of Android 2.1, code named VillainRom. I was super happy with this in general, apart from the initial fact that my battery didn’t last very long. -got that sorted fairly quickly disabling some power hungry settings for the Mobile Network.
Checking in regularly for updates on VillainRom’s web site, I found Froyo, Android 2.2 available for the GSM version of the HTC Hero. I was very excited, and downloaded it without blinking! Here is my 2 cents:

Installing the update was pretty straight forward as I have already rooted my phone when installing Android 2.1. Instructions from the VillainROM web site installing customs roms are very easy to follow. (Requires you to just read thoroughly when following instructions.). The initial boot takes some time but speeds up after the next few restarts.

At A Glance:
Initially when Froyo is up and running, there are some changes HTC users, using the Sense UI are not familiar with. I quite like the “Unlock” – and the “Sound Of” slide you are presented with on the “Lock Screen”. VillainROM’s version of Froyo, code named FroydVillain comes by default with LauncherPro. This ROM is remarkably smaller than the HTC version of 2.1, and a tad faster.

Initial Lock Screen
Mute Lock Screen

Speed & Performance:
Overall experience and responsiveness of the phone compared to the initial Android 1.5 the HTC Hero ships with, it is remarkably faster. It’s astonishing what the difference is keeping in mind it’s the same hardware, with just an improved version of Android. From Android 2.1 to 2.2 I did not notice that much of an improvement, but I must admit, it seems a lot more stable, and hogs up less memory than 2.1.
The previous version, 2.1 by VillainROM was quite intensive on the battery at the best of times. Froyo is nice to the battery, and leaves the phone, specially the battery, nice and cool! Would say this version is “Green” if one could call it that.

Android Market:
The Android Market has also had some overalls in the new version, as you can now set individual applications under the “Downloads” to update automatically. Something I found quite annoying in the previous versions of the Market, was the lack of the ability to “Update All” the “Apps” that had updates when going to the Downloads section.

Android Market: Automatic Update

LauncherPro is default with FroydVillain, and is the first thing you are presented with as you unlock the phone. It is quite a feature rich launcher, with a lot tweaks and enhancements to make your most used applications only a “flip” away. You can set the amount of screens you want to slide through on the home screen, the quality etc. while sliding to enhance performance, and also the behavior of the home button when pressed once twice etc. Also features multi touch that gives you a thumb view of all the screens, and by selecting one, will take you to the particular screen. If you purchase to full version, you can have the Bookmarks & People Widgets on the home screen, which makes things a bit easier, and of course, make your phone look a whole lot cooler. One other nice thing about LauncherPro is the fact that it can show you the unread email messages, gmail messages, sms’s & missed calls at the bottom where the “launcher” icons are.

LauncherPro Dock Counters

LauncherPro Dock Counters

Useful Widgets:
One of the first things I missed after installing Froyo was the nice HTC settings widgets you can add to your home screen for turning Mobile Data, Wireless, GPS, Bluetooth on and off in an instant by just tapping on the icon on the desktop. In this version pre installed, there is a “Power Control” widget you can put on the home screen which allows you to control all the “power hungry” features on your phone in one place -it includes the GPS, Mobile Data, WiFi, BlueTooth, Sync, Screen Brightness control -I found this very usefull, and made my switch over from the HTC Sense UI to LauncherPro a whole lot easier.
Something else I also noticed was the absence of a useful widget for presenting your calendar and agenda on the home screen, I found a replacement searching the market called Agenda Widget. Its not entirely as nice as the one from HTC, but it does the trick for now.

Agenda Widget

Agenda Widget

eMail, GMail, Calendar & ActiveSync:
Something I was a bit concerned about initially was the ability of this version to sync with our company email using ActiveSync and exchange. It works flawlessly and have no problems what so ever with syncing to exchange (This includes contacts, calendar & contacts). I love the calendar in this version, its so easy to read, and it almost gives you the idea they have taken something from the iPod Touch / iPhone. The different views gives you a quick and easy overview of your agenda and appointments coming up. You can change what calendars, contacts & email you want to view or sync to your phone, going even as deep what “categories” per account you want to sync -example, friends, family, office or business per account -fantastic!

Social Networking:
Being a bit of a social network junkie, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Google Buzz works pretty well, and you can also sync your contacts from your Facebook & Twitter accounts to your contacts on your phone, displaying status updates, phone numbers, birthdays and profile pictures for each contact. Something useful I miss, that was in the previous version, provided by the HTC Friend Stream, is the ability to link certain accounts with each other where the applications can’t make the associations -this is typically useful where the Facebook and or Twitter account, and the local contact doesn’t have obvious similarities.

Network tethering:
In this rooted version of Froyo, you have the ability of both Wired – and Wireless Tethering. The wired tethering is a bit different than the HTC versions, but it works just as good. Wireless tethering is made possible with aNetShare -it works very well, but it heats up the battery quite a bit, and hand in hand with that goes drains it at a rapid rate. But in an emergency where you need a few devices to share your phones internet connection, its a life saver! (Use it quite a bit with my iPod Touch -very handy.)

Perfect setup:
The following applications in combination with their widgets and features makes my phone the perfect mobile companion: (In alphabetical order)
01. Agenda Widget
02. ASTRO File Manager
03. Facebook
04. Fancy Widget
05. Foursquare
06. Gist
07. Google Buzz
08. Hootsuite Lite
09. Google Maps with Latitude
10. TripIt
11. Twitter
12. WikiDroid
13. WordPress
14. WYSE

In general I’m very impressed with this version both from a performance perspective and the features this version unleashed in my HTC Hero. As I discover more insight and improvements, I will keep this post updated.

Power Control Wdget

Power Control Wdget


Here is my “unsorted photos”. Will edit and sort them shortly!

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