Dan's Blog

Landscaping the Garden


Oh dear, despite my best intentions, most of my time has been spent on block paving and garden landscaping so once again my time has been diverted away from learning new stuff.

But it’s been very rewarding and the garden now looks spectacular. We have created an oasis out of what was just a rectangular patch of grass with a couple of shrubs.  Pictures will follow as soon as we get around to taking some nice snaps – at the moment I’m banned from taking any until the rest of the roses come out to ensure the perfect pictures.

The company we used for building were great. Horsham Decks and Patios did everything we asked, from the boundary walls to a beautiful block paving patio with feature arbour with tumbling roses. We were torn between decking and patio but pleased with our choice and it’s practical too.

There’s nothing better than spending a summer evening sipping wine and nibbling cheese biscuits as the sun goes down. Of course we could do that on the old square of grass, but it just wasn’t the same. Now we have a lovely space where we can entertain friends and have the occasional barbecue to make the most of the summer. We’ve even acquired a new gas barbecue and I have to say it makes things so much easier than struggling to light the old Webber when the charcoal refused to catch. All that’s behind us now and we’ve moved into the age of technology.

The wife has done some lovely planting, mixing pale pinks with deeper shades along with purples and white. That’s it really, keeping it simple but stunning. She loves hanging baskets so we’ve been able to have quite a few scattered around, hanging from the wall, behind the house and around the arbour. The only downside is keeping them watered, which has become a nightly chore. But it’s worth it to observe the beauty and I’m sure they’ll last until September so give us pretty good value.

I’m not much of a gardener myself so I don’t remember the names of most plants, but I do know we have some spectacular roses and some jasmine around the pillars, a couple of clematis and lots of little mauve flowers that spread and look so pretty. Sprinkled amongst them are lots of white blooms – heavens knows what they are but they break up the mauve and look marvellous.

Oh and double petunias – the hanging variety – are a favourite of the wife. She seeks them out every year so I never forget them. She goes for varieties that don’t need deadheading all the time, which makes life much easier.

So that’s a very poor summary of what we’ve been doing in the garden. At the end we have an attractive shed that we painted a pale shade of green and more baskets hang around it, creating a pleasing picture and completing the English country garden look we were aiming for.


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Horsham here we come


Jasmines definitely needs rewiring and we’ve found a great company to take care of it. They’re called Best Horsham Electrician and in my opinion they live up to their name.

I’ve done quite a bit of research and spoken to lots of electricians and I’m quite impressed with these guys.  It’s a big job so we need someone who’s going to be good.

Of course we haven’t completed yet, though we have exchanged contracts. It all happened so quickly once we’d made up our minds.  And hopefully we’ve found a buyer for our current home, which should fit in nicely.

We’ve had some more surveys done, and as well as the rewiring we also need part of the roof fixed, which is the other really big job. So we’re planning to have workers in a month or so before we move in, which will enable us to keep out of the way.

It’s all really exciting now that we know it’s going ahead and we’re looking forward to moving to Horsham. We’ve also had a good look around the town and we love the small shops and Swan Walk indoor shopping centre.

We’re planning to make good use of the Capitol Theatre and some of the local drinking establishments too!

I’m writing this whilst drinking my mid-morning coffee, but that break is over so back to the grindstone …

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We’re Moving!


It’s a big decision but we’ve decided to move to Horsham. It’s a lovely town in Sussex, surrounded by beautiful countryside and a lot of oak trees.

So we’ve found a house just outside the town, but it needs a bit of work. So I’m guessing my time will be spent that way instead of learning more online stuff.

I’ve had an idea and I’m going to try to document all the things that happen from now with our new home. All the ins and outs of the restoration and the work that needs doing.

So far I know that the electrics need doing, we’ll need a good plasterer and a bit of general building work to tidy up the place.

And the garden is a shambles, but it will be gorgeous once we’ve got our hands dirty and removed all the weeds and brambles. It was obviously once well cared for.

But I haven’t given up on the online learning and I’ll definitely be coming back to that in due course. It’s just that this new house – “Jasmines” is going to be taking up most of my time. Not sure whether that’s good or bad!

So watch out for more about our life in Sussex…

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Affiliate marketing


I’ve been looking at affiliate marketing. It’s quite a big subject and one that’s going to take quite a bit of studying.

So far I’ve found out about Clickbank.com where you can become an affiliate for all manner of products. It’s taking a while to get my head around it.

The other possibility is Amazon of course, where again you can promote thousands of things and earn a little commission on each sale.

The challenge is to find the right products – something that sells well but pays a decent commission, otherwise you do a lot of work for nothing.

The next challenge is to drive people to your affiliate link and that’s the part that worries me the most. I’m learning more and more but still trying to get my head around exactly how I can get myself to the top of the search engines. Google is the biggie of course so if you’re not on the top of page 1 there’s really no hope of getting click throughs (see I’m learning the jargon).

I have a friend who wants to do a joint venture so it’s the blind leading the blind I think. We’re working on building a Weebly website, which is pretty straightford, then comes the difficult bit – ranking it on Google. I’ve done a brief course and learned a bit of stuff about SEO (now I’m really getting into the vernacular!)

It’s partly a question of getting the right keywords into the site and producing something that adds value to the internet (or so we learned). Then you need backlinks – which is where I retreat into the cupboard. I have a mental blank about such things. Who provides these and why? Are they expensive?

I understand you can sometimes get the local paper to publish an article and a link to your site, or perhaps the local council, but beyond that I’m lost.

Anyway we have to find out more about all this stuff so maybe we should look for a really good course that teaches a bit more depth. I’m gaining confidence by keeping this blog, though I secretly hope that no-one ever finds and reads it because it’s really just for my own amusement.  When we get serious perhaps I’ll turn it into a real instructional blog, or perhaps use it as an affiliate site?


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Internet Marketing


Well here’s a massive subject and one that I’m not sure will ever be of any use to me. But as usual I’m interested to learn more so I’ve been dipping my toe into the arena and have worked out a few ways to market online. Who knows, I may end up starting an online business – though selling what I have no idea!

So here are a few of the basic things I’ve learned so far.

Pay Per Click

This is a method of advertising online and only paying when a potential customer clicks on your advert. Google is the main source of PPC (as we experts call it lol). So when you do a Google search and see all those boxes that say Ad, the companies pay an amount every time someone clicks on the ad. It’s quite a clever system although I understand that the big G can get very expensive for some types of business.

Affiliate Marketing

This is a whole new idea to me, though I understand it’s about as old as the internet (which isn’t that old if you think about it). What happens is that a company wants to expand so they look for internet marketers to sell their goods or services. They give their marketers a special link that shows a purchase comes from their site and the marketer gets a small percentage of every sale. This may be just pence for small items but could be quite hefty sums for high value purchases. You can also do affiliate marketing through websites like Clickbank, where they partner with numerous companies and you can be an affiliate for multiple sellers. I don’t know much more at this stage but could be worth a closer look.

The downside to my way of thinking is that the affiliate has to know how to market! I think that’s where the next point comes in.

Organic Listing

Internet marketers have to become expert at SEO (search engine optimisation), so they can get to the top of Google searches. It’s all very well selling the best thing under the sun, but you have to let people know you have it. So the best and most economical way is through getting listed at the top of Google. So say someone wants a widget – they type “widget” into Big G and your widget page needs to be there right in front of them. No good having your site on page 5 or no-one will ever see it. SEO is a big skill – sounds like witchcraft and probably only mastered by a select few. Not sure that is ever going to be me!


There are lots of places to advertise on the internet, depending on your goods or services. One place that’s proving quite popular I understand is Facebook. I think this is pay per click, so I suppose I should have listed it above. But there are loads of other sites that take straight advertising or pay per click. It’s a matter of finding sites that are relevant to your products and trying to get a good deal. Some of them can be horrendously expensive.

There are also companies whose ads feature in your Facebook listings. No idea how that works but I bet it’s expensive.

Back in the day

I’ve read about some weird and wonderful attempts at monetising the internet, but many have fallen into disuse since users are becoming more savvy and less tolerant of intrusive ads.

I’m sure there are lots of other internet marketing methods that I’ve yet to discover, but that’s about the sum of my knowledge so far.

I’m finding it useful to note down all my findings and I can always add more things as I discover more. Hopefully in the meantime it will serve to refresh my memory as I read through these blogs.


Website Building


Alongside all the other things I’ve been learning, I’ve been getting to grips with building a simple website.

The recommended one is Weebly where you can put up a free site without even having to buy a domain name. I think it’s a bit simpler than WordPress, although I still don’t really get the difference between building a website and a blog, because you can add a blog to a website or make a blog into a website (I think).

Anyhow Weebly is user-friendly because everything is drag and drop so it’s straightforward once you get the hang of doing it and getting everything in the right place.

Of course, I’m just getting used to everything and where it all is and how to edit, when they have a massive upgrade and change everything. Typical timing. However I think the new stuff is even easier so I’m persevering.

I’m going to put together a very simple website, subject still to be ascertained. It’s funny when I try to think of something worthwhile nothing springs to mind. I suppose it could be quite a good way to document everything about a hobby. Keep it all in one place and easy to refer to. I used to like keeping tropical fish and have been thinking of getting a new tank and getting back into it. So perhaps I could do some research and build a website on the subject.

The thing with the internet is that there’s almost unlimited information on every subject under the sun. You find some useful titbit and write it somewhere or bookmark the site, but you never come across it again, so these things are lost. So I’m imagining building a website a bit like a scrapbook. Just add useful articles and bits and bobs and upload videos and links. Could be quite a lot of fun and also useful.

Back to Weebly. I’ve learned how to add images, where to buy them if I want to, and how to resize so they fit the page.

I can also use text boxes, dragged and dropped, and can insert a photo inside the text box.

You use headings for ahem headings, and there are different sizes so you just choose the size you need, then it automatically sizes it.

All this stuff creates html code – perhaps I’ll get to understand that one day, though I seriously doubt it. Looks very complicated and I don’t have that sort of nerdy brain unfortunately.

I’m getting a bit out of sync here because the first thing you have to do with Weebly is choose a theme. There are lots available. Then you just delete all the bits you don’t want, add or subtract headers and footers and end up with something that looks nothing like the template. But if you hate the way it looks you can simply change the template and the whole website switches to the new design. It’s a very neat feature.

Soon we’re going to learn about SEO (search engine optimisation). I’ve no idea if or why I’d ever use such a thing and I’m not sure I want Google knowing everything I do, but let’s see what that lesson brings. Who knows it may shed some light on what seems to be a bit of a black art!

So now I’m off to do some research on tropical fish.

Internet searches


Of course I’ve been doing  searches for a while but I’ve learned a few new tricks since doing these lessons.

I’ve found out about Google Maps where they list some local businesses. In fact the G God has just changed the system. They used to list 5 businesses to show up on their search results (get the jargon?) but now they’ve limited it to 5. No idea why but it’s probably something to do with profit.

And I’ve also discovered that there are lots more search engines than just Google. Who’d have thought? So I’ve been trying out Yahoo and Bing, which I think are the next 2 most popular, but I have to say that I find G better. I suppose it’s what you get used to.

I’ve also discovered that you can get more “search results” per page by going into settings, then search settings, and you can set it to show up to 100 results. I suppose that might be useful if you’re doing a lot of searches.

Then you can put in quotation marks “thus” to get more specific searches. For example if you want to search a specific phrase only those results will come up.

And I found out that the results you see on the search engine are really like photos or snapshots of pages. They “trawl” all the sites on the internet with little robots, bots I think they call them, and take these shots. Then when someone searches they show all these. So it’s not like they’re showing realtime results, because some may be days or even weeks old. I suppose that’s why sometimes you find the links to pages don’t work.

I’m sure I’ve learned a lot more but I’ve got brain freeze now.

Anyhow I shall be using some of my new-found knowledge soon because our friends Deidre and Paul are going to get married next year and I’ve been tasked with sourcing a nice car. It’s the second time around for them both so it won’t be a big white affair but they want something classy. I’ll report back on my findings next time.

Meanwhile my Facebook page is coming along, though I’m not sure I’ll continue with it because it just seems full of gossip and it’s getting a bit tiresome.



Well this is something entirely new to me. Mel has been on Facebook for quite a while and she passes on all the news from friends and family. So I really never considered getting a Facebook page of my own. In fact I had absolutely no idea what use it would be. Mel always passes over photos and videos if someone has put on something interesting.

But now I understand Facebook much better since our last internet lesson and I’ve set up my own page. Not going to link it here just yet as it isn’t complete and I want to do a proper job. Not that I’m keen on letting people in on any of my little secrets and I shall keep most stuff private, but it’s an interesting project.

It was simplicity itself to set up the account of course. There wouldn’t be millions of people on Facebook if it wasn’t simple. Now I’m choosing who I want to be friends with and it has been quite an eye-opener to see how many of my mates are already on FB (as I now call it!) Astonishing really, maybe I’m more behind the times than I though.

So far I have nearly 40 friends and it has been quite interesting to read some of their “posts”. Some have family and grandchildren linked, it’s really a whole new world. I’ve also found one old chum I haven’t been in touch with for donkeys’ years so maybe we can rekindle our friendship via this new technology.

Of course the kids are all on FB and they think it’s hilarious that their old dinasaur dad has finally embraced the devil. Ha I think it’s a way to find out what’s going on in their lives, though I’m suspicious that I’ve been limited from finding out exactly what they’re up to!

Dinner time soon but before we eat I just want to check FB to see what’s been going on today…..

How to limit emails


I’m really new to emails and my new email address was getting lots of junk mail. It’s like the postman arriving every half hour isn’t it?

So the next step in our internet journey was to find out how to stop getting so much stuff. I wouldn’t mind so much if it was useful stuff being delivered but who on earth wants all these “enhancement” gadgets or a windfall from a con-artist in Nigeria?

I’ve heard about all these cons from friends but didn’t appreciate how intrusive they are until they started arriving in my very own inbox. And I hear that some have nasty viruses attached, so that makes me a little worried.

I’ve checked with my friend Tony, who is very savvy about all these things, and he has upgraded our internet security. We now use AVG which apparently is very good and will stop those nasty viruses doing us any harm.

So that’s the security bit but what about all those spam emails? He helped me with those too and we enabled some spam filters that were already on the computer but I knew nothing about.

Then he helped me set up some folders so important stuff goes straight into its own folder and I can keep stuff together. It’s a bit like filing papers in a filing cabinet. So insurance stuff goes into an insurance folder and flight stuff goes into a holiday folder and so on. It makes everything nice and neat.

Then we went through all the emails and unsubscribed from some mailing lists. In a fit of enthusiasm I subscribed for lots of stuff that looked interesting at the time. Apparently most of those lists get you sold on to other companies and before you know it you get thousands of emails every week. So I’ve unsubscribed from all the genuine ones and marked some as spam so they go straight into my spam folder.

There are always going to be a few that get through unfortunately but hopefully they’ll be more manageable.

So that was yesterday’s lesson. Look after your email account. Learning a lot here.

Must go because Baggo has to be wormed.

About links


Phew. It’s taken me a while to get the hang of links and why on earth anything needs linking anyway.

But I think I’m getting the hang of it now. So here goes my very first link. You can see my about page here.

Now on doing this I see that my about page is called sample-page. That can’t be right can it? So I suppose I should find out how to rename the page. On the other hand, it’s a learning process so I’ll leave it called sample-page and find out what I should have done. Be right back.

Okay that only took half an hour but I’ve found out where I went wrong. The page is set up (permalink) as http://onlineelectronicshop.net/sample-page/  At the top of the page on edit I can change that “sample-page” to about us but I’m going to leave it as I said to chart our progress. At least I’ll know next time how to properly title a page. And I think the same thing applies to a blog post. You can use the title you want.

It’s amazing how much we’re learning and together I think Mel and I can conquer this brave new world.

So I’ve run out of time now but learned something today so that’s good. Back soon with more learning.