Board Game Corner: Chakra – EASY

Chakra is the latest game at Yucata that I’ve been wasting my time on. A really simple game to learn, the idea is to align the jewels in your chakra using your inspiration tokens on each move to activate one of the sets of arrows which move the jewels up and down in various permutatons.

I didn’t like the game much on the first play, but it’s become strangely addictive. I have no strategy as yet, but I’m beating more people the more time I spend playing it.

The game is designed by Luka Krleza and released on BLAM! Games. It seems to be available in the UK for around £17 at the moment, and definitely a good board game investment for the price.

I play most of my board games (for free) at YUCATA.DE. They have a selection of 100s of board games and players from around the world. Most of the board games I write about are available to try on the website, so check it out today.

January Recap – Setting the Foundation

I spent January stocking up and getting my ducks in a row. I have potential freelance work that will hopefully take me up to 25 hours a week guaranteed over February, and as I heat up the Amazon Seller Central marketplace, those two streams of income should steady themselves out over the next few weeks.

10 Things I Achieved In January:

  1. Updated my CV
  2. Learned new skills in Amazon Forecast
  3. Made advertising banners for Amazon Services and completed the application
  4. Found out information about New Enterprise Allowance scheme and almost finished the process
  5. Set up dropshipping process in Amazon UK and Amazon US
  6. Started work on my agency website
  7. Helped my friend design his business leaflets (seee the featured image)
  8. Learned more advanced Excel skills – even though I’ve been using it for years, always something new!
  9. Successfully secured my annual customer’s order.
  10. Became comfortable with AWS.

What I Didn’t Do Well In January:

  1. I didn’t get the stock out of the house
  2. I put on a LOT of weight
  3. I didn’t manage my time as effectively as I could have: better than usual but still lacking.
  4. I didn’t manage my money efficiently.

On the negative side, I had one client cancel a contract suddenly, and I’ve put on over a stone. It’s because I’m not getting out much and eating junk, but that’s something else I’ll focus on in the month to come.

I still have a lot of niggly bits to do before I’m ready to settle down and let things flow, but it’s been a good start. With pay day in sight on Thursday, and plenty of plans coming together, I’m hopeful that month two of 2020 will be doubly productive.

Red Pill Monday: BBC’s “The Capture” is Propaganda! [SPOILERS]

I can watch TV at the same time I make trophies with zero loss of quality. Maybe because I’ve been doing it since I was six years old, maybe because its pure manual labour – but the only time I watch TV is when I’m making trophies, and I’ve been making a lot of trophies these last few days. Indeed, I’ve made so many trophies, I’ve managed to watch all of “The Capture”, and it’s as good as my friends promised it would be.

Whereas others say its farfetched, it’s a technology we have right now – and it’s not even specialised technology. Learn your eigenvectors and a bit of Python, some basic ethical hacking, and you, too, could hack a CCTV stream. Whether you’d be able to get the footage of someone acting out a scene beforehand, or set your target up in such a way that it’d play out perfectly once stitched together is the only problem. But you don’t even need to do that. A basic script kiddy could hack a CCTV stream with the right tools and training. (I’m certain I could, if I dedicated around a year teaching myself how to do it).

It’s not the technology in the fiction that’s the most interesting part though. It’s the fact that a publically funded organisation is gearing up a generation to be “ready” for deep fakes. Donald Trump sexually assaulted a woman on camera? DEEP FAKE! Soldiers attack a group of protestors? They weren’t soldiers… (face swap)… they were terrorists. Yep, the Beeb is getting you in the right headspace for a false flag terror attack in plain sight. You heard it here first, folks.

The ending, for me at least, didn’t suck. Those who say “surely Shaun wouldn’t confess to something he didn’t do” didn’t get Shaun. He’s a character who’s deeply invested in the establishment, and it was his sense of honour and loyalty to the greater cause that made him confess in the end. Frank Napier knew what he wanted (not to mention, Frank had already demonstrated the power he had). Carey always wanted to know what was behind a mystery, it’s what drove her to be in the force, so, of course, she wanted in – even if she wants to destroy the machine from the inside.

Season one can be watched as a self-contained series with no huge (or even really minor) cliff hangers. Check it out on BBC iPlayer if you have a spare few hours; it’s almost worth the license fee.

The Great Stock Clearance

trophies

There’s around 2,000 trophies in my house that I haven’t labelled or sent to the Amazon warehouse. I’ve been working on them since the start of the year, and I’m about halfway through now. A lot of these are trophies made from components, which I assemble myself: it’s actual hard work! That said, the house is feeling emptier and cleaner now… which means we can finally move the components I put into storage out of storage, and start to make even more trophies from them.

As soon as the trophies are in the Amazon warehouse, I can focus on building my own website: but for now that seems like it could be months away. So, I’ll just sit in my chair, carry on making trophies and watching television, until the work is done.

This is a once in a lifetime clearout of components that have been sitting in the house since my father passed away 8 years ago. It’s a long run, but it will be worth it.

Expansion week | international listings & advertising campaigns.

With the full selection of products online on Amazon, my next task is to expand those offers across all the countries that Amazon reaches. Yes, postage costs a fortune – but in hard to reach areas, I figure that people are used to paying the postage. After assessing the demand, I can look at how to ship to warehouses around the world to reduce those costs.

The first things I’m doing, locally, is tripling my advertising spend. My current aCos is 2% – I can afford to increase the aCos to 40% and make less profit per sale if it gets me enough sales. I will monitor it for a week, and see where the aCos is at: then I will either increase or decrease again.

Then I’m creating listings for all the new markets. Sadly the inventory uploader file is different for every country, Amazon aren’t known for making things easy. I’m starting with UAE as its a fairly new market – then USA, then Canada, then Australia, Finally, Italy, France, Spain and Germany. I need a German Tax ID to sell on Amazon Germany, so that’s going to be a bother – and soon, Amazon will be requiring French Tax IDs, too.

My final targets will be Japan and Mexico. Even I’m not cheeky enough to try offering Chinese products back to the Chinese market at a UK price… although maybe I should?

Monitoring the progress of each country is going to take time, to make sure each remains profitable, however once in place & working, the international aspect will provide another income stream.

Total exhaustion: the perils of over-committing.

I reached the point of exhaustion today. I spent 5 hours creating a forecasting report, 18 hours making trophies and 20 hours writing product descriptions, packing and mailing. Took the car in for service, made two post office visits on foot, set up a new insurance policy and…

Dead.
Absolutely dead.

What’s even more depressing is none of this is work with short-term gains. It’s stuff I won’t see results from for months.

I may not be a doctor, or anywhere near the stress of a doctor, but stress levels are high & and it’s a sign to slow down a bit.

A good sleep, and a slower day tomorrow as reward.

Lea Marston Shooting Club, Sutton Coldfield

There’s a world of things out there that I’ve fancied trying out, but never got around to doing. This weekend, I went Clay Pigeon shooting at Lea Marston Shooting Club, a National Lottery Funded club on the outskirts of the West Midlands. Set on 100 acres, there’s a range of activities to try here including quad-biking, archery and ar rifle. The winner of the “2019 best Bangladeshi Restaurant in Birmingham” , The Pavaillion, is also set on the grounds, along with a club house serving more traditional fare (& alcoholic beverages, but only available after you’ve done your thing).

I booked the clay pigeon shooting as part of a Groupon deal, which I’d originally got for a friend’s birthday back in September. We left it until the very last day of its validity due to life getting in the way, but despite below zero temperatures and the early mornng start, we made it to the club in time. A very brief briefing, we hit the range (and some clay pigeons).

We’d been going to our local shooting club for air rifle shooting since the autumn, but I found clay pigeon way more fun. I think a combination of being outdoors with the friendly atmosphere of the club, plus a moving target, made it all the more interesting for me. The grounds are absolutely beautiful and I recommend anyone who can check it out.

That’s one New Year’s Goal down – now back to work again!

A year of Hollyoaks in two weeks

I’ve just successfully completed a year catch up of Hollyoaks in a two week period – all of 2019 in a giantic binge. It’s become a lot more circular lately, storylines last long past their sell-by date, and the villagers are just diving into and out of relationships with each other.

Here’s a 2019 recap of those we lost along the way.

Mac dies after being poisoned by Breda. As this is the second time we’ve taken Mac for dead, it’s no surprise that James looks into the bodybag this time to make he really was dead. James being one of my favourite characters, it’s been a joy seeing Romeo take after his father. Tom turning into a worrywart killjoy – not so much.

Louis Loveday got killed by Breda. Harry got killed by Breda. That was just a strange storyline. I didn’t feel any great sympathy for either death, despite having had the guys in my life for a very long time. Tony got attacked by Breda after he realises she’s the serial killer and she keeps him held hostage at her pigfarm – the same way she did with Louis.

Lily’s death shook me, and I cried s. The love triangle between her, Romeo and Price was immature but it was enthralling. One of the most tragic and worthless deaths, which echoed a friend I lost after GCSEs before going on to A’Levels. Perry gets accepted into university and Tom uses his money to set up a summer camp called “Tom’s Turtles”.

Ste goes far right, except it’s the most stereotypical and ill-researched portrayal of the far right ever. Peri, Tom and Harley have a thruple relationship that lasts for about a month and ends with Harley leaving the town.

After harrassing Sienna, Laurie rapes Sinead and attempts to rape Diane. He escapes jail after Finn attacks him in a prison van causing it to crash, finds Sinead at a festival, but dies from head injuries sustained in the crash whilst attacking her.

My favourite romance has been Brook & Ollie. Not a lot of interest in Transvestite Scott / Loveday Ever-Exapnding Family / McQueen & Black Family Feuds / Maalik drama drudgery. A completely underwhelming terrorist bombing – Dave going to jail for it was comedy gold. Maxine’s Munchausen’s (or Munchkin disease as Goldy put it) was quite fun. Cindy & Darren & Nancy & Sienna as integral as ever. James & Liam’s relationship, just about perfect – why can’t the bad guys live forever?

With Warren Fox making (yet another return) along with John Paul & Finn, things could get interesting again. The final episode of the year, on New Years Eve, contained flashfowards that seem to suggest the kids get involved in drug dealing – even Ollie’s considering it. He’s sobbing in a toilet about how much he misses an unidentified “he”… and whilst rumours abound about it being Luke that dies (Luke is dying after all), or him losing the baby, I reckon he may be cut up about Imran

Let’s take our bets on who’ll kick the bucket in 2020, now!

Website week | Building an affiliate website

This week I am going to step back from Amazon FBA and focus on building an affiliate website. It’s one that’s been up my sleeves for a long time, but I’ve never dedicated the time or resources to it. This will be my second income stream throughout the 2020s.

I’ve not even decided which operating system to use yet, or how to program it, or where to host it. Amazon AWS is tempting, but that in itself is a minefield of new technology to learn. Realistically, this will take me a month to build well, but I’m giving myself a week to prototype it.

My second income stream

Once this website is created, it will provide a second income stream for me. I may need to do some marketing activities to get Google to recognise it, but that will come in later weeks once the content is fully developed and ready to go. Ideally I will be in a position to do that by the end of February, and may dedicate a week to marketing at that point.

Forget #GamerGate – What Girls Played in the 1990s.

I’ve been playing board games a lot more than video games lately. However, someone started discussing their “top games of all time” – and I could only really think of ten. These were games that took up hours of my life back in the day (and by “back in the day” I mean in the 1990s or early 2000s, although Guitar Hero may have clocked in later).

The ten video games I wasted my life on

1. Micro Machines
2. Final Fantasy Tactics
3. Heroes of Might & Magic
4. Bubble Bobble
5. Mario Kart
6. Lemmings
7. Guitar Hero
8. MechCommander
9. Command & Conquer
10. Duke Nuke ‘Em

I also really enjoyed the Theme Hospital and Theme Park series of games when they were released. I’ve played demos of other games recently but never really got into them. I’ve retired to board games in my old age, and that’s mainly what I’ll be talking about further in the section – but never doubt that the mothers out there spent their own countless hours on a console before you were born.