News in Full
- Tests in Swindon
- Tests of the boards were carried out in Swindon on
This yielded several surprising pieces of information:
- Wearing placards is like putting yourself in the stocks.
- Very large lightweight boards act like wings in high winds.
- It certainly grabs attention, for which eye contact must be avoided:
A street sign is passive; you don't expect it to stare back at you.
- There was an unexpected air of welcome and sympathy from other street vendors.
- Training sessions stop train-bound commuters
- The first secret training sessions were held in the north car park of
Chippenham railway station. This is the closest area to the office, and may
not have been the most discrete choice for secret meetings.
Future sessions will be held in private in a gym.
In practise, however, no gyms would take the risk, and practising has merged with working. Additional practise sessions run in John Cole's Park on Sundays.
- Gazette & Herald coverage
The local paper for the Chippenham area is the first in with the story, during the last week of .
- Stiltwalking & photography tests
- This occurred during one long odd day in Bath, during , somehow resulting in a magazine article.
- RISC OS Southwest Show
- We went all-out on a publicity drive for the RISC OS Southwest Show , with a full stiltwalking and leafleting campaign. This over most of , which was miraculously/mercifully snow-free.
- Calne Xmas Lights
- This project advertised Calne Town Council's Christmas Lights Switch On on .
- Name Change
- The sponsoring name has changed to a personal trading name after the
Sponsor disputed its own usage of its own name. So while NWAS tries to
prosecute itself, the temporary name is "Hodson Holdings". Just
incase any of that made sense, the office address, ie that of NWAS, has not
changed, nor has the sponsorship deal, which is to provide business support,
and then apparently delegate it all back again.
The phone number will change when there is a workable alternative number, yet another person to answer it, and spare cash to rewrite all the billboards, reprint stationary, etc.
- Problems Solved
- There have been many problems over the last months of , partly due to a tight budget, partly to colds &c, but mainly because of the difficulties scaling up occasional stiltwalking stunts into a full-time venture. Various problems that have been overcome include weightlifting training and new printing techniques. Now a set of posters can be produced and on the streets within a working day. Persisting delays include drying/curing time for inkjet prints and design delays until new computer equipment is purchased.
- Name Change II
- We have a new name, Stand Above the Crowd. This is a trading name of
Miracle Delivery™, a personal brand name of
The name change progressed in four stages:
- Originally, it was to be “Stand Above the Crowd”,
- but then North Wiltshire Artspace (our Landlords) insisted on us using their name, “it would be a lot less hassle” they said. Eventually we agreed, and several redraftings of the business stationary later, everyone was happy.
- NWAS found out a few weeks later that it is illegal for a part of a charity to be a profitable commercial enterprise, and instead of telling us, started telling anyone who contacted them that we were Passing Off ourselves as them. This caused some confusion at the time; see above. However, there was never any cause for concern: At that time we were an experimental project rather than a business, and although we broke even, we didn't actually make a profit, and so no rules were actually broken by anyone. At this stage, a temporary name was created, “Hodson Holdings”.
- Following a surge of business and an avalanche of business advice at Chippenham Folk Festival , the decision was made to become a full and formal business, with the original name, “Stand Above the Crowd”. Isn't life complicated?
- Ministry of Silly Walks
“Hello, I've got a silly walk and I'd like a grant to help develop it.” So goes the opening line to the famous Monty Python sketch with John Cleese. The DWP (Department of Work and Pensions, a government ministry) have offered us two grants, one of £1000 and another for £800, as start-up capital.
Update: Both grants were turned down, and replaced by an £800 fine, as punishment for declaring all expenses and submitting a full set of accounts on time. No good will come of this. Supposedly there's another £1000 fine due this year, as punishment for not having enough money to pay the tax bill. I don't know where they think this money is coming from. The phrase "cloud cuckoo land" spring's to mind.
- New Phone Number
- Our new phone number is 07811 550086 [changed again]. The old number is no longer valid, largely because the person manning it has virtually moved to Taunton. His actual phone remains in Chippenham.
- Extended Winter
- The winter of / has gone on far
too long, and keeps coming back, even in April. Cold temperatures bring the
risk of ice, and thus the lack of stiltwalking, and also the lack of practise
and preparation. This has had two effects:
- Advertising for Trainwest being cancelled, with leafleting also being hit hard.
- A cooperative software writing project with Hunch Inc. whom are something like Google® in the early days.
- Safety Delays
- Not helped by the freak cold spell in December
(strangely the rest of the winter wasn't too bad), some essential safety gear
wore out (body armour), and getting replacement gear in my size took quite
some doing, and travelling.
We were not able to do Calne due to the icy conditions (and unreasonable fines from the DWP as punishment for being serious about looking for work). Now we have some from Jenson of California, so training has begun again, as of .
- Credit Crunch
- Due to the recession, I am also in the market for any "normal"
employed work, and it'd be silly not to put that here seeing as I have free
advertising for myself.
Have a look at my CV, on
I also have a video CV at freedom.is/staff
Update: This sort of thing is less relevant now, but if you do have a Beer tasting or web developer vacancy, please feel free to get in touch.
- uxonym experiment
- I've switched the office blog into twitter, so the latest updates will be
on there, with events I'm attending on
As an experiment, I'll be doing more stiltwalking without the boards, and instead "mysterious" little signs saying "@uxonym". This is my twitter-space, and it'll also be interesting to find out how effective various types of advertising are by watching how many extra Followers I attract.
The original office blog has been eroded somewhat by facebook and twitter microblogging, I am looking at ways to combine the lengthier stories of the blog with the news updates of twitter, perhaps turning the current blog into an archive in the process.
- Old Phone Number
- Our new phone number back to 07811 550086. Despite being asked to provide a landline number by a multitude of people, promoting it heavily, and picking up within one ring, no body has used it, and so we have withdrawn this service. Therefore the experiment with freephone numbers will now not being going ahead.
- Lots more work
- Thanks to social networking, beer networking, and a replaced promotions manager, lots more work has come in. Much of it for charity. We were out in force at the Emergency Services Show at Hullavington Airfield, helping BMRG again (your twentieth emergency service), covered in flashing blue lights and with a legal expert on site as we were not that far from the police stand. The next week it was Wootton Bassett High Street, taking part in a Rock Video. Don't panic though; no acoustic roles were assigned to us! And now it is the Christmas Lights season, with possible gigs in Swindon and Calne in the second half of , and festival bookings coming along nicely for .
- Business Reboot
- I've been looking afresh at my business, where it loses money and where it makes it, what the biggest demands from our customers are, and how the business looks from their point of view. I've toned down the stiltwalking side of things, and I'm concentrating more on leafleting, and making information available, particularly live updates. I'm running a sort of blog of interesting street photos on the facebook page, revamped the cover pics on that and twitter, and now provide daily client progress updates through twitter. I've also identified the major customers, and am making it easy for them to find us, by going out and talking to them. I've also reduced unnecessary procedures, to bring down the stress levels of everyone concerned (including my own workload), so things are more streamlined and we don't get bogged down with paperwork.
- Logo Adjustment
- As a side-effect of using Vistaprint for some new business cards,
and actually reading their T&C, we've plumped for a more abstract,
"cleaner" logo. This is infact a public domain design, which still
doesn't mean you can Pass Off as us; if you use the same logo with another
business sufficiently different (other name, area, etc) from ours, that
should be okay though.
We've been busy over the past few weeks, reprinting all the stationary and uploading the the design to facebook twitter, adding a favicon, etc.
- Facebook Ads
- We've started an[other] experiment, running some faceboom adverts. Now, I know this may sound odd, because we offer better and more direct advertising ourselves, which we can get at cost price, but facebook have given us a free trial, and you can't get any cheaper than that.
- Leafleting dropped - Gardening added
- From , we have dropped
postal leafleting, we still do leafleting as part of walkabout or stand
promo, on stilts at events. We cannot stiltwalk postal leaflets! This
adjustment is partly due to profit analysis, partly because long contracts
are vulnerable to interruptions which can adversely impact clients.
An unexpectedly profitable sideline has popped up, in the form of gardening, which proves we never turn down a reasonable offer. Brambles, weeds, overgrowth; all removed. Thorns no problem.
When we leafleted, we didn't dump your leaflets in a hedge. Now we take the hedge away too.
- Calne Reindeer-on-stilts
- We were back at the Calne Christmas Lights Switch-On, on
. Not as
a direct council contractor, subcontracted by a stallholder this time, in the
shape of Bentley Model Railway Group,
publicising CMRS 2015.
This gig took the form of a walkabout reindeer-on-stilts, handing out leaflets at the event, in the centre of Calne. The extended back protector has another outing, festooned with tinsel and other decorations; we will eventually build a giant lightweight back protector, and retire the heavy sandwichboards.
Gloves turned out not to be necessary, contrary to assumptions (wristguards etc still employed), which speeded up the dispensing of leaflets considerably. Even at this speed, they couldn't be handed out fast enough.
- CMRS 2015 Showguide
- As well as helping behind and infront of the scenes for
CMRS , we're
running an advert in their Showguide, available for purchase at the Show.
CMRS is Calne Model Railway Show, running all weekend 17th-18th