Gaming for Motivation and Creative Inspiration

Computer Games For Creative Motivation

Classic gaming can make for some great motiviation for creating user expoerinces.


Computer games are an amazingly creative medium. As well as being wonderful way to relax the mind after focusing on writing code all week, games combine music, art, graphic design, storytelling and theater to create a rich experience and a virtual environment that I believe can be very positive.

I’m having a bit of a flashback to childhood right now as I was exiled from the land of video games just after leaving school as I managed to damage my nerves due to too much keyboard based gaming and writing code with a poor physical posture.

During my career in IT, web and software development and the long keyboard hours involved I have had to stay out of the gaming world until very recently as keyboard time had to prioritize work only.

I’m now in a position to have a slightly more balanced lifestyle and have been picking up some classic games from the past decade or so as a way of switching out of “work mode”. I’m sticking to controller based games though as RSI through keyboard abuse is just not worth it.

The environments that games create provide a mental space that are often all about improving problem solving skills and thinking differently to progress through a story.

Early games gave me the inspiration to pick up the ZX Spectrum BASIC manual and work through all the examples until I could make very simple games out of text characters.

There is something about being able to build a user experience like this that is hugely satisfying.

The reward of creating a fun user experience can be a motivator for building a website or any kind of software that has a user interface of some kind or the ability to delight through the results it provides.

These days technology has come a long way and we are now entering the world of virtual and augmented reality experiences which I believe is soon to be internet based and shared through projects like High Fidelity.

This just makes me more excited to build and create more experiences in whatever small way I can.

Whether your creative project is art, photography, music, an app or a business, I encourage you to stay connected to whatever it is that makes you excited.

Seek out inspiration whether it comes from memories of past experiences, virtual world or the events and possibilities of life right now

Excitement means motivation and drive and there is little that is more important in making your project a success.

Bootstrapping Is Like Riding A Bike

Black Isle Cycle Route

Today after finishing work for the day I got on my Muddy Fox hybrid bike and took a 15 mile ride around the roads, farm and forestry tracks around the local area.

I consider myself lucky to be able to do this. I’m part of this wonderful new world of remote working and distributed teams that the Internet makes possible.

It’s counter-intuitive but the freedom to set your own schedule often means spending way too much time at the keyboard and not enough time getting outside or getting active.

These days I am making an effort to make fun physical activities (for me it’s cycling and swimming) a high business priority because I want to operate at peak performance to produce the highest quality code, databases and web based software I can for my clients.

Cycling clears my mind and I find I make more creative connections. I’m currently training for a cycle marathon and while I sped and bounced along the country paths it occurred to me that there are parallels and similarities between these two activities that I enjoy – cycling and building my business.

Here are six reasons why bootstrapping a business is like riding a bike:

1) It takes time and effort to build up momentum

When you first get going you start in a lower gear and move up each gear as you pick up speed and gain momentum. It’s the same with a business – start with smaller projects or offers until you hit maximum speed at that level, then you can use the momentum you have built up (this could be knowledge or money) to change to a higher gear and move your business forwards faster.

2) There is always a new direction to explore

When biking there are endless directions to choose from. You could go with the main road, go off the beaten track or totally off road it.

When you have a business you can always refine and improve your service, products or pivot in an entirely new direction. You can serve an existing market or create a new one. The possibilities are limitless.

3) You can travel great distances under your own power

You don’t need funding or a bank loan to start a business now. Bootstrapping your business is getting easier with the proliferation of free online tools, software, services and marketplaces you can tap into to find clients, manage your business or build your product.

4) You sometimes get a face full of bugs

This one is for the software developers! Things don’t always go to plan. You may spend a lot of time fixing bugs in the first version of your product. Your business systems may have some holes to begin with. It’s just part of the process you have to deal with.

5) The more you do the more you can do

When out riding the bike this is kind of a mantra for me. I’m going a little further each time and leveling up my stamina allowing me to go on longer or harder journeys in the future. The more customers or clients you serve the more you learn, the better your skills become, the more refined your product becomes the more valuable it will be to your customers and the further it will take you.

6) It’s all about the journey

When out riding the bike this is kind of a mantra for me. I’m going a little further each time and leveling up my stamina allowing me to go on longer or harder journeys in the future. The more customers or clients you serve the more you learn, the better your skills become, the more refined your product becomes the more valuable it will be to your customers and the further it will take you.

It can take all of your time and energy to get a new business up and running. If you are in it for the long haul you have to enjoy the work for it’s own sake, not just for the end goal – whether that be money, autonomy or something else.

I love solving problems with code and creating something from nothing in this digital medium. If you love your craft before starting a business you can enjoy your journey too.

I am currently training for the Highland Hospice Black Isle Cycle Challenge and will be doing a 26 mile on and off road cycle challenge. If you would like to help to provide care for the terminally ill in the Highlands of Scotland then please visit this link to sponsor me.

To find out more about the challenge please visit the Highland Hospice Black Isle Cycle Challenge event page.

Hacking The Business

It’s been over four months since my last Creative Transmissions article when I announced the launch of Custom Google Map Tools and plans for both websites and my future services.

A lot has changed since then and the future is looking bright.

In the early part of the year I found myself working on a large number of smaller web development projects for multiple clients.

I think that the many creatives and makers out there will agree that while variety is the spice of life, too much chopping and changing between small projects can be difficult to manage efficiently.

My own philosophy of what to work on is to ensure that each project I do gives me the opportunity to either try something new or apply my existing skills to a challenge that allows me to grow or improve as a developer. This is in fact one of the main reasons I started me own business in the first place.

The projects I have worked on all fulfilled my criteria however it became apparent to me that in order to build a company that can help significantly more individuals and businesses with their own projects and growth I would have to streamline my own processes.

As a programmer self-taught as a teenager I’m good at thinking about systems and to me business is another system to be hacked and optimized, so that is what I have been doing over the past few months.

What hacking the business looks like for me is:

  • Systematizing my process for building WordPress plugins
  • Designing and building a custom database to allow me to more efficiently manage and report on my operational business data
  • Combining my most useful JavaScript and PHP code into libraries and plugins allowing me to build more efficiently
  • Writing my own build tools to automatically pull together the files and libraries I need at the start of a project in order to eliminate repetition
  • Focusing on fewer clients
  • Turning my most popular solutions into plugins

These are all actions that have allowed me to leverage my own strengths to create in a more lean and effective way.

Everybody has different strengths and processes so hacking your own business will probably mean something different to you.

I think the important thing is to step back with a critical eye and see what can be eliminated or done more efficiently.

The result of this is more focus, clarity and space for new growth and opportunities.

A Fresh Focus and a New Website for Custom Google Map Tools

Custom Google Map Tools Website

At the moment I am going through a process of clarifying the type of work I do for my clients in different industries

I do a lot of work with Google Maps for business clients and while I don’t post about them on the Creative Transmissions blog I have had sections for Google Maps development services on the main Creative Transmissions website. Continue reading

WordPress Sell Photo Preview and Future Plans

During the beginning of this year work has been continuing on WordPress Sell Photo – the new plugin to help photographers and digital artists quickly and easily sell digital images from a WordPress website.

As a result of feedback from the beta version a greatly improved admin panel has been designed to give more control and flexibility over applying prices and shipping fees to pictures both individually and by category.

This post is a quick overview of how the new admin control panel can help you to quickly set prices for your work across your whole portfolio or at an individual picture and product or print format level.

The admin panel has five tabs laid out in the order that you would use them when setting up.

Tab 1 – Add Buy Buttons

The WordPress Sell Photo works by using a WordPress Widget to display a drop down list of print or product variations based on your prices and a Buy Now button.

This is a modular system which will allow developers to connect any 3rd party widget based payment button to the website. The included widget uses WP Ultra simple Paypal Cart due to it’s simple configuration.

As most websites will not want a buy button on every single page where there is a sidebar you can choose what types of pages or post types display a buy button with the simple tick boxes shown below:

WordPress Sell Photo - Add Buy Button Widgets
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Time To Get Excited!

An Exciting 2015 from Creative Transmissions

It’s the beginning of the first full week of 2015.

The holidays are over for another year and most of us are back at work today. After all the celebrations and days of relaxation the first Monday of the year is not everybody’s favourite day.

I think that makes this week the perfect time to remember what excites you about what you do, what you are building and what opportunities lie ahead.

If you use the web to share your creative work, collaborate with your peers or run an online business then you should be excited as the power and knowledge you have available at your fingertips is greater than it ever has been before.

Online resources, tools and web services are giving you an unprecedented opportunity to learn, share your work, connect with like minded people and reach your customers.

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Help More People Find Your New Website With These 3 Strategies (Strategy 2 – Social Media)

Social Media for New Websites

Earlier this year I started writing up some simple guidelines to help new website owners start attracting visitors to their new website.

Strategy 1 was all about optimizing your website so that it will appear in the Google listings.

Strategy 2 is to help your target audience find your website on social media.

Sharing your websites content on social media is an essential part of any website marketing plan. Having a page or account for your website helps in two ways:

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Scotland and Your Independent Creative Powers

Loch NessI’m writing this on the morning the Scottish independence referendum have been announced.

It has been a roller-coaster with a very close result and a record turn out.

I voted yes because I believe in empowering people to make positive changes in their own lives and communities and to be able to have a fair say in the resources allocated to help them do so.

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Sell Your Photos from WordPress With A Free Plugin From Creative Transmissions

camera

Have you ever thought about how great it would be to sell your photography from your WordPress website but found the options were all too expensive, limiting or complicated to set up?

This year I have spent a lot of time researching different plugins and services that offer solutions for this and I have found the area lacks a truly fast to set up, user friendly and flexible sales tool for photographers on a low or zero budget.

As a web developer, when I make a photography website for a client which includes a way of selling photographs I have specific standards for the how a sales plugin or component should work.

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