I came across the new about.me website the other day.

It’s interesting as it provides you with a neat custom splash page (with some cool images) and personal twitter analytics.

Not sure how they plan to monetise the website, or which direction they will take the business. Interesting none the less.

Check out my about.me profile!

Words of Wisdom

I came across ‘175 Great Quotes on Business, Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Sales’ on Slideshare, by Stephen Davis.

I particularly like these:

‘If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, then you’ve launched too late’

‘Customers buy on price because they can’t find extraordinary quality, convenience, service and value’

‘You cannot innovate by copying’

‘Learn to speak with the customers point of view’

Going Dutch

With up to 200,000 A level students unlikely to find a place in a UK university, I was interested to read that Dutch universities are attempting to tempt away British students, with the lure of tuition in English combined with lower fees and cost of living.

Before we dismiss this as media hype, we would do well to remind ourselves of the contribution overseas students make to UK universities and the wider economy. The UK has been very successful at attracting overseas students over the years, indeed the first recorded student was Emo of Friesland back in 1190. According to the Economist, 3m overseas students account for £2.9bn of university income (10% of the total) and add £2.3bn to the wider economy (not all alcohol related, they say).
So is it a good idea? My personal opinion is yes, and on a number of levels. Firstly, going to university is important as it broadens students experiences and what better than going to a different country to do so. Secondly, I do not see the logic in making students wait until they enter a university as it creates a log-jam for the next years intake. Thirdly, I gather that life in the Netherlands isn’t all football and Heineken, although that is often what the media would have you believe.
So why not consider going overseas to learn? It seems like a sensible decision to me.

Zip it, block it, flag it

Children as young as five will be told to “zip it, block it, flag it” in a new internet safety campaign to be taught in primary schools, and a compulsory part of the national curriculum from September 2011.

“Zip it” tells them not to give out personal details online, while “block it” tells children not to open e-mails or attachments from people they have not heard of, and to block off anyone who sends hurtful messages. “Flag it” advises them to tell an adult if something unnerves or frightens them online.

Targeted directly at children, it reminds the older amongst us of the famous Green Cross Code.

Green Cross Man

So is it really necessary? Well research has found that one in five of the 99 per cent of 8 to 17-year-olds who use the internet had come across inappropriate content, and a third said their parents did not monitor their activity online. So the answer is yes.

Businesses such as Microsoft, Google and Bebo have agreed a range of new requirements, such as offering parents more rigorous privacy settings.

We at Beanbag also embrace the new code, and when its detail becomes clear we will implement it across our website.

Staying safe Online

We at Beanbag have been acutely aware of the need to protect our users online. Indeed over a year ago we commissioned and actioned a third-party Child Safety Review. We have also kept in contact with our friends at ChildSafe.

Action has also been necessary to protect our tutor community particularly from the risk of identity theft. Our secure messaging facility allows clients to contact tutors direct, without the tutor having to disclose their private email address or phone number on their tutor profile.

This is an evolving field, and Tanya Byron has been working with the government in an advisory capacity on online safety.

Around 140 companies, charities and other groups have signed up to the new standards. Measures include features such as the heralded ‘Panic Button’ allowing children to report offensive and inappropriate content. Beanbag is primarily used by adults, but recognising this risk we have added a ‘Report This’ button throughout our website.

Details of the new standards are published next week, and we will be looking closely at what we can do to make Beanbag an even safer place for tutoring.


Suspension Balloons, originally uploaded by bristol_bound.

Bristol is such a special place.

The iconic image of the Clifton Suspension Bridge is well known, and I love this photo of taken from the Bristol Balloon Fiesta (by bristol_bound).

What makes Bristol special? It’s not just the architecture in places like Clifton and Redland, it’s not the Downs, or the sports teams.

Its a green, historic and vibrant maritime city. It’s the place that I am proud to call my birthplace and hometown.