3 Vs 5

It’s the late 90’s and you an executive on the move. You need a tool to keep everything in check and keep things organised. Palmpilots look good but lack the all important keyboard. Casio have a few low powered devices as do Sharp and HP. But these are lacking in one area or another and some negligent in more than one area.

Luckily there are some solutions.

Psion have two suitable machines for the busy businessman. The 3 series and the 5 Series. But which really nails it?

Before I carry on I will declare that I did for Psion for a while in the 90’s.

The 3 series came first and then the 5 series was launched in 1997. 

Let us deal with the 5 first. I owned a 5mx for quite some time. It was a good machine. It was an evolution of the 3 series really. It had more memory, good performance, a bigger screen and a stylus. The keyboard was pretty neat too. Internet was still basic but it was better for email than the 3. But. These machines could be unreliable. Not all faults could be fixed with the paperclip “soft reset” method and quite a few I know about required very expensive outside of warranty. The series 5 had only one expansion slot for a Compact Flash card and Compact Flash cards came in larger memory sizes than the expansion cards for the 3 series.

The 3 series was excellent machine and I owned 2. Both met their maker by being dropped unfortunately. Thankfully I had very good backups.

The 3 series was smaller, lighter, had less memory than the 5, no stylus or touchscreen. I had a 3A machine which was followed by a 3mx. When I worked for Psion we nicknamed the forthcoming 3mx the “3c Gti” on account of its excellent performance. The 3mx had better connectivity than the 3a, a better screen and a backlit screen. It wasn’t great for internet but it was capable for email on the move. The 3 was also more reliable and so many problems could be fixed with the magic “soft reset” involving a paperclip and a hole next to the On key. The 3 also held a big sartorial advantage over the 5. It didn’t ruin the lines of a good suit when placed in an inside jacket pocket. With the 5 you tell it was there. With the 3 you could not tell it was there unless the suit was badly cut or a TopShop special! Lastly battery life. I managed 50 hours out of a set of AA batteries on one of these machines!

Lets move on to talk about software. I always felt that the 3 series had a better software catalogue than the 5 especially with stuff from the shareware sector and there were some excellent gems out there! Some external software for the 5 seemed rather buggy at times. As a sometime software developer I explored the programming languages for both machines. EPOC16 for the 3 series and EPOC 32 for the 5 series. I wrote some beautiful little utilities for the 3 series in EPOC16 but when I looked at moving these to the 5 series it was a pain and EPOC32 seemed very buggy in itself so I gave up bothering.

So lets get back to the original question, what is the 90’s executive on the move to do? My response would be a 3mx with some accessories, namely a travel modem and some expansion cards. The 3 series would be more reliable, more easily fixable – remember what I said about the paperclip! The executive in question would feel more reassured with critical data and in critical situation with the 3 than the 5. It would be less likely to let him down. Lastly there is the sartorial advantage. A good executive about town doesn’t want to let the world know what he is carrying in his pocket especially as both machines were rather attractive to thieves.

So The Psion series 3 definitely wins this contest!

Site Growth

I am asked quite a bit about how I grew readership of this site from its start to what it is now.

At first this site was a 1 page holding site. It had been like that for some time and would regularly garner 50 unique visitors per month in that state sometimes more mainly from people my name. Bounce rate was obviously high as there was only one page.

In 2012 the site was converted to a WordPress site and some content was added.  This gave people more to look at and the site suddenly grew to 1,000 unique visitors on average. This kept climbing. It hit 11,000 in 2017 and dropped back to about 5,000. From March 2018 this climbed back up to approximately 9,000 and this became the new baseline. This number would increase depending on two things for a while. A new issue of The Trade House Magazine or a mass of new products at The Trade Counter.

Over the time there have been many different things to look at and do, Trade Jobs, The Trade Counter, The Trade Lounge. There were over 200 static pages at one point and there are over 6,000 items of content on this site.

2020 saw a monthly average of just under 12,000. Tracking against average was tight with a low in September and a high in December.

2021 is already seeing a monthly average of around 12,750 and again tracking against average is tight.

The Excel Spreadsheet that tracks visitor details from my Analytics tool and performs very calculations is predicting a total number of visitors of 152,000 for 2021! I have a slightly higher “stretch” target of 175,000!

So how do I do it? Yes, I post links to social media. This is only part of it. I get a lot of traffic from search engines. A lot of people search for my name. People doing that visit the most content. Other people are searching for specific things. These visitors tend to only look at 2 or 4 pages. Of course, my well-publicised internet stalkers have had some input to these figures. Even though my stalkers are gone now the numbers are still high.

There is no doubt that my content writing has improved over the years and as I started this site as a blog to help me improve my content writing, it seems to have worked.  The other thing that I think has helped is that I like working with WordPress and I like keeping this site in good condition.

There is no advanced “search engine manipulation” at play in the administration of this website. No fancy Google “tricks”. I do keep an eye on what Google says about their various updates and try to keep the site in keeping with various things that they measure against such as page speed. But aside from that, there is nothing fancy going on.

What I am very pleased about and somewhat surprised about is that despite the fact that there is a lack of things to do on the site the number of visitors continues to grow. There no longer is an executive jobs board or a large shop to buy business stock from and The Trade Lounge has gone as has the travel shop. Sure “The Club” has arrived and the last ever issue of The Trade House Magazine and its supporting publications are still available. These are still very well-read.

Prior to the “linkgate” fiasco involving Facebook over 50% of my social media traffic came from Facebook. Many visitors from Facebook are now coming direct and are exploring the site more.  Other new “upstart” social networks are getting in on the act and even if I resolve “linkgate” with Facebook I can see their share of visits from social media declining.

So in answer to the question, it is just the content that is keeping the numbers high and in a growth trajectory.

Rest assured I am keeping this site going. There will be at least one item of content added every week even if it is only an update. I hope to keep these numbers high and I would love to hit the 175,000 for 2021 even if the systems are currently only predicting 152,000 ish

Tech Update 1 Feb 2021

So whats new in tech around here?

Well, Home Assistant has arrived on one of the webservers and is fairing well in its work as a  central control point for home devices. It is working well with Google Home and all my other devices. Well all apart from Alexa. To be fair the only thing Alexa seems to be used for at the moment is translating “Boris Johnson carrot one hundred” into Welsh!

The firm staples of Nextcloud, Netdata, WordPress, Matomo, FreshRss and Kanboard are working well on the dotcom server.

Courtfax1 has been extended and revamped with Airsonic, CouchPotato, Transmission and Searx – a build-it-yourself rival to Google. SuiteCrm and X2CRM have been mothballed in line with the closure of The Tradehouse.

Mattermost and Discourse are arriving shortly to improve communications. The new CCTV system arrives this coming week and will feed into courfax2. Courtfax2 will serve as the main comms, management and security platform for both properties when the new holiday home is acquired.

The number of Rasberry Pi on the network is multiplying with the welcome addition of a RetroPi for fun. I now have 27,000 games to get through from a number of classic platforms such as ZX Spectrum, Nintendo, Amstrad CPC, Amiga and Sega. These small single-board machines perform well and are fun to work with.

So I have multimedia, home security, communications, general management, gaming and a few other things all managed by a smart web interface.

The original courtfax collection of HTML and PHP scripts is still going strong and has had some python scripts added to it.

A Dell tablet running Windows has recently been chucked in the bin and my “office/studio” is now awash with only Lenovo kit. This will change as I will likely take delivery of a new Microsoft Surface shortly. I have a lot of time for Lenovo kit. It works well, performs well and is reliable. I wish I could say about Dell.



17 Years Old Today. The Kit that powers this site

WordPress has been powering sites that I own or sites that I have built for 11 of the past 17 years. I have built WordPress since 2009. Since 2011 I have needed a very good reason to build a website in anything but WordPress. We are talking over 200 websites. At one point I owned 40 WordPress websites! I haven’t built a site in anything else since 2013.

I remember once being in hospital and so bored that I updated 12 WordPress websites by clicking on each individual update!

The code base of WordPress has changed monumentally since I first started using it and it has developed from blogging software into a fully fledged website operating system and content management system. This website has developed since 2011 and seen updates since WordPress 2.7. Ok it was heavily rebuilt earlier this year.

This is quite a heavy site – over 10,000 individual items of content and I sometimes consider moving it to another CMS or platform but I never do. WordPress is perfect and I appreciate the regular updates and swift security patches.

After a while I have even begun to like the new Gutenberg block editor! In short I am very happy with WordPress.

In closing there is only one thing left to say. Thank You and Happy Birthday WordPress!