Make Skype start minimised

Every time I restart my computer, Skype (5.5) loads, logs in and opens a window. I discovered how to make it load minimised:

  • Find the Skype program files folder(C:\Program Files (x86)\Skype\Phone)
  • Create a new shortcut
  • Modify the target to read /secondary /minimized
  • Find the Windows startup folder
  • Delete or move the old Skype shortcut out
  • Move the new shortcut in
  • Run Skype, select View -> Compact mode

Surfy Surveys publishes first survey map

Surfy Surveys, a start-up I'm involved in, has just published it's first survey map.

Small map of survey results

Invoiced consulting fees versus PAYE salary payments

Organisations can employ staff under two contracts, PAYE and consultancy. Tax and National Insurance (NI) is collected at source for PAYE, but deferred for invoiced consulting fees. The table below outlines their equivalency:

PAYE yearly salary Consulting day rate Yearly net
£30000 £164.647 £22806.17
£42000 £238.321 £28166.17
£55000 £301.57 £34651.93
£70000 £386.41 £43351.93
£90082 £500.00 £54999.49
£115913 £650.00 £69981.39

New role as Digital Director for Bridgeman

I've taken up a new position with Bridgeman, in fact I've already started part-time. I'll be running their Digital team, based largely in London and working with the foreign offices in New York, Berlin and Paris to deliver a new website later this year.

It's been a great privilege working at Technology Strategy Board for the past three years. I'll miss working closely with the other technologists and sector specialists and I wish them every success with their future projects.

The value of a good backup

I've got a 2TB Western Digital drive that's showing the early signs of failure. It corrupted a 1GB file the other day. The thing is that corruption could be caused by the NTFS driver (Tuxera NTFS for Mac), or even the media encoding software that produced the file (Handbrake). Only time will tell when either a second file is corrupted, or the drive entirely fails.

Firefox showing spinner indefinitely for HTML 5 (video.js) .ogg embed

One of my sites uses HTML 5 to show video on the homepage. The VfE embed worked fine in Safari/Chrome/IE but had stopped working in Firefox. It just left the loading spinner spinning indefinitely and refused to play. I tracked it down to the source=".../video.ogg" line.

Co-innovation in fridge stacking

One of the most exciting things I encounter in teams is co-innovation. I love being part of a group who are creating something together, something that no one person could do by themselves. Today I happened across a great example of co-innovation, in the field of fridge stacking.

Google Maps tile display bug for KML layers

I've encountered a problem with the Google Maps API, specifically with the KML layers on my Surfy Survey map. The KML-enhanced tiles occasionally fail to load and default back to the normal tiles. This produces a map that shows part of a heatmap, as the two images below illustrate. This behavior is non-deterministic.

array_walk snippet on

I wrote a small explanation of a call-by-reference problem. Taken from's array_walk description, it reads:

I wanted to walk an array and reverse map it into a second array. I decided to use array_walk because it should be faster than a reset,next loop or foreach(x as &$y) loop.

$output = array();
array_walk($input, 'gmapmark_reverse', $output);
function gmapmark_reverse(&$item, $index, &$target) {
$target[$item['form_key']] = $index;

Can't test if a non-image file exists on a remote server

I've been messing around with javascript, trying to find out if a javascript file exists on a remote server before loading it. It turns out the same origin policy thwarts my ajax attempts and <img> tags can only test for images.

Alex Stanhope is a Technology consultant to the UK Creative Industries and Venture Catalyst. This is my personal website.
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