Steve's blog

A blog about what's going on in Analysis UK...

Happy Birthday

Wow, apparently it's 10 years ago today that I first registered, I'm not sure how long after that it took me to get a proper website deployed, probably a month or two.

Since then traffic has grown nicely, I've had some great feedback via email and the UserVoice community and I've expanded the general theme to a variety of popular currencies such as and more recently to cope with conversion between Canadian Dollars/Australian Dollars/US Dollars and so on.

Initially I was able to get daily updates from the federal reserve but recently they stopped that so the data is now from XIgnite in either 15 minute or 60 minute up dates and I'm looking to improve on that as well.

The server has gone from being a classic asp IIS server back in 2000, then to a LAMP setup for many years, and now back to Windows IIS using ASP.NET, and with a recent transition from a rented server into Amazon's AWS EC2 cloud.

It's been an amazing experience, theirs so many things you just don't appreciate as a developer, the best has to be feedback from customers, so I'd like to say a huge thank you to everybody who uses or one of my currency sites (and even my other non-currency based websites!). 

If you are a developer and don't have your own website then your missing out.  Go do something simple, look at, how much more simple could it be!, get the experience of trying to host a site, keeping a database and web servers running at 99% uptime, backing up the website, dealing with customer requests, trying to generate revenue, generating analytics from log files and Google Analytics, try buying adwords, and most importantly something us developers always put down, try your hand at sales and marketing your website - I promise you it will be a shock, chances are if you don't get sales and marketing right your website will be nothing.

It's also been interesting to see the UKs take on the Euro, I was concerned early on that I had wasted my time with and that the pound would be no more, but it's still going strong.

I've got some more updates in the pipeline for the website, as well as some new websites almost ready to do, so 2010 should be another interesting year.

To celebrate I'm off to the 14th Cambridge Winter Ale Festival!


OK, I put my hand up, I should have done this site a LONG time ago, anyway is now live, at this time it's fixed to US Dollars against one other currency from Canadian Dollars (CAD), Australian Dollar (AUD), New Zealand Dollars (NZD) or Hong Kong Dollar (HKD).


It's the same usual easy format, a nice simple calculator and some history charts. 

Exchange rates are updated hourly at present.

I'm going to work on the UI to support more conversion options (i.e. Australian Dollars to New Zealand Dollars).




Remember The Bin - Preview

I thought I would share a preview of my x-mas/new year holiday work. 

RememberTheBin is a site I've put together to help me remember which bin I'm supposed to be putting out and when.  For some reason I get confused about putting my bins out for Wednesday collections.  It should be simple, Tuesday evening I put them out, but if I'm not in the routine of returning home from work and seeing everybody elses bin then I forget to do my own. 

Just to help matters Cambridge have recently introduced blue recycling bins, they look very much like the black bins in streetlights so trying to figure out what bin goes out from the others on the street is also a nightmare.

I figured I'm not the only person who will forget or get confused, and missing a bin day can result in a months worth of garbage overflowing the bin which isn't pleasant - so I figured I'd release RememberTheBin to the world.

Now I've got a few bugs to iron out, a few style issues to resolve, some spell checking and typos to sort and the small issue of buying some sms credits(1), but for now here's a brief preview.


It's an off the shelf template from, it took a bit of re-work to make it go with ASP.NET MVC, sadly hardly any template providers make their templates for ASP.NET masterpages which is a shame and they generally need a fair bit of work to clean them up.

I've got a twitter feed set up for RememberTheBin so it can send you tweets to remind you to put out the bin, depending on which operator your with you can get those sent as sms to your phone, failing that you can have RememberTheBin txt you directly, however for now we only supply 10 credits, you have to request a top up when they get low - but thats a simple button click on the website.

You might notice I'm signed in using OpenId, RememberTheBin will also support other authentication providers such as FaceBook so you won't need to create a userid/password and I don't have to store your password which is a huge help.

<Geeky Bit>

The underlying application is based on ASP.NET MVC V2 which rocks.  I'm not using too much of the new stuff in V2, but validation through the view model alone has been a huge bonus and the MVC pattern is a must.  Under the covers RememberTheBin is using StructureMap for IoC, NHibernate for data access going against a MySQL database hosted by Amazon RDS, authentication is done through RpxNow, Twitter integration uses TweetSharp, most of these are open source projects so a huge thanks to every one involved in them - it makes building something like so much simpler and quicker and a huge amount of fun.

</Geeky Bit>

Hopefully the site should be live in a few days, please leave feedback if you like/hate it or any ideas you have.  I've got a few feature's yet to be implemented as well.


(1) Would you believe, I have to wait for someone to go into the office on Monday before I can buy some sms credits from intellisms.  I found that out on Saturday.  It's like they don't want my money.  I also signed up with BulkSms who did manage to figure out that by sending a code via sms they could verify me, however their SDK for .Net is rubbish so I haven't implemented the code to use them, if intellisms havn't sorted it out on Monday then I'll go with BulkSms, and if all that fails, well I've got a GSM modem on order and 3 sims on their way but that's a lot more work to implement.