Life’s Issues Are Very Similar To Business Issues

Blog on June 8th, 2012 Comments Off

I have recently been diagnosed as an Coeliac, I had suffered dramatic weight loss and of course sought medical advice, I was tested early on for Coeliac Disease and it was found negative. So the search went on slowly ruling out various illnesses, of course my mind was focusing on the dreaded cancer. After months of hospital visits they discovered through a biopsy that I was suffering from Coeliac Disease, at first I was very relieved as it is not life threatening. However there is no cure other than to change my eating habits.

Coeliac is gluten intolerance, so I have to cut out all products containing gluten, as I now know there are huge amounts of food products that contain gluten, as a died in the wool Foody I was horrified, no bread, pastries, pies, cakes, beer, lager and so on!

Now after several weeks of sticking to my new regime, I have suffered a steep learning curve but I am now seeing the benefits of no headaches 24/7, no numbness in fingers and toes, no fatigue, in short I have a better quality of life.

As they say “There is no gain without pain”

There are direct parallels with this in business, our company Two Fold Software supplies LIMS to any organisations that have laboratories. Many businesses are looking for increased efficiencies during these challenging times and are turning to IT solutions to provide the increased efficiency, our LIMS Qualoupe is one such solution.

We strive to make the implementation of a LIMS as easy as possible for our clients, however there are certain activities that our clients have to under take and this is the Pain element.

They need to assess their current business rules, processes and procedures, they gain by doing this, as they will fully understand the current situation and be able to identify where improvements are needed.

The identified requirements need to be documented, so that the vendor understands what needs to be delivered, the gain of course is that this removes any confusion for both parties.

Ultimately the benefits of the delivered LIMS will outweigh the pain endured during the implementation process.

Clive Collier

Spring Cleaning

Blog on March 8th, 2012 Comments Off

I have spent today making sure our website is up to date, we make regular additions to the site but it pays to every now and again to take a subjective or jaundiced look to see if further improvements can be made.  The last four months have been very busy and as such I have been very involved in the sales side of the business and I am pleased to say we have closed a significant number of deals.

So when reviewing the site I was not surprised to find that I had not posted a blog since last November, not good but understandable!

So as you can see I am rectifying the situation, when thinking about what to put in this blog, I was surprised how much had been achieved in the last four months besides the sales achieved.

We have released a new version of Qualoupe our LIMS product, which the following are the major new functionalities

Multi Group Capability

Stability Trials

Consumable Stock Control

We have also been fine tuning our internal practices and procedures to ensure that they are in alignment with the way the business is developing.

So lots achieved!

Clive Collier

Economic Recovery

Blog on November 8th, 2011 No Comments

Today’s good news, manufacturing output increased by 0.2 % compared with August, from a year earlier, it added 2%.

The UK economy grew by 0.5% in the third quarter of 2011, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

UK retail sales rose by 0.6% in September, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

If you look for good things in the media they are there, even if not on the front page -  it is not all doom and gloom!

Unfortunately the worlds media machine prefers to bombard us with bad news, and if we are not careful it is easy to fall into the trap of self prophesying doom!

We at Two Fold are experiencing an increase in sales both in the UK and Overseas, largely due to highly structured marketing, lots of effort, and our innovative Rental Scheme.

We have found the leads we are generating are generally of a high quality and where there are real projects, to either replace or buy a new LIMS, we are getting the business.  Qualoupe with its totally unique user interface stands out from the crowd of grey, boring lacklustre LIMS products, and this in conjunction with our ethos of providing well made, fit for purpose affordable products is winning the game.

There are businesses out there prepared to spend money, they are just more difficult to find;  those of you who read this and have your own business, should just think positive, work harder and smarter!

And above all ignore the negative rubbish from the media.

P.S. Do not mention Greece or Italy to me,-  it drives me MENTAL!

Regards to you all.

Clive Collier

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Blog on August 1st, 2011 Comments Off

We are all aware that market forces can affect the supply and price of goods, and I recently came across a humorous but true article about feathers used for fly tying.

The gist of the article was that due to a fad of rock stars having saddle hackles weaved  into their hair, they had caused hair stylists in the USA to buy up all the available stocks. A saddle hackle cape, which would usually cost $50 is now costing as much as $400, a price no fly tyer would pay even if there were capes available.

Click here to read article.

Having read this article it made me think about my market sector, LIMS: traditionally my competitors targeted the pharmaceutical and bioscience companies, because they have a need for LIMS …. and also have deep pockets.

The flip side to selling to such businesses is that there is a lot of regulatory control imposed on these companies by organisations such as the FDA (Federal Drugs Agency), which causes these companies to have to undergo complex and expensive validation procedures for all software used to monitor quality, which naturally includes LIMS.

The LIMS sales cycle and actual implementation into these sectors is hugely complicated by the regulatory requirements, and to counter this our competitors set escalated prices, which is fine and their right, but the real problem is that these sectors were the first to be targeted at the inception of LIMS and, as such, this set the benchmark for LIMS pricing.

The vast majority of manufacturing businesses and commercial contract laboratories do not have these regulatory needs, so it seems unjust for prices to be set based on the Pharmaceutical and Biosciences sector.

The reality is that small and medium sized companies find it difficult to justify the costs of commercial LIMS, which is why Two Fold Software is committed to enabling these companies access to LIMS through our Qualoupe Rental Scheme.

We aim to reduce the validation effort and costs for all customers by striving to provide a validated LIMS which has, since inception, had test scripts written and used internally to validate each application within Qualoupe: these scripts and testing data, combined with our  comprehensive documentation can dramatically reduce the validation burden.

 

Clive Collier

Fishing, Work, and Ice Cream

Blog on July 6th, 2011 Comments Off

Have been out of touch for a few weeks, ten days were spent fishing for England in Orkney, which was a great location with stunning fishing.

I would love to report that we won the match, but unfortunately we came last, but that’s fishing, does not always go the way you want it to!

View of Loch Harray the match venue

 

The Orkadian people were wonderful and very different from their close neighbours in Scotland, which is probably down to their Viking heritage.  Though Orkney is part of Scotland, the locals do not consider themselves Scottish;  they see themselves as an island race, set apart from Scotland.

I was captivated by the place and will be going back.

When I got home from Orkney, friends from Kamloops in British Columbia were waiting for me:  they had come over to visit my wife and I, and to see part of England.  They had already had a few days in London seeing the sights and taking in a couple of shows, though I doubt that they had expected to see “The World Naked Bike Ride” …it was either the right place and time,or wrong place and time depending on your perspective, good conversation piece though!

We spent a week showing Gordon and Debbie around Oxford, Stratford Upon Avon, Warwick Castle, etc.  Plus Gordon and I got to fish a couple of days at Pitsford and Bewl reservoirs: Gordon is a professional fly fishing guide in Kamloops so some compulsory fishing was compulsory

We had a great week together and it was sad to see them go!

Back to work, masses of emails, but no issues, the troops had held the fort admirably, still takes a few days to get back into the routine.

The economy in Europe and the UK  is not exactly buoyant, so I was happy to see that our strategy of marketing Two Fold and our LIMS product “Qualoupe”  into the more buoyant economies was working and we were receiving good numbers of leads.

So I can now report that I am well and truly back in the seat, and will be addressing our ongoing marketing and keeping my blog up to date.

Summer is here in the UK, soft fruits are in plentiful supply, at this time of year Ice Cream is high on on my list of priorities, and for me the drop dead gorgeous variety is Coconut which goes extremely well with soft fruits (especially my home grown raspberries).

Coconut Ice Cream Recipe

250 ml milk

350 ml double cream

2 x 6 ounce cans of sweetened coconut cream (do not confuse with un-sweetened coconut cream, you can use this but you would need to add 3 ounces of caster sugar)

100g desicated coconut, this adds texture to the ice cream.

Method

Some pundits recommend that if you are not adding sugar to an ice cream recipe you do not need to heat the ingredients, however I feel that heating helps to infuse the flavours completely through out the mix.

Place all ingredients in a sauce pan and heat on a low to medium heat until the mix has reached boiling point, remove from the heat and allow to cool, if you are in a hurry place saucepan into cold water to speed up the process.

If you have an ice cream maker follow the manufacturers instructions, if not pour the cooled mix into a Tupperware container and place in the freezer and try to remember to stir the mix regularly during the freezing process as this will result in a lighter texture.

Enjoy!

Clive Collier

 

New Piece of Functionality and Weird Bug

Blog on May 11th, 2011 No Comments


Sorry for the lack of posts, its been mental both work -wise and on the home front.  At Two Fold all of the marketing effort has resulted in a significant increase in leads and system sales.

The rental payment option is proving to be very popular, largely because it does not require a large capital outlay and of course conserves cash reserves, there is also the benefit that the monthly rental fees can be written of fagainst any corporation tax burden incurred by the company, so is highly tax efficient.  The other big attraction is that we do not have a contract, and a client can stop paying the fee if they are not happy with our software, so this completely removes the risk of selecting an inappropriate product and being stuck with it,  having spent a lot of money.

The Qualoupe software is being enhanced with new functionality on a regular basis which pleases both existing clients and prospective clients as they prefer to select products which have a proper development roadmap. Our latest piece of new functionality is a totally new look at how users can create a run of samples to be processed through a laboratory instrument. Run Manager Press Release

My wife is a keen gardener and a few days ago, whilst tying up a clematis, she found this strange beast that looked just like a piece of a twig.

I thought I knew about all flora and fauna in the UK, but I had not seen anything the like of this, so with the help of Google my wife identified it as the larva of a yellow swallowtailed moth, so it just goes to show you learn something every day, and how creative nature really is!

Birth Inducing Curry

Blog on April 8th, 2011 No Comments

The wife of one of my co-directors is expecting twins.  She is in the later stage of her pregnancy and is desperate to have the babies; this, and a comment I heard on the radio this morning, triggered a conversation in the office about what might be done to safely induce childbirth.

The comment I heard on the radio was by Richard Madeley, who was standing in for Chris Evans on his breakfast show on Radio Two.  Richard said that a heavily pregnant lady had tweeted the show saying she was overdue and incredibly fed up and wanted the baby to be born soon.  He suggested that the listeners tweet her back with a message of “Boo !”, as a shock is supposed to induce birth: 60,000 people responded, which caused the lady to burst into gales of laughter and immediately go into labour.  Laughter is truly the best medicine!

The one common theme from the office chat was eating a curry.  In my own wife’s case it was a walk (more of a waddle) around Black Park, back home to a good curry and then settling down to watch a James Coburn movie: halfway through the movie labour started…. 20 odd years later I still haven’t seen the last half of that movie.

So it seems appropriate for this Friday’s recipe to be a curry.

Classic Prawn Curry

Ingredients

Half kilo Fresh or defrosted frozen un-cooked prawns.

1 Medium finely chopped onion.

1 Garlic clove chopped.

1 Green chilli deseeded and finely chopped

1 Green pepper deseeded and chopped into strips.

1 Teaspoon ground coriander.

1 Teaspoon ground turmeric.

Half teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper.

2 Tablespoons desiccated coconut.

Pinch saffron.

4 Tablespoons warm milk.

1 Tablespoon coarsely cut fresh coriander leaves.

1 Teaspoon sugar

2 Tablespoons sunflower oil.

Method

  1. Heat sunflower oil in a frying pan (which has a lid) on a medium heat, add onion and garlic and fry to a light brown colour.
  2. Add chilli, ground coriander, turmeric, pepper and coconut: fry for two minutes.
  3. Stir in the prawns, making sure they are coated in the spices, put the lid on and turn the heat down to low and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.
  4. Whilst the prawns are simmering, warm the milk and put the saffron into the milk and set aside to let the saffron infuse the milk. Green peppers can have a bitter taste – to overcome this either blanch in boiling water for 1 minute, or place in a small bowl add a drop of water, put a small plate or saucer on top and microwave for 1 minute on full power.
  5. Once prawns have simmered, add the milk, sugar and green pepper and simmer for 10 minutes, taste for seasoning, and only add salt if needed. The curry should not be too liquid, if it is remove the pan lid and increase heat to reduce to the right consistency.

Garnish with the chopped coriander and serve with Naan Bread, Basmati Rice, and Mango Chutney

Enjoy!

Clive Collier

Environmental Testing Workload Increased By Natural Disasters

Blog on April 7th, 2011 No Comments

There has been a spate of natural disasters recently namely the Christchurch earthquake, the floods across Queensland, and the Japan earthquake, each of these incidents has had a huge impact on the region and the people living there!

Many of us looking in from around the world are horrified by the damage and the loss of life, but few of us would understand all of the environmental issues associated with these events. In Japan the news media has highlighted the radiation problems associated with the Fukushima Daiichi plant, but have not widely reported on the other issues.

In Christchurch the quake has besides destroying many buildings has taken out all of the sewage and water systems which causes another set of problems.  Sewage is pouring into the sea causing a pollution problem not as severe as the radiated water pouring into the sea at Fukushima but still a big environmental issue that is harmful to human and animal life.

The main governmental laboratory in Christchurch was hit by the quake and had to relocate to a local library and get functional as quickly as possible.  As you can imagine their workload of processing environmental samples has gone through the roof, the sample results being very critical to enable the authorities to make the right decisions on how to tackle the environmental problems.  So whilst working in a temporary environment they had to efficiently process these samples, fortunately they had implemented a commercial LIMS which greatly assisted with this mountain of work.

Wherever these disasters occur many numbers of environmental laboratories get involved in the process of cleaning up after the event and they perform incredibly important work and should be applauded for their efforts, but in reality they are some of the unsung heroes in these tragedies.

I for one applaud them!

Friday’s Flattened Chicken

Blog on April 1st, 2011 Comments Off

This is a  Nigel Slater recipe, but with a twist. Nigel is a big fan of roast chicken, however roasting a chicken mid week takes too long, so he came up with the idea of roasting a spatchcock chicken which, because it has been flattened, cooks much quicker.

Rather than me try and tell you how to spatchcock a chicken, click here to see a video.

Nigel’s recipe basically was to take a spatchcock chicken, rub over with olive oil and lemon juice, season well, place in a large roasting dish, and sprinkle with some herbs.  Then scatter garlic cloves around the chicken and any other veg that you like to have with the chicken, drizzle with olive oil, and roast in the oven at 200 degrees centigrade for 40 – 50 minutes.  A nice and simple one pan meal which I have tried many times.

My twist was spawned when one evening I found that I did not have any fresh tomatoes for a dish I was cooking, so I opened a tin of chopped tomatoes and took a couple of spoonfuls out for my recipe.  The next day I had planned to cook Nigel’s spatchcock chicken recipe, when I opened the fridge there staring at me was the remains of my tin of tomatoes so I thought to use these with the chicken.

Ingredients

1 Spatchcock chicken (preferably a British free-range bird)

6 peeled cloves of garlic

Handful basil leaves

Handful parsley

6 sprigs of thyme

1 leek cut into chunks

2 courgettes cut into thick slices

1 large onion quartered

12 new potatoes halved

4 carrots peeled and chopped into chunks

Tin chopped tomatoes

3 good glugs of dry vermouth

Juice of one lemon

Olive Oil

Salt and pepper

Method

Juice the lemon, then rub the chicken all over with the lemon juice and some olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Take a large roasting dish; place all of the herbs in the middle and put the chicken on top of the herbs with the breast side uppermost.

Put the two halves of the squeezed lemon in the pan, place all the veg around the chicken.

Pour any remaining lemon juice over the veg, then sprinkle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper,

Pour the chopped tomatoes over the vegetables.

Pour vermouth into the pan.

Place in oven at 200 degrees centigrade for 1 hour to 1hour 15 minutes.

Remove chicken and veg from pan, keep somewhere warm, and place pan on the hob on a high heat and reduce until the sauce has thickened, you can taste for seasoning but I have never found the need to add anything.  The combination of ingredients just seem to meld together into a beautiful piquant sauce.

The other aspect I like is that the veg get a roasted tomato crust on them, and the chicken is very moist and incredibly infused with the flavour of the herbs.

Serve the chicken and veg with the sauce and enjoy!

By the way don’t ask me why I added the vermouth, but I did and by luck or divine intervention it worked.

Clive Collier

Tonight it is Duck

Blog on March 11th, 2011 No Comments

Tonight I am cooking duck breasts which is a very versatile ingredient which can be married with many different types of flavours, I am sure we can all recall a number of classics.

This one has a hint of the orient, I would love to be able to lay claim to this recipe,  but the credit goes to James Tanner a truly brilliant chef.

Ingredients

  • 4  duck breasts
  • salt, and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil, for frying

For the honey and five spice mix:

  • 1 tsp chinese five spice
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 4 tbsp clear honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6.

2. In a bowl, mix together the spices, honey, sugar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

3. Trim the sides of the duck breasts and season with salt and pepper.

4. Heat a large frying pan and add a small amount of olive oil. Very carefully, place the duck breasts skin side down in the pan.

5. Fry the breasts on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes making sure to empty the pan of excess fat every few minutes.

6. Turn the duck breast breasts and pour over the honey and five spice mix.

7. Cook for a further 2 minutes then remove the breasts and place them on a wire cooling rack to rest.

8. In the meantime, bring the remaining honey mixture in the pan to the boil until golden brown.

9. Spoon the mixture over the duck breasts (skin side up). Allow to rest for 3-4 minutes then slice lengthways.

James suggested serving is Potato Rosti and spinach.  Rosti is to much effort on a Friday night so it will be boiled baby potatoes and some stir fried Kale.