Mautic – not ready yet

So over the weekend I tried out the current version of Mautic, but there were a few issues.

TLDR; Mautic is not ready for production use.

Mautic is an open source  marketing automation product (think Infusionsoft). They’ve just released version 2.6 which has some nice features but I had some problems every step of the way.

Firstly, I needed to upgrade to a later version of php5, not a big hardship but just an annoyance that took a bit of messing around as I was using my Digital Ocean droplet to do this on, which hosts and my sendy instance.

That done, the installation makes recommendations on extra php modules that need installing, so yet again slight pause whilst I find the right module names and ‘apt-get’ them into place. Then create a database and we’re starting to get some traction. The application is installed and I can log in woop. Now for configuration.

There is a ‘bug’ (I won’t call it a feature) where when you change the settings, if you don’t have some fields set up for the salesforce integration – even if you’re not going to use it – then no other configuration changes would work. I wanted to switch the mail service over to using my amazon SES service. However it doesn’t use the AWS SDK like sendy and work through the amazon api, it uses SMTP with it’s swiftmail based code. So I had to create an SMTP user. Even so a couple of headscratching hours later I finally got email working.

Next issue was that the system does not implement two step optins (bread and butter requirement really in this day and age of spam and legalities all around the world). There was an article that explained how to build a funnel that would do this but it was overly complicated for something that should be trivial. However the actual flow builder is very nice and is a plus point to the application.

So having got email working, set up a campaign – with two step optimisation – it was now time to try out some sequences. Mautic requires quite a few cron jobs setting up at different times, so as not to overload the system. This smacks of poor thought because it’s fairly trivial to have a job queue and add different job types automatically, then poll the queue once a minute to see if anything needs doing – that’s pretty much what sendy does. Using a queue like this is also trivial in Laravel but Mautic seems to be a combination of Joomla code, Symphony Libs and some open source email templates. Even so I was able to get sequences working, but the email editor left a bit to be desired compared to a more rounded tool like thrive themes or even the sendy one. At least it did allow code editing which means you can use any email template you want.

Next up was tracking and this where the cracks started to show in full. There was a direct requirement for Javascript support to track anything – no other options. Any of a dozen browser blockers (adblock, ublock etc.) would be able to filter out this, and if the browser had js disabled then end of story.  Even getting the confirmation of signup would require a js enabled browser.

Doing a bit more searching I also found that SES API integration had been requested months ago but was not a high priority – so an alternative sparkpost was tried out but that would mean re-working dkim entries for everything. At least 1and1 have fixed their interface now and so DKIM editing is a breeze. The problems got worse with people reporting slow mail sending and no easy throttling so if I were to ramp this system up, things would be much slower than sendy.

So a nice experiment to see the graphical workflow builder, but it’s just not ready in all the right places to be used properly. Infusionsoft and the others are safe for now.


Overpriced courses – Are ‘gurus’ trying to take the mickey.

Overpriced courses – pet peeve of the week. With yet another guru launch this week and again a 2k pricetag!

So the general Internet Marketing Guru’s pattern is currently this…

  1. Create a course that consists of videos 2-3 hours worth. Bulk itup with pdf worksheets, mp3’s of the videos, and transcript pdfs. Maybe put in some bonuses another 1-4 hours of stuff but not useful for everyone. The course consists of rehash of existing stuff. Created using content from other courses or from a couple of books. It’s their interpretation (which may be wrong – but is usually not comprehensive).
  2. Setup a website and marketing email campaign.  Use  leadpages, clickfunnels, kajabi or optimizepress. Use infusionsoft as their back end to capture leads and feed into a funnel machine.
  3. Do some webinars with gotowebinar as their provider. All to add to the funnel. Use FB traffic to get signups.
  4. Use a hosted backend cart system
  5. Sell the course for $997 or $1997. With some options sometimes to pay in installments.

Well  they may be raking in the millions, but its still overpriced average pap for the main part.

Their faulty logic works something like this:-

  • Make it an expensive course. People will then have a vested interest in proving ‘the’ method works. If its cheaper its more likely that they will not ‘try’ their method out to the full. Then they fail and want a refund.

The fault here is that their course is  average but those that spent 2k on a course are going to give it a big try. So they can justify the spend. More likely they are afraid to admit to themselves they made an expensive mistake.

By and large, any course will get ‘some’ good students. Students who were ready for anything. Students that  get off their behinds and do something. These will generate enough cash to buy again – and you get your repeat customers. There are also a significant number who didn’t and won’t. Those customers will be lost forever.

It’s building a business out of clay. I can see some people doing this wondering why their sales are drying up after a few products and courses are released.

Running the numbers also shows a huge investment (almost 1k a month) in the front end. This needs a huge dosh of cash to churn the system. It needs lots of Ads to get lots of signups, to get lots of  buyers.  A lot of them are just jumping on the next shiny thing. You need a lot of cash to feed this machine.

Additionally,  the advisors suggesting this setup to other ‘entrepreneurs’ are raking it in. People use ‘their’ systems to do this so they get double bubble… “sell a course to use my $99 a month system!”

The only reason I can see for using these systems is lack of technical knowledge. It does take time to develop (sic) but at what long term cost?? Given I’ve got Sendy, node-red and thrive themes I can replace all that setup and the data is my own.

I still need to develop a brilliant taguchi/bayes/bandit optimiser tool but I’ll get there.

Oh and build an average 2-4 hour course!



Some people are just not ready.

Some people are just not ready for feedback.

Over the past year, I’ve slowly come to the realisation that people who need help sometimes don’t actually want help and are happy bumbling on with their belief’s that they are doing well and know more than someone else so that makes them feel better. That’s a really poor way of keeping their self-esteem up – but it’s what they know, it’s what they understand and it’s kind of working for them.

Unfortunately, people like this really hate getting feedback (especially negative feedback), unless it’s from someone they see as a God/Guru/Expert like figure, and even then they try and find as many excuses as possible for not making a change. The resistance to change is still there even when presented with lots of evidence.

To some extent, we are all guilty of this at some point so it’s understandable.

My main win from this realisation is that it’s not worth the effort to even bother feeding back to them. At the least it’s going to deaf ears, at worst they’ll come back with troll comments or a list of their (poor) justifications for how they are better than me. It would be very easy (with my knowledge and skill) to completely burn those people to the ground or turn them into a jibbering wreck, but to what benefit? It doesn’t make me feel good. It won’t help them in the long run because they’ll have to find someone else to use as a shill to boost their self-esteem again, or bitch about it with a friend that will listen.

It’s a shame because usually I really do know what I’m talking about – otherwise, why would I bother feeding back in the first place. However I’m wasting my time because ‘People are just not ready’.

So I’ve got a new habit to cultivate; stop feeding back. Stop giving away my knowledge and skills for free to individuals (the collective masses might get some though). It’s their loss, not mine.






Scrapping JVZoo – Gumroad here we go

I’m trying YAPS (Yet another payment system) for a while.

Over the years I’ve tried…

  • Clickbank. Had a whole lot of problems with spam/refunds and integration issues. I still get the occasional blip of traffic but they charge you for inactive accounts and you don’t get paid unless you hit their threshold of 100 dollars.
  • 2Checkout. Lots of issues
  • Paypal – a good standby but integration issues kept cropping up. I used Download Guard as the handler, but updates to php and an expired licence forced me to look at alternatives.
  • JVZoo – to replace DLG in the chain but still going through paypal. On paper it looked like a good win as it had affiliate system in place too. No affiliate sales though and the quality of some of their products has been questionable over the last couple of years.
  • Gumroad. Simple to set up and some things that can work with my own endpoints (although the documentation for the extra customisation leaves a bit to be desired).

The jury is out but for low volume sales I’m eventually going to have to write my own Paypal handler.



Email Automation – Laravel+Sendy+JVzoo In under an hour

TLDR; Skip to the lower source block for the apache and htacess configs for laravel in a subdirectory using apache aliases.

I mentioned a few days ago that I’m moving over to using Sendy as my mailing list system. One of the things I needed to get sorted pretty sharpish was handling the customer email automation process for my Book website ‘Beyond Bedroom Guitar”.

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Doing something good for young adults

Imagine you were 16 again. In the UK.

Now imagine you’d fallen out with your foster family, because you’re own parents were not around.

You’re out on the street. Alone. No where to live, no where to go.

You’ve still got to go to school.

You need to find food.

You still need to able to wash.

But you’re 16. You don’t qualify for unemployment benefit because you’re supposed to be at school or at college.

You’re 16 – possibly with poor education (those years of being moved from one school to another as foster families change don’t help). So getting a job is pretty hard (but you should be in school or college according to the law now). Even then its going to be low paid, a few hours. Not enough to live on.

There is a MASSIVE hole in the benefits system that means 16-18 year-olds fall through the cracks for support at this most vulnerable time in their lives.

One Charity that makes a difference for children (because that’s what they are really still children) is ‘Action for Children’. They have people that help.

Action for Children

Action for Children Logo

Help find children a place to live, get the benefits they need, get back on track to becoming an adult and most importantly keep them off the street, away from drugs, prostitution and all the other nasty things that they could be dragged into.

They also are trying to lobby to get the laws changed so that these people who are in trouble are NOT ignored by our society.

Each year, a whole group of technology people in and around Bristol get together to raise money for this worthwhile Charity. Apart from the usual fund raising techniques, their ‘big’ event is called ByteNight (come on programmers you know what a byte is). About a hundred people sleep out overnight – rough without shelter. All together about a thousand people do this across the uk in Bristol, London, Birmingham etc. Last year they raised just over £1 million on that one night alone.

I took part. It was my first ‘proper’ charity event. Ever. And it felt good. Really good to realise that I was going to make a difference that could have a direct impact on someone’s life. Yes I’ve done things in the past that have an indirect influence – but not this direct.

This year they are doing it again – and this year I’m doing it again too! I’ll be there on 2nd of October in Bristol with just a fleece, sleeping bag and roll-mat sleeping out rough and hoping to make a contribution to this very important organisation.

If you’d like to make a donation to my efforts then visit my just giving page and put some cash into the collection jar.


I've been waiting for  baited breath for this to get ported to the Mac. Then I forgot about it for a while. 

Nic needed a video creating for her Bed Med Gold Audio and iMovie was playing up a bit. So I downloaded the beta version from and installed it. Well to say I was amazed is an understatement. After watching a few ​training videos (the one above included), it took me about 5 minutes to edit everything together and set it rendering. 

She wanted one of the Electric sheep rendering videos as a background and that took a long time to download and re-encode.

Here's the finished result (no award for film making yet!)

A Dilemma Version 2 or Version 3 of Cocos2dx

Having just seen the video from the Arm conference where Ricardo talks about some of the improvements to to Cocos2dx in version 3, I thought I’d take a quick look.

First I had to upgrade my version of C++ to 4.7 so I could compile it. Thanks Ubuntu for putting it in a test PPA instead of being generally available. A few apt-* commands later and I’m compiling up the source. At least this time the cmake configuration is much easier to understand. Another recompile after configuring Box2d (why do you insist on making Chipmunk the default!) and the test code is running much faster on my creaky old laptop. Using a later opengl driver has really helped.

The dilemma is should I abandon my previous code and setup and recreate everything in version 3, all the while having to mentally switch between CCSprite and Sprite class names etc. Also a lot of the tutorials are geared to version 2. It might be a bit of a mental stretch too far.

Anyway for now I’ve decided to give it a go and keep up with the latest and greatest. At this rate I might even get out a game before the stable release instead of the beta version.

So I’ll have to go through the same steps again.

  • Create Game Stub
  • Create Repo
  • Create Jenkins configuration.
  • Setup testflight.

All set up!