Updates to our blogs


2015 was a record year for Scottish horse racing as thousands of visitors were attracted to the countries five race courses. As well as these facts, almost nine hundred people are currently in full time employment through the horse racing industry. As a result of improvements made within the industry, the Scottish economy has received an estimated £173 million.

It is thought that an influx of visitors from across the whole of Europe as well as south of the border have contributed greatly to this recent growth. Scottish racing reported of record prize money paid out throughout the year at Ayr, Musselburgh, Hamilton Park, Kelso and Perth race courses. Being Scotland’s second most popular spectator sport, there has been a long standing admiration between the two parties. However, last year’s records are being explained in part by improvements in the quality of tracks, as well as visitor facilities.

What the paying public more than anything want to see on race day however is the horses. Events such as the season opening, three day Perth Festival, are the type of events that bring in both large amount of spectators, as well as big money. With total attendances at Scotland’s five race courses reaching 308,258, an increase of more than 13 per cent since 2012, it is little wonder betting companies are now placing more emphasis on the Scottish market.

Scottish Racing Chairman Sir Ian Good has stated recently that “People love a day at the races, it’s safe, it’s fun and there’s a chance of winning with a small flutter.” With this in mind it is becoming more and more frequent for betting companies to offer the chance for customers to get a free bet for the race. The betting culture has always been associated with horse racing, all over the world, and companies such as Coral Interactive now offer horse racing odds across the UK, including Scotland. Betting agencies will now use the draw of a horse racing free bet to entice new customers.

The Scottish Grand National and the Ayr Gold Cup attracted over 40,000 spectators between the two of them, with prize money of £210,000 being paid out. Such figures, coupled with many of the venues becoming busy through an influx of corporate events, means that the industry is seemingly going from strength to strength. Scottish racing was recently well rewarded for its fine efforts at the Northern Racing Awards in Newcastle, and with three Scottish tracks in the UK top 12, things are certainly on the up for the sport.




In spite of the advantages that the Internet can afford any business, regardless of size or sector, today’s online world is a virtual goldmine for cyber criminals. Over the past couple of years, data breaches and hacking incidents have become a regrettable, yet common, occurrence for countless high-profile companies.

But, a lot of the time, they have been architects of their own downfall by failing to adopt standard security procedures, particularly when storing information in the cloud. So, to help you avoid the same fate, here is how to keep your documents safe online.

Always use SSL certificates

Secured Sockets Layer (SSL) is the standard form of encryption for passing sensitive data from your own browser to your provider’s server. Several hosting companies charge for SSL certificates, but with SSD VPS this essential security measure comes at no extra cost to clients.

Choose SSL for your web server solution as well and it can bring additional benefits aside from keeping cloud documents safe. Your website’s SEO rankings and online reputation are bound to receive a timely boost, as customers will have the utmost confidence when handing over their own sensitive data.

Introduce a failsafe password policy

Did you know that 90 per cent of all passwords can be cracked within seconds? So, if you don’t take passwords seriously enough, cyber criminals will be able to access your cloud-based information with relative ease.

Introduce a password policy that gives hackers no opportunity to compromise your data. Best practices include a maximum age, minimum length, complexity requirements, and storing passwords in a database that uses reversible encryption for all users.

Implement two-factor authentication

If you would like more than just a username and password to protect the contents of your cloud, consider implementing two-factor authentication as well. This is available from several cloud storage providers but also requires cooperation from you and your employees too.

Two-factor authentication works by requiring a second form of identify verification, commonly a code sent via text message to an individual’s smartphone. Even if passwords are cracked, hackers won’t be able to gain access to your data.

Encrypt all of your data

Encryption works by using software to create a password for cloud documents. Anybody that wants to see the contents of these documents will then need the password to gain access. Simple.

The easiest way to encrypt data before sending it to the cloud is to zip files and then give them a password. Several software programs are available that can do this, but you will need to pay a premium for high levels of protection and reliability.

Understand sharing permissions

Even if you have taken the necessary steps to safely secure your important files and folders in the cloud, your downfall could be sharing this data with others. Therefore, it is imperative you understand sharing permissions so that only intended recipients can view your private cloud space.

When choosing a provider, make sure that they offer the level of permissions you require and are happy with, otherwise your data could quite easily fall into the wrong hands.


According to one recent survey, some 90% of British organisations are now using cloud solutions, with over half of them using at least two providers. It’s not a massive overstatement to say that cloud server hosting has revolutionised the way businesses operate, boosting profitability alongside numerous other benefits. If your business doesn’t currently invest in a cloud hosting solution, here’s why you should consider it.


If your business tends to experience rapid periods of growth, then it can be problematic to continually need to upgrade infrastructure. When you use cloud technologies you can expand or reduce capabilities such as bandwidth and server storage as and when required. What’s more, adjustments that might take your own IT department several days or even weeks to organise can often be sorted out by your provider within a matter of hours. It enables business growth, and helps you manage if you need to downsize as well.

SaaS (Software as a Service)

With the cloud you can access whole suites of programs, with everything your business needs to function, from financial software to marketing tools to CMS’. That means you no longer need to bother installing reams of software onto individual devices, or updating it, since that’s done automatically, so you are always working on the latest versions. QuickBooks Cloud Hosting can be an perfect example of Software-as-a-Service. Managing user licenses becomes a lot easier too. Software as a service leads to…

Cost Savings

Now you are only purchasing the services that you actually need at any given time, so you’re not going to be wasting as much money on expensive software that is only used a few times and then just sits there redundantly. Your capital expenditure is being significantly reduced and your finance department will be happy, also because…

Predictable Expenditure

You will have a steady monthly subscription to budget for, making the your IT expenditure more predictable and manageable, and the job of finance easier.


You will have experts immediately at hand from your cloud provider, so that any issues with software are resolved promptly and effectively. It removes the need to have that expertise within your own organisation, freeing your IT department up to focus on other projects. Complex type of tasks such as to migrate data or to migrate godaddy email to office 365 can be made more easier with proper technical support from your CSP.


Corporate environmental responsibility is a big thing, and the cloud can help you to deliver on expectations. How? Running a server consumes a lot of power, but now you’re only using the capacity that you actually need. No half-empty servers in your office wasting your money and the earth’s resources.


Sensitive data needs to be adequately protected to comply with laws and regulations, which can be complex. If your data is held in cloud servers, they meet those obligations for you – one less thing for you to worry about.


The cloud appeals to businesses of all sizes, from SMEs to global multinationals. Small businesses can operate on a more even playing-field with the big players in their marketplace, because now they have access to enhanced technology that they might not have been able to afford before cloud computing came along.


Because cloud providers live or die on the reliability of the services they provide to hundreds (if not thousands) of clients, proactive security is their watchword. You can have confidence that your data is more secure than if it were held on your own servers. It also means that the problem of staff losing kit such as laptops is reduced, as anyone finding it would still need a password to access your company data on the cloud. Plus, you can entrust regular data backups to your provider which will complement your own.

Remote working

Flexibility is far greater with the cloud, so if you have staff out in the field, they can connect to the information and platforms they need from devices wherever they are. It makes project collaboration with teams in different countries or timezones far easier to manage. A side-benefit of that is you can introduce hot-desking, leaving you with lower office costs, and possibly happier staff.




















If you’re feeling the need to gain some more freedom and be able to go out and explore the roads more, you’re probably considering taking your driving test. Being fully qualified to legally drive gives you the freedom to travel to wherever you like and whenever you want to, without having to rely on public transportation or somebody to drive you to where you want to be. Preparing for your driving test in order to make sure that you are successful the first time is important, not only to make sure that you’re on the road as quickly as possible but also to ensure that you don’t have to pay any more money for further lessons. Here are some top tips for effective preparation.


Find a Reputable Instructor

Learning to drive with a reputable driving instructor is absolutely essential if you want to be successful first time on your test. Fully qualified and trained driving instructors will have all of the knowledge and tools available to assist your learning and make sure that you are doing everything correctly in order to give you the best chance at passing your test first time. You will also be able to take mock driving tests, which are great for preparing you for the real thing and can help to ease some nerves as you’ll have a better idea of what to expect.

The Theory Test

Before you will be able to go ahead and take your driving test, you’ll need to sit and pass the driving theory test. This test will be taken on a computer in a test centre , and you’ll be given a series of questions to answer regarding the rules of the road and then asked to watch some driving videos and spot hazards in the hazard perception part of the test. The sooner you can pass the theory test, the better as once it is out of the way, you can go ahead and book your practical test. Practising for the theory test is important and you can do so with a range of mobile apps and websites that provide mock tests, such as the Top Tests website.

Ask Questions

Driving instructors are used to being asked all sorts of different questions, so if there’s something that you are unsure of the best thing for you to do is simply ask, even if to you the question may seem a bit silly. It is better to have as much knowledge as possible when preparing for your test, rather than go into it being unsure about any factors of the test. A good and reputable driving instructor at driving lessons Dunlaoighaire will be happy to discuss any concerns which you have regarding the test and answer any questions which you may have regarding the test or even driving in general after you’ve passed.

Being ready to learn and practice lots is essential when you’re preparing to take your driving test! Prepare and motivate yourself with this top tips and you’ll be on the road in no time.


When it comes to growing plants, fruit and vegetables, there are a number of ways we can maximise nature’s potential. But why would we want to? Well, it’s simple: by maximising nature’s potential we can ensure that farmers and merchants are able to improve the quality of their crops in an efficient way. In turn, consumers reap the benefit of reliable, desirable produce at an affordable price. Here’s how…


First, we can maximise nature’s potential by helping crops to resist insects and pests. Creepy crawlies such as aphids, wireworms and seedcorn maggots can damage crops, resulting in lower yields and lower profits for farmers. To ward off these kinds of pests, protectants, treatments and chemicals can be applied to lessen the damage inflicted.

Another method of maximising nature’s potential is by seed pelleting, a process which adds materials to seeds to change their size and shape. This method of maximising nature’s potential is very helpful for growers: it allows for more oxygen to penetrate the seed, allows farmers to accurately space seeds with precision, and makes them idea for mechanical seed planting (which means the most crop be produced using fewest man-hours).

How else can we maximise nature’s potential? Well, we can alter seeds slightly to increase the strength of the crop. This is particularly helpful in our changing climate as it enables produce to withstand extreme weather and unpredictable fluctuations. Without harnessing the potential of a seed in this way, many crops would otherwise fail. An extra upshot of maximising nature’s potential in this manner means that we don’t have to rely on optimum growing conditions to increase the chances of producing a good yield, which can go a long way to making food more plentiful – and therefore cheaper!

Another way we can maximise nature’s potential is by treating seeds in a way that brings about a high crop yield. We can do this by adding chemicals and substances that protect crops from bacteria and disease, which ultimately leads to a larger number of crops within a yield surviving long enough to become suitable for sale.

You might be getting enough calories, but are you getting enough nutrients? There’s a way of maximising nature’s potential to solve that. We can adapt plants to become more nutritious by improving their vitamin or mineral content. In fact, the United Nations recommended that rice be enhanced with vitamin A to help reduce deficiencies of the nutrient around the world, resulting in the growth of ‘golden rice’ – an undertaking that won the Patent for Humanity award in 2015. So, as well as improving the overall quality of our diets generally, this method of maximising nature’s potential can go a long way towards fighting malnutrition across the globe.

Finally, we can maximise nature’s potential by engineering new kinds of crops, suitable for the climate they’re grown in. For example, scientists have developed a type of tomato that can grow successfully in salty soil, and more recently, scientists have grown a cereal crop that is enriched with omega-3 oils to be fed to farmed fish which enables them to grow larger. As producers and consumers, maximising nature’s potential is good news for us!

Christmas: a time for giving, receiving (and posting unwanted gifts online). A day, where the ‘present face’ appears in living rooms of almost every home in the country. If you’re not familiar with this term, you will most likely be familiar with the action; it’s the awkward smile and overflow of insincere compliments that follows from opening unwanted presents.


But don’t fret – there are many ways you can make the most of receiving ghastly gifts as this helpful infographic explains.

The subject of selling on gifts, you have received, may be taboo, but it is a great way to save money and potentially get yourself out of debt. It means that instead of it going to waste, someone who really ‘wants’ it can enjoy it and you get the benefit from an extra few bob in your pocket.

On a more serious note however, if you are struggling after the Christmas excesses and want some advice on how to get out of debt, visit the Money Advice Service which offers free support managing your finances and tips and tools on how to budget.


A bad recruitment strategy is going to cost you lots of money. Actually, it’s going to cost your more than money. Hiring the wrong people is going to lead to a reduction in worker productivity, lost time, a reduction in team morale and a negative impact on your client relationships. Want to know where you’re going wrong? Read on…

You don’t have the right software

One thing any business needs to consider is the cost of trying to hire new staff: so first, invest in the right tools to make your recruitment process cost-efficient. You could reduce man hours by making use of things like CIPHR HR Systems, drawing on the power of recruitment systems to boost your visibility to potential employees and widen your pool of candidates.

Online applicant trackers are also useful if you’d like to better manage the administrative tasks associated with recruitment, and there’s nothing wrong with relying on old-school technology too. A simple telephone interview will begin to give you a feel for a candidate’s suitability before you invest time and money in face to face talks.

You’re too focused on qualifications

Qualifications are important; strong higher education qualifications naturally infer that your employees will be able to assimilate new skills and knowledge at speed, and depth. But, it isn’t the be all and end all (except, of course, for jobs requiring a level of education such as law, accounting or medicine). What is very important however is a desire to learn.

Bright, passionate employees will be willing and able to learn how to do the job you require of them, and don’t necessarily need a degree to get started. It’s important that your business is hiring people who are motivated to develop with you: remember that a University certificate isn’t an indicator of that.

You’re hiring the wrong people

Stop making quick-fixes, and start taking the process slowly. Whilst it’s inevitable you’ll find yourself trying to hire a replacement for a leaver from time to time, try to become more pro-active with your recruitment strategy. If you envisage needing more staff for a particular role, begin by making a clear list of ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’. By giving yourself more time you can afford to be more ‘choosey’ about who you give a job to. Ultimately, less time-pressured you are higher the chances are of making the right decision.

You might also be missing a trick by only interviewing people who approach you. Some of the best people for your organisation are already working for another business. Why not put some feelers out for people who might consider a change of scene? What can you offer that makes your business an avenue worth considering?

You’re not practising good interview techniques

Are your interviewers properly trained? Are they asking relevant, targeted questions, and are they delivering them in a way that prompts a longer response rather than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’? Questions phrased with ‘how’ and ‘why’ will encourage detailed responses that will allow you to glean more about a candidate than just the response they give: such as their transparency, history, communication style and personality. It’s a good idea to leave a few moments of silence occasionally too – if you’ve made a candidate comfortable, they’ll probably offer more information about themselves to fill a gap in the conversation.


More and more of us are deciding to take a digital detox, which means taking a step back from our mobile devices, our laptop and refraining from updating our social media profiles with mundane statuses about what we ate for breakfast. It’s beneficial to our minds, our social lives and surprisingly our posture, so well done for deciding to take this step.

However, without all this entertainment at hand you’re probably wondering what you should do in your down time – and crafting is the perfect answer. Not only does it give you a fun activity to do, but you might discover you have a particular talent for something you try. Here are five crafting ideas to keep you busy (and sane) during your detox; check these out and print them off before the big ‘switch off’ day:

  1. Candle making

Forget about buying that £15 Yankee candle jar ever again because you can create your own candles with fragrances you love for a much better price. Check out this tutorial, which details how to make candles completely from scratch, using essential oils as the fragrance, or you can pick up candle making kits from Homecrafts that feature all the tools and ‘ingredients’ you need, as well as detailed instructions to ensure nothing goes wrong. You can put your candles in tea cups, glass jars or bowls and give them as gifts or keep them for yourself.

  1. Resin jewellery

This is quite a tricky, time-consuming craft but one that if you get right could lead you down a whole new path. Resin jewellery allows you to cast objects in pendants to keep forever more – you will need to buy resin mixes and casts to get started but you will find lots of great tutorials and advice online before you switch off, on how to get started.

This guide on how to create jewellery which doubles up as a keepsake for a child’s artwork is a lovely idea and could give you lots of scope when it comes to handmade Christmas and birthday presents.

  1. Book folding

More of us are discovering the beauty and art of book folding, it’s a craft that takes time and patience to perfect but once you have a few patterns to follow you’ll be well away. Pick up some cheap, second hand hardback books and get practicing! Here’s a heart shaped pattern to get you started.

  1. Get crafty with chalkboard paint

Chalkboard paint is a great tool in any crafty person’s arsenal. Take some ornate frames and coat the glass with the paint to create pretty chalkboards you can use for shopping lists or to make notes on around the house. You could also paint wine bottles and use these as table decorations when people come over, writing their names on them to create place names or a special message for the occasion.

  1. Upcycle old clothes

If you are a dab hand with a sewing machine, you can take old clothes and revamp them into something completely new. Your partner’s old t-shirts could easily become superhero capes for the kids, while a t-shirt sleeve can be made into a cute hat for a small baby and socks can easily be transformed into a snuggly new friend for kids.

paisley pirates


Pirates kept their nerve to win an absolute thriller at Braehead against the Capitals and in doing so retained their 100% home record in the SNL this season, recording their seventh straight win, as hosts, since October.

paisley pirates

In a tight opening period, Pirates had the balance of play, but found Mallinson in good form between the sticks for the visitors, and while Meechan for Pirates was less busy, he was nevertheless called into action several times to keep the scoresheet blank during the session. After a clash of heads early on, Stuart Miller was unable to continue and his loss perhaps upset the balance of the lines as coach Ian Turley juggled his bench to cover for the injured player. The hosts did in fact have a glorious chance to break the deadlock as the period drew to a close, as with 90 seconds remaining the Capitals took two concurrent minor penalties, leaving the hosts with a sustained session of 5 on 3, but in spite of their numerical advantage they couldn’t open the scoring as both teams left the ice with the goaltenders unbeaten.

Edinburgh played off the remaining 30 seconds of the double penalty at the beginning to the second session and, indeed, looked to have scored within a minute, the “goal” being washed out for a player being in the crease. This close escape appeared to spur on the Pirates, who took the lead a minute later as Wilson skated clear to fire home a top shelf marker to put his side in front. The visitors came back strongly, however, and, with the aid of a powerplay they were level halfway through the session as Tait scored to tie the scores at 1-1, there being no more scoring for the remaining ten minutes.

The first goal in the final session was going to be crucial and, much to the delight of the home fans, it went to Pirates, as Hassan skated past several challenges from his own defensive zone to fire a low shot past Mallinson for the go ahead goal with under two minutes gone in the period. In a tense build up to the final frantic few minutes, Pirates had chances to clinch the points, while the visitors equally could have tied matters up on several occasions. In the final two minutes, Capitals predictably pulled their netminder in favour of the extra skater, and with the visitors coming close a number of times, and Pirates content to play out time, spectators were nervously looking at the clock, but with eight seconds remaining Wilson gathered the puck from Thorp, and coolly took aim before firing into the vacant net to clinch the match, and send the home crowd wild in the process.

Pirates will conceivably play better at some juncture and lose. In a match where they perhaps did not perform as well as they have done at other times, they could not be faulted for effort, as they worked their socks off for the entire 60 minutes, whereas in previous years they may well have lost a match such as this one, and the result may prove to be hugely significant in the race for playoff places.

Scorers: Wilson (2+0), Hassan (1+0), Campbell & Thorp (both (0+1)

Penalties: Orr 4, Turley 2

Man of the Match: CHRIS WILSON (2+0)