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Opacity Storage 1.0 | Almost Here - Are YOU Ready?

The Opacity Storage Beta is here and I'm SUPER excited! 

Not only has this project been one of very few that I have followed so religiously but it's one project that seems to have made it's way up out of the grassroots to become something that can be described as solid, reliable and with huge potential for all business users, consumers, bloggers and basically anyone that uploads files, documents, video's or photos. The sheer anticipation of what they will grow into blows my mind especially as they've not deviated from their initial goals which were set out by their team in the roadmap. 

I have written about Opacity a few times now, so it's no surprise that I'm keeping a close eye on its progress. For those of you who aren't aware of what Opacity is, I previously covered the introduction in this post here: Opacity Future of Distributed Storage

Being a blogger, and, someone who values their privacy, this storage solution really intrigues me and will definitely help me personally with file storage and sharing - without the added bullshit. Also, I'm pretty sure Elyse will flip if I don't sort my file storage out sooner rather than later. 

With the intro out of the way, let's get down to the nitty-gritty.

When registering on most websites and setting up an account, you will often have enter personal information, and, any information you input is stored on a database. However, on the Opacity web interface, you will not be asked to enter any personal information when setting up your account - that in itself is major! 

You are first issued with a randomly generated series of words that will act as a recovery code. These twelve words should be stored away somewhere safe. 

Next, you are given an Opacity handle. 

This is essentially your username and password combined and is comprised of 128 characters. Again, this handle should be stored securely and not be shared with anyone that you do not want to view your files. If you do lose this, then you can use your recovery code to recover it, however, that is your only option for recovery as the Opacity team neither has access to nor stores these handles.

OPQ is the platforms native currency. I used 2 OPQ to create my account. 

At the current price, 1 OPQ is equal to 5 pence or 6 cents. I sent my transaction using Metamask because it's a simplified cryptocurrency wallet and even for the newest crypto enthusiast, it's going to be the simplest method. However, you can use any other Ethereum based wallets to make the transaction. 

I also changed the gas price because the Ethernet network seems to be going through a good patch. Yay for quick transactions! 

After setting up your account you will be able to login with your Opacity handle. I hate websites that are hard to read as they tend to just confuse and irritate me. The User Interface on this site is free from clutter and looks clean and simple, which it is! 

In the simplest form it sets out your uploaded files in a basic table format - this shows you very clearly what is what. There is no hunting for uploads which is a huge bonus, mainly because some other sites feel there needs to be files, partitions and walls to get through just to find your damn uploads! Grrr! 

Uploading is as simple as clicking the upload button, locating the file on your computer and clicking "open". Obviously, the upload time is dependent on your internet speed, server load and connection quality. After the file has uploaded it will be shown on the user interface along with the file information, date of upload and, buttons for sharing or downloading the file.
The sharing feature was a major bonus for me, I tend to share quite a bit with Elyse and also clients so this simplified (but hugely effective) format made it easy to utilise file sharing while also being reliable. If you choose to share a file with someone, only the person you are giving the link to will be able to download the file - you still remain in control of the access which should give you, the user, peace of mind. 

Overall, I'm feeling very giddy with the Beta launch - and, gearing up for the major launch. Opacity Storage offers us a service that most people need yet it comes with the addition of privacy and protection. I don't know of any other competitors offering the benefits that Opacity Storage offer, with the added user control. 

What are your thoughts on Opacity and online storage in general? I'd love to see your comments below!

     Elyse & Connor
* Not affiliated* 

Benefits Of Contractor Umbrella Companies

Over the past few years, more and more people have been turning towards contracting and freelancing. There are various reasons why this is the case. A lot of people prefer the freedom and flexibility that is associated with this type of work. Moreover, there are a lot of individuals that ended up going down this path because they were unfortunate enough to be made redundant during the recession. Whatever your reason for contracting may be there is one thing you can do to make your line of work more efficient and your life a lot easier too. 

This is by using the services of a contractor umbrella company.

Umbrella companies are designed to effectively employ contractors and freelancers. By doing this, they will take care of all of your invoices, taxes, other paperwork and such like. The only thing you need to do is submit your time sheet and your expenses. There are a lot of advantages to be gained by using the services of one of these companies. However, many people overlook this because they can handle all of the paperwork themselves.

Of course, you could take on this hefty task yourself. However, the convenience and consequent efficiency you will benefit from if you use a freelancer umbrella company is astounding. You don’t have to deal with any paperwork. Instead, you can focus on the core of your business, i.e. what makes you money. This allows you to work more efficiently and more profitably.

Nonetheless, one of the main benefits associated with using an umbrella company is the fact that all of your taxes will be handled properly. Often, a lot of contractors are breaking laws and regulations without even realising they are doing it. This is because the employment laws that have been set in place can be somewhat confusing and thus individuals end up paying the wrong amount of tax. This does not happen if you use a top quality umbrella company. They have the experience and expertise to know exactly what you should be paying. They will ensure that everything is handled above board so you don’t end up facing any hefty fines.

Aside from the huge advantage associated with contractor umbrella companies is the fact that you will be able to budget better. This is something a lot of people struggle with, after all, tax is paid on a yearly basis, and a lot of individuals find it difficult to put this money away and not be tempted to spend it. However, this does not even need to concern you if you use an umbrella company. Instead, they will make sure your invoices are paid, they will then deduct the tax and the net profit will be deposited into your bank account. It doesn’t get much easier than this! This can also help when it comes to securing a contractor mortgage. You can learn more here. An umbrella company enables you to budget and ensure all your financial documents are in order too. 

It is not difficult to see why umbrella companies are recommended for anyone who is contracting or freelancing. Not only will you benefit from less hassle and improved efficiency, but you can have the peace of mind that your taxes are being properly and that you don’t have the difficulty of saving for them yourself.  

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* Collaboration * 

Eden Mill | Gin Tasting Night

The past 2 weeks have been difficult. Jacob had his memorial service on the 28th of March which has been really hard for us. The day after we had another appointment at the hospital for fertility-related reasons. All this, coupled with our hectic schedules, we haven't had much time together. 

After our appointment on Friday, we decided to go into our local Wetherspoons for something to eat. It was completely out of the blue for us but we got a selection of sides and some cocktail pitchers. I thoroughly recommend the spicy prawns! It was a great afternoon date and exactly what we both needed. On the way out, Elyse decided that we should try some of the gins at the bar, she loves gin and is really the only type of alcohol she can manage, we taste tested Beefeater Blood Orange, Eden Mill Candy Cane, Eden Mill Love Gin and also their latest raspberry and meringue liqueur. After trying a few of the brands the bartender said that they were hosting a gin tasting night for the Eden Mill brand on the following Thursday. 

Typically we don't go to events or do much mid-week due to work hours but figuring the change in routine was exactly what we both needed, more so to shake things up, we purchased the tickets. At £10 for a prosecco and three gins it seemed like a good deal - however - we both were a bit ''meh'' about the prospect of prosecco, neither of us really like the stuff.  Thursday finally came round, FINALLY!  I was pumped for it and all the way through the week we were both talking about how excited we were for our tasting session. 

When we arrived at Wetherspoons we had a few drinks (as we were a little early), I got a Banana cider made from the Cockeyedcider Co, which was absolutely amazing, seriously, check it out if you like flavoured ciders. Elyse, wanting to start her gin night early with a Beefeater blood orange, which she said was really "orangey" and an overall good drink. 

At seven we headed over to the cordoned off area where the tasting event was hosted. We were greeted by a very lovely, and cheery man named Steve Lowrie Mackay, the brand ambassador for Eden Mill.  He offered us our glass of prosecco which was nowhere near as dull as we both anticipated - rather than being a cheap glass of fizz it was, in fact, a glass of prosecco with Eden Mill's Love Gin and garnished with a strawberry! Very Schmancy - we were both impressed from the get-go. It tasted refreshing and sweet, something I look for when having a drink. I didn't finish mine in one go (which is pretty rare for me), I had it sitting on the table beside me throughout the night and, over time, the strawberry started to take on a whole lot of the flavour of the gin-prosecco concoction. It tasted great and I would fully recommend leaving your garnishes to macerate.

Steve was there to walk us through the proper etiquette and ways to best enjoy the gin. When tasting any sorts of alcohols, be it wines or gins, there are certain steps you should follow through to fully enjoy the experience. Do not take it as a shot because not only are wasting the drink, but you are skipping a lot of the notes and flavours that you would normally get if you savoured it. 

On to the actual tasting...

 First Sampling 

Our first glass was the award-winning classic gin. This gin won the award for ''gin of the year'' and London dry gin of the year in 2018. It is made from sea buckthorn berries, which are sourced locally (In walking distance) to the St Andrews distillery where possible.  

This berry gives the gin a tart flavour which is balanced out with citrus peel and lemon balm. We were instructed to briefly nose the glass, the smell is very citrusy and Elyse picked up a rosemary note, which likely came from the pine. 

Following the nose notes, we tried the small part of the gin, neat, and Steve told us to gently swirl it around our tongues, to get a good taste of all of the flavours. I found it very smooth and delicate. The citrus notes are easily tasted and strengthen by the tart sea buckthorn berries. The fun began when we started to add some of the garnishes and mixer drinks that were laid out on the table. Me being a novice to the gin scene had no idea that different gins have different pairings. I'm very vanilla, that is, gin and a mixer are usually what I'd opt for. 

Elyse absolutely hates grapefruit, she's tried so many times to like it, but it's just one of those things she can't get past. That was the garnish AND the flavour of tonic that was selected for the classic gin. She tried it and surprisingly, really liked it! I don't think she's fully ready to adopt it into her daily life though, however! The grapefruit coupled with the bitters of the tonic obviously made the gin extremely bitter, but oddly, it worked and I liked it! 

Sea Buckthorn Berries
Lemon Balm 
✔ Orange Peel

 Second Sampling 

The next gin was the 42% Oak Gin. This one is something else. I'm a whiskey drinker so this is right up my street. This one had an oaky and a sweet whisky nose. I was very impressed with the fact that this is aged in oak casks for only a couple of weeks! It has a vanilla taste and notes of spice and honey can also be picked up. 

The mixer we used was ginger, and it really brought out the flavour of the gin. To garnish, we used orange slices. Elyse also discovered that blueberries work too for this sample. Overall, this was my favourite from the set but Elyse didn't fancy it too much and needed the blueberries to sweeten it up. 

✔ Juniper Berries
✔ Angelica 
✔ Coriander 
✔ Oak from beer barrels 
Carmel, vanilla and fudge

 Third Sampling 

Last, and certainly not least. The Love Gin was sampled. This is made with rose petals, marshmallow root, lovage, hibiscus flowers and goji berries. The colour of this gin is the first thing that hits you, it's so pink! It has a floral fruity nose and tastes sweet, vanilla-y and with a flowery citrus finish. Mixed with an elderflower, which I usually hate, but was surprisingly good, I found. The garnish was strawberry. Elyse liked this one too, actually, it was her favourite - so much so she ate my strawberries sneakily. 

✔ Rose Petals
✔ Goji Berries
✔ Marshmallow Root 
✔ Crushed Cupids (Elyse says this is a fact and don't believe what Eden Mill say if they say otherwise). 

At the end of the tasting, Steve whipped out some of the brand's mixology cans. These were amazing! and the Roasted Martini Oak Gin cocktail was a huge hit with our table. Elyse is a serious fan of this one. Others in this range include; Love gin berry bramble, Basil smash hop gin and Citrus fizz original gin. All of which, are equally good in my opinion! 

We really enjoyed our time sampling these gins and I'm more aware of proper gin sampling practices! All of these products can be found on the Eden Mill website. They also regularly host tastings at their Gatehouse location in Guardbridge, which we will be checking out as soon as we can.

This is not sponsored, affiliated or collaborated in any way.