Monday, December 28, 2009

Does the lining make a difference?

At Nutshell we are always looking for better ways to make our products ever safer and increase our (still very small) market share.

To this end last year we introduced the single-magnet-caught-between-two-pieces-of-steel. If our customers are a measure (which they are) this has been a resounding success. Today over 75% of our belt cases are shipped with that single magnet closing the case.

Why a single magnet? Easy - to minimize as much magnetic leakage as possible. The sort of leakage that can potentially cause problems for delicate electronics.

How do we know if it is effective? Well, let's just say that so far very few customers have come back at us and told us in no uncertain terms that what we are doing is wrong and a complete waste of time. In fact, praise for the development has snowballed the emails.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. For example most Blackberry devices demand we strategically add a small magnet to enable their auto-shut function. And in a strange twist, the latest Motorola Droid device will not continence a magnet anywhere near it. Apparently Motorola designers decided the best way to change the state of the Droid when loaded into a car cradle or similar was to use a small magnet - darn! So for this device we strongly recommend users choose our Velcro closed cases (should they choose a tab or full flap across the top of the case).

Now it is time for us to consider making yet another ground-breaking shift; replacing the synthetic liner we currently use with one made from natural fur; to wit the shaved pelt of the possum. Not only does this add value to the Nutshell by providing a plush liner. it adds an anti-static property to the case.

New Zealand's possums are apparently pretty unique in the animal kingdom.

A genetic development of the Bush Tailed Australian Possum, our little critters were introduced from Australia many, many years ago.

And they changed. My - how they changed!

Where the Aussie possum had to survive by munching on the leaves of trees that had taken millenia to develop protective measures to counter their appetites, when they hit New Zealand they must have thought they were in Nirvana; our trees were not only very tasty, they were also unprepared to resist the attack of the possums.

Today the New Zealand possum is regarded as a pest; there are more possums in New Zealand today than there are people - and sheep. The New Zealand department of conservation estimates some twenty to seventy MILLION possum roam our native forests, munching their way happily through thousands and thousands of native trees every year.

As New Zealand is a country that prides itself on its clean, green and ecologically pure status in the world, the attack of the possums has rent a huge scare on our pristine environment.

To that end the possum is one of our most reviled predators; not some warm fuzzy little beastie but a ravaging, scavenging molester of our soft, supple and very edible native trees.

But - I digress. Suffice to say the New Zealand possum is a pest of the first water.

However, its hair is most prized for several reasons; not only is it sleek and warm, it is antistatic, meaning it repels electro-magnetism.

How? Darned if I know, but unlike most other creatures the possum in New Zealand has a pelt that is made up of hollow fibers...not solid ones...which apparently contain an oil that expands in cold weather and shrinks in warm.

This may have something to do with the possums ability to keep on munching its way through the forests when the temperatures hit sub-zero. It certainly has something to do with the fact that the little beggars breed faster than they can be knocked out of the trees. this space.
Possum pelts are on the way.

Just remember.
It's a Nutshell - naturally!

PS: there has so far been one comment about this item, in which a very good customer expressed concern that we may make this liner a default.
So far, that is NOT our intention.
We shall be offering this liner as an option...and take it from there.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Site Optimization - Give me a hand. Please

If there is one thing you learn after running a website for more than a couple of years, it is that constant attention to the minutest detail is very, very important.

It is not just a question of making sure that pages look and feel OK, it is more to do with those 'slips of the keys', where stuff happens that you surely don't want.

And with more than 700 pages running live on this site, each with its own little 'open text' entry area...there is nothing worse than discovering, to your chagrin,. that you have missed something that is important to someone.


if you come across an errant page, that kind of does not make sense...please let me know.

And together we'll beat this thing into shape.

Happy holidays from Nutshell


Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Nutshell site goes live!

It has surely taken a while, but finally Nutshell's new website at has gone live.

Not surprisingly the workload increased exponentially as we worked to make sure all aspects of the site remained relevant to our customers; shipping rates relating to specific countries had to be generated (that was a bit of a pain), and, as usual, getting the head around the intricacies of a new operational environment takes some time.

Luckily we had held off making the migration for as long as possible; although the site still has to undergo some radical changes to reflect our new persona (friendly as always, but DEFINITELY more professional).

Lucky we did hold off though.

With over 600 product matches (Nutshell cases matched to fit specific mobile phones and handhelds)  and with each product listing have a bunch of personalizations ( as NetSol refers to options, the past iteration of the site had been a real hassle to maintain. On the last site, once we had generated a product page, that was it - the page became a 'fixed moment in time'.

We had just started the process of working through ALL the products to fit the new format, and I was dreading the thought of having to individually manipulate each product page in the future (if I needed to change an image, or a description, or a price), when NetSol offer us a global personalization template! Yay!! Now, instead of the time consuming hassle previous experienced, it is a snap and a breeze (and a lot of other things as well) to make a personalization change. Thank God someone, someplace listened to the user!

Obviously there are a lot of other new advantages to be mined. For example we can now offer registered customers a discount, just for being registered customers. Make that 2.5% off everything in store. Just because we can!

And from the back-end of the operation, the new environment is certainly easier to use. As Nutshell has several people involved in tracking, shipping and managing both customers and products, a better overview has been long overdue.

Luckily we secured the services of Mark Greentree, a long time web professional who once worked for our web host Network Solutions. Mark's input has been of tremendous help and, as you will soon see, when the new environment goes live, he certainly knows his stuff.

It is amazing how one no longer actually needs to be in the same room, same town or even the same country to get things done. Mark resides someplace outside New York, while Nutshell lives in Auckland.

Distance is no longer a barrier (although at times language can be).

Suffice to say, the next step will be getting this blog liniked to our website, so that everyone, including our customers, have an opportunity to have their say. As I am sure they will.

In the words of the Master: Bring It On!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

an interesting local phenomina

Here's something you don't see every day.
A set of clouds forming around a rainbow.

Shot on my iPhone seconds after a passing rainshower had washed the sky clean.

The rainbow was present in the sky about a minute and a half before the clouds did their thing.

The clouds are still raining as they move away to the east and across Auckland's North Shore.

The rainbow just hung in one position as the image took shape.

The thing I don't get is the straight line formed behind the foreground clouds.

It is very sharply defined, but the clouds certainly do not match as the source of the shadow.

Amazing what you can see if you keep your eyes open....and happen to be looking at the right thing at the right time.

A beautiful image.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Another day...another upgrade

Ah...the joys of running a commercial website.

If it's not one thing that needs to be done, it's another.

This time SitePal in my face. This application resides someplace out there in the 'cloud' and lets me deliver spoken word on select pages on our the FAQ for example.

It's no problem...took a while to create, but then...hey...I used to do this for a living, once upon a world away.

However, apps like SitePal, and others, like our shopping cart provider, Network Solutions, regularly update their software. This means inevitably, there is maintenance to be done. In this case refreshing each of the individual iterations of the applications. That's the FAQ, our contact page and the page where we have stuff that is about us and who we actually are.

No big deal really, just time consuming. And if the job ain't done, then in all likelihood the app will not run correctly.

Still.... half an hour well spent on a sunny Sunday in the hinterland of Auckland, with the birds, the trees and sunshine for company.

What more could a poor boy want?
Now...don't get me started on that...


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Network Solutions gets small biz forum together

Here's a vid from a recent webinar I 5 am in the morning.
The sunrise was were the speakers.
But possibly more fascinating was the thread running alongside the vid...between the more than 200 viewers.
The main topic of conversation appeared to be the growth of social networking, like this I guess, and how it can be 'leveraged'.

Lever away say I


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Creating a small home network; simple you say? Oh yeah!

OK, so they tell me this is an easy task.

Maybe it is, if you have six years of network tech training and a MS VP status.

But hey, all I want to do is network a very small cluster of two hardwired machines and one wireless device together.

"How hard can that be?" I ask myself.

Faaarking near impossible.

For a start the wireless tablet and one of the desktops are running XP, the primary machine ( mine) is running Vista.

Aaargh. Not even Methuselah himself would have the patience to keep trying, and trying, and trying again to get this to work.

Ah hah, "create a wireless network connection," reads the appropriate Network application window.

No problems...put this in here and pull it out.
Put it in there and shake it all about.
Should work.

Oh Yeah! Like hell!!

"Not recognised. No software loaded".

Huh! All I want to do it get them talking to each other.

Ah well, I give up. No wireless connection; hardwired only.

I guess it's gotta be easier than using Linux, or Mac OX.
Hasn't it?


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Making the Move

It has taken less than a month, but today Nutshell starts operations from its own little office.

For the past fourteen years Nutshell has been working from my kitchen table, literally.

We have had a manufacturing operation, where the work gets done, but for the main the admin of the website and the constant attention to the needs and ministrations of the Internet have been my responsibility. And this is honestly not the type of work that can be done from someplace else. has been my 'joy' to have my house cluttered with the stuff I need to do the job; the books, papers, ancillary bits and bobs that have made Nutshell the small but growing force it is today.
And now it has moved...

Not far, just from the house to a small office out the back.
Originally, post Christmas, I decided I wanted to get on with restoring my old car, and the best place to do that was in a shed constructed and attached to the back of my little old garage, a standalone one built God Knows When - probably about the time of the last ice age.

But circumstances change. My partner has informed one and all that the dreaded rot has set is and he is not for this world as long as we all would like, and I have realised that there is no way I can continue to do what I do on my

The shed has become the office
Lined, sealed and is now officially the office of Nutshell Corporation.
A small space on the edge of the wilderness.

From where I sit there are no houses, no signs of human habitat other than mine. Tall trees march majestically down the valley; pines, gums, tress that are dropping their leaves as autumn encroaches relentlessly upon us.

A peaceful space that will, I am sure, serve us very well until Nutshell properly 'gets its act together' to move to more palatial spaces....sometime in the future.

But for today. We are here.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Road rehabilitation

Honest. It's on a sign in Northland. Road rehab. Like something out of someplace else.
Surgical procedure for carriageways.
Or another sign of an overpaid and under stressed beuracracy
Maybe the contractors who wield power over the process consider themselves civil surgeons, and price their services accordingly.
As for the actual teams who perform this rehab process; maybe they too hold a status usually reserved for some other practitioner of another arcane artform, like...hiway men. Best known for their ability to ply their trade on the Kings hiway.
Which trade? You may well ask.
The one that extracts the most return for the least amount of effort. Extortion, I believe it's called.
Far be it for me to decry any mans attempts to earn an honest days wage. Or suggest any form of collusion twixt johnny and his master.
But read the budget lines and wonder at the costs.
Then ask youself where the money goes.
The answer may amaze you.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Watching the pennies

In these tight times we all gave to do our best to stay afloat.

For me, ten years behind the kitchen table and another couple of hands to the pump means no longer is the kitchen table big enough.

What to do? Options included taking a small space in town; downside is the travel, time and confusion this would cause.

Other option; put the renovation if the Vauxhall on hold, turn the newly created workshop into a socially acceptable small office and shift everything off the kitchen table and create a space that will fill the bill and most importantly not cost a fortune.

The cost effective option, and sanity, prevailed. So now it is paintbrush to the fore.

By Easter we should be moving onto something that is about the same size as a smallish nutshell.

Kind if fitting really.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

In hindsight, age does have its advantages

Imagine you in a few years time.

OK, maybe not. But think.

If and when you do make it through to the far side, eventually stuff is going to come back, out of your past, to haunt you.

Like, for example. Take me.

Finally, a big bit of past came back, albeit briefly, to haunt me today.

Stuff that happened 22 years ago (when I was young and foolish, with a bulletproof complexion)came back to threaten my very existence; my way of life; my current, (self-contained but slightly out of control) now.

As the result of one (well maybe 10) minutes over exuberance caused by a combination lead foot and willful disregard for convention brought on by one-to-many Guinness's, an early hour and an empty (seemingly) stretch of motorway.

Bad combination, especially around Auckland these days.

(I tell you, he came off the slip road like he'd just been shot.
Took him a while too. We now know the SVX is limited to 180.
Pity the offramp was not just that little bit closer.
Still, at least it was a fine, warm summer's night.
Not a bad walk back from the station.)

But eventually, the day of reckoning arrived. As I knew it must. Eventually.

There I was, caught squarely on the horns of a dilemma. Not a nice place to be.

And then to top it off, there was a stickler for the rules behind desk.
"If it's three times then you are out!"

Discretion? Unlikely.

Under our current laws 3 times means 3 months at Her Majesties pleasure, and/or $7k fines, as well as 12 months without licence. Minimum!

So you can possibly see why I was somewhat disgruntled.

But fate intervened.

"Courtroom 2 is going to be full today. Use Courtroom 1."

New bench, new rules.

"Considering the time that has lapsed, it's a first offence. But be warned, screw up and we'll clobber you. Six months and $350 fine. Oh yes, and $150 court costs. Next!"

As your honour pleases.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

squark squark

Twitter. The world is abuzz with it right now. Scientists are baffled by this global phenomena.
Lay folk say "what the heck", and pundits go "Sheesh, what a resource, if only..."

Along with this 'in the cloud' technology that passes messages way faster than the speed of two men, a length of string and a couple of Coke cans, it is not a question of "what next?" More of "Oh my God, and all this TOO!"

You've gotta believe that all those billions of dollars the world has been pouring into the coffers of successful online entities has to have given them access to some of the best programmers, developers, code-cutters and theorists the planet has ever seen.

As well as the sounds of the multiverse every time you open your eyes and gaze upon your digital domains, there are applications emerging that, only a few short months ago even, were being touted as the latest and greatest in affordable stand-alone applications.

Suddenly online video editing, sound editing, digital signal processing and what used to be 'heavy compute' are being handled, manipulated and managed 'out the back', in the cloud.

The information you painstaking gather, assembly, sort and select that you hope will become your next wave of successful market exposure, or your video log away from home, someplace else on the planet, to show the folks what we have been up to all too real, achievable, and most importantly, usually FREE!

It is not must the applications that reside in the clouds. On board applications and software 'smarts' play a big part in cementing this new platform of 'never own the app' all together.
Java, a tool that manages presentation, along with Adobe, think the PDF, and a host of other third party applications, all happily co-exist within the OS shells.

While Microsoft's Windows, and its Internet Explorer browser, in whatever modern guise, has proven more than adept at making sure all the pieces work, Mozilla's FireFox browser is not far behind. In fact FireFox is visibly more aware of the constantly hanging landscape and offers clearer developer interfaces that let the interested 'fine-tune' and 'tweak' their online world till it precisely meets their needs. Add Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome and you've got a surefire recipe for success, at some level.

It is all about interoperability, and the ways and means that all the code ever written can be run on any machine ever made, provided it was capable of running an operating system that was recognized. See the above.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

The New Zealand Herald, 18 Mar 2009. Bugatti mentioned

Article on a motoring event in Auckland.
Mentions the Bugatti Trust. Who is this??

The New Zealand Herald
18 Mar 2009

The New Zealand Herald, 20 Mar 2009.Political tittle-tattle.

A little bit of 'getting even' here methinks.
Sheesh...Wot a dork!

The New Zealand Herald
20 Mar 2009

The New Zealand Herald, 20 Mar 2009. Some good advice for getting it done

A bit of good advice never goes astray.
Learn to value your time.
Not bad advice

The New Zealand Herald
20 Mar 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Smoke and Mirrrors - Awarding Vaporware

Someone famous once said: "build it and they will come". Well, exactly what he was commenting on is now likely lost in the annals of time, but his philosophy seems to be alive and well today.

From property developers to the denizens of the online world, build it and they will come seems to be very much alive and well, despite the credit crunch and the squeeze everyone talks about.

We will not dwell on the denizens of the property market, but certainly those who occupy space in the online world, and the wireless world specifically, need to be held to some sort of accountability.

Maybe I have the entirely wrong end of the stick, but awards for vaporware, or plain old smoke'n'mirrors, is something I just do not understand.

For years the wireless industry has been aware that developments in geo-location and tracking have been just a short space of time away from becoming a reality. And yet, when it arrives, they are suddenly falling over themselves with enthusiasm to grab the opportunities to develop applications with both though it were something new, innovative and out of the box.

That is not to say it is not laudable, but hey, when did you ever get an award for a 'good idea', let alone being acknowledged for creating something tangible and of value to others? Not often...if ever, I bet.

Without a doubt there are fast growing opportunities to use the mobile technologies that are spawning as we speak for both fun and profit...and dreamers, schemers and visionaries are to be applauded, no matter where they come from. But really, an award for something that is no more than a good idea. Surely that is scraping the bottom of the barrel!


Monday, March 9, 2009

Looking for ?? in all the Wrong Places?

Cautiously working my way through a plethora of websites that aim to improve our 'marketing visibility using social networking.

What a list there is, and I guess I am only scratching the surface.

It's all about interlinking, or so it seems; the perfect (for now) application of global networking.

Of course, some may say that it is a passing fad. But hey, a passing fad with a couple of hundred million people can't be all that bad. Especially if you have something that you really want to share. Otherwise, why would you bother?

I mean, what is this? A cyber page in cyberspace... written by me, and probably for mine eyes alone.

Still, an interesting space in which to maintain a journal of sorts. Thoughts, ideas and observations; without being too overtyly marketing oriented.

On that note.
What next?
Ah well.
Onward and upward.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

In Hot Water

Not too far out of Auckland - about 20 miles North, is a small settlement called Parakai that loves being in hot water.

Originally feted for its plentiful supply of hot mineral water that flows like wine, the settlement is small, boasting two hot pools; one public, the other a private concern.

Unlike normal hot tap-water, this is liquid from deep underground full of minerals and other composites that get right in to the bones and the body, promoting a surprisingly great feeling of well being in not tooo long a time - about an hour is max (unless you really want to 'prune'.).

The Palms is privately owned and is likely the only hot pool complex in New Zealand that holds a liquor license, which makes it kind of cool to be in hot water up to your neck, with a refreshingly cooling ale right there, beside you on the pool edge.

This wee complex boasts two larger pools; one HOT the other not so hot, and three 'hot tubs' at varying degrees of hotness.

It's comfortably 'homily' atmosphere is promoted by its Asian owners, who have attracted a sizable following of Koreans. But it is also a local favourite, with a small and dedicated cadre of Aucklanders who make the half hour run North up State Highway 16 on a surprisingly regular basis - to take in the waters, as they say.

A great place to 'chill' and let the healing heat work its wonders on aging bones.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Blogs, Cogs and things that go Bump

Following a bouncing ball of info as the result of a post on a Facebook group.

There's a lot of confusing info about using 'social networks' for fun and profit. Very confusing to a codger like me.

But I have friends who know. And now they are patiently painting a roadmap. Which I am following.

This arvo's four hours passed in a flash as I made and reestablished no less than 18 associations with entities I have been assured are critical components in value adding an interconnected network.

Onwards and upwards.

social networking 101 - there is a lot to do before it all work...or so it seems

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dog Day Evening

Live Greyhound racing. As opposed to the television version.

Betting the odds, taking a punt, having a flutter or easy peasey.

All terms used to indicate your involvement with the betting fraternity.

For many an enjoyable pastime. For some an obsession. For a few, a curse.

We've watched in awe as friends have won, then promptly lost, veritable fortunes playing the odds on the gee-gees, the dogs and/or the neighbourhood pub pokies.

An entire industry, from owner, trainer, jockey or handler revolves around the continued interest and involvement of the punting public.

The legions of those dependent on it for their daily fist full of dollars numbers in the tens of thousands; from race course and track administrators to grounds staff and the folk who smile sweetly as they clip the ticket that gives the momentary rush of blood to the head and the thrill of anticipation.

And with that as my mantra I approached an evening with the dogs at the Auckland greyhound racing club in Manukau city.

This small, yet well patronized facility nestles in the folds of South Auckland just a stone's throw from the ceaseless bustle of Auckland's Southern Motorway and, apparently, attracts a loyal group of greyhound enthusiasts.

Indeed, while comfortably buzzing, it was by no means overcrowded. The small seven tier all westher glass encased grandstand, with it's good sized and comfortable dining, drinking and obligatory betting facility is humming with lively conversations. In the bowels beneath, expectant owners brace themselves for surrogate battle with as much anticipation as parents awaiting the birth of their first child.

Handlers walk their coat clad charges in warm up as loudspeakers announce the odds and last minute public notices before the tote closes as the hounds enter their trap.

Around the Australasian racing world there's a combined intake of breath as the bunny bounced into view and they're off!

Less than 30 seconds later, it's all over bar the shouting.

As the dogs are gathered up out on the rainswept track, winners and losers alike check their tickets as the rewards become tangible.

For some it's a joyous event.

For most a collective groan of disappointment and a grimace precedes the turning of a page and a return to the plan of beating the odds.

On the next race.

Oops. Here comes the tried and tested cheesecake, pavlova and watermelon laden fruit salad for desert. Yum!

No gambling here.
Just a recipe for success.


Refreshing Content can be Painfully Critical

If there is one thing I have learnt in ten + years of crafting, running and promoting a website that actually deals with real people, it is that the smallest omission can cause the biggest problems. And also that content needs to be refreshed on a regular basis (like twice a year max) for it to be 'fresh' in the eyes of the search engines and other 'bots that lurk out there in the name of making it easier for folk to find what you have to offer.

And crafting a web page to be attractive to the casual consumer is way more than just bad grammar (although that counts poorly). It is the missed explanations, or badly worded explanations and a lack of detail that makes it possible for that pair of eyeballs to see at a glance what you have to offer and be comfortable enough with it to make that split-second decision to purchase, to get, to acquire and to otherwise own whatever it is you are offering.

It may be comparatively easy if you are selling clothing (depending on how 'deep' you want folk to go). It is quite difficult when you are, like me, selling a product that protects a valuable and sensitive piece of hi-tech electronics.

Case in Point: Our cases now hold a wee magnet and a couple of steel plates that we use to close the top. This exercise was something I undertook last year after the factory decided they could do the job. They did. But poorly. So it was up to me to come up with a solution. Which I did. It was elegant and it works just fine.

But one problem a lot of folk have with their delicate electronics is that they can "possibly" be effected by stray magnetics...just like in the early days when people freaked about the potential for damage because of the actual cell phone signals. We went down that path, exploring the possibility of minimising the effects of the cell phone signals...and even discovered a paint that used copper in solution to provide a buffer. Problem was, the scientists said that if a cellphone lost signal it automatically increased its reception 'volume' to compensate. So if we had used the paint, we would really have been putting people at risk. We didn't.

Anyway I digress. I have to assure people that our system of using a magnet to close the case is safe for their machines. I got a magnetometer at our local magnet supplier and ran it over the device. Inside the 'zone' the magnetism was way high. On the other side of the zone, outside the area being directly affected by the magnet, the reading was near enough to zip, Nada, nothing.

I even took a couple of images and have posted them in the FAQ section someplace that clearly shows the difference between unshielded and shielded. They are pretty good, if I say so myself.
But they are not enough if you do not tell folk they are there. Which I have done in several places.

Unfortunately those places are maybe not the places my punters casually look at, unless they go searching, which thankfully a lot of them do. But there's a lot that don't. And they are the problem children of this modern age.

Recently I have been looking at a redesign of product pages. An easy task you might think. Not so.

Unfortunately the catalog, web engine, up in the cloud system I use takes each product page when it is created and turns it into a frozen moment in time; there is no way to do any global editing.

So here I am...I have to change the static pages by hand to make any changes.

That means crafting the page as I want it to look, then looking at the html code and then cutting and pasting that code, when I am finally satisfied it is as correct as I can have it be, into each of the product pages I want to alter to make more attractive. And that is every one. More than 560 of the things.

A labour. For sure.

A labour of love. Now you have to be joking.
Don't you?


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

If Music be the Beat of Soul

Sitting in a bar in Auckland, waiting on a meal. Steak sandwich, salad and chips.

Scribbling this on the iPhone.

Just purchased a door ticket to listen to a band I have never heard of in my life! Thought food would be wise in the gap between now and enlightenment.

A New York Rockabilly I understand. The Stray Cats. Obviously well known and well respected. Which rock have I been living under? I ask myself.

Food arrives. Yum!

Had no preconceptions. No real idea. But once they started rockin' I started bopping. Awesome sound for a three piece. Reputation well deserved IMHO.

A full house at the Powerstatiom (in Auckland's Mt. Eden Rd). Great venue, holds about 700. Sweet.

I am glad it was a spur of the moment thing.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Terror of Accounts

For most people balancing a check book is likely the closest they ever come to knowing the true state of their finances. Fair enough too.

But for business owners the state of the books is critical. Without detailed knowledge of the state of financials it becomes impossible to plan ahead with a degree of certainty.

Those fortunate enough to have employees would usually leave the data entry to others, watching from on high through rose colored reports and well executed spreadsheets to update themselves on the lay of their particular landscape.

But, if like me you are virtually a sole trader, on your own and almost all alone in the jingle jangle jungle of the penny-wise, then it falls upon yours truly and his ilk to get the job done as best we may. Tiresome data entry was certainly not what we signed on for when we embarked on our single handed entrprenieurial careers, but that's what we got!

Endless hours of tedious boredom punctuated by sharp stabs of blinding terror as we face the unpalatable, having input countless invoices and balanced multiple books with the aid of a myriad of different yet similar accounting applications.

Sheesh. Sometimes you have to wonder if, at the end of the day, it will al be worthwhile.

We live in hope.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Slightly Imperfect - My 1935 DX Vauxhall

The image I use here is a morphed representation of an old vehicle I own - a 1935 Vauxhall DX.

It is a great old car, basically one of the last true Vauxhalls ever made by the craftsmen at Luton, the original home of the marque.

With a 4 speed gearbox, an inline 1800 cc 6 cylinder inline engine, enough leather for a herd of dairy cows. or Sacred if you prefer, cable brakes, knee action independent front suspension, suicide rear doors and a pair of Lucas Prince of Darkness headlights, Slightly Imperfect has been patiently waiting for almost 20 years to get back out and terrorise motorists once again.

And she shall.


Researching the Connections

I have been wondering what the benefits and pitfalls of social networking are.

Is it a good thing - sharing your network of friends and associates? I guess it can be...6 degrees of separation and all that.

But I also wonder if it cannot be used a a tool for revenge...retribution and 'getting even'?
I mean, if you can be nice, then obviously you can be not nice.

And in these networks of contacts the viral spreading of tales, tittle-tattle and scurrilous rumour-mongering must be as proliferate as the spreading of words of joy, hope and "come buy my product/service".

I wonder....


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Doing our Bit

So how do you do your little bit to assist avert a Global Economic Meltdown?

If you are like me, and run a trading website, then, like me, you can lower prices to consumers.
Why? There's a fair chance that if pricing is perceived as being too high, folk bail at the last minute, before completing their purchase.

We see it all the time.

At Nutshell our sell-through is about 52% for folk who start the completion process.
Why do they bail? We do not know, exactly, But we know that they do.

How do you remove that barrier to purchase? I guess there are lots of ways, but the primary one would IMHO be to lower the cost of ownership - and that means lowering the profit margin.

There is obviously only so much you can discount before you start to run into problems. Obviously.

But hey, a little bit may just go a long way, and if we can get more people to finish what they started, then obviously we are ahead on points.

Oh,,, and likely the most telling point is that, because we are in NZ and not in our primary market, the exchange rate 'twixt here and there means we still cover costs and make a profit locally...without feeling that we are 'gouging' our customer.

And that surely is all about passing the benefits on.
Isn't it?


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The million $$ challenge intro

This is interesting.

Stumbled on a site a couple of weeks ago that purports to be filled with talented experts on almost every subject to do with marketing in the 21st Century.

Using cleverly produced video, talking heads and blue screen to deliver 'compelling' content, the site looks like it is UK based to the casual eye. In reality it is owned by a conglomerate of southern men, from the depths of Otago, in New Zealand's south island, masquerading as Poms in disguise.

Registered in Dunedin, yourBusinessChannel Ltd has attracted a group of professionals, each an expert in a particular field of marketing, production, hr and similar. They have created a series of short video vignettes that address specific business issues and, for the common herd, make these available through their website channels.

Once convinced there is value by association the group then offers membership, at USD $750 a month, to its SNAP club. This club promises to address specific issues and suggest solutions, plus mentoring and associated services.

However it was the Million Dollar Challenge I found attractive. The promise of selection into a select group of 25 hand chosen businesses that would receive personalized mentoring at vastly reduced rates in return for exposure as a 'test case' was certainly alluring, to say the least.
So I applied three weeks ago. Follow up included two comms interviews; first with one NZer based in the UK and then a second phone call with the organizations 'content editor', another NZer also UK based.

I have now been advised that nutshell has been chosen as a participant, with strings attached.
It would seem that the promises as outlined on the website may not be quite what they seem.
The $750 monthly fee for membership to SNAP has escalated to $2000 USD a month. And it seems that lists of promises, including a 45 day money back warranty, do not apply.

Slightly strange, to say nothing of potentially misleading.

We shall see. I am about to enter the 'negotiation' phase, where we shall attempt to find out exactly what the story is.
Stay tuned.


The opener

The first!
Well..actually the second post here.

Slowly getting used to putting down my thoughts in this format...guess it beats writing them on scraps of paper that promptly get lost.

Not exactly sure how I will be using this space?

Words of wisdom - if I have any, I guess. A good place to leave those "footprints in the sand" Why not? I cannot see home cookery recipes...or how to fix your car articles featuring high on my list of things to enter here. Nor can I see personal things - like love's labours lost and stuff in my life that cause me pain to discuss appearing there - some things are best kept private.

So maybe I will just stick to the things I know...web marketing, trends in Internet trading, web hosting issues, developments in the One World Finance sector, development of the nutshell, SWAT stuff relating to the biz, commenting on issues that effect me and mine...and maybe a tad of tongue in cheek scuttlebutt rumour mongering. Now that sounds like fun!

Whatever, I guess this page will develop with continued input, and eventually take up its own shape and form.

So...on with the show...

Oh....and if you are reading this...WELCOME!