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.