Archive for May 2010

Wot I did on my weekend Miss.

May 31, 2010

Still Monday. And back from that job. Emails checked… HP got back to me about a warranty claim. Which reminds me .. time to harrass Telstra again. Their garbage response to our service request weeks ago. when they sent an email saying something to the effect that this was their within 48 hour response and they were really busy and would respond further soon. They don.t know its sorted cos.. they never got back to us. You would make jokes about Telstra customer service but really… they do it for you. I think I will follow up with an email asking when they are going to respond. If I can be bothered.

Saturday was the Belgian Beer Cafe cycling club breakfast. For $30 you can join this cycling club which gets you 11 free breakfasts a year.. and about $30 worth of beer vouchers. Its a fantastic deal. Breakfast includes Belgian waffles in chocky sauce. Perfect. So you have been told.. join. To justify the chocky those of us from BV forums hold a couple of rides leaving early in the morning from the St Kilda Road location of the BBC and heading down Beach road and returning by 9:00 am for Breakfast. The newbie beginner version of this ride is the one I usually do.. goes to Black Rock and back. You can read about these rides here

Anyway it was raining when I got up. Nothing new. Set off to ride from Blackburn to St Kilda rd. In Hawthorn got nearly tag teamed by the only two idiots of the whole trip in. In the left lane at the corner of Princes and Hawthorn.. just moving into the right turn lane after indicating and loon P plater in black HSV Ute blasts past in the right turn only lane cutting left across me, and as I swerved to avoid him the truck behind him drove straight through the gap and turned right.. very nearly taking my arm off.. still out to signal. Had words with him.. A***se!!!!! It was the duality of this that was so dangerous.. one stupid moron setting up the situation so that a merely dangerous overtake when a halfwit in a hurry in a truck is added to the mix becomes totally lethal. Both of these drivers I am sure would argue that cyclists simply should not be on the road. An argument that always boils down to the unsaid ‘cyclists should not be on the road because I am not competent or too selfish to cope with em’

The beer cafe ride was fun.. still raining. Was one of the girls Katrina,s first ride on Beach Road. Not a lot of hardy cyclists out. Lots more cars than usual. Perhaps many of the normal cyclists were doing their training in the car because of the conditions. The one sprint of the morning.. hill climb up Barkly St on the return was led out by JAC in an impressive effort.. chased hard by me (when I eventually got a gear.. time to adjust gears again) and at the top I was challenged by Publius Naso. The result is in dispute but I am confident I got it.

Fitzroy St St Kilda has ‘benefited’ by the introduction of a dodgy Taxi Parking.. council equipment storage lane pretending to be a bicycle lane and as a result is off the route for this and many other rides. The accident rate has fallen I believe. So have the number of cyclists. Way to build bicycle infrastructure. I really wonder about the competence of those who design bicycle farce-ilities. Actually I don.t wonder at all.. I know about their competence. My only question is are they taking the pi** or do they seriously think this stuff works? The classic site exploring the poorly trained, incompetent or practical joking world of the insanity that is psyclepath design is here

Significant Other did not ride down with me. In fact in a very lame effort to do nothing physical at all she stayed the night with a friend in Glen Iris so as to “need a shorter lift in in the morning” and at that was well late. Sigh. If you think that is lame then another friend came up with a “I cannot train tonight as I have not ridden my bicycle in a couple of weeks” Ho hum.. Significant Other did turn up late even at that.

The breakfast was fun. Much chatting.. eating and displaying of new bikes
Rebecka and Helens new bike Much socializing. If you guys don’t do this sort of stuff you really really are missing out.

Long and damp ride home Via lunch at JACs (and Cats and Atom Ants. And I am told I should mention Gus too. Gus is a naturally gifted cyclist suffering from teenager inability to get up. He missed the waffles ) . With brilliant forethought I had however bought dry socks and gloves so started off happy.. Significant Other had decided to stay another night in Glen Iris and so I spent the evening and all of Sunday exploring the awesome power of the remote. Wow. I missed this. How did I let that power slip from my fingers? Its not happening again.. that is for sure. From now on I am… ta da … Remote Man.

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Monday again.

May 30, 2010

And its time to get my head down and do some work. Its been a really good few days. For a couple of regulars I have taken to dropping off a few leaflets around them. I have printed a few leaflets and just done a few small businesses around the customers address. Probably did less than 20 in total. This is working on the theory that this way the leafleting (is that a word?) is more targeted and that clusters of customers are a good thing to have. And it paid off. I was unconvinced and put little effort into it but we scored a customer that way. And now I shall put real effort into this approach.

The virtual assistant idea has got a lot of interest. Kathy has talked to people… lined up some resources in case it just takes off… the web page has been updated and has got more than a hundred hits since Thursday.. So far only my brother is on board but hey..realistically its been a couple of business days. Really really optimistic about this as a service. And really optimistic that it will lead on to other work., The back office just went on the list of jobs to be done. Get it sorted so if we need too we can put someone in to do Virtual Assistant stuff full time.

The GetPaid test site is up and operational. Final testing is happening. A couple of customers want demo,s and we have a couple more lined up for website development. Carl is shuffling us some work , and in fact was on the phone.. as I typed his name. Woot. May have to cut this short. As you can tell I feel really optimistic.. Like we have turned some sort of corner. I am very very happy at the moment. And have to take off in the immediate future to deal with a dead UPS. A happy Dave

On the personal front.. everywhere I have ridden has been on wet roads the last few days.. I have the dirtiest possible bike waiting to be cleaned. But its been a fun weekend. But I think I need to go now so I will come back to that separately

How do they know?

May 25, 2010

Wow. 20 people looked at my little blog yesterday but not one today. No one? Wow. Ok I did not actually write anything today.. but hey.. the question is how did they know that without coming here? I am amazed. Suppose I had better write something then.

Riding into town last night.. I stopped behind some fool at the lights. The lights changed green and THEN he put on his bloody indicator and started to turn.. propping to let pedestrians cross the road.
At the next set of lights another car the same thing. What is these blind stupid self centered cretins problem? Don;t ya get it? Use the f******* indicator to tell me what you are going to do BEFORE you do it.. for crying out loud. Stupid stupid people. Whats wrong with this country is that we think traveling 4 kph over the limit at 5 am in the morning on an empty 4 lane highway is a criminal offense but having not the slightest effin idea what the hell a person is doing from moment to moment while in charge of 2000 kg of machinery is just fine. Sheesh. Maybe you notice this stuff more on a bicycle. I dunno.

They whinge about cyclists stopping.. looking both ways and then riding through an intersection. Which I have to say is not only not me.. but is behavior that drives me insane. But no way does it compare in danger to cretins not using those flashing yellow lights for what they are meant for. And when I see a car run a red light its always traveling at the speed limit. And not having that much of a look around either. And I think we have already covered the use of indicators.

Argghhhhggghhhhhhhhtt…

Kathys meeting today.. to show off the Plone Shopping stuff went well. I had an inquiry from .a school about some support 😀 Heh.. Cool. I did a logo for a mate who wants a site to sell mower stuff.. and well I can see that I am not in VIdmans class. Its not bad.. but.. his stuff is better. And I am amazed that it can take way longer to run windows updates than to do a complete Ubuntu install.. updates and all. Crikely Vista is rubbish. I have a clients Vista laptop to update here.

New areas.

May 22, 2010

As the result of my last post about my brothers situation.. we have decided to offer a new service It will be virtual office administration. What is starting to be called a virtual assistant. If you are a small business and you need a little bit of office administration done, statements reconciled for example.. invoices done.. that sort of thing, well we have an ex staff member (programmer -developer and bookkeeper) who can do all of that who is underemployed and at home with new child. It seems a natural choice. If the material is on your machine we will set up some sort of remote access and do that work saving you time to work on the stuff you make money for. For businesses like my brothers this should be a natural fit.

We were thinking of $40 hour.. what do you think? This is to be fair more than my brother pays.. but its way less than you should expect to pay for serious tech support or any sort of development work.

In case you missed it the link to the website about this new service is here

Finally it runs.

May 18, 2010

We finally have our test Plone site up and running on an ABOC server… doing everything in what we think is a secure manner. No that’s a little pessimistic. What we are sure is a secure manner but it’s still time for some testing. This is our own implementation of a secure online shopping site with the ability to process payments… call any content (such as media) chargeable and sort out shipping (via Oz Post) where shipping is applicable. It also allows various methods of joining the site as a known user… and allows fine grained content control.

This was a bugger… what we needed was the website to run like any other… but whenever you did something that needed to be secure to use SSL securely in a manner transparent to the end user. This worked just fine in the test environment at home.. but ABOC uses different web servers for normal sites and secure sites… and getting the server to swap in mid flight kept losing us the shopping cart data. What Kathy decided on in the end is that when a shopping interaction or a user login begins it will make the jump to the secure server and stay there. That works. It does change the path in the header, which is a bug we will sort in time… and it’s perhaps not totally transparent to the user but on the other hand it makes it obvious that the site has gone secure and maybe that is a better thing.

This work has been completed JUST in time to show some potential customers. Very very pleased with that.

I think I have sold the truly horrible company Toyota. I went out and took some pics… then sat down to put it up on eBay. But needing some rechargeable AA batteries I bought them first. Halfway though putting the pictures up my eBay account went belly up. Sigh. Sent them an email, after trying enough things to establish that it really was my account that was broken and gave up on that. Later on Mark, who occasionally works for us rang and asked if I would look at a sick car for a friend of his. And now it looks like his mate has bought the Toyota.. Cos at least it goes. eBay account is now up and working too. Truly the world is a wonderful place. That leaves us with only 5 motor vehicles, And many bikes of course.

Speaking of bikes.. the first of the Blackburn Cycling Club Kew boulevard TT’s was held on Sunday. (Yesterday) Loving TT’s as I do I went and had a look. Had not registered to do it.. currently not having a full licence.. and being a bit concerned that my TCR, which is slowly being turned into a TT bike is still unfinished, I did not enter. But it has me all fired up now and I promised several people that I would do it next time. This course is twisty and rewards people who know it and probably does not much favor specialist TT bikes, so I could have just done it on my Scott and put up a decent time. Ahh well next time.

If you want to know more about Time Trials this thread on BV forums is about Victorian Events being run this year. The Australian Time Trial Association is sadly not happening in Victoria at the moment.. that was cheap fun racing and sadly missed. Ah well. I do love ITT’s I think its the toughest loneliest hardest racing of all. To my way of thinking this image stolen from the ATTA home page captures it all TT rider

In the evening ABOC was training at DISC velodrome in Thornbury. And this time it was almost quite like actual racing. We did a couple of handicap races and I did not disgrace my self. Old skills coming back. Am extremely over the moon with last night’s effort. Still nervy of being on peoples wheels in the curves on wood at 45 degrees a long way from the ground. But getting there. Wishing I had some pics to put up. It’s back to my roots but very very different too.. the wood, indoors, and nerves of age are all new. Ecstatically happy.

Oh I should mention.. a bunch of people I know did the Teschner Grand Prix at Albert Park on Saturday. David Rafferton (of Vidman Design, a very talented graphic designer we often use) was making his comeback race after a very very bad accident that could really have ended tragically. One of the people at DISC told me about this big aggressive rider who kept having a go.. way to go David. My mate Roger has put some pics up on Facebook. David’s wife, Lisa, possibly the best illustrator on the planet and in my opinion one of the best and best looking racers in the country was also there. Both did well. Here Lisa leads out the bunch Both these people are amongst my favorite people on the planet and I am immensely proud of them

Lisa leads out

Where to from here?

May 18, 2010

I have a brother…who painful and expensive as he might be I love dearly. He runs a small business in Thomastown. He does mechanical and hydraulic repairs.. specializing in earthmovers and heavy trucks. And therin lies the problem

He has more work than he can handle. He is a very good mechanic. And very fair. He has a foul temper but is a nice enough bloke. Of course he is for he is my brother. But he is not getting rich. In essence this is because he is a good mechanic.. and not a good businessman. He knows this by the way, no secrets here.

He has more work than he can possibly handle. He does no advertising.. all the work is word of mouth or repeat business. He (and at the moment his one mechanic) are running their butts off. The workshop could easily be a mint. But.. ummm organization could use work. He needs to play to his strengths, he needs to concentrate on running the workshop, He should still give his direction to the business.. its his business, but he should have other people look at his decisions.

We are trying to set up exactly this sort of system.. with Perfectnotes and intelligent systems running the office. With us involved maybe one morning a week. And with my brother running his workshop with maybe a half dozen people working for him getting through as much work as they can physically push though the business. Their is no reason the place cannot be a gold mine. The hard bit is finding customers.. and he has that sorted.

I wonder how many businesses in the country are in the same sort of situation. Its important to play your strengths and be aware of your weaknesses. In my brothers case his strengths are his undoubted technical skills (now their is a family trait) his ability to command and his ability to get along with people. His weaknesses are entirely to do with running a business. In my case.. I have a tendency to trust people a tad too much and expect honesty from them… mind you, it doesn’t happen twice, having decided someone is a no hoper, changing my mind is unlikely. And so on. If your weaknesses are addressable .. then address them. If they are computer related then talk to us.

Going Solo.

May 17, 2010

Jessica Watson as some of you may just possibly have heard.. has sailed around the world. Or not depending on who you talked too. She has sailed a bloody sight further than any of her detractors have at any rate. And good on her. Brilliant effort.

Funny how she has no detractors now. and Prime Ministers and other pond li.. er pollies crawling out of the woodwork to have their picture taken with her… is it an election year?

But Jessica appears to be a bloody good business woman too. She has already sold her story for a reputed $ 1 million bucks AU and still has plenty of endorsement er ability left to sell.

Lets do the maths. Her boat is .. I don.t know.. cannot be bothered to do serious research.. but something like a 34 footer.. right in the sweetspot for serious cruising.. small enough so a smallish girl can handle the gear.. big enough for some chance of comfort. I dont know what she paid for it (I think its a loaner. but really who would loan someone a boat painted that godawful pink?) Pink boatLets pretend its a Contessa 32… which would be squarely in my choice list for the trip she made. A Contessa 32 is in the sweetspot.. has a fin keel and fastish rig and a enviable reputation for surviveability in extreme seas. A Contessa 32 was the only boat in the smallest class to not retire in the terrible 1979 Fastnet race.

You can pick up these boats for around $50 K Australian. And they are around. In fact they are scattered all over the world.
Contessa 32

Serious cruising costs. Call it twice that to fit the boat out. Epirbs.. sat phone survey and overhaul new SS rigging throughout. tankage, stores, fuel, lots of bucks. Say $100 thousand. AU. And then she had people managing her.. ran it like an actual campaign. So lets double the cost so far for them.

So $300 K + 7 months buys you $1 million. And you still have at least $50 K worth of yacht. Woot. Is the girl a businesswoman or what? Pretty impressive. And she still has a lot to sell… but lets not go into that too much. She seems like rather a classy kid.

Don;t think for a second I am having a go here. I think its great. Good on her. But she saw the ball and ran with it in more ways than one. Or possibly she just got lucky.. which I just do not believe.

PerfectNotes rocks.

May 16, 2010

This one is a bit overdue. Its been a tough long week. Quite a lot of the not well paid.. but reliable Monash work, which I like cos of its consistency, and because its in the CBD with executive bike parking, hence a built in 50 klicks of training a day. Monash was both days this weekend… although it was actually no fun at all today with failures to the buildings auto lock system. Anyway…

I read this article the other week. I may have mentioned it in an earlier post. Much searching has failed to find the bloody thing. It was a properly referenced bit of scientific research. I think. Sorta hard to prove that when I cannot find the article though. Sigh.

Anyway this study purported to show why the more you know about a subject the less positive you can be about that subject. Oh dear that was not all that clear was it? It was the reason why if you take your car to a mate who knows a bit about cars he will listen to the miss fire and say “Oh yeah.. bad fuel” and he might be right. But a good mechanic will say ” Bad fuel, or maybe injectors, or engine management computer, dead spark plug, bad leads, cracked rings.. whatever….” And then he will say ” Have to investigate further.. don’t know what it will cost… sorry” Hows that for a simplistic version? Pretty good I thought.

Anyway you can see where this applies to us some of the time. Your mate who knows a bit about computers says ” Oh yeah.. bad drive” But we quite often.. say “Have to investigate further.” Quite often I say “I don’t know” I don’t mean I won’t know. It just requires investigation. But it occasionally dismays clients. Which I find odd. Really? What is it about false assurances that they like? Is this the same thing that makes politicians either successful or honest? Am I getting too deep? Stay tuned.

One of the problems with this job is that usually we train clients up to a point where their system is reliable and safe (backups people, backups) and they know enough about it. Then when they do need us its either, rearranging the office, or because something (now more reliable cos of us) has died. So we need new clients. This week will involve much client chasing. Luckily I have a couple of lovely business shirts from a happy client as a present last week. His own label. When he pays us I may even buy a couple more. I can try and lift my image to non scruffy geek. Its really sad that I have many more cycling jerseys than business shirts. Image as I am learning matters. In fact maybe its as important as content. Maybe that is where I was going in this post.

Wins and losers

May 10, 2010

A couple of good wins with clients over the week. And a couple of backup solutions to investigate. I was hoping to get to them over the weekend but did not happen. Training of both sorts got in the way

Client server died Thursday. Power supply (a good one) protected by a UPS and a modern one at that still managed to fail The replacement had the new style ATX connector with the 4 extra pins.. but in ONE PIECE. In other words you could not disconnect the 4 extra pins. First time I have seen that. Bloody Gigabyte making their hardware non backwardly compatible. Took it back to the shop.. easy walking distance. The shop guys first words were “Bloody hell, first time I have seen
that;…. idiots” New power supply sorted and eventually the machine came back up 😀 Some intervening drama’s of course. The business owner is a lovely bloke… but er.. intense probably describes him well. He has a great staff and a very happy workplace I think.

Another customers workplace network is finally the way he wanted it.

We need to push for more clients. And I need to push on with the web dev stuff

More training at DISC last night. It was Mothers Day. Does anyone else think that Mothers Day is the most lethal day to be on the road? I did a Time Trial once at Diggers Rest on Mothers Day. Quiet country roads.. not much traffic.. and rather than getting tooted once a month by some fat git in a Landcrusher who thinks its I who am a waste of space, every second car.. no more that that, either tooted.. shaved really close or both. One shaved past me and then stopped at the next control to complain about cyclists on “his ” road. Took off before I got there or my TT would have ended on a high note and his ‘Mothers Day’ on a low. So today.. driving was pretty dodgy.. way more than the normal percentage of loons out there. On the way back from the mandatory visit to mum “Sorry mum.. gotta go train” we went to the Sunday ABOC coaching session. Where I met up with another Team Splat! rider well known sprinter Sally Cloke

I managed to enter the high banking at one point at far too slow a speed trying to dodge a slower rider. I had plenty of room.. pure misjudgment. The motorcycle (used for motor paced training) was coming up behind in the sprinters lane with a paceline of half a dozen riders behind it. The girl who blocked me was about a metre above the blue line and I was well under it and traveling too fast to dive into the infield.. the painted concrete is about a slippery as tram tracks, and too slow to make it around the corner without falling on top of the motorcycle

nicked of web DISC motor paced pic

Had to point it up hill and accelerate hard and it all worked :D.

Did gate starts where a machine holds you for a countdown and you have to sprint. One girl got it wrong.. never pedaled and as the clamp released fell straight over. Then it was my turn. Actually was unworried.. have done about a million held starts.. and figured “how difficult could it be” The answer; not very. Easy peasy Another thing I have not done before is now nailed. Starting to get much much more confident on wood. If the fear factor the first time was 100 we are down around 5 by now. Except for the aforementioned moment of silliness. Getting there.

In the interest of spreading a little happiness to all.. and with a subtle sense of apology for the terrorizing of the underaged asian lancer driver who tried to inflict harm on me at one intersection and ended up with me hanging shit on his (totally incompetent ) driving and (possibly undeservedly) his sexual and personal habits at no less than 4 red lights through Box Hill on friday night.. this little gem is provided to add a small niceness to your day

Winner

May 3, 2010

So today I was at clients place at 7:50. So was Telstra Tech. Client turned up at 8:20 :D.
It took the tech 2 minutes to have the service enabled and tagged. I barely bothered to check it was done.. I have the greatest respect for Telstra Techs I ran a cable.. talked about solutions to another client issue.. run another cable in the next day or so.. patched the tagged line to the crossconnect 20 pair.. and then to the antique frame in another room and a phone socket. Woot. Works. Easy peasy. Exactly as it should have what 3 visits and several hours ago? Ahhh Telstra you are a boon to my productivity.. NOT. Still in those visits I pretty much got the place set up as the client wanted.

Happy customer. I like. I really do like to see customers happy, makes me feel worthwhile. He might not be so happy when he gets the bill. But obviously its impossibly unfair to sting him for all the time Telstra wasted… we will just both bite the bullet a bit I guess. Still have no email following up on Telstra,s follow up that I posted earlier. Hmmmm. An email to ask if I am happy with the service? What do you think the chances are?

I went and trained with ABOC at DISC last night.. my second go on wood. Way way way way less scary.. And I went up to the rail. Well once. Woot. Mind you the track bike managed a flat in the car on the way to DISC. And I replaced that tube with one with a slow leak. Which I discovered when it started squealing on the painted line. 15 foot up at 45 degrees. Well at least I know how these tires behave on wood with a slow leak

And since I got home late.. was up early.. bike was still in the car. Somehow managed to flatten both tires while in the car? Hmmmm. This does require investigation. I am so happy with my riding at DISC tho.. what a thrill. Now to try going fast. Woooot

Tonight.. at Monash, Which is a reguar gig. Installing new printer.. putting equipment away. Ahhhhh exitement.