Archive for June 2010


June 28, 2010

We have been playing with google adwords for the last few days. Its a brilliant concept. I think I wasted the $30 we at ‘Perfect Notes’ invested in it. But for some businesses.. possibly not ours, its the most brilliant brilliant marketing possible. Even though it has some issues. Let me explain

The way adwords works is you can essentially pay google to return an add about you if a search contains certain key words. It all depends on just how targeted those words are how effective an advertisement is. If you can figure out exactly what search a savvy person would use to find your business and the words in that search are specific enough to get to you and not 75 000 other people then adwords is way going to work for you. Otherwise probably not

So if you are one of 3 suppliers of bronze hyperdrive assemblies in Australia, then the search .. bronze hyperdrive with returns limited to Australia is absolutely going to work. But if you are selling batteries in Hong Kong, probably not. One of our customers is selling fire control equipment in Melbourne.. another is a mower repair shop in Portsea… and a future customer is.. heh.. a dentist in an undisclosed suburb.. you can see that certain keywords are likely to work for them.. and for the customer when it comes to that. But you can also see that ‘computer support’ meh.. there are a lot of competitors out there. They mostly are not very good, but its first contact we are seeking.

Problems.. the narrowing down to geographic areas possibilities in adwords suck. We will go anywhere in Melbourne for a customer.. but close is nice. Dedicated as we are to minimizing time spent stuck in traffic. Its nice for customers in a lot of cases too. really good for both business and customer to hook up if they are close geographically. Not always but often. Adds a little bit to the community feeling too. A friend of mine is trying to get a sharehood off the ground in Surrey Hills I do not like her chances.. but all these little attempts to build local communities are to be applauded in my opinion.

Brilliant stuff… the Google analytics stuff works right in with adwords. Meaning that you can tell if it works. Or not. And you can set a daily budget. Absolutely brilliant. Oh and its going to push your site up the google returns list. For most business sites (maybe not for the CIA) more traffic is good.

Mark has been targeting his bonsai stuff heavily with Google adwords. With a very small budget he is moving as much of this stuff as he wants too. And now that we understand how it works we have approached a couple of the customers we think it will work for and now have at least one campaign to run. Its important to us that your businesses succeed, cos that is the only way we succeed for one thing.. but it also goes to that entire neighborhood thing.

Set off for my training ride this morning.. at dark oclock.. rugged up like a very warm thing. Hard to get out of bed it was. A kilometer down the road and right on time my front light fell off. I spent 30 minutes finding all the pieces then slunk home and back to bed. Feeling very like an evil stealth cyclist. Arggghhhhhhhhhh

On reasonable care

June 24, 2010

I finally remembered what the hell it was I wanted to post on the other day. I remembered while riding into town on Gardiners Creek bike path tonight. This bike path has two detours on it at the moment.. both arguably very very lethal and it occurred to me that no one would dare do something equivalent on a major road. Someone would get seriously hurt… the appropriate authority would get their ass sued off… and while I am not in favor of the current massively litigious nature of society, they would deserve it. And everyone concerned knows it. And so the really stupid does not happen. But bike paths are open slather. And the truly stupid happens all the time

I have probably raved about this before. But it deserves a rave. Eastlink bike path has bits only experts can ride up. It has wooden bridges.. lethal when damp and when icy with downhill curves on them and grates in the middle of the path on blind corners. Gardiners creek currently has a plywood 180 degree 1 metre radius downhill corner on a detour in a part of the path prone to ice. The Dandenong creek path has seen a guy killed recently on a part of the path that Parks Victoria had been warned about repeatedly. They have effectively and competently solved the problem tho. Or not. There have been other fatal accidents on Melbourne bike paths And oopses beyond number.

As I said you could not get away with doing this sort of thing on the road. And the idea of getting cyclists.. wearing cleated shoes as many will be, to get off and walk, is just insane. Way more dangerous walking than riding. A sign saying “ride at walking pace’ would at least make some sense. You think 40 kph zones are nuts try.. “walking pace only signs” The problem is that bikes are supposed to be an actual mode of transport. The way the councils get away with it is to say that all bike paths are shared paths and that they only have to make them safe for pedestrians. And pedestrians not wearing bike shoes at that. Its nuts.

And bike paths do appear to be designed by the work experience guy. Drunk. A man who has never actually seen a bike. And thinks of them as.. maybe roller blades. Rather than the most efficient mode of transport in a energy expended sense ever. As I said nuts.

I went to a seminar on motorcycle safety earlier this year. I suggested that people hired as road engineers by VicRoads should at least be able to ride a motorcycle and drive a truck. Not that hard one would have thought. Nope. Heaven forbid people design stuff they have a clue about. Was not an idea that met with much approval. Bugger.

We pay insurance in case we actually screw a clients data up accidently, and we make seriously best efforts to not do this. My dentist rings up to make sure nothing went wrong. Reasonable care is required by the law in many endeavors and its a reasonable requirement. Why then when its absolutely obvious, at least to any thinking person with a clue about cycling that a bit of cycling infrastructure is lethal do the people concerned not have a duty.. or even think they have a moral duty, to take reasonable care? Its not actually very much to ask.

Heavy experimentation with google addwords at PerfectNotes at the moment. This sort of targeted advertising is brilliant. Am talking to a couple of clients about targeted advertising on their behalf. This stuff is absolutely brilliant. Mark has been using it to sell his bonsai for a while already.

Semper Fi

June 23, 2010

I had a great topic for yesterdays blog. I composed it while riding from the dentist to a client and then on to Monash. It was going to be a terrific topical post. Hmmm. Pity I cannot remember what it was going to be about. Sigh.

Ahhh yes the dentist. Not being able to feel my nose was less fun than most things. I did think it was probably a really good time to get it broken and reset properly. But amazingly no one at Monash seemed interested in smacking it for me. A difficult day.

Clients business was locked up. I suspect the staff member I found them may not be working out. Seems to not be there a lot. Oh I don,t know.. fairly sure its not good. Will chase him up today.

Paid (and transferred) the registration on the Scooby Doo ( Subaru ) yesterday. And the Lancer. $1300. Sheesh. I,m paying 2000 bucks a year in reg. Nearly all of it the Transport Accident Commision component of registration. 3rd party accident insurane for injury. But I can only have one accident at a time. Sucks. I do trivial kilometers these days too. The sooner the TAC is linked to your license rather than the registration the better. All I can say.. anyone who says cyclists do not pay their share to me in the next few days is going to wish they had an anesthetized nose. Grrrrrrr

Much reconfiguring of PNHQ networks the last week. At least a couple of days have been spent in the totally non profitable setting up of virtual machines and (gasp) Windoze servers to give Kathy a couple of new testing environments. Impacting significantly on Mark and myself trying to chase new customers. Tricky.

Anyway to the subject of this blog. Leadership challenge for the PM,s job this morning. Hmmmmm Julia Gillard is challenging for the top job. According to the ABC story that woke me up she is challenging because it came to her attention that Kevin Rudd was not totally convinced by her protestations of loyalty and her denials of any intention to challenge. And so.. offended by the slight on her integrity she challenged. And in so doing proved him right. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm

Is it just me who is somewhat offended by this? Imagine, a disloyal pollie, how unbelievable? (Snicker) But really, using someones doubts of your loyalty as an excuse to prove em right. Way to go Julia. Class all the way. Pah.

Not that I am a fan of the Ruddster. But still. I am a fan of the mining tax. Hurting big mining…as if. We get to dig the stuff up and sell it once.. its an appreciating asset while its in the ground. Unless civilization collapses, in which case we will starve to death in a disintegrating society.. a bit poorer than we would have starved to death otherwise. Funnily enough if Julia gets up (heh) I bet that the mining tax quietly goes away. Interesting.

Semper Fi Julia.

Supporting the world

June 22, 2010

Last week was a little bit tough. Some very odd support issues. And some very odd dealings with people.

I have to be careful discussing support issues.. I certainly don;t want to alienate any clients who actually stumble across this site. Be bad if they recognized themselves and I had been less than nice. If they are still clients that is. There absolutely are clients I want no part of whatsoever. Driving cabs in my youth taught me that the statement ‘the customer is always right’ was not coined by someone facing an armed and homicidal ‘customer’ And while that does not happen any more.. I certainly do not think every customer is worth it. Every customer WE HAVE is worth it. Otherwise they would have politely been pointed elsewhere. So we like our customers and do not want to upset them

So obviously most of my stories about users date back to my days working tech support for the Department of Education and Training. Most of my bad stories anyway. And believe me I have some beauts. I,ll start digging them up and posting them here I think, for your perusal. As with everything most teachers are great. Some are brilliant. I think my Dad was a brilliant teacher. Some however teach because they cannot do as the old joke goes. . I plan on visiting my old work soon.. seeing if I can offer our services to many of the staff.. some of who are just wonderful. Not to just everyone tho. Robert I do mean you. You were half my workload by yourself. You could break a Sherman tank while parking it. I think perhaps you and PerfectNotes are not the best of matches. Even though we like fixing things and you like breaking them.

There is a lot to criticize about education in Victoria. And a lot to admire. Its probably the same everywhere. But one of the things I do despise at the secondary level is the cozy little arrangements between many schools and Microsoft. The teachers and the schools get the software for next to nothing. The students get taught on it. Then they go our and buy it .. or pirate it. And insist that their workplace provide it. Which ups Microsoft sales. The problem is that the teachers do not teach the kids to drive a word processor, they teach them to drive MS world. They do not learn a spreadsheet.. they earn Excel. Etc Etc Etc. Do you see my reservations about this? We have teachers essentially teaching students to be Microsoft consumers. We have teachers who don’t understand that Word is just a word processor, and an expensive non standards compliant one at that. We have Microsoft as a standard, because its whats taught in schools and not because of any innate superiority of the product.

Seriously seriously shi&&s me to tears. You think that teachers would be right on top of this would you not? The fact is that as a group.. and there are of course many many exceptions, teachers are about as conservative, resistant to change and especially resistant to learning new technologies and ideas as any group one could imagine. Its only the students that are at most schools to learn. Or at least such is my experience.

Anyway today’s support story. Client is very email dependent (as are we all I guess). Is using Entourage on a Macbook. Entourage is a Microsoft mail client.. sort of an Outlook clone for Mac. Its pretty half assed.. just about to be replaced in the endless Microsoft update cycle by a version of Outlook for Mac. (Called imaginatively ‘Outlook for Mac’) Amongst Entourage,s failings (or as Microsoft likes to call them ‘Undocumented Features’ ) is the delightful fact that it does not understand Microsofts own PST format that Outlook keeps its data in. And while MS makes a converter it works from one specific revision to another specific revision, so mostly does not work. Just by coincidence and in no way part of an evil plan for world domination this makes going from a machine running Windows and Outlook to an OSX Mac rather difficult. Not accusing MS of clever evil marketing here.. no wish to be dragged into court.

I have a tool that converts PST files into IMAP files that most mail readers can use (Including Entourage) …. (PLUG… PLUG) Its made us some money it has. 😀

Anyway another undocumented feature is that Entourage uses some weird and stupid algorithm to tell if an email is new. And sometimes this algorithm gets upset. And Entourage will decide everything in the inbox is new. and will download the lot. (It lacks options regarding limiting downloads to dates or folders, actually it lacks most useful options and their is no fix for this particular oops. ) Which is what happened to our client all 5 ish Gigabyte and 30000 emails worth. He was not happy.

So this is fixable with other mail clients. And on the server. But this server mail software apparently really really dislikes having its innards played with. So that was out as an option. And the client had forgotten his password. Resetting the password was not a go cos his iphone, his desktop machine, and for all I know his electric razor were all using it. Tried every possible password we could find or think off. Hours of searching through stuff. No go. . OK, so we needed to hack the mail account.

We decided.. and tested all the bits to see if it was going to work.. to copy the encrypted mail passwd file on the server (being careful to keep its ownership and permissions unchanged) to text him in the middle of the night and tell him the mail was going to be down a couple of hours. To force the password change. To fix the issues (using Thunderbird.. a much better mail client and just incidentally a free one ) , swap the password files back.. force a restart of all the components of the mail server (In the right order) . The server would have come back up with his original password unchanged. Whatever it was. Pretty good huh?, Minimizing server downtime matters for this particular client and so we tested every command and documented the whole thing…so as to waste no time during the evolution. Was about 2am before I was totally happy

Woke up at 4 am. Texted him the mail was going down .. and an outline of the plan. Got Kathy to do that cos.. er, my texting skills are not cutting edge. And got a text back moments later.

With the right password.

It seems like the little details that stress us the most.

June 19, 2010

It does not seem to matter whats going on in ones life, or business. Little things seem to take the longest time to sort out and create the most stress. It all falls into perspective when something really serious happens. when for example the doctor says you have cancer but until then.. its awful hard to keep perspective.

Did not get much riding in this week… let me share one amusing incident.. I have a friend.. lets call her SS (for Squeeza sibling.. doubtless some readers will recognize from that description) Anyway she is an enthusiastic cyclist, improving and strong. SS has Aspergers Syndrome and doubtless as a result she learns differently from the rest of us. Generally slower, although not always… generally she seems to learn very specifically, and the multitasking is a bit poor as she learns the new thing. Teaching her skills has involved me patiently (people who know me feel free to fall over and laugh at this point.. but I do try) explain how it works.. and watch it slowly come.

WRONG!!!! Very Very Wrong!!!

Fairly fastish ride with hills on the monday (a public holiday here in OZ for most.. it being Lizzies birthday. And SS was off the back up every hill. Not such a big deal… but SS did not actually appear to be killing herself trying. I trailed along with her trying to figure out what she was doing wrong. As did Ms J9. A former army drill sergeant. (in a former life) Ms J9 took over. “Push… Push… PUSH…. you will not change gear until I tells ya….. wait.. WAIT… change one gear up NOW ” Push.. PUSH, GETOUTOFTHESADDLE NOW!!!!!!” And much much more in a similar style. I was waiting for her to say “YOU HORRIBLE LITTLE GIRL” I hurt a rib laughing. And the result. SS panting for breath. And pouring with sweat. A speed increase of at least 25%. Sustained. Up serious hills.

Way interesting. What SS needs is to be told in absolutely unambiguous terms what to do and when to do it. Eventually doubtless she will include all this in her database of learning experience and will do in her own way what we all do in new situations.. this hill is like that hill.. and so I handle it like I handled that one. May take her more time to do that, and may be applied more rigorously than most of us would. Most of us have a whole bunch of tricks for handling new situations.. and a bunch of techniques for climbing hills and are pretty good at improvisation. I think SS is always going to be a bit rigid at such things, but at least if she knows how it should be done some of the time its bound to help. And the improvement was so dramatic. Shows that the army approach has its place.

I am sure it will apply to other situations other than cycling. I am also sure that SS has an abundance of independent will. Way too much for this to go down well. Yet some of the time this technique obviously needs to apply. Tricky. I hasten to add that SS is also as tough as a thing that is very very tough indeed. And has the scars to prove it. And she is very smart.

Another little amusement. Did the MRR recovery ride on Thursday.. Sorta. I rolled out the drive.. flashed past Karen’s driveway at 50 kph.. just in time to see her riding down it.. turned onto Whitehorse just in time to meet two other MRR riders. Tagged along with WAK and Mrs WAK who were trialing Mrs WAK’s new headlights. Lets just say the rest of the MRR never looked like catching us. Lian kept us moving right along.. average of 27. Some people do much better when they can see where they are going. Whereas others will wheel suck without once looking up all the way till they hit the side of the bus. 😀 Another bit of philosophy I have picked up from cycling that applies so well to the rest of life.

The John Marsden Book..”Tomorrow when the war began” which is an absolutely brilliant book, supposedly for teenagers about the effect on teenagers on finding themselves in the middle of a war, set in an Australian bush town in the middle of a massive invasion of Australia by some unnamed country is being made into a major film to be released in September If the film remains true to the book it will be great. It will be everything that the film Red Dawn was not. Hell in the book John Marsden does not even name the invading power. Its going to be great. Marsden wrote a series of books set during and after the mythical war, all written in the first person.. his protagonist Ellie There could be sequels

This book is pretty solid. The bullets have no friends. It was on some of the schools reading lists and rightly so. The series of books has only one flaw. As if New Zealand would come to our aid. And as if they could. Treaty obligations with NZ are a totally one way obligation… NZ has decided to rely upon isolation as its only defense. Not a policy I particularly agree with (to put it mildly) Looking forward to the movie. Hopefully it lives up to the books

Ellie et all hiding

But to bring me back to my original point, the link to the description of the book Tomorrow when the war began was by a bloke called Richard Simpson who I don’t know. But he did the book report because his late friend Jessica was a fan. And to get back a little perspective after being annoyed by little things all week you might like to read about Jessica on his website. I warn you.. its pretty sad.

Another good thing happened this week. Friends of mine.. in fact rather a lot of friends of mine, raced in the three day tour held over the long weekend. I shall not expand on all the events, you can read some really well written race reports here. Me and Jenny did go and watch the racing in freezing conditions on the Sunday. I will just mention that after his appalling crash last year David Rafferton of Vidman Designs got 4th in D overall.. well done you. The gorgeous Lisa was apparently the fastest of the girls who could be considered amateurs. Tho she certainly looks pro to me. NGN is tough as nails to finish after that crash. the unlucky Kitten and many others all put in the ride of their lives.

Kitten, Rich and unnamed rider breakaway in Sundays stage race
David Rafferton on the right.. in the sprint for the line
The always pro looking Lisa Coutts

Thanks to Richard for permission to link to the pics

As you may guess my week has itself been full of trivial yet annoying (and mostly not chargeable for) irritations that have screwed my perspective somewhat. However in retrospect I will save writing about my week of tribulations for another post

The directions we go in.

June 12, 2010

Yesterday (Friday) was business meeting with our business mentor. It involved a lot of soul searching about how we could be more efficient… about finding customers (especially for Kathy’s programming skills) and of course involved some looking at numbers. Meh, we are still here.. and others are not. We are optimistic, steadily growing. Not all good but mostly good.

Had a client I set a new machine up for during the week. I missed that he had an old HP printer that he loved and wanted to keep. A decision which I agree with by the way.. Those old HP 4L 4P, 5 series, 6 series, and 1200,s are as tough as, so why throw them away unless you need the capabilities of a newer printer? And to be fair very very few people actually do need those capabilities. These printers, many of the lexmarks and a few others built around the same time seem to have missed the planned death just after the warranty runs out, that the sales people of the world want ingrained into any product. But it does leave a problem

This HP had a old printer cable connection. The new machine didn’t . Its a capability starting to finally vanish from motherboards along with serial, and on the board itself a floppy drive connector. Old technologies that have survived in the interest of backwards compatibility for a long while.. but are doomed. You see the problem?

3 obvious ways to sort this issue.
1) Add in PCI card, sitting on the motherboard providing a printer (what we call a LPT) port.
Pluses, likely to work without issue. Especially if its a new PCI card coming with its own drivers.
Minuses, has to be installed. Uses up a PCI slot, On a business machine.. built to a price, with a board with only a couple of spare slots this is a concern.
2) Converter cable.. turning the printer cable into a USB cable. Modern machines have lots of USB connections.
Pluses, USB cable is better in terms of clutter on the desk. Really easy to fit
Minuses, I have had very little luck with these. Don,t seem to work that well
3) Print Server of one sort or another. Some of these are about the size of a paperback. Some have USB.
Pluses, guaranteed to work. Will be pretty fast too.
Minuses, needs a power-point. costly, messy, and overkill for the problem

Parts supplier said he had a converter cable that was guaranteed to work. Meh. It didn’t. Stuff like this is not contributing to our efficiency. So now I will go install a card. This is the sort of thing I find irritating. I hasten to add.. no way is it the customers fault. Just annoying

Had a net-book to fix during the week. Their are such a range of devices to browse the net with these days. Normal mobile phones.. iphones, net-books, with 10 ish inch screens, lappys, big screened lappys, 17 inch desktops.. 21 inch desktops, big screened desktops.. the huge wall mounted monitor And the obvious one I missed. These netbooks are cute. The original versions were supposed to save you the Windows cost by being sold with an install of Linux on them.. Whatever happened to that idea? Bet you Microsoft marketing quashed it. “If you want a break on OEM Windows prices you will stop selling that OTHER operating system” Bet it was just like that. Probably illegal Certainly sux. Anyone know?

We have one client trying to get a small business happening who has no off site backup whatsoever. I have bought this up a couple of times. Anyway I bought a Hard Drive and a enclosure for it… am going to take a backup of everything and make him take it home and put it somewhere safe. I hope this goes down alright. Seriously needs to be done. Then we need to figure out some way of doing daily back-ups that they can live with.

I have said this before and I will say this again. The precautions you take with your data depend on how much losing the data will cost you. But except for the very small number of people to who it hardly matters, the minimum you need is a reasonable site backup of essential business documents that is not too out of date. Off site is much much better. What if work was robbed and your backup was amongst the things nicked.

The saddest story of backups going wrong relate to the Twin Towers in New York. A lot of businesses had their offices in one tower and an arrangement with an other firm in the other tower to hold their backups. A really really good idea. Hard to see something awful happening to both towers after all. Except that it did.

What else happened this half of the week? Well I went to the dentist. Thats why this post was late… it knocked me around a bit. The dentist, a close friend who I will not identify further here, turned up at the door next morning with muffins. Is a pretty good way of keeping customers I thought.

Oh and our online shopping portal works. I put a object on our test server for 5 cents and sold it. Perfect. Now I just have to deliver a PerfectNotes logo to the person who bought it. (Snicker)

Mark is going to do a lot more work for us in the future.. and Marks serious hobby is bonsai. So we are going to build a plone shopping portal and flog some bonsai. Just because we can. 😀

On microsoft and aspergers

June 9, 2010

Missed a couple of days here. And if I don,t write anything no one reads it.. Go figure.

On the weekend watched a movie called Adam. About an Aspergers sufferer and his life. With 8 or 9 friends. 3 of who have Aspergers Syndrome. And I know another Aspergers sufferer. Either I am atypical (well clearly I am but lets not go there.) or this difference is pretty prevalent. I guess I am going for pretty prevalent actually. I don,t have Aspergers but I do see bits of Asperger like behavior in myself. I get very very job focused for example. I have to work at fitting in in social situations.. and acting appropriately. I am perfectly happy in my own company. And the like… So given that its a continuum, with total normality at one end and extreme weirdness in the other. I am guessing that there is lots of Aspergers out there.

And that might be a good thing. Einstein, is supposed to have been an Aspy. So is Isaac Newton Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci Beethoven Bill Gates and many many others. Autism spectrum disorders are likely to be an absolute requirement for a changing society IMO. Does not stop some of these people from being damn annoying tho.

Had a weird one yesterday. Repairing an XP installation (oh yeah so what else is new?) Pulled the old numbers out of the machine. Had a look at the sticker on the case. Same numbers. That actually is slightly unusual, usually you build a bunch of machines at the same time to the same spec. You do one image with a corporate XP and spend some time getting it right… and then you image all the rest of the machines. 90 % of a lot less effort goes into getting the image right and 10 % to dropping it on the rest of the machines. Much more better. :D. So its likely you have here a single machine built to order.

But anyway.. I do the recovery… with the right verson of XP. Windows XP pro. (cos home is rubbish) And it wants the Reg Key. Which is just Bill being annoying anyway.. the thing has a windows installation I am trying to repair Bill .. for crying out loud. How the hell can you want the reg Key? You already have it. Well no. It won;t accept the key. The same key it already has. WTF? Bill.. you are annoying me. Try again with another windows disk. And another. And another. Not making any friends here at PerfectNotes Bill 20 minutes a time to get to the point of putting the key in. About as long as it actually takes to install Ubuntu. And when we install Ubuntu we install a LOT of applications at the same time.. Arggghhhhhhhhhhh. Try another Key. Woot. No problem. What the hell was that all about Bill? Told you Aspy people can be damn annoying.

Last night was music night Where a bunch of us get together and watch each other play.. or not play the guitar, and sing or don’t sing. I went with Significant Other. Actually I met her there… working at Monash in the city and rode to the pub in Carlton. My mate Mike and his family were there. His son Jake has Aspy. And his daughter Leah who is one of my favorite people on the planet….. by perhaps not entirely coincidence sang a song called something like “for I am just a little bit odd”

Embrace the difference I say. Except that their is no way ever I am embracing Mr Gates

Friday Woohoo.

June 4, 2010

Friday Woohoo. It took a while to get here. Kathy had some online Plone troubleshooting with a Plone site that amongst other issues is firmly convinced its 2002 and all its content does not yet exist as it was created umpteen seconds in the future and I spent much of the day getting my Plone skills up… not to Kathys level.. but a long way up. Our original Plone Test site has become a testbed for the web development we are doing for a company I,ll call DMA so we set up another Test site. Again on an ABOC server of course Its a test site remember so stuff is going to appear, disappear, work.. not work etc. Its a rough copy of and is here Tinkering with it with Plone atm. Its talking to the Paypal sandbox. I shall be working with this site a bit in the next few days.

Last night Sally had a work do just down the road and borrowed a bed from Chateau du Percrime. She was supposed to be here in North Blackburn at 9:00 pm. I left the CBD at 8:15 on the pushy and had to push fairly hard. I can confirm that the new bike lane in Albert St East Melbourne is getting its green color. Felt a lot like sand actually. The road was full of road workers. That lane is pretty effin narrow at 50 kph.. pretty easily achievable heading towards Richmond and strangely since 50 is the speed limit its apparently as slow as cars are allowed to travel. Its their minimum speed. Interesting the number of cars who HAVE to overtake you and instantly slow while changing into your lane. Fun trip home tho. I trailed Sally by about 3 minutes. Foggy and spooky for the last few klicks but great fun.

In the morning Sally and I got up at Dark oclock and did the Maling Room Ride. We ended up in a small splinter group consisting of the gorgeous and newly married Mrs Blybo, the stunning Lian (Mrs Wak, and the wonderful Sally, poor Mr Wak and myself managed to bring the groups glamor back down to average. Fun yet casual pootle. No fog.. and not cold. Yet again the professionalism and politeness of our friends at Ventura Bus Lines . was obvious, happy to give them a plug Funny story about Ventura. Over the 3 or 4 years of the Maling Room Ride the bus drivers have become friendlier and more inclined to give us space. I am sure they have figured out that Tuesday and Thursday are the go hard days.. Wed and Friday the pootle efforts. Dodgy overtakes followed by pulling over and parking.. often alongside 40 kph + cyclists just do not happen any more.

This bus line was always pretty good. I save all my cursing at buses these days for the jokingly misnamed “Driver” bus line. And no I am not giving them a link. They do not deserve it. Losers. But I digress Anyway on this particular fast MRR a couple of years ago II was off the back of the fast bunch. (my tail light had fallen.. and I went back to get it.. OK??) I was trying hard to get back on. And got a light. Bus pulls up alongside. Driver opens door. “Want a lift up to them” he asks. Cool. Very cool. “No thanks mate, I can catch em:” Well if they catch the lights I can. Woot.

After the MRR and 2 coffees me and my mate Simon escorted the Sally to her work at a charity in Blackburn. Simon lives in Blackburn and PerfectNotes in Blackburn North. Sally has the exact opposite commute to most people.. living as she does on the top of a building in the CBD and working in Blackburn. Commuting by train or bicycle (or duel mode) as she no longer has a car Sally has a interesting commute. On the way again I wondered at the desperation on the grimly intent drivers who scream past us at high speed in order to stop 100 metres down the road at the end of 40 cars stopped at the lights.. Do they think there is any chance whatsoever of beating us through the lights? And its not us holding them up.. but the 40 cars stopped at the lights in front of them. Seriously… why don,t they get it? Poor sods. Lots of em have no choice but to be in a car but they nearly always look so unhappy. Roads that are a lane and a half wide are the perfect roads for cycling.. its always amazing how the traffic always forms into clots of stopped cars.. then no cars for a kilometer. But they are all in such a hurry to make it to the next stop. Its the desperation that is really disturbing

We horrified the charity by following Sally in wearing lycra. No they were OK with it actually. We had another coffee with Sally then Simon and I left.. had a hot chocky (Simons shout) around the corner in a little french pastry joint and then I left for work and Simon left to put another 100 klicks on the clock. He wants to get some training in before his new child is born.

There is an invitational sprint series being organized at DISC. Given that the flying 200 times required are 2 seconds faster than I could do when I was 18 I think that I shall be involved purely as a helper. But I will be there. I,ll put details up here if anyone wants to come and watch some truly world class sprinters. The weekend is here. This weekend involves some work. An evening watching a film about Aspergers Syndrome with some of my friends, some of who actually have Aspergers. Training ride in the morning Which will be the RRR . And much gardening must be done. Urk.

The week is half over

June 1, 2010

Wednesday already. Where does the time go. Got through about a poofteenth of the things I had penciled in for this week Depressing really.

Pretty certain I am going to resign from the Monash work. There are a couple of reasons for this.. not least that the time has come to totally commit to Perfect Notes. But it has not been fun for a while. And one of the things that is pushing me towards this decision is a recent edict from on high that we are not to mention Monash on any online forum. WTF? Oh yeah their is a big chance I am going to sign that. That is going to happen….about the time the Air Force starts hiring pink elephants. Or maybe slightly later

I actually missed a networking meeting (with food) to work at Monash yesterday evening. And have postponed PerfectNotes jobs in the past for the sake of Monash commitments. Not such a great way to build a business.

As a general rule organizations that stifle criticism are not great workplaces. This actually has not been true of my bit of Monash which has some truly great people working for it. But it does not bode well for the future. And.. how shall I put this, I could have wished for more support from my superiors, (Actually I have no superiors and damn few equals but I refer to those with authority over my little bit of Monash ) One colleague.. and he knows who he is turned out to have all the class of.. hmmmmmm.. someone with not much class.. caught the fool writing nasties about me on Facebook in french. Seriously, what an idiot, had me down as a friend too. ( And I so mean HAD) nice as pie to my face Its beyond belief how two faced some people can be and I can say that this has soured me on the whole place. That and a bad client or two (well two.. in two years actually) is certainly enough to remind me that I run my own business for a reason. And the reason is so I can deal with people in my own way. Face to face and straight up.

I,ll still see John, the well known PN. Damn good mate and certainly not such a ‘superior’ superior. I,ll miss most of the people there… some really really good people there. ( I won’t mention names or it will become obvious that I have left one or two out. ) Still I did good work for them. I am not leaving owing them everything. I think I trained all the current crop of part timers come to that. And things move on. Shall have to do a resignation letter in the next few days. What it does mean is that without the 3 or 4 50 km commutes a week I am going to have to get more serious about training on the bike at dark oclock in winter in Melbourne. A serious consideration. Its been a really fun job till the last couple of weeks. Pity.

Ok enough winging. Now to work

I need to set up an account as a sellers account. For testing this shopping portal stuff. I guess we are going with Paypal for testing anyway, because it seems like the only one that offers per transaction fees only. Quite steep fees tho. Must talk to Mark as he knows more than me about this. Paypal will do in the interm. One of the others, eway has a testing sandbox environment and I bet Paypal does too… so the testing should be straightforward. Once I have a real sellers account set up I might as well sell something. Anyone got any serious ideas? Something we could buy and flog would be a cute way to complete testing.. might be fun and might make some money. Significant Other has rooms full of junk mind.. that is my fallback plan.

Readers will remember my last run in with Telstra and the pathetic quality of their response. So now I have a client with a dead HP Multi Function Device. Its a fax scanner printer. Been sorting it for a couple of days now. And have had emails back from ‘Marie’ at HP within minutes of sending her one. About 7 emails yesterday in deciding it was indeed a warranty issue and organizing a replacement. The contrast between HP and Telstra in terms of customer service could not be stronger. Huge huge plug to HP. And indeed to IBM who has been equally responsive in the past. A big raspberry to Telstra who as a company deserve anything bad that happens to them.

The bloke supposedly buying the Toyota is, well I don’t know what he is doing. Toyota is still in the way in the drive. Bugger him. Ebay for it I think. Am not in the mood for being stuffed around this week. And I have an engine to track down for the Lancer. And registration to pay for the motorcycle. And some leaflets to give out. And a job to do for Malcolm and another for Ben.. Life is not boring is it?

Kathy has the go ahead to do some costings for one project. Another web site awaits development. Another project seems to have stalled at the other end after I did quite a lot of setup work for it. Not exactly sure how to handle that.. a gentle prod might work. Or perhaps I should invoice them for work done to date..would only be a couple of hundred. Decisions, decisions.. We have more interest in the Virtual Assistant ( I cannot write VA.. I keep thinking of that as Veterans Affairs ) I am pretty optimistic at the moment.