Archive for the ‘Virtual Assistant’ Category

What is a ‘Virtual Assistant’?

November 26, 2010

So… you might have heard the term ‘Virtual Assistant’ used – especially if you know a bit about Perfect Notes – but you don’t really know what it means… Let me see if I can explain it a bit – particularly in regard to the things that we can help you with!

Wikipedia tells us, as a start:
Virtual assistance (or VA) is the professional service of remote administrative office and other specialized support by a virtual assistant who works with clients in an ongoing, collaborative professional relationship.

But that doesn’t really help me to understand it any better, so I doubt that it helps you either! So let’s try to describe it a bit more clearly.

A virtual assistant takes some of the administrative tasks of running your business off your hands, so that your time is free to do the stuff that makes you money – or keeps you happy.

So how can you tell whether you need a virtual assistant to help you run your business?

  • Do you spend all of your day selling to customers, or creating widgets, or training people, or installing machines – then come back to the office and spend another hour at your desk catching up on all the paperwork?
  • Do you know that you need a holiday, but dread the thought of going away, because you are the only one who knows how your business should run?
  • Do you know that your website should be updated but have no time to do that? And you suspect that you are missing out on customers because your website is a long way down the list in Google Search results?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these questions, a virtual assistant could help you.

So, send us an email or call us on 03 9894 0530, to talk about how we can help solve some of your business problems – and make your life easier!

Of business and bikes.

October 20, 2010

Wednesday, supposedly a really good day to do a blog post. Lets see how this one does on the statistics. I am trying to write the blog 3 times a week, honestly, its just not always happening.

Interesting week. Kathy just fielded a phone call. Do we want to send a couple of representatives up to the Gold Coast to tout for Government Contracts. 11 guaranteed meetings, the people on the other side of the table prepared to sign off on 5 million bucks worth of contracts at a minimum on the spot. Mostly interested in data recovery IT consultancy and Plone. Interesting huh? Would cost us 35K and that all a tax write off.

Bit rich for our blood just atm.. for that I would certainly finish writing our bit of Data Recovery software. I can see it happening tho.. next year or the year after. We dont need much more momentum to be doing all right. And from all right to really good is not nearly as big a step. Their really is a market for companies like us. The big players mostly want to deal with the rich companies.. its small business thats vibrant, interesting, much more involved in networking and personal relationships and actually needs us.. instead of some big player, to sort out their issues.. which are as diverse as a single printer giving them grief, a web site that needs work, or some documentation that needs polishing. I am going into Carlton in a while to look at why one employees Outlook isn’t This area is fun.. not boring in the slightest. Its where we want to be.

The evil laptop that has come to give me nightmares has finally got spares on the way. Maybe even the right spares. Its sorta hard to tell. I have hopes. I really really want that done. On that front its almost completely together now. and quite reliable.

I definitely need to pick the brains of a VPN network expert. I have 3 clients requiring a little bit of help in this area and while I am getting there… its a bit trickier than I thought; if you are a VPN expert and prepared to give us a hand send me an email. Kathy is snowed under with web development work. This is all php and other language programming and not simple stuff. Plenty happening on that front.

We are going ahead with the Bendigo expansion. Its a gamble but what in life isn’t? At some point I probably need to find a smart, savvy trustworthy (because we dont want them to run away and do their own thing) IT savvy person to be the Bendigo face of Perfect Notes. And in fact we probably want to set them up with a VPN to our server farm I have just realised. So if thats you.. maybe drop us a line. Either Kathy or I and occasionally (as in next week) both of us will be plodding up to Bendigo fairly often. Its obviously time to sort our second car. Sigh. I try for a low impact life style honestly.

Ok… and now for our customary cycling rave.

The sprint series race is happening on Sunday week. My entry is in. I have had many comments to the effect that if I can win D grade so can anyone. I expect some competition in D grade.. and I seriously have to lift my game by maybe 2 seconds a lap to have much of a shot at C grade. Oh their are people in C grade I can beat.. but, there are people I possibly cannot. Sigh. That bike frame prize is looking pretty safe. Team Splat! will be their in its entirety. And we will of course give it our usual red hot go.

I am really proud of Team Splat!. We never set out to set the world on fire.. or win everything we entered.. we set out to have fun.. to give the two girls (I was never going to race track again) a decent support structure and to give it a go. I think our result hugely surpass that. We are a actual force to if not actually be reckoned with at least to be taken seriously. Our first effort with more than one rider entered and we got 1st and 2nd in D grade.

One thing that I feel strongly about in racing is that while its OK to finish last, and its OK to not train every minute, and its OK to not have it be the most important thing in your life its not OK to not take it seriously. Its not OK to not give it a decent try. Its not OK to not train at all. This is especially true of 1 on 1 competition like match sprinting or pursuits. And I,ll tell you why. If you race an opponent who does not do you the credit of putting in and you win.. then you win nothing. Your opponent was unprepared and not serious Your effort is wasted. And if they perchance should win (unlikely because not training tends to go with poor results but some people do have natural talent) then it is even a worse insult to you. It says “I can beat you without even putting in an effort, you are worth nothing, why are you here?” Its positively insulting. Not everyone agrees with me.. perhaps you need to have done Karate or another combat sport to see it this way. What do you think?

This past Sunday was the annual Around The Bay ride. The ATB is the ultimate goal of many recreational riders. Bitch Road fills up with riders of less than ordinary skill for weeks beforehand as they train for it. Sally and I decided to go for a ride.. and take in some of the atmosphere but both of us have done the event before.. and Sally had to be back early for family reasons so we decided to only go as far as Mornington.

I rode in, met Sally at the agreed rendezvous and set off. We went very hard… working mainly in with each other. pointedly staying away from the bunches although very often we ended up towing large bunches of our own. Several times in characteristic ATB style big bunches pushed past us, died instantly and we rode around the outside of them. We saw many interesting examples of inadequate roadcraft, amusing levels of non skill and amazing idioticity I mean really.. riding a TT bike.. in the bars in a bunch, and an average bunch at that.

We stopped several times for coffee and to watch the passing parade, saw the aftermath of a fatal heart attack on Olivers, Hill in Frankston (A likely place for a heart attack I must say) and stopped for coffee whenever it started raining.

On the return we followed the same procedure.. riding side by side chatting or doing bit and bit.. Sally and I riding very well together.. the trust built up by riding track very evident. Once or twice we worked in with other people one of who was on a Bike Friday. Wow you can draft those small wheeled bikes close . I figured out that you need not ever hit the back wheel, you could always put out an arm and push the bloke away. And the draft that close was amazing. I want a Bike Friday.

Afterwards Sally and I parted company on Princes Bridge. I went to the finish. Met many people I know. Drank beer. Had dinner with Kathy, and our friends Robyn and Ros. Robyn and I co own a unit in Glen Iris. Ros came down from Darwin to stay with her for the ATB. And then I rode home. Finishing off with a good hard 170 km for the day. And more hills than the ATB. A wonderful wonderful day.

Its been a while

September 27, 2010

Its a week since I did a post. Oops. And that was on a Monday too.. Supposedly the worst day to do a post. At least according to my teammate Sally who is supposed to know about social media.

I don’t know why so long.. lack of inspiration or something. Nothing I felt strongly enough to comment on perhaps. So I will try and make up for it all over the next few days. Writing or at least writing intelligently as I try and do can be just a bit difficult to start. Its ok IF you have something to say.. hard otherwise. I always find something to say but that blank LCD screen can be a bit intimidating.

OK lets briefly cover all the bases today. Cycling, well we did the inaugural ‘waffle ride‘ last Sunday. Sally and I represented Team Splat! Sally posting as ‘Elefunksoup’ posted a hilarious ride report on BV forums. The waffles were provided by Rebecca, a truly lovely Canadian imput. It was a great day.. decent training into a punishing headwind on the return, and the event is a keeper.

It was the last winter training effort at DISC last night. It came to a choice between doing some gardening and attending DISC or going to Ballarat and watching the amazing Jeannie Longo race. At 51 Jeannie is the current outright womens TT champion of France. Sadly gardening won. I had to deliver Sally’s track bike to her as it was at my place anyway. Another skills session. 3 handicap races.. Sally is easily the faster rider over 100 metres.. but over 500 I made her work for her 2 wins. There were 3 of us in those races.. I scored one win and 2 seconds to Sally. Of course the third rider is about 12 😦 Sigh. Age may not weary us, but it makes everyone except Jeannie Longo slower. Sally bought along her own cheer squad. Her fella and her dad. So sweet. We are a bunch of nostalgic softies us trackies.

TRACK season starts. The worlds are here and is not the footy going to play hell with that? I think I will write on that more in another post but the draw in the footy is a terrible result for the UCI. Sad huh? Anyway the sprint series starts for Team Splat! next weekend. We have 3 riders up for it.. including me. We have approached informally another girl from DUCC‘s to perhaps join the team. Is it coincidence that Team Splat! is pretty girl heavy? Even I have been told I ride like a girl.. which er.. I dont think was meant as a compliment even tho I took it as one. 😀 Very very proud of my girls

Come and watch Team Splat! race. And let us know if you are interested in a jersey. I need about 50 firm orders. Can’t be too hard. It will be a plain jersey.. in grey represent concrete or bitumen… with the Team Splat! blood splatter pattern front and rear.

I notice that my lovely niece Leah “Little Miss Scribble” is still reading my ramblings. Leah is one of the most important people in the world and I find that immensely satisfying and shall try and lift my game here to do her proud. Its been a while but I shall likely be catching up with her today in the remote wilderness stone fortress in which she, and her heavily armed retainers and guardians reside. Because PerfectNotes is going bush.. to talk to some country people, do some county networking and hopefully chase up some business. We have a networking meeting scheduled in Bendigo which we hope will lead to something worthwhile. Fingers crossed. We shall be pushing the Virtual Assistant service heavily. In fact since I imagine that Bendigo has some decent techs.. we shall be concentrating on the VA side of things.

Its scary to realise that Leah is now the same age her mum was when I first met her. I remember that meeting with her mum too. Hi Jeannine. Put the kettle on please.

One of my camera’s has turned up. Its the Sony. It would be. I am still resurrecting this Sony laptop.. one of the connectors has what looks like a factory fix on it and I cannot for the life of me manage a decent connection. Sucks. My opinion of Sony has gone through the floor and I will never be recommending Sony products again. If the damn manufacturer does not have service manuals available deal with some one who does. Its a simple rule. Follow it.

OK Social Comment. The winging by the people of Geelong over hosting the world cycling championships is pathetic. I wont be going down more than a couple of times because I dont want to spend time and money in such a bogan backwater.. If the event fails, its going to be down to the losers of Geelong doing all they can to make it fail. Football is pretty much it for sport down there. Geelong always represents itself as a pro cycling city but that has never been my experience. I had a long term girlfriend in Geelong once and the city has never endeared itself to me in any way on my commutes to her. Its a bustling city with all the charm of a small hillbilly town. And the ceaseless complaints about having a couple of streets blocked off for something that is not the footy are annoying me.

Gee I am a moody bugger.

September 13, 2010

Had a couple of issues this last week. Its all sortable of course.. nearly anything is. But instantly I go from being upbeat and optimistic and working my butt off for this business to moody.. unhappy, dare I say ‘grumpy?’ and wanting to crawl back into bed. I am not a depressive person.. and I have friends who deal with deep depression.. been there and not going there again, but sometimes I peer over the edge of that cliff and see the depths below. Scary. Got to work on being upbeat.

Its time to look at the google add words campaign again. The Virtual Assistant one. We are running a couple of these campaigns for clients and they have been hugely successful. This one.. not so much. Its tricky as I have alluded too in the past. The obvious keywords are wrong or far too widely applicable. What would you type in if you wanted to hire a VIrtual Assistant in Melbourne to…. scan some stuff in for you, polish up a report, email a bunch of clients, build a spread sheet for you, clean up some photo’s update a web site, ghostwrite a business blog? See what I mean? Its a serious question by the way..what keywords are applicable? Talk to me. We need this to work

PerfectNotes IT also needs to find a decent electronics tech.. I can solder a component in OK,, can swap out bits… figure out some of a board,s logic, but we need occasional access to someone who can say, “Its the F1113 transistor here, if I put in a C112 in it will work just fine” Or who is at least better than me. They need to be within Coooee of the Melbourne Eastern Suburbs, Anyone? Am I a voice shouting in the wilderness here?

During the week I was offered a hummmmmm sponsored entry into the Degani Kinglake Ride a bit of a hill fest in the kinglake area. My team leader Ian , his missus Lisa and various others from Lisa’s company were going to be doing it as a team. Late notice as the ride was yesterday (Sunday) and it was Saturday evening before I read the ride instructions. Holy frak… it was like reading the instructions to the Paris Dakar Rally or the Whitbread Race I posted on BV forums about the lack of an EPIRB in the required bits, and got a post back saying it and radio skeds and frequencies were on the last page. A joke but not by much. Hey its just a pootle in the hills on public roads. Not that you would know it. And the rules. “No overtaking” “Do not exceed 60 kph” Riiiiiighhhhhhht.

Met up with Ian and Lisa at their house and agreed to meet at the start.. and that was the last I saw of them till I called in on the way home. They never made it.. As far as I know I was the only team member to ride. Sigh. There is a picture of Ian in Wikapedia under “unreliable” Not what I needed.

I had a good day anyway. Met one person I knew. I would honestly have thought that it was impossible to have 3500 cyclists in a bunch anywhere near Melbourne and not have people there I knew. Mind you everyone was dressed the same. Nice jersey. Good score
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Anyway…. Here is my FB post about the ride. And indeed the evening.

Ride leaving time 9:00. Ride completed…. 11:20. Nominated time for ride 3 hours. Actual time 2 hours 20 mins. Average speed 28 ish. Time for will walker climb 28 minutes 15 secs .. just under twice his time. 😦 Passed 128 people on the climb. Got passed by about 40… none on bikes and mostly in vintage mercedes that sounded worse than me.

Rode the first 15 km and the start with fixie. We spent most of that time being rude to the people shoving past on the left… All of whom blew up on the first climb

Problems I had. some lower back pain…

Then I went to DISC and got my legs torn off me by CARL. But did ride a really good take a lap with Jenny… we took 3 laps from the bunch together.. last launching an attack with 4 laps to go and convincingly catching them with time to spare.

My leggses hurties.

And Jenny wrote about DISC on the Team Splat! page

well, Dave and I were at DISC training tonight – Sally off doing some road riding.
Carl from aboc cycling ran another great session for the “enduro” bunch. One of our tidiest efforts at the warm-up laps.
3 x 3 minute bursts with gradual increments in speed before a final sprint.
Followed by 50 sec recovery/10 sec sprint bursts for 15 minutes.
“Take-a -lap” drill to finish. We managed a fine piece of Team Spat! co-operation and worked together to take 3 laps from the “bunch”.

Truly, it’s the first night I have felt really comfortable at DISC and not panicky at all.

I,ll see if I can find a pic of me on this ride at some point. The climb referred to is some 7+ km steep pitch that a really quick rider onces set a superb time up.. possibly on a motorcycle (snicker)

THe world champs are nearly here. The biggest thing to EVER happen in cycling in Australia is happening just down the road in Boganville.. er Geelong. Nothing much has been said about it.. THe locals mostly seem to not want it there. If its not V8 motor racing, or the Footy its foreign. One bloke said “WHo cares about cycling?” 350 million more people than ever have heard about Aussie Rules you hillbilly. Sheisse. What can you do? No advertising has been seen. No promotion. Lets ignore it.. and it will go away and not come back.

But Cycling Tips Blog put it so much better than I can

Well it WAS a good day.

August 26, 2010

THere is always so much I want to fit in these blogs. I always post so much less than I want to say. Sometimes I go back and edit but there are few of them I am really happy with. ,starting to try to segment the cycling, social comment and work bits..but life does not come neatly parcelled and mostly neither do my posts.

On Tuesday evening I went to the aid (sorta ) of a mate who is going through a difficult time. Aiding him consisted of listening to him while eating his pasta. Its the sort of thing I do for my mates.. eat their pasta. As to my enemies… well actually I have no enemies.. a few people I hold in total contempt but I digress.

On the way there I saw the single stupidest pedestrian of the year. I was at the intersection of Brunswick St and Johnston… heading north. Red light. Off to the right is an ambo with lights and sirens in splendid working order coming towards us. We get a green light. Amazingly no one moves. The ambo moves into the intersection at barely walking pace. Tall young african girl pushes through all the 20 or so peds waiting for the ambulance on the SW corner of the intersection and ambles across. The ambo has his hand on the horn.. both sirens working and has stopped a metre from her before she notices. She does a classic double take and still takes another few seconds to get out of the way. Some of the other people gave her a spontaneous ironic clap. Which in Brunswick St.. not the home of the worlds smartest pedestrians, has to mark her as something very ‘special’.

Seriously. Aside from the fact you are just not a useful person if all you contribute to the world is getting in the way of an ambo.. what sort of person goes through life that enclosed in their own mind that they miss that much of the world? And what is the point of living with that minimal amount of awareness of the world you live in? I see dumb people all the time.. people with minimal awareness of anything outside themselves Wake up guys. Smell the roses. Have a look around. The life you save may be mine. Besides if you don.t notice anything of life.. how much point is there?

We did a seminar in Docklands, the Melbourne Bayside and up and coming area. It was on small business opportunities and directions.. and part of the state government’s month long push to promote small business. By weird coincidence I ran into a bloke I had just met the day before at Monash. And a bloke studying business at Swinburne Uni where I have my degree from. And made a bunch of potentially useful contacts. Kathy and I got up early and went into town two up on the motorcycle.

I cannot understand why anyone would commute by car.. I would commit suicide or homicide in a month. I guess many do. Some drivers out there were insane… Would the woman in the Honda Jazz please put her book down. And you the loon in the silver Audi (why does no one sane own a silver or black Audi, is it some sort of sales requirement.. “Oh look a loon.. lets sell him a silver one”) 6 inches from Kathys left boot at 60 KPH is not as smart as you think it it. I know you think you won,t get hurt in the .. and I use the word loosely… accident… don’t take that for granted. 😦 Was fun watching you squeal to a stop in Victoria St when you realised you were not going to fit through the gap we did tho. Heh. Get a motorbike mate. Or a pushbike. Then it will be you that your inappropriate overly agressive driving hurts. Which seems far more morally acceptable to me.

We went in by the MRR. The Maling Room Ride. A regular bicycle training ride that ends at the Maling Room Cafe. I do the ride pretty regularly and Kathy caught up with some old friends. It was cool turning up on the motorcycle. No one wanted to take me on in the hill climb. And surrounded by the shivering lycra clad, us two leather clad people felt smugly warm. 😀

The seminar was great. Took a phonecall from a client about a dead laptop during it. Not actually when one of the speakers was up…unlike the loud woman nearby. She probably did not need the phone.. was talking loudly enough to be heard by the person she was speaking to, without telecommunications. About time we started telling people like this how bloody rude they are. Anyway I arranged to call in on the client on the way back to PNHQ (Perfect Notes Head Quarters) Got a lot of ideas out of it all. Starting to implement them now.

What do you think of this as an elevator pitch for PerfectNotes?

We do IT related support for your small business

Yes? I really think that that one works. Would appreciate feedback tho. A bunch of stuff to implement. Mark and my website for Marks online plant sales is up at plantsupplies.com.au It has no content yet but it will happen pretty soon. Quite a lot happening at the moment.

We left.. swung by the client and I sorted his machine in… oh.. 15 mins. Smug grin. We went to Lygon St and ate lunch, then went home. And thats when I discovered I had lost my new camera. Bummer. I am seriously depressed. Must have put it down when I answered the phone. Idiot. Total idiot. Seriously upset about that. Spoilt my day.

Ok in an attempt to cheer myself up this really good Vidman pic from Sundays ABOC session

Most of Team Splat! training

Team Splat!

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Virtual Assistant.

July 14, 2010

On the work front Kathy has our first VIrtual Assistant client signed sealed and delivered. Our second client I guess if you count my brother Ashley. Woot. This is great. And development continues on 3 web sites. Other than that its been a really really quiet week for my side of the business.. I have sorted one machine… and rebuild our laser printer. Done a lot of publicity. Tried to sort out a couple of outstanding issues. We shall see.

Really really optimistic about the Virtual Assistant stuff. Shall push it for all I am worth. Maybe the virtual blog stuff. What do you think.. could I adapt and write a blog in the style of someone else. What do you think? Pardon. Who do you think you are talking about? Sir you forget yourself. My people will set something up with your people.

Did you see Cadel? He won the yellow jersey with a broken elbow. A bloke who climbs mountains by getting out of the saddle for a dozen pedal strokes when others would change gear for a few seconds. A bloke who climbs in the saddle out then in then out.. Rather like me. In a style of riding that uses the arms more than any other imaginable style. He lost the yellow jersey and about 8 minutes chasing through the highest mountain in the tour with a broken elbow. And for the last 10 klicks of the stage swapped off with one team mate while a dozen wheel suckers hung on behind him. He looked as white as a sheet. And at the end… hugged a mate and let his emotions go. Some people are bagging him for that. Class.. sheer class. Good on you Cadel. Great effort. Heaps of guts. Kudo’s

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I remember when David Rafferton.. (Vidman) (the best graphic designer in Australia) rode up to you at the start of the 207 Amy’s Ride and said what an inspiration you had been to him.. and how he had gone from a seriously overweight bloke to a guy who could hang with C grade on your inspiration. And how polite and I thought genuinely happy about it you were. Well done you. Keep it up mate. It ain’t over till its over.

Cadel is clearly happy with his new team His old team are clearly happier without him. Even though they clearly are not going to get the 2nd Cadel gave them last year. Its interesting. I guess Cadel is not everyone’s cup of tea. He is a nice bloke tho. Its the Chuck Norris thing I guess. Chuck has played all these really tough guys over the years. But so have lots of people. Sylvester Stallone.. Steven Segal.. millions. Chuck just somehow never seemed that tough to me. Yet the reality is that Chuck was 7 times US freestyle Karate Champion. He is a more genuinely tough guy than any of them. He seems like a nice guy cos he is. He is also the most dangerous of the lot. Just somehow does not come across convincingly like that on the screen (at least to me). I mean I know its the case. Intellectually. But he has not got me convinced. Somehow in spite of the evidence many seem to think Cadel is not the genuine article. In exactly the same way. But in the same way the evidence is clear. He is. .

I have not seen any new posts on Director on a bike’s blog for a bit. Hope that nothing has gone wrong

I was trying to get some furniture for my office on fleabay this morning.. Missed both the furniture and my normal training ride. As penance I rode into town to swap a cable on a server. In pouring rain. I scored some dopey little dog where it lunged out of the bushes at my pedal and I drop kicked it into the middle of next week. The owner seemed upset. One reader has critiqued me for this.. saying it says nothing nice about me that I would drop kick a dog. Phhhht. If the owner cared about the dog maybe they would not train it to lunge at people. Maybe they would train it not to lunge at people if they cared about people either. Bet they don;t let it run wild along the freeway. And the difference here is that if it causes an accident its likely to be the cyclist or pedestrian hurt. I would rather kick the owner… and if the owner rushed at me its a fair bet that is exactly what would happen. But if the dog goes for my foot.. niceness is on hold.

A similarly well trained and bought up dog makes an appearance every year in the Tour de France.. and in most other bike races. Usually causes a couple of retirements. Trashes 20 or 30 or 80 K worth of bikes. And you know.. I would love to know the answer but I am fairly sure the owners never rush forward pulling a wallet out crying “Oh my God… I am so sorry.. here let me write you a cheque” The real problem of course is that people who can not bring up a well behaved pet are still allowed to have children. In fact they usually outbreed the people who can bring up a well behaved pet.

On the trip back I got wheel sucked by some girl on a flat bar who I could not ride away from. Sheesh.. she was good. I,m getting old….

Now about to cheer for Evans tonigh.

Wins and losses

July 3, 2010

Followers of PerfectNotes people on Facebook (and that page needs to start being updated daily) will have noticed that Kathy… everyone’s favorite developer, has had a win recently. We were approached by another IT company… a city based operation, with gorgeous offices, to see if we could do something for them. And the proof of concept of this works

It was this carefully unnamed company,s technical people that approached us. They are running a mainly windows operation, using IIS as a web server on a Windows 2007 server. What they wanted to do was , to simplify as much as possible for non technical readers, to run a customized Linux web server that runs a thing called Cyn.in which

Cyn.in is a collaboration software that inter-connects your people with each other and their collective knowledge, seamlessly.

and have it appear to the rest of the world as if that software was running on their Windows server. They needed to have it all work seamlessly with various media, and of course have no security issues.

While testing the concept our network at Perfectnotes grew substantially but only in a virtual sense. We now have a windows machine.. duel booting a windows enterprise server and barely managing at that. We have a couple of virtual machines running Cyn.in. On real machines running various things. And I have spent some time sorting all that out. But it all works. Is a major win. Very very cool.

Whats not so cool is that Stephen Hart, the owner of Grand Prix Bicycles, a shop in GlenHuntly road in I think Caulfield was killed on the holiday of a lifetime while bicycle touring in Italy. I don,t want to go into details.. but it would appear things went wrong on a mountain descent and it was all over in a moment. Just one of those things. I only met Stephen once or twice… but the shop and he have a great reputation and its a sad loss. I cannot but think its not a bad way to go, quickly while doing something you love, on the holiday of a lifetime but he leaves a wife, friends and co workers and it has to be unbearably horrible for them

I firmly believe that cycling is not a risky sport although there are stupid nongs who do their very best to make it so. I have not lost close friends cycling as I have through motorcycling. But things like this do bring it home. CCCC report on it all here There will be a memorial ride shortly.

Addwords

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

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. 😀

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