Quick Update

I may have a weakness for fresh cherries…

The Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum
  • It’s not really doing so well with the “less detail, more gonzo” plan, sorry Jacques.
  • Monday, day at the office, master class about share options, KS video meeting, pitch practice afternoon, got out of the office at 22:00ish, not proud of it, but it was time for our first London Burger King visit.
  • Latency from my desk to my personal (mail/web) server: 5ms – not bad.
  • Tuesday, Datacash meeting with Brian, teleconference about a project in Spain, we walked home, hipster food truck burritos at The Shoreditch Food Village, watched some House of Cards… getting pretty boring.
  • Mia went to visit her great gran in Somerset on Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Pro tip: you generally want to avoid the Central Line (tube) – very congested.
  • “if that’s your geek?” — if that’s your interest/passion

  • Wednesday, Techstars master class about KYC regulation, interesting meeting with Susan from the Barclays Group Design Office, meeting with the ClickVid guys, deep dive session with Greg, Jess and Mark, walked home, (kinda meh) pizza around Shoreditch High Street, watched parts of Dexter while processing photos… can’t say I like it.
  • Watch this: Alice Phoebe Lou – Bigleap Sessions – I remember taking a few photos of Alice at a party in 2009.
  • Thursday, had lunch with Mia and Naulene at Blueprint Cafe (above the Design Museum), Mia and Naulene visited the Design Museum, Barclaycard meeting at One Churchill Place in Canary Wharf with Werner and Greg… impressive building, KPI (read: beer) evening at Techstars, Greg’s founders story… great story, Werner introduced me to Breaking Bad.
  • “One absolute rule: no assholes in my company.” — from Greg’s founder story

  • I suspect the general lack of exercise (other than walking) over the last six weeks is starting to get me down.
  • Friday, Mastercard Labs meeting, train ride to Hampstead Heath to meet Mia, Naulene and Olwyn – minor sense of humour failure with Naulene, finished a bag of fresh cherries with Mia, two hours of travelling to get back home, get our tickets, get dressed and arrive at Matilda The Musical just in time… brilliant show, Mia loved it – we had 2 of only 4 box seats in the theatre (last minute booking luck), we took a stroll through a lively and brightly lit Leicester Square and China Town with a late night snack – nice to get a little bit of rain after probably the hottest summers day so far.
  • Hampstead Heath was nice to see, but after taking the afternoon off to spend with Mia I was far from impressed with Naulene and her sister spending almost two hours with Mia in the woman’s only swimming area – and not answering her phone.
  • Three weeks later, still waiting for the bank to open an account for Gust Pay to get access to our Techstars funding. Yes, the fun does not stop at getting a visa, kids…
  • Good read: My startup failed, and this is what it feels like.
  • Nice read about “Fintech”.
  • “We’re not always open, but we’re always doing business.” — The line I use when Jacques complains that I seem to never work.

  • “Praat kak met die diere.”– about conversations close to the edges of the bell curve of truth.

  • Saturday, some morning cartoons, fresh blueberry and blackberry breakfast, Portobello Road Market with Mia, some vegetarian food for lunch, a bag of fresh cherries and crepes, frogurt in Notting Hill, the Victoria and Alfred Museum… impressive, Sensational Butterflies exhibit, National History Museum… the express tour till closing time (it was very busy earlier in the day), we shared a pizza around South Kensington, taught Mia the months of the year on the train ride home, some packing for her trip home.
  • We skipped Lego Land and we never took a boat ride on the Thames, but I think our tourism adventures were pretty successful over the last two weekends. One iPhone charge is not enough for a touristy day out navigating London… compass and a willing accomplice.
  • “A pound in money or a pound in weight?” — o/h at the Portobello Market

  • “TV is old fashioned.” — Mia, about TV vs. computers

  • Sunday, up early, a few sad goodbyes and some tears, Mia and Naulene took a mini-cab to the airport (Mia’s first ride in an electric car) and took the day-flight to Cape Town via Amsterdam, a day at the office, got some supper from Tesco without any humans behind the check-out counter, read through my RSS feeds for the first time in a while, watched some Top Gear – Polar special.
  • Self checkout is actually pretty cool – even better with tap & go / contactless payments – the future is here…
Big Juicy British Cherries
Big Juicy British Cherries

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

Getting our geek on at the Science Museum…

The London Eye
Top of the London Eye
  • Monday, started using wristbands for access control at the office, mentoring and pitch practice afternoon, Thai green curry around Whitechapel with Greg and Werner – long day.
  • “nerd catnip” — about Arduino and similar devices.

  • Tuesday, mentor day, booked a flight for Mia to visit London, pitched Gust Pay to the Barclays Group CEOs, attended a very cool B2B sales master class, weird hitpster pizza with broccoli in Islington.
  • Techstars: Disney World for tech startup geeks. I get the feeling 3 months is going to feel very short by the end.
  • Wednesday, Naulene left me a voicemail message to say she’s not bringing Mia to London anymore, a bit late to get to the office – had to run the last stretch… to find out our first mentor was late, Naulene changed her mind (again), Skype chat with Mia, long day at the office.
  • “Adults are obsolete children.” — Dr. Seuss

  • “Lone Ranger time… 9:50.”

  • Thursday, the last Techstars mentor day – finally, ~80 x 20min sessions done in three weeks, fetched Mia from London City Airport and had lunch with her, haircut at a local barber – 13GBP (R240) but, A+ for attention to detail, KPI / “all hands” evening at the office, an evening walk along Regent canal with Mia.
  • After a recent conversation and a recent birthday – I’ve been thinking, it’s probably not a bad idea to have a new sense of urgency for getting a few things done – the usual suspects: career, travel, a few brothers and sisters for Mia maybe, and I might even have to resign my membership from the league of emotionally unavailable gentleman – and not to screw it up again.
  • Friday, very cool mentoring session with Brian – geeked out on learning about card payment networks (x25 payment protocols etc), three Skype meetings, Mia and her mom visited the Tate Modern and got some tickets for Matilda around Covent Garden, met Mia and Naulene around Holburn station, we ate a whole bag of huge cherries (yum), took a long walk along the North Bank of the Thames, lupper by Tower Bridge, quick visit from Olwyn and Milk.
  • UK prepaid mobile services suck, T-Mobile, Orange and EE all had issues when starting to use them.
  • Saturday, a hot summers day, Hamleys with Mia… all 5 floors from the top – the life size Stormtrooper Lego was pretty cool, a walk down Regent st… what happened to the National Geographic shop?, took the mandatory tourist Piccalilli Circus photo, Big Bus (open top) tour, ice cream, home made burgers with Werner.
  • Sunday, another hot summers day, London Eye with Mia… good fun, London Sea Life Aquarium, open top bus ride to South Kensington, Science Museum, took a photo of the first (NEXT cube at Cern) web server, scones and cream and jam snack, 3D IMAX movie (nerd catnip level 9) with a big bag of popcorn… “The Hidden Universe” – a pretty epic documentary about astronomy, open top bus ride to Marble Arch, Naulene fetched Mia, watched the soccer with Werner at a local pub.
  • Blog post from our last London Eye day.
  • Loom Twisters seems to be all the rage. Seems to even distract from taking in the views of the London Eye.
  • The cluster of (free) museums in South Kensington is awesome – would be easy to spend a few weekends there.
  • I have this theory that a fear of heights, fear of flying and the fear of public speaking comes and goes. My fear of heights: all time low after that 30m high crane at BST and London Eye), fear of flying: way better than about 5 years ago: fear of public speaking: probably increased over the last 3 years – or maybe I’m just starting to pay more attention to what it takes to be good at it.
  • Progress on (what Werner affectionately calls:) KPI No4 has been a bit slow this week.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

Birthday week…

Hyde Park
Goose, Maverick and Ice Man
  • Monday, death by mentoring, we learnt about the “the bell curve of truth”, pitch practice session, loooong day, walked home and had pulled pork tacos along the way at Chilango, watched more True Detective – it grows on you.
  • Maybe a bit late, but this is a pretty cool fathers day video from Techstars.
  • Tuesday, moar Techstars mentoring, first meeting with the Barclaycard Contactless/NFC team, signed up for a bPayband, inbox zero (!, for the first time this year), left the office at around 22:00 (just before it got dark), True Detective.
  • I bit late, but I added a post to the Gust Pay blog about an Adidas event last year.
  • I’ve come to conclusion that Naulene is a simply bad person. I can’t work out any other reason for her not letting me communicate with Mia while I’m in London. It’s been three weeks and she can’t get her iMessage working or install Telegram. Mia has an iPad with 3G data and headphones. She has Skype and Telegram and she knows how to use these. Naulene just does not want to make any effort to let us communicate and keeps the iPad from Mia.
  • One more Gust Pay blog post, with photos of the Barclays / Techstars office.
  • Wednesday, a non-mentoring day, less of a blur – sketched a few new NFC related ideas on the white board, managed to get an intro to some Mastercard people, got some VIP invites to an event in Hyde Park, Barclaycard social event after work… pulled pork mini burgers and French Chardonnay, we left the office early (20:00ish), watched the end of True Detective.
  • Thursday, mentor day, made my first iZettle payment, finally managed to have a Skype chat with Mia – she found and took the iPad, Techstars KPI review and (hack)associate meeting.
  • Seems Techstars “mentor madness” is a actually a thing. A washing machine of ideas. 80 x 20min sessions over three weeks.
  • Friday, my birthday, mentor day, Tony gave us a tour of the rest of the Central Working space, some market research: watched Soundgarden and Black Sabbath at British Summer Time in Hyde Park with Werner and Jordan, took a tour of the festival and looked at all the bpayband infrastructure, bought some strawberries and cream with my wristband, spent 15min strapped to the #betterview bar, hanging from a crane, 30m above the concert… nice views, we met a few guys doing payments in Asia at the Rosewood hotel, fun day.
  • Going to a rock concert as a VIP guest is a fairly different experience to the usual mayhem of a concert.
  • “Global economies are on the cusp of a ‘third-wave industrial revolution’ in which enterprising, young innovators will play a central role. The rise of ‘micro-multinationals’ – start-ups which operate across high- and low-cost locations, delivering to an international customer base exemplifies the opportunities wrought by globalisation, digital communications and the internet.” — The Economist

  • Saturday, Jacques left for Rome, breakfast at the hipster restaurant just below our office, some photo processing at the office with the CoderDojo kids running around, walked home (about 40min), made my first wristband payment outside of a festival (at Tesco), kinda watched Doom on Netflix… meh.
  • Sunday, Covent Garden, Green Park, watched the Wimbledon finals with some Pimm’s and Lemonade around Kings Road with Ashley, we took the train to Richmond, fish and chips at The White Cross pub, beautiful area, nice walk along the Thames until we encountered some heavy rain, train ride and a walk along Regents canal home, great day.
  • Pro tip: don’t arrange to meet people in the underground without GSM/wifi signal. Also, have a look at the “Citimapper” app.
  • I think I’m starting to like living in London.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

London in the summertime…

So this is what it looks like
So this is what it looks like
  • Monday, last minute backups, Georg dropped me off at the airport, flight to Joburg with Werner, Gautrain to Sandton, fetched our passports… which now contain UK prospective entrepreneur visas – all kinds of happy, a late breakfast with Anton in Sandton City, evening flight to London.
  • Catching a flight to go live in another country is a bit like getting out of a shower on a winter’s day – as soon as you turn off the tap you just have to get on with the day.
  • Looks like Georg will be going to Ireland (for 4 years) after all.
  • ERnst has quit his weekly blogging. I’m not sure how I feel about this.
  • “Formidable, charismatic, relentless.” — Three words you need to understand for the tech startup game.

  • Tuesday, woke up somewhere over north Africa, managed to make it through UK border control with only a 10min Q&A – this time they apologised for the previous experience and deleted the entry refusal flag from my profile, first day at Techstars, walked right into our first mentoring session at the Barclays Accelerator offices, warm welcome, good fun, we took a bus to Jacques’s house (Islington area), traditional fish and chips for dinner.
  • Wednesday, bus ride to the office, stayed until 21:00ish, Overland train to Shoreditch, a few drinks at the Softlayer party (to launch their new DC in London), Jacques showed me Grand Theft Auto 5.
  • “That’s why you’re in a startup, you do what needs to get done.” — Werner

  • Thursday, Overland train to the office (much quicker than the bus), another mentor day, investigated UHF RFID tags, we started building a new website for Gust Pay, took a walk towards the East of London and had a kebab, watched some True Detective… Anton recommended it, pretty good.
  • Friday, a very good day of Techstars mentoring, lunch at Dirtyburger down the road, picked up new SIM cards, out and about with Jacques and some Guinness at two local pubs.
  • “Do you have a British passport?” — Jacques’ pickup line for the evening… he’s on a mission to find me a wife it seems.

  • After a night out Werner is now known as Will – makes introductions a bit easier.
  • Saturday, used Airdrop between two iPhones for the first time, a walk along Regents Canal, a Mexican breakfast and a Bloody Mary with Jacques, got a new 4GEE SIM and Jacques ordered 40Mbps fibre (for 28 GBP/m) in Oxford Street, lunch at Wasabi, walked around the Camden Town market… the Cyberdog shop is pretty crazy, The Worlds End pub, a drink at After Midnight in Angel, watched Dallas Buyers Club… good movie.
  • Good to catch up with Jacques.
  • Jacques thinks my blog should be more Gonzo. “Less detail more Gonzo.” I’ll work on that.
  • Don’t phone me on my SA mobile number, I now have a UK (EE) number.
  • First world problem: not being able to finish watching a morning movie on the plane and having to forward though it for about 10 minutes on the next flight.
  • Sunday, Jacques made us breakfast, watched some House of Cards, I took a walk through Shoreditch Park and Rosemary Garden, Vespa ride to Old Street for a Doner Kebab and a (plain) yoghurt drink with Jacques, photo processing, watched more True Detective.
  • “I revised the parameters of my promise.” — House of Cards

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

School Computer Labs

Hard to believe that in this day and age they teach (Grade 2) kids lame “popular” tools in the computer lab.

Muppets2011Trailer01-1920_52

An email I sent to Mia’s school today…

Thanks for the report.

One line made me choke on my tea and biscuits:

“She is quick to open Google in Internet Explorer and select a specific image.”

I realise you want to teach the most commonly used tech – but there are a number of better options out there, which will probably be the most commonly used tech in the near future. I also think it’s a good idea to use open tools which take privacy seriously (don’t do user tracking etc).

Some of these are easy to swap out, some not, but here is a quick list:

https://duckduckgo.com/

http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/

https://www.ubuntu.com/

https://www.libreoffice.org/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvorak_Simplified_Keyboard

Please pass this on to the people in the computer lab.

Using the first two links in the short term will make me very happy.

Quick Update

Waiting for the bus…

Top of Ocean View Drive
Top of Ocean View Drive
  • Yes, I’m finally publishing this from inside the UK border – London, Whitechapel, with a desk in the Barclays accelerator powered by Techstars.
  • Most of this week was spent in Joburg – getting to know Greenside pretty well.
  • Monday, public holiday – not ideal when you are waiting for a visa in Joburg, pizza with Werner, watched Godzilla with Ernst, Lisa and Werner in Hyde Park… entertaining movie – for what it is, Lisa made us some nice curry, Ernst showed us Saturn and Mars with his (big by home enthusiast standards) telescope, fetched Anton and family from the airport at around 0:00.
  • “The days are long, but the years are short.” — Something Ernst mentioned about getting older and parenting. I guess you need to live for the weeks then.

  • Tuesday, mostly sysadmin spring cleaning work (on 9 servers), a burger with Werner at Dukes in Greenside, phoned Mia, watched some of the Belgium soccer game with Anton and Werner at Pirates Sports Club down the road.
  • Wednesday, we visited the UK visa office in Sandton (crazy long queues – even running all the way out of the office), no luck, breakfast with Anton, worked in Sandton City for most of the day, sunset walk around Greenside, Anton cooked a perfect lazy aged rib eye steak with nice marbling.
  • “Do-ocracy: If you see something that needs to be done, just do it. You don’t need to wait for some sort of authority to do it. You just do it. …these types of events are a training ground for people to learn to be engaged. These experiences are an antidote to the insidious passive consumption that feeds on a life devoid of creativity, permission, and empowerment.” — From this article about AfrikaBurn.

  • “Sleep and laughter.” -~ Ernst… about curing pretty much anything.

  • Thursday, watched V for Vendetta… brilliant as always and kinda apt considering our recent experiences – Evey made me think of the friendly waitress, I cooked a vegetable soup with some cheese and olive bread and we had sago pudding, watched some House of Cards… entertaining.
  • “There is no certainty, only opportunity.” — V

  • 2135 photos this year so far, in 94 projects/events. Not totally happy with those numbers, but better than last year.
  • Friday, Anton dropped us at the Gautrain station, breakfast at the airport, flight to Cape Town, Georg fetched me from the airport, fetched Mia from Mtech – we listened to her remix project CD in the car, sunset walk around Oranjezicht, lamb and veg roast at home, introduced Mia to Cosmos Season 1.
  • Analog vs digital watches… now this, is amusing: Mia has two watches, both purple, one analog Swatch her gran gave her and one Casio I gave her for AfrikaBurn. You will remember from previous posts that every kid needs to own a Casio. I fetched Mia on Friday with two watches on her arm (I have a photo) and I asked her about it. Turns out her mom wants her to wear the analog watch because she likes analog watches and she says Mia need to learn to read analog watches… which I’m pretty sure she could do at age 4 already. Mia also wears the digital watch because she likes it more – it has a light and she can set the alarm etc. Read into this what you want, but I find it a very amusing result of different parenting influences.
  • Update: from Mia’s school report today: “She can tell the time using o’clock and half past the hour and fill in the correct time on a clock face.”
  • Saturday, up at 7:00, watched 4 of Mia’s hockey matches in Stellenbosch, very exciting first game, they won 3 of their 4 games, she scored 8 goals in total, a Full Monte and a Baby Monte at The Daily Deli in Tamboerskloof, we watched How To Train Your Dragon 2 at the Waterfront… Mia’s first movie without using a kiddies seat – as good as a sequel can be (Mia agreed – “almost as good as the first one”) and happy I was able to watch it with Mia after all, gelato, sunset Promenade walk, we visited the 21st floor of the Ritz hotel in Sea Point… nice views, but Mia wanted pizza, off to Bacini’s at the top of Kloof street… we snuggled under a blanket in the outside area and played a game of chess, great day.
  • Sunday, morning cartoons and tea, Beta Beach walk, drove to the top of Ocean View Drive with Mia – nice views, great oxtail, birthday cake and ice cream at Johann and Victoria’s house – Victoria made a very cool “growing bed” (aquaponic farming) cake – happy birthday Johann, dropped Mia at her mom’s house, dumped more stuff in storage, Van Hunks with Georg, bit of a deja vu feeling to the most of the day.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

Adventures at border control and in Joburg…

Bumpy ride out of Cape Town
A bumpy ride out of Cape Town
  • Not the best photo this week, but it kinda fits the mood.
  • After a few weeks of mystery I can now tell you what we’ve been busy with and why we’re off to London… we’re part of the Barclays fintech accelerator powered by Techstars this summer.
  • Spotted this cool GUST Pay drawing – related to our new office space in London.
  • Monday, print shop admin, breakfast at Lazari with Georg, last minute packing/moving (mostly just dumped everything in the boot of my car), flight to Joburg (stormy turbulent take-off) and then to London with Werner, he was not impressed with gluten free meal, watched Her… good movie – food for thought.
  • Tuesday, arrived in London, LHR Terminal 1 at around 7:00, spent 12 hours at UK border control, 21:00 flight back to Joburg, phoned Anton – looks like we’d be spending some time in Joburg. Watched 3 Days to Kill… good movie – I think I have an obvious soft spot for these Taken’like plots, I was actually happy to get some airplane food and slept well.
  • Seems we’re not Jason Borne. UK Border Control did not want to let me in because I had a business visa and not an entrepreneur visa (which I only discovered there – more about this later). They did not want to let Werner in because our Techstars invitation letter was not on a letterhead – and it did not seem to help that the Techstars people phoned them. At least we were not deported – just refused entry. Thanks for checking, Jacques. The security people at border control were actually very friendly. The border control people just took a long time to figure what they wanted to do.
  • I guess you could say we started our Techstars team building programme a bit early. Nothing like a bit of a prisoners dilemma experience… 6 interviews of telling the same story. There were quite a few people passing through – mostly asylum seekers from places like Serbia – a restaurant owner from Brasil and a few Americans students who did not have visas for their internships – the one girl was there for more than 24 hours. I’m pretty sure I read every English magazine in the place and had about 8 hot chocolates from the vending machine – and some instant curry. The closest thing I’ve experienced to being in a prison. No phone, no internet, just a room with no windows for 12 HOURS.
  • Naulene took Mia to get her UK visa on Tuesday, thanks Naulene. Seems Cath also had a visa appointment at the same time and they spent about 2.5 hours waiting in the same room/queue without much to say to each other. Best friends for one summer.
  • Wednesday, arrived back in Joburg around 8:00, sense of humour failure – I logged into the UK visa application website to start the process of getting a prospective entrepreneur visa and then noticed that my previous application was also for a “(Business) Prospective Entrepreneur” visa, appointments made and original letters Fedex’d, Gautrain to Sandton, first Skype chat with Mia (since leaving), a beer with Anton in Nelson Mandela Square, pizza with Anton and family – a quick visit from Ernst.
  • Thursday, sunny winters morning in Joburg, visa paperwork, a beer with Anton and Werner, sunset walk around Greenside, dropped Anton and family at the airport (off to Zanzibar for a long weekend), a Chivas nightcap.
  • Jonathan coach die Lions Rugby Span
  • 1300 Facebook friends, 901 Twitter followers.
  • Friday, GPS’d our way to Sandton City for breakfast, visa appointment – Fedex docs arrived just in time, updated some SSL certs (just in time), Anton’s GPS took us for a tour of Rosebank and Melville, Hyde Park mall visit, So Yum with Ernst and Thomas, no fun (decaf) vanilla lattes at Seattle Coffee, a beer at Craft in Parkhurst with Ernst and Werner.
  • Ernst has a theory that Noakes is busy with a “long con” – and will possibly kill a lot of folk with even higher fat diets.
  • Saturday, omelette at Dopio Zero, added a few photos to Anton’s photo wall (note to self: make photo wall), epic braai at Ernst’s house – pomegranate salad, filet, rugby and springbokkies, I remember playing this Leonard Cohen song: Diamonds In The Mine, Saturday night adventure around Joburg, good fun – thanks Ernst.
  • Sunday, spent most of the sunny winters morning just chilling on lawn, a bit of FB stalking, Werner reminded me of the Coincidence Design story, pizza in Greenside with Werner, watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – pretty good, Fathers Day Skype chat with Mia, photo processing and blogging.
  • Let’s see if I publish the next post from London.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

Goodbye Cape Town…

Signal Hill views
Signal Hill views
  • Monday, gym, swim, sauna, Twenty Fifty, a late business meeting at Cubana, Georg cooked a big supper, watched half of 40 Year Old Virgin again – I like the part where she asks the telemarketer to find a knife and walk into a wall.
  • Georg is officially on holiday for the whole month of June. Seems he’s not going to Ireland, but he might make it to Ibiza.
  • Tuesday, figured out it’s not a smart idea to go to Wacky Wine this year – too much to wrap up before moving to London, gym, meeting about fibre internet at Twenty Fifty, lunch with Robyn – chatting about robotics for kids, Bizoe wine tasting at Carlyle’s with Ania, yellow Thai curry with Georg, Milton and the wine maker, Ania offered me a press pass to Tomorrowland (!! end of July), Georg found his ex on Tinder on my phone, drinks with Lynne and Chris – who toured with INXS (allegedly).
  • “I got so drunk last night, I thought a tube of toothpaste was astronaut food.” — Will Ferrel, The Other Guys.

  • Wednesday, wet and cold morning, The Full Monte at The Daily Deli… yum – had to grab one of these before leaving, made an attempt to store/sell/trade my car, spotted an awesome Touareg, but I figure I’m just going to have to store my car, Wellness Cafe Kloof st, UK conference call with a view (drove up to Signal Hill while on the car phone)… it was very cold up there, took the EV3 bot to Robyn.
  • Thursday, long painful visa application process (for Mia), gym, Twenty Fifty, Sarah’s new office-warming drinks at Inner City Ideas Cartel, First Thursdays with Paul, Tammy and Lyal ended up at a place which seems to be called “The Pit” standing an a half pipe watching an all girls band… so hipster things seems to have clocked right around an people were drinking Black Label quarts, watched Cosmos and the end of Superman 3 (a bit ironic, Clark Kent / Clarke’s).
  • Friday, health check / blood tests at Wellness Warehouse (with no breakfast), glucose fine (4.1), cholesterol a bit high (6.8), no HIV, blood pressure ok (139/92), I should lose 5kg (like everybody else), VitB shot, devoured an egg white omelette Fantastic Mr. Fox style, haircut at Muse (Bianca’s), fibre internet related meeting at Twenty Fifty, arranged some travel insurance, fetched Mia from Mtech and dropped her iPad at aftercare (so I can keep in touch with her), burger in a bowl with Mia (which is actually on a plate now) at Da Vinci’s, epic take away milkshakes from Royale Burger in Long Street, we watched Oh Shucks, it’s Schuster… had a few good laughs, 12h sleep.
  • “They are either gay or married or gay and married.” — o/h at Sarah’s office warming party, about dating in Cape Town.

  • “I love you daddy” — found this in my blog notes text file – Mia’s editing.

  • Leigh roped me into this – Edgars teen magazine interview, hehe.
  • Saturday, got up at 9:30, we almost finished a whole bag of granadillas, OZCF market… bumped into Mark, Alex and Joost, Long street – had some visa photos taken for Mia and me, fresh juices and a ginger and grapefruit shot at Orchard on Long, I got a new pair of Reef slops (AfrikaBurn consumed the last pair), to the Waterfront to get more winter school socks for Mia, fish and chips for lunch, a Promenade walk and play area visit, the little blue train ride, Mia’s first fuffy slide ride – bumped into Alan, Caffe Neo – bumped into Marius, Deer Park play area and some Lion Heart Larger, watched the 2nd half of the Springbok rugby game with some pizza, red wine, dark chocolate and photo processing, 12h sleep.
  • I’m more than a bit bummed that I will not be watching How to Train your Dragon 2 with Mia in June.
  • Sunday, we got Mia a new gym card, poached eggs and toast with marmalade, drove around looking for a printer ended up having hot chocolates at Melissas on Kloof st, printed some visa docs at Chris’s house (thanks), packed all Mia’s stuff, dropped Mia at Naulene’s house, fetched some AfrikBurn gear from Paul’s house, put a batch of stuff in storage (pretty depressing place after dark on a cold winter Sunday), rainy burger special evening at Van Hunks with Georg, made FB friends with the friendly waitress, I remember they played a Lightning Seeds tune, Pure… and simple everytime – made me think of Anton, more than one G&Ds – Georg has successfully managed to migrate his Cheers-like status from Carlyle’s to Van Hunks.
  • Seems the good doctor included me in his wedding entourage in December. I’m honoured.
  • Year so far: January: Stellenbosch, February: Geneva, Dublin and Amsterdam, March: Tamboerskloof, April: Oranjezicht, May: AfrikaBurn and Oranjezicht, June: London.
  • Goodbye Cape Town, I’m going to miss you, especially after the two years in Stellenbosch – but, I’m NOT going to miss your shitty internet.
  • “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. You can do anything you decide to do.” — Amelia Earhart

View from the little blue train
View from the little blue train

See you in London, and maybe Belgium, Amsterdam and Ibiza, crazy kids.

Quick Update

2nd last week in Cape Town for a while…

Kirstenbosch
Kirstenbosch
  • Monday, pizza for breakfast, blogging, gym, swim, a quick visit to Crossley & Webb (cars), Twenty Fifty, afternoon walk to Higgovale, email catch up at The Odyssey wine bar, watched Cosmos and a show about the Mars Curiosity Rover.
  • It seems it’s better to deflate your tires when driving to AfrikaBurn than inflating them (as suggested by the survival guide).
  • Stating the obvious, but I’m very happy to be in Cape Town right now.
  • I must be one of the top wifi users at the Virgin Active hotspots.
  • Tuesday, early morning walk through Higgovale, Trek rd, Kloof Nek and back, gym, Twenty Fifty – had a moment about the bad internet in Cape Town and ended up phoning the city of Cape Town CIO – good chat, burger in a bowl with Georg at Da Vinci’s, nice Silicon Cape meetup at Twenty Fifty… met one of the guys from SendGrid, watched Superbad… reminded me of nights staying up late chatting with my cousin, funny movie.
  • Wednesday, got up early and wrote a blog post about the bad service from the muppets who were supposed to set up our AfrikaBurn stretch tent, gym, swim, watched Mia’s netball game… they won, she scored two goals, fresh juices and homework with Mia at W Cafe, dropped off some more KYC docs, sunset walk around Oranjezicht with Georg, I made a vegetable soup, photo processing.
  • Note to self: indoor sports photography with a f/2.8 lens does not work very well – you only get about 320th of a sec at 2500 ISO.
  • I think my hair is probably the longest it’s been in about 10 years – it’s still pretty short.
  • We’re busy fighting a bit of a battle to get Mia to avoid the bread (and golden syrup) at school. We had a few chats about sugar.
  • Thursday, gym, swim, sauna, awesome pulled pork tacos at The Yard, Twenty Fifty, watched a very rainy hockey match with Georg and Naulene… Mia’s team lost 3-0, but it was a pretty good game – I suspect the other team’s coach actually plays hockey, dropped Mia off at art class, early supper, back to Twenty Fifty for a PR telecon with people from the US, Luxembourg and the UK, Van Hunks with Georg.
  • “The fears you do not face become your walls.”

  • Friday, gym, minor car windscreen repair in the parking lot (after the Cederberg trip) – kinda educational, swim, sauna, Twenty Fifty, managed to find some accommodation for Wacky Wine Weekend , fetched Mia after Mtech, we picked up some biltong, we synchronised our watches (to ntp time), dinner at Victoria and Johann’s, (new and improved) aquaponics farm demo… I tasted some of the micro herbs, Gnocchi with rocket (from the aquaponics farm) and cream, salad, Lego building and chats about Canada’s startup funding, great pecan nut cheese cake which Victoria made, dark chocolate and red wine. Thanks V & J.
  • Saturday, I made omelettes, OZCF market with Mia and Georg, hot chocolate at Will’s Cafe, a pleasant rainy walk back home, watched the end of Ratatouille… epic ending, had me a bit misty eyed (again), Mia played some Monkey Island 1 (again), smoothies at Wellness Warehouse, booked a flight to London and back (9 June to 30 Sept), some Myog, Promenade walk, gave Mia a quick tour of Nettleton road on the way to Johann and Victoria’s, dropped Mia and her laptop (and EV3) off, Lean Startup Machine workshop… impressive number of people (100ish), thanks for the t-shirt, I came up with one pretty good disruptive startup idea after talking to four of the teams, fetched Mia who was busy playing Monkey Island with Victoria (her new hero).
  • Mia has been correcting my pronunciation of the word “water” recently, seems I was saying Wa-de, when I should be saying Wa-ter – I blame Paul. I think I’ve been rehabilitated.
  • Sunday, Market on the Wharf (Waterfront)… schwarma, we shared a crepe for dessert, shoe shopping for Mia, Kirstenbosch visit – we took a few levitation jump photos on the new treetop canopy walkway (Die Boomslang)… impressive construction, sunset Strand Beach walk, early supper at W Cafe… we played some Monster Physics on Mia’s iPad, dropped Mia at her mom’s, a glass of red at La Parada in Bree Street with Georg and some blogging, driving home up the hill I thought – I’ve almost lived in Oranjezicht for it to feel like home, photo processing and backups.
  • Note to self: we should try some levitation photos in London.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Cutting Edge Tents Muppets

We asked a stretch tent company to put up a tent for us at AfrikaBurn this year. The tent never arrived. This is the story.

A few weeks ago I got a quote from Cutting Edge Tents and we agreed on a price (R7500) for them to rent us a tent, set it up for us at AfrikaBurn and take it down again. Pretty much the same deal as the year before, only a bit more expensive this time.

Our camp paid them a R4000 deposit. I sent them a text message and an email to confirm the size, price, location and day it needed to be up (the Sunday). I also gave Prince (who seems to own the business) and Baron all the details over the phone.

When we arrived at AfrikaBurn on the Monday evening there was no stretch tent at our theme camp location.

On the Thursday (day 4 of the event) I drive back to Ceres to phone the (not so) Cutting Edge Tent people (there is no mobile phone network coverage at AfrikaBurn). After a few calls I managed to speak to Baron who tells me the tent should be up and he gives me the name of the guy who should have set it up. I search on Facebook and track down the guy – let’s call him “Fred” because I know he does not want to be associated with Cutting Edge Tents.

I send Fred a Facebook message. He responds and tells me he has nothing to do with Cutting Edge Tents and I should phone Prince. I phone Prince who again tells me I should talk to Fred. I phone Fred again and he tells me he took three tents to AfrikaBurn, set up two and took one back to Cape Town – because the guys from Cutting Edge Tents never gave him the details of where to put up the tent. He says he tried to phone them on the day he left Cape Town, but they did not answer their phones.

I phone Baron again and I tell him that if he can bring me a tent to Ceres (all tar road to Ceres) within the next three hours, I will take it to AfrikaBurn and find somebody to help us set it up. He never phones me back.

Two hours later I have to start leaving Ceres to get back. I phone him again – he says he could not arrange transport. We agree that he will bring our tent to AfrikaBurn the next day and I should meet him at the gate at 12:00 – again we would have to set it up, he just needs to bring the tent to us.

The next day we wait at the gate from 12:00 to 14:00. At around 12:30 we leave a message at the gate for him. At 14:00 we pretty much give up on the whole thing, but we meet some people at the gate and hang around a bit longer.

At about 14:30 Baron shows up, without the tent. He says the tent is 30km away and he had a flat tyre on the R355. A few people in our camp meet and talk about the situation. We decide that we can’t drive 60km on the dirt road to go fetch the tent. We give Baron two bottles of water. We don’t see him again.

That afternoon we borrow a small tent (3mx3m) just to have some shade, we move some cars closer to support it. This is after a ranger walked by and tells us our theme camp looks pretty bad and we need to do something about it.

xmen

Back in Cape Town, after the event, I phone Prince to try and get our deposit back. Prince insists that we need to meet. We have a meeting and I tell him all of the above. They never delivered, they outsourced the work but screwed up the communication very badly, I tried twice to make things work but they screwed that up too. Barron getting a flat tire is unlucky, but it’s not our problem and it’s a risk they were aware of when they quoted us for the service.

The meeting ends with him saying – how do I know that they received the text message and email I sent them with the details of our camp? This is after I showed them the text message and the email I sent them in the meeting – with Baron responding to the text message conversation with “Thanx”. Prince does not seem to respond to emails, but I’m sure I sent it to the same address I received his quote from.

How do these guys do business?

I phone Prince the next day and ask him to please suggest how he wants to resolve the matter. He says he’ll phone me back, he never did. I send him a text message and an email. He ignores me. A few days later I phone again – he’s busy and can’t talk, he says he’ll phone me back. I phone again a few days later, he says he does not want to talk about it over the phone. He wants to meet at his office in Epping. I again ask how he wants to resolve this.

I phone a lawyer friend who suggests the small claims court in Goodwood. He says the process takes about two months.

I phone Prince and I tell him that if he does not want to resolve things our only option is to go to the small claims court. At this point he gets unhappy and says “well you send me the lawyer papers”.

I phone another tent company and ask them if there is some form of industry body for tent companies which I can ask to help resolve things. Turns out there is nothing like this.

I’m not going to be in Cape Town for the next two months to follow the small claims court process – but I figure I would at least try and prevent other people from having to deal with a problem like this, so here you have a blog post. I hope this helps somebody.

Muppets.

Update: it seems there was at least one more person who had big problems with these guys at AfrikaBurn.

Update: looks like our theme camp will be following the small claims court process to get the money back.

Quick Update

The Fish Eagle project and a Cederberg weekend…

Cederberg
Cederberg
  • Monday, took a walk around Oranjezicht with Georg, took the MyCITI bus to TwentyFifty – it was at least 20min late (45min to travel 5km – not great), took the bus back, sunset walk in Oranjezicht and around the Gardens Rugby Club, watched the end of 2001 Space Odessy, Georg made an awesome lamb and veg roast, great bottle of Merwida Cabernet, watched Cosmos.
  • You would think that after 20 years Vodacom would have good signal in the whole Cape Town city bowl. Seems we’re just above the beam width of the nearby towers, yet walking up Table Mountain just behind us there is good signal again. Seems they have 8 open support tickets for our road.
  • Tuesday, admin, gym, TwentyFifty.
  • Go read Ernst’s AfrikaBurn post.
  • Wednesday, meeting in Durbanville, TwentyFifty with a community lunch, back to Durbanville (DD docs), drove to the arts and craft shop in Somerset West, found arty stuff and printed some photos for a 3D poster of a Fish Eagle for Mia’s show and tell presentation – her mom and her had two weeks to prepare and they leave it for the last minute, took Mia out for an early supper to help her prepare for her presentation, drove back to Cape Town and had a drink with Wouter at Alexander Bar – nice place, I should go there more often.
  • Assholes and rules… I was reminded again of this bit of wisdom: “The modern world has lured us into individualism and individual enrichment. The price that we have paid is losing the connectedness with each other. The two big fruits of this status quo are assholes and rules. An environment where you are not emphatically linked to the people around you will naturally lead to assholes. And rules are bound to come about to curb these assholes and make life bearable for the majority of people. And so, we take assholes for granted and we are grateful for rules. Afrikaburn, in my opinion, is a way for us to revisit this ancient way of interacting. It’s a cultural experiment to see what we can be when we remove ourselves from this stalemate, from the assholes and the rules.”

  • I recently bumped into my old boss from 2002 days (IOL / SA Property) at Love and Light. Seems he regularly goes to trance parties these days. Cool guy.
  • Thursday, sense of humour failure, Naulene didn’t let Mia practice her presentation, gym, swim, sauna, sense of humour failure again – traffic on the N2, I missed most of Mia’s hockey match – dead pedestrian about 30m away from a pedestrian bridge in the fast lane, cop van parked in front of him, but they don’t want to move the body just 5m for traffic get going again, watched some hockey… they lost 2-1, dropped Mia at art class… seems her presentation went well, caught up on email at Fred and Max, fetched Mia, sports shop, Strand beach walk… had a long chat about how the planets and sea (Goldilocks zone) and moon were formed, pizza at Giuseppe’s… very good, dropped Mia at Naulene’s, drove back to Cape Town, Van Hunks with Georg and Janey – we met this guy (again), Janey managed to get her car wheel clamped – so we gave her a lift home.
  • Friday, a quick Table Mountain walk with Georg, admin in the print shop, fetched Mia from school, 4 hour road trip to the Cederberg with Mia and Georg… Georg showed Mia a series of Leon Schuster videos – mostly making fun of traffic cops… very funny, stopped for a sunset photo at the Piekenierskloof pass, we arrived at the farm after dark – a bit of an adventure finding the house… 4×4 and air suspension was useful, braai.
  • Saturday, a pretty cold morning walk with Mia and my camera to the Protea plantation, I made an 8 hour lamb stew (they were out of oxtail at the butchery), chilled by the fire, some reading, fetched some cold Chardonnay from the stream in front of the house, wine tasting at Cederberg Wines, Mia opened her first few farm gates, lamb stew and red wine, 12 hour sleep.
  • Some classic Leon Schuster videos: “Maak soos ‘n blou lig.“, Rookie fireman, “Boetie, weet jou ma jy’s hier?
  • Sunday, bacon and eggs, we picked some flowers for Naulene, spent a few hours at The Baths (hot springs near Citrusdal), Mia drove (steered) the car for a while – her first time, pizza with Mia and Georg at Pomodoro, dropped Mia at her mom’s house (after she managed to drive back from “Hermanus” in about 15minutes), drove back to Cape Town, watched Evan Almighty… pretty good, while doing some photo processing.
  • Great weekend. This really is the best time of year to visit the Cederberg, not too warm, not too cold. A bit of winter time is actually very nice right about now.
  • “From now on, let’s keep the surprises to a maximum of, say, none.” — Evan Almighty.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

Moonlightmass…

Kloof Street
Kloof Street
  • Monday, Earl Grey tea, freshly squeezed juice and poached eggs at Carlucci’s with Georg, took a walk past the Governor’s mansion – it’s like something out of Monkey Island, sunset walk around Oranjezicht, 2 for 1 steak deal at HQ – we sat at a table 3m from where I had my first seared tuna steak at Strega in 2001… good memories, the Orphanage Martini at Orphanage with cucumber sandwiches – great service.
  • Tuesday, gym, swim, sauna, meeting with Werner, some paperwork in the print shop, 2 for 1 pizza night at Sgt Pepper with Nick and Georg, Van Hunks… the friendly waitress’ name is Tania (sp?).
  • “Trapped under something heavy?” — the standard text message I send Naulene when she does not answer her phone for most of the day.

  • Nick actually found a girlfriend on Tinder.
  • Decard is Gaff.
  • Wednesday, a quick walk to the 7Eleven for electricity and a MyCITI bus card, took the bus to the ~office, gym, swim, sauna, TwentyFifty, took the bus back (right on time), walked to Higgovale and back (how cool is Trek road), added some lights to my bike and cycled to Green Point, Moonlightmass, Van Hunks with Georg (bike got a lift home).
  • Moonlightmass was fun, but every few 100m the traffic cops stop everybody and you have to wait ~5min. Anyway, happy I did it.
  • Georg now has the biggest smartphone in the known universe. After a power failure at home we discovered that his new Nokia phablet does not have a torch.
  • When last did you do something for the first time?… HQ, Orphanage, MyCITI bus, Moonlightmass.
  • Top 4 roads in Cape Town: Leeukloof, Beta, Trek, Nettleton.
  • Some of my photos made it into a blog post on AfrikaGeographic.
  • Thursday, Stellenbosch visit, Mill House, Mxit visit, watched Mia’s hockey match vs SWPS – she scored 6 (of the 6) goals in the game, hot chocolate at Manuka with Naulene – she seems pretty happy with spending some time in London this summer with Mia, scones, red Cappuccino and homework with Mia, swanky BNP wine event at 15 on Orange (probably not the worst hotel in the world, but I don’t like it), good fun, best wines of the evening: De Wetshof Bateleur and Mischa Merlot Cabernet, a Tanqueray and dry lemon at HQ with Paul while Candice played a few tunes.
  • Mia lost two milk teeth this week.
  • Friday, breakfast with Georg, Sparkup! afternoon and evening session, Van Hunks, Power and the Glory with Camilla, Bianca, Velma and Georg, failed attempt at making conversation with two girls about Wes Anderson movies and Blade Runner *sigh*.
  • Saturday, whole day at Sparkup! (8:00 to 20:00) at UCTGSB Solution Space (cool venue), Werner joined for the morning sessions, photo processing.
  • “There’s a rush to be second among investors.” — Permjot

  • Sunday, another full day at UCTGSB with Jan, failed pitching session, they changed the pitch time limit – so I never pitched, at least I upgraded Mia’s laptop to OSX 10.9 (~7GB download).

Have a fun week, crazy kids.