Monthly Archives: May 2007

Tape Loop, Turn yourself towards yourself

Today was one of those days.

This is an odd posting.. I don’t really know how to say what I want to. Let my try anyway. Something reminded me of this song..

Tape loop, keeps on turning round, forever,
Patience, love is coming ’round for your pleasure,
Wait now, no use trying to push, there’s no need,
People, go against the grain, with their greed.

I’ve been here before, it ain’t gonna work no more,
I’ve been here before, it ain’t gonna work no more.

Focus, your mind will be strong, no distractions,
Soak up wisdom all year long, and then take action.

— Morcheeba, Tape Loop

The background involves a few events in close succession that disappointed me in the last day or two. I’m trying to make sense of it all.. internalise it and learn from it.. I’m not going to go into details but this related to both for-profit and non-profit projects.

Energy and enthusiasm mis-matches between people, miscommunication, expectation mis-matches, management and task delegation troubles. Putting in effort and not feeling good about it.

I’ve labeled this a Tape Loop problem. Finding it hard to complete something and detaching. Not being able to delegate a task and getting out of the loop with enough trust that it will be completed. Being dependent on interactions with other people, busy people with their own priorities. Priorities that do not match.

Some things I’ve learnt…

You can’t be a one man army. You have to depend on other people. You have to try and empower, give autonomy and trust others. Simple little things like people being sick at a time when you hope everything should come together can be frustrating.

You can’t take responsibility for other people’s motivation. People motivate themselves. Don’t de-motivate, but don’t feel you should keep fueling a project. There is a risk to being dragged into the tape loop if you give energy and people assume you will continue to perpetually drive a project.

Don’t have too many meetings out of the office. It can make a day seem very unproductive.

Too many open projects make you reactive. It breaks the plan, focus, take action cycle. It makes you feel like a fire fighter and all your time gets consumed by little emergencies. Specialisation makes sense. There are multi-taskers and single-taskers. Context shifts are expensive. Some ants guard the nest, some ants find food. I sometimes wish a could single-task more. I only really get time to focus on one thing between 20:00 and 0:00.

e-Mail is a war. Your Inbox will never be cleared. I send about 1200 emails per month at the moment. I don’t even try and keep track of how many I receive.

Slow and steady wins the race. Have realistic expectations. Don’t get demotivated if things don’t happen at the speed of thought.

Ideas and project goals have a time window when everybody is receptive and “in sync”. Sometimes it’s just not worth trying to push.

“Soak up wisdom all year long, and then take action.”

Now, find your power animal…

40 Bars of Beer on the Wall

A summary of what I’ve been busy with..

A few bars here, a few bars there.. and pretty soon we’re talking real money.
— Paraphased, Donald Trump

  • Teraco is in a final budgeting phase, it turned out to be an expensive project. Trying to build a fully n+1 redundant switch fabric with about 8000 GigE ports using no spanning tree for less than 10 bars is an interesting challenge. We’re busy with an exercise of knocking off a few bars on the project.
  • Frogfoot and Amobia are planning their Joburg offices
  • Amobia completed it’s Southern Suburbs ring and we have a very cool 3D signal GIS map of our coverage area now
  • Frogfoot’s new 7 seat call-centre is up and running using Ubuntu and SIP soft phones. We have very nice Asterisk and RT (ticket system) integration now. CallerID based ticket generation and ogg voice recordings attached to each ticket
  • It’s crunch time to get our wifi hotspot product finished. It’s a case where the beta product is live and the final touches are needed urgently. We have Radius-proxy/roaming working with one other ISP already
  • WAPA’s new websites are very close to launch
  • We are working on Frogfoot’s new super-duper WordPress driven website with integrated online shop
  • There is a WAPA braai on Friday 25th
  • Frogfoot got more IP space from AfriNIC,, about 8000 IPs
  • Frogfoot’s Portal (web management system) now has all kinds of cool AJAX search features
  • Frogfoot network upgrades.. we have a new Core2Duo Netflow stats server and we’re planning the move to a full Gigabit network for our routers and core switches.. not that we really need it, we move about 10Mbps of traffic trough the day, but it’s nice to have. We also dumped OSPF and we’re using iBGP again.. which is rock solid
  • Figured out how to mass deploy SNOM VoIP phones
  • We had an office lunch on Friday at the Brass Bell in Kalkbay to welcome three new frogs
  • Mia is running around at full speed
  • Don’t forget about the May GeekDinner
  • Pics are at the usual place
  • And lastly, I’ve given up drinking alcohol.. shock, horror. It’s been more than a month now. Interesting social experiment, most people think I’m a bit crazy. My official reason is that it breaks my forward momentum. My one worry is that I’ll end up as a complete neurotic goody-two-shoes.. no McDonnalds, no drinking Coffee, Coke or Alcohol, no TV, no Smoking, no SMS, no Voicemail, no QWERTY keyboards, no Microsoft products.. is this normal?

PS. If you have a few spare bars lying around, we are looking for investment in our projects

PPS. For those who don’t know, 1 bar = R1million, when the big dogs talk money they talk about bars (-;

Frog Jobs

We just added some new Frogfoot Jobs to our website.

  • Senior Sales Person in Johannesburg
  • Receptionist and Office Manager
  • Communications Strategist / Tech Writer (Enterprise 2.0 Geek)
  • Call Center Support Staff
  • JUNIOR Systems Administrator
  • SENIOR Systems Administrator You can tell from the capitals that we don’t think there is middle ground (-:

There will be a Frogfoot office in Joburg very soon.

After some quick Apache tinkering and generating a (free) SSL cert.. we now have:

The idea is to create a shared calendar for social media and geeky events in Cape Town.

There is an iCal calendar file called “cpt.ics”.. for Cape Town geeky social events/meetings. There are only two events in the file at the moment.

If you are an organiser of geeky events in Cape Town, contact me, and I’ll give you access to

You may want to look at my previous post about free software for iCal on Linux and Mac.

SwimGeek Chapter 2

“Only the mediocre are always at their best.”
— Jean Giraudoux

Warning, this contains Blogging about Blogging.

I took a month off from the Blogging Thing. I was busy with other things.. Looks like I’ll equal my last number of games watched in a cricket world cup.. Zero.

Not sure what I’ve been doing in the evenings.. mostly researching multi million Rand Ethernet switch fabrics and working late.

At the beginning of Chapter 2, we look back at what I’ve learnt over the last six months since I first created this blog

  • Try to blog responsibly, don’t drink and blog. There is actually a hidden code to blogging. Don’t piss too many people off (too much).. it just gets messy.
  • I’m not allowed to watch any Kate Beckinsale movies it seems after this blog entry.
  • WordPress kicks ass, I upgraded to 2.1 this week and it was pretty easy I just looked at my SVN diffs of all the changes I made and added them to the new version. Frogfoot is busy moving it’s whole website to a WordPress system.
  • “Scratch your own Itch” development is better than guessing what users want.
    “By the geeks for the geeks”. WAPA is busy moving all it’s content out of Joomla and into WordPress. WordPress is “Scratch your own Itch”.. give me the basics and I’ll make it work for me. Joomla is “guessing what users want” and guessing badly, making it too complex and adding lots of useless fluff.
  • Blogging takes lots of energy. I found myself thinking of everything as a story.. it gets worse with a compulsive need to keep notes of ideas for blogging. I have a new found respect for people with the discipline to blog once a day.
  • Photo blogging is easy, writing content is hard. I did not really stop blogging for a month, I just took the easy option of only updating my photo album (which has an ATOM feed). Even that takes time.
  • I think these are still the early days of social media. Lets hope we don’t lose interest before the bulk of people adopt the technology (:
  • It’s all about communication, people want to talk.
  • We need to co-market all these social events. Cape Town is really spoilt at the moment with all kinds of cool social networking events. The geeks seem to be very very very social. Clug, two Geeky dinners, Open Coffee, ISOC, iCommons etc. It takes time to spread the word about these things.. maybe we should aggregate event info.
  • Cape Town is clicky.. and you can very easily spot the GeekGeeks and the GroovyGeeks at all the social events… but it only takes one mutual friend or interest to create a connection and grow the network.
  • I’m enjoying the new culture of openness and sharing of ideas, pre-release beta, just put it out there, real artists ship.. don’t try to hold on. Less control, more innovation.
  • I’m wondering how the Blogging Thing and social media geek community will scale with numbers. If this new community had 20 times the number of people.. would it still be interesting and would it be harder to make new connections?.. I think there are a few “stars” in the community and they create points of higher density in the social fabric. In the end everybody has limited time and attention.. so would the dense points become more dense or will we have many new dense points. My feed reader can only keep track of some.
  • Last point.
    What is a blog? My latest answer is that it must be a site with subjective content. It must have a personal touch and style.. it must offer insights and opinions. Publisher to Reader, Reader to Publisher. It must create dialog and conversation. A Blog is not about technology.. yes, an XML feed is nice, but it’s not really part of the criteria for making a site a Blog.

Sysadmin Day

Some people had a public holiday today. I had Sysadmin Day. Did a few things I don’t usually get time for in the week.

  • Gave the office a spring clean
  • Switched from Qmail to using Postfix on my workstation, mostly because Qmail has issues with the newer libc6
  • Upgraded my workstation to Debian (Etch) 4.0
  • Switched from using Webalizer to AWstats for my homepage and blog stats
  • Upgraded WordPress to version 2.1.3
  • Checked all my web content into SVN neatly
  • Cleaned up my config, that’s been a bit messy since I got a new screen and display card
  • Made some backups of my Laptop and Mobile phone

“The time has come for everyone to clean up their own backyard.”
— Little Junior Brown, Kiss of Death