Monthly Archives: June 2007

27 Din Dins

I just returned from the 27 Dinner.

Busy and buzzy. Almost did not get a seat. Some familiar faces, some new faces. Food was OK.
Bit sad there were no new ideas from the speakers, but I’ve realised it’s more about making friends and new connections.

For two 27 dinners in a row I feel like I’ve made new connections at the event. It’s easy to just sit and eat your food, but it takes a bit more effort to find new people you really connect with. The kind of connections where you remember names and you’ll go say Hi if you see them somewhere.

I guess my point is.. it’s a busy room with lot’s of variables, but if I only make one new solid connection I’m happy.

I have a friend who labeled this process of narrowing the variables: “social fly swatting” (-;

One other revelation from tonight.. be nice. You deal with lots of people, sometimes you never meet them but negotiate deals, sometimes there are hiccups, you get annoyed, you act like a brat and give somebody the cold shoulder… the next thing you know you are sitting next to that somebody at a 27 dinner. Small world. Oops.. and I only discovered this right at the end of the dinner while the other person knew exactly who I was right from the start. *grin*

The first thing I did when I got home was read though my (extensive) email archive to see how much of a brat I was and why. I think it rates about a 3/10 on the potential nastiness scale.. so I think I’ll manage to get some sleep… but I’ll try to be nicer to sales people in future.

There was one very painful part towards the end of the talks for the evening.

It’s a good thing I was not drinking.. (though I tasted some of Graham’s new wine designed to be enjoyed with ice).. or I would have had a lot more to say. I’ll limit myself to a quote and one comment.

“I’m tryin’, Ringo. I’m tryin’ real hard to be the shepherd.”
— Jules, Pulp Fiction

Keep the clown on a shorter leash.

ps. Thanks for the cupcake Uno.

Stand for something or fall for anything

I was listening to the latest Lugradio episode today at the gym. They were going on about the patent deals between Microsoft and Novell (and other misguided fools).

About two months ago Frogfoot got a request from our website to quote on a big batch of Windows Vista licenses.. I think it was Vista. I responded (not exactly like this, but close) simply saying that’s not our cup of tea and that we can give the client a bucket load of free Ubuntu installs.

This kicked up a week long debate about it being easy money, no support involved, just the same as selling any other device with closed source software on it etc. etc.

My point from the very start of the debate was..

Stand for something or fall for anything

I feel Frogfoot is about frogs, not sheep and we should not sell Wintendo for any easy money like other sheep do.

If I were a customer and effectively subscribed to shared ideas with a company, I’d have a sense of humor failure if they went and did something very much against these shared values.. even if it’s in a very loosely defined way of voting with my wallet.

I’m happy to say we did not sell any Wintendo copies.

So, here is my point..

If I were a user of Suse on Novell Linux I would dump Novell like a ton of brinks down a mine shaft never to be seen again. They don’t stand for anything. They are supporting an obviously broken patent system and they are too weak to do the right thing.

The sad thing is that I get the idea the greasy little Novell sales droids have done a Jedi mind trick on the SA Government. “Forget freedom, patents are good, forget the reasons you should be running Linux, give us your money because we are a big company that have been selling you file servers and backward email systems for the last 15 years”. “We are also the smart guys that have been responsible for all that IPX broadcast traffic on your LAN for the last 15 years”.

This is a classic case of good intentions and bad results. Ethics and principles are not things of convenience, you don’t write them in spec documents, RFPs, RFQs, blah, blah and then pick the cheapest and perceived safest proposal.

Fight the good fight. Have the courage to say No, stand up and change direction.
Dump Novell. Dump Xandros. Dump Samsung and Fuji Xerox. Dump LG. Dump Sony.

Vote with your wallet. We can only hope this list does not grow.

Feedback on the Endeavor meeting today

It turned out to be a meeting with three people who were kind enough to buy me breakfast at the Arabella Sheraton. They had a very interesting story to tell about their goals and their members.

They asked me to tell my story. I think they were expecting a 5 min elevator pitch about one idea. When people ask me what I do I have a few simple answers because most people don’t really want to know.

I usually respond with one of the following:

  • “Computer Geek”
  • “Businessman”
  • “Firefighter”
  • “Director of a few IT companies”

The trouble is that if somebody asks me this question and is really interested in the answer it’s not a quick 5min story.

The Endeavor team seem very motivated, passionate and knowledgeable, which is a rare combination.

It’s a 9 month selection process with 6+ interviews to become an Endeavor entrepreneur, but you get to meet some very interesting people along the way.

The whole interview angle makes me a bit nervous for a lame reason. You see I have this stupid little score card in the back of my mind for interviews.. usually bursaries or jobs. I’m sitting on 9/9. I’ve never been to an interview where I did not get the job, but I guess I can risk my perfect track record (-:

I’ll work on my elevator pitch.. or maybe I should just print my homepage URL on a card and tell people to go check out the details if they are really interested.

Update from the life of Joe

This is one of those bullet point update posts. Seems I’m only really getting time to blog on Sundays at the moment.

  • Amobia and Frogfoot Joburg Office

    We have office space and data-center space in Joburg now and we are busy setting up our network. We’ll start with two /23 networks and the usual recipe of border and aggregation routers, netflow probe, switches and Xen servers. All that remains after that is to setup some VoIP phones and we have a “shake and bake” office ready for the first three or four people.

  • Teraco

    The Teraco data-center project is moving forward. Most of the infrastructure planning and shopping is done. This week involved mostly some spreadsheet jockey work on the financials and finalising the switch fabric design and purchasing. We have some cool 3D rendered views of the floor plan.

    Parts of the design have a bit of theatrical flair (:
    Picture the view walking into the reception area, looking past the plasma screens with all the environmental stats, past the stylish seating, through fire-proof glass (that’s only made in Belgium at about R8k/sqm or something like that) down the main corridor with a uniform view of row upon row of black server cabinets all the way to the back wall. The room is dark and the only light comes from the aircon floor grills. You get the space ship landing-strip picture, right? Now all we need is that movement sensor suspense effect from Aliens. (;

  • Teraco Switch Fabric

    I’ve been spending a fair amount of time looking into Ethernet switch fabric options for the Teraco data-center in the last three/four months. It’s been painful. Most vendors still want to sell you 10yr old technology, ugly spanning tree solutions, mixed layer2/3 complexity for redundancy with very few giving any thought to solid redundant and rapid failure convergance layer2 (only) switching (which you would think is obvious). I consider myself a semi-expert all all the Metro Ethernet lingo and features at the moment.

    I looked at HP, Huawei, Cisco, Extreme, Juniper, Foundry and some lesser brands.

    We have not finalised the switch fabric purchase, so I’ll not say too much, but Extreme has some pretty cool kit. I’ll restrain myself from commenting on the state of the other brand’s offerings.

  • Adobe CS3 Launch

    I attended the launch of Adobe’s new Creative Suite software a week or three back. It was supposed to be some Rock concert theme. They had to go stuff it up with hip hop acts. Why can’t they put a warning on the invite saying: “extremely lame music involved”.

    I did not stay long… but I can say two things..
    1. I’m a bit worried about the monopoly created in the design software world (A+Macromedia)
    2. You get the idea the Apple + DTP/design market is not that big judging from the reseller stands.

  • GeekDinner

    The last GeekDinner at the Wild Fig was a great success. We’re busy planning the next one. The date is set and the venue should be announced soon. Go add your name to the list.

  • Amobia Wireless School Connectivity Project

    The wireless schools project is moving forward. 75 schools have equipment installed. We are in the process of commissioning all the VPN links, adding email services for all the Tuxlabs and adding content on the WAN (like Wikipedia). The last step will be to add Internet access.

  • Looking for Beta testers for our Amobia hotspot product

    Amobia currently has a number of Wifi Hotspots at our Potchefstroom franchise. We recently improved the system with quick signup tools, much nicer looking web interface, credit card and debit order payment options.

    I think we have an interesting business model. It supports franchising, non-variable cost to the end user.. which I think is cool, I don’t want to be guessing which hotspots are ripping me off. It uses a profit sharing model with incentives on traffic usage and sales transactions.

    We have a roaming agreement with Uninet who has about 800 hotspots in Cape Town.

    If you are in Cape Town or Stellenbosch and interested in the hotspot game, contact Amobia.

    I think the Wifi hotspot business is going to be fun in the next few years. Lots of room to innovate with interesting challenges and problems to solve.

  • New Blio FXS/FXO modules

    Blio has completed the design and manufacturing of it’s FXO and FXS PBX modules.
    Yes, they are compatible with the Digium cards, made locally and much (much) cheaper. They will be on the Blio online shop very soon.

    blio module

    The modules are designed for our Blio 1U IP PBX project, which is moving forward nicely. We are currently waiting for the final version of the (primary) “motherboard” PCX to be manufactured. We’ve already sold two PBXs (-:

  • My first Ubuntu install

    You would think that I would have installed Ubuntu before now, but I’ve been a Debian man for the last 10 years. Two weeks ago I was pondering my options for a home PC (not for me).. Apple or Linux. Apple may have resulted in less “Joe the tech support guy” work.. but let’s face it, Apple just don’t have the moral high ground.. so Ubuntu won.

    I paid about 1/4 of the price of an entry level Mac and got more memory and disk space.

    After a minor initial setback with some dodgy Kingston memory I installed Ubuntu 7.04 in about 1 hour (while doing other things) and everything “just worked”.

    Over the weekend I played around with Ubuntu. I’ve never been a Gnome fanboy, but it’s not bad. You can pretty much configure anything with a right-click.

    Oh, and I can report the user(s) are also happy. I’m impressed.

    I think the time has come for the Wintento users to stop bitching and jump ship. If you look back in ten years and you can say “I switched to Ubuntu/Linux in 2007” you may just save a bit of face. Like looking back on very bad fashion choices.. Windows people will have to deal with their children thinking they were complete retards for running Windows after 2007 😛

    If that statement annoys you no end then I can only grin.

  • My opinion on (not so) recent hype events

    Bullard has half a clue, at least he knows what a blog is. The rest is noise.

    De-Lille is not as far off as you think. I don’t agree with her ideas for fixing the problem, but “digital crack” is a concern. MXit, crackbook, 2nd life, world of warcraft. They all suck up lots of (possibly) productive time.. I guess it’s no worse than a generation of TV addicts, but I don’t think we should ignore the risks. I spent a good part of my life playing Civilization, looking back, I was pretty addicted. I’m not going to comment on her ideas for censoring blogs, ok, I will, she must be smoking socks with high polyester content.

    The aggregator wars… who cares?. Muti is pretty cool, I don’t really see the point in the others.

  • Contemporary music sucks

    Maybe I’m getting old, but my head hurts from the music on kfm and 5fm. Why do they have to play this hip hop crap?. I just picture The Rat dancing to anthems of mindlessness.

    Thank goodness for the sane people at Radio 2000 who still have a clue.

    I’ve realised I can’t listen to the music in the Stellenbosch bars/clubs anymore, I think it’s part of the reason I stopped drinking. It’s just too painful.

  • Google encyclopedia salesmen

    Now that we have Wikipedia, you don’t get door to door encyclopedia salemen anymore right? Kinda, but now we have the Google recruitment army contacting you two or three times a year to offer you jobs. They must have contacted the whole of CLUG by now, but I don’t see anybody flocking to Google. I have my reasons, but I wonder why none of the people I know are interested. I guess in some ways they have attained (do no) evil empire status.

  • Metro Ethernet and Neotel

    We had a meeting with one of the technical people at Neotel last week. They seem to be doing good things. The Metro Ethernet market seems like an exciting ride over the next few years, SNO, municipality projects, more and more interest in digging up roads and putting down fibre. Interesting times for the Internet industry in Cape Town.

  • Trip to, Sweden, England, France, Spain and maybe Prague and California

    Textbook midlife crises stuff.. go run with the bulls in Pamplona.. we’ll see, it’s not my idea, but it could be fun.. I’ll need to get a bit more running fit. I’m trying to plan a trip around my 30th birthday (in July). The catch is combining it with some business trips and nailing down some of the many variables for booking dates. Nothing confirmed yet.

  • Endeavor

    I have a meeting with two people from Endeavor tomorrow morning. They seem to find and support “high impact entrepreneurs” in developing markets. No idea how they tracked me down, but it seems like a bit of an interview of sorts.

Must go to sleep now.

The best receptionist job in town

Frogfoot needs a new receptionist. We’ve had a job advert on our website for a while but I thought I’d tell you more and spice it up with some real life working environment photos. Get ready to be happy.

rec1

Here you can see the reception desk. Nothing very special about it.. it’s big. On the desk you will find Ubuntu CDs and frog postcards you can give away. You get a stylish black chair and you sit next to the friendly army of penguins banner. You have a hidden button to open the door, so no need to disrupt your blog reading if you don’t feel like getting up.

rec3

Here we can see the front door. Notice the groovy frog feet on the glass. There is a homely warm orange coloured Freedom Toaster where you can write free DVDs for your friends.

This is about as cool as phones get. You are looking at the SNOM 360 upgraded with sidecar expansion. The ultimate in VoIP phone. Yes, it runs Linux. From here you can direct calls to any frog you like even to mobile wireless VoIP phones or our Stellenbosch office. Notice all the cool LEDs, sadly they are orange LEDs, we can make a plan to get you things with blue LEDs if needed.

You get your own Ubuntu PC, naturally. The LCD works well for those long web browsing sessions. You get a Frogoot branded black mouse pad with matching ergonomic black mouse and keyboard. You’ll have a 16Mbps Internet connection (about a zillion times as fast as an ADSL line). Access to the office Debian and Ubuntu mirrors. Access to all the technical advice and help you could ever dream of.

rec2

Here is some Frogfoot Art. Each one of these took about a month to paint. This is our own series of water colour painted cartoons. One of a kind.

Sold? Great!

Here’s what we need you to do:

  • Answer the phone. Be friendly and helpful. Figure out how the cool VoIP phone works
  • Learn about the ISP, Linux and Open Source business world and grow with our company
  • Learn about our consumer products and be able to answer the basic questions about our products
  • Open the front door (for friendly people only)
  • Do some admin related things like arrange parking and shipping for online shop goodies
  • Help keep the office running smoothly
  • Blog about Frogfoot and contribute to our newsletter
  • Help manage our online shop and website content

Can you manage all that?
Excellent. Contact us. Include a bit of a creative intro about why we should hire you. (Like “Ken sent me”) We’ll ask for your CV if we like you.

Good luck and Frogspeed!