Monthly Archives: September 2007

Maverick

I’ve switched magazine brands.

I figure I only have time and attention span for one magazine per month. I used to read GQ.

For some reason I think the quality of GQ has gone down or I just don’t really find the content interesting anymore, or maybe they are just not targeting me in their strategy.

Maybe I’ve grown up.. I hope not.

So over the last four or five months I’ve been reading Maverick magazine. I first picked it up to read an article on Helen Zille. I like her. I associate with her ideas of meritocracy. Ok, I’m drifting.

I like Maverick because it’s real, relevant and honest. Keep up the good work.

Endeavor and Rockstar Entrepreneurs

I while ago I mentioned a meeting I had with the local branch of a group called Endeavor.. here and here. As you know I’ve been a bit lazy with the blogging lately, so this is actually old news, but I figured I’d give you an update on how it panned out.

They invited me for the 2nd round of interviews soon after that meeting.. but, I picked up some hesitation in the way they communicated.

The biggest challenge was that you were incubating different businesses with no clear focus.

I was in Spain on a nice warm summers day when I received the email with the above. Usually I’d react in a “we’ll just have to see about that” way and try to prove a point (aka The Pit Bull Instinct). But I was in a pretty chilled mood and I remembered something I read about Phil Knight (from Nike) a long time ago.. apparently he’s not interested in deals where both parties are not keen to do business. He rather walks away.

So I responded with..

I’ve given this some thought,
if it’s not a mutual fit.. let’s just walk away,
I can’t change my business plans to fit your brochure.

It’s interesting how you pick up on small details that are only relevant later on. Here are the things that bugged me about this whole story..

1) They seem to be looking for rock star entrepreneurs, the one man (one hit) wonder band. I’ve never claimed to be the single point around which any of the businesses I’m involved with rotate. I don’t like black polo-neck shirts.

2) They have a cookie cut recipe and they want a story above all. The story must fit the format of the brochure. One hero, one business.

3) I picked up from the meeting that they like giving advice a little too much.. to the point of imposing their views.

4) I don’t like the idea that they want equity in my business(es). If they can inspire philanthropy they win. If they have to ask, they lose.

5) It sounds like a boys club. I get the idea a few golfing buddies were saying.. I’d love to help a few new business guys, but I really can’t be bothered to find them.. let’s pay somebody to do some filtering and make them jump through a few hoops.

6) Don’t ask me why, but I have a need to be a self made man, which makes it hard to join a “business networking club”.. you know that saying about not wanting to belong to any club that will have me as a member.

This is something I once wrote in a birthday card for a good friend:

..there were no fortunes-by-conquest, but only fortunes-by-work, and instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being, the self-made man.

— Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged.

“the world has no hold on the self made man”

I guess I’m stubborn. I can’t help it.

Cape Town Wiki Party

I attended one of the 50 Wiki Paries on Saturday at Deer Park Cafe in Vredehoek. I really enjoyed it.

Nice venue. Nice people. Nice snacks. Nice playground just outside for Mia. Could not stay very long but it was good to see the regulars and meet some new people… Hi Melanie!

See you soon at the GeekDinner.

Today I managed to get a Brother Printer/Scanner working with Ubuntu. Not too painful.. it works well.

Looking back on iWeek

I’ve been a lazy blogger, so lazy that I have a draft blog post that’s about two months old and still not ready. I guess I hit a dry spell.

So, before I forget, let me share my thoughts on iWeek 2007 (which was last week)

Firstly, I don’t like Joburg, the air is dry, I get dry lips, the traffic sucks, you often see dry grass burning as you drive along the highway, I get grumpy if I don’t get exercise.. sounds like fun? ..so, one of these days, can we please have iWeek in Cape Town.

I enjoyed iWeek. A few good presentations, nice venue, working Internet access this year (I know, it blows your mind to think there would be functional wifi at an event mostly for ISPs), good food.. and really really cool people. As Rudolph mentioned, it’s more about the people attending the conference.

If you were there..
The iBurst guy was clueless. I feel sorry for the Cop. IPv6.. whatever. Rudolph’s broadband survey was interesting (see pic below). The IS VoIP talk was pretty good, I liked the nomadic telephony idea. Neotel was OK, but pie in the sky.

iweek

Fryday was legal mumbo jumbo so we did a quick exit and moved on to go see Amobia‘s stand at the Franchise Expo.. which won a bronze award.. about 30 people are serious about starting franchises. Not bad for one trade show.

The ISPA member dinner on the Thursday night was the highlight of the trip. Had a nice chat with Rudolph and Cara from MyBroadband, the MD of Duxbury, Graham Duxbury and Ryan and Nicola from Aerosat.

Graham is a nutter and I mean than in the best possible way. Some people just radiate interesting stories. He is also a big name in motor racing, even raced Nascar in the US. Jonathan wanted to know what car he had.. turns out he has a pretty sweet Aston Martin DB9 with “Dux 007” plate, but drives a Mini most of the time. He asked for a frog pirate tshirt, so I’ll send him one from the next batch.

WAPA had a stand at iWeek and got about 7 enquiries.

Frogfoot also had a stand at the expo. We did a pre-launch of the new Frogfoot Wifi product / billing engine. The balloons were a hit, we definitely had the most colourful stand. I lost count of the number of times somebody would walk up to us and say “frogfoot, cool name, why frogfoot?” ..I guess that’s a good thing, not many people forget it once they see it.

iweekstand balloon iweekstuff

More pics at the usual place.

If you want to be a guinea frog for the wifi product let me know. The real launch is at Futurex, 26 Sept at the CTICC. We’re going big. Custom built 24sqm stand.

Pop in, you can see Frogtropolis (as on the wifi box).. a 4 meter wide print of the wireless frog city at 600dpi.. it took 4 weeks to create, full vector drawing, it makes a G5 Mac with 3GB of memory grind to its knees. Some people don’t get it.. only the enlightened, brave or delusional.

..well, that’s the plan. Lots of work to do. Frogspeed.

Quote of the day

We’re sorta like 7-Eleven. We’re not always doing business, but we’re always open. — Murphy, ..I figure you know which movie it’s from :-P

In my head it’s more like.. We’re not always open, but we’re always doing business.

This reminds me, I should buy milk. Protein shake with water is not that nice.

Boondock Saints, btw.

If you had to pick one

Today we visited the casing and front panel printing people with our design ideas for the Blio PBX.

Pics are at the usual place.

It seems there are two routes forward:

1) We make a Cream/Beige colour 1U box that blends in then you mount it flat against a wall. This would be very much like your traditional (analog) PABX systems found in many small businesses around the country. We basically assume that a doctor’s office or a small legal firm would like to replace their PBX but keep it on the wall and keep most of their current phones.

2) We make a Black/Dark-grey colour 1U box that’s designed for rack mounting in a 19″ cabinet. It’s more like an Ethernet switch or router. You could put it down on a desk or stack it, but it kinda asks for an environment with at least a small 19″ wall box/cabinet (which will cost you about R500) or a big server room cabinet. We basically assume this is for an office that has structured Cat5 Ethernet wiring. With this route we are guessing people may keep some of their analog phones but they want a few SIP phones.. they are more tech-savvy, early adopters.

Now, the fun part where you, the reader get to shape the future of our product.

You can answer with one of 4 options..

Black/Cabinet
Black/Wall
Cream/Cabinet
Cream/Wall

If the price was the same and you _had_ to buy one, would you take a black or cream one and would you put it in a cabinet or on your wall..

Please add a comment with your answer.

Blio PBX USP

blio moduleI was walking down Lions Head this morning and I figured.. maybe I can do better with the Blio PBX’s Unique Selling Proposition.. in one sentence. Let’s try that..

The original from yesterday: “The first locally manufactured low cost IP PBX”

“The first locally designed and manufactured low cost IP PBX”

“The first locally designed and manufactured low cost IP and Anolog converged PBX”

“The first locally designed and manufactured affordable IP and Anolog converged, 1U rack mountable, stackable, DIY PBX”

“The first locally designed and manufactured affordable IP and Anolog converged (so you can still use your old phones and the boss can have a pretty SIP phone) PBX, that’s rack mountable, stackable (so it grows with your needs) and easy to configure with a web interface (so you don’t need to pay some expensive techie to tinker with the ugly arcane box on your wall and pray it still works after any small change.”

Ok, now it’s getting a bit silly. I’ll just go to work.

Do you have any better ideas?

Open Street Map

I just returned from a CLUG talk on Open Street Map.

Very impressive project. Big sets of data. Nice to see people contributing and that it’s growing at an exponential rate.

I found out I’m not the only person that’s a bit annoyed that the GPX format does not provide accuracy info for each point.

Open Street Map has not yet matured to the point where you can use the map info for navigation.. like the Garmin Nuvi I played with last week.. but it has a “map tile” service similar to Google Maps which looks useful.

The map editor runs in Java. I don’t like Java… so I guess I will not be making maps soon.

Just to continue my bitching, the CLUG people moved on to have dinner at Primi Piatti… so I did not join them. I think P-P is in the same category as McD’s, Coke and Spur. Soulless food. I also don’t like brands that do line extensions.

Number Two

Quotes of the day…

“just about every successful venture is based on an unoriginal idea, beautifully executed” — Seth Godin

“The most successful innovators are the creative imitators, the Number Two.” — Wired Magazine (1996)

I still remember this Wired quote from my first year at varsity.

September GeekDinner and PBX

gd

Go sign up for the September GeekDinner: a.k.a. Dangerous Drumstick. It’s on Thursday 27 Sept at a very nice venue for spring / early summer overlooking the sea.

Looks like we could be showing off our new Blio PBX at the GeekDinner.. “The first locally manufactured low cost IP PBX”.

We have a meeting to sort out the front panel tomorrow. The device is very close to ready, we’re busy with the EMC testing and the ICASA type approval process at the moment.

I’m off to go listen to a CLUG talk on Open Street Map now.