Monthly Archives: July 2009

SwimGeek BNT

I sold out people. I’m on Twitter now. Well, kinda.

A few people were bugging me about using Twitter. I’ve had a Twitter account for a while but never used it.

The social pressure was just getting too much and I often got those weird (freak?) looks when people say “you’re not on Twitter are you?”.

Ashley was telling me how he is using P2 last night.. so I got home and installed WP with P2… I call it /blurp/.. or BNT.. Blurp is Not Twitter.

Then I installed a plugin (Twitter Tools) to publish my P2 posts to my twitter account.

It’s a bit ugly at the moment, but I’ll tinker with it again later.

Audi MVP Day

You should have seen Gaby when she got out of the R8. Shaking like a leaf, but big smiles all around.

A few weeks ago my Audi was in for a minor service. I was having lunch with Cath (another Audi driver) at Neo that day and mentioned an idea to her. Let the Audi enthusiasts arrange an Audi event with a focus on social media.. bit of a “let the animals run the zoo” idea.

I figure many car brands plan day trips for their customers, but it would be a nice change if the community organised the event.

So, we talked to Chris (yup, also an Audi driver), did a brief survey to check if there was interest and the rest is history.

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We could not have asked for more perfect weather this Friday. I think it was an awesome success. I’ve had lots of people ask me about the event, which could only mean good word of mouth.

Big thanks to Wernich from Audi Centre Cape Town.

ps. I published a few photos at the usual place.

Quick Update

The hot cars, the hot cameras, the hot chicks..

  • Monday, tea, scrambled eggs on toast, a cable car contour road run with Ingi, Andrew made a nice Snoek dish for dinner, a very good bottle of Waterford Chardonnay 2008 and icecream.
  • The recycling people made a few comments about the number of empty bottles of wine they collected since their last visit.
  • Tuesday, making some changes, a run to Camps Bay, bit of celebratory Royale Ostrich burger and a few Laurentina’s with Georg and Andy, Planetarium show about SALT, Karaoke night at Dizzy’s.. which was painful.
  • “If you take all these chairs out you can have a decent rave in here mate” — Andrew, about the Planetarium

  • “Does anybody want a cap of acid?” Georg, just before the Planetarium show.

  • Wednesday, gym, smoothie, Georg made a stir fry and we watched It’s all gone, Pete Tong.. good fun.
  • Interesting story about OpenBTS at Burning Man.
  • Thursday, Internetix.. the Cape Town ISP and Social Media industry is small.. felt like a knew 1/2 the people, watched Tyler’s talk about the mobile web, watched Justin Spratt’s talk about mobile VoIP, met Barbara from Obami (probably the highlight of the conference), pretty good conference but IS was mentioned way too much and I can’t say there was anything new, bumped into (Leeukloof) Scott at the tyre place.. first thing he asks me is: “How’s your love life?”, took a walk to Clifton, NSBI meeting #5, gourmet home made ostrich burgers and a good Shiraz.
  • Friday, Audi MVP day, awesome fun, awesome weather, awesome people, had a bottle of Springfield Methode Ancienne Chardonnay on Beta Beach with Andy, nap, Georg’s birthday party at Carlyle’s.
  • Amazing the high from driving fast cars.. Gaby and I raced from Camps Bay to Mouille Point, R8 vs TT Roadster. Made my week. Big thanks to Audi Centre Cape Town.
  • I put new tires on my car and had the alignment and balancing done. Noticeable improvement.
  • Saturday, woke up after 12:00, met Naulene and Mia for lunch at Neo, Mouille Point playground and walk, rugby at Neighbourhood while Mia and Ingi baked cookies.
  • Well on my way to make it through the winter without getting the flu.
  • Frogfoot now has 5 * Extreme X450 switches. Nice purple toys.
  • “Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.” — Arthur C. Clarke

  • Ever had the feeling that everything you’ve done so far has been preparing you for something new?
  • I now have a Canon 50D DSLR with 17-85mm lens, a late birthday gift from Joe to Joe. Now, I’m thinking how to motivate buying the 5D.
  • Tune of the week, the intro track on Viva la Vida, Coldplay.
  • Sunday, gym, swim, smoothie, lunch with Thomas at FSH in Kalk Bay, tea at Melissas in Newlands, Beta Beach walk, a nice salad, bath, reading, sleep.
  • Thomas thinks I should write a book on modern fatherhood.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

Mostly home alone this week..

  • Monday, tea, fresh juice, watched some Spungebob, gym, swim, smoothie, bunny chow at Knead, took Hilda some flowers for her birthday, pancakes at Jimmy’s with Mia and her mother, tea and dinner at Andrew’s mom’s.
  • “her sister from another mister” — Andrew

  • Tuesday, gym, swim, veggie soup at Georg’s, watched Cloverfield.. lame, but amusing.
  • Stating the obvious, but man, Megan Fox is hot.
  • Wednesday, presented at the Wireless Broadband World Africa conference, a run to Clifton, pasta and red wine.
  • “It’s like those Vietnamese kids who used to rewrap chewing gum, looks new, but it’s the same shit” — Andy, about his love for Windows Vista

  • Texas spent a cold wet night outside after beating up his sister.
  • Thursday, I read about Elon Musk, early Beta Beach walk, Ingi baked fresh scones, OSA meeting, Lions Head meeting and Signal Hill visit with Ingi, NSBI meeting #4, hot dogs, Stormhoek wine and icecream.
  • “Cushion syndrome.. they take the shape of the last person who sat on them” — Steve Song, about people who bend in the wind to please the crowd

  • “We need some excitement.. come on Joe, bring some girls home, I want to wake up and bump into somebody other than Mia in a pink dressing gown” — Ingi

  • Friday, gym, smoothie, Mia time, Beta Beach walk, Bug’s Life, Joe’s tuna pasta deluxe and icecream, bath, Olivia books, sleep.
  • “She’s a funny girl” — Mia, about her mother

  • Saturday, tea, Incredibles, stories and cupcakes at The Book Lounge, gym, swim, 4 loads of washing, Beta Beach walk, watched Open Season 2, bath, read two Olivia books, sleep.
  • Somebody complained about the order in which my photos are sorted, so I fixed that. Happy?
  • “Choose not the life of imitation” — RHCP, Can’t stop

  • Sunday, tea, gym, swim, smoothie, awesome weather, Michael the Lion at the Planetarium, Mouille Point playground, bumped into Gaby at Neo, tea with Thomas at Melissas (Kloof), dropped Mia off, beer, fish and chips with Georg at Quays Four, watched Bruno.. brilliant!
  • “the rise of house music and the fall of apartheid, coincidence?, I think not.” — Naulene, from the Sunday Times entertainment section (updated)

..are we having fun yet?

The Way I Work

Just for fun.. actually, this is a bit of an experiment. I’d like to write another one of these in about 6 months and see if I’ve improved (not sure on which metrics yet). You may recognise some of this from ma.tt‘s blog or an Inc magazine article. I kinda see Matt’s story as a benchmark for the new productive geek lifestyle.

My version:

On a good morning there’s no alarm clock. I wake up with the sun. I check email. Sometimes even on my phone while still in bed.

In winter, the second thing I do is have a cup of Rooibos tea with honey and vanilla milk. I don’t drink any coffee, ever. I’d like to say I read business books or even novels, but I probably only read about two books per year at the moment.

I go to the Frogfoot office probably 3 or 4 days per week. It’s in Obs, about a 20min drive from Bakoven.. but the views along the way are worth it, especially driving with the top down winding up past Lions Head.

I often work for about an hour at home before going to gym or the office.

At the gym (Wembley Square) I go for a morning cycle, power-plate, weights and swim. I find morning exercise suits me.. easier to plan and get it over with. I’m a bit bad with planning exercise at the moment, but I seem to make it to gym 3 times a week, I walk up Lions Head once a week and go for about 3 beach walks depending on the weather.

My preference used to be to work from home, when I had a low latency Amobia service.. but these days it’s just easier to sit in front of my desktop machine at the office, ADSL and 3G simply sucks. I also don’t have a land line at home and I have issues with long mobile phone calls, so I have to go to the office for any teleconferences.. which happens pretty often for WAPA or ISPA related meetings. Also I like sitting on my Herman Miller Aeron chair.

I pretty much just use email. No Skype, Twitter or IM. I very rarely use the SIP phone on my desk. I use Mutt.. it’s a text based mail client. I’ve been using it for more than 10 years. I love it.

In my home office is a pretty entry level HP Ubuntu laptop. I used to have a Mac, but I broke it when I attempted to swap the hard disk. I have a Nokia E71, which I guess is also part of my home office. Oh, and there is an Ubuntu PC in the lounge that plays the tunes or movies for Mia.

At the office I have a Debian Linux workstation and a G5 Mac. I say workstation because it’s a pretty high end machine with redundant disks in a fat server casing. I have two LCDs on my desk, not linked. I use the Mac to sync my phone, scan documents and tinker with graphics.. and sometimes I put some backups on it.

Most of what I do happens on the Linux machine. The keyboard is, of course, Dvorak, a more efficient keyboard layout that I switched to 7 years ago.

One of my favourite programs is Chandler. It’s a tool for small workgroups with calendar and GTD style todo lists. I use it to plan my time and we use it for the WAPA and OSA project.

My biggest time-suck is email. I have a pretty complex procmail setup to sort mail into different inboxes. I have 42 inboxes at the moment. I send about 1000 emails on a busy month. I sadly check emails as soon as they come in.

I often respond immediately.. if it’s a small bite-size thing. If it’s more complex I flag it as read and work on it later. I keep my primary inbox below 15 emails.

I like to listen listen to music all day. There’s a lot of jazz, Madeleine Peyroux, also things like Fleetwood Mac, The Talking Heads, Morcheeba and R.E.M. I use a pair of Sennheiser headphones at the office.

I seem to have two modes of working. 1) In office hours I usually have an interrupt driven, shared attention, multi-tasking mode.. I sort out lots of little things.. the longest attention span task I can probably do in this mode is write a press release. After the flood of email for the day ends and I’m happy all the urgent things are done I can switch over to what I call “out of phase” mode. 2) Out of phase mode usually start at around 17:00, public holidays or some weekends. I do my best flow work between 17:00 and 21:00.. until I get hungry.

I don’t do much people management these days. I don’t think I’m that bad at it, it just got a bit much at some point, so I try not to demand much time and effort from people around me. Working with self-motivated people helps.

I go out for lunch whenever I can, which fits well with my preference for no meetings before 10:00.

In general, I’m pretty organized, not often late and good at keeping a schedule. I don’t have a PA at the moment, but it seems like a good idea. I don’t like to travel (for work). I try to limit things like Joburg trips to about 3 per year.. which is mostly ISPA related. I’m very happy in Cape Town.

My two primary jobs are working for Frogfoot and Amobia (as you can tell from the stickers on my laptop). Mostly in a communications, PR, sales and technical role. I spend a fair bit of time on research and development, interesting tangents and hunting for the next big idea.

I believe in the idea that we are drawn to exciting projects and happiness is a product of excitement.

I do lots of non-profit work at the moment, mostly for WAPA, the ISPA and the Open Spectrum Alliance.. which is the latest project I’m involved with. I seem to have this need to change the telecommunications environment is South Africa and I feel it’s a space I can make an impact.

I’ve been called a “social media slut”. I like to network, meet interesting people, connect people and ideas and generally have fun with social networking. I help organise GeekDinners and I often speak at geeky events.

My photos are autobiographical — though I have a good memory photos help trigger memories. I’m maybe a bit overly sentimental about photos. If the difference between an amateur photographer and a pro is that the amateur shows you everything they shoot.. I’m an amateur.

I have a Canon IXUS 700 compact at the moment and I sometimes take photos with my mobile phone. I like the idea of a camera small enough to take anywhere but I’ve been researching DSLR cameras and I figure I’ll get something like the Canon 50D soon.

I never really cared to build an audience for my blog. I blog for me and maybe about 5 friends.. and Mia, my daughter who is just over 3, if she cares to read the stuff I write one day. I try to at least write one post per week.. a brief bullet list style diary of sorts. The rest of my posts are a bit random.. I write when I feel like it. I figure I have about 50 regular readers (who subscribe to my feed).

I used to go out for every meal, but I’m getting better at simple and practical cooking. I’ve taken and published about 5000 photos so far this year.. probably about 60% of these are from time I spend with Mia. She’s fun to work with as a primary model.

My blog does not get lot of comments but I read and manually approve each one. I’ll happily approve a comment from someone who completely disagrees with everything I believe in.

I do my best work mid-morning and late at night. Some people don’t need sleep, but I actually need 8 hours a night.

On weekends I don’t do much work, mostly because I’m entertaining Mia, but I still check email or write the odd blog post after I put Mia to bed. In some ways it’s nice.. work life separation vs work life balance. I think many people have flexible work times (balance) but clear “no work” times (separation) are good.

Yes, my Mom reads my blog.

I would have loved to write about a really cool open source software project, rapid growth stats, building something which would last 15years+, BDFL role and 24-hour nature of a business… then again, we have to leave something to aspire to (-;

I’d like to read about how other people work, so if you find this useful, please write your story and link here.

Orders of Magnitude

This is probably one of those analysing the obvious posts..

Ever get tired of boundaries?

I go to gym, I swim 1km, I could maybe swim 2km.. but swimming 10km is a very long distance.. how about 100km?

Computers don’t have this problem. Technology allows us to push boundaries in orders of magnitude. This is the real beauty of the age we live in.

How did you become successful?

Mia and I went to the Book Lounge on Roeland street today. They read children’s stories at 11:00ish and serve cupcakes.. which look alarmingly similar to the cupcakes at A is for Apple.. maybe alarming because I recognised the cupcakes in kids bookshops.

While Mia was.. doing what Mia does, I was reading a bit of Malcolm Gladwell‘s latest book: Outliers.

He pretty much ponders why some people are successful.. very successful. I read the part about Bill Joy and Ice Hockey players.. where he explains the Matthew Effect: “For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance. But from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”

The way I see it, he suggests society creates incremental advantages for some people.. this builds over time, they are motivated and work hard because of this series of advantages and they become very successful. He pretty much says there is no such thing as the “self made man”.

Not a bad theory. I can relate to the Bill Joy example about having access to computers and spending hours tinkering with computers. I could also see how I’ve built up many hours of entrepreneurial thinking and business experience.. but that’s not so easy to pin access to MBA books.

This series of incremental advantages reminded me of the preferential attachment theory.. those who are popular become more popular. To be honest, the first thing that came to mind was.. now that we know about these life exploits we should try and apply them (-:

It seems Gladwell does not see it this way. He seems to suggest we should level the playing field.

Maybe I’ll buy the book.

Ok, that was a long intro… the points I wanted to make were:

1) I think the story of your success is more important than the level of your success.

2) The story of your success is something you can’t change.

I see lots of big houses and expensive cars around Cape Town. Many rich people around. I have to wonder how many of them made money from things like diamond smuggling, corruption, selling dodgy pet food, keeping criminals out of jail or selling Microsoft software.

It must be a real annoyance driving around in your black BMW M6 thinking, man.. if only I could tell people how I made all this money.

Wireless Broadband World Africa 2009

I was a speaker at Wireless Broadband World Africa today at the CTICC. I presented on Industry Self-Regulation, WAPA and the OSA.

I had some good feedback and one delegate commented that he liked my idea that self regulation is like the Wiki approach to regulation. Inclusive, decentralised and demorcratised.. order without leaders.

I found Sadiq Malik’s ideas on a Telco 2.0 business model very interesting.

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I was also a panellist for two of the discussion sessions. Paris Mashile’s (ICASA chair) was on one of these panels. He talked about ICASA’s challenges around funding and skills and how industry employs (steals) ICASA people. I suggested he should hire William Stucke (-;

There were a number of positive ideas around spectrum from Paris Mashile’s presentation:

  • Efficient use of spectrum, sharing and re-use
  • Use it or lose it policy
  • A spectrum audit is in process and he agreed spectrum assignments should be public knowledge

He suggested that a large chunk of spectrum is assigned for military use and there would have to be a negotiation on freeing up some of that spectrum.

He confirmed that the process for licensing 2.6Ghz and 3.5Ghz spectrum will be formally announced towards the end of the month, but provided these details:

  • This spectrum will be technology neutral.. not just for WiMAX use.
  • ~120Mhz spectrum will be divided into 30Mhz portions (per license).
  • There will be a 30% HDI requirement (not 51% BEE)
  • There will be a “beauty contest” first round selection process, followed by an auction process.

This sounds very much like the initial process for getting Individual EC(N)S licenses. I’d guess at least 20 operators will make it past the beauty contest phase.. which makes the details of the auction very interesting. Will it be an open auction?, how many bidding iterations? etc.

This is going to be an interesting ride.

Track Record

I’ve been pondering the idea that we should judge results and not intentions. So I scribbled down a list of businesses I’ve been a founder of or involved in since 1996.

The total was 10. I would call 3 a success. 3/10 in 12 years. That’s not pretty.. but at least I’m able to judge the results and I’m not dreaming of one day starting a business (-;

Interestingly, on the non profit side I’ve also been involved in 10 NPO’s since 1996.. founding or serving on the committee. I would call 7 a success and they are still active. 7/10 in 12 years.