Monthly Archives: August 2009

Quick Update

A week of birthday parties..

  • Monday, upgraded my blog farm to 2.8.4, survived my first (Kundalini) yoga class.
  • Tuesday, heavy rain, gym, spinning.
  • Seems Ingi got engaged a while ago.
  • Wednesday, fetched my 5DmkII, a run to Bantry Bay.
  • When you start playing with a 5D at 16mm, it kinda makes you see the world at a wider angle.
  • Started reading The Game, I like his writing style.
  • Thursday, sent an interesting proposal about Amobia Wifi, ISPA PR telecon, squash with Matt in Camps Bay, TF telecon, beer and tequila with Georg and Parri.
  • Friday, breakfast with Chris at Neo, shopping, squash game with Matt, Mia time, Jonathan’s birthday party at Pancho’s.. many frozen Margarita’s.
  • Saturday, Matt’s birthday brunch, Deer Park with Georg.
  • “If you only do your job you will get fired” — Dave Duarte

  • “I like your shoes Daddy” — Mia, about the FiveFinger shoes

  • “When you have a pair of well worn slops it’s usually an indication of a good lifestyle.” — Chris, about Capetonians

  • Sunday, swimming with Mia.. underwater photos, dropped Mia off.

Have a fun week.

Fail Party

It’s ok to fail

“Go ahead, Cornelius, you can cry…”

Sometimes it’s very liberating.. figure out when to quit, step away, realise you failed, take a deep breath, learn and move on.

Rewind a few weeks

I while ago I noticed a tweet from the Geek Retreat, something like this:

“It’s not that we don’t have success. We don’t even have failures. We have nothing.”

..about South African online entrepreneurship.

Then at Internetix there was a story about how HP have a party when a product fails. Balloons, party hats and champagne.. a party to make sure people learn from the failure.

So, at the Audi MVP day lunch, over a good glass of white wine, I mentioned to Cath we should have a failure party in Cape Town. She liked the idea. So here you go:

You are all invited to the first Failure Party.

Now the background

Cape Town is a tech an media hub. Silicon Cape. Silicon Mountain. There is a really cool community here which shares a passion for technology. But.. I don’t think we see enough bold, risky, big and scary ideas come out of Cape Town.

The problem could be that people are afraid to think big, fail big and fail bold.

A while ago I figured out my track record for business success is about 3/10.

Most of the really talented, really bright people I see around me are either working in a day job or on venture number one. Nothing wrong with that, but maybe we can accelerate things a bit with the right attitude.

I have to add a disclaimer at this point. I’m not suggesting you start a small franchise and run it into the ground. I’m saying, think big, risk, find a really crazy way to scratch and itch which has never been scratched before.

The Failure Awards

Here are my entries for the failure award ceremony:

1. Frogfoot Wifi Hotspots

This was fun. Spent about 6 months of my life on this one. I figured would be an interesting challenge designing a (micro) billing engine. We figured a profit sharing model with fixed pricing across all hotspots would be cool.. and hey, it only took about 6 months to cook up for idea to launch at a trade show with nice branding, brochures, tokens and balloons.

The snag was that it’s a consumer focused business and Frogfoot was rapidly moving away from consumer business back to business customers only.

To positive side of this story is that Amobia inherited most of the thinking and built something very similar to what Frogfoot created. What makes the Amobia one much nicer is that Amobia is all about wireless and they have their own outdoor network, so there is (almost) no last-mile connectivity costs to a hotspot.

Lesson learnt: Focus.

2. Blio PBX

We founded a company called Blio a few years ago. At first it built an embedded OS for wireless CPEs. Then we figured building a embedded Asterisk based PBX was a good idea, 1U, no moving parts, nice web interface etc. This took about 2 years.. designing a lot of the hardware from scratch. It worked. We build a batch of 20 units and actually sold them.

The snag is that you need lots of capital to play the hardware vendor game. You also need to be very clear about playing in the vendor OR integrator space. In the vendor space you need very good channel and partnership management. Oh, and hardware is about volume.. it’s not easy building electronics in Cape Town, in low volumes and getting close to the price they build this stuff for at scale in China (rather obvious).

Lesson learnt: Some things don’t grow organically, you need capital and volume to play.

Be a smart fool..

“I could not become anything; neither good nor bad; neither a scoundrel nor an honest man; neither a hero nor an insect. And now I am eking out my days in my corner, taunting myself with the bitter and entirely useless consolation that an intelligent man cannot seriously become anything, that only a fool can become something.” — Fyodor Dostoevsky

See you at the Fail Party crazy kids.

ps. I can say that my new venture is big, scary, risky, global, a first (to my knowledge), it has a com+org business model and I can tell you more about it in about 3 months.

Gartner Symposium 2009

An idea from the Gartner Symposium this year..

Chief economist at First National Bank, Dr. Cees Bruggemans told us how the global economy lost a tire recently.. it was a major bump in the road (even if you look at it over a long timeline), yet global financial leaders were quick to respond and he thinks we’ll be back on track very soon.

He was optimistic. A few people who attended the talk commented that he is (often) overly optimistic.

The part I liked was how he explained the western world’s attitude in responding to this indecent…

“This will not stand.” “Not on my watch.” “We will not go quietly into the night!”

Quick Update

A cross-training week..

  • Monday, watched Antz again, a visit to the Nike factory shop, lunch at Melissas in Newlands, got a new squash racket (let’s play?), dropped Mia off, dinner at Will’s.. good Pad Thai, very nice bottle of Saxenburg Private Collection Merlot 2004 (reminds me of Balduci’s in 2004) and a Cape Wine Makers Guild 1998 Pinotage from Corina’s collection.
  • “They are clever, but not together.” — Will, about IA.

  • I now have a pair of FiveFingers, maybe a bit dorky, but different and fun, I should take them up Lions Head soon.
  • “Wow Joe, I think you are doing a great job. It’s not easy to be a weekend father I reckon. You are really giving Mia the opportunity to get to know her father and a special kind of freedom not many children are able to have.” — Kind words.

  • Tuesday, spinning, TF branding research.
  • “Ingi can have my body for free… Oh, right, um,…how much is she willing to buy it for?” — About selling a DSLR body

  • Wednesday, WAPA exco meeting, a run, dinner party at the Cape Royale with Cath, Parri and Georg.. food, fun and friends.
  • Thursday, woke up in a 5 star hotel.. with that “where am I” feeling, ISPA PR WG meeting, fetched my new lens and waterproof camera, TF meeting.
  • Friday, tea with Maz at Neo, Orms visit, squash with Matt, Hudsons with Georg, Kink.. bumped into Gerjo.
  • Saturday, visited the De Waterkant market where Ingi “girl”ed a stall, gym, swim, tea with Thomas at Melissas (Kloof), a walk on Bantry Bay beach with Bella and Alexander (k9), sushi and Chardonnay with Thomas.
  • The five finger shoes really work well for walking on rocks.
  • Sunday, up at 5am.. mind was just too busy to sleep, watched G-Force with Mia.. OK, shopping, extended braai at Andy’s, beers with Georg in Camps Bay.
  • Holiday in Spain is a great open road song.

Have a fun week.

A Reputation Business Model

The Free business model has won. Stating the obvious. It’s just not cool selling anything. Scarcity is not a cool business model.

We know all this, and it scares us, maybe because it does not really make much sense, at first.

The new economies are attention and reputation. The challenge is to make money from non-monetary economies.

The obvious answer is advertising (attention spam).

I’m thinking, how do you build a reputation business? A global, totally open, totally free reputation focused business.

Sounds crazy?

Send P2 posts to Twitter and Facebook

Regular readers may know that I don’t like content traps (most centralised Web2 services). I like to own, manage and backup my content.. even trivial things like Facebook status updates.

A few people have asked for more real time content.

My solution is WordPress with the P2 theme and plugins to update Twitter and Facebook:

To install this is pretty basic. There are lots of plugins that sync WP and Twitter/FB, I tested about 4, most were more complex that I needed.

The only snag was that I had to go hack the plugins to use the body of the post and not the header, it seems a header can only be 40 characters long. Like so..

//$postTitle = $post->post_title;
$postTitle = $post->post_content;

You can find the SwimGeek Micro Blog here.

What is this?

This is Joe’s Micro Blog. It’s the entry point for all his short posts which get syndicated to Facebook and Twitter.

What’s the point?
Well, he keeps all his content. See it as a freedom enabled gateway to the roach motels of centralised web services. Content checks it, but never checks out. This will not stand.

“Worker bees can leave. Even drones can fly away. The Queen is their slave.”

Quick Update

Mostly a Gartner conference week..

  • Monday, Gartner Symposium at CTICC, tea with Cath, drinks at Daddy Cool with the Gartner journos.. they can party, met Samantha Perry from Brainstorm.
  • “What is your meaning of winning?” — Chantell Ilbury

  • “With great power comes great responsibility” — Will Hahn, the lesson in most comic books

  • “What does it mean to live in a world where you can’t trust software quality?” — Nick Jones

  • “Software development is not an engineering problem, it’s a knowledge acquisition problem. Software is a social process, it’s a journey. The only significant impact made on improving software development has been to take on smaller projects.” — Nick Jones

  • Tuesday, nothing to report.
  • Wednersday, Gartner day 3, my first press interview.. as the press, walked around the V&A, figured out I should run in a neutral shoe, got a pair of Bowerman series Vomero +4’s, got a Springbok rugby jersey, pizza at Da Vinci’s (Kloof st) and a beer at Asoka with Georg.
  • I used to think being a tech journalist would be cool, but after this week they seem to be a bit stressed and work way too hard.
  • I’ve taken about 1000 pics with the 50D and I still need to read the manual.
  • Thursday, TF teleconf, watched Step Brother.. pretty good.
  • Friday, tea with Branko and Max at Neo, Mia time, we made smoothies, Beta Beach walk, boerewors rolls for supper, bath, reading, sleep.
  • “It’s about doing well and doing good.” — Max

  • “the smartest guy in the room”, nice saying if it wasn’t for that Enron movie

  • Saturday, gym, swim, smoothie, got Mia her first bicycle with helmet and elbow/knee pads and her 3rd car seat, SA-AU rugby at Newlands, while Mia and Ingi baked, I was stuck in traffic while Mia had a candle light aromatherapy bath, the cupcakes were a bit solid, but healthy and well decorated.
  • Sunday, a very domestic morning, attempted to resuscitate our swimming pool, assembled Mia’s bike, gym, swim, got a new Olivia book (O helps with xmas) for Mia, Beta Beach walk, watched Antz, roast chicken and avo burgers, strawberries and full cream strawberry yoghurt.. a very Mia dessert, bath, reading, sleep, blogging.
  • “Don’t worry, I know almost exactly what I’m doing” — Antz

I figure August is a fitness month.

Morning Smoothie

If you are anything like me.. too lazy to make breakfast, but really need a good breakfast, try this:

Add to a blender:

  • Milk
  • One banana
  • Two Scoops of Whey protein powder
  • A teaspoon of Sirulina powder
  • A bit of ground organic vanilla bean powder
  • Peruvian Maca powder (not too much)
  • Soya lecithin powder
  • A bit of coconut oil
  • Some rolled oats

Blend at high speed. Now gobble this down with all your daily vitamins and miscellaneous supplements.


When you get bored, just go ask you local health store owner for interesting stuff to put in a smoothie.

Quick Update

Yes, yes, this is very late. Did you think I switched to micro blogging?.. nope, I was just busy.

  • Monday, dropped Mia off at playschool, visited Will to chat about a wireless network project, fetched Mia from school, lunch at Andrew’s mom’s, Burger at Jamaica Me Crazy with Georg.
  • Made up my mind that I will not be standing for re-election to the ISPA management committee in September. It was fun and I learned a lot, but I need a new challenge.
  • Andrew moved to Somerset West. I kinda miss feeding the cats in the morning.
  • Tuesday, haircut at B’s, afternoon walking around Stellenbosch playing with the 50D, Amobia meeting at CTFM.
  • Amobia has partnered with a major SA ISP providing the wireless network for one of their wireless access services, can’t say much now but it’s looking promising.
  • “Beware the little irritations, for they will drive you over the edge.” — Thomas

  • Wednesday, lunch with Chris at Crush, GeekDinner at the Pasta Factory, I gave a talk about Spectrum 2.0 and the OSA.
  • “Why do you hate freedom?” — Somebody at the GeekDinner

  • Bryn mentioned this. Looks interesting.
  • “You look good in pink, Joe.” – Cath, about wearing one of Mia’s tops around my neck.

  • I now have a pink iPod nano.. I figure it will be passed on to Mia at some point.
  • Thursday, setup a micro blog WP with P2, upgraded the firmware on the 50D, shopping at the Lifestyle Centre, roast chicken avo burgers and Kevin Arnold shiraz with Jonathan, wrote the 700-floor elevator pitch for TF, Caol Ila and photo geek talk.
  • Nice to go from 20% to 80% knowledge on a topic.. photography. That’s the fun curve.
  • Friday, Spirulina smoothie, lunch with Cath at Sideplate (Rouge on Rose).. I had heart shaped mushroom filled ravioli, fetched my drivers license in Stellenbosch, fetched Mia, a glass of Sauvignon with Andy, made burgers with Georg.
  • Saturday, tea, Kung Fu Panda, smoothie, Paarl outing with Mia and Georg, Fairview wine and cheese tasting, Taal Monument, Nederburg visit, De Waal park, Rugby at Carlyle’s.. good game, while Mia and Ingi baked gingerbread men, bath, reading, 12hour sleep.
  • Sunday, tea and rusks, Spirulina smoothie.. which Mia seems to like, gym, swim, crush berry smoothie, SA museum.. not bad, tea with Thomas at Neo, Naulene fetched Mia, Beta Beach photos, some fail party planning, Baraza with Andy.. it rocked, all the groovy Camps Bay kids were out.
  • “Yes, those are stupendous and I don’t often use that word.” — Andy, about a girl in Baraza.

  • Attraction is not voluntary. Maybe obvious, but interesting.

Next week will follow within the hour.