Monthly Archives: May 2010

Quick Update

I had a thing for Kauai Appledisiacs this week…

  • Monday, full day ISOC INET conference.. I chaired a panel discussion about fibre and Metro Ethernet and played photographer.
  • Why is the new Madame Zingara in Century City? That’s just wrong.
  • Passed the 200 Twitter followers mark. Seems like a small number. Guess I’m just not that popular with the Twitter kids.
  • Three posts you should read about TrustFabric: 1) The World is Wrong, 2) What is TrustFabric?, 3) TrustFabric vs Diaspora.
  • Tuesday, nice long lawyers meeting about Mia agreement, got a 15″ digital photo frame for my mom (which Naulene has agreed to load up with photos), gave a presentation about TrustFabric at CLUG, dinner at Forrester’s with the CLUG geeks.
  • Seems we’re making progress with the legal docs, in a good way. It’s only been about 2 years.
  • Wednesday, gym, meeting with Dave at Cafe Sofia, admin.
  • I have no clue what to do for my birthday this year.
  • Thursday, Lions Head walk with Jonathan, gourmet pizza with Morgan, tire fix.. excellent value for R50, GeekDinner in Greenmarket square, Julep, Kir Royals at home.
  • Somebody suggested that it’s rare to meet only children. Seems the stats say about 20%. I guess 1/2 only children are even more rare.
  • Funny how it can be uncomfortable to find out that someone reads this blog. Yes, it’s probably all true. Dammit.
  • “You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow.” — Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

  • I think my problem is that I’m fanatical about uncertain things. When they become too certain I get bored. I’m pretty sure I’ll grow up soon.
  • Friday, let’s just say I took the day off, Beta Beach walk, fetched Mia, book shop, Kauai, too much time in the Wellness Warehouse. Yes, I missed the Lexus day, sorry Aiden.
  • “Reap the whirlwind” — what I think when I see Naulene and the life she has created for herself.

  • I think I want to live in Gardens again. I like the urban village vibe. Walk to the Labia etc.
  • We got Mia a new (movie time) tea bottle. I think I may be struggling with her not being 3yo anymore.
  • Saturday, fresh juice, a sunny laundry day, Mia’s first bicycle accident (not so bad), V&A shopping.. we found another of the smallest garments Cape Storm makes.. in purple this time, watched rugby at the aquarium with Georg.. which was interesting because I think for the first time we hoped different teams would win.
  • Never really know if I should support the Bulls or the Stormers. I’ve still spent more time in Bulls country than Cape Town.. ~1.2:1
  • Goodbye Dennis Hopper. Rest in peace. I loved True Romance.
  • Mia sometimes says “Oh my god” I’m trying to figure out if that bothers me.
  • Sunday, raw choc smoothie, gym, swim, took a drive in the winter sun with the roof down, Tamboerskloof farm visit.. looks a bit different since the cops keep their horses there, Mouille Point play area, ice cream, tea at Neo, (last) Beta Beach walk and photo session, dad’s house cuisine at its best, bath, sleep.
  • We’ve become fans of fresh pasta.. with some olive oil, pesto, sundried tomatoes, Mascarpone and some Kanonkop red.
  • “Because I’m big now.” — Mia, when I asked her why she chose to climb across 6m of monkey bars or her own for the first time today.

  • Weekends often feel like something from About a Boy. Two big kids out and about. Pop music and impulse decisions.
  • Mia now has a green (Yoda) lightsabre. It bugs me.. I should have also gotten myself one.
  • Last Beta Beach walk for a while. Getting ready to make some changes. Life out of Beta.
  • The thing about big change is that it makes you appreciate the things around you more. You notice them again. More real.
  • Tune of the week: Mr E’s Beautiful Blues, Eels.
  • Flying to London and then Brussels on Thursday. I need some adventure.

See you crazy kids on the flipside.

Egypt planning

The quick Egypt adventure with my cousin. Let me know if I missed something which is really cool to see.

Day1 – Early morning arrival, transfer to hotel to drop bags and leave for Giza pyramids, Memphis and Saqarra. Sound and Light show at the base of the Sphinx – Overnight in Giza.

Day2 – Egyptian Museum and Coptic Cairo, Citadel of Saladin – catch the overnight train to Luxor

Day3 – Early arrival in Luxor, drop bags at the hotel and head straight out for the West bank. Valley of the Kings, the Colossi of Memnon, Hapshetshut’s temple. In the afternoon take a felucca ride back across the Nile to the West bank for a memorable camelback ride into the sunset. Sound and Light show at Karnak Temple (the old city of Thebes).

Day 4 – Early morning hot air balloon safari. Back to the hotel for breakfast and latish pick up for tour of the East Bank – the temples of Karnak and Luxor. In the evening, transfer to the airport for your late night flight to Sharm el Sheikh.

Day 5,6,7 and most of 8 – SCUBA diving in Sharm el Sheikh and Dahab.

Day 8 – transfer to St Cathrines, climb Mount Sinai – evening till early morning the next day.

Day 9 – transfer back to Cairo to catch return flight.

I figure you must dive the Red Sea while we still have sea life to look at.

About Atlas Shrugged

We don’t grow up thinking that one day we’ll find ourselves in a room with a lawyer fighting about custody and maintenance. It sucks. Trust me.

Some of the logic hurts my head. At one point, which sounded very socialistic in nature I say to Mia’s mom.. I’ll bring you a copy of Atlas Shrugged.

I suspect she did not like that comment. Anyway, that’s the background. It bugged me, so I ended up sending her this:

You commented today that I’ve not finished reading Atlas Shrugged. True, I only made it about 25% through.

Thing is, it’s old. It does not work for the ethical empire way of thinking. The new successful business man is the one who can capture the moral high ground. Do well and do good. Rand did not understand how to blend capitalism and altruism.

I like my way more. Better story.

I’ll wait for the movie.

“Every man has to be his own saviour.” — Johnny Clegg

Quick Update

Life-affirming bullets points for the week..

  • Monday, gym, pizza at Knead with Naulene, TrustFabric dev meeting at the Barn, burger in a bowl with Georg, admin.
  • “Humans of Earth! I have come in peace. You need not fear me. I mean you no harm. However, it may be important to know that most of you will not survive the next 24 hours. And those of you who do survive will be enslaved and experimented on. You should in no way take any of this personally – it’s just business! So, just to recap: I come in peace, I mean you no harm, and you all will die. Gallaxhar out.” — Monsters vs Aliens

  • Tuesday, meeting with Mike at Crush, published some photos, fetched my UK visa, went to buy iWork.. for Keynote, Orms visit.. got new 60MB/s CompactFlash card, card reader and SD card for a photo frame, gym, spinning, admin and prep for a Belgium visa.
  • I used to publish my photos once a week on a Monday, now I try to publish them once a month.
  • “I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell myself to hold on to these moments as they pass.” — A Long December, Counting Crows

  • Wednesday, .BE visa visit, TrustFabric meeting at the Barn.. bumped into Vinny on the way in, lunch at Manna, tea with Ed.. we want to go climb Kilimanjaro, email session at the office (Wembley), gym, spinning, smoothie, the usual late night admin and tea drinking.
  • I think.. if I could make peace with the idea of working on someone else’s dream.. I could have been in the tech PR business.
  • Interesting story: http://tribalwriter.com/my-bio/
  • Thursday, admin day at home, Keynote workshop at V&A iStore, Kink.. not the best photo session, need better low light AF kung fu.
  • I love driving around Cape Town at night listening to Jazz.
  • I’m busy pondering which mobile phone to get next month.
  • Friday, interesting meeting at the coffee shop in the CBD BMW dealership.. where the cool kids from Naspers hang out, collected my .BE visa, applied for Egypt visa, attended a presentation by Andrew Rens about open source licences with Debby, Mia time, got two new shirts at bluecollarwhitecollar, Beta Beach sunset walk.
  • For some reason I just don’t like the word: bespoke.
  • Saturday, watched Batman.. mystery of the bat woman, flapjacks and maple syrup, La Med for rugby, pizza and sundowners.. I’m teaching Mia to throw a ball like a boy.
  • Snack of the week: Sundried tomato, Mascarpone, Avo on toast.
  • Tunes of the week: mostly Dave Matthews.
  • I now have more than 1000 comments on my blog.. from 555 posts.
  • Sunday, fresh juice, aquarium, dropped Mia with her mom, started watching the 2nd season of Californication.. but I figure one was enough.
  • I’m presenting a TrustFabric CLUG talk on Tuesday. See you at the GeekDinner.
  • My last week in Bakoven is coming up. Out of the comfort zone again.

Have a fun week crazy kids.

The Ideal Founder

Henk posted this while at NetProphet..

The ideal founder..

“A zealot with an almost annoying passion for their business and who could talk about their startup up every day, all day, easily. They are good at selling. They believe living frugally is spiritual and necessary. Understanding highly technical ideas as well as the bigger picture is something they are good at. They are not usually analytical. They don’t mind that each day is continually different, despite the chaotic nature of such. They know that money matters, but don’t spend too much time worrying about their personal bank account – that doesn’t help sell the product. Blind faith is often used to describe them. So is naivety.

They are comfortable with these personifications, even revelling in them and the fact that it makes them an outsider and “strange”. They deplore rules, even when the rules make sense. Nothing is ever accepted knowledge until they have put it to the test. They are almost impossible to manage and are often deemed self-centered. The latter is just zeal misunderstood. Consideration is for people with jobs and they, after all, are changing the world for the better, so you need to get out the way.”

From a Memeburn article by Justin Spratt.

My comments:

“They believe living frugally is spiritual and necessary.” – Nope, maybe if you are a student.

“They are not usually analytical.” – Nope, I think they are.

Here is my remix:

The ideal founder..

“A zealot with an almost annoying passion for their business. They could talk about the impact of their ideas every day. They like to explain things to others and they are quick to find a way to bring across an idea. They like the language of their industry and they speak it well. They are good at selling. They are good at listening. They enjoy arguing and convincing people. People often think they are stubborn.

They are good at managing complexity. They have highly technical skills but they also see the bigger picture. They are always processing new ideas. Always open for business. They know that good ideas don’t keep office hours. They like big ideas. It’s not a good idea unless it’s scary.

They don’t mind change and they are good at adapting their plan as new information becomes relevant. They know that money matters, but don’t spend too much time worrying about their personal bank account. They are not afraid to risk. They know risk and reward are linked. They are tenacious. They see value, place their bets and stick with their investment.

They deplore rules, even when the rules make sense. Nothing is ever accepted knowledge until they have put it to the test. They are almost impossible to manage and are often deemed unreasonable. Consideration is for people with jobs and they, after all, are changing the world for the better, so you need to get out the way.”

The problem with cheap phone calls

Skype has some social problems.

What if all voice telephony was free? Well it’s pretty much free today. How do we adapt?

I often get calls on my mobile phone where the callerID is just “Call”. That’s usually from Skype. I often don’t want to answer even though I know it’s probably a friend.

The problem with Skype.. and inexpensive telephony:

  • If there is no (real) cost or it’s very inexpensive we tend to yap. There is no need to end the call. It’s like calling a meeting without proposing an agenda.
  • I don’t like to yap on my mobile phone in general.
  • Skype-Out quality is not great. In fact it’s very frustrating when people phone from Skype to your mobile phone. It’s like talking to that woman from Police Academy in a noisy room with some extra latency.
  • There is often a disconnect between environments and moods. One party is chilling at a desk with a headset on, the other is busy and out and about in environments where it’s not always a good idea to have long telephone conversations.

Hey, it’s a cool technology.. all I’m saying is, think about the secondary impact. Find ways to make the technology fit.

Quick Update

Another week in single dad startup mode..

  • Monday, fresh juice, Bercher muesli, gym, swim, knead pizza, dropped Mia off.. some conflict time (nothing unusual just threats of phoning the police), tea with Andrew, oxtail for dinner at Andrew’s, we made Sago pudding, yum.
  • Major sense of humour failure, I discovered Naulene had gotten a passport for Mia without my consent. So, she had to choose between keeping Mia or the passport.
  • Mia can now drive the Ubuntu UI, find and play her movies.
  • Tuesday, lunch with Michelle to do some Egypt trip planning, gym.
  • Yes, I’m off to London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Egypt in June.. scuba diving in the Red Sea.. and pondering a US visit.
  • When you have kids they lose stuff and they break stuff. I figure my way of dealing with this is to take photos.
  • Snack of the week: cheese, gherkins, sundried tomato on toast.
  • Wednesday, home affairs, Gardens Centre, hot chocolate with Alan at Truth coffee, Crush, spinning.
  • “To spend money costs money.” — Alan Levin

  • Did you see the wave outside? The anti-Facebook, distributed and open wave. Grab your surfboards.
  • Thursday, bank, UK visa application, Netprophet, took a drive up Nettleton rd, spinning.
  • Seems Lance (the spinning instructor, Hi Lance) has been following my activities on FB/Twitter.. interesting how many people think I’m a photographer of sorts.
  • Frogfoot once hired a consultant (Virgo) to help with some strategy. In the first session he asked what we would do if money was not an issue. I answered.. start and run an open source project that had a big impact on the world.
  • Friday, WAPA presentation, lunch at Boo Radley’s, home affairs, fetched Mia, dinner at home with Georg and Parri.
  • Try to explain the children’s act of 2005 to Home Affairs.. it’s a riot. They have no fucking idea what the law says. In the end they blamed the training officer. Super Muppets.
  • Saturday, fruit salad, big washing day (5 batches) on a sunny day, gym, swim, Waterfront shopping, watched 9.. pretty good, big photo processing night (~750 photos).
  • Sunday, we watched Cloudy with a chance of meatballs with duvet, rusks and tea, pottering around the house, fresh juice, photo exporting, avo ciabatta sandwiches, listened to all the R.E.M. we have, afternoon nap, gym, swim, green pesto and fresh pasta, bath, read, sleep.
  • Tune of the week: World Leader Pretend, Green, R.E.M.
  • Screw this stock photography thing. Who wants to take powerpoint slide backgrounds anyway. My career as a profile picture photographer is doing much better anyway.

Have a fun week crazy kids.

Facebook Backup

Getting ready for the exodus: http://www.quitfacebookday.com/

Seems every time I want to save a list of friends my Facebook “friends” I have to find a different way. Since my last attempt in January: Facebook friends backup they moved things around again.

Try this:

You need to be logged in to Facebook for this to work.

Go here: http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/rest/fql.query

Run this query:

SELECT uid, first_name, last_name, name, birthday_date, sex, hometown_location, current_location, profile_url, profile_blurb, username, website FROM user WHERE uid IN (SELECT uid2 FROM friend WHERE uid1 = 638122456)

Change uid1 to your Facebook ID.. which you can find in the URL when you use Facebook.

You’ll end up with some JSON output text.

Copy, paste, save.

There are obviously better ways, but this is the 2min hack. No, you can’t extract your friend’s email address.. why? Because Facebook is evil remember.

Maybe somebody wants to write us some php to do a better backup.

Venture Philanthropy

Time for a bit of a rant kids.

Maybe Cape Town should become a Venture Philanthropy hub.

In the last 3 months I’ve learnt that Cape Town is not very good at Venture Capital. We have projects like Silicon Cape which aim to replicate an idea: hot cars, hot clubs, hot chicks, nice views, smart people + a mountain.. just no real money and no balls.

You can get “nurture” capital.. a few old guys who like to tell you what to do for a stake in your business. Not very exciting. You can get all the incubation you need for the next 25 years of running a 2 man business. Pick your innovation hub. You can get free hosting. You can get trade shows, conferences, maybe some form of mickey mouse government grant money which restricts what you can do with your IP.. if you like filling in forms for 2 years. You can win a business plan competition to get access to a bank loan. Awesome.

You can even get some tech journos to blow smoke up the bum of your nurtured, incubated, free hosted replica of an existing idea.. it’s like Digg, but.. it’s like Technorati, but.. it’s like Youtube, but.. Ebay, Fon, Geocities (2.0), Facebook.. yes, and if you are really really awesome you can get Naspers to buy your replica and put it on their shelf.. like a little Star Wars replica.

Excited yet?

Look, I’m sure it’s happening. It’s just _freeekin_ slow. Lots of talk. Many, many OK ideas. Not so smart people and very few with experience in running businesses.

Talk to the VC’s and you hear stories about yet another guy who wants to build a perpetual motion machine.. or even worse a mobile payment system. The VC’s have “mandates”.. good reasons to say no. They manage money for the big dogs. The big dogs want their return or the people who manage the funds don’t get a bonus.. so the people who run the funds sit on the money until the perfect cookie comes around to fit their mold.. until it never comes and they bet on some b-rate business.. usually one with a nice spreadsheet, but we all laugh about those later.

The VC business in SA is small. Very very small. A little sewing circle. Probably immature. They have a comfortable little ecosystem… you like small things, he likes IP and trademarks, she likes going global, he likes industrial stuff, hmm… that’s about it really.

Venture Capital in the US needs to re-invent itself very soon and the VCs we have here even more so. Some of our local VCs still need to discover Agile and lean startup thinking.

Maybe we can’t blame our VC’s. It could just be that they just don’t find good people with solid ideas and experience to invest in.

Some say what Cape Town needs is more success stories. Teams who make it big.. so the top tier techies walk away with good money which they can invest in the next round of startups. Sure.. but I suspect there are a lot of talented techies in businesses which are supposed to make it big which can’t work out how many shares they own between all the BS and the team building time. Even more of a problem is that most of these talented techies are very comfortable and don’t have any appetite for risk.. (aka balls).

Now, do you remember the question at the beginning of this post?

Good. Sorry about the little detour.

I was having ~coffee (hot chocolate really) with Alan Levin today and he mentioned how Cape Town could be brilliant for venture philanthropy. Gateway to Africa. Mobile innovation. Many rich people around (for 6 months of the year). Many of whom have enough money to fund things which have an impact.

Makes sense to me. Maybe the days of the pure profit maximising business is over (for a while). Maybe we should be building ethical empires. Maybe we should not be trying to replicate the Intel/HP/Apple dream. Maybe we should come up with big ideas which have an impact and are sustainable.

Is there a venture philanthropy organisation in Cape Town? Any better ideas?

I guess this is my way of pointing out a problem but also suggesting a solution.

Maybe we need to change the dream a bit and find some new parents brave enough to raise this teenager we call #siliconcape.

Quick Update

The weekly post is on time for a change..

  • Monday, raw chocolate smoothie, gym, swim, failed Mia exchange (most annoying), testing, tweaking and blogging to launch TrustFabric Alpha2.
  • Tuesday, smoothie, dropped Mia off, Aiden visit.. I took the Lexus IS250C (cab) for a test drive, late lunch and strat session with Jonathan, travel planning, booked a flight to London.
  • Wednesday, admin day at home, watched Iron Man 2.
  • Why do people start their voicemail messages with “Hi!.. blah blah”? Surely you don’t want people to think that you are answering your phone.
  • It’s really winter now.
  • To get VC ask for advice. To get advice, ask for VC.
  • Thursday, breakfast at Arnold’s with PW and Dave, gym, admin time.
  • Andrew started blogging.
  • Friday, ICSE at CTICC (nerd-ville).. ended up giving a talk for some students, lunch at Manna with Andrew from mygeni.org, music and Tshirt shopping at HiFive in Kloof st, Henk’s birthday at Woodstock Lounge, Paul Oakenfold party.. met Sunette and Dihantus.
  • “Keep calm and party on.” — my new t-shirt

  • Saturday, Beta Beach walk, nap, pizza and rugby at Carlyle’s, met up with Andy and Marcia at O’Driscals, Cams’ birthday party at Ricks.. got some nice pics, but I was a bit lazy so everything is f1.2 which can get a bit much.
  • Sunday, house cleaning, Mia time, gave Naulene a foot massage, nap, movies, pasta, bath, read How to train your dragon book, sleep.
  • “I’ve never wanted something rational.” — Head Over Feet, Alanis Morissette

  • Tunes of the week: Koop Islands, by Koop.

Have a fun week kids.