Monthly Archives: May 2012

Enthusiasm

I had an interesting chat with a non-techie on Saturday night. She used the word “enthusiasm” a few times while talking about the tech and startup culture in Stellenbosch at the moment.

I had a chat with one of the original Mxit people recently about how and why Mxit managed to succeed in the early days. (aka The Traveler, if you read the book.)

“We’re all a little irrational”. — I think those were his words.

His explanation went something like this:

When the team working on a product really believes in it and you combine enough enthusiasm and irrationality you create a culture which has a big impact in the way the product is built. This emanates outwards to partners, customers and users.

“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

Quick Update

Kinda hibernating..

  • Monday, up early, dropped Mia and Francis at school, gym, events strategy workshop, sunset walk to Lanzerac.
  • Tuesday, beer with Frank at Trumpet Tree, beer with Henk and Andrew.
  • Wednesday, new Gust website, Mia visit.
  • Feels like ages since I’ve used my camera. Must be a winter thing.
  • Thursday, dropped Mia at school, car service day, killed a hive of bees, gym, Mxit Thursdays at Gino’s with the family.
  • Friday, Gust meeting, watched MIB3.. entertaining.
  • Saturday, breakfast at Basic Bistro with Parri, Oude Libertas market with Jonathan, Brampton wine bar, nap, burger at 5 Reyneveld.
  • Try the Darling Black Mist brew.
  • Sunday, gym, family lunch at Bodega, raked together six bags of leaves while Mia watched Return of the Jedi, bath, read, sleep.
  • 250,000+ Opt-outs.
  • Been driving an A4 2.0T again – nice ride.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Stellenbosch POI Challenge

We’re giving a few #hackstb people double tickets to a music event at the end of July in Stellenbosch.

As announced at the last event, we want to crowd source points of interest in Stellenbosch for the next version of our AR app.

Tell me more?
This is a Twitter based challenge where you get to suggest your favourite points of interest in Stellenbosch, with GPS co-ordinates. You can suggest more than one POI per category. We want the real gems around town – so think of your favourite places please.

Categories:

  1. Dining
  2. Bar
  3. Culture
  4. Nature
  5. History

Format:
@stbpoi [GPS CO-ORDINATE (dd.dd,dd.dd)] , [Category], [Name of location]
eg.
@stbpoi (-33.939564,18.85586), Bar, The Trumpet Tree Social Café

Prizes:
If you send your favourite place in at least two of the categories with GPS coordinates you win two tickets to the Grim Furdango (Mxit+Gust) music event at Klein Libertas Theatre at the end of July. Simple. We only have 80 tickets (40*2) to give away, so we will work on a first-tweet, first-win bases.

Come to the next #hackstb event (13 June) to collect your prize.

What about the data?
If you participate in this competition and you wish to have access to the gathered information we’re happy to share.

Quick Update

Joburg visit…

  • Monday, woke up in De Zaltze, events group meeting, Gusted a few coffees for a meeting, lunch and a walk around Stellenbosch with Toby, a beer at Jan Kats and a burger at Cognito with Parri, a glass of wine at Dirk’s house.
  • We built a new website for #hackstb.
  • New Gust Alpha site.
  • Tuesday, #hackstb meetup, Trumpet Tree.
  • ARBurn Video…
  • Wednesday, early flight to Joburg, my first Gautrain ride, presented a talk on Gust at ITWeb Security Summit 2012, dinner at Wombles with Ernst, Lisa and Anton.
  • Thursday, woke up at Anton’s house, took a ride on Anton’s Gomoto 125 to visit his office, Gautrain ride, flight back to Cape Town, Mxit Thursdays at Gino’s, babies don’t sleep this good.
  • Is somebody plotting the average wall height in Joburg over time? Crazy how high the walls are.
  • Friday, Gust demo day, lunch with Cath, haircut, events meeting, a beer with Werner, Alan and Pete at De Akker, family time.
  • Saturday, family breakfast, watched the rugby with Parri at Trumpet Tree.
  • “Relax, nothing is under control.” — AfrikaBurn photo

  • Sunday, chilled at home and did I few things I never get time for.. like calibrated my laptop screen, downloaded all the Facebook photos I’ve been tagged in, watched The Avengers.. impressive movie, fish and chips with Mia and Francis at Jimmy the Fish, Star Wars episode 6.
  • Seems Mia’s favourite Star Wars movie is Return of the Jedi.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Jimmy the Fish Stellenbosch Muppets

Just got back from a disaster of a meal at Jimmy the Fish in Stellenbosch.

Context: The kids like the play area there, so it was given a second chance. A bit more than a week ago we were served pretty raw fish (as hake and chips). Complained, got a new meal. I explained to the manager at the time that this was not the first time the fish was under-cooked.

Tonight: As you walk in there is a sign than says: “Wait to be seated”, but you’ll die of old age before anybody cares to seat you. After sitting for 10 minutes I called the manager over, told him about poor service the previous times and complained than nobody had taken my drinks order yet. The children’s food arrives and the calamari has not been cleaned properly. I complain to a different manager, they take it back. A few minutes later my meal arrives, same problem.

The 2nd manager I talked to tonight was the same one we had with the raw fish story. Obviously not very interested in improving things.

Big problems. Don’t go there.

Muppets.

Quick Update

Media week..

  • Monday, woke up at Andrew’s house, events meeting, press release writing.
  • We moved around the office again at the end of last week.. ended up closer to the creative team.
  • “Mxit musical chairs.. grab a seat when the music stops.” — Dirk about office moves.

  • Tuesday, woke up with a stiff neck, Chinese back massage, did not make it to Netprophet this year, more press release writing, sunset podcast walk, Mia visit.
  • Wednesday, Gusted a smoothie, had my ADSL line at home installed, beer with Parri and Alex, Mia’s school cheese and wine.
  • GUST the news this week: BandwidthBlog, Memeburn, TechCentral, BizCommunity, Memeburn, ITWeb, Times Live.
  • GUST mentioned on Podcasts this week: ZA Tech Show (at 54:37 and 1:10:50), Talk Central (at 7:40).
  • TrustFabric in the news this week: ITWeb.
  • Pro tip: Form first.
  • Thursday, Gusted a smoothie, Gust meeting, Gino’s #hackstb planning meeting, dinner at Paul’s house and a blind wine tasting.
  • Friday, Mxit Formal Friday, beer with Werner at De Akker, braai at Dirk’s house.
  • Saturday, tea, Mia and I watched Star Wars Episode 2, botanical gardens with the family, Wakaberry frozen yoghurt, Star Wars Episode 3.
  • Mia’s new party trick: making heart shapes out of cable ties.
  • Sunday, woke up at 7:00 after having been migrated to three different beds during the night, Star Wars Episode 4, braai at Al’s house with Paul and Henk.
  • I’m speaking at the ITWeb Securuty Summit 2012 on Wednesday.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

GUST – Free lunch innovation

If you’ve been for a walk around Stellenbosch with Alan Knott-Craig in the last few weeks you would probably have seen a demo of a new geo-fenced mobile payment system. These walks usually end on the top floor of Mxit‘s office where the barista is busy making coffee.

The idea with the Gust project was to design a really quick mobile payment experience (without NFC).

Mxit staff can buy lunch at about 15 places around Stellenbosch using their mobile phones. One restaurant had poor GSM signal which made the payment process a bit unpredictable and slow. While walking back to the office, ideas for a better payment experience were discussed. Six weeks later the Gust payment system was launched at a Mxit party.

Gust runs on an iPhone. The merchant side runs on an iPad. When two devices are close to each other the merchant can request a payment from the mobile phone. Unlike other payment systems which use geo-fencing logic, Gust does not need a GPS device or even a GSM connection. It will happily run on an entry level iPod Touch.

Gust devices on the same wifi network will discover each other. All communication happens over the wifi network which makes the payment process really fast. That’s where the name Gust comes from… rapid burst of wind.

Gust simply uses wifi, your name and our photo to make a payment. When a user’s phone joins a payment location the merchant’s iPad shows a list of names and photos of Gust users connected to that payment location. After a user places an order the merchant sends a payment request. The user sees a payment request and approves it.

The Alpha version video (quick hack):

Mxit staff have been using an Alpha version of Gust around Stellenbosch since early April. The first public demo was at a recent #hackstb meetup.

The Beta is in development and should be out in June. Stellenbosch only for now.

Follow @GustPay

Quick Update

Star Wars and playing single dad..

  • Monday, family lunch at Glen Carlou, watched UP with Mia.
  • Tuesday, public holiday, Mia watched UP while I sorted out some camping equipment, family outing to Cape Town, gym, swim, Deer Park, Jimmy the Fish with Mia, UP.
  • Winter. Drinking lots of tea. For some reason Mia still wants her rooibos tea in a bottle.
  • Wednesday, dropped Mia at school, gym, fetched Mia, got some duct tape and fixed my tent, we watched Eight Below.. and we both had a bit of a cry, walked to Wijnhuis for pasta.. the food and service was not great but I enjoyed dining with Mia.
  • Thursday, dropped Mia at school, gym, Gust meeting, fetched Mia, pizza at Gino’s.
  • The next round of Gust dev has officially started.. expect a Beta around mid June.
  • Friday, Mia was not feeling well so we skipped school, worked at home, Mia watched UP, office, calamari, red velvet cupcake at Nook, found a new home for my offsite backup disk, lemon meringue with Petr, Piet and Parri, Mia made an artwork with duct tape and cable ties, we watched Star Wars episode 4 – May the 4th is a good day to watch the first episode for the first time.
  • Seems I need about 3500 Vitality points to get to Diamond status.
  • After watching UP a few times Mia made me a Book of Adventures with 14 countries I’ve visited (13 actually, she added a page for AfrikaBurn).
  • Saturday, tea, Star Wars episode 4, Cape Town, gym, swim, Deer Park with Sarah, a beer at Carlyle’s with Georg while Mia played at Sarah’s house, we watched Star Wars episode 5.
  • Sunday, tea, we watched Star Wars episode 6, Blaauklippen market, a Guinness at Erinvale, Naulene fetched Mia, Andrew visit.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

Drove to the desert to give away free water..

  • Yeah, this post is a bit late.
  • Monday, dropped Mia at school, gym, Mill House to Gust me a smoothie, meeting with the Ramfest guys.
  • Tuesday, last minute prep.
  • Bought my first tent this week.. I’m not big on camping.
  • Wednesday to Saturday, AfrikaBurn 2012.
  • Sunday, drove back from AfrikaBurn with Cath, watched Cowboys & Aliens.
  • Downloaded 533 photos from 6 different cameras.. only.
  • AfrikaBurn Set1
  • AfrikaBurn Set2
  • Dr. Ernst started taking Aspirin on a daily basis. I guess I should too.
  • Been a while since I drove a manual car.. more than a year before this Sunday.

Have a fun (default life) week, crazy kids.

Notes from AfrikaBurn 2012

This year was my first visit to AfrikaBurn. I’m pretty sure I’d like to go again next year.

“For those that have been no explanation is necessary, for those that haven’t none is possible.” — Devin Ross Herd

So, this is not a blog post about the event, it’s just a few random notes.

  • AfrikaBurn is what happens when you open source the party. Nobody is working on somebody else’s dream.
  • “Welcome home.” – the sign you see when you arrive.
  • “Enjoy your life.” — somebody wrote this on the Solace artwork. Have more adventures.
  • As for photography – it’s heaven and it’s a bit overwhelming. You’ve never seen so many L-series lenses at one event.