Tuesday, January 29

ezy peezy wine club

This year for Christmas I signed Glynn up for the Ezy Peezy Wine Club for 12months. Essentially you make monthly credit card payments to Regional Wines here in Wellington and they send you a case of wine (mixed or red or white) every three months. It's all going to be a nice surprise on the doorstep every so often and I'm looking forward to seeing what they send each time. Regional Wines seemed to have the best offering of several wine clubs you can find on the web. I've also heard there are good online bargains to be had at blackmarket.co.nz, so we'll try them out sometime too.

Regional Wines at the Basin Reserve have a great selection of beers and wines and Glynn and I often head down there to try and find our latest favourite. I've added a map showing its location. I had to join zoomin to do it - a great mapping service for locating local addresses and businesses. It wasn't hard to join up and despite a short hiccup requiring me to reset my password for some reason the user experience was all good. I frequently use zoomin to find local businesses and addresses so its nice to join up and I'll add some more places.

webstock 2008

Absolutely stoked to be heading to webstock beginning the week of 11th February here in Wellington. One of the highlights for me will be hearing Kathy Sierra speak in person. I had been an avid reader of her blog until a series of bizarre online threats stopped her from posting, and I have also seen impressive footage of her delivering presentations before. She really has a handle on how to create a user experience that will have people returning for more and I love her diagrams and pictures, many of which she has now included on her last blog post.

Will be interesting to hear from a kiwi presenter now living overseas. Craig Nevill-Manning originally from Canterbury now works for Google in New York and created their product search service aka froogle. He's going to talk about how the large scale collection of data makes information more useful. Interesting, especially given all the controversy over the ownership of personal information on the web. There will also be a fireside chat with local hero Sam Morgan. Hope to hear about the difficulties he faced getting TradeMe up and running in Wellington, the attitude of local business to his success and future developments for the site.

I just cannot wait and want to thank organisers and sponsors for arranging a scholarship programme so that young early stage businesses like myself can come along and benefit from being exposed to the high calibre of speakers, and networking opportunities. I also get a t-shirt - woohoo!

Saturday, January 26

what gives a cafe its true mojo?

Visited the mojo cafe located on the ground floor of the new Meridian Building on the waterfront this afternoon. I asked whether there was any access to wifi on site and the girl behind the counter didn't know what I was talking about but said she didn't think so. While we might pop down again one day with the laptops and see what available networks there are - it was a bit disappointing to hear its not likely. What a great place to sit and do some work and drink great coffee. In a few months time you'll be able to go there and have lunch at wagamamas too! While it's a great location and they do serve great coffee, having access to the internet would give the cafe true mojo in my opinion.

I'm always surprised to walk into some cafes and not have access - I think those places are really missing out on an opportunity to use wifi as a marketing tool. Early this month it was announced that San Francisco is back on track with its plan to provide free wireless for the entire city. While we are a sister city to San Francisco - it would be a big ask to follow in her footsteps on that scale right now. However, my immediate wish would be a *free* wireless network in Wellington amongst all the amazing cafes in the CBD. In the spirit of being an ICT hub, and some would argue "coffee culture capital of the world" - surely it would be in the interests of WCC and local businesses to get behind and sponsor that sort of project?

homebrewing with gman

during the week I spent of couple of hours helping gman bottle another of his brews. Czech Pilsner this time with a very successful drinkable Indian Pale Ale already under his belt, a watery and kind of tasteless lager and a gooey meaty stout. He wont appreciate my uneducated descriptions of his attempts so far but the IPA held such promise, its definitely worth encouraging and consequently participating in the brewing process. I now know that Nelson grown hops are the only way to go and sterilisation of the equipment is one of the most important things. While I haven't graduated to capping the bottles yet - foster says its important to be able to assess the right amount of pressure to apply - whatever ;) - I have been allowed to add the sugar and fill them. It's a load of fun - just need to figure out a name and make some labels!

Unlimited Potential's Bloggers Event

Every year in January Unlimited Potential host a competition among bloggers to see who can come up with the best predictions for 2008. The winner as voted by the audience on the night will be crowned UP Visionary of the Year for 2008, and receive an official certificate, a beautiful tiara, and full bragging rights.

The bloggers this year are:

* David Farrar, Kiwiblog
* Mauricio Freitas, Geekzone
* Hamish MacEwan, local visionary
* Philip Fierlinger, turntable technologist
* Tom Beard, Wellurbanite

Each blogger will make 3 to 5 predictions in the following categories:

* Gadgets & Games
* The Internet
* Business & Telecommunications
* Technology
* Wellington & NZ.

When: This Wednesday 30 January, 2008, 5:30pm for a 6:00pm start.
Where: Wellington Chamber of Commerce, Level 28, The Majestic Centre, 100 Willis Street, Wellington.

RSVP and reserve your spot at this prestigious and FREE annual event and come along and enjoy the pizza and beer!

Tuesday, January 22

counting down to kiwifoo

Glynn and I have booked our tickets and looking forward to our trip up to Walkworth for Kiwifoo aka BaaCamp on 1 February. Last year I had no idea what an "unconference" or "barcamp" was all about. Essentially, invitees get to set the agenda when they arrive by filling empty timeslots across the venue with topics they would like to share and discuss. You attend topics you are interested in and everyone gets the chance to participate.

Last year was the first Kiwifoo ever held in the southern hemisphere and the buzz was amazing. A bunch of people all with an interest in the global development of technology, particularly web-based technology, discussing how New Zealand was part of that phenomenon. My favourite session last year was one with David Cunliffe where leaders in the technology industry got to talk frankly about the *real* issues for New Zealand and the ICT industry. I also enjoyed meeting Rachel Cunliffe (no relation) from Throng fame, and other women doing amazing things in the technology field. It allowed me to better define what it was I was trying to achieve myself, and was surrounded by a bunch of people who just "got it", which was really encouraging and inspiring. I can't wait to spend time with fellow foo-goers again in a couple of weeks time.

Thursday, January 17

no luck with the fishing

After obtaining a freshwater license while on holiday down south, we fished the Clutha, the Dunstan, the Taieri and Conroy's Dam in Alexandra - but unfortunately we caught no fish. We bought a spinning rod though to add to our never-ending collection of fishing equipment. Unfortunately the boat at Ball Creek had blown a valve and so Glynn's dreams of a bluecod a minute with Robyn out at the local reef were also blown. A highlight was surfcasting with a balloon off the rocks just down from the crib. We waited for an off-shore breeze and then tied a balloon to a running rig at the top of our trace and hoped it would blow out the line to a good spot. It seemed to attract the attention of two large seals, however, but didn't prove as attractive to the fish. Despite the balloon blowing our line a good distance off-shore we had no nibbles and the constant problem of kissing our gear good-bye because of seaweed and kelp on reeling in. Anyway, we never gave up and are hopeful a trip up to Castlepoint reef this weekend might break the drought.


On the way to Kaka Point from Alexandra during our holidays we stopped in at the Lonely Graves at Millers Flat made famous by Billy Connelly on his tour of New Zealand. To get to the graves you cross the Clutha River at Millers Flat and follow the road on the other side of the river all the way to Beaumont. The graves are on the roadside well-marked about 20 mins on the gravel road. William Rigney a local developer in the 1890's found a man dead on the side of the road and with noone claiming the body held a service and buried him by the river and on the tombstone engraved the words "Here lies somebody's darling". When Rigney died he was buried next to him with the words "Here lies the man who buried somebody's darling".

A quick trip down to Slope Point, the southern tip of the south island, a short 20mins walk from the car park down a slopey hill to a sign and seaviews.

Fishing Conroy's Dam in Alexandra with Mike and Inge and the Taieri River on the way to central. Bacon butties riverside for lunch to console ourselves that we weren't eating fish.

Sitting in the sun in Naseby having a beer and visiting the historic Vulcan Hotel at St Bathans.

Playing curling at the International indoor curling rink at Naseby. Great fun but could have done with more time to claw back the small lead Glynn had by the end of our one hour session. Weird being in the cold and ice when its 30 degrees outside.

Ball Creek and its famous landmark and the kids playing at the beach

Glynn's lager at the Ball Creek homebrew competition - winning third place - which is apparently a pretty good result for an outsider to the local community.

Tuesday, January 15

export year 2007

Last year I was selected for the Wellington regional Exporter programme which was organised as part of Export Year 2007.

As part of the Export programme, I attended several free events including the 10 week BizFuel Growth Series - organised by the chamber and the awesome Ruth McDavitt, coordinated by Business Porirua and sponsored by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. Various training and case study seminars were held around the city, where I got to meet some inspiration kiwis in the business of exporting. It was really encouraging to meet and share with other companies already enjoying the fruits of their export success. I was surprised though to be the only web-based SAAS company attending with the majority of businesses product-based or selling manufactured goods over the web.

An interesting theme emerged during the course - that Australia is a more difficult market for kiwis to break into than UK, Europe or the States, mostly because of the Aussie attitude towards kiwi-made. Hasn't stopped many New Zealand companies though from making it big overseas in some of the more distant markets, and in Aussie too. With the phenomenon of the internet as a ubiquitous marketing equaliser, and many kiwi producers now creating and using their web presence to sell and ship product, I imagine Aussie attitudes will continue to evolve and it will only get easier to sell products across the ditch.

Thanks to those who selected me for the Export programme, the sponsors and to Business Porirua for organising a great lineup of speakers and tutors for the BizFuel Growth Series.

unlimited potential

During the end of last year, while undergoing a busy period settling back into Wellington, I met a great bunch of people in the Wellyworld of ICT.

Unlimited Potential is a group of young enthusiastic people adding value to the exciting ICT hub here in Wellington. Volunteers organise monthly networking and technology-based events for those involved in the ICT industry and at the cutting edge of IT development. After volunteering Glynn to speak about Project Indiana for their Geeks, Games and Gadgets function, I became interested in being involved in a official way with Unlimited Potential. With the shift to Wellington becoming a permanent move I resigned from the Executive Committee of the Canterbury Software Cluster in Christchurch and joined Unlimited Potential as a member. Then late in the year at the AGM I became an UP Executive Committee member. We all share responsibilities amongst the Executive Team and organise events once a month - where you can also enjoy pizza and beer. UP enjoys sponsorship from a variety of local companies which means joining and all the events are free! I've taken on the role of looking after membership and look forward to working with a team of people to create successful events and contribute to Wellington's ongoing reputation as the ICT capital.