I normally take little notice of viral videos, but this one is inspiring.
Ted Williams is homeless, and he stands on the side of Interstate 71 in Columbus, Ohio to beg for money, with a sign that reads:
I have a God given gift of voice, I'm an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times. Please! Any help will be gratefully appreciated. Thank you and God bless you. Happy Holidays.
Being in the right place at the right time, a video of him was posted on YouTube by a reporter for the Columbus Dispatch:
The link on reddit has gone mad, with 576 comments from readers offering everything from job offers, money to pay his salary and used suits.
It seems the internet can be used for good, and to give Ted a second chance.
I'm a big fan of Giapo - it's an Italian gelato store based next to The Civic on Queen St in Auckland. If you use Twitter, you'll see Gianpaolo, the owner and creator of Giapo, popping up all the time as @giapo. He's a great person to sit and chat to as you devour an organic gelato.
Tis the season for giving, so Giapo is raising $4,000 for Starship, to buy them a new Mass Flow Respiratory Sensor:
The equipment that Starship would really like is Mass Flow Respiratory Sensor and so we've decided to raise the funds and give a smile to the kids at the hospital.
The Mass Flow Respiratory Sensor is a critical piece of equipment that is used in lung function testing. This kind of testing is used to diagnose and monitor children with severe and sometimes life threatening respiratory or lung disease.
Over one thousand of these tests are undertaken each year at Starship on children from all over New Zealand who have conditions such as severe asthma, cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy.
The machines will cost $4000, but with your help we're sure that it's beatable (and in time for Christmas).
Between 12noon-2pm tomorrow (Saturday 18th December), Giapo is giving 100% of his revenue to Starship, served up by various NZ celebrities, including former Breakfast show gadget guy Ben Gracewood (who has a flavour in his honour since
he's a fruit cake he likes fruit mince pies):
You can manually set your location to any random place if you really want to mess with your friends, and in case you want the world to know exactly where you are, you can also publish a badge on your website, like the example one below:
Image courtesy of Rick Klau's blog. I'm not using the live badge from my Latitude account as I don't want sbiddle turning up at my house.
You may wonder why I'm blogging about Latitude when it's not a new product. It was from seeing the badge that I wondered if Google exposed your positioning data, so you could use it in anyway you please, and it seems they do, but with a weird quirk.
If you request the data in JSON format, you get:
If you request the data in ATOM format, you get:
Everything looks fine, until you get to the last updated date. I've just updated Google Latitude on my Nokia E71, and the two different formats return different things, despite using the same data!
JSON: 1291615096 (Unix timestamp), which works out to Mon 6 Dec, 5:58 am (GMT)
ATOM: 2010-12-05T21:58:16Z, which is Sun 5 Dec, 9:58pm (GMT)
I've also noticed recently that Latitude only shows the city - about a month ago it would give you the exact address.
Not sure why Latitude reports two different things, however, their API provides a really good way to expose where you are right now, in the format that you want, to build the stalking app of your dreams.
The last week has seen a strange coincidence of me being asked numerous times from friends and clients, "we've heard of cloud computing, is it the future, and should we get into it now?" It seems a good proportion of IT providers are pushing this into market at the moment, with clients who don't really understand what it is, or why they need it. Gotta love buzzwords to sell more product and maintenance plans.
So what is cloud computing? The "cloud" is being able to access servers that are hosted for you by a third-party, allowing you to utilise them without the traditional downsides of heavily initial capital outlay for new equipment, having to replace equipment in 3-5 years, and being restricted as your business grows while your limited hardware is stretched. Cloud computing means you purchase the capacity you require now, with the ability to quickly and easily add more space and power without having to upgrade hardware. A simple analogy is outsourcing your servers (as opposed to just outsourcing your IT support).
Sitting on top of the cloud platform, is SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). Instead of purchasing a license for software which is yours forever (and is a one-off), you pay a monthly, on-going fee to utilise software, usually through your standard web browser. The benefits include access from anywhere, upgrades are handled for you, and extra users and capacity are easy to add on. The poster child for SaaS in New Zealand is Xero (they can be compared to the incumbent MYOB).
What's my recommendation?
Cloud computing is a great idea, especially for new businesses. Start up costs can be hefty, and by using the cloud more, you can concentrate on your core business, rather than having to purchase a HP or IBM server, with Windows Small Business Server, paying an IT company to setup, then monitoring it as your business grows: now it's much easy - just get BPOS (Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, or Microsoft Exchange online) or Google Hosted Apps.
Downsides? I would shy away from any online backup solutions for now as broadband caps aren't high enough, and if a computer does fail, it will take a good amount of time to bring your data back to do a restore. It'll get better, but too cost prohibitive for now.
I would also recommend that should your IT provider toss buzz words around, ask them to explain them in layman terms. A lot of the trends happening at the moment are quite simple when broken down to their fundamental parts.
Any queries or comments, please add them below in the comments section.
Today I spent 45 minutes waiting in line at NZ Post Sylvia Park, which is part of Paper Plus. The 25 people standing with me was initially the biggest shock, with most people doing banking. I just wanted to post my CourierPost package and be on my merry way.
What I witnessed today was a circus of poor training, customer frustration and bad PR. I am not a Kiwibank customer, though I'll admit, I was thinking about swapping to them before today's performance. I acknowledge that it's not fair to judge Kiwibank on one branch, and one encounter, though this was so poor it's hard not to leave without a bitter taste in my mouth.
What I saw today included:
- Three stations with three staff to serve a queue of 25. It was a long time before I got served, and most of us were pretty fed up by the time we got to the counter. Obviously this was known as they had allowed plenty of space for us to queue.
- One Kiwibank customer had a question that his attendant couldn't answer. She jumped on the phone, was on hold for some time, then the customer stormed out after it took too long for her to get an answer.
- Another customer was trying to refinance his mortgage. He had the forms, the first staff member had no idea what to do, so asked him to rejoin the queue. After waiting again, the second staff member was also unsure, so she tried her hardest to complete the parts of the form he had been posted. He (and rightly so) gave her a piece of his mind.
- Another customer was left waiting with a sizeable amount of cash in her hand, after making a withdrawal while the staff member left to get another form. The customer was very nervous and wanted to leave quickly as she was a target with so much cash.
My suggestion: Kiwibank, build some dedicated branches. NZ Post staff are not banking staff, they don't have the expertise. I'm sure you've lost some customers today, and rightly so - they were being served as part of a circus, not a reputable bank. Dedicated banking staff will learn who your customers are, and treat them well. You've done everything else so well, but dropped the ball so badly here.
The best quote has to go to the customer queuing behind me: maybe the other banks charge more as they get you out the door faster.