This weekend I’ve been away in Rotorua speaking at a client’s conference about the custom software system we’ve designed and written for them. After shredding my fan belt on the way down (ended up missing my presentation slot as I was four hours late), it was nice to finally arrive.
There are around 150 delegates here from all over NZ, staying from Friday until Sunday. Nearly all are staying here at Rydges Rotorua – there’s all the accommodation, breakfasts, lunches plus the formal dinner that was held last night. The hotel will be making a killing out of this organisation.
For so many delegates with laptops and smartphones, wireless is a must. This is where I’m gobsmacked…
Internet here is 75cents/hour or $30 per day.
Surely free wireless is a service to provide, alongside food, tea and coffee? To expect every person here to sign up each of their devices is fanciful (the access code is tied to MAC address)? Another possible solution is to have one set fee for the conference, and everyone attending gets wireless access.
In my presentation this morning, it was annoying that while most people had laptops, they weren’t able try the demos I was doing (it would’ve taken far too long to get them all paired with their mobile phones). Why is this so hard?
It seems not all hotels/motels are ignorant to how important wireless is. Since Rydges is full, I’m staying at a motel two doors down…
They have free wireless.
I’ve organised an evening for the Geekzone regulars and not-so-regular users to catch up over a beer and food. I’m calling it Geekzone IRL (Geekzone In Real Life), and it’s on Friday 17th May at 6pm.
Only $20 for a couple beers and lots of finger foods. A big thank-you to The Data Centre for putting on a generous bar tab.
Yes I am biased, as we are having it at my cafe, Tuihana Cafe in Mt Eden. Plenty of off-street car-parks plus it’s on a couple of main bus routes/short walking distance from Kingsland/Mt Eden train stations.
Registration is here, we have a plenty of places left so sign up online (payment via credit card).
Streaming Video On Demand is a big paradigm change from TV as we currently know it. Instead of having a broadcaster dictate what we watch and when we watch it (alleviated a little by set top boxes such as My Sky), SVOD allows you to pick exactly what content you want. You can pay a set monthly fee (eg Netflix, Hulu Plus) to watch all and everything or pay for just what you want to watch (Vudu).
As Kiwis we aren’t allowed access – blame the content holders. This doesn’t have to stop you; with the advent of services to help get around the blocking (such as UnblockUS), you can enjoy all the TV from the States (see instructions here on the NZ Tech Podcast).
About a year ago I blogged about how I dumped Sky TV and replaced it with a TiVo. It was just before this that I bought a Roku to stream the above services on my TV. I’ve also managed to swap a few friends and family over as well.
One thing that has always been missing: sport. If you are a big sport fan, you really can’t beat Sky TV’s offerings.
It’s with great interest I read on the Roku blog this morning that Sky Sports in the UK is launching a sport channel. Hopefully as time progress we’ll see a local one launch for NZ, providing the final piece of the puzzle.
As part of the launch of his new website, mega.co.nz, Kim Dotcom shouted free Giapo ice-creams, and gave away caps and t-shirts for the new site today at 2pm. Somehow I was roped in to providing sound for the event.
In a very Willy Wonka style giveaway, at the bottom of 10 random cups of ice-cream were tickets to the proper launch on Sunday at the Dotcom mansion.
Only a few people turned up. And some media.
After a handful of requests to outline what else we've done with Xero, this is a follow on post from my original post about their API.
Cash-flow is king in any small business. If you aren't invoicing regularly, it becomes easy to miss things. If you wait too long before chasing up payment on late payers, it becomes harder and harder to get payment as time goes on.
We have a fair few web hosting customers, and two years ago we found that our accounts guy was spending far too much time chasing up late payers. It was at this time that for the smaller accounts, we would register a credit card against their account to debit any future invoices against.
Xero doesn't support any functionality like this at the moment, so we had to roll our own system.
It starts off that we can enter a credit card, which is saved with our payment processor who gives us back a unique token ID (we don't want to host the raw credit card numbers ourselves) - in our system, we associated this token ID with the appropriate Xero contact, which then lists on the screen below:
With this association it makes it very easy to pay invoices. The next screen shows all current outstanding invoices, with only the contacts that we have credit card details saved for.
We found that just going through and paying all the outstanding invoices listed wasn't a good idea - it's for this reason we added a checkbox next to each invoice. The user doing the billing run can select which invoices to include/exclude.
Behind the scenes, the system bills the right card with the right amount - in Xero it also loads a payment against each invoice, making bank reconciliation quick and easy (it also reduces the risk of allocating the payment to the wrong invoice). At the same time as all this, we email our customer with a summary of which invoices have been paid, for their records.
We use the BNZ Bank as our merchant processor as they are the only NZ bank who support multi-currency natively.
Though we don't have the need for it, it would be relatively simple to extend this process to support direct debits (such as BACS in the UK). You would store the bank account in Xero against each contact, and instead of debiting credit cards, it would instead produce a text file suitable for uploading to your processing bank.
Please feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below.