As well as ordering around the troops here at 3Bit, I own a cafe in Mt Eden called Tuihana Cafe, which is run by my better half Leslie. I've been wanting to do a blog post about the cafe for some time now, but needed an excuse for some blatant self promotion.
(Full thread here, with lots of other auctions in support of Starship - auction closes Thursday night)
Being of the geek persuasion, I couldn't help myself with the cafe, so some of the tech we run include:
- Vodafone Naked DSL in the cafe, with Eftpos over broadband (transactions are super fast) and Visa Paywave/Mastercard Paypass.
- Voice-over-IP - Panasonic cordless phone (from 800voip.co.nz) and 2Talk.
- Free WiFi for customers (thanks to @cisconz and @chris021 for their help with this) with custom landing page and session control, powered by Mikrotik.
- Coffee and food ordering by txt, email and twitter (more info about all of that here)
- Full featured website, with the contact form that prints out directly into the cafe's kitchen.
- Presences on both Facebook and Twitter (@tuihanacafe)
If you're thinking of dropping in, flick me a tweet (@nate) and I'll make sure I'm around (I promise I won't make torture you with one of my coffees, as I'm crap at it, but my staff are amazing ;) ).
For the last four years, my Dad has been running his own garden shop, Just Add Worms (twitter: @justaddworms). Originally starting off as a blog about all things green and organic (which has been one of his big hobbies ever since I can remember), it gradually morphed into a blog with an online shop.
Initially we opted to use WP e-commerce, a plugin to Wordpress, but once you grow past a handful of products, with different variants, the plugin doesn't really cut the mustard.
A month ago I started hunting for an alternative, and ideally I wanted a cloud based solution so there would be no installation/maintenance from my end - Shopify was the front runner but too expensive to run for a small shop (there's a monthly fee plus a per transaction fee). Most of the other cloud based products were about the same, so I settled on installing Magento (open-source) on one of our Linux servers here at 3Bit. While it is a behemoth of a product, it covered off everything we needed and after many hours of customisation it was about ready to go, until I came across a big issue: Dad couldn't manage the store - it was just far too complex and my instructions were not helping. His needs were quite basic, and Magento was really overkill.
After a few Google searches, I came across Small Fish, a Kiwi created and hosted shopping site based out of Wellington. What really impressed me about their offering is how many features the software has, but everything is broken down into wizards which clearly explain what each option does. Add to this the Edit, Preview and Live buttons at the top (you can edit products and categories directly on the site then preview straightaway), it makes it a perfect solution for even the most novice user.
At a monthly fee of $39 with no transaction fees, it really is a great little niche product. It doesn't have all the features of Magento, for your average online shop, it definitely fits the bill.
This blog post was originally all about Small Fish but it's also Dad's birthday today, so how about the unique gift of a blog post?
Happy Birthday Dad, thanks for everything.
UPDATE: Tim won best international artist at last night's Musicoz Awards in Sydney. Congrats Tim!
Since 2000, May has been New Zealand Music Month. While nearly all of the music played on the commercial stations is sourced from the US, it's always great to hear and support artists from a little closer to home.
Tim Walker is a mate of mine, and also an aspiring Kiwi musician. Anyone in the industry will acknowledge that trying to get commercial airtime is hard and the market is so small that artists often head overseas to make a decent go of it.
I've just received this video that Tim's uploaded, and decided to get him some more exposure by putting it here. Enjoy!
Follow Tim on Twitter or Facebook.
I was lucky enough to attend the Microsoft Imagine Cup last night on behalf of Geekzone (with fellow moderator Stu Taylor, BigHammer, later joined by Paul Spain the NZ Tech Podcast-er), held at the Auckland Town Hall.
The Imagine Cup is a global software competition aimed at tertiary students - they create projects which answer the theme of:
Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems
The winner this year was Mobile Eye, with software designed to help the blind. Their promotional handout states that there are 40 million blind people across the world, with one person going blind every 5 seconds - truly mind boggling numbers for something we all take for granted every day.
It's all based around a mobile app (WP7 or Java for S60). Once the app is turned on it goes straight to camera mode. To take a picture tap anywhere in the screen. Swipe to the right and the picture is sent to their crowd sourced servers, and within 30 seconds an answer is returned and read out to the user. Swipe to the left and the picture is sent to an algorithm (most blind people know what object they are holding, they just need to know basic things like colour). The app gives out nice clear audible prompts throughout the whole process.
The most impressive part of the demonstration was when the team took a photo of a half full Coke bottle, and within ten seconds, the phone read out what the photo was. While it seems basic, the ramifications for someone without sight is life changing.
The other teams who participated should also be commended - some very impressive world changing ideas and unique implementations of technology to achieve them. We have some very smart up and coming students in ICT.
My congratulations to Aakash, In-Hwan and Jade of team Mobile Eye for their well deserved win. Also thanks to Microsoft for the invite.
For anyone involved in dealing with consumers (as opposed to business-to-business), there's the age old idiom which reads:
For every bad experience a customer has, they will tell ten other people about it. But, for every good experience, they will tell one other person.
Nothing could be more truthful. Add in the explosive power of social media and bad news travels fast. Real fast.
It's with great interest I've been following the two ladies who were kicked out of Public bar in Wellington. The lesbian couple claim they were asked to leave because of their innocent, public display of affection - Public took exception to their sexual orientation and asked them to leave. The bar says the couple were behaving inappropriately, and when asked to leave they became aggressive, which is when they were escorted out. My interest in all of this is I also own a hospitality business, but I'll save the shameless self promotion for another time.
This is your classic David vs Goliath battle; add in the perceived persecution of a minority group, and it makes for a story that sells newspapers.
Social media allows information to quickly spread, and like the times of old, get a whole group of people together, the mob mentality kicks in - automatically we side with the David character of the story, and despise the Goliath, even without knowing the full picture.
As a business that relies on word-of-mouth, whether online or offline, how do you combat this, even before all the information comes to light? The simple answer is you can't - all you can do is go into damage control and try and minimise the fall-out from it.
Public has tried that, by inviting the media to review the security footage from that night which they say backs them up (as luck would have it, the ladies were off camera for the incriminating moment). Rebekah and her partner Jennie have withdrawn their complaint, which adds the assumption of further bullying by this story's antagonist.
In my opinion, Public need to do more. There have been misunderstandings on both sides of this story, however Public has the most to lose out of this. Invite the couple back, dinner and drinks on the house with the owner. The cost to the business will be minimal, but it show goodwill and the fact both parties can move on.
I do sympathise with both here. With my owner's hat on, we put in endless hours and countless amounts of money, trying to turn our businesses into successes, with all sorts of trials along the way. My other mindset is that no-one likes to mistreated as a minority, let alone humiliated in a public place.
With my opening quote in mind, even if Public do everything in their power to turn this around, this bad experience will still spread quicker and for longer than any good stuff that comes out of it.