Life without Internet Part 3


While it is still clear in my mind, a couple of days ago, after losing my net connectivity for a few days, I said I would look at a typical day on the net to see how reliant I am on it. Here’s a synopsis of my connected day yesterday.

After having breakfast I went to my PC at home and posted a new photo on my Buzznet page and read the 11 comments people had left on my photos from the previous day. I checked out a few photos from my friends and left comments where appropriate.

I then posted Songwriting Tip 89 on my Twitter page after reading and replying to a few ‘tweets’ from my friends.

I checked a few emails on my GMail account which is once again up over 100 emails that I haven’t read yet. Most of them related to the Music Submission service I subscribed to last month. Several traditional radio stations as well as streaming stations have picked up my songs, so lots of follow up to do there.

Listened to a couple of songs and made a few comments in a forum at Music Forte.

I had a quick look at my MySpace messages and shared emails with a great singer in the UK who is looking for some bookings for a NZ Tour. Gave her some contacts to follow up.

Last but by far not least, I updated my podcasts on iTunes and downloaded them to my iPod so I can listen to them in my car with my Belkin FM Transmitter.

So off to work listening to my latest podcasts, including one from Podcast Tools which was debating whether you should use WordPress as your podcast host. It was fairly compelling, but for now, given that all the podcatchers including iTunes know where to find me, I’ll maintain the status quo. Great that WordPress now offers 3GB and I am pondering how to take advantage of that.

So into the office and fighting through around 50 unread emails (not spam) including lots of CV’s as I am about to employ a new sales and marketing assistant and into the day. Email is a major part of my day and I could not be efficient without it. Problem is I have to much, but once my Assistant has been employed we will be able to share the burden. My email folders are also over the corporate email limit which is a pain because I don’t have time to really cull it. I don’t think my limit is appropriate to my position, but anyway, that’s another debate.

My browser is permanently open with 5 tabs being our corporate Intranet, our website, my iGoogle page, Grab a Seat which is Air New Zealand’s page of daily specials, nothing special for me today but occassionally they have some amazing deals. I also have WordPress open to remind me to keep an eye out.

I posted a help forum on my Geekzone page after looking up the Philips Helpdesk details for my Skype phones, which started playing up after I replaced my modem. Couldn’t find out how to reset them.

Got together with the developers who are working on our Facebook application which we hope to launch in the next few weeks, which also included getting a new GeoCoder built to help with the maps that will be on the page.

Downloaded a Reference Checking Form from our Intranet which was surprisingly good.

Followed through a few stories from my iGoogle aggregator about GPS, location based news etc, including a couple of DIGGS.

Gave a recommendation to one of the pioneer leaders in the car navigation industry on my LinkedIn page.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few items because I found keeping a log too slow. But you get the idea. I am very connected.

When I got home, I once again checked MySpace messages, friend requests etc, caught up with Facebook, sent out another couple of Tweets on Twitter, caught up with some more email, put some photos onto a CD for printing that a friend emailed to me and finished with a couple of poker tournaments, one on Facebook to stay ahead of my friends in points and the other in PokerStars where I am getting my funny money up to the 7 figures so I can cash it in for some free real money. I like the idea of building up a stake of real money without ever having to have invested my own hard earned cash.

So turn off the monitor and off to bed. There was more to my day, I’m not that shallow, but this story was just about the connected parts of my day. The reality is that whether it is on my Blackberry, my home PC or my work PC, I am almost constantly active on the web. My life would be very weird if I wasn’t wired.

My daughter’s home got burgled yesterday


She’s only been in her own home for 6 months and fortunately for us, she hasn’t had to experience this before. The last time my house (desperately seeking wood to touch) was just before she was born. They took 2 cameras (one with an SD Card full of priceless photos that hadn’t yet been backed up and a Play Station. All the appliances had been unplugged from the walls and it seems that they were disturbed by a neighbour coming home before they could get the rest of their treasures.

My daughter’s first reaction was, “I don’t want to live here anymore” and I had to explain that it doesn’t matter where you live, you are always at risk. Her house alarm gets installed on Friday so hopefully after that she will be fine. But it reminds me of how I felt when we got burgled. Again not much was taken but it was the feeling of being violated that is the biggest concern. Your home is the place that you are always supposed to be safe in and when that safety is taken away, what do you have left?

The other question arises as to what can you do if you catch a burglar in action. I know what I would like to do and would probably do if the situation arose or the opportunity presents itself. Many of the burglars today are in their early to mid teens and the law has no teeth to discourage them. Half of them, especially if they have no prior’s will be dealt a swift slap on the wrist with a “Don’t do that again you naughty boy.” One school of thought is that the parents should be held responsible, but given the defense that usually comes up of poor children who had a tough time and little opportunities as they were growing up. Well I don’t buy that. New Zealand is a country where anyone that is prepared to get their hands dirty can get work and can get a roof over their heads. We have a social welfare system that provides for that, you don’t even have to have insurance. We have very high employment here and if you genuinely can’t get a job, there is always the dole.

Given the way these people were organised unplugging all the appliances and having them ready for a quick getaway, this was no impulse job, they had done this before.

So if you catch them and deal to them, you could end up being the one up on charges. Where’s the justice in that? If I catch one of these beggars before the police do, they might accidentally fall over and hurt themselves. Maybe I could write ‘THIEF’ on their forheads in permanent ink? What do you reckon?

Our penal system is great, they don’t do hard labour, they get good meals, can study, watch TV, play sport, make things in workshops and learn new skills, like how to steal more and not get caught as often. Over 50% of the crims are recidivists, some because they consider life inside preferably to outside.

There have been suggestions of sendig them to the army and putting them through bootcamp without the option of leaving. For some of the younger ones, this could save their lives and teach them some pride. This is one of the perrenial suggestions, but of course the army doesn’t want them.

I quite like the idea, especially for violent offenders where there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever of their guilt and their are no mitigating circumstances, of dropping them on an island, maybe like Pitcairn, and leaving them to live or die, with no way out. Alternatively, let them build new roads or do something else useful, why should taxpayers have to continue to be punished by paying out $250,000 a year to house them i comfort in our prisons.

OK, I’m getting off my soap box now. Elections are coming soon and law and order will again be a major platform, but will they finally listen? See the problem with elections is that it doesn’t really matter who you vote for, a politician will always get in.

Liverpool 8 watch a 65 year old innovate


Last night I saw Ringo Starr on the Late Show, playing the lead song to his new album Liverpool 8.

Here’s what’s different. The album is a 2GB Flash Drive embedded into a rubber bracelet, of course the name of the album is on the bracelet and the price is around the same as any new album. $20 from memory. As well as the album the contents include a music video, interviews, photos and more.

If you buy the album, you will probably want to wear it because it is novel and this being the first time it has been done (to my knowledge) it will become a colectors item. This could become the ultimate fashion wear for 2008. What are you listening to? Check it out on my wrist. The only drawback is that you can’t plug it into your car stereo or your iPod, but that will no doubt come if the concept takes off.

Storing multiple albums could be a bit of a problem, but I’m sure there will be appropriate refinements.

About 8 years ago I tried to get the local media to publish a story I wrote, saying that if the music industry doesn’t take care of their music buying public and take advantage of the capabilities of new media such as adding video, interviews, photos etc to albums, they will have a hard time competing with downloads. But if they add so much material (that they have anyway and don’t generally sell) so that it isn’t worth the hassle or cost of downloading everything, they will be in trouble.

The media didn’t want my story because it was controversial and probably because a lot of there advertising revenue came from the record companies. Hey guess what, yeah I was right. Now I’m not super clever, I’m just being logical. I think the record companies were arrogant and had the attitude of some Japanese manufacturers of a decade ago, who said to their customers, we will tell you what features you want on your products and how to use them, but that’s another story.

The point is, we are in the world of new media. Consumers have loads of choices. BUT, they are prepared to pay for value. EMI, Sony etc. if you want to keep your market, you need to give value. If you don’t you may just find that you aren’t needed or wanted any more. It’s not too late, but you need to understand, its not just about the media you print your music on, it’s about being innovative, listening to your customers and being innovative, fun, inspiring, sticky and giving value for money.

Instead of sacking your staff, sacking your entertainers and making them do their own promotion, how about talking to them.  There’s a novel idea. Here’s the question. It’s 2010 and the music industry as we knew it has collapsed. It has taken with it major printing companies, media companies, wholesalers and retailers and increased unemployment noticeably. If you were able to go back to 2008, what would you do differently?

What do you do about local crime


Over the last few weeks there were a couple of violent incidents on the North Shore that very much disturbed me and many others who enjoy a peaceful a ‘safe’ life in our ‘burbs’. Near Milford Beach 2 people were badly assaulted by youths who asked if they had ever met ‘real gangsta’s’ before and after accepting a beer from them proceded to beat them so badly that they both need plastic surgery and one needed emergancy brain surgery. A similar incident happend the following night and it appears that it was the same 5 boys, average age 18 who are now in custody.

We live in a ‘safe’ neighbourhood, statistically the safest city in NZ and we aren’t used to this sort of thuggery. One of the incidents happened while a couple were walking on the beach in the late evening, a time when people often enjoy a quiet walk. Initial reports suggested that they were ‘prospects’ for a street gang trying to get a foothold in the area and everyone hoped that they were from another area, but 4 of the 5 were local. As regards the gang, that is now probably sub judice and they probably don’t want to give the gang any more notoriety through publicity.

The local police chief said that if gangs ever got a foothold in our neighbourhood he would resign and I am sure he is committed to his position and will do what he can. The thing is, we haven’t had to deal with this sort of situation and it makes you feel very uncomfortable. My first thoughts were, do I need to consider my safety? Do I need to consider carrying some sort of weapon in my car in order to protect myself or my family? I don’t want to, but if my family are ever threatened, I would certainly lay my life on the line for theirs in whatever way I can. I don’t want to even contemplate this, but here’s the thing. If citizens leave it up to the police who are always under resourced and we look away or do nothing, leaving it up to someone else, will we end up having to live in this environment?

I’ve been to cities in South Africa where violence is commonplace, I’ve been to shopping malls where shops sell self defence products over the counter including pistol flame throwers etc. I have a friend who lives with a loaded pistol on his bedside cabinet. One of the reasons I live where I do and not earning the biger dollars in the USA and other places where I have been offered positions, is because I feel that here is one of the safest places to raise a family and I believe it still is, but I need it to stay this way.

I don’t have any answers, but I have an uneasy feeling that things may get worse over time and I don’t want that to happen. I do believe that as citizens, we have a responsibility and a right to a safe neighbourhood and I don’t know what to do about it. Maybe with the benefit of 20:20 hindsite, someone could look at us and tell me what they would do if they have a second chance, because we still have a chance.

I suppose the good news is that most crimes like this in New Zealand do get solved and the poor unfortunate youth who ‘never had a fair chance in life to start with’ are put away for a period of time, to learn more tricks of their trade (getting really cynical here).

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10488807 On a happier front, a 16 year old boy was chased and caught by the public after stabbing someone to death in a milk bar. But of course by then his victim had lost his life.

Life without the Internet 2


So in this day and age you would think that diagnosis and repairing problems with computers and connectivity would be a breaze.

The Xtra Advanced Broadband Helpdesk couldn’t work out what the problem was with my connection. I said that I thought it was my DLink modem which after all was 2 years old. He said that he didn’t think it was and even though my current modem wouldn’t be compatible with the next generation of broadband, I should wait until after the technician came round. Of course if it was proven that the problem was with the modem and not their cabling, I would have to pay $85 for the technician. I agreed, but said don’t send anyone before 3:30 p.m. Friday because there would be noone home. That was duly added as I anticipated yet another evening and morning without Interet, without Podcasts to download to my iPod etc.

Now, here’s a surprise. The technician turned up on Thursday and like I told the Helpdesk, there was noone home and they left a card saying they had tried to come to look at my cabling. Meanwhile, I stop off at PB Technologies and buy a new generation modem, take it home and install it, get the password changed back from their test login to mine and hey presto, stable connection, everything is working. Next step them to cancel the technician coming back on Friday and re-set up my Phillips Skype phones which had gone nuts through the process. So now I had Internet, but no phone.

After trying to reset the phones unsuccessfully I went to my gig at Bar Africa were I was performing my new songs and not able to use the net at all. Tonight I will get to go home and try to figure out what the problem is with the phones and hope that I can get them to work. I am hoping it isn’t a channel conflict between the WiFi router and the phone router because the phone doesn’t appear to have the ability to change channel.

So this process has taken 4 days, my diagnosis of a faulty modem was correct and if I had taken my own councel instead of the Advanced Specialists, I would have been out of action for a couple of hours. Just as well I no longer operate a business from home!

Anyway, my next step is to  run a diary for a day to see how much I rely on the Internet and how much I interface with it on a normal day. I will do that on Tuesday as Monday is Auckland Anniversary Day, a public holiday. Should be very interesting as I recognise how connected I am.

Life without Internet


You realise how much your life is tied into the net when it doesn’t work. Yesterday my girls told me that the net at home had been flaky for a couple of days. I went and checked, ready for a catch up on Facebook, update my blog, post some music onto another site, check my email, post some photos onto Buzznet etc and sure enough, no connection.

I rang the Telecom Xtra helpdesk after checking all the connections, rebooting the modem and goping through all the settings.  They got me to check all the connections, reboot the modeom and go through all the settings, checked the connection to the exchange and said they have to refer me to their advanced team who should call me within 3-5 days.

How’s that, just as well I still have a connection in the office or I would lose contact with my world. Today I’m going to buy a new DLink Modem / Router in case that’s died because the wireless has been flaky for a while. Then I can tick off the hardware as well.

But the point is, my life is inextricably connected to the net. I am a connected person. Yes, I write and play songs and I read analogue books, but most of my day (and I like it that way) is connected to the web.

This morning my younger daughter is off to a film set for a walk on part in a soap opera. I couldn’t go onto the net and print her a route map to the studio and like most women, she isn’t great at reading road maps. I have some amazing digital photos from my trip to White Island and wanted to post some on the net, but I can’t. I wanted to have a chat on the forum at Music Forte with a guy who reckons I flit in and out and don’t add much value, (his opinion, not mine) but I can’t argue if I can’t get in. I wanted to download some more podcasts to listen to as I will be in the car a lot today, nope.

So today’s lives are very different from that of Ed Hillary climbing Everest, although today’s climbers, ocean kayakers and other adventurers these days keep blogs to so that the world can plot their progress. We book our travel on the net and keep an eye out for delays the same way.

Last year  terrorists tried to take down the hubs that control Internet flow around the world. Imagine the chaos. The ‘developed world’ imho would collapse if our Internet traffic was cut off and we have only really started ourdigital journey. I’m not even going to try and imagine what life would be like. Wouldn’t it be interesting over a day, any day, to note down all the interactions we have with the net, all the different things we do, and imagine how we would cope without it. For a start I wouldn’t have a job, because most of my business is done on the net and many of our products work on the net.

Damn, looks like I may just have to start logging all my internet activity for a day and work through the implications. I already know its going to be scary. But first of all I have to  get my broadband connection working at home!

A State Farewell for Sir Edmund


As I write this, Sir Edmund Hillary’s funeral procession is making its way down a rainy Queen Streetpacked with well wishers in Auckland City. I don’t recall anything like this in my lifetime in New Zealand. People lined up for hours in the wind and rain last night for the opportunity to pay their respects in the cathedral where he lay in state. Today his cortege is being greeted by 10’s of thousands of people, quietly clapping and a few throwing flowers on the bonnet of his hearse. I doubt that I will see something like this again in my lifetime.

Many discussions have taken place about whether there are many people in the world who have given back many hundred fold for what they have enjoyed in their lives. Sir Ed never made a fuss about it and he certainly would not approve of what is happening today although he would understand and respect a nation’s wishes to  honour him. There are very few people alive today who would be held in similar esteem.

A sad footnote is that other than the Governor General, there are no members of the royal family here to pay their respects. This is one more nail removed from the respect for the British Commonwealth. He was Knighted and  conquered Everest on the day of the Queen’s coronation. He was a true Statesman, but not important enough for the Royals to come and acknowledge, that disrespect will be remembered with disappointment.

The TV coverage has been running all day and tomorrow’s newspapers will show a country, not so much mourning the loss of a great man, but celebrating his life. Rest in peace Sir Ed, a true Kiwi bloke, eager to enjoy the adventures of mother earth and even more eager to do good for others, for good’s sake.