BoothCon 2020 Presentation: “You’re a tech business. Know your stuff”

In January 2020, I had the pleasure of presenting some (basic for some, not for others) tech knowledge for photo booth operators in Australia. I was humbly invited to speak at BoothCon by Justin, as a person knowledgeable (I guess) in tech, as well as experienced in photo booths (via my Ready Steady Booth photo booth hire business and Hula Booth photo booth software business).

I’ve known Justin from BoothCon since the very first BoothCon in Brisbane in 2017. He’s a great operator of the show and a great guy in general. As part of attending photo booth industry events, we’ve consumed many a beers across Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Las Vegas (for the Photo Booth Expo).

Below are my slides as presented at BoothCon 2020, with many topic being “You’re a tech business Know your stuff”. Or as promoted by “You’re In The Tech Game, Play To Win!”. Presented at BoothCon 2020, Day 1: Tuesday 14th January 2020 at Eatons Hill Hotel and Function Centre, Eatons Hill, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Even when Self Driving cars are here, they need to be legal

A quick review of full self driving cars and getting them made legal. My focus in on Victoria, Australia, but assume all countries and states will have similar issues.

Written due to some Tweetsand thought I’d write this down for my future reference and to explain in a little more detail my point of view.

I’m all for self driving cars, but I think the laws/policies/etc. will be a hindrance when ready. As well as jobs, union movements and job protection will also be a concern.

Quoting some sections solely from the Parliament of Victoria research paper ‘Autonomous vehicles‘ published December 2017.

Issues

Public acceptance of self driving technology

Chart 5. Willingness to use automated vehicle technology

So we can see a huge amount of people who are not willing to use self driving cars, which you’d expect translates into not having them on the road. The high acceptance is the 18-24 year old age bracket, who really aren’t the ones that influence policy.

I’d predict we’d have a huge vocal minority pushing conspiracy theories like we currently have with the 5G rollout.

Job losses

You can sure as hell bet that there will be a massive push against self driving vehicles from employment groups that will suffer job losses (ride share, taxi, trucks, couriers, etc.). These groups, associations, unions and whatnot have strong lobbying powers.

Though I would not expect this to stop the roll out in the long term, like with factory automation and whatnot, it will in the short term in delaying laws getting passed to allow self driving cars.

New jobs seem unlikely in Australia due to roll out of self driving cars, with the report noting “..new roles in supplying, maintaining and operating automated vehicles, or other roles that use automated vehicles as a platform to deliver new kinds of services to the market”. So – mechanics still have work (albeit less due to increase in EV) and some unknown industry due to self driving — not great for people currently employed to drive.

Product liability and insurance in Australia

Many areas to work through to get self driving cars legal:

  • changes to driver responsibility and liability;
  • manufacturer responsibility for automated vehicle accidents;
  • the possibility of new stakeholders becoming responsible for automated vehicle accidents;
  • new risks associated with automated vehicle usage, particularly regarding malicious usage of automated vehicles; and
  • new sources of liability for manufacturers, particularly third party losses caused by defects in automated vehicles.

Acts and regulations impacted in Victoria alone

In Victoria, there are 7 pieces directly impacted by self driving vehicles. Let alone likely other legal and criminal codes.

  • Road Safety Act 1986
  • Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983
  • EastLink Project Act 2004
  • Melbourne City Link Act 1995
  • Crimes Act 1958 – culpable driving or dangerous driving causing death
  • Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) (Conduct of Public Transport) Regulations 2015
  • Transport (Buses, Taxi-Cabs and Other Commercial Passenger Vehicles) Regulations 2005

Summary

I’d love a self driving car. It will be safer. It will be more convenient.

But our society isn’t currently geared towards self driving cars, so a lot of policy and legal issues will need to be resolved, which will be countered by people who oppose self driving cars.

I see the technology being here before we are close to being ready legally.

8 Great Years with Virgin Australia (vale VA)

A Virgin Coffee and VirginBlue.com.au Plane (31/12/2013) @ MEL Virgin Lounge

A quick reflection of 8+ amazing years flying Virgin Australia now that they have entered voluntary administration (well – likely to not announced to market at time of writing in VA as of the morning of 21/4/20 they are).

VA have been my primary airline for domestic and US trips for the last 8 years. I’ve maintained at least silver status for 98% of the time (gold and platinum for 83% of the time) – only dropping to “red” for 2 months since June 2012.

Why always flying Virgin? There has been no reason to change. Great staff, good lounges, a fantastic domestic business class service (that I apparently have been spoilt with vs Qantas), great ability to upgrade using points and the 777 in-flight bar has had many great conversations over the years.

So many memorable flights with Virgin Australia (and VirginBlue and VAustralia):

– First time guested into lounge, circa 2010, by a colleague (think this was when the Melbourne lounge had Foxtel on the screens?).
– Flying our first non-economy flight in 2012 with VAustralia to Abu Dhabi in Premium Economy (and onwards to Dublin where I got engaged to my amazing wife).
– Flights to Bali via the “free” business class flights bug for bookings from HBA-DPS which were honoured!
– Managing to snag myself and a mate an upgrade to business for a boys trip to Las Vegas (and a operational upgrade at that – for both of us!).
– Flying to the US and managing to sell my business to a US based company.
– Our little mans first (and many now) flights. He’s never been on another airline (well, excluding partner airline flights with Etihad and Delta).

My last flight with Virgin Australia was BNE-MEL on 15/1/20, where I managed to snag an upgrade to the pointy end on points (the flight was cancelled, so last flight was 16/1/20).

Let’s hope that out of the ashes of the voluntary administration, that an even better airline can emerge that can keep Qantas on it’s toes. Good luck to all staff at Virgin Australia.

Finishing up with an assortment of photos from the years flying VA.

Trip Notes on Qantas A380 First Class Los Angeles to Melbourne (QF94 LAX-MEL)

Sunset somewhere on the way from Los Angeles

Flight Details

  • Airline: Qantas
  • Aircraft: Airbus A380 (refurbished)
  • Class: First
  • Seat: 5A
  • Flight Number: QF94 (Los Angeles to Melbourne – LAX-MEL)
  • Scheduled Departure: 10.50pm Sunday 1st March 2020
  • Actual Departure: 9.27am Monday 2nd March 2020

Preamble

I was scheduled to be flying on QF94 in business class on the evening of Sunday 1st March 2020 to land in Melbourne at 9.40am on the Tuesday.

A few weeks before the flight, I decided to throw in a cheeky first class upgrade which was fortunately accepted around midday in New York (or around 12 hours before take-off from Los Angeles). Wonder if the 61,600 QFF points would be worth it?

Whilst travelling from JFK on QF 12 (trip notes coming at some stage), the cabin crew approached saying that the QF94 service was cancelled, but not to worry, we’ll be accommodated on other Qantas flights.

On landing, the First Class host told me the options:

  1. Fly premium economy to Brisbane and then call the Qantas team when home for a refund. From experience in the past, the refund would be average (they’d probably price it at premium economy flexible fare or similar, whilst I’d booked business saver – I’d probably owe them money).
  2. Stay overnight and fly out 9.30am the next morning on QF94 (they needed to wait for another A380 to land from Australia to fly this flight) and put us up in a hotel.

I took the latter option. Battling for a refund and landing in Brisbane not as refreshed as a lie flat wasn’t that appealing.

I assume as a lowly Bronze at the time of the 12 hour delay, that other more important customers were taken care of first (fair enough – I always get looked after as platinum with Virgin Australia). Maybe next time as a gold member (gold being courtesy of this one trip!) I’ll get accommodated on another flight. Regardless, landing in Melbourne in the evening rather than the morning wasn’t a huge deal.

All of us delayed overnight were put up in the Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport. A quick shuttle out to the hotel to check-in, and provided with a USD 60 meal allowance (supposedly USD 30 per meal) – excluding alcohol and tips. Hotel was quite nice – although being an airport hotel, lots of noises overnight from people moving about.

Qantas First Lounge LAX

The next morning, first stop was a quick checkout and shuttle ride to airport. Had some trouble getting through security as the date on the boarding passes was wrong (still had yesterdays date, but the correct boarding time), and after some fluffing around, the Qantas check-in staff sorted the security out and we got through.

Worth noting that the airport was very quiet at this time (around 6.30am), and probably just on the precipice of all the Coronavirus slowdown (New York seemed quiet too).

After security, I headed straight to the lounge. This was my first Qantas First class lounge experience. Having only ever been to a Qantas lounges three times previously (Sydney domestic business lounge, and the Melbourne and LAX business lounges on this trip), I was looking forward to checking it out.

With the flight being delayed until 9.30am, I was attending the lounge in the morning rather than the standard evening time flights back home to Australia. Due to this, the lounge was super quiet. Obviously, not many first class or platinum flyers were made to stay overnight in LA!

The lounge was nicely fitted off, and the breakfast was fantastic. As I didn’t want to fill up too much before the flight, I grabbed the Light Breakfast (poached eggs, smoked salmon, kale and parsley) as well as a latte. Breakfast was comparable to a great cafe breakfast from home, and the coffee probably the best I’d had in the past week whilst in the US.

After breakfast, I sat down to wait for the flight on some comfy seats with a sparkling water. Not much of a view compared to my previous LAX lounge experiences over the years (with Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand, at both the Star Alliance and Emirates lounges).

The Flight

Having only flown on the A380 once before (AUH-JFK Etihad business class), and also have never flown first, I was fairly excited to get on the big bird. I didn’t particularly know what to expect compared to flying business class (didn’t expect it to be too much different). But once walking in and seeing the seats, you kind of knew this was going to be a bit different to business class.

Getting settled into Seat 5A

First impressions were definitely being a bit blown away by the size of the seat area. I could have my luggage in the seated area, and still stretch out. Two full windows to myself. Felt like a very large cabin, especially with only 15 seats. Could tell this should be a great flight!

This was also the refurbished Qantas A380, which apparently doesn’t give much of a change for the first class cabin (new upholstery?), but provides the new business class seats (which I flew on the way across on the 787). Luckily haven’t had to try the 2-2-2 configuration Skybed Mark II. Regardless, the cabin looked great in first.

A look around from Seat 5A

Luckily, travelling internationally, you are allowed to partake in morning alcohol (in my rule book), so when some champagne was offered, it would have been rude not to have a glass. On offer was the Piper-Heidsieck Rare Millesime Champagne 2002 ($289.99 at Dan Murphy’s), as well as some mixed nuts.

Amenity kits, including the all important pyjamas, were provided and we taxied out for take off. The first class pyjamas seem a lot better quality than the business class pyjamas from the way across, and they have pockets – a massive win (and now a favourite to wear at home).

As our flight was a morning flight rather than the usual evening one, the meal service was switched around. We started with some breakfast in which I ordered a Bloody Mary, English breakfast tea, croissant, toast, bacon, poached eggs, sausage and a potato & chive fritters. By far the best breakfast I’ve had in the air – actual poached eggs. And a full pot of tea.

After breakfast, it was time for a quick stroll around to check out the stairs and upstairs lounge area. The lounge area is quite big, and had no one else in it when I was checking it out. Must say, I think I prefer the Virgin Australia 777 bar area, where there are a few stools where it feels more relaxed and encourages mingling of travellers.

With no in-flight internet, I did a little bit of organising of photos from my trip, some email replies (queued for sending) and then onto the in-flight entertainment. I generally don’t use the in-flight entertainment systems (usually books and work), but with no internet, and having finished my book, TV show time it was. On the JFK-LAX flight, I’d settled on iZombie and continued to smash out some more episodes.

After a bit of binge watching, it was time for a simple lunch. Settled on a veal schnitzel roll.

After lunch it was time for a nap and to test out the lie flat bed. Whilst getting settled into the pyjamas, the seat was transformed into a bed by the Qantas crew. And wow, it is a big bed. Felt like it would almost be a single bed size. And the full quilt and doona were fantastic, as well a proper sized pillow.

After the nap, a perfect time to stretch out and go upstairs for a bit. After getting upstairs, was promptly asked by crew if I’d like a drink. A gin and tonic ordered and quickly delivered. Up at the lounge area, I struck up a conversation with a fellow first class passenger who was from Phoenix and travelling to visit a friend in Melbourne. During this time, dinner service orders were taken with the some canapés being served upstairs, before heading down for the rest of the meal service.

My dinner meal ordered was:

  • Tuna crudo with witlof, sunchokes and pickled fennel.
  • Beef fillet with skordalia, snow peas and port wine sauce.
  • Chocolate mousse cake with coffee, raisins, hazelnuts and crème fraîche.

With all being amazing. The beef was up there with great steaks served at sea level.

And with dinner over, time for some more iZombie as we inched closed to Australia. Just before landing, Morgan, the fantastic hostess who had looked after me for the flight, offered some extra champagne. If I didn’t drink it, it was going to waste – so the answer was simple. A very full champagne glass was consumed as we descended into Melbourne.

Nearly home

Menus

Wrapping Up

By far the best flight I’ve had with any airline. The personal level of service was hard to beat with fantastic staff, albeit there were only 5 out of 15 in the first cabin. The quality of the food and drink was amazing.

The size of the seat was fantastic, with the bed (the linen and pillows) being huge and the easiest I’ve ever gotten to sleep on a plane (and a day time flight to boot).

No in-flight internet on Qantas international flights is my only major gripe with the flight. My US flights are usually with Virgin Australia (and a couple of times with AirNZ), who both offer decently priced and generally fast in-flight internet. Without the internet, a flight is a lot less productive, especially the day time ones. Definitely something Qantas needs to address when we are all back in the air.

Hope to be back at the very point end of a Qantas A380 soon — or potentially cash in some Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles for some first redemptions!

This flight was well worth the 61,600 Qantas Frequent Flyer points to upgrade from business to first class.

How Virgin Australia handled my cancelled domestic flight

On Wednesday 15th January 2020, I was on the scheduled on the 7.55pm flight from Brisbane to Melbourne after attending the BoothCon conference.

Unfortunately as we arrived at the airport, the flight had been delayed by just under 4 hours for a new departure time of 11.46pm and a 3.06am arrival.

Delayed

Our check in agent at the priority line was very helpful, offering us a change of flight so we could go and stay an extra night if we’d like, but as we had meetings in the morning, we opted against this.

Luckily, we had access to the Virgin Lounge through my Platinum membership, allowing us to sit in the lounge for some time waiting for our flight. At 10.22pm, my TripIt app notified me the flight had been cancelled.

And cancelled

At the same time, the main lounge staff member was personally letting all guests know of said cancellation before announcing on the PA. Obviously, bloody annoying as we now would miss our morning meetings.

Unsure at what would be happening, we sat in the lounge to let events pan out. At 11.42pm, an SMS and email was received with my new flight details (7.55am), whilst my colleague was placed on the 3.55pm. I assume that I got a much earlier flight as I am a Platinum member, as well as had upgraded my seat to business class many weeks ago to business class.

New flight details email

We decided to join the queue to speak to the lounge staff to see if they were putting us up in a hotel. From looking at the cancelled flight policy, we would get accomodation provided, or if they couldn’t provide, up to $220 reimbursement.

Luckily, we didn’t have to organise a hotel as they put us up in the Pullman Brisbane King George Square, whilst also providing two $100 CabCharge cards and let us know we could charge up to $50 on the room for meals or whatnot, in addition to providing new boarding passes.

We collected our bags and grabbed taxis. At the Pullman, it seemed anyone turning up at the hotel could have gotten a free room from Virgin, no paperwork was checked!

Apparently there were a tonne of flights cancelled to Melbourne due to the storms (I heard 50 from a Virgin staff, but that sounds high) and our flight was cancelled as they could not get staff required to fly it.

I imagine that Virgin were not happy about this as the hotel rate on check in said $190, plus about $50 each way for taxis and a meal charged is an expensive cancellation!

The next morning, I missed my flight!

Next morning I checked out nice and early (6.30am) and went to grab a taxi. After about 15 minutes of no taxi turning up, I switched to Didi ride share and got one within a few minutes.

But alas, the trip to the airport took over 50 minutes for what should have been 15 minutes, due to a smash in the airport toll road tunnel. His plus the delay in getting a ride, meant I was too late to check my bags in.

Luckily, the service desk were amazing and didn’t blame me at all and managed to get me on the very next flight. Not sure how they managed this but luckily didn’t have to wait around for my own fault.

I guess it was a good time to miss my first flight when Virgin had cancelled the flight I had been plenty early for the day before!

On people cracking it at Virgin staff

Seriously. Do you think they wanted to cancel the flight? It costs them a tonne and also makes their job a lot harder. Yelling and complaining to staff for something outside of their control is unnecessary.

Summary

I personally think Virgin handled this pretty well.

They made it as easy as possible for everyone inconvenienced Brough providing a nice hotel, a meal allowance and taxi vouchers. They were obviously trying to get people to their destinations as soon as possible the next day based on very full flights.

Qantas Domestic Business Class Review

In December 2019, I decided to fly Qantas back from Sydney to Melbourne as the flight time suited better than my usual preference of carrier (Virgin Australia). Qantas had a conveniently timed 8.30pm departure, whilst Virgin only had 8pm or 10pm. So I booked Qantas.

Before the flight, I thought why not blow a few frequent flyer points on upgrading to business, to experience Qantas domestic business, and also get lounge and priority boarding (which I’m accustomed to being a Platinum Velocity member).

This review is in general comparing my usual experience on Virgin Australia to my only Qantas experience since about 2013. Understand that it is a first world problem bitching about lounges and business class service, but when you pay (albeit in points) for a premium service, it should be delivered.

Lounge

I was looking forward to the Domestic Business Lounge. As Qantas operate both the Club and Business lounges, and Virgin only one lounge for all passengers, I’d expected the Business lounge to be to a higher standard. It was not.

Sydney Domestic Business Lounge before flight: complete chaos. Food was absolutely average. Apricot chicken or similar with rice. But you’d be lucky to get a single scrap of chicken in amongst the sauce. Hard to get a beer as hard to get staff attention, wine at least self serve.

Additionally, getting a table to sit at in the Business lounge was extremely difficult. Would to see what the Club is like (or is that quieter?). And this is 7pm on a Wednesday. Can’t image the shitshow that it would be on a Friday.

“Priority” Boarding

I’d heard that Qantas priority boarding has always been average. But just over a week before my flight, Qantas had apparently fixed this: Qantas launches new priority boarding system.

Well, safe to say, it wasn’t improved. When I got to the gate, the priority queue was much longer than the standard queue, with the same number of gate staff for both lines. Based on this, I took the standard queue and got on quicker than the priority queue.

Virgin does his quite nicely, they board just the priority queue until it is empty, then the standard. If a new priority person walks into the queue, they are taken immediately.

I am assuming that as this was only a week or so after the changes, that they hadn’t got the process down pat yet (but seriously, can an operations staff member at Qantas just fly one domestic Virgin flight to see how it’s done?).

Flight

  • 737 with three rows of business class, very similar to Virgin, but think the purple divider Virgin have is a tad nicer.
  • Pre-departure drinks. Choice of a 250ml bottle of water or nothing. Virgin offers sparkling wine, sparkling water (my usual choice), orange juice or water – served in a glass, not a bottle that was still sitting empty 20 minutes after take off.
  • No rope divider between economy and business. As soon as seat belt sign off, economy passenger going through to business front toilet.
  • Economy service trolley pushed right into business class cabin and no service offered. Economy passengers with drinks before business passengers during flight.
  • No introduction by staff welcoming to business. Pretty much treated same as economy (or worse – as drink service after).
  • 20 minutes after take off still nothing at all. Service started about 25 minutes after take off. By time reached row 3 of business, about 35 minutes.
  • Serve business class from a trolley? Why? Get some drink orders and food and bring it back. Absolutely no need to bring a trolley through.
  • Drink service and food at same time. Causing delays. Take drink order before take off for service immediately afterwards, not hard?
  • Food options: pies, cheese, something else. Pies were good.
  • The main cabin guy was great (Rob). Shake of hands. Suggestion of wines. But before he started service, he seemed to have to deal with some operations issues (lots of touch screen stuff at front panel, but someone else could have taken care of business before economy). But a shake of hands before take off and food and drink order would be nice.
  • When landed, no flight attendant blocking off economy from business to make sure business exit first, so some economy passengers exiting before business.

Not trying to say economy passengers should be treated poorly, but business class are paying a premium and should get some perks!

A lot of my friends rave about Qantas. I won’t be back in a hurry.

Business seat and window

Qantas 737 business cabin

Economy service trolley in business class cabin

Business meal – party pies

Reboot: Probably More Than You Ever Wanted to Know about Starting a Global Business

My Rating: ★★★★★

Written by Jodie Fox, former founder of Shoes of Prey which was shut down in 2018.

I’d been following Shoes of Prey since very early on. They launched in 2009, and I launched my first business in 2011, so they were probably the start-up of the time when reading startup news.

I had never understood the model, custom designed footwear to me doesn’t make sense – but I definitely was not in the realm of their target market.

Reboot outlines many of the learnings from Shoes of Prey and some interesting tidbit stories from the journey. I would have enjoyed some more in-depth on war stories of running the business.

But what Jodie does write about is the stuff that all business owners (or entrepreneurs) probably face – imposter syndrome, procrastination and mindset.

Can’t wait to see what Jodie’s next moves are.

Amazon Description

Shoes of Prey launched in 2009. It allowed people to design their dream shoes online, get them expertly manufactured, and have them shipped to anywhere in the world within two weeks. The startup broke even at two months, hit multi-million dollar revenues in under two years, raised tens of millions in funding from top-tier investors and shipped to more than 100 countries. All the metrics pointed to huge scalability. To a huge business. To a huge success.

But it didn’t succeed. In 2018 the business failed. And this is that story.

Reboot tells the truth of what it is like to be at the helm of a global business. From the high highs of besting Karl Lagerfeld on global awards to the low lows of closing the doors on your dream, join author Jodie Fox on a raw journey as she reveals for the first time the story behind the story of fashion darling Shoes of Prey.

This incredible ride will share lessons on raising capital, building a brand, finding suppliers, doing business in China and, most importantly, how to learn and grow from your successes and your mistakes and be ready every day to reboot for the next challenge.

via Amazon (December 2019).

The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos

My Rating: ★★★★★

Really enjoyed this book. I felt I knew a lot about Musk, but this had more information that I previously knew. And great to learn more about Bezos, especially the early days. Also great to get a feel for a bit more of the politics behind space and the big contractors who pretty much took the piss for years. Pity that it didn’t get through to the Falcon Heavy launch.

Notes

Page 145

Found this interesting, the first guy who launched a liquid fuelled rocket in 1926 was ridiculed for publishing a paper in 1919 saying that a rocket could go to the moon (apparently impossible as a vacuum! Nothing to react against). Received ridicule from the New York Times who wrote in the 20’s and received a retraction after the moon landings.

“Every vision is a joke until the first man accomplishes it; once realised it becomes commonplace”

— Robert Goddard

Page 155

On cost plus contracts (cost plus a fixed margin – NASA pays this to the Boeing’s and whatnot). This is why fixed priced projects are the winner for everyone (and applicable to my business). Quote from Gwynne Shotwell:

“I’ve been doing this for thirty years, so I think I can say that – by cost-plus contracts. The incentive is on a cost-plus contract is not to minimise cost, it’s to maximise effort. Our philosophy was not to minimise effort, but optimise effort.”

Page 159

On the cancellation of constellation program (the one to go to moon and Mars) by Obama. At the time I thought what a scum bag, but when you see costs had doubled and tripled (for space craft and launch vehicle respectively) in 4 years, with the op costs predicted to be massive you can see why it was cancelled. Was annoyed at time, but now, can see it was a great win for the private space industry.

Page 254

Find this to be an amazing quote by Bezos, and feel that this is something will communicate to our little guy as he grows up.

“We all have passions,” he told the students sitting before him on the floor. “You don’t get to choose them, they pick you. But you have to be alert to them. You have to be looking for them. And when you find your passion, it’s a fantastic gift for you because it gives you direction. It gives you purpose. You can have a job. You can have a career. Or you can have a calling.”

Page 259

And my thoughts exactly on climate change (Bezos)

“If you take a baseline energy usage today, compount it at just a few percent a year for just a few hundred years and you have to cover the entire Earth’s surface with solar cells” to keep up with demand, he said. “You either go out into space or you need to control population on Earth. You need to control energy usage on Earth. These things are totally at odds with a free society. And i’ts going to be dull. I want my great-great-grandchilder to be using more energy per capita than I do. And the only way they can be using more energy per capita than me is if we expand out into the solar system. And then we can really keep Earth as this incredible gem that it is.”

GoodReads Description

The historic quest to rekindle the human exploration and colonization of space led by two rivals and their vast fortunes, egos, and visions of space as the next entrepreneurial frontier

The Space Barons is the story of a group of billionaire entrepreneurs who are pouring their fortunes into the epic resurrection of the American space program. Nearly a half-century after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, these Space Barons-most notably Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, along with Richard Branson and Paul Allen-are using Silicon Valley-style innovation to dramatically lower the cost of space travel, and send humans even further than NASA has gone. These entrepreneurs have founded some of the biggest brands in the world-Amazon, Microsoft, Virgin, Tesla, PayPal-and upended industry after industry. Now they are pursuing the biggest disruption of all: space.

via GoodReads (14 September 2019).

Game of Mates: How favours bleed the nation

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

I had heard great things about this book on Twitter, so bought it in 2018 and finally read it last month, and was fairly underwhelmed. Probably because I feel I am fairly well informed about this dodginess that goes on.

The book outlines how ‘grey’ deals are done between industry insiders, industry public servants and politicians, who work as a revolving door between government and industry. This is as clear if you actually pay any attention to the news how business works with government.

One thing that was a great read was the opposition to more regulation. I’ve generally been opposed to more regulation as it can limit competition. Great to actually see this explained in detail how that when an industry is criticised, the default answer is for more regulation which actually enhances the incumbents in the industry — as new entrants have too many hurdles to comply to.

A great summary with references is provided across many industries. But potentially sometimes a bit harsh on business — but probably not unjustly.

Amazon Description

James is our most mundane villain. His victim is Bruce, our typical Aussie, who bleeds from the hip pocket because of James’ actions. Game of Mates tells a tale of economic theft across major sectors of Australia’s economy, showing how James and his group of well-connected Mates siphon off billions from the economy to line their own pockets. In property, mining, transport, banking, superannuation, and many more sectors, James and his Mates cooperate to steal huge chunks of the economic pie for themselves. If you want to know how much this costs the nation, how it is done, and what we can do about it, Game of Mates is the book for you.

via Amazon (8 July 2019).

Gear and Software July 2019

A few years ago I did a post on what software I use. I thought it’d be interesting to add hardware into the mix as well.

Hardware

Laptop

I’ve been using MacBooks since 2011, with very oscasional stints on the Surface Pro. Every time I’ve switched to a windows based machine, I’ve felt less productive somalways end back up with Apple.

My current machine is the 2018 MacBook Air (i5, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD). This was a switch from the 2016 MacBook Pro 15” (i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD). The reason for the switch was that the 15” felt a bit big for travel and couch usage. The Air has been plenty powerful enough for my needs.

Desktop

I haven’t had a desktop machine for a long time and have solely been working from laptops. When in the office, I “dock” (well, plug in the USB-c) into a LG 27UD88-W 27” display with the laptop sitting on a Twelve South Curve stand. I use the Apple Magic Keyboard, Mouse 2 and Trackpad 2 in Space Grey.

Tablet

Current tablet is the Apple iPad Pro 11” with Smart Keyboard Folio. Upgraded from the 10.5” iPad Pro last year. Generally keep up to date with iPads due to having to test compatibility with them for Hula Booth.

This iPad is amazing to work with. The keyboard is fantastic, combined with the battery life and 4G inbuilt, its a perfect device for using on the road and in meetings. And also when focus is required as the iPad makes it a bit more difficult to multitask versus a laptop.

With iPadOS coming out, I think the improvements over the next few years may make it feasible to drop the laptop in the future. Potentially.

Phone

Have been fairly strictly iPhone since I imported the original model from the USA in 2007, with the occasional switch to Android. But always find myself coming back for battery life or getting away Samsung bloat.

On the iPhone XS at the moment and have no reason to look elsewhere. The FaceID and no home button took a bit of getting used to coming from the iPhone 8, but now it feels normal.

Smart Watch

I never had the inclination to get a smart watch, but for my 30th birthday I was struggling with gift ideas (apparently I’m hard to buy for). So ended up with an Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) 42mm. It’s actually been more useful than anticipated, especially with being able to go down to the shops without a phone and use Apple Pay. Having Siri on your wrist is handy as well.

Headphones

I’m not a big headphones guy. Was using some cheap Bluetooth in-ear ones from Amazon, but just upgraded to some Plantronics BackBeat GO 410 noise cancelling in-ear headphones. The reason for upgrade is because of a fair bit of travel, and the noise cancelling really helps.

Still have a pair of Bose QuietComfort 15 that have served well (which got super cheap second hand in 2013), but they are a bit bulky to travel with and keep in my bag. Also not being Bluetooth is a bit of a pain.

Software

Won’t go into too much detail here, but the quick list:

  • Email: Google G Suite (personal and business) with Superhuman
    • G Suite as it just works well.
    • Superhuman as makes email super fast with keyboard shortcuts and auto advance.
  • Storage: Google Drive and OneDrive
  • Office Suite: Google and Office
    • Google is mostly good, but sometimes need proper Excel.
  • Tasks: Asana
    • Use for all project management and personal tasks. Find it works mostly well and haven’t had a reason to look at changing.
  • Notes: Bear
    • Just easy writing that is simple and works. What this is written in before going to WordPress.
  • Notepad Calculator: Soulver
    • Love this app. It’s like a hybrid notepad and calculator. Handy for quick calculations and number doodling.
  • Clipping and Reference: Evernote
    • Can’t seem to shake Evernote. It’s a great dumping ground.
  • Messaging: Telegram, Slack
    • Still rocking Telegram personally. Also a bit of Facebook Messenger. Not in as many Slack communities anymore, they have definitely died down, but still good for business.

Kind of using a Notion, but can’t figure out how this fits into my workflow. To be determined if it stays in the list. Starting to make some tables and whatnot in it.

Compared to my 2016 software edition, have dropped a few.

Dropped:

  • Todoist (use Asana for personal tasks now)
  • Trello (upgraded to Asana)
  • Dropbox (solely OneDrive and Google Drive now)
  • Adobe Creative Cloud (replaced with Sketch, Figma and Affinity Designer)
  • Streak CRM (sold a business so don’t need a CRM so much, but Notion fits the bill)
  • Quip (went back to Google Docs and Sheets)
  • MailChimp (now use MailerLite)
  • Wave Apps and Reckon One (solely Xero).