Thursday, June 12, 2014

3 reasons why TaylorMade is pissing off it's market

Today ends my love affair with TaylorMade. I just want it to be known by them. I’m done. I’m a relatively new golfer – having fallen in love with the sport 5 years ago, primarily at the pushing of my friend Jeff Alexander. He plays TaylorMade, and it was through him that I started playing their gear as well. But recently I’ve been delighted with their products but also incredibly annoyed with their all too frequent product releases.
While I’ve been recently turned off by their frequent product release strategy, I’ve seen commentary from so many others about it too. Here’s a few reasons why I’m looking elsewhere.

Loss of prestige
There’s a certain niceness to walking out on the course with the latest and greatest. The problem with TaylorMade, is that prestige ends relatively fast. Within 6 months there’s another new one. Its and annoying thing that you just spent $400 and then less than 6 months later the same club is $200. I hate that. The joy of “new” suddenly becomes soured, in less than a season. The niceness of having that new club that your wife bought you superseded that quick and discounted that heavily smacks of ripoff.

They are confusing the buyer
Burner, Burner 2.0, RocketBladez, SpeedBlades and now, guess what? SLDR irons! That’s all in the space of a few seasons. But in between there is the JetSpeed series. What the hell is JetSpeed? Is that better or worse that the SpeedBlades currently being promoted? I didn’t see any email about that. But wait, there’s now SLDR irons. You "need" them because the speed pocket thing they introduced in RocketBladez that got improved in SpeedBlades is now betterer in SLDR because it goes all the way through (ie: they took three goes to get it right) And does the JetSpeed have that? Is that better or worse? 

The mess of colors and design
You buy the Burners, all the colors are red, black and white. Then R1 comes out. Orange, black and white.  SLDR comes out, blue, grey and black. OMG! This isn’t a fashion show TaylorMade! I want all my colors to match. Now I look like an idiot because I have a multicolored rainbow in my bag. And who thought that grey, black and blue was a good idea? I mean isn’t the SLDR driver the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen? It’s grey and metallic like an American Airlines plane, and has this robotic, industrial sliding blob on the bottom. Looks horrible. Their design department is all over the place with radical design and color departures from the previous model.

Who wins out of this?
Certainly not you the golfer. I pity their poor product marketing department that has to come up with a new word every 6 months to describe “distance” and how “revolutionary” this club is. It’s over hyped market churn. You buy the shiny new thing that’s claimed to get 5 more yards, and the next thing you have to change all your clubs, bag, hats etc so you don’t look like a hacker. ?Or maybe I just have OCD when it comes to stuff that looks mismatched...?

Looking forward to giving Ping, Titlelist and the others a try.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Telerik Sitefinity deprecates XML-RPC in a dumb move

Recently I've had the chance to play around with a Content Management System (CMS) called Telerik SiteFinity. It's a solid performer and a very welcome move from our current CMS, Wordpress. I already know what many of you are thinking - why would you move from Wordpress? Pretty simple really, the security of it is nothing short of appalling. Its the most hacked CMS in the world - so a pretty simple decision along with the fact it was never designed to be a CMS, it was designed to be a blog platform.

One of the harder decisions though was where to put the blog itself - I had originally thought that we could simply put the blog on Blogger with a URL of however my SEO expert told me this was a bad move. We had to have it on if the blog traffic was to positively help our SEO rankings.

So we chose to go with SiteFinity's blog implementation. Honestly, I thought the blog move would be a snap - we would just hook up Kapost via Metablog API to SiteFinity and push all the old posts to the new blog and hey presto we're done. I mean, who doesnt support MetaBlog API? But then we hit a MAJOR roadblock.

Turns out SiteFinity doesn't support Metablog API (XML-RPC). Telerik made the ludicrous decision to deprecate the worlds most supported blogging API. I was stunned. Instead, Telerik in their infinite wisdom decided to go with another standard that they felt sometime, somewhere, somehow in the future would take over - AtomPub.

I'm all for supporting useful and emerging standards - but at the right time. And now isn't the right time. Why? There's almost no support for AtomPub at the present by any of the major blog editors.

  • Kapost - AtomPub unsupported (extensive XML-RPC/Metablog support)
  • MarsEdit 3 - supports AtomPub though it doesn't work with SiteFinity
  • BlogJet - AtomPub unsupported
  • BlogDesk - AtomPub unsupported
  • Windows Live Writer - supported 
  • Qumana - AtomPub unsupported 

Note ALL of the above support Metablog. This is to name but a few that I've tried. So out of this list Windows Live Writer is the only one supported. While it's a great blog editor, and I personally like to use it, it's totally useless for migration - it doesnt sync down the posts from the old blog so that you can move them to the new. It also only works on Windows, not Mac - so our Mac users are forced to use the web interface.

I tried to escalate this via our development partner, though Telerik were steadfast in their decision. They simply aren't going to reimplement support for Metablog.

So I have the choice to switch to another blogging platform (which I dont want to implement or support) or to manually move the posts, one by one. Neither is the choice I wanted.

Thanks Telerik. Great decision.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

BYOD and device wiping policies. What's the point of this again?

I keep hearing about organizations with acceptable use policies (AUP) that require the employee to essentially assign the rights and control of their phone to their employers IT department. They essentially are forced to assign the permission that the employer is permitted to wipe the device upon leaving or on lost or theft of the device.

I frankly don't get the first part of the rationale of this policy. It doesn't make any sense at all - unless combined with a comprehensive approach that covers all the other vectors for data leakage.

There is only one situation that I would permit my device to be wiped. If I lost it or it got stolen. That's it. The other choice of wiping the device as an employee leaves the organization, you may as well not even bother with. It's pointless plus there are a ton of better solutions that address the apps and data problem without destroying personal data.

The "employee left thus we wipe it" policy is clearly aimed at mitigating the risk of damage by confidential data and email being available to the now ex-employee after they leave. But does wiping a mobile device really do that? Does it fully mitigate that risk?

No. There are two other areas organizations should be more worried about plugging up.

1. 99% of the time, people now have laptops. They have Macs and Windows laptops all loaded up with apps and data. Data that is all too easy to leak outside the corporate audit trails, inclusive of email, especially when taken home.

2. Theres also little stopping employees configuring their Exchange/Office365/Gmail account to be used on their home Windows PC or Mac, with zero ability to wipe that data.

I would suggest that 9 times out of 10 no organization addresses these two areas. Thus this kind of device wipe policy is nonsense. If someone leaves an organization, sure their IT team can very easily wipe the phone, but theres a lot more data where that came from on their home PC or Dropbox account - if someone had that mindset to steal data. Besides there are plenty of solutions out that (namely MobileNow) that do mobile data wipe properly, providing the ability to securely wipe the business apps and data without destroying the user's personal information.

What do you think? Agree or disagree?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The case of the MacBook Pro and ReflectionApp

Recently I got a MacBook Pro Retina. Actually its not so recently...I've had it now for 4 months!

Wonderful hardware. Really nice design. The screen is unbelievable plus its so quick!! But anyone who says to you that the Mac experience is way better, easier, has less in my opinion clearly smoking crack and doesn't do any real work on it. I've had nothing but:

  • Application crashes
  • Poor application functionality compared to equivalent Windows apps
  • Bugs in hardware
  • Bugs in software
One of my favorite bugs is the fact that I cant use Bluetooth and Wifi at the same time. Bear in mind the MBP Retina is a Wifi only device means that the moment I want to actually for wifi drops out. Does it with my Bluetooth headset or the magic mouse. Charming Apple, charming...

Anyhow that's not what we are here to talk about. I promised the case of the MBP and Reflection.

So part of my job lately is to demo our new MobileNow software to customers, utilizing my iPad. ReflectionApp is a fabulous little app (also look at AirServer) that allows you to use the AirPlay protocol to project the iPad on your desktop. 

I installed it and lo and behold it didn't work. Did lots of troubleshooting. Checked ports that were open; some were and some weren't. I contacted Reflection and in troubleshooting also tried the AirServer app...which did the same thing. The support teams of both these organizations, I'd have to say are slow. Very very slow at responding. They tried their best over a long period of time and neither of them could get to a low enough point of troubleshooting to actually diagnose the fault.
I tried removing apps, changing the firewall etc etc. To no avail. 

Then my colleague Doug Lane says to me today on a call... "Oh I've seen that...It's the CheckPoint VPN client". So I go about testing it. Here's what I did:

1. Stop the CheckPoint VPN client from running 
2. Go into Finder, and then Applications, and drag the EndPoint VPN client to the trash
3. Then open a Terminal window and navigate to /Library/Extensions and look for the Kernel Extension (kext). Its called cpfw.kext. 
4. As its a directory you have to type sudo rm -rf cpfw.kext
5. You then supply your password.
6. Reboot

After you reboot it will all be back to normal...ReflectionApp now works. Except for the fact you now can't VPN. Hey but at least you know what it is now right? Go yell at CheckPoint. 


Update: Oct 19th. This could also fix other Airplay related issues such as projecting your MBP to Apple TV. Try it and see. Come back and comment if it also fixes it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Australian labor party economic management and competency

Saw this in my personal email today. Not sure how true it is but nonetheless very interesting...

COMMENT FROM ROSS GREENWOOD (Financial presenter on Australian morning TV show)

Lesson # 1:
Why the U.S. was downgraded:
* U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
* Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000
* New debt: $1,650,000,000,00
* National debt: $14,271,000,000,000 

* Recent budget cuts: $38,500,000,000
Let's now remove 8 zeros and pretend it's a household budget:
        Annual family income: $21,700
        * Money the family spent: $38,200
        * New debt on the credit card: $16,500
        * Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
        * Total budget cuts: $385
Got It ?????

, now Lesson # 2:
Here's another way to look at the Debt Ceiling:
Let's say, you come home from work and find there has been a sewer
backup in your neighbourhood ... and your home has sewage all the way up to your ceilings.    What do you think you should do?
Raise the ceilings, or pump out the (ummmm) "effluent"?

Lesson #
 3 :

 Australia today

Right now the Federal Government is at pains to tell everyone - including us
, the mug-punters, and the International Monetary Fund, that it will not exceed its own, self-imposed, borrowing limits.

How much?    $200 billion.   And here's a worry.

If you work in a bank's money market operation; or if you are a politician
, the millions turn into billions and it rolls off the tip of the tongue a bit too easily. But every dollar that is borrowed, some time, has to be repaid. By you, by me and by the rest of the country.

Just after 5 o'clock tonight I did a bit of math for Jason Morrison (Sydney
radio presenter). But it's so staggering its worth repeating now.

First thought
: Gillard, Swan, Wong, and before that Rudd, and all of the Labor Cabinet call these temporary borrowings, a “temporary deficit”.

Remember Those Words :  

The total Government debt will end up around $200 billion.
So here's a very basic calculation
... I used a home loan calculator to work it out..... it's that simple..
$200 billion is two hundred thousand million

The current 10 year Government bond rate is 4.67 per cent. I worked the loan
out over a period of 20 years. Now here's where it gets scary .... really scary.

The repayments on $200 billion come to more than one and a quarter billion
dollars - every month - for 20 years. It works out that we - as taxpayers will be repaying $15.4 billion in interest and principal every year .. $733 for every man woman and child - every year.

The total interest bill over the 20 years is - get this - $108 billion.

Remember, this is a Government that just 4 years ago had NO debt. NO debt.

In fact, it had enough money to create the Future Fund, to pay the future
liabilities of public servants' superannuation, and it had enough to stick $20 billion into the Building Australia Fund .....

A note was sent to me
, which explains that the six leading members of the Government, from Ms Gillard down, have a collective work experience of 181 years, but only 13 years in the private sector.

If you take out of those 13 years the number that were spent as trade union
lawyers, 11 years, only two years were spent in the private sector.

So out of those 181 years:

- no years spent running their own business
- no years spent starting their own business
- no years spent as a director of a family business or a company
- no years as a director of a public company
- no years in a senior position in a public company
- no years in a senior position in a private company
- no years working in corporate finance
- no years in corporate or business restructuring
- no years working in or with a bank
- no years of experience in the capital markets
- no years in a stock-broking firm
- no years in negotiating debt facilities with banks
- no years running a small business
- no years at the World Bank or IMF or OECD
- no years in Treasury or Finance.

But these people have plunged Australia into unprecedented debt.

Well, in a way you can't blame them.
It's clear the electorate did not do their homework, because the Government is there by right.

Ah, but they are Labor and people vote for them because Labor is good for
the working family - right???

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hire the Jessicas, fire the robots.

Recently I bought a hot new car. Ive always liked cars having owed a variety of different ones including turbocharged rally cars like Mitsubishi Evolutions etc.
One type of car Ive never owned is a V8. I guess Ive always been put off by the petrol consumption though recently I had the joy of driving an American muscle car as a hire car (thanks Hertz BTW!) as a bump up from the one I was originally scheduled to get. Nice! Everyone loves good service right?

This car so inspired me that I went out and bought one. I got a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro 6.2 Lt V8 manual in fire engine red.  Beautiful car. Its the "bumblebee" sort...and wonderful sounding out of second gear especially. Despite the traction control it still manages to get a little sideways in the wet....anyhow I digress. It was a treat and something pretty special.

As I was buying it, I really liked the buying experience that I got from the dealer. Great service and I felt special. Like really great service. They literally let me take this car out, on my own with my wife and no-one from the dealership with me to annoy me. The car sold itself and the dealership literally had me.  
I bought a few options with it and later had to go back to that dealer to get them installed by their service department.
Here's where things start to go sour, simply from one person. The specialness started to fade. Rapidly.
Its these kinds of people you need to purge from your organization. They aren't exactly assholes but they wreck your company. And you should get rid of them.

I walk in the door, fresh from driving it in. I'm feeling good. A couple of guys are eyeing off my car.
I go to drop my keys and register it in. The service advisor barely bats an eyelid. Zero smile. Monotone voice. No expression. You know the type I mean here: total lack of enthusiasm, no passion and dead obvious he hates being there. A bad attitude....sort of like some of the flight attendants you meet.  They do their job but that's it - like a robot. That's all you'll get from them.
This one guy took my day from being upbeat and happy, to flat. I felt un-valued. It nearly wrecked the whole experience.

This is not the sort of person you want in your company, and really you should warn them once and fire them the first time you hear it again. Which is what made me even more annoyed. They sent me a survey to fill in from (which touts itself as "Actual customers, trusted reviews") to ask me about my experience that would be put up publically. I commented honestly on my experience, that I got what I wanted done but that was it and the service advisor was unfriendly. Here's the kicker, they didnt publish it. Every review up there is glowing. 5 stars all round. Trusted reviews? My ass. This was simply a paid for and vetted showcase of an "everything is fine" attitude. Like those customer testimonials you see in some places. And frankly this is the last service they will get from me.

Now right off the back of me discovering that they were filtering their "trusted reviews" I got a call from Fedex. Recently I opened a business account with them and they were calling to welcome me....again. I was still pissed from finding out about the filtering and was rather blunt to the sales girl. Shes nice and asks how she can help. I said to her: "Why the heck am I still getting calls from you guys every week welcoming me. I must have had about 50 calls from you. Cut it out already!! Im busy!"
Im already waiting for the "well sorry sir...we will get it sorted" company line style of response.
Instead she fires back, "Oh its only been 50? maybe we might stop calling at 60 calls!"
She totally disarms me and I break into laughter.  Its clear from her customer manner that she is a real person, not a call center type reading from a script. We end up having a productive chat about Fedex shipping rates that really I hadn't planned on having. She questions and inquires. I feel better about Fedex simply because of this nice girl, Jessica and her sense of humor. She wants to follow up with me on Monday. Cool no problem. She made me feel valued.

You see in business its the Jessicas you want. The ones that demonstrate real enthusiasm, passion and value to the customer. You want to hire them and put the others away behind closed doors away from customers. Pay them lots of money because the Jessicas are what will keep customers coming back time and again.
Fire the customer service robots. They wont kill your business overnight, but it will happen.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Whats with the Qantas "taxes' inequality?

This past Christmas year my wife and I decided we wanted to go home to Australia for Christmas. Before we left Australia I was a pretty regular flyer, with Platinum status and had accumulated a bunch of frequent flyer points...386,000 to be exact and just enough for all four of us to travel at 96000 points per person. I had thought it would be a pretty low cost way to fly home...or so I thought!

I managed to get seats and book - but there was a nasty surprise with nearly $700 per person in taxes from Qantas. Holy crap! I wasnt impressed but figured that it was probably the same with every other airline so I book and paid. And then promptly wept at the $2800 shell out for what I thought was going to be a pretty free flight.

Recently though I have started flying with Delta. Delta also fly to Sydney and just as an experiment, I thought I'd check and see what the price for their frequent flyer seats would be.
For their flight it was going to be 100,000 per person in miles, but get this, a measly $119 in taxes per person!!! That's a whopping $2,300 price difference between Qantas and Delta!!

Now you can imagine how incensed I was. Taxes are taxes and should be consistent across all airlines. So I called Qantas. Their excuse? "Well part of our taxes and charges also includes a fuel surcharge of nearly $400".

Hell no. Hang on a second.

When I book a flight, whether through points or dollars, I expect that I have paid my way. That should include the cramped little seat, the fuel and the food. Why am I now paying for more fuel on top of a ticket price?

"That's the policy sir" was the polite response "but we will forward your comments to management"

What still doesn't add up to me is that there's still something funny going on. $700-$400 does not equal $120.
The explanation was that the taxes are different from different countries. Again I objected. "I'm leaving from a US port. I'm not leaving from Australia. How is this calculation made?"

Now I know the Australian government loves to tax people to death, though I have now asked Qantas for a cost breakdown and to understand why there is such a shocking ripoff of a tax difference between Qantas and Delta for exactly the same route of LAX to SYD return.

I'm waiting with bated breath :)

Update 3/1/2012

Just got a response from Qantas. The fuel surcharge is a whopping $543.60. That makes the math now correct. With the difference from Delta of around $120, that equates to around the $670 Qantas charges in total. But the big question is how does Qantas justify such a massive surcharge that no other airline charges? After all, the plane fills up in America paying the local price and then fills up in Australia also paying the local price (despite the fuel hedging schemes).
Nevertheless this is a pretty stupid move from Qantas. This surcharge pricing is quite out of step from anyone else operating on this route. I know who I'm flying with next to Australia...