Bedouin-time: or what I’ve been spending my evenings on

For a while now, I’ve been going on about doing something Bedouin and we’ve been moving our pawns about the board in an attempt to get something started. This week I’ve truly been Bedouin and it’s time I started talking a bit more about it.

Last week, we named it “The NewWorkSpace”.

Centre of Belfast location, a caf??? at first glance but with free WiFi and larger than average tables. Good coffee (and I’m just back from Paris and I’m disgusted with the state of espresso in Belfast) and tasty snacks alongside options ranging from working at a coffee shop table to going upstairs to open plan hot-desking to going further and occupying a temporary office with frosted glass walls.

So, yes, we’re doing it. We have some big plans for it, we’ve been working night and day on market research and getting a business plan hammered out. We’ve been asking people in InvestNI, coffee shop entrepreneurs, mobile professionals and everyone thinks it’s a great idea.

I hope to some day see James in the Caf??? or WorkSpace as he’s been going on about it more than most!

The first one will be opened in Belfast. After that? Dublin? Cork? Glasgow? Anywhere where we can see innovation, enterpreneurship and a need for flexible affordable workspace with great opportunities for business networking.

Hey James, want to be a guest for the opening? What about you Damian? I’ll see if I can grab Greg Olsen too 🙂

Cocoaheads 3rd Meeting last night

Last night was the third local Cocoaheads meeting. Thansk to Phil and Chris for turning up and making me not sit like a spod with no wireless.

We discussed IP routing through odd interfaces (as Chris likes his Frankenstein machines) and whether or not Mac OS X is a real UNIX as judged by gnarly old UNIX cusses with long beards. We discussed SyncBridge, Leopard, Calendar server and some of the things that Infurious plans to do with the recent announcements. Business is brisk enough and I think we’re really entering a new era for Mac calendaring. There’s certainly opportunity.

Apple’s interface for iCal is really clean but then they can “make it so” because they have the source code 🙂

I attempted (and Phil took over) to show Chris about Cocoa and Interface Builder and we both espoused the advantages of comprehensive libraries. We discussed Delicious Library and their sales, Gus Muellers “The Life”.

It seems CocoaHeads is less about the Cocoa and more about just “technical Mac stuff”. If that’s the way the vox populi wants it then who am I to argue?

We are looking for a talented, motivated code monkey who wants smoke and promises in lieu of salary. Any takers? 🙂

The Internet is not Outlook

There’s “standards” and there’s “standards”. The former is an agreed set of protocols or formats designed to assist information exchange. The latter is a ad-hoc adherence to a certain format or protocol because “everyone else is doing it” or “I’m too lazy to configure my email properly”.

Email users sometimes find that they receive email messages with a strange file attached, called winmail.dat. When they attempt to open this file, either it can’t be opened at all, or it contains garbage.

The situation causing this is that people are using several different email client programs to receive, read, and send email. Normally that’s fine and causes no problems. Microsoft Outlook does not “play nice” with the other email programs all the time unfortunately and this causes problems, not for the sender of the email, but the recipient, particularly when actual files are attached to messages.

If someone emails you to complain that they couldn’t read your attachments, or to ask what this “winmail.dat” file is that you sent them, chances are you sent this email using Microsoft Outlook 97/2000 (or, very remotely possibly, another product using Microsoft Exchange Server). Although you are not the one having the problem, you are the one who gets to fix the problem because, at the end of the day, YOU CAUSED THE PROBLEM by using a proprietary version of RTF which wrapped your attachment up. If you’d used plain text or even HTML it would be okay….


If you’re kinda selfish but the the recipient is in your address book and he complains a lot:

  • Open up your Outlook Address Book, either by clicking on the Address Book icon or by choosing Tools->Address Book
  • Select the recipient’s entry in your address book and open up their Properties, either by clicking on the Properties button or double- clicking on the recipient’s entry.
  • Select the “Name” tab in the Properties dialog window.
  • Check the box at the bottom of the window that says “Send email using plain text only”.
  • Click the “OK” button.

If you enter the recipient’s address manually in the To: line of your email message and like the extra work:

EACH TIME you send a message to this person, you must:

  • Create a new email message as you normally would, but before sending it,
  • Choose Format->Plain Text from the menu bar.
  • Now send your message.

If you want to change your default sending mode which proves you might be ready to be an internet citizen:

You may change your default sending mode in Outlook, thereby sending all email messages as plain text, by doing the following:

  • Select Tools->Options from the Outlook menu bar.
  • Select the “Mail Format” tab in the dialog window.
  • In the first drop-down list, under the “Message Format” heading, select Plain Text
  • Click the “OK” button.

Can you tell I spent half of this week working on Windows problems and the other half working on Mac OS 9 problems? That’s BOUND to annoy the nipples off anyone!

Find a new way to win…

The Mulley posted a link to a YouTube-hosted AmEx advert “Pong v Roddick”.

Now, obviously I’m a sucker for this. I’m unlikely to ever get AmEx again having escaped from their vicelike grip four years ago. I’m certainly never walking down that road again. But I digress.

The advert, for those who can’t be bothered watching, has some tennis player (Roddick) being placed against the PONG cursor. I remember playing PONG YEARS ago (I mean, pre-1980 – which in itself is, for many of today’s entrepreneurs, a distant age which they label as “before I was even born, man”). I am getting so old. Damn. Even my 4 year old daughter tuts at the white tufts in my beard saying that it makes me look like an old man….and that’s bad because, in her words, “old men die!”. More digression.

PONG, in the video, represents an almost unbeatable, implacable foe. With it’s smooth, white exterior it weathers all of Roddick’s best plays. It moves with the speed of thought, it’s massive surface reflects the ball with ease. In this way we see the small-business entrepreneur represented by the lone human and the vast, blind PONG cursor as being your big competitor (BT, Google, Microsoft, Sage – pick your own Goliath!). In the end the human wins by zigging instead of zagging – by making a move that takes advantage of the relative lack of agility of the big cursor. Sure – it, like a big company, can move blindly fast when you stick to it’s rules, when you force it to move along it’s well-established and well-crewed lines of business. But getting a corporation, ostensibly the ultimate committee, to move “diagonally” just shows how lumbering they can be.

So, while we try to be all Bedouin everywhere (and more on that elsewhere as we start moving our pawns and I refuse to digress right now), we need to learn how to move diagonally. And as an example I’ll tell a wee story.

When my first business moved into it’s second office, we needed to put up some stud walls. The obvious instinct was to put up a wall parallel to the existing walls of this small “suspended ceiling and trunking supplied” crypt.

Don’t just do something, stand there!

I questioned this assumption at the time and managed to convince the other guys to help me construct a strange serpentine affair which maximised the amount of wall space we would gain. Sure – working out the angles probably doubled the time it took to build – but we ended up with more space to put desks, narrower corridor-type spaces and a decent sized “reception” area for customers to lounge about in.

Was it a mistake? Well, probably. After the fact there were some complaints about it – but no-one had a better idea at the time and we planned it for two weeks. I’m unsure sometimes about whether it was a lack of commitment to the vision, but essentially the “out of the box” idea beat the “same old thing” ideas without hesitation.

Do you take the time to look at the current plan and see whether there’s a diagonal route?