A new look – work in progress

As they say, good things take time – though I guess it’s not up to me to say if it is good or not!

Anyway back in August last year David from Buildmedia took the original photo from my blog and modelled, rendered and composited it to come up with the header above.

It has taken me the last 8 months to get round to updating my blog to a new theme that better suited the new image. So here it is!

Although it is now live I can’t quite take it off my to do list as there are a number of tweaks I still want to make to the site. So keep an eye out over the next few weeks as I find time to make the final adjustments!

 

The Air NZ OneSmart Card

Just before Christmas Air New Zealand sent me my new Airpoints Card – The OneSmart Card. They couldn’t have done better with the name as it truely is one smart (and useful) card.

Having spent the last week in Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test I was able to test all the functions on the card.

Aside from being my Airpoints Card the OneSmart Card allowed me to:

  • Add money to the card as a MasterCard Debit Card
  • Once the money was added I created an AUD ‘wallet’ and converted some of my NZD to AUD.
  • Once in Australia I withdrew money (though note this was taken from my NZD balance – not sure why but I think this is still better than a standard international ATM withdrawal)
  • The MasterCard is also a PayPass card so once at the MCG I was able to ‘tap and go’ at the bars and food outlets. This is similar to what was available at the Rugby World Cup but I didn’t get a card for that as there were a few funny rules around it.
  • The card is also a chip based card so when PayPass wasn’t available I could still use it like a standard credit/debit card.

All the transactions (except the cash withdrawal) used my AUD balance so no conversion fees.

The card also can be managed via your mobile phone using YAP but I haven’t had the need to try that yet.

Air New Zealand have done extensive work before launching the card and I am most impressed it the simplicity and cleanliness of the website. I am easily able to convert money to multiple currencies and clearly see all the transactions. I was also able to set it up to email me every time a transaction takes place, and many times the email arrived before I’d even had time to pick up my food and leave the checkout.

All and all I have been most impressed with my new card, while I don’t plan to travel as much in 2012 as I have previously, it certainly made things very quick and simple – great work Air New Zealand.

Impressed with Air NZ – mostly

This morning I caught the 6:10am flight to Christchurch or should that be Auckland!

After two missed landings due to fog we ‘diverted’ to Auckland and landed two and half hours after leaving!

Anyway, having landed I proceeded to a check-in kiosk and scanned the barcode for my original flight and found I had already been rebooked on the 10:05 flight!

Within 5 minutes of landing I was rebooked and back through security – impressive.

The only down side to the morning (apart from being late to Christchurch) was the lack of accurate information on the ground regarding the flight.

Munich’s Standing Wave

In the last 60 hours I have ‘visited’ 6 countries. I started on Friday morning in Malmo, Sweden where I caught the train to Copenhagen, Denmark. The train crosses the incredible 7.8km long Oresund Bridge.

From Copenhagen I flew to Munich, Germany to visit our Munich-based German Sales-rep Tobias – more on that below.

The next morning I flew to Ostrava in the Czech Republic to visit our Web Developer Radomir – Radomir did a couple of years overseas experience in New Zealand where he first started work for us. He has since returned to the Czech Republic to Karvina where he continues to work developing all the Cadimage websites.

Today I found out from Radomir the fastest way to get on the motorway back to Ostrava airport was to go through Poland – Radomir’s house is about 300 m from the Polish border, something that suits him well as petrol is 15% cheaper in Poland - though you can see why as the roads are pretty bad!

From Ostrava I flew to Budapest, Hungary making it my sixth country in 6 hours. Incidentally, on the flight reading the inflight magazine I discovered that Ostrava was home to the great Ivan Lendl.

I stay in Budapest for a couple of nights and catch up with everyone at Graphisoft HQ before heading to the UK later it the week.

Anyway getting back to Munich, I have visited Munich on a number of occasions, but I had never heard of the English Garden a park larger than New York’s Central Park. The park is huge and stretches from the city centre well out to the north eastern extents of the city.

Two of the impressive featrues of the English Garden are the Chinesischer Turm – a large Chinese Tower with a nearby beer garden! And the second is the Munich Standing Wave on the a small man-made river called the Eisbach that runs through the English Garden. Apparently the wave was discovered by an Australian surfer. The spot is extremely popular with both surfers and tourists and is quite an incredible sight: (I did take my own video but found it easier to link to someone elses!)

What has the world come to?

For those of you who know me you will know I don’t generally buy-in to the whole area of Political Correctness – I’m probably a little too competitive! That’s not to say I think it is a bad idea but there are so many cases that are simply insane.

Take for instance this case where an employer was told that it was discriminating to advertise for ‘Reliable Workers’  - like the post title says “What is the world coming to?

iPad – Announced (updated)

After much speculation the most anticipated announcement this year in the tech world was made an hour or so ago in San Francisco – Apple is launching the iPad Tablet Computer.

While the iPad is not simply Apple’s answer the Amazon Kindle it is interesting that a couple of years back Jobs said the whole concept of Amazon’s Kindle is fatally flawed because people don’t read anymore.

Maybe Job is getting older as in the words of Benjamin Franklin:

For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise.

As to the question of when this will arrive in New Zealand (we are still waiting for the Kindle) who knows.

I’m sure later today Chris Keall from the NBR will have more information so i’ll keep this post updated.

Update:

OK I was wrong – actually Kelly Gregor from NBR did an update!

Preparing for 2010…

What a year – this graphic certainly sums up some of my thoughts about 2009!

A year ago I posted my contribution to Xero’s Survival Guide – it is interesting to reread this in the context of what has happened but more importantly a good to chance to review again as we roll into not only a New Year but a new decade.

From a business point of view 2009 for us has been a year of both Survival and Success. Having a business (Graphisoft NZ) heavily reliant on the NZ Building industry has been tough, sales drops of up to 80% in some areas have been a head ache but have really made us focus on growth in new areas. On the flip side of this we are pleased to say that today our international business (Cadimage Tools) has just past our growth target for 2009 so our strategy of building an export business to reduce our reliance on the NZ Building Industry is finally paying off – and just when we needed it to if I may say so!

A year ago I said I was going to blog more – while technically I have it is mostly a result of having 12 months in 2009 as opposed to the 6 months that my blog existed for in 2008! If you look at my ‘blog habits’ you’ll see I blog quite a lot while travelling and as my travelling reduced so did my blogging. I don’t plan to travel as much in 2010 but I am hopefully going to blog more even so.

I also have another new challenge for 2010 and that is the commencement of an NZ Executive MBA at Auckland University which I was recently accepted for. I am really looking forward to this opportunity and while I know it will be tough I think my business and I will be better for it.

In short I am really looking forward to 2010 we have some big plans – keep an eye on my blog to hear how things go!

A few interesting things…

Over the last few weeks I have been taking care of Customer Care for our Cadimage Tools International Customers. It is certainly a job where you get right down to the detail and consequently you may have noticed a drop off in my blog postings!

I have also fallen behind in reading everyone else’s blogs but I have come across a few things that are either great, cool, I agree with or just plain weird!

There is the recently released Dell Adamo which is a pretty cool looking, extremely thin laptop.

Xero has made two great announcements – Xero Personal and a massive increase in Revenues

Andy Lark has a good point about Rugby going globalit must be tough being in the US and not being able to watch the All Blacks. I also though his post on Critical Non Essentials was interesting.

There are the Mindflex puzzles where you use your brain power to move objects!

Lastly there is a post about 10 Secrets To Staying Informed About Web Design – I think this could help me keep up with all my blogs not just those on Web Design, but I haven’t yet had time to read it!

A good piece of timing

Our recent holiday in Cairns happen to coincide with an R&R visit for the crew of the USS Essex and the USS Tortuga prior to some ‘exercises’ with the Australian Army.

With security the way it is I was surprised to be allowed onto the Essex let alone take photos.

The USS Essex (LHD 2) “Iron Gator” is the largest ship in the US Marine Fleet carrying 1800 Marines, 1200 Sailors and 33 aircraft.

It is known as an Amphibious Assault Ship as it carried a huge array of ground vehicles which get transported to land via three enormous hovercraft that are also stored on board.

At 257 metres long it isn’t an aircraft carrier so carries helicopters and Harrier Jets (which take off vertically.)

The Essex Medical Department can be expanded to a 600-bed hospital with a 14-bed intensive care unit and 46-bed impatient ward, by far the largest at sea with the exception of hospital ships.