Category Archives: Personal

In memory of my friend John Pospisil

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I heard the very sad news yesterday that one of my colleagues and close friends, John Pospisil, passed away two days ago, aged just 39.

He had been treated for a brain tumor since 2009, and had gone through surgery, chemo, radiotherapy and an experimental treatment trial, and as far as I knew, the cancer was at least being held at bay.

However, I know that when John became aware he was ill (with a phone call, “Would you mind if I didn’t attend a meeting with a client and you took my place… I don’t want to freak you out, but I’ve just found out, well, that I have a brain tumor”), that he was not keen to broadcast it to the world. He wanted to keep on doing the things — and being with the people — he loved, without focusing on the sickness.

His many online outlets show he has been active right to the end of his life, which is, I know, exactly what he would have wanted.

He was one of the most decent guys I’ve ever known — generous with his time and in his business deals and utterly devoted to his wife Rocio and two young children Grace and Hannah.

He was always keen for a stimulating and entertaining chat about the machinations of the tech media, and musings over how exactly Google News’ algorithms worked. I met him regularly for lunch or coffee and we chewed over ideas for new ventures and swapped tips on our own successes and failures.

But as I got to know John better, we connected on a philosophical level as well. He told me about his faith and that he believed God had shown himself to him. We both shared a deep love for family.

On a professional level, John had a string of successes, borne from his creative, entrepreneurial spirit.

He conceived, founded and edited Computer CHOICE magazine (CHOICE has published a lovely memorial article about him here); founded and ran Free Access, an IT newspaper that was distributed with great success through retailers for many years.

He wrote a book on hacking MySpace (something he always reminisced on with a mix of mirth and entrepreneurial pride, as it was a case of ‘right time, right place’ even though he wasn’t really that interested in MySpace), and published a series of computer and business related books for CHOICE.

More recently, he ran a very successful blog network called Blorge, reporting on the global technology space, and fostering the talents of many bloggers.

Alongside all that, he was also a successful marketing/comms consultant.

Behind the scenes, he has quietly been a MediaConnect IT Journo awards judge in the past, helping to recognise the work of the best IT journalists in the industry.

Despite his many successes, his beautifully humble approach to the world is encapsulated well in what he wrote on his “about” page — “I’m husband to Rocio and father to Grace and Hannah – my greatest achievements. The truth is, any material success I’ve had in this life really comes down to being at the right place at the right time. That’s not false modesty, just an acknowledgement of how life truly works. If you need me to help you with something, you already know who am, and how I can help. Just get in touch.

As CHOICE’s Chris Ruggle points out, though, “John Pospisil joined CHOICE in 1994 as a young man who often expressed surprise at how lucky he was to work here. In fact, he made most of his own luck through his intellect and hard work.

I couldn’t agree more with a comment one of his other friends, Ravi Prasad, wrote in his memory: “John was a good friend. I was expecting us to be friends for the rest of my life. Friends like these are hard to find, you only get a handful in a lifetime. He was so funny and clever and bright and totally charming. I’ll miss John. Rocio, my thoughts are with you and your beautiful children.

John’s funeral will be this Monday, 21st November 2011. Email me for the details.

UNBELIEVABLE!! NAB’s systems down at critical moment AGAIN!

After my iPad-buying rant a few months ago when I’d travelled to the US to buy one of the first iPads for ACP, only to find NAB’s systems were all down and I therefore couldn’t pay for it, I was assured by NAB’s PRs that they would look into putting better processes in place to warn customers of scheduled outages.

Yet, here I am in the US again, trying to check in to a hotel and all my NAB cards are declining — even though I know there’s plenty of money in the accounts.

NAB’s internet banking presents this message, advising me to try using phone banking instead.

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Which yields this recorded message. Sigh…!

It does appear that NAB is making an effort to let customers know of forthcoming scheduled maintenance on their systems. For example, the last message I got from them is below:

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However, that message says nothing about scheduled maintenance on 11th/12th September.

My guess is that today’s six-hour long outage (their systems are back online now) was probably a system failure, and there was no-one rostered on to fix it overnight. The problem got fixed pretty much around Australian breakfast time, September 12th. It is really irritating, though, that the standard message that comes up in case of system failures specifically says “scheduled maintenance”. I would appreciate a bit of honesty here: either the system is down and they are fixing it urgently, or they are doing scheduled maintenance that they failed to tell me about, and left me in the lurch AGAIN.

Kevin Rudd’s heartbreaking farewell speech

This is the most gut-wrenching thing I’ve ever watched. For once we saw a politician’s genuine emotion. If only Kevin Rudd had been able to let this true side of him show through when he was P.M. Watching his raw emotion nearly made me shed a tear…! It was nice to see Theresa Rein step in and support him up-close.

Kevin Rudd clearly had a problem with his political machinations in terms of driving through the implementation of major policies, but he is a smart guy and I don’t think he really deserved this dumping. That is to say: perhaps it was necessary for the future success of the Labor Party, but as a person, I don’t think he was given a fair go.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Quotes to live by

These are my favourite quotes… what are yours?

– If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. – Albert Einstein

– “All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed” – Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK47 Kalashnikov assault rifle, which has been in continual use since 1947. (He attributes this quote to “God” but says he has lived his life by the motto.)

– Say no to compromise, so you can say yes to good ideas. (I wrote a whole post about this… Why Sony can’t compete with Apple — or why you should always say no to compromise.)

– Life is what your thoughts make it.

– Think different.

– For true success ask yourself these four questions: Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now? – James Allen

– Make your passion your job and then you’ll never work a day in your life.

– “Editorial independence is not just a moral thing, it’s a business thing as well. The market soon works interference and agendas out” – Alan Kohler

– “The creative flame burns best when given plenty of air to breathe. In suffocating surroundings, hemmed in by over-supervision and second-guessing, with constant emphasis on price rather than the merit of a proposition, there’s soon likely to be nothing but ash.” – Gerald Stone

– Time flies like the wind. Fruit flies like bananas. – Groucho Marx.

NAB finally gets iPhone / Blackberry internet banking

Well, to be precise, it’s iPhone / Blackberry / Nokia internet banking — they’re the platforms that NAB has tested with (but NAB says “not all models” … only more recent ones, as older models have less capable web browsers.)

You just have to go to nab.com.au in your mobile phone web browser and you’ll find the link for internet banking. NAB has also created an iPhone icon on its webserver, so if you add it to your homescreen, you get a neatly formatted NAB logo button. (They’re not making an iPhone app available though, because they have designed the site to be handset agnostic.)

Hit the more link for screenshots and more of my ranting…
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I rode the Google staff shuttle bus!

I’m on a Gray Line bus out of San Francisco, en route to Yosemite National Park. There is FREE wifi on the bus – amazing! San Francisco really would be the place to live if you were tech minded.

The bus driver just commented that the reason this bus has WiFi is that it does double-duty as the shuttle bus for Google employees! He showed me the WiFi setup — it was installed by a particular Google engineer and has four mobile broadband cards — Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and some other network attached to a WiFi router with auto-failover in case of no coverage on one of the networks. All I can say is thank you Mr or Ms Anonymous Google employee!!!

I’ve also decided not to use global roaming for data on my Blackberry while I’m here because it’s easy enough to find WiFi hotspots here with reasonable pricing like $US15 per day — or free in some hotel lobbies. Of course, my Blackberry is practically useless with WiFi — I’d forgotten how atrocious the Blackberry WiFi implementation was. Most of the time it can’t associate with a hotspot or it can associate but can’t get an IP address (while other devices like a MacBook or iPhone have no problem associating).

I am therefore very glad that I also have an iPhone 3GS with me (on review loan from Optus, and before anyone asks: no, they didn’t offer to provide global roaming access as part of the review!) In fact, I’m writing this post from the great WordPress app for iPhone.

I have also noticed that hotels in the US increasingly don’t have wired Ethernet broadband in their rooms any more, instead having WiFi only. “So what?” you might ask. “Isn’t that more convenient?” The answer is no; it means you have to pay for each device you want to connect separately. Although hotels with wired Ethernet have the same rules, you can get around the per-device charging restriction by using a WiFi router plugged in to the Ethernet port. Can’t do that with WiFi only hotels.

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It’s official: cords are taking over my life

Do I have an abnormally high number of cords, or has the industry just failed miserably at “going wireless”?

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Pictured:

  • Dithered-out blur: black box of origin that I can’t disclose (pre-release product)
  • Billion 7404VGP-M modem for my home naked ADSL2+ broadband and VoIP (iiNet)
  • Virgin Broadband modem that I’m reviewing (again, since they say the network is improved now)
  • Apple Time Capsule
  • Belkin Powerline networking adaptor to allow my Lexmark e120n printer to be networked from the other side of the room (read my blog post about it)
  • 2 x MacBook Pro power packs
  • 1 x powerpack for my Oricom M5500 landline phone with DECT built in (2 additional handsets)
  • Bose QC3 headphones charger
  • Blackberry charger

It became such a jungle down there next to the sofa that I had to buy one of those Dymo machines to label the cords and powerpacks.