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Stylised screenshot of ASIC ConnectMy legal name, a single word or “mononym” that’s a given name, with no surname, isn’t handled well by poorly-designed bureaucratic information systems — that is, the usual kind. Today I launch Adventures in Identity, a blog series where I politely request every guilty organisation to fix the problem — and post their responses.

First up, our corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), and in particular their ASIC Connect online service.

This was drawn to my attention because the registration for one of my business names, Skank Media, is due for renewal — and ASIC Connect is the easiest way to do it.

Part of the ASIC Connect account creation screen: click to embiggenThe first problem I encountered is that ASIC Connect’s account creation form has both “Given name” and “Family name” as required fields, so immediately I must enter something other than my legal name to create an account — although to ASIC’s credit, the rest of the process was painless.

ASIC had previously sent me a letter with an “ASIC key” that linked this new account to my existing ASIC business name record.

I have another business name, Prussia.Net, so I decided to link that in too. But ASIC Connect wouldn’t let me. My name didn’t match the name of the registrant of Prussia.Net. Really?

Sure enough, while Skank Media is now registered to “Stilgherrian Stilgherrian”, and it was previously registered to “Mr Stilgherrian”, Prussia.Net is registered to “_____ Stilgherrian”. Five underscores! What an excellent work-around.

Then when I tried to link both business names to my Australian Business Number (ABN), the basic business identifier for entities other than registered companies — I’m a sole trader — that’s now listed as “Stilgherrian Stilgherrian”. It was once correct, though, as an historical ABN search shows a single-name version from 4 October 2000 to 27 February 2010. See the attached PDF.

One of key problems with this mess — apart from the untidy data that makes it look like something shonky is going on — is that these are all legal records. “To the best of my knowledge, the information supplied in this transaction is complete and accurate (it is an offence to provide false or misleading information to ASIC),” we are warned. But I can’t do that.

As I write this, it’s still before 0900 AEST, so my tweets directed to @ASIC_Connect have yet to receive a reply. They may well have a straightforward way to sort this out. Stay tuned.

I should also point out that in ASIC’s defence, they’ve recently merged data from state-based business name registries, cross-matching it with the Australian Business Register — and the latter was notoriously inaccurate.

[Update 1415 AEST: I just got a call from the ASIC staffer who was monitoring their Twitter account earlier today. This isn't the first time they've encountered a mononym, but so far they've just carried across records from the state databases so left the work-arounds in place. In my case, they have to cleanse the data so all my records match -- and they'll need to decide on a policy so that similar cases are handled uniformly in the future. So I sent them some photo ID, and they'll take it from here, and let me know what they decide. Pleased.]

[Update 1620 AEST: The ASIC staffer just called again. They have a system. The back-end database can handle mononyms, it's just that the web front end has the more stringent input validation. So they've settled on putting "Stilgherrian" in the given name field, and a single underscore "_" in the family name field, so I can still enter something and get a match. They've manually updated all my records, and now I should be able to merge them. Now that's service.]

Note: I’ve previously called ASIC incompetent and reckless, calling for a head on a spike, but that was a completely unrelated matter. Obviously.

En route, a frame from Strathfield to Central: click to embiggenI’ve finally wrapped up my Nokia Lumia 925 / Windows Phone 8 trial. I’m impressed with both the phone and the operating system, but is it too little too late for both Nokia and Microsoft? Who knows? I’ve made a video! You can scroll down for that.

That possible problem with Wi-Fi dropouts that I detailed last time? I couldn’t reproduce it with the replacement handset — or at least not in a way that couldn’t also be explained by the swirling electromagnetic soup in the vicinity of my desk and all the wireless devices thereupon — so let’s just write that off as a false alarm.

So where does that leave us?

Well, to reiterate, the Nokia Lumia 925 is a nice piece of kit, in keeping with the best traditions of the brand. Windows Phone 8 is also a solid forward-looking operating system. I’d been told about Windows 8′s design heritage at TechEd on the Gold Coast last year. Now, having used it for a month, I can see where it’s heading. App developers should be able to do good things with it.

But with both Nokia smartphones and Windows Phone 8 having such a tiny market share, will it all have been in vain? Has the flood of iOS and Android mobile devices taught the business world that, no, they’re not actually shackled to Microsoft’s products after all? That there are other ways of doing things? And that “producing documents” isn’t actually the purpose of business?

Sometimes when I look at Microsoft’s strategy with Nokia, or the previous one when they inserted Yahoo! into Bing, that the two potentially troubled companies are clutching to each other in terror as they plunge, each hoping the other brought a parachute. And maybe they have. But all the talk I’ve heard so far is your common or garden variety corporate waffle. Good luck, guys.

The only other loose end is to post the video I shot. And here it is. Over the fold is the full 16-minute video Strathfield to Central, shot on the Nokia Lumia 925 at full 1080p resolution, and all other video settings on their defaults.

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Mountains dawn: click to embiggen“‘Day 10′? But the last post was Day 5,” I hear you complaining. Well, the dynamic of my Nokia Lumia 925 / Windows Phone 8 trial changed a bit last week, so I’m skipping over the dull bits.

Day 10 is Thursday 8 August 2013, and the photograph with this post was taken one minute before dawn on that day.

In the intervening days, I had continued to use the Lumia 925 much as I had been, and I continue to appreciate the quality of the camera and the ability to customise the start screen in Windows Phone 8. It makes the iOS grid of icons look positively old-fashioned.

However you may remember that I was having trouble with the Wi-Fi link dropping out when the phone was physically handled. Well, I put that question to Nokia and Microsoft on Monday.

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Penrith railway station at dusk: click to embiggenIt’s time to catch up on my Nokia Lumia 925 / Windows Phone 8 trial, skipping over Day 4 to Day 5, Saturday 3 August 2013 — when I finally discovered the proper way to synchronise the phone with my MacBook Pro.

I’d been frustrated by the slow process of using Bluetooth to transfer photos. Nowhere in the “Welcome” booklet that comes with the phone is there even a suggestion that you can plug the phone into a computer, let alone that there exists an official Microsoft Windows Phone for OS X application!

And it works!

Furthermore, if you use Apple’s default workflows for managing your images in iPhoto and your music in iTunes, then that all works too.

OK, so I’m an idiot. Maybe I should have looked, or perhaps browsed Nokia’s support site. But I still think this is something worth mentioning from the beginning — particularly as certain phone configuration options are only available from the management software.

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Fleeting mists: click to embiggenI’m re-posting one of my favourite photos from last year, “Fleeting mists”, because it’s being used in the new Android weather app BWeather by Denver-based developer Brit Clousing of Atomicboy Software.

Screenshot of Android weather app BWeather by Atomicboy Software: click to embiggenThere’s a screenshot of the app at right, and you can click through to embiggen it. The app itself you can download from Google Play.

It’s Clousing’s first smartphone app and it’s pretty basic — but it’s free and there’s no advertising, and I really like the way the temperature for the days ahead is shown as a vertical bar.

“The photograph displayed on the top section is designed to match the current weather forecast. There are about 20 different photographs for the different weather and day/night conditions,” writes Clousing in an email.

I’m hanging out for a foggy day to see my photograph in context.

Clousing was previously responsible for the turn-based strategy game Empires of Steel, published in late 2009.

I publish most of my photographs under a Creative Commons Attribution license, so they can be used for pretty much everything. I enjoy knowing that they’ve been appreciated by someone else.

[Photo: Fleeting mists, originally posted in Weekly Wrap 89: Storms and too many podcasts in February 2012.]

Approaching Sydney Central, a frame from "Strathfield to Central": click to embiggenOn Thursday I decided to check out the Nokia Lumia 925′s video capabilities. That’s a frame grab above I continue to be impressed with this phone’s image quality.

Indeed the video, which I’ve entitled Strathfield to Central for obvious reasons, is the highlight not only of Day 3 of my Nokia Lumia 925 / Windows Phone 8 trial but of the entire trial so far.

I had hoped to embed the full video here. But I’m on mobile bandwidth today, and unless I upload a gigabyte or two of data, it simply won’t do it justice. So it’ll have to wait a while. Stand by.

Meanwhile, here’s the rest of my bullet-point observations from Day 3.

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No, I haven’t forgotten you. I’ve just been flat out. I’ll be posting the Day 3 and Day 4 observations in my Nokia Lumia 925 / Windows Phone 8 trial just as soon as I get the chance.

02 August 2013 by Stilgherrian | No comments

Wattle blooming near Bunjaree Cottages: click to embiggenI didn’t leave home base today, so I just gave the Nokia Lumia 925′s camera another quick try-out. I continue to be impressed.

It was an overcast winter’s day here at Wentworth Falls, but everything was looking nice and crisp after some early rain. I figured that a few snapshots around Bunjaree Cottages would be in order.

So, for Day 2 of my Nokia Lumia 925 / Windows Phone 8 trial, here’s 24 photos. All of them have been uploaded to Flickr exactly as they came out of the camera.

The image at the top of the post is a good example of the close-up capability — and I’m pleased that Nokia calls it “close-up” and not “macro”. The image certainly holds up when you zoom in and tweak the contrast.

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Katoomba railway station: click to embiggenSetting up the Nokia Lumia 925 was straightforward, and I’m impressed with the smartphone itself. But while there’s plenty to like about Windows Phone 8, I was also struck by the lack of key applications and a few rough edges.

These are my bullet-point observations from Day 1 of my Nokia Lumia 925 / Windows Phone 8 trial. You can also follow it live on Twitter, where I’m using the hashtag #LumiaWP8trial.

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Nokia Lumia 925 smartphone pictured against the Reviewers Guide: click to embiggenStarting today, I’m going to try using a Nokia Lumia 925 running Windows Phone 8 as my primary smartphone. I plan to run this trial for a week, through to the end of next Tuesday 6 August 2013. This post explains the why and how of it all.

The why is easy enough. I write about this stuff, and both Nokia and Microsoft are hoping these products will be their saviours. I should therefore take a closer look, and what better way than to actually use them.

The how is easy enough too. As soon as I’ve finished this blog post, I’ll take the SIM from my current smartphone, put it into the Lumia, and go from there, attempting to use it in exactly the same way as I go about my business each day.

While I’m doing the set-up, I’ll be listening to a Patch Monday podcast episode from a year ago, Windows 8: Rectangles for all the things explained. I’ve already read the companion article, Windows 8 interface’s design heritage.

I’ll be tweeting my observations as I go, using the hashtag #LumiaWP8trial, writing up my observations at the end of each day, and recording them for a podcast. There will also be a Flickr set of all the photos.

Finally, here’s some background information on how I work.

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