Weekly Wrap 130: Storms, sunburn and a two-hour cruise

The week of Monday 26 November to Sunday 2 December 2012 was strange. It started with stormy weather, and the misty conditions continued until Wednesday. But by Thursday I was sunburnt and dehydrated in sweltering heat.

I should not have walked through the heat from Potts Point to the Sydney CBD, even though I could take a photograph of the city along the way.

It was also a stressful week. To the usual month-end cashflow blockage was added a series of strange problems with a client’s marketing email template.

The client had chosen to use an old template, and the line spacing fell apart in modern versions of Microsoft Outlook. Then some of the links to PDF files on their website didn’t work, with the links being somehow scrambled so they delivered a “404 File not found” error instead of the PDF file. Sometimes.

Eventually we discovered that the links broke — sometimes — when URLs containing white-space characters (such as “%20” for a space) were passed from Outlook to an out-of-date version of Adobe Reader.

Thankfully the week ended with some semblance of normality, and the weekend was restful.

Podcasts

Articles

Media Appearances

  • On Sunday morning I was asked, at the last minute, to be the bespoke Twitterer for ABC Radio National’s Sunday Extra. That just means that I had to listen to the program — which I was doing anyway — and tweet about it.

Corporate Largesse

  • On Wednesday I attended the Retail Tech Forum at Wildfire Restaurant, Circular Quay, which was organised by Bass PR for various clients: Dassault Systèmes, who do many things but in this case provide 3D modelling and visualisation tools for retail environments; retail software systems vendor Island Pacific Australia; 3Q Holdings, who also do retail tech; Meridian Systems, who make “technology solutions” for the project management of “capital buildings” and the maintenance thereof; and analysts Frost & Sullivan. I daresay an article will come out of this at some point. Meanwhile, here’s the lunch menu and pictures of the beef short rib starter and the corn-fed chicken main course.
  • On Thursday I had lunch at Establishment with the people behind Uber Sydney, a smartphone-based service that provides on-demand ordering of a black town car. An article will come out of this eventually.
  • On Thursday afternoon I went on a two-hour cruise of Sydney Harbour aboard Matilda III, which was the Internet Industry Association’s Harbour Policy Party. The photographs start here.
  • On Thursday evening I dropped into The Indies’ Christmas party at the Burdekin Hotel on Oxford Street, The Indies being the four PR firms Bass PR, Shuna Boyd PR (which doesn’t seem to have a website?), Einsteinz Communications and Espresso Communications. I had just one glass of wine, my only alcohol for the entire day, before exhaustion set in.

The Week Ahead

Starting this week I’ll be based in Hurstville, a southern suburb of Sydney, thanks to a housesitting arrangement with someone who shall remain anonymous. I’ll be there until the end of the first week of January. Unless plans change.

This week is another busy week. I daresay I won’t get around to producing the Patch Monday podcast until Monday morning. I’ve got some writing to do too. Then on Tuesday, Optus is showcasing their 4G smartphones at a lunch in Surry Hills. On Wednesday I’m attending VMware’s Cloud Panel, a lunchtime event at The Star casino.

I’ll try to record next week’s Patch Monday podcast on Thursday, because on Thursday night I’m going to Fuel Communications‘ Christmas party and then on Friday I’m covering a one-day conference Privacy in the 21st Century (PDF), organised by the Communications Law Centre at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Since I’m covering that conference for both Crikey and ZDNet, it’ll be sensible to get that podcast out of the way.

[Photo: The Nepean was crossed. It has been my habit to take a photograph each time I cross the Nepean River en route from Wentworth Falls to Sydney or vice versa, which I then tweet with the caption Crossing the Nepean. Yesterday I missed, and the outbound train was already at Emu Plains before I could take a snapshot.]

Talking Click Frenzy on ABC 702 Sydney

I hadn’t even heard of Click Frenzy until the thing fell over, which shows how much attention I pay to the realm of commercial retail. But I ended up talking about it on ABC 702 Sydney the other day, because, well, it fell over.

I’ve posted the entire radio segment here, including the comments by Margie Osmond, chief executive of the Australian Retailers Association, because I was baffled by her excuse that technical incompetence is OK because other people are sometimes incompetent too.

I think the important thing to understand with this is that it’s been running for about five, six years in overseas countries. It runs in the US and UK and a whole range of other places under the Cyber Monday banner. And for all of that period that it has been operating overseas, as recently as last year, they routinely have crashes as part of this mechanism, simply because of the unpredictable peaks and troughs that occur as part of the mechanisms.

Traffic analysis is a thing, folks, and so is robust network design. Just because you can’t do it, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

I was fairly even-handed in my commentary, pointing out that it’s possible for the developers to have recommended a more robust architecture that then wasn’t implemented because of cost or whatever. But later in the day I discovered more about the technical problems and I’d have gone in harder.

In particular, I discovered that they’d committed a rather bad security mistake, which I wrote about for ZDNet: Password exposed in Click Frenzy security slip.

The morning presenter at ABC 702 Sydney is Linda Mottram.

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The audio is ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.