Weekly Wrap 208: Mysterious productivity as winter arrives

Departing Sydney Central on the 1621 to Lithgow: click to embiggenI don’t want to jinx this, but my week of Monday 26 May to Sunday 1 June 2014 was yet another productive one. That makes it seven or eight solid weeks in a row. This pleases me. I jut wish I knew why it was happening, so I can make sure it keeps on happening.

That said, I haven’t had much of a social life in there. Maybe that needs to change. But for the time being, well, as the proverb says, “Make hay while this sun shines.”



Media Appearances


Another full week this week. But why don’t you subscribe to 5at5, and then I don’t need to keep telling you about it.


Corporate Largesse

  • On Thursday I went to the launch of Kaspersky Lab’s new product, Kaspersky Security for Virtualization Light Agent, namely a dinner at the ECQ Bar at the Pullman Quay Grand Hotel, Circular Quay. There was food and drink, of course, and we were all given a Kaspersky-branded coffee mug, pen and hard-backed notebook, plus the mandatory USB memory stick containing the media assets. I got back to my hotel through the magic of Kapersky’s Cabcharge account.

The Week Ahead

On Monday I’ll be working on an ebook project, and on Tuesday I’ll be writing about whatever Apple announces and then planning out the rest of June.

The exact order of play for the rest of the week will depend on cashflows, but it’ll include writing something for ZDNet Australia, finishing off the ebook, sorting out online sales for same, and finding some more revenue for my podcasts for June.

The weekend is a long one, for the Queen’s Birthday, so I will probably be in Sydney, though I’m open to suggestions.

[Photo: Departing Sydney Central on the 1621 to Lithgow , photographed on 30 May 2014 through the train window.]

Adventures in Identity: ASIC Connect

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.

Driver needed for OLPC Cowra road trip!

Photograph of OLPC XO computer

’Pong and I need a driver this Monday lunchtime 13 October through to the night of Tuesday 14 this Wednesday lunchtime 15 October through to the night of Thursday 16 for our “road trip” to Cowra to film a project related to One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) (pictured) which is happening nearby.

This is a paid gig, although you probably won’t make enough to retire just yet. You’ll need a driver’s license that’ll satisfy our hire car company, and we’ll cover all food and refreshments, plus overnight accommodation at the delightfully named and oh-so-luxurious Alabaster Motel.

Cowra location map

We’ll also have mobile broadband Internet access along the way, testing out our Telstra NextG card. I’ll also be taking advantage of that to produce a special edition of Stilgherrian Live. May the gods have mercy upon our souls. And yours.

The shooting schedule is pretty relaxed, so you’ll probably have time to explore the wonders of Cowra while we’re filming at the school. This gig might well suit a photographer. But I will admit that everything’s rather… um… flexible at the moment.

If you’re interested, please email stil@stilgherrian.com or phone +61 407 623 600. If you get voicemail it just means I’m at the gym pub or the goddam battery has run out again.

[Update Sunday 12 October: The dates have just been changed. This is turning into a… fascinating project. I am not stressed at all, no Sir!]

Coming soon: “The Shave”

The Shave: a production still from our new short film

“Certain people” have been complaining about my facial hair. I must admit, I hate the feeling of my face after two weeks without shaving. So, there’s only one thing to do. We’re making a movie.

This afternoon the normally simple act of shaving turned into a 4-hour video shoot. With two cameras. ’Pong is currently assembling the rough edit and, even I say so myself, I think it’s going to come together rather well.

We won’t rush it. We both have plenty to do this week. But rest assured, the 3.5-minute epic The Shave will be ready when it’s ready.

[Update: Indeed, you can now view the movie The Shave. Enjoy.]

The problem with changing what you do…

… is that if you want to do a New Thing, you have to choose an Old Thing to stop doing. Otherwise you run out of hours in the day. And that doesn’t work.

I’ve written before how I’m starting a business called Skank Media, and the new Topic 9 website is the first project out of the starting gate. Certainly since the beginning of this year I’ve been spending more time writing too: 133 posts in January 2008 compared with just 16 a year before. I’ve spent more time in dialogues online too, re-establishing links with my community.

What’s the Old Thing that’s stopped?

I’ve been getting less sleep, certainly. And less exercise. But I’ve also been doing less work for my “old” business, Prussia.Net — and therein lies a problem. Prussia.Net is what generates the income.


Yes, cashflows are down. And because I wanted to change Prussia.Net itself, that change process takes more time of its own too. Some client projects are running terribly late. I even lost a wonderful long-term client a few weeks ago because I couldn’t dedicate enough time to their change process.

Big Oops.

So for me, today’s the day I start sorting out that chronological challenge. Here’s how I’ll proceed…

Continue reading “The problem with changing what you do…”

Topic 9 website finally launched!

I’ve finally launched the website for my adventures to the Australia 2020 Summit and beyond: Topic 9 at topic9.com.au.

It’s pretty sparse to begin with, and I’m not quite sure exactly what I’ll be doing there — so suggestions are more than welcome. Some thoughts so far are:

  • Gathering links to everyone else’s writing about this topic area for the Summit.
  • Articles on people or ideas on how government could work in the future.
  • Interviews with the delegates before they hit Canberra.
  • Act as a central point of contact for whatever media coverage we can generate out of the summit, whether I go or not.

I certainly need to spice up the design a bit. I’ve kept the Tarski theme as used on this website and Skank Media for consistency, but it needs a tad more differentiation. soon, my precious ones, soon…

Any other ideas?

[Update 17 February 2010: The website at topic9.com.au has been killed. For the moment, I’ve linked to the pages at the Internet Archive.]