Too many Blogs cause too much confusion
Too many Blogs cause too much confusion
Let’s not confuse illegitimate with Incompetent
Tony Abbott and his associates keep banging the drum that somehow, we've acquired an illegitimate government. Alan Jones and other extreme people over on the right of the great divide are clamouring for a public revolt to bring down this government. Bronwyn Bishop took time out from the hairdresser’s to support him to declare our government illegitimate.
Let me make it clear right up front: I agree that this government has shown far more incompetence than leadership. Competent leaders don’t jump the gun and announce deals that aren’t done – like East Timor accepting our asylum seekers. Competent leaders don’t paint themselves into corners as this lot did with the Malaysian solution, which had everyone up in arms. Competent leaders don’t dig their heals in on the wrong issues. Competent leaders know when to say: I was wrong. They know others will respect them for it. Gillard knows none of these things.
Back to legitimacy
Julia Gillard sounds like a fishwife, dresses like a colour-blind hairdresser and waddles like a duck. Yes, I loathe the woman and that is my personal view, but she is unarguably our democratically elected prime minister. On what basis are people calling for another election, the shock-jocks demanding we 'ditch the bitch? No, the words I wrote above about Julia Gillard aren’t kind, but I’m not out there agitating to get rid of her because I can’t stand the sight and the sound of her. I’d rather judge her by her deeds than her looks.
Now let me ask a simple question, one that none of our journos has thought of asking:
There would be no difference, since your party didn't win any more votes than labour. You had to negotiate with the independents for their support too, but you lost. What's that? She doesn't have a mandate becasue she changed her mind about the carbon tax? Didn't John Howard change his mind about the GST? Did you tell him he no mandate after that, no legitimacy?
Only last week, after the first year of this government, Tony Windsor, Rob Oakshot and Andrew Wilkie confirmed their support for Gillard and her lumbering lot. Sorry Tony, but isn’t it time you stopped carping and bitching and accepted the umpire’s verdict?
There he was: Alan Jones aka ‘The Parrot’, enjoying the role of agitator on the lawn in front of parliament house, up on a podium with a mike in his claw, seething at the measly few hundred people who'd turned up, shouting that this was ‘the most disgraceful thing that has ever been done to democracy,’ ... ‘a total corruption of the democratic process,’ and claiming that large numbers of truckies that were part of the ‘Convoy of no confidence’ had been stopped by police at the ACT border.
Photo: Andrew Meares, Sydney Morning Herald
All of his claims, repeated for days back in Sydney on his radio show, according to Media Watch (ABC Aug 29, 2011), were rubbish. Why people still listen to Alan Jones after the Cash-for-comment affair is a great mystery. Just how legitimate is Jones as a source of anything, when his comments were for sale to the highest bidder for years?
He wasn’t charged for those misdemeanours, nor for his part as an agitator in the Cronulla riots – for heaven’s sake: how is a radio talkback host getting away with stuff like this? Is there no one in NSW or federal politics with the balls to call this odious little man’s bluff? Gillard didn’t – she grovelled with the best of them, took the abuse from Jones about being 10 minutes late to come on his program instead of saying: Alan, I’m the Prime Minister of your country and I won’t be spoken to like that. Find another target for your vitriol – good bye.
Respect doesn’t fall on you like rain – you have to earn it
That would’ve made people sit up and take notice, but Julia doesn’t know about taking the high ground. She doesn’t have the power of the deft put-down that Keating had – the best she can do is to get down with her opponents in the gutter and lose the mud-wrestle. Competent politicians raise the game to a level that street fighters like Abbott and the shock-jocks with smear campaigns can't reach.
Why would she bother with Alan Jones anyway? How many of his listeners are going to vote for big Julia next election? They used to vote for Pauline Hanson, and now have to settle for Tony Abbott who’s doing his best to sound like Pauline Hanson. Needless to say, Tony Abbott the great opportunist was up there with Alan Jones in Canberra, ready to ingratiate himself with the denizens of Jonestown.
That’s enough for now
It was an anniversary, and I thought the 1986 St. Henri should be about ready to drink. The last bottle we drank about 7-8 years ago showed sublime fruit and balance but surprised us with its youth and vigour. This time, the wine had mellowed to an almost perfect degree showing sweet fruit, wonderful balance, great length and a soft elegant finish. Perfect with my partner’s duck and my lamb shanks.
Grange and St. Henri were created by two young Turk Penfold winemakers in the early fifties: Grange by Max Schubert and St. Henri by John Davoren. We know all about Grange and how Penfolds sent Max to Bordeaux after WWII, and how Max came back saying: their secret is maturing the red wine made mostly from Cabernet grapes in new small French oak barrels.
In those days, there wasn’t much Cabernet grown in Australia, so Max used shiraz from selected sources that included the Grange vineyard in Adelaide. French oak barrels were - and still are - hideously expensive, so Max bought the cheaper American oak. The rest, as they say, is history.
Nothing had prepared our leading wine men for the early Granges because new oak flavours were foreign to them. And it took Max a few years to work out that ripe South Australian Shiraz was much more muscular than Bordeaux Cabernet, and that American oak contributed a lot more oak flavour than the French timber because it is much more porous.
His masters told Max to stop making this wine that caused Penfolds so much bad PR in the fifties but Max persevered in secret. A few years later, our judges started to see how these wines developed and became fans. Today, Grange sells for hundreds of dollars a bottle when released.
St. Henri has a much less exciting history. John Davoren made the wine from shiraz and matured it in big old barrels as was the Aussie tradition then. He found a box of the quaint St. Henri Claret labels in an attic and decided to use it. Both wines were blends from sources that varied year on year and both wines sold for the same price until the early sixties (a bit over $2), then St. Henri dropped behind.
For many years it was the bargain in the Penfolds range as punters chased the other reds that were matured in oak – Bin 389, 28 and 128. I remember picking up a dozen 1967 St. Henri from Farmer Bros for about $11 a bottle in the early eighties, when the Grange of that vintage would’ve cost 10 times that or more. The 67 St. Henri was another elegant, well balanced wine that mellowed gracefully.
Today, St. Henri costs more than $100 a bottle on release, so it’s no longer a bargain by ant standards. So this 1986 may be the last bottle of St. Henri we’ve enjoyed, and it may be a good thing that it made such a wonderful impact. It was one of the best reds I’ve ever drunk, it was that good.
Art adds a new dimension to one of the most walked tracks in Sydney
It was lucky we woke up early last weekend, my partner did anyway. Usually she has the good grace to slip out of bed like a ballet dancer might glide off-stage behind the curtain. This morning, she decided to share the early hour with me which made me a bit grumpy at first because I longed for more slumber.
When I gave up and got up to make coffee and breakfast, she kept shushing me, reminding me of the neighbours and the early hour. I reminded her that it was she who’d caused me to rise at this early hour but it did no good. Now on Sunday mornings we are in the habit of going somewhere nice in Sydney, near the water ideally, to spend the day walking, picnicking and doing whatever else comes along.
She’d mentioned that the sculpture walk was on a few days earlier so I asked her if that idea appealed to her, and it did. We were leaving the driveway not long after 6 and wondered how long the fog would last. It was pretty thick, most likely the result of the intense rain that had washed over Sydney the day before. As we headed for the coathanger, we realised that there was no fog on the other side – only bright sunshine.
We were down by the beach in Bronte before any of the coffee shops were open. We set off on our walk at about 7 and now I was glad we’d come early because this coastal walk gets to look like Pitt Street in peak hour on fine Sunday mornings. There were as yet few people and lots of interesting sculptures, and we could move freely.
I put up a little gallery of a dozen shots which you’ll see in the right margin under photo albums. It was a wonderful exhibition, with a lot of sculptures up on the headland between Bronte and Bondi, and we had a great time. Sculpture by the Sea will finish soon so get there this weekend if you can, and get your partner to wake you up early.
More info here:
Dead Easy Boef Bourgignon
This variation of the classic casserole uses red wine to add a different dimension. It has to go in early so all the alcohol can evaporate.
Kilo of chuck or blade steak
250g of speck or cooked pork neck or thick streaky bacon
4 -6 spring onions
2 cloves of garlic
4-6 mini parsnips (or celery if preferred)
Spring onion tails
Mushrooms (field or brown)
can of diced tomatoes
500ml of OK red wine
300-500ml beef stock
Olive oil, flower, seasoning, thyme, rosemary, chives, 3 bay leaves
This dish is usually
served with boiled potatoes but noodles or rice are just as nice.
Photo from www.themidnightcook.com
Customer Experience – all talk?
These days, we hear a lot about
organisations ‘getting’ what a good customer experience is all about, and
pulling out all stops to provide it via all kinds of means from context-aware
communications to rich, interactive web experiences. We read a lot about lead
management and nourishment, where every potential prospect is as precious as a
And then reality smacks you in the face and
shows you that some companies still don’t get it, despite all the talk on
Twitter and Facebook. Worse, companies who once got it, can lose it in a big
way. We buy quite a bit of PC gear for Technoledge, and the time had come to
buy a new laptop. Dell had the most attractive deal on a Vostro 3400, which I
configured online and ordered by phone from a sales rep in
That was the first glitch: If you’re in the small business silo, you can’t add a product from Dell’s consumer line. The next problem was that no order acknowledgement arrived, even though the sales rep had my address. My pleas late that day and the following day (by email and phone) went unanswered, and this got to me after 24 hours.
Anything you order online these days from
anywhere produces an instant acknowledgement by email, but not Dell. They have
our credit card details, and we have nothing, not even an order number. So when
I called Dell to try and track down what is going on, I’m shunted from one phone
‘reception’ to another like an unwelcome visitor. Eventually I end up being
pointed back to the same sales rep who refuses to talk to me. Needless to say,
she’s on the phone.
There’s no way that I can see of getting
through to Dell
In desperation, I find a place on the Dell
website where I can report a problem with my order. I do that, and just to add
insult to injury, there is no acknowledgement that the submission of my problem
report was successful. The screen twitches but doesn’t change.
We have developed conventions after many years of internet use, but it seems Dell has forgotten them along with customer care in the true sense.
Ads that don’t work any more
Innocence Lost or Political Correctness gone too far?
Anyway, it's fascinating to see what advertisers used to get away with, isn't it?
IT Security – the crooks are still winning
Is it time to make users part of your defence strategy?
At Technoledge, we have several security software evendors among our clients and we've seen the security landscape change in the last 5 years. We thought it was time for an update.
Highly organised syndicates have replaced the nuisance hackers and virus writers of old. The new gangs are white collar criminals out to steal information, either on contract or to sell it to the highest bidder.
In the last 5 years, we’ve seen highly organised syndicates replace the nuisance hackers and virus writers of old. The new gangs are white collar criminals out to steal information, either on contract or to sell it to the highest bidder.
They’ve developed sophisticated forms of attacks targetting individual organisations, known as Advanced Persistent Threats, which in most cases succeed and result in proprietary and confidential data being stolen. The White House, Google and security vendor Kaspersky are among recent victims. Experts estimate the cost of industrial espionage to the
APT attacks tend to follow these steps
Users in the Firing Line
The entry point is a user (one of many targeted) who responds to a carefully crafted spear-phishing emails that appears to be genuine and to offer something of relevance to his interests. Once the door is opened, a custom-built Trojan enters that defies detection by traditional scanners (because it’s zero-day malware) and, from here on, the attack is covertly extended into fully-fledged electronic espionage. Most of the steps outlined above can remain undetected for weeks or even months.
However, organisations LOSE twice as much data as is stolen from them, through carelessness. In the
Arm the User
Clearly giving users a better understanding of what confronts them, and better tools to defend themselves, makes enormous sense. Despite two decades of developing smarter firewalls and better malware or intrusion protection, Hackers have always found ways to outsmart security systems. Outsmarting well-trained, alert users is a lot harder.
Not surprisingly, security product vendors say it’s a wate of time. ‘Given a choice between dancing pigs and security,’ Microsoft’s Cormack Herley claims, ‘users will pick dancing pigs every time.’ That’s pretty funny, and it’s also a sad reflection of the way security experts look down at users. I was on a panel at a recent conference where the three speakers who preceded me all bemoaned the stupidity of computer users.
It was so bad that I changed my pitch on the fly and stood up for the users who’ve suffered all kinds of clunky security software knobbling their PCs and constantly getting in the way, along with the arcane security mumbo-jumbo their vendors carry on with. The software has improved in recent years, but the attitudes of security experts, vendors and IT staff have not.
User Training – the right kind
Much of the user training on security sounds like exasperated parents berating stubborn children who refuse to listen. If you treat users like that, they’re unlikely to listen let alone cooperate. Even where the tone is more positive, user education on security tends to be convoluted and is almost exclusively delivered via memos from IT, which is the least effective of all the means available.
IT guidelines tend to focus on what users should and shouldn't do and tell them
· not to open emails from people they don't know
· not to click on links that promise to show them nude photos of film stars
· not to give personal information out willy-nilly
· not to download software and so on
Good training focuses on helping recipients understand the subject and the issues to the extent that they become engaged. There’s an old proverb that goes:
Tell me and I’ll forget
Show me and I may remember
Involve me and I will learn
That’s the secret to effective user education. Most users are committed and loyal employees who will do the right thing if trained and motivated.
Bring People with you
The most effective training is face-to-face with manageable groups, taking them through realistic chains of events, from opening the door an inch right down to the very real consequences for the company. The best way is to work through live examples with them, go to real phishing websites, analyse phishing emails (or send them dummy ones) and show them what happens when an attachment is opened.
Different groups in organisations need different levels of training – i.e. frontline staff, sales execs and tech support staff probably have laptops and smart phones which need additional security. Office staff, middle management and senior management have different responsibilities and needs. And the training has to be repeated from time to time as the threats and scams change shape, and as the attackers modify their techniques. Simple guides that resemble cheat sheets will help every user remember the threats and the appropriate response.
The training will pay for itself many times over but it will take time. ‘You need to change the culture of the organisation over several years,’ Martin Smith of The Security Company told Secure Computing magazine at Infosec. Smith added: ‘Infosec is focusing frantically on technology, but it doesn't matter what you spend on security unless you bring people with you. If staff could just know some basic stuff, it would all go away.’ 
Smith makes the point that little is achieved by running ‘a boring course once a year that effectively pushes the problem on to [users] so that the security team's arse isn't on the line … ’ He says letting users know the damage breaches in security can do to their company, and creating a common culture of security is far more effective.
Even Cormack Herley of the dancing pigs agrees. ‘Most in our industry agree that user education is critical,’ he concedes. ‘Users are our biggest liability. However, most of us also recognize that it is not very efficient. I hope more research of this nature will be performed and that we will be able to construct better user education programs.’
Make it part of your culture
User education on security is an ongoing program in many organisations, from Cisco to Ricoh, with the full support of all the divisions. It must be relevant and entertaining, it must be regular and reinforcing, and it must have the full support of C-level management, and it needs to be adequately funded.
A senior manager must have responsibility for the education program, whether she’s in HR or IT or Facilities management, and should be remunerated on achieving measurable targets. However, the education program can be run by external security contractors working closely with the responsible manager and key departments.
Valuable resources here:
 So Long, And No Thanks for the Externalities: The Rational Rejection of Security Advice by Users
Apple iPAD – Style Let Down by Function
slick piece of design, with that glossy screen and the
touchy-feely-finger-stroking navigation. Brilliant. It’s just gone on sale in
What you’re left with is a slick piece of kit that isn’t much more useful than an iPhone. It has a bigger screen but can’t make phone calls. Not very smart really. Not very useful either.
We’re indebted to iTNews for some of this content. Check this link for more details:
ANZ BANK – WHOSE WORLD DO BANKS LIVE IN?
ANZ BANK – WHOSE WORLD DO BANKS LIVE IN?
The current ANZ ad campaign has left us scratching our heads. The first ad we saw featured a lot of people with what looked like mobilés on their heads – you know: those things you hang up in nurseries to amuse babies. Eventually the bits fall off people’s heads and the take home message is that ANZ MAKES BANKING SIMPLE.
The next commercial we saw features a revolting woman called Barbara who abuses a poor sod of a customer, then she keys something into her computer, saying she’ll sign him up for something he didn’t even ask for. When he protests feebly, she says: too late, and further protests are answered with: I’m busy, I’m the manager, I’m in a meeting and I’ll put you onto an automated voice system ...’ Finally she tells him to go away.
In yet another commercial, she abuses a young woman and tells her to go away. The take home message? BARBARA LIVES IN BANK WORLD. WE LIVE IN YOUR WORLD.
We were curious and checked the web, where we found that ANZ Bank had paid MC Saatchi $15 million for a new logo, a new tagline and the ad campaign. http://www.news.com.au/business/new-brand-and-logo-to-cost-anz-15-million/story-e6frfm1i-1225790269154
We’ve long suspected that we’re in the wrong end of this business, charging clients a few thousand dollars for a lead generation campaign or a website revision, and a few hundred for a tagline. We really work hard on our taglines, and we know a little about how to craft them http://www.technoledge.com.au/pdfs/branding3.pdf . At the very least, we know enough to know that WE LIVE IN YOUR WORLD doesn’t cut it.
And the logo? Haven’t we seen those style elements somewhere before? Decades ago?
Graham and Friends have a funny take on the logo, so we’ll leave you in his capable hands http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfgx5czpeJc
Back to Barbara. Writers of novels are familiar with the term verisimilitude, which describes a semblance of truth or reality. The curious thing with this term is that it applies to all stories, from church sermons to jokes to TV commercials. Why? Simple: Unless they relate to some element of your reality, you will not relate to them. The ANZ commercials describe banks which don’t exist, and didn’t even exist in the bad old days. As a result, the commercials don’t speak to anyone.
Another rule in our marketing book is that a message must touch on a pain some members of your audience feel and want relief from. The ANZ commercials don’t do that. The pain the poor sod in the commercial feels is not a pain we can relate to, because our banks don’t treat us like that.
So the ads miss the mark. A waste of millions. Only a few months before this campaign was launched, Westpac was running the infamous commercial that tried to explain its interest hikes with some fairy tale about a storm hitting a banana plantation. That ad was just as wide of the mark, and just as silly.
Does it matter? No. Do Mike Smith or Gail Kelly lose sleep over ludicrous advertising campaigns they paid $15 million for? No. Why not? We have four major banks in this country, and they make billions from us, effective marketing or not. Every one of us knows that they’re all the same, and that their attempts to differentiate themselves are as laughable as a decade of BP’s greenwashing, but they have to keep up appearances.