Today, I launched a new newsletter
Welcome to theCubist
– It’s a newsletter about entrepreneurship.
You can subscribe too by visiting www.thecube.gr
Here’s the first paragraph welcoming new subscribers.
It’s a real privilege to be welcomed into your inbox, I know this is a very personal thing and I promise to respect it by offering the most valuable insights to you. Insights I collate from my various readings as I surf the interwebs.
I love writing (it’s therapeutic), I love communicating and while this exercise will be therapeutic for me, my aim for you, is that it is informative, educational, entertaining if possible, a little inspring too.
This is a collective, inclusive newsletter. An open forum. From time to time, I will invite friends from both within our circle and from further afield to contribute too. I may promo a few things here and there where I think they’ll add value, like the excellent SWNext program you should check out, seriously click the link. Share it.
However, if at any point you think I’m overstepping the boundaries, please reach out and tell me.
Regarding frequency, I’ll try get this out to you every couple of weeks but don’t hold me to it. I know you only want value coming into your mailbox.
Will it be about Greek startups, you ask? A little (actually very, very little). There are enough forums, newsletters and sites covering that subject. Our little ecosystem is maturing so as to enable that. This rising tide is lifting all boats. StartupDigest will continue to cover Athens events. I will cover the odd Greek startup here and there but I will also talk about my other countries’ ecosystems too (those that I have been privileged to serve in the past) i.e. South Africa, UK and Brazil. Im adding a few more as we speak. We are citizens of the world after all.
Enough jabber. Let’s get this show started. Welcome again!
Projects 06 Oct 2010 10:19 am
After listening to Guy Kawasaki during the Influencer Project conference say that one sure way to increase your influence via twitter is to repost your tweets multiple times during the day, I thought :”That can’t be too difficult a service to build”
So our service watches your tweets for hashtags that indicate when to replay your tweet – so if you’re say, in San Francisco (that’s Pacific Daylight Time) and you add a hashtag #rpGMT, we will replay that tweet at the same time in Greenwich Mean Time – so now your followers in London can see your tweet when they’re awake. Likewise, UK twitter users that add #rpPDT will have those tweets replayed to Pacific Daylight Time followers.
We’re launching the beta in a couple of days so please do sign up and help us test it. www.replaytweet.com
The service is free during beta and then once we launch proper, we will have two pricing models, 25 free replays/month for free or unlimited replays for a small monthly fee.
If you yourself don’t have the skills to encourage hubbing, hire someone to do it or better yet partner up with someone who can. It’s far worse if you fail to realise the benefits of hubbing. Hubs are great for reporting good news stories and “embedding humanity”. Remember, new technologies give anyone the tools to create, publish or broadcast. Ineviteably, people are like moths around a flame. If the flame is bright enough, i.e the subject is attractive or offers value.
Electronic word of mouth has given power to smaller hubs to
connect people to stories they have created. Today it’s cheaper to connect, create communities and empower niches. So go ahead and be a hub. Don’t fear it.
I use twitter’s web interface more than anything and I hate the fact that I have to scroll down the page to go to search.twitter.com to do a search on a hashtag or on a user or even myself. I’ve seen the experimental twitter search box on other accounts but it’s not appearing for mine yet so tonight with the help of a few friends, I modified an old greasemonkey script to add a twitter and google search box on the top right of the main twitter homepage. Suddenly my twitter experience is so much better. If you have firefox and greasemonkey installed, you can try the script here or if not, download and install greasemonkey then try the script. Let me know if you like it or if I can change it in any way. In the next version I plan to add a feature that will turn all hashtags into url’s pointing to their respective twitter search url’s. I’m also hoping to include the latest treding topics under the search boxes.
Projects 24 Nov 2008 12:09 pm
– What an amazing experience. We presented our hastily hacked together solution, the most coherent part being the coding done by Jim and Nick who took the bull by the horns and delivered on time. I remember the last half hour where we badgered each other constantly :”Where’s my button, where’s my embed code, can I commit this version, is the blog up, what about the team photo” Then an internet outage. These last minutes are crazy. We’re still putting final touches and Jim is still coding right into the presentation prior to us. On presentation, my laptop runs out of battery. Patrick looks at me in terror – “Stavro !! Have you got battery !?!?”
“No worries!”, I lie. “I’ll wing it!”. Jokes about using openoffice ensue. We quickly connect Jim’s Macbook to the projector while I wiggle my way out of the situation with some “jumble, jumble, bla, bla” – Hand over to Jim for a demo. Goes down rather well. We got four questions from the crowd and Alex adds some important info we forgot to mention.
Andrew, Alex – Thanks for the opportunity. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Learned a ton of new stuff and have made some lifelong friends.
We aim to continue developing blognudge with weekly updates and a view to open an invite only beta in about three weeks. I think we all have indicated we’re very committed. Patrick has promised to open up the domain so it will move from http://blognudge.zydev.info to http://www.blognudge.com. We hope to see you in testing or Beta within the next few weeks.
Projects 23 Nov 2008 07:37 pm
Andrew from StartupWeekend is currently in Athens and we’re all located in the Microsoft Innovation Center on Vas. Sohias str hacking away at our new baby “BlogNudge”. An idea pitched by Patrick Malone of Microsoft Hellas that he has kindly let us take forward. BlogNudge’s tagline is “Motivating Lazy Bloggers” and the motivation / incentivization aspects we’ve come up with are just superb. We’re going to launch an Alpha version tonight and have asked a few key bloggers to install and test our tool. We aim to go to Beta within the next two weeks.
“Build software for yourself
A great way to build software is to start out by solving your own problems. You’ll be the target audience and you’ll know what’s important and what’s not. That gives you a great head start on delivering a breakout product.”
“When you solve your own problem, you create a tool that you’re passionate about. And passion is key. Passion means you’ll truly use it and care about it. And that’s the best way to get others to feel passionate about it too.”
Only two things about speeches and presentations matter. Your audience is subconsciously asking:
A. Whatâ€™s your point?
B. Why does it matter?
A friend asked if I would help with setting up of a new website. My first response: Does your organisation have the commitment and resource available to follow the process through? Can you or someone here look after this new child of yours? One that needs love, care and feeding? If not, then it’s best not to bother at all. A site that is not fresh, active or healthy is a waste of time and is doing far worse to your reputation than the good you think setting up the webiste might initially do. Think hard about it. If you can follow through and support its potential growth to the full then let’s go ahead, otherwise forget it.
“The population of the world, currently six and a a half billion, is due to rise to nine billion by the middle of the century.
The developing world, by definition, aspires to western standards of living. Some economists suggest that nine billion people all consuming resources at peak developed world rates would be equivalent to a population of 72 billion consuming resources at current rates: this is not economically, environmentally or politically feasible.” from the residence sustainable development seminar to be held on 29 Feb 08. Follow proceedings during Live! coverage on the day via the website and U-Stream.
I Will Set and Meet Deadlines. Recently, I’ve been the recipient of many empty promises. It’s such a waste of time and trust (read reputation) when someone doesn’t deliver when they say they will. I’ll probably not use these providers again. Now as far as I’m concerned, deadlines are important. They pressure us providers to get the work done. When there’s a deadline to be met nothing else should matter even if it means staying up all night to finish the project.I will.
Constantly missing deadlines is just so very unprofessional. If I start to miss deadlines, I should check my workload, and I should make sure I check that the time I’ve estimated that each task will take is actually so. If I see I’m slipping on my timeframes and I’m going to miss the deadline I must communicate with my customer regularly, letting them know that that I’m running late.
A couple of weeks ago I had an airconditioner failure in the server room. The consequences could have been catastrophic had I not realised in time. This got me thinking that I should really have a system installed that could give me a warning when the temperature or humidity was not right in there. A quick search on the web brought up quite a few really good products for few hundred dollars at a time. This should be a worthy investment. Then, for a brief moment, I put my hardware hacker hat on and thought that it can’t be that difficult to build something that would provide a similar result for a fraction of the cost. Another search brought up a neat little sensor, the Sensirion SHT11 Humidity/Temperature sensor. This coupled with a Parallax Basic Stamp2 Microcontroller would definitely do the trick. I should even be able to hook it up to a cellphone to SMS me whenever it gets hot or humid in there, or I can even hook it up to MSN and it can IM me. The Sensiron people were kind enough to send me a sample sensor and tonight I put it all together and it works a like treat. Here’s a screenshot of a little VB app I put together that reports temperature and humidity at regular intervals. Geeky !!
HT11 Sensor (enlarged 5x)
I had forgotten I had done this, A bot, My Bot –
she did some important work at the time when I needed to remote into a customers PC and asking them to do an IPConfig to get the IP was rocket science for them. MSN messenger to the rescue, a little VB app that reports back various things such as IP, UPtime and who is king and master of the universe. AppName was SSNMSNIP
Today I read Lior Arussy’s little book called The Experience!: How to Wow Your Customers and Create a Passionate Workplace It’s a fun short read that everyone in customer support should read. I found it quite entertaining. A colleague, seeing me with the book asked what it was about so I answered “Customer Relationships.” Her immediate reaction was “Hmm, Everyone in Customer Support should do a stint in a ladies shoe shop at one time or another” A great quote Anne, thanks for letting me use it here although it’s not only about difficult customers on the whole, nor is it about customers who expect the unrealistic. When a paying customer calls Customer Support the chances are that there is a genuine grievance that needs to be addressed and someone needs to own that problem in order to solve it effectively. My rant here really is about the atrocious customer support the Greek ISP’s have been giving their customers of late, passing a caller from one agent to another, not providing a satisfactory solution in a timely manner and generally passing the buck.
You guys suck and until you start taking ownership of the problems you will continue to suck.
What is ironic here is that you’re all the same so we the consumers can’t leave you and go to your competition, they suck just as bad.
[Update] Just this afternoon I had a call from a CS rep from HOL about an aDSL line I’m assisting someone put in. Apparently the customer can’t have aDSL “because his telephone line is on an optic fiber” !!!
Stavros : “What !?! did you just say”
HOL CSR: “Did you not hear me? His phone line is on an optic cable”
At this point Stavros engages in educating the HOL CSR about the final mile.
Her response : “Phone lines are not my problem – OTE obviously can’t provide you with aDSL”
I reply :”Two months ago you told me that aDSL was available on this line and that your company could provide”
HOL: “It’s not my problem I have done all I can”
Stav: “Here is the problem, you sell to me on top of OTE’s lines, you and OTE have a communication problem and you both need to take ownership of that problem and stop transferring it to the consumer, or, you can just say from the outset that you have small tiny text in the contract that you can hide behind and that you might not be able to provide after all”
The conversation continues without a solution. I will revert tomorrow.
Bottom line – YOU SUCK
Projects 06 Sep 2006 05:46 pm
Ideas by themselves are not worth anything. As Paul Graham wrote, there is no market for ideas – you can’t sell them because nobody wants to buy them. It’s all about execution. You put your ideas in to practice and create something of value.
Note to self: You need to brush up on your execution. You’re full of ideas but finishing them is a different matter.
Projects 25 Jul 2006 11:19 am
Finally, after about 6 weeks delivery time, I received my first BOE Bot from Parallax.Â I’ll start playing with it and writing some small bits of code for it over the next few days. My ultimate goal (giving something back) is to use the BEO Bot platform to teach programming to kids. I’ve dabbled with Logo, Kids Programming Language and Lego Mindstorms all of which are great but the one system that impressed me most is the BOEBot. It uses PBasic which is generally easy enough even for the most basic of user and what I really like about it was the fact it covers basic electronics as well, something that Lego Mindstorms doesn’t as much.
Projects 24 Jul 2006 10:36 pm
They sayÂ composing an SMS message using T9 is pretty quick but not as quick as keying in the message using a single button on the phone and using morse code.
Â I’m not a big SMS sender but have been wanting to learn morse for years so I started a couple of weeks ago and already have a few letters (K, M, S, O, E, R) under by belt. Im learning using Koch’s method and Farnsworth timingÂ via a free app called JustLearnMorseCode. It’s like touch typing really, kind of like brainwashing to learn to recognise patterns.
Projects 24 Jul 2006 01:52 pm
We need to realize that: Software must be soft. It has to be easy to change because it will change. Despite our desire to get it right first time, we never will. Needs change. Constantly.
Projects 22 Jun 2006 04:40 am
Congrats to the team. You were all great. I was honoured to be there with you and win the first prize. I had to make some difficult decisions and I hope I didn’t upset some of you. We were the winners in the end so WELL DONE !! To the others: Catch us if you can !!
Now that I’m playing with Web Services like AmazonÂ ECS etc. I can’t wait for IMDb, another Amazon owned company to start offering web services. Then I’ll start a video collections project.
The booklists project took a bit of a boost last night and some of it is up (See the sidebar). When I look at the data I’m struck by a number of things.
1) I’m paying too much for books locally. Amazon US has them at nearly 40%Â cheaper.
2) I have as many books as I originally estimated. Must be close to 2000.
3) You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their booklists (kind of scary) – perhaps I’ll add a function to allow some book titles not be public.
4) I am certainly not as intelligent as I should be ! My Booklist suggests otherwise. I wish. Perhaps I buy these books to convince myself I am !!
I hope to have it up and running in public pretty soon at a my new domain http://www.mybooklists.com/
Projects 10 Apr 2006 01:16 pm
Too much email. – This one’s for you George !
A client recently went over the 2Gb outlook .pst limit andÂ got toasted. No real alternative but to take a chainsaw to it and delete about 60Mb of mail using a .pst recovery toolkit. Sans 60Mb isn’t really a recovery now is it.Â Ouch !!
Outlook is easy to use but it is not good as an info silo though. It’s easy when there are few items (less than 2000). Some say getting info out of it once it becomes unweildy is just a matter of having great search. I disagree. You cannot run effectively with Outlook alone.
Â I’m currently designing and managing development of a web portal where his org will be able to effectively manage the data and his customers will be able to do some self service tasks, freeing up his time so he can concentrate on running the business.
Projects 23 Mar 2006 04:04 pm
This evening I was tinkering with a problem I’ve been having over the past few days. I use VNC to connect to a client but that client has a cheapo ADSL with a dynamic IP so it’s guesswork as to which address they’re currently at. I can see them online via MSN and I usually ask them to invite me to remote inward so I can do an IPConfig and get thier current IP. A bit cumbersome and only applicable when they’re actually in the office.
So I thought of writing a small app that “phones home” or emails me the latest IP. Neither option is really suitable because I don’t want more email and I’m pretty mobile so IÂ dont have the same IP myself for it to report to. So next best thing, an MSN messenger bot thatÂ waits for a keyword from me and responds with hostname and IP address. Works great.
Projects 18 Feb 2006 02:10 pm
A client called my up on Friday complaining that a goup of PC’s were sluggish. Could I come and take a look?
On one of the PC’s, I did a routine check for spyware, virii etc. and also the standard registry RUN keys to see what starts up with windows. Following that I did a brief browse of what the PC had on it and was shocked to see indecent pictures of the user and his partners. The thing that got to me most was that I had just spoken to the user about 30min before my discovery and heÂ urged me to take a good look to try find the problem. The indecent content was blaring me right in the face, in a folder on his desktop. On a personal level, I’m notÂ sure how to take this further, perhaps I’ll speak to the user. It’s as if he wanted me to find it. Needless to say I was pretty offended. What he does on his home PC is none of my business, but on his corporate workstation that I am hired to maintain, it’s a different matter alltogether.Â
There are standard waysÂ of dealing with this sort of misuse of corporate hardware. In this case, the organisation could be exposed to a lawsuit if another user is offended and lodges a complaint. The organisation can be held liable if it is shown that they didnt take necessary steps to protect others from being exposed. I’ll be meeting with the head of the organisation soon to discuss measures that can be taken to protect them and other members of staff. He may decide to follow disciplinary action against the offending member of staff. So be it. He is the head, he is responsible for running his ship properly. He should know.
Projects 13 Feb 2006 08:04 am
Projects 06 Jan 2006 03:56 am
Projects 30 Dec 2005 07:57 am
An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.
A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.
A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.
The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination; whole- brain thinking.
A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena; systems thinking.