Tag Archives: useful

NIDA Teaching Session

Updated: 05/9/09

Cultural Antropology

An antropological introduction to YouTube

mwesch you tube channel

Copyright and Neworking

Creative Commons Australia


Free technologies




WordPress resources:



Slideshow plugins

shadowbox JS

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Some Photo-blogging themes

Standards compliance



Domain registrars



Hosting companies





Coders, Templates, HTML from PSD




PayPal Developer Day

I went to the PayPay Developer Day at The Grace Hotel yesterday, which was described as the launch of  a community for PayPal developers in Australia, the first country outside the US (and Canada?) to participate.  I’ve since noticed the UK in there as well. Since they rightly recognised that developers are their front line and are often the people who scope and recommend a payment processing option, they want to both support and influence their decisions.

Unfortunately it was more of a marketing than developer event, with not enough real world examples and more of a lecture-based set of presentations. As one dev put it, he could have happily followed a few links to play with new features in the API in his own time, as he gained nothing extra from the half-day session away from his computer(s). Devs don’t “look” at code as much as some people think; they look at code as much as cooks “read” recipes. They want to bite into code and try the new ingredients in their own kitchens and with their own pots, pans and spices, and their ideas for flavour combinations. They are very much hands-on people.

But for those with their planning or implementation hats on it was a great day. If you need your payment process channel to do more, and you like the types of tools and features PayPal offers, then selling it as the solution has become much easier. The devs are well supported, both with a local developer centre for all the devs who pass the PayPal Certified Developer exam, as well as a sandbox to test out your installed APIs and mods.

I was a bit worried that it ended earlier than scheduled, so maybe they trimmed out too much from what they thought would fill the day, but I had a great talk with a few of their reps. Seems like The Australian office is pushing the US office for more agility and improvement on the User interface, which looks like it was designed by coders from the 90’s and has no design considerations at all. And it looks like the locals here will get to influence what happens in code much more, by being vocally involved in the dev centre. And to top it off, they were giving out free exams to the first 150 through the event, a saving of $300 (three exams, $100 each).

If you use paypay on your site(s) or are a developer or Project Manager considering a payment gateway or agent, the new tools available, and the certification process presented by paypal will definitely get you closer to a better pay experience.

Style over substance

Let’s cut to the chase!

Who is advising restaurants, bars and clubs that what their visitors want is a Flash(tm) animated brochure?

When I look up a bar, restaurant or club / music venue, I’m usually after a few basic slices of information, like where it is located, what the food is like or what’s on tonight or this weekend. Of course there is a lot more you’d want to know about  a venue, but these are what I would think are core pieces of information many people would be wanting from a venue’s website. Unfortunately many venues have been advised by their “web people” to publish a set of slick, glossy pictures of the venue, in a Flash slideshow/animation sequence, utilising Flash navigation, and not a great deal more.

Can anyone explain to me why these bars, restaurants and clubs don’t bother looking at what visitors want from websites and help these same prospective clients find it on their websites? Is it really in a venue’s interest to hide the location map somewhere unexpected or provide their menu as a downloadable PDF? And music venues and dance clubs: Thanks for the pictures of the pretty people who cone to your place, specially the hot babes! but since I came to your site to find out more about a night out at your venue from a flyer someone handed me, can you provide more information besides re-presenting the flyer I already have a copy of? Or did you think the babes were enough? hmm, I thought so.

Can you not tell me about the artists who will be playing, DJing there, any reviews of past gigs, what the drinks cost, whether you also have snacks, what time the club closes, when it’s not available due to a “private party” and any other thing that would make me interested in coming to your venue, instead of what YOU want to tell me?

Have you a Facebook group? A mySpace page? A twitter stream? If so, can you tie them together so I can find the others through any one of them?

If not, can you spare a couple hours a week to connect with your people out there? There’s plenty of excelent on-line tools and APIs to help you do this.

Oh, and if you want to be found through popular searches, just make sure there is something serachable and index-able on your site.

… just sayin!

IKEA and MSI and getting your customer right

I love IKEA!

That’s a big thing to say after blogging nothing for a few months. In particular since it has nothing to do with the www, at least at first glance. But it does, in a way, because, in my mind, almost everything has to do with the internet. It does have to do with understanding your customers though. Bear with me, friends.

For those of you who know me, you know I have moved from the UK to Australia over these past few months. Winding up work, packing up the flat, shipping it all out to Sydney, saying goodbye to loving friends, taking a well earned month off in Fiji in a hut with no electricity, (I know, hard work!) then landing in Newtown, settling into the house, buying furniture, getting listed and documented by various government agencies, sorting out broadband, telephone, finding interesting companies to approach for work, etc…..

*whew!* busy! but fun. So not much time for blogging, although I’ve been pretty busy in the Twittersphere and various IM tools like Skype and GTalk with friends and family from across the world, fun but busy.

So what’s this about IKEA? Right; IKEA gets me right. IKEA knows me and gets it right. No only me but many other people right too. They know enough of us to get most of us right. I’ve been supremely impressed by the amount and quality of information they can fit into their assembly diagrams without writing a single word. just pictures and numbers. For IKEA experts like myself, *blush* the information is straightforward and simple. For flat-pack newbies, it starts by telling you you can do it yourself, telephone them for help or have them walk you through assembly in the shop. It tells you what should be in the box, what tools you need and what skills you should posess. At the beginning of the document, where you need to see it. At every point in the assembly process where it gets a bit tricky, the information is more detailed and methodical; where there’s easy repetitive information, it all fits in one diagram. In some ways an IKEA instruction booklet not only tells you how to assemble this particular item but it tells you how to approach all flat-pack-furniture tasks. Brilliant!

This was a very different experience to this message from the MSI website where I simply wanted to report a fault:

You think they could pay a few dollars to ANYone who knows English to try and see if it makes sense?

Here’s the text to help you read it better:



  • To avoid being handed as small mail,the system will not reply to you by e-mail.
  • Before you issue the questions, we strongly recommend that you should fill out the following basic products info and system configuration.The more detailed you provide, the faster our technical staffs can handle your problems. Very sorry for your inconvenience!
  • For saving time, you can learn all about MSI products solution by visiting our FAQ where the most asked questions we have received from our customers.
  • If you solve your problem by yourself, we hope that you may supply solution to us for our reference.
  • “Online Customer Service” provides you an exclusive inquiring field. The question you ask will be your record.
  • If you have any further questions, please visit MSI Forum to find what others said in the good article forum written by moderators & power users.
  • Please use English to fill out the form.

Go to Chinese version.
There are so many instances of wrong in this I can hardly contain myself but a few pop out to me right away. It is not intelligible English, for a start, and it would have cost little to commission even an expensive copywriter. I particularly like how it asks you to return to the site (URL please?) and supply the solution should you find one yourself, before you have even asked them for help. It is a lot of confusing information that is mostly unnecessary. I seriously though of returning the computer as DOA and getting a refund. In fact a lot of the reviews for this otherwise excellent computer came with a warning about bad service ,already scaring some away from this particular product. I won’t go into the farcical details of the quality of further communications or how I finally fixed it myself just before they offered to have it returned for “repair” without offering some simple solutions first.

So why do so many companies take the MSI route over the IKEA route? Why do so many companies make it difficult to love their products and why do so many of them completely forget that happy people come back and the pissed off make sure they don’t?

This is what User-Centred Design (applies to a call centre or customer service website as much as a car, computer or kettle) is all about; what is the user experiencing and how can we make it a positive experience for them while making sure they part with their money with us for their next purchase?

Everyone I talk to hates visiting IKEA, they hate the maze, the massiveness, the shelves, the meatballs, the outlying distant-ness, yet it is highly successful and 4 out of 5 people go back again within 2 years for more. So they must be getting something right and I think it is the small things that bring people back, like the helpful instructions and useful website that do it.

Charles Bukowski once wrote a short story about the little things that drive people mad. Not the world wars or huge calamities, but the little things like broken shoelaces and loose handles and static-plagued telephone lines. I think it is the little things that keep people coming to you, like friendly staff, helpful instructions and looking at it from your point of view.

Don’t drive your clients mad, help them love you.