Sunday, July 30, 2006

Quality of Life in NY

I just have to start this post by saying I love living in NY. I love the opportunity it brings, the experiences we have had and whilst Jodie and I will probably be here for another 2 years when we talk about life at home New Yorkers just don't get what "Quality of Life" truly means.

I've been talking about moving to Europe after our stint in the USA and a friend of mine sent me this photo, of a Swiss Railway Station

Yes those crazy Swiss men are truly vacuuming debris from around the sleepers on the tracks.
In comparison I took this snap yesterday to reply :) - my favorite part is the stagnant water that even the railway rats avoid.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Do you Mogi Mogi?

Mogi Mogi is a very interesting real world gaming concept that has been launched in Tokyo.

It's an online game that is played on both a pc but predominately it is played on your mobile phone. What is unique however is that it uses your phones GPS (gps is physical geo-location feature not gprs which is the mobile data service - not a lot of western phones haves GPS built in).

With this GPS information, the game knows where in Tokyo you physically are, the location of you and your cellphone is then overlayed with the fantasy land of Mogi Mogi.

Real world elements may or may not be combined with the gameplay itself, such as the park highlighted above is an actual park in Tokyo.

Not only do you get to interact with creatures in the game itself but you also need to interact with other people playing the game themselves along the way.

You may meet up to swap "trinkets" eg. a spell may be swapped for a clue to another level, or similar. But there is also a thriving social community evolving with chat, character or avatar development and physical interaction.

What is neat is that the gameplay is continuous 24x7 for example some characters may only appear at certain times of the day, if you are not at the park at that time you don't get the opportunity to collect those points.

It certainly brings a new meaning to the term MMOG (massive multiplayer online gaming).

The developer hasn't specified how extensive they intend to make this game, or if they intend to interconnect other locations around the world (such as "Spore"), however the ability to implement content, social networking and physical world tie-ins are obvious.

Some of the user comments I've been able to find on the web are "eye opening" to say the least such as;

All the trips I make in the city are now randomized, as I will often divert a few hundred meters to go and collect an object around me. I get a chance to discover parts of the city that I ignored, a motivation to check out that parallel street I never took.


It has a community dimension to it, I chat with other players, I also know how far I am from them and finding out some are less than a few hundred meters to me is really exciting. I had to race to pick up a flag that had been put on the map at equal distance between me and another player to encourage us to meet.

Good article that has links to a research paper discussing social interactions of online gaming

List of other mobile location based games

A blog detailing the first US mobile location game from Boost Mobile (hmmm I don't think Boost get it).

An older Wired Article,63011-0.html

For a 'unique' perspective, here's a link to the Slashdot forum

Either way, this concept is definitely one to watch.

Although Newt Games have gone heavy on the technology, as long as carriers allow mobile triangulation information or western handsets start getting GPS functionality, this physical/fantasy world interaction can be implemented into concepts as simple as Urban Dare (read my last post) or even the one off Smart Improv (search my blog for the article).

As I'm pretty much pure geek, for a wider sample I'd love to hear your own thoughts .


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Urban Dare

What a great concept

Urban Dare is a new style of urban adventure race where smarts can beat speed. These races are part running, part trivia quiz, and part skill challenges. Teams of 2 solve clues to find checkpoints. At some check points you must take a photo and at others you must perform dares.

In 2006 they have races scheduled in 12 different cities with more planned for next year.

I love the concept of this, I think it's great that people are building more city style adventures and whilst I'm no runner I've always wanted to participate in an "Around the World" style challenge.....and lets face it more than a few hours of competition I think my wife would kill me (or vice versea).

Whilst some of the questions appear cryptic and might pose a little bit of an advantage to the local teams I still think it would be a great way for a tourist to see a new city.

Looking forward to the next New York event....hmm better start training now.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Dual Post Coca-Cola Marketing and NSA Security

This article was copied from Bruce Schneier's recent newsletter, for those of you who dont know him, he's a guru in the encryption/security space.

Although it's quite funny, it also makes a serious point about evaluating risks in relation to the circumstances, eg does my home network need to be as secure as my corporate network.

Personally if I was a marketer I would be ripping this concept (or a derivative of it) off as soon as possible.

Think of the local/regional press you would get as your marketing swat team swoop into town to award the prizes, the press would well and truly outweigh the cost of the prize.

As for listening in to my conversations......nothing to hear here where's my prize.


Coca-Cola has a new contest. Hidden inside 100 cans of Coke there's a SIM card, GPS transmitter, and a microphone.

The winners activate the Coke can by pressing a button, which will call a central monitoring facility. Then Coke tracks the winners down using the GPS transmitter and surprises them with their prize.

NSA engineers drink Coke. Lots and lots of Coke.

The possibility that an active microphone in a Coke can could be in one of the NSA's highly secure facilities is worth considering. A reasonable threat analysis might look like this: "You know, the chances that one of these 100 cans out of hundreds of millions of cans ends up in our building is extremely small -- somewhere around 1 in 100,000 -- so it's not worth worrying about."

But the NSA's Information Staff Security Office) decreed differently: "It is important that ALL cans of Coca-Cola within our spaces be inspected. This includes cans already in our buildings and those being delivered on a daily basis. If you discover one of these cans, DO NOT activate it. Instead, you should alert your ISSO immediately and report the incident."

This is hysterical. Can you imagine inspecting every can of Coke entering the NSA, opening each of the hundreds of cases of Coke and inspecting every can for a GPS transmitter? What does this cost? What is the NSA not doing because they're doing this instead? Of course the engineers at NSA are already starting to create Coke cans with antennas, circuit boards, and keypads. They are leaving them around snack messes as practical jokes.

And where's Pepsi in all of this? Shouldn't they be advertising "surveillance-free cola"?

Funny stuff, but there's a serious point here. Again and again, security decisions are clouded by agenda. The NSA's Coca-Cola inspection policy is an example of CYA. Some executive within NSA didn't want to be personally responsible for a GPS receiver slipping through security, so he decided that everything should be inspected. It's a small risk to the greater population, but it's a larger risk to him. His agenda is different from that of society's, but because his agenda matters more to him and it's his decision, his is what gets followed.

We as a society need to figure out how to make security trade-off decisions another way. Having specific individuals or corporations make security trade-offs for us based on their agenda isn't making us more secure, and it's costing us a whole lot of money.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Cool App for Powerpoint

This is a way too cool app add-in for Powerpoint.

Thermometer for PowerPoint is a free add-in that creates a thermometer style bar in the bottom area of the slide that shows how much of a presentation has progressed and how much more is remaining.

It's a very simple add-in and using it is so easy: one click on an icon and you can add or update your thermometer; another click and the thermometer is gone!

It automatically selects the colour based on the slide decks colour pallete.

It wont make your ppt slide deck go faster if it's boring but at least your audience will know how much longer they need to endure. Seriously though, you need to install this today, there is no reason why this shouldn't be added to every deck you show.

Great work Geetesh.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Spam - What is it good for??

"Where are you from, son....?"

"why does it matter? I'm a law abiding tax paying resident of the USA"

"Where are you from, son? Us Texans like to know who we are dealing with...?"

"i'm a member of the Coalition-oil guzzling- Freedom fighters siiirr"

Today's mood song of the day goes out to you :)

"Spam - what is it good for.... huaw"


Tuesday, July 04, 2006


The Mexuar Corraleta technology was launched at Astricon in London last Monday. I’m working with Mexuar to commercialise this technology and we are looking for opportunities now.

There is a brochure and demo on the website below. If you have an opportunity or you think you know someone who might have an opportunity please forward this url on and ask them to get in touch with me.


Cognation has been representing Mexuar here in the USA and are looking to commercialize this technology with partners from various industries and applications.

A number of companies have been looking to introduce some form of “click to call” technology however this server side technology leapfrogs all other technologies including the recently introduced Google click to call beta trials which uses a flawed method of two way calls originating from a central server that connects both legs.

The Mexuar technology allows a user to initiate a call simply by clicking on a java applet that may take the form of a picture, text, or other graphical representation. The browser then initiates a connection to the Mexuar server which then connects into the pstn network.

The Mexuar technology is licensed on a per server basis with the volume of simultaneous calls dependant on hardware configuration.

Example applications for the deployment of this technology are;

Click to call banner advertisements
Click to call website advertisements
Click to call website connectivity for contact us pages
Click to call for specific product support (eg replacement to java text2chat product support).

I look forward to demonstrating this technology at your earliest possible convenience and look forward to discussing your specific commercial opportunities


Dean Collins
Cognation Pty Ltd

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Fish Rots From The Head

One of the pieces of advice that I've made in a number of consulting roles is the Danish proverb "The Fish Rots From The Head".

It's one of the truisms that I was told a long time ago by someone far wiser than myself and I'm continually still surprised to see it rings true each and every time.

Al Dunlap was a great example of how a single CEO can walk into a business and instantly change the dynamics (for good or for bad is the subject of another post).

Ok so lets just stick with Jack Welch for this post, every time GE bought a new company the acquired entity would change each and every time. It was the same people still checking into the same desks, for the very same jobs as last week, but something ethereal was always different.

A well known VC once told me that the reason the true "change merchants" (IPO flippers depending on where you sit) were so good at their jobs (and so dammed bankable) was that they had done the same process over and over again, and once you have done it 4 or 5 times it's almost irrelevant what the product is, they walk in, they evaluate, they process, the change occurs, the momentum builds, they partner, they seal the deal and then they do it all over again.

Which brings me to today's post.

Have you ever walked into a company and just felt...something is wrong, there's nothing obvious in the staff or the processes, little things you would change here or there but just minor issues.

Sit and look at the "Head" - the answers you need will always be there.

How the person handles day to day events will tell you how successful this company will be. You want to see the perfect example (apologies to the non-aussies reading this blog).

Eddie Mcguire. WTF happened!!!!

Here is a guy who has practically crashed sideways one of the most level, steady earning media properties in Australia.

Apart from a few rash decisions he hasn't made any decisions that were terrible but the day to day running (and quickly escaping rumors) are just getting insane.

KP must be spinning in his very large grave. He sat at the number one desk for years and apart from a few choice phone calls to dress down someone who caught his ire he left the very smart and very capable people to do their thing.

There is no way he would have put up with this , it's just not his style.

His omnipresence reached far and wide, it was smooth sailing all the way because that's the way he liked it, and being the head that's the way it was.

Now admittedly KP's control was far and above most other heads (but he had more divisions/businesses to manage than most heads), and maybe from such a strong controlling force it's just a natural 'rebound' for things to go awry before it will settle back into equilibrium but the markets have a short attention span I think it's the beginning of the end.

So what have we learnt here apart from it's now possible to do some neat IPTV projects in Australia that would have been quashed a few years ago with a quiet word or two that you never saw coming.

1/ Want to know about a company to invest in/work for - watch the head.
2/ All things come to an end - (good, smell the roses while you can - bad, plan for the worst).
3/ Think you've got what it takes? - then lead from example because you are always someones head.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Chris Pirillo just announced this new site

Basically a new search engine for automated searching of automated of rss feeds

Could be very much the next big thing and this list is the easiest way for me to get it out there.

We're a free "metasearch" service! Instead of having to browse to hundreds of different search engines, we enable you to retrieve results from all of them through a single search. There are several benefits to using tagjag alongside some of your favorite search providers:

When you're on the go and in need of search results, you need to maximize time and minimize bandwidth. It typically takes a minimum two page loads before you can get to your results on a mobile device. tagjag enables you to use your query as the subdomain (, and specify the search category with a single letter (tagjag/p).