The joy of parenting

21 07 2008

Having recently had a small person come into our lives, my husband Richard and I are constantly amazed at the sheer amount of stuff that is accumulating in our house, all of it baby related. Babies, we’ve discovered, are the ultimate ‘new user category’.

First there’s the fact that you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, meaning you acquire a handful of baby books, all of which give you conflicting information and leave you more confused than you were originally. You spend half your pregnancy avoiding prawns and the other half avoiding Camembert only to find out that both are probably fine. Speaking of pregnancy, you’ll need a pair of those hugely attractive elasticised jeans (cringe), and spend 9 months in thongs because your feet are so fat you look like the elephant man.

Before the baby comes you need to organise the big ticket items – a pram (on which you can blow a couple of grand if you end up purchasing a Silver Cross), cot, change table, nursery furniture and baby monitor. Then there’s the clothes which they grow out of in a week. And you’ll want to stock up on nappies. Linen for the cot. Special toiletries. Then there’s the extra washing. Hanging out 8 zillion tiny little socks triples your laundry time.

You buy lots of useless things ‘just in case’. A wearable baby monitor was a waste of $180 when we discovered it didn’t clip on to disposable nappies properly. We also stocked up on wraps. Now I have 20 of the things which are redundant as we’re using plain old cot sheets which are much bigger (read: harder to wriggle out of). You buy lullaby CD’s then forget where you’ve put them.

Luckily there’s no need to buy any soft toys as well-meaning relatives will give you enough weird-looking bears and animals to upholster a padded cell, which you’ll also need after about day 4 of becoming a parent.

Ah, but it’s all good fun.

The pic, of course, is of my son Tyler.


Kuler chameleon

7 07 2008

I’ve recently discovered Kuler, an Adobe Labs tool that creates colour schemes to use and share with other designers.

What a fabulous resource for designers with many pre-made schemes from other users plus a simple upload tool to create your own from an existing photo. Not only can you play around with endless colour possibilities, but once you’ve put together a scheme you can download the swatches directly to Photoshop as an .ase file. Each swatch’s CMYK, RGB, LAB, HEX & HSV values are displayed for easy reference.

Why am I only just discovering this now?!?! I can see this becoming one of those wonderful time-wasters…

21st July 08: EDIT: Ah, I see these kind of tools are popping up everywhere, here’s another one:

English is dead; long live lolcat!

25 06 2008

Has the world gone bananas?

I came across this site recently… a open community project aiming to translate the entire Bible into lolcat. What in the name of Corinthians is lolcat you might ask?

It seems to be (and correct me if I’m wrong) something like a web 2.0 adaptation of pidgin English; embracing hastily typed messages and spelling errors and morphing them into some kind of shorthand decipherable only by assorted gen Y’ers, geeks and n00bs. It’s actually incredibly complicated linguistically, as shown here on lolspeak 101, and is a very different ball game to abbreviated text message-speak – gr8 c u l8r – etc.

You can check out the bible’s progress here.

Is it just me or do people have waaaay to much time on their hands?


More on the dying art of writing

6 06 2008

I’m with Nick Cernis. Ain’t nothing wrong with a pencil & paper.

Nick’s book, Toodoodlist , is a guide to uncomplicating and de-teching your life. You’d imagine that espousing the virtues of notebooks and pens might fall on deaf ears in today’s super tech-savvy society, but it all makes sense in a beautifully simplistic way. I’m no stranger to spending hours trying to learn how to use a program that’s supposed to make my life easier and data retrieval quicker. Bit silly isn’t it?

Using paper & pen is faster, vastly cheaper, you already know how to use them (one hopes), they don’t require charging or powerpoints, aren’t eclipsed by a newer model every 5 seconds, don’t cause LCD-screen headaches, plus, to my knowledge, you can’t get booked for scribbling whilst driving.

Ditch the PDA and live by the pen!


NEW! A positive experience with Telstra!

30 05 2008

And it’s about frickin’ time.

I’ve been avoiding calling Telstra’s billing enquiries line for 3 months now, which in turn has cost me $150 more than it should have. How bad must things be when a customer would rather pay that kind of money in unnecessary fees rather than actually ring your call centre to fix it? It’s often such a saga trying to deal with phone companies – I have yet to meet one who’s people did not leave me feeling more confused after I called than before (of course Telstra aren’t the only culprit by a long shot, but they serve as my focus for the purposes of this rant).

So the issue was thus: I recently dropped down my fixed monthly cost plan and was told at the time that there would be no extra charges, it’s all fixed for you ma’am, and by the way your contract runs out in June and would you like to renew it? Uh… no thanks.

Fast forward to the next billing period and I receive a bill for twice what I was previously paying. A complicated phone call later and I believe I have sorted out the problem. Nope – my next bill is still showing the wrong amount. Now I just think ‘stuff it’ and pay the thing because I don’t have the emotional strength to deal with another ‘customer care’ person (what a total misnomer).

Today I discovered I had a rare hour of spare time to devote solely to telco gobbledygook so I bit the bullet and called Telstra.

To my utter surprise I had the pleasure of dealing with a call centre rep who not only explained things to me in plain English but actually fixed the problem, AND waived a fee, AND he sounded like he actually wanted to be at work.

Hooray! At long last the phrase customer service is actually put into practice. A positive attitude is such a simple thing, but it can have such a great and lasting effect on customers.

Dammit, I can’t remember his name but if I did I would recommend him for some sort of award.


Soft furnishings rock

28 05 2008

Aren’t these beautiful?

French designer Stephanie Marin has created wonderfully tactile ‘stones’ as modular seating, bringing the outdoors in and turning living spaces into playful, serene cocoons of relaxation.

From 15cm to 2m wide, Livingstones are available in a range of natural earthy colours for both indoor and outdoor use. At around USD$128 for the 30cm stone, I’ll have to be content with admiring them from afar, but if you’re interested they are available to purchase from Olozoo.

Check out the full range at Livingstones.



Foxtel drops the ball

3 05 2008

Foxtel’s crisis management plan leaves a lot to be desired. Earlier today 10,000 homes in the Blacktown area lost television coverage when cables were deliberately cut by vandals. Fair enough; crazy hoods with box cutters can’t be helped, but the company’s management of the problem was poor at best.

Five phone calls to their technical help line ended with ‘I’m sorry, all our operators are busy at the moment. Please call back later.’ WTF?

When we did finally get through to a real person, we were told the lines had been cut and they were on it. Why not just insert a recorded message in your automatic call answering system, saving countless calls from irate customers and freeing up service staff to help those in other areas who were having specific technical problems? A very simple solution that will at least keep viewers off your back temporarily. Their website shows no indication of any problems either, another easily executed communication to customers that could also have allayed ‘is it just my telly?’ stress.

Why am I personally so annoyed?

I’m missing the Eels vs Panthers game. (As I write, hubby is in the office doing the angry dance after Hindmarsh scored a try he couldn’t watch – we’re listening via the NRL website. Thank heavens for radio streaming.)

I doubt Foxtel will offer any compensation to its customers, although I think the price of a ticket to the footy deducted from our next bill will make all this much easier to swallow.

AND, all this comes after the previous day’s shamozzle (SMH coverage below)

Foxtel interrupts prime time
Asher Moses
May 2, 2008 – 12:43PM

“Foxtel customers around the country had their service interrupted for up to 30 minutes during prime time last night because the company chose an inopportune time to push through a software update.

The pay TV operator confirmed that it sent a software update to subscribers’ set-top boxes around 9:12pm last night, which users reported interrupted viewing for between 15 minutes and half an hour.

Foxtel said the interruption last only five to eight minutes.

Customers complained of missing large portions of their prime time shows and Foxtel iQ subscribers who had scheduled recordings during that time lost them completely. Users were either greeted with a message saying the service was updating or a blank screen.

Some Foxtel iQ users said they lost their settings to automatically record a series whenever new episodes aired.

“Due to a system issue last night subscribers’ service was temporarily affected by a software update,” a Foxtel spokeswoman said.

“This meant subscribers may have needed to come out of standby mode on their set-top unit once the update finished to restore service. We apologise for any inconvenience.”

IT worker Gavin Adams was watching Dexter with his wife last night when the show suddenly cut out about two-thirds of the way through.

“Foxtel do system updates on the set-top box devices, but the expectation is that they’re normally done between two or four in the morning or the wee hours where you’re not really affecting the majority of customers,” Adams said.

“The main thing is that it certainly wasn’t advertised or anything like that as being an urgent update required, and then to do it nationwide at a quarter past nine when everyone is watching their shows in prime time, I think that’s what irked a lot of people.”

Meanwhile, Foxtel is preparing to launch its high-definition channels and new iQ2 HD set-top box, which will have 320GB of storage, by the middle of this year.”

 Following is the SMH’s article about the vandalism:

Vandals sever cables
May 3, 2008 – 3:32PM

“About ten thousand homes and businesses in western Sydney are without phone, internet and EFTPOS services after vandals cut a Telstra communications cable.

And Telstra customers in Blacktown could be without home phone, mobile, internet and EFTPOS services for most of the weekend.

Telstra says vandals severed two fibre optic cables in the area at about 8am (AEST) this morning, also affecting Rooty Hill, Erskine Park, Arndell Park and Shalvey.”