Me, my life, my interests

What makes Huddle design great.

Huddle design is a service design agency that I am co-founder and owner of. We're based in Australia, with offices in Melbourne and Sydney, and a presence in New York city. Huddle is a great company. It's great because of a number of reasons, but there is one that stands out.

Our clients.

Our clients allow Huddle to do great things. They give us trust with their strategies and their services and their people. They allow us to grow and strive to do better things. They enable us to achieve our goals and aspirations.

I hope that we help them achieve exactly the same things. We don't always get it right, but we want to learn and improve, and continue to develop as an organisation.

The success that Huddle has experienced over the last short 2.5 years is boggling to me. We had a really hard second year with extraordinarily tight cash flow. The hard work of all the Huddlers and the trust of our clients has meant that our third year has been the best ever.

I'm proud of our achievements. I'm humbled by the fact that we've doubled in size this last year. It's important to acknowledge that even with the best people in the industry, we could not achieve anything without our clients.

I wish all our clients the very best for Christmas and the coming year 2012. Thank-you.


Mac OS X Leopard upgrade

I picked up a copy of Apple's Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard on Saturday morning, and set out to upgrade our three Macs in the afternoon. All three installs went without a hitch on our 17" iMac, 15" MacBook Pro and our 13" MacBook. I found this Macworld article helpful in preparing me for my first Mac OS X upgrade experience. For my MacBook Pro, I did the most preparation, by:

  1. Performing a complete data backup
  2. disabling some login items
  3. removing unwanted (or dodgey) preference pane applications
  4. verifying the hard drive
  5. checking application compatibility
  6. checking preference pane application compatibility

For the MacBook, I did a cursory check, and a complete data backup.

For the iMac, I just inserted the disk and upgraded away. There was no data on this anyway - it's all on our ReadyNAS NV+ network storage.

Removed applications

I removed the following from my MacBook Pro after doing a check using Google for Leopard compatibility:

  • efssmartd
  • Application Enhancer, and ClearDock
  • ExtFSManager
  • Flip4MacWMV
  • LockTight
  • DesktopplePro

The following startup items / applications remained:

  • Growl
  • Skype
  • Quicksilver
  • HardwareGrowler
  • iTunesHelper
  • Adium
  • SpanningSync
  • Chronosync
  • Synergy

Based on the reports of the installation hanging after the reboot, I'm glad that I went to this trouble and removed the Application Enhancer app!

There are now some useful articles about application compatibility for Leopard, as well as some that describe some workarounds.

After the upgrade the following applications needed to be reinstalled or reconfigured:

  • Parallels - reinstall
  • Synergy - reinstall and reconfigure (plus fix firewall settings)
  • Skype - reinstall after Skype stopped and wouldn't start again - EDIT: you can get the Skype 2.7 beta via this link at as the 2.6 version seemed to have the problem of stopping and not being able to restart after a period of time.
  • Printers - all my printers disappeared and needed to be reinstalled

The only minor issue that I had with the MacBook Pro, was that the Installation could not find my hard disk... but booting off the DVD allows you to run Disk Utility, which reassured me that it hadn't disappeared, and also let me do another Disk Verification. Once this completed successfully, the install application found the HDD fine.

Upgrade Method and times

Upgrade method

  • iMac - Upgrade
  • MacBook Pro - Archive and Install (preserve User and Network Settings)
  • MacBook - Upgrade


  • iMac - 31 minutes after DVD verified
  • MacBook Pro - 37 minutes after DVD verified (which took 30 minutes
  • MacBook - 47 minutes after DVD verified (which took 33 minutes)

I also had a problem later with the NDAS driver on my iMac that allows me to read the drive in my MediaGate media player connected to my Telly. This driver caused a kernel panic whenever the MediaGate was detected over the network. Restarting in safe mode and uninstalling the driver fixed the issue, but I have not yet attempted to reinstall or find a Leopard compatible version.

Leopard is very impressive - I am very pleased with everything so far.

Green Electricity - 100% Solar the way to go

A bit over a year ago I decided that I'd better take some action about our contributions to pollution and production of green house gases.  So the first thing that I did was investigate my options for our electricity supply. It was clear that there were two things that we needed to do - the first was plainly reduce our consumption, and the second was to source our electricity from a renewable resource.  My personal preference for the latter was solar - given that we have lots of sun to go around, and plenty here in Australia.

We reduced our consumption by changing our lights from incandescent to compact fluorescent, and most significantly, by just turning things off.  Our lights, our equipment, our computers.  All of these run less now.

I also adjusted the heating down one degree, and set the automatic timer to come on later in the morning, switch off during the day and switch off earlier at night.  Our lounge room has a family supply of blankets that we all snuggle under at night when we read or watch telly.

To cope with summer, we installed overhead fans, rather than relying on our air conditioner.  On really hot days we still use the air conditioner, but we run it at 26 or 27 degrees celcius, rather than the usual 22.  It still feels warm inside, but it is cooler that outside, especially on a day in the high 30s.  Sometimes to make it feel cooler, I'll go outside to warm up and come back inside to the relative coolness.

Even with the Australian Government rebate for the installation of Solar Panels, we'd need to outlay a  heap of cash to go completely self sufficient at home, so I instead opted to source our electricity from a green energy provider.  I chose Origin Energy's Green Power 100% Solar option, and although it is more expensive to buy per kWh, our bill is only slightly up because we have lowered our consumption as well.

An other thing that we have on our plans are the insulation of our walls - we live in an old weather board house, and the thin walls let so much heat in and heat out.  The old boards need to be replaced, so when we do that job, we'll also insulate as best as we can.

The final thing that we are doing is voting at this year's federal election. And I am really looking forward to doing that.

This post is part of Blog Action Day - using the blogosphere to help raise more attention to the challenges facing our environment.

Mum and Dad are blogging their camping holiday

Mum and Dad are touring north-west Queensland in their 4wd and Kimberly camper.  Mum's started blogging the trip and every now and then when they can get a connection on their wireless broadband modem, they upload a new entry.  If you're interested in touring Queensland via 4wd and seeing some truely remote Australia, you should check out their blog. It sounds like they are having a wonderful time, although some of the driving sounds a bit rough and tiring.  Apparently the destinations make all the travel worthwhile!

New Belkin networked USB hub

Now this is what I'm talking about.  Something that deals directly with the fact that peripheral manufacturers don't produce network capable drivers for their usb products anymore (eg Canon). This device from Belkin, the Network USB Hub, allows direct connection to usb devices over a network, as if they are attached directly to your computer.

The problem that I have at the moment is that many new devices, like my new Canon Multifunction printer (MP530) come with drivers that only support direct usb access.  So plugging the printer into the my network print server is useless, especially for functions other than printing, like scanning or faxing.

Now all I need is for it to be released, and for the Mac drivers to become available.

Made the switch from PC to Mac

It's kind of funny, but I think I'm the PC in the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads, yet here I am sitting typing on my new Mac. Maybe the change doesn't happen instantaneously. I'll check again in the morning. Perhaps I should start by taking the suit jacket off. There.

So far the hardest part about making the switch was coughing up the cash for another new computer. I bought my last notebook just under a year ago, thinking that it would last for a couple of years. It was a Toshiba Tecra A7 and it was really diasppointing. Hot, slow, troublesome. In a side by side boot test, my Toshiba takes 10 mins to boot. No kidding.

I was excited to get my new Mac. I though about it for about three weeks after getting the quote, and then when I placed the order, my supplier was out of stock, and so was Apple. Oh well, I guess this is supposed to teach me patience or something.

I waited until the kids were in bed before unpacking switching on the Mac. Kind of didn't want this to happen.

Twenty-five years of conditioning using a PC were gone in about an hour and a half. The first 10 minutes were the hardest. "Where do I find applications? oh, what's this Finder thing? Oh there they are!" Then move to "Ok how do I install Firefox? Lets try and see what happens...oh there it is, download. Run. Done. How do I get the FireFox icon on the bottom menu thing... can I drag it there? Yes!"

An hour later I was checking the System Software was Up-to-date, and installing Firefox plugins like I'd been using it forever.

The next morning when I switched on my PC at work to connect to the Exchange Server, I found that I was looking for things in the wrong places and usig the trackpad with two fingers to scroll, to no effect. I had made the switch!

There are still some things I need to do. This Mac will be the computer I use at home AND at work. I am required to use MS Project. Hmm, next to check out Bootcamp and Parallels. That will be weird.


Presenting tips follow up

By way of follow-up to my recent post about contrasting presentations styles, I am led to this round up of good advice for presenters via Vitamin News. The news article points to Nick Fink's round-up post that sifts through the myriad of sites that talk about how to do better presentations. Nick compiled his list of top five articles for presenters. It's worth the trip, and without stealing his thunder:

First on his list is Seven Steps to better presentation by Jeff Veen. Jeff succinctly lists some simple but effective points that can transform a presentation - They're simple thing that you can just start doing now, from changing where you stand to starting and ending clearly and confidently. He supports his recommendations with examples that are easy to relate to.

Next up is How To Give A Great Presentation by D. Keith Robinson. This is a really detailed look at preparing and presenting. Preparation covers not only your subject, but yourself. Some of the tips are things that you can do straight away to improve the presentation you're giving tomorrow, and some are steps that you can take to better equip yourself over the long term.

Next up is How to Get a Standing Ovation by Guy Kawasaki. Again another great set of tips based on 20 years of Guy's experience, this time more focused on Keynote speeches. Something to aim for I guess. Guy made reference to this article which has a look at the things that Steve Jobs does in preparing for his Speeches.

It's interesting to note that telling stories is a common theme between these three.

Picking up on the story theme and shaking it up a bit is Better Beginnings: how to start a presentation, book, article by Kathy Sierra. This is an entertaining read that obviously shows that Kathy's tips can equally apply in writing as well as presenting. I love the fact that the tips really are around cutting to the chase and cutting the boring crap out of your presentation.

Finally we have The Problem With Presentations by Doc Searls which looks at tips that help get the tool out of the way of delivering the message. Some really good tips in here about how to construct your story.

To sum up, the key points that were important to me

  • Skip the crap and start at the interesting bit
  • Be yourself
  • Have a conversation not a monologue
  • Have a story to tell, and one that people want to find out the ending to
  • Practice
  • Deliver it well - start well and clearly, converse and engage, end well and clearly

You can find my presentation links at

Presenting and Powerpoint - they are not the same

Diverging DRM trends for real?

It seems like the divergence (DRM vs DRM-free) trend may be gaining some momentum, yet it still remains controversial, and maybe out of reach.

Plants for bushfires and droughts

I found some links to sites that help us set up gardens that are less prone to being bushfire hazards, and also there are some drought tolerant plant sites too...

On communicating; and Vista remote admin

links for 2006-10-22

links for 2006-10-21