naughty hyro, bad hyro! you made a mess!!

Back a couple of years, when I was ‘between jobs’ I targeted a lot of web and multimedia design studios that I thought were the ‘cream’ of the crop. One of them was Hyro. Good clients, nice work… definitely something to aspire to. I thought!

Quick change to last week, when I’m getting quotes on health insurance from a site I’d found useful before: Register mild interest when I find it’s been redesigned. Definitely a bit more dynamic and a nod of approval to see it’s been done by hyro.

Approval turns to puzzlement as it doesn’t seem to work properly – never mind, I prefer Safari, but I’m grown up enough to realise that not all sites comply with standards. I’ll try a more forgiving browser… Netscape 7.1. Still doesn’t work. Camino, Firefox, IE, Mozilla, Opera (I’ve got ’em all!) – not one mac browser lets me access the site.

Finally get somewhere using Virtual PC and IE6, but even then the status bar flashes a little icon that there are some ‘undefined objects’ and ‘unterminated strings’ whatever that all means.

How can this still be happening in 2004? a company is effectively cutting off 10% of it’s potential market. (at least! – we’re talking home users here, where the mac is a much more significant platform – and who knows what happens if you don’t use IE on windows!)

Not only that, but they’ve no doubt paid hyro handsomely for the privilege! Shouldn’t there be some comeback for companies that are given defective web pages?

I’m not even going to go into the usability – the menus are all over the place. There are four separate navigation areas on the home page!

Naughty hyro! naughty, naughty web design!!

it’s a blizzard!

a snowy day on Lake MountainYesterday was Melbourne’s coldest August day in 26 years. 100km/h winds on the bay, trees blown over, local flooding etc. and where did we spend it? At the snow, where else?

It was sensational! I have never seen snow like it – hanging thick in the trees, deep drifts everywhere. The best skiing snow I’ve ever been on. It was busy, cold, wet and a lot of fun! Photos here.

Not quite so much fun getting off the mountain when a car that ran off the road turned the road into a parking lot and the half-hour trip to Marysville took 2 hours, but you can’t have it all.

A tale of two Camera Stores…

Went out yesterday to buy my daughter a digital camera. I’d done the research, had a price to match ($280 incl. shipping) from a website that I’d used before and trusted. So it was an exercise to see if we could do better – either a better deal on a different camera or a matching deal with nice service.

Anyone who’s had anything to do with cameras in Melbourne knows that you start at Elizabeth Street. Where you can wander from one store to another (there are about 6) getting the info… making comparisons. Fierce competition!

We start at JB – they don’t stock the one I’m after, but make a good offer on a similar camera – we’re tempted, but decide to walk the strip first.

Next stop, Michaels. First, a little background – Michaels have the most prominent and well known store – it’s always busy, but I have never bought anything there… not for the want of trying, but they’ve always missed: either price, the deal, the people, the service… always something. Today was no different. “That camera is $299” accompanied by blank “take it or leave it” look. No offer of a reasonable alternative, no assistance… obviously we were wasting the time of staff who could be better employed selling to customers with deeper pockets. We walked on.

Ted’s camera store is another institution – in fact, I used to buy my bulk Ilford FP40 B+W film there as a student! We are immediately helped by a young guy with an Irish accent and strong opinions about cameras. He agrees that the one we seek is a good choice, pours appropriate scorn on a couple of others we’d been shown at other shops, freely admits he can’t match the internet price, but throws in a couple of promotional sweeteners which more than bridge the gap. He immediately makes a sale.

I’m hoping to upgrade my own camera this year, and I know where I’ll be heading! To the manager of Ted’s – give that man a raise! To the manager of Michael’s, I don’t think I’ll ever bother again.

Ausweb ‘04

seaworld's polar bearJust spent four days in the warm at SeaWorld Nara Resort… business; not pleasure!… Ausweb ’04
Actually, it was pretty full-on… dawn to dusk activities and speakers, learned lots.

I also learned that SeaWorld Nara Resort has dreadful food! How can they get away with this? – a $25 buffet breakfast where they serve square, sliced, supermarket bread – and the cream for the pancakes is not real cream!!
The food we paid extra for was bad enough, but the catering for the conference was pathetic. Lunch was invariably dried out cocktail sandwiches (made from the same awful bread) and hot chips! – there’s a balanced diet for you!!

The staff were great, but I felt a bit sorry for them. I reckon the place is in $ trouble and management is turning the screws – every way you turned they wanted another dollar. Even the papers cost extra.

Anyway, the conference was great, the polar bear was beautiful, the resort sucks!

mmm… chocolate!

mmmm chocolateI really pity people who, for allergy or other reasons, can’t eat chocolate. After a second or so I get over it!!

Last Sunday was cold and windy – good day to stay inside – but we hopped on our bikes and headed into the city to try out the latest Melbourne chocolate sensation.

Actually, it seems to be a Sydney import, so it’s at an immediate disadvantage, but I’ll admit Max Brenner is not too bad! They had just had a good review on TV, so they were frantically busy, but we enjoyed our hot chocolate in exotic flavours.

While on the topic, I have to put in a word for their direct competitors, Koko Black, a very much more ‘Melbourne’ shop and (I think) a cut above in quality. Koko Black doesn’t have the range of flashy flavours and snacks, but this is made up for by sheer class and flavour. Sitting above Royal Arcade, flicking through beautiful chocolate cookery books, sipping on their brew – you wouldn’t call the king your uncle!

Of course, when we just want great chocolate, we go for Haighs every time!

rate my kitten…

OK, so we’re besotted with our new kitten, Viv (or Vyv, if you’re going to be fussy). Not content with boring workmates and family with his antics, I’ve posted a couple of his pics on the web for voting. So get along there and give him a 10 (well, I think he’s worth at least an 8!). You’ll find him here and here.


young vivianIt was probably a silly thing to do, but on the weekend we bought a new kitten. Haven’t we got enough trouble already with two cats? obviously not!

He has the provisional name ‘viv’, possibly should be ‘vyv’ because it’s in tribute to Ade Edmonson’s legendary character with a girls’ name.

Actually, the little guy has a big task – our other two cats are female and fight terribly – one has adopted the ‘alpha male’ role. So we’re hoping that when this little guy grows up and asserts himself, the dynamics will change and the other two will have other things to think about. (Clutching at straws?)

More pics of Viv’s first afternoon at home here.

stop thief!!

my cool shoesDo you like my shoes? Ok, they’re … bright, but they’re comfy, waterproof and slip on easy, so they’re ideal for the beach. They’re even better for clambering over the rocks when I’m going snorkelling… which is what I did today.
I left them wedged between two rocks and they stood up as a bright marker for me to swim back to when I’d finished… perfect. Except that one time I looked up and they’d gone!
I couldn’t believe it, someone was walking around in a pair of hot orange shoes that LOOKED JUST LIKE MINE!! I swam ashore and shouted at her at which point she looked nonplussed, left them and walked away.
By the time I clambered to where she left them I’d cut my foot on the rocks… grr!
So, lots of my friends laughed at my shoes, but i like ’em and you can sure spot someone if they try to nick off with them.

yikes!! always check your gumboots!!

a huge bloody spider in my boot!I usually check my gumboots before I put them on. Certainly when I’m out in the bush or whatever, but we keep our gumboots upside down on a rack on our very suburban back deck – not exactly wild! So I didn’t check tonight. Shoved my bare feet in when I went down to visit the chooks – felt something but assumed it was just grass – got about half way to the chook pen when the signals coming from my toes were telling me things were not all well down there. Off comes the boot quick smart and I’m face to face with the biggest f***ing huntsman I’ve ever seen. Once the hysterical laughing stopped I got the camera and snapped her portrait before putting her back in the garden to go about her life. (I suspect she’s about to drop a thousand or so young ones!)

Did I tell you? Always check your gumboots!

miserable failure?

Ok, so all the cool blogs hopped onto the bandwagon ages ago… I don’t care, I still think linking George Bush to the phrase ‘miserable failure’ is kind of fun.

Try it, go off to google and search for the phrase ‘miserable failure’… you’ll find GWB’s bio is top of the listings.
It’s a bit pathetic really, but enjoy it while you can, cause as soon as the marketing boys catch on to this sort of link manipulation, the search engine boys will find a way to stop it.

gone fishin’

thumbnail of salmonYesterday was a perfect late winter day here – clear sky, barely a breath of wind. Just for a bit of fun I took the canoe down to the Yarra mouth for a spot of fishing. Could have knocked me out when I actually caught fish… not just tiddlers either – sure, a few smaller fish, but a couple of decent ones too.

Took ’em home and cooked ’em up straight away. yum!