My new hobby – BBQ Pork Spare Ribs

So I’ve found a new hobby, BBQ Pork Spare Ribs. I watched a show called BBQ Pit masters, which showed a selection of American BBQ Pit masters roasting various bits of meat and then deciding which ones are worth prizes of thousands of dollars.

I am not trying to make money from my hobby, but it is something I’m passionate about. And the best thing is, it’s a great hobby. It’s not like climbing a mountain. The steps to my hobby are:

  1. Get some meat – I prefer some nice pork spare ribs, around $10NZD for a small rack
  2. Make your own rib rub – I like to make a nice Kansas City Rib Rub
  3. Put the rub on the ribs – It’s a dry rub, so don’t go turning it into a baste
  4. Put it at 125 degrees Celsius for four hours – it gets slow cooked so that the meat nearly falls off the bones
  5. Play some Russian Party Poker – if you’re Russian, it’s probably a good way to pass the time. These ribs aren’t going to be cooking any time soon, and Poker is as good as any other method to kill some spare time.
  6. Mop the ribs with apple juice every half an hour or so
  7. Take the ribs out, and eat.

It’s a great past time, doesn’t take up a lot of time or effort, and at the end you have delicious ribs.


Venture Altruist Idea – Turning Resumes into a rich content experience with YouTube

I’m not too sure if this has been done, but I’ve seen those choose your own adventure stories on YouTube and thought, why aren’t resumes like this? Resumes are broken up into three main parts:

1 – Skills. Can’t these be verified on the fly with third parties using web services? No more trusting if this guy really has an MCSE, it’s endorsed by Microsoft.

2 – Experience. We have written word references, but video references could take that to another level.

3 – Personality. Trying to fit someone’s personality into the medium of a two page reference is impossible.

Not too sure how this idea should develop, but there you go none the less!

Venture Altruist idea – Making Resthomes an amazing experience – like business class on an airline!

Why are resthomes like second class hospitals? Old people are stuck at these places, but yet these places are designed to look like public bus terminals. My great idea is to make them like business class lounges and the business class section of an airline. Imagine this, a lounge with funky colours, different zones, and in each zone there are business class seats with iPads built into them, with a full entertainment experience, and ottomans, with the zones that allow people to fall asleep or have private areas between two people, the quality of experience will be amazing, and allow people to enjoy themselves as they relax and love life, and allow them to feel like normal people having a quality experience.

Venture Altruist idea – the gamification of life, rewarding people with badges for everyday things!

I was going to keep this idea to myself, but I already see it out in the wild, so I’ll spill the beans.

Imagine Xbox achievements, but for your life. In the same manner that you can get Boy Scouts badges for real life achievements, this would be the digital equivilent.

But to make this truly successful, open up the badge creation to everyone using a Facebook application, so anyone could create a badge. I started working on this at, but I haven’t progressed past the post a badge to a profile yet.

I imagine that badges fall into three natural categories – work, leisure, and pleasure. Work badges are achievements gained at work, and could be third party endorsed. This is how the company makes money, by charging third parties to endorce that certain badges have their approval. For instance, a person could create a Microsoft Certified Professional badge and add it to their profile. But then Microsoft could pay to connect over web services and endorce a particular badge. This badge would then carry the most weighting and would appear at the top of any search listings, and would cancel any one badge with a similar name.

Leisure badges are those which you’d share with your general friends, and may or may not be verified. Such as you changing the oil in your car, becoming a black belt in Karate, or climbing Mount Everest.

Pleasure badges are those which have no verification and you’d only share with your inner circle. Things such as I’ve kissed twins, played strip poker, or had a naked party.

And that’s all fine and good. But the real strength of the idea comes from the fact that badges are actually aspects of one’s identity. If you collate enough of these badges about a person, then you pretty much have verified their identity in the community. This is seperate from their legal identity, but that in itself can be a badge, a verified real name endorced by a central government organisation. So then your profile of badges becomes your default online identity, that has a a fine grained list of badges that you can choose to share with quite specific people.

An example of this would be to get a bank loan. You may call up the credit score company and get them to give you a credit score. This then appears as a badge on your profile once you choose to display it. This badge is your information, and you control who sees it. But you cannot change it, since the information is endorced by a third party. Then you go to the bank and ask for a mortgage. They ask to see your credit score badge. You’re free to show it or not show it, that’s your choice. Of course, if you don’t, then they won’t give you a mortgage.

What happens if your credit score goes down? I thought this information was mine, and others cannot change it without my knowledge? Well that’s true, if your score goes down, the credit score company must be able to update that score, but they still need your permission to do so. If you choose not to however, then the badge becomes stale and is greyed out. You can still display it of course, but it is no longer endorced by the credit score company, and should not be relied upon as valid information anymore.

The beauty of this system is that privacy and making money is built in right from the beginning!

Venture Altruist – A Reputation Sharemarket

One of the Venture Altruist ideas in Accelerando by Charles Stross is a Reputation Sharemarket. This is a great idea, and something I’d like to see in place. Imagine all the people around you having a reputation share value, or score. The higher the reputation, the more likely this person is a good person to deal with. And because this information is public, there’s an automatic feedback mechanism for people to increase their reputation, by doing good deeds. Eventually, it will be difficult to deal with people with poor reputations, giving those people an incentive to become more reputable.

Virgin Australia opens itself up to re-intermediation though iPads to rent at airports!

So Virgin Australia and a lot of other low cost airlines allow you to rent an entertainment device for your flight. This is in contrast to say Air New Zealand which has in seat entertainment. This opens up low cost airlines to competition from a company at an airport that would rent iPads or other entertainment devices for a nominal fee, and then have them returned at the other airport, say the Auckland to Sydney route.

This is a business opportunity for someone interested in loading an iPad full of fun games and content, charging people a nominal fee to rent it, say $20 NZD for three hours. You could get $60NZD a day, or $21,900 a year (365 days a year). Break even would be @ 40 flights, or two weeks.

I want to be a Venture Altruist – here’s how I’ll do it.

I want to be a Venture Altruist. If you don’t know what they are, it’s someone who goes around providing improvements to people, companies, organisations, making everyone else rich, for no fee. In return, I build social capital, which I can then spend on helping more people become rich for free.

Why? Because I’m an ideas guy, not an implementation guy. Other people can implement, they can have the riches of their success. But I love to look at a problem, and show people how to fix that.

Great ideas – conference rooms

I’m going to add blog post every now and then with good ideas about a forced topic, and today it’s conference rooms.

First I’ve noticed is making sure that the projector screen is sufficiently dark. Maybe lights could be closer to people in terms of where there heads are so light doesn’t spill out and affect the projector.

I think when something is projected onto a screen, the area of attention is minor, and a lot on the screen is just wasted real estate on context. So if we focus on just the interesting part of the screen and zoom in on that, then people with poor eyesight can see what’s happening.

I think presentations that go over an hour should be broken up. No one can concentrate for that long. Maybe 25 minutes and then a five minute break, enforced by a health and safety policy. I wonder whether it would be more productive.

A surefire way to let business drive IT projects

I’ve been thinking a bit about good methods to help the business (referred to as anyone that’s not IT) drive IT projects.

So far the method I’ve observed goes along the lines of:

1. Define the problem. Sounds like an obvious step, but in IT we’re all too keen to jump to solutions. A problem isn’t that we need an ERP or a CRM system, any more than not having a hamburger is a problem. The real problem is you’re hungry. Or for the first two examples, you want to manage the resources of an organisation efficiently, or you want to track all your interactions with your customers across multiple communication channels and plan marketing campaigns.

With the problem defined we can move on to…

2. Goals. Goals are visionary statements that frame any potential solution. Think of them as solution boundaries, where the solution must sit inside. A solution scope I guess. One could be more concise information for managers. These goals are intangible and immeasurable in the sense that it’s difficult to know if you’ve achieved them, but without them your solution might not fit into the strategic direction of the enterprise. No point coming up with a mobile solution if there’s no need for it.

3. Business objectives. These are finite measurable objectives that sum up how we know the problem has been solved in concrete terms. 100% of senior management reports come from the data warehouse. Customers will be able to purchase items from mobile devices. All absolutely measurable. No ambiguity, not for the business who can say that these objectives if met will meet the current needs of the business, nor for IT and the vendors who have no wriggle room in terms of what they’re delivering at the other side. As you can see, scope at this point if already defined, and while things could change within the boundary, if work doesn’t directly support the solving of the objective then it shouldn’t be in the project.

4. Functional use cases. The creation of these further tighten your scope and clarify exactly how people, process, and technology will change to meet the business objectives. Simple use case diagrams are great for communicating with the business the functions and processes within the solution, and we haven’t even talked any technology yet. After all, the solution could be solved by just a process change. Once all the functional use cases required to meet the business objective have been agreed to by the business, the scope is effectively defined. Then these use cases in the diagram can each be turned into fully dressed use cases with the standard process, exceptions, inputs and outputs, and all information a good use case should have. An example could be Load Information or Create Campaign.

5. Business requirements. With our functionality defined and processes sorted, we can think about what technological requirements are required to achieve the use cases. Creating a campaign will require software that has the ability to create a campaign. But we’re not focusing on a specific technology, and so the business requirements must be technology agnostic, and not just written as a laundry list of features of a particular software suite you have in mind. Because that would still be jumping to a solution ahead of time.

6. Solutions architecture. This really defines the non functional requirements of the solution, and is likely to start formulating a solution to meet the objectives. This would include aspects of solution analysis and design, and takes in the input of business requirements and comes up with a solution design. Sure some of the implementation gaps may not be filed, but by this point in time a solution had now been defined and can be traced all the way back to the problem.

From here there’s the normal software implementation life cycle, including change and release management procedures. By following this process we can ensure that we’re solving business problems in a clearly defined traceable manner that the business can understand and accept.