Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Is cash the next big thing?

What is cash these days ?

All have benefits, and risk. Cash really doesn’t mean greenbacks but electronic payment non-credit card in origin
PayPal- Is PayPal cash? in an online world, PayPal can be better than cash in that a buyer can PayPal via  cash or credit card per transaction allowing you to micromanage every transaction. PayPal in turn they take 3-4% per transaction. But the funds are secure for buyers and sellers, used on eBay and privately around the world. It creates an escrow buffer at the same time protecting buyers and sellers instantly.  A buyer can have products or service released by a seller immediately and a seller is protected once PayPal notifies them.
EFT- Electronic Transfer, usually able to be done via a bank online, allows anyone to pay direct to a person or business, allowing instant payment. No escrow is used so there is some risk for the buyer.
Cheque- amazing to think now many of the Y-Gen folks will never see a chequebook. For the rest of us this can be personal cheque or for global purchases a bank cheque, and often can be ordered from a bank online, sent direct to a seller from a buyer. No escrow protection again and slower processing time. However the cheque is traceable.
eWallet – Being rolled out around the globe, like PayPal  but it offers users the additional ability to pay by mobile phone at shops and places in their communities.
vouchers- Apple iTunes, and vouchers for services like prepaid phones that can be purchased form shops and gas stations
Cash Credit Cards– Not to miss out banks around the globe are now selling cash credit cards, where you go to a 7-eleven and buy a credit card, that be topped up online, and can be offered like a normal credit card, offers no escrow security but allows cash users to use a something that is like a credit card in every other way

Why Cash and Who Cares?

There are loads of reasons cash appeal to folks, a hybrid like PayPal is also advantageous  as the seller doesn’t care how you pay PayPal and as a buyer I can micromanage if I use this account or that account , this credit card or that credit card per each and every transaction.

Then there is the cost of using credit cards, all companies pay to take a credit card into their business process. That cost is often hidden in the price but some will charge for more expensive cards like Diners and Amex..

Another reason is the current economic times where folks may have messed up their credit and may only be able to pay by cash.

Recently a woman in Chicago wanted to buy a new Apple iPad but had no credit card, apple said no, we only take credit card for payment. Hmm, a complaint and 3 later and apple reversed this across the globe, and increased their revenue.

Some time ago eBay that great online love it or hate it machine decided to force customers to use PayPal to pay for goods purchased on eBay (they own PayPal) and make around 3-4% per transaction.  Many hated this strong arm tactic many (myself included) took no notice as we had already embraced PayPal and cash.

Buying Habits and security– every time a credit card transaction is made and angel dies and your buying habits are logged and often shared around the world in an instant. Sometimes shared unwantedly and banks then have to issue new credit cards, an experience that is happening way too often these days and a pain to deal with.


Qantas airlines is a good example, they only started taking cash transaction pretty recently for flights across the globe. Funny enough you can buy flights with cash but not join their Qantas club but by good old plastic.

Others like scottevest that guru of hidden pocket clothing, says he sees no benefit to taking cash and it is too difficult, short-sighted I think.Others see cash as opening up a new demographic, e.g. iTunes can be used with a credit card, or vouchers (vouchers that are bought with cash).

Microsoft takes tens of thousands of dollars online for their software (that is only downloaded) and takes EFT.

China– In china many business wholesalers, manufacturers and alike are taking escrow and PayPal payments to make it easier to sell to the west. This is even for large purchases like cars, and computers.

The Banks– realizing they were missing out on the market banks per above are offering gift cards, that in every other way act like a credit card.

Not All online Businesses are Created Equal – it amazes me how many online businesses have not even considered cash. As an IT consultant and Product Manager, a few years back a company asked me to look to see how they could improve profitability, reduce customer churn and grow their business towards an IPO. The first thing I noticed is how long it took them to take payments for small recurring purchases, for tens of thousands of customers. Once they offered cash as  an option card (for monthly or annual payment), the cost per sale went down,  less  cancelled card issues, less credit card fees, and more cash flow as many customers chose to pay a year in advance to get a discount that we only partially shared with the customer.

Now What ?

A big issue is companies in some cases have been slow to react to their e-commerce requirements so enable cash payments for services.  For others cash really is the next big thing.

Putting servers inside shipping containers is a trend that is gaining momentum

in the industry with many of the leading infrastructure operators and providers, including Google, IBM, HP and Sun now leveraging the concept to drive efficiency and flexibility of data centers. Now,  Microsoft, which has already deployed a data centre in Chicago using the idea, has outlined a new vision that aims to adopt the concept across its facilities. “Today we are sharing our Generation 4 Modular Data Centre plan. This is our vision and will be the foundation of our cloud data centre infrastructure

in the next five years,” wrote Michael Manos, general manager of global foundation services at Microsoft. “We believe it is one of the most revolutionary changes to happen to data centers in the last 30 years.” In a blog posting in association with Daniel Costello, director of Data Centre Research and Engineering and Christian Belady, principal power


and cooling architect, Manos says that the new data centre vision  will be composed of modular units of prefabricated mechanical, electrical, security components, etc., in addition to containerized servers.  This would result in “a highly modular, scalable, efficient, justin- time data centre capacity program that can be delivered anywhere in the world very quickly and cheaply, while allowing for continued growth as required,” he wrote. “It allows us to deploy capacity when our demand dictates it. Once finalized, we will no longer need to make large upfront investments. Imagine driving capital costs more closely in-line with actual demand, thus greatly reducing time-to-market and adding the capacity Online inherent in the design. Also reduced is the amount of construction labor required to put these “building blocks” together. Since the entire platform requires pre-manufacture of its core components, on-site construction

costs are lowered.” The new Gen 4 concept would go beyond the company’s existing Chicago

facility, which only modularizes the servers, but instead aims to develop standardized interfaces on the mechanical and electrical levels. “This means using the same kind of parts in pre-manufactured modules,

the ability to use containers, skids, or rack-based deployments and the ability to tailor the Redundancy and Reliability requirements to the application at a very specific level,” Manos said.

FLEXIBLE QoS: One result of the enhanced flexibility is that different server containers can be given different redundancy levels to yield different efficiency levels. According to the blog post, the PUE (power usage effectiveness, which measures the amount of energy inputted into a data centre verses the

amount of power that goes to power the IT infrastructure) can be driven down to 1.08-1.14 in configurations where there is no UPS (uninterrupted power supply) or generator, and PUEs of between 1.27-1.33 in scenarios with dual backup for UPS and generator. That kind of PUE range represents an extremely efficient use of energy because almost every watt of power entering the data centre goes to running the IT infrastructure. Typical legacy data centers run with PUE ranges of over 2, meaning that for every 2 watt of energy entering the facilities, only half is used to power the IT gear. “A key driver is our goal to achieve an average PUE at or below 1.125 by 2012 across our data centers,” he said.

BEYOND THE SERVERS: Another key proposal of Microsoft’s vision is what it calls “the central spine infrastructure,” essentially a network of slots for the server containers connected together by air vents and cables ducts. The company is proposing a standardized implementation of this

infrastructure to further enhanced flexibility. “Gen 4 will allow us to decommission, repair and upgrade quickly because everything is modular. No longer will we be governed by the initial decisions made when constructing the facility,” he said. “We will have almost unlimited use and re-use of the facility and site.”

This story reminds be of the on where my ex-employers at British Telecom tried to enforce the patent that they (we) owned the patent on hyperlinks. Even worse I was managing the Internet Products at the time of attempted enforcement, and was a little bit high profile internally at BT. Folks thought or queried it was my doing so I earned the nick-name ‘MrInternet’ it has stuck ever since.

 Here We Go Again


A Queensland man has begun enforcing international patents which he believes potentially entitles him to a license fee from every website in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States that publishes a URL-linked image, graphic or banner. Ronald Neville Langford of Battery Hill, Queensland successfully filed for patents over the connection of a visual image to an Internet URL between 2001 and 2004. Now a Singapore company, Vuestar, claims to have been appointed by Langford’s RN Technologies company to enforce the patents. It has recently begun sending invoices to Singapore website operators demanding “annual license fees” of about S$5,000 in order for them to have the right to embed URL links in graphics and images on their web pages. Vuestar, unashamedly, promotes itself with the tagline “Good Ideas with Vision.” Vuestar claims “a web site which has been developed by or for a URL addressee/ owner and uses visual images to hyperlink to other pages in which any first or subsequent page provides the contact details of an organisation would in legal terms appear to use the steps and methods outlined in a claim of the patent.” A Internet domain search shows Vuestar’s website at is registered to South Brisbane-based Goldspirit Investments, in turn registered to Langford. Vuestar began issuing the invoices this week, creating a minor storm in the Singapore Internet community who believe, rightly or wrongly, that the patent claims are a scam. One messageboard poster suggested “it seems like the Aussies cannot escape their criminal mentality yet.”


LEGAL WARNING: Bryan Tan, a lawyer with Singapore tech law practice Keystone, issued a note to his clients stating “According to Vuestar, any website with visual images, Internet Service providers, telcos whose phones connect to the web and anybody else contributing to the use of the patent will require the license. In addition all search engine portals and web sites that have search facilities and images will require separate licenses.” Tan added “We believe that this development would have a wide-ranging impact on the Internet

community in Singapore given the wide claims being made by Vuestar on the intellectual property covered by the patents. Parties operating websites, offering web services or developing web-based and WAP based products and services need to be especially careful.” CommsDay has sighted Langford’s claimed patents. His US patent filing, no 7065520, provides an exhaustive definition of what constitutes his “original idea”, covering an “image, video, animation, mini-image of a web page, streaming video, logo of an organization associated with the web page, and trademark of an organization associated with the web page.” Both the US and later Singapore patent also specifically mentions the results generated by image search engines. Similar patents have also been recognised by Australia and New Zealand.

Singapore’s New Paper obtained an interview with the 68-year old Langford yesterday where he said the widespread use of his patents had damaged his company “to the tune of millions of dollars.” “Ironically, we have sat back and watched our technology used to generate millions in advertising revenue.”


The original story on this was more important for what it did not say and thus is missing these big points.

1) The phone has to be NextG (beyond 3G) the only network Telstra will operate soon & not a platform the I-phone currently works.

2) This will also mean (as it is the Telstra model) it will likely get the 33 TV Stations on it from Sky/ Foxtel (at a sligthly higher price

Discussions are ongoing.

<Another Comment>

So, this will likely be Next G (sometimes called 3.5G) for Australia.
HSDPA is 3.5G. It is an extension of 3G, it uses the same network frequencies. 3G handsets can reach up to 384Kbit/sec. There are two HSDPA networks in Australia. Telstra run off the UMTS850MHz and this is HSDPA enable, they label their network NextG, since they believe its Next Generation.
Optus, Vodafone, Three (and Telstra too, as Three and Telstra co-own the 2100 Network) run off UMTS2100MHZ and this is also HSDPA enable, they just label it HSDPA.

I am not sure about other countries, but there are only a handful of countries which run off the UMTS850MHz frequency, from memory AT&T and Cordova in the States run off 850. UTMS2100 MHz is more widely used.

Note, Telstra claim their network is faster, since it is capable of 14.4Mb/sec. However there aren’t any 14.4Mb/sec devices, their current handsets (only the V6 V3xx and a few of the ZTEs) and turbocards only reach up to 3.6Mbit/secs.

Optus, Three, Vodafone don’t really state how fast the network is capable, but they too have devices which reach up to 3.6Mbit/sec, ie USB Modems and Nokia 6110 and n95, ironically phones which Telstra rejected as they were not UTMS850.

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Updated Feb 2013

Costco Ringwood, Vic (east Melbourne) on Target for July 2013 Opening



Updated  20 August 2009

Wow! – Hard to believe this one story has been going on longer than many folks have been blogging period (since September 2006). I still get comments from folks thinking I work for Costco.

No this is just a blog, and Costco is just something I had missed from the US and more recently the UK, having been in Australia for 6 years.

Enough of that. Costco opened this week and I was there, as were the rest of Australia. Lines were 200 deep at one point just to get in and peek (no buying or purchasing allowed) . For those of us that had our membership already there was only a 15 minute wait to get in the door. It was packed.

So for the nitty-gritty review. I was pretty impressed overall. The Costco experince for most depends on your expectations. For me being in both the US and UK stores I was expecting either, and really got neither (and both).

Part of the ‘ charm’ of Costco is the revolving stock. You can go in one time and then a month later some items will be gone never to be repeated and new ones take their place, and others are there all the time.

For me I had some expectation on the American food supplies.

Some were there (great seafood from Australia and even Russia, and the most amazing scallops from California).  Others were not there and severely missed (Chicago baby back ribs), any American bar-b-q sauce at all, no American carbonated beverages, eg. Rootbeer, etc.

Some I had forgot about form the UK was there – Campo Viejo – Rioja Spanish Wine, Std and Reserve. and a pretty good selection of other wine and spirits at a pretty good price in some cases. Not a huge drinker I left cases of Campo in the uK when I moved here due to the import tax being higher than the cost per bottle, so that made me happy.

For the uninitiated Costco sells everything from Electronics – (TV’s, iPods, computers, blue ray players, ) Appliances, Clothing, Jewlery, Books, Dvds, luggage, food and alcohol,  and have their own Butchery, and Bakery on site. , selling meat, fish, poultry, dairy and fresh fruit and veg.

It is the bulk purchases and large container sizes of some things that are not that easy to find elsewhere, and Pampers seemed to be flying out the place as well.

Overall giving the US and UK a 10/10 I give Australia an 8 with a hope some more USA type lines are added.
Other lines were a bit thin, but I have seen that at new Costco’s before.

I was told a head of time the seafood selection would be better than the UK and USA and I have to agree it is.

Finally the big one pricing – A mixed bag really, I found nothing expensive but many items are the same price on the high street.  A big deal on the electronics side of things where competition is fiercer in Australia that I would say the USA or the UK.

My favorite with Costco, there are always a few hidden gems in electronics a TV or iPod they have cheaper than anyone, and I did notice a couple of these, like a Samsung 50” HD TV 1080P, for $2200, and its baby sister the 50” 780 for $1600. Both cracking sets (I have the 780), and I was tempted on the 1080P, but I am a big fan of Samsung everything (and I work for a competitor…. Shhh)

So the overall selection makes it a very worth Mecca of shopping and one that competitors will have some sleepless nights over as many were there when I was , comparing their products to Costco’s.

Updated- June 2009

 For Expat Americans and English (or both as I am) that have been blessed before moving to Melbourne Australia to having a Costco on our doorsteps and miss it, the wait is on almost over

 Well met some of the new management team  from Costco, Melbourne food and wine show and they seem lie a nice bunch. THe new merchandising manager is from Canada and gave an inisght to what to expect.

Larger freezer section than you would expect in the North America or UK Stores.
Due to some issues on importation of fruit and veg to Australia there will not be as much US produce as I had hoped. (Ths is making COles VERY nervours.

Kirkland Products a global brand for food stuffs offering everything from cookies to paper towels will be a big brand

They have also launched their website and are taking memberships online. I got mine yesterday.

My favorites the baby back ribs are not likely to make an appearance due t how well they travel unfortunately


Updated – 16 March 2009



Hard to believe I have been tracking this for almost 3 years now !


Now slotted for mid-late 2009 ,
As you folks know (and can tell from the date trail), I have been following this for some time.  If anyone has been past the Docklands area in Melbourne recently (below the expensively broken wheel in the sky). The boards are now up for Costco, and hiring has started. The store is costing $(AUD) 60m and a Sydney store is also in the works. For those have nto drank the Costco Kool-Aid you are in for a shopping treat. Costco charges an annual membership fee of $USD 50 (likely to be $AU60). If you combine the size and sort of selling mentality of a Bunning’s Warehouse (lower profit margin but higher volumes) but selling everything from food and wine, to furniture, to electronics, cameras and computers, then Costco is the place. What I find most interesting is the product mix Costco Australia will have. Will there be more American food selection (let’s hope). In Australia some electronics are very cheap compared to the UK or even the US, will that mean even lower pricing (as well as selection) at Costco ? With inventory valued at around $10m (AUD), this will be no easy task, but I cannot wait to find out.


Updated 21 June 2008

Well with the site in Melbourne Docklands now confirmed in the shadow of the new $40m Southern Star Observation Wheel two words come to mind… Hurry Up… It seems like forever I have been picking up on the story with what were early rumors. For me I miss most was the ‘Chicago’ baby back ribs, that were pretty darn good.

It will be approximately 13,000 square metres with around 553 car spaces and will operate seven days a week. Construction is scheduled to commence in September 2008 and is due for completion at the end of 2009.

What about you?


Updated 27 December 2007
Looks like it is getting closer.
Updated 18 October 2007 – Had some emails burining hot to me today that in the Q4 report, out recently the CIO mentioned that Australia was being seriously considered.

Updated 9 August 2007- I had a word with the CEO of Costco USA (long story how). He was coy about Australia but reading between the lines, suffice to say but there are no immiedate plans for a move here, but they remain interested in the Australian market.

Updated 25 Feb 2007
Well word is spreading, it looks like Docklands near the Melbourne CBD is the 1st Costco in Australia. place but Costco still refuses to confirm, but the opening date is looking like 2009. The latest story has it sharing a site with Ikea that is known to be hunting another Melbourne site as well.

If you love Costco and want them in Australia why not email the chief of online marketing Rob Walters at

More on the Q4 Report

TELSTRA’S hopes of building a $3.4 billion fibre broadband network have collapsed, with negotiations with regulators set to be abandoned as early as today, landing yet another blow on the federal Government’s plan for the final privatisation of the telco.

read more |

On Thursday Microsoft failed to quash fears that a new version of its Windows software system would be further delayed, stirring concerns that a new technology cycle tied to the upgrade could be put on hold.

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Someone recently asked me why is it so hard to deal with a DDOS attack. Simple trying to detect the pattern of the attack. But it all comes down to 3 things.

1. Use a product that allows Service Provider XYZ to detect and mitigates a DDoS attack.

2. Service provider XYZ then securely sends the attack “fingerprint” to the relevant upstream providers affected by the attack.

3. After securely receiving the fingerprint, the information is used by the upstream ISP to trace back, analyze and mitigate the attack, thereby identifying and removing the infected hosts as close to the source [the Internet-based ingress point] as possible.

I have only seen one product that could do this and its the Arbor Networks’ Peakflow SP. I used it on one of the largest networks in the world and it works. As do other large carriers. Keep in mind most carriers are not affected by the DDOS attack (we have the bandwdith). Its the tier2 user and the end customers.

So if you want to make sure you never get hit by a DDOS attack make sure your providers tier1 supplier has the right support in place in case you do get hit and the right preventative measures in place to begin with.

Oh What is a DDOS attack?

Who are Arbor?

Geez! After getting gas (that’s petrol to the rest of you), at a local station, I found out my credit card was declined.
It turns out the HSBC link went down to VISA (and only HSBC’s link), not only was I stranded at the petrol station with petrol I couldn’t pay for, but the bank was helpless to assist.

Turns out a glitch as shut down all of HSBC’s credit cards in Australia (lucky me I am not alone). I am sure more is to follow.

Pretty bad when you consider the same thing happened in the UK earlier this year.

What gives HSBC your customers deserve better.

Jetstar the no frills part of no frill airline Qantas (often referred to as DeathStar) is to start charging anyone being interviewed by them. This is to help cover costs of personality tests and other overheads incurred in the interviewing process (please….). The charges will depend on the job being interviewed for.

Guess you need to be careful on the next flight if you ask for nuts you may get a candiate or 2.

Another me too from Yahoo. We the users can only benefit.

read more | digg story

Free Porn Filters that is. Internet pornography has become a hot issue politically. If kids didn’t want access before they will now. Geez.

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Hmm interesting cat being sent amungst the pigeons.
Is this a smart move by AOL/Netscape. I thik not.
Look at the bandwdith problem they are having already.
We will see.

read more | digg story

Interesting to see that this is new as of June of 2006 but there are accounts as of 2004 and no person managing it (more in 1st comment.

read more | digg story

Welcome To Da 1st blog!

Posted: February 6, 2006 in Blogroll, Business

Let’s see what happens now!