Archive for April, 2007

Low carb Viennese heaven


Sitting outside in Vienna last week was wonderful. Schnitzelmania occurred for most of the week.


Don’t sell me a new Wrangler, then


I’m a bit surprised at the lack of effort being made by our local Jeep dealer to sell me a new Wrangler.
I’ve always had my Jeep serviced with them, so they have my name and number, know that I can afford/am foolish enough to stick with dealer prices for servicing and that I have a 6 year old Wrangler that I might well be interested in replacing.
They should also know that the new Wrangler is now out – the biggest news in the Wrangler world since the last overhaul 10 years ago.
So, has anyone called me up or sent me anything in the post to try and encourage me to trade my old Jeep in and get a new one? Oddly enough, no.
All I’ve seen is some adverts in the press advertising a Jeep roadshow. For some reason the ad I saw appeared after 5 of the 6 events had already taken place.
I’m not in the market for a new Wrangler just yet, as I’m perfectly happy with what I’ve got. I’m just a little surprised that noone’s tried to sell anything to someone who should be their ideal target customer.
At least someone’s making the effort at Vienna airport.

First Segway sighting


I was amazed to see a Segway whizz passed me whilst I was sitting at an outdoor cafe last week in Vienna.
This is the first time I’ve seen one actually using one, outside of the odd promotional demonstration. It was going quite fast and looked great fun.
Considering how new much of Dubai is, you’d have thought Segways would be ideal here in the new developments that have gone up. Unfortunately there are really too many bumps and kerbs to make it practical to use one here, as most wheelchair users would confirm. I expect that will change in a year or two, as everything gets dug up to be made more pedestrian, Segway and wheelchair friendly.

Import your iTunes art


I’ve been trying out various programmes that let you import album cover art into your iTunes library.
TuneSleeveis by far the best. Very easy to use and works perfectly.
Apparently iTunes 7 lets you do this via the iTunes store if you have an account. Setting up an account would mean having to get my UK credit card out of the bottom of a draw, opening an account when logged onto the web through the Sun VPN with the UK proxy set and then using up Sun’s bandwidth to download all the album art. TuneSleeve is probably the best route forward for me for now!

Vienna again


In Vienna for some partner meetings, Sun meetings and a customer ‘breakfast’ on Thursday.
Very un-Europe-flight-like behaviour on landing. Lots of passengers jumped up and started grabbing their bags as soon as we landed, stumbling around as the plane skidded along the runway. I don’t usually see this on my Euro flights, even if it is endemic elsewhere. I remember a flight in North Africa where one passenger got up to get his plastic bag of clothes out and then dropped his underpants on a fellow passenger as the plane wobbled a bit on the tarmac.
Maybe in the future scientists will be able to identify and remove the rogue genes that make humans take their seatbelts off during the most dangerous part of a flight and rush for the overheard lockers as if their lives depended on it.

South African Braai rules


Update – I posted the wrong video. Corrected now.
Having been surrounded by Saffers for the last four and a bit years or so, I’ve been lucky enough to be included in events like these. The ‘tong master’ honour’s never yet been mine though.

The house looks like it’s in the UK somewhere – probably under the Heathrow flight path. SA tradition brought to the UK.

Non Smoking areas in Dubai malls equals extra profit


Mrs Saul and I ended up spending a fair amount of time over the last two days in one of Dubai’s newest and most impressive shopping malls.
The building’s pristine, the finish excellent, the choice of shops and eateries world class. But the mall stinks like an East End pub at closing time.
The lack of consideration shown by smokers is astonishing – people smoke everywhere, in the walkways, in some shops and even on the escalator. What a lovely way to finish off a nice evening at the cinema – inhaling someone else’s fag smoke all the whole way down to the next floor! What a nice way to spend 5 minutes window shopping – breathing in someone else’s cigarette as they waddle past, flicking ash on your feet! What marketing genius to encourage such an atmosphere!
I’m not asking for a smoking ban. Let’s simply start with defined smoking and non-smoking areas first and work from there.
Forget emotion and medical fact as well – instead, let’s get down to some Dubai style simple business factors.
I reckon about 85% of the mall’s visitors smoke in the mall. I expect 30+% of the mall’s visitors are smokers, but 15% of them aren’t rude, so they don’t smoke inside. Of those 15% of smoking visitors, I would guess that around 90% are men and of those most are single men.
I’m not a retail expert, but I expect that the majority of purchases in the mall are made by women. I also expect that the visitors with a higher average spend are women – especially women with children in tow, as they are more likely to buy items for themselves and their family as well as to drop into cafes to keep the kids fed and watered.
The single, smoking men, are typically not your high spenders, in my opinion. It’s not something I’d do voluntarily, but they seem to like spending their free time wandering around shopping malls, smoking, burbling into their mobile phones and generally not spending money.
So what situation do we have here? The mall’s best customers are typically non-smoking women with children and non-smokers of both gender. I would bet that most of that demographic find the smoky atmosphere profoundly irritating. I would also bet that the smoke actively puts them off spending more time in their local malls.
So how do we get our best customers to come to the mall more often? How about, gasp, making the mall a more pleasant place to go?
Create some smoking areas so smokers aren’t put off – they can enjoy some camaraderie over a coffee! Snoking dads and boyfriends can escape trawling around with wives and girlfriends and actually spend some money for a change, even if it is only on a cup of tea in the corner of the foodhall. Everyone else can enjoy their visit to a mainly smoke-free mall and consider coming back again more often now that it’s a nicer place to be.
I guarantee that the first mall in Dubai to implement a no-smoking policy that covers general areas, whilst allowing for some smoking zones, will see a rise in its profits. It will be more popular with residents and more popular with visitors, as guide books single it out as one of the few places you can go without coming out smelling like that East End pub*. It might even be just as popular with those who used to smoke in it. Most of those smokers aren’t coming for somewhere nice to smoke, they just happen to be able to, so they do. They might not even have ever considered that flicking ash on the person behind you, or sparking up on the travelator was rude or moronic. No matter, now they simply won’t do it.
So, whose going to be the first? Step up to the mark and start making more money, mall managers.
(*Don’t get me wrong, I like East End pubs. I just don’t like it when the shopping mall I visit smells like one.)

Google Desktop for Solaris, please


I have Solaris, Ubuntu and Windows XP on my laptop.
Now that I have more of a sales role, I have less need to ‘test things’, but I still use Ubuntu for VMware to run Sun Ray and SGD demos or to install recent versions of Solaris. As my customers use Windows and my main task is talking about how we deliver a secure and cost-effective Windows desktop, I tend to use Windows as my main desktop, albeit with StarOffice, Firefox and Thunderbird as my main work apps.
I could use all of those apps on Solaris too, but there’s one app that I use constantly that isn’t available on Solaris – Google Desktop. It simply finds everything I need to find and saves a lot of time searching fruitlessly for that elusive email sent months ago.
Any chance of seeing it on Solaris soon…?

Looking for a date?


I’m not looking for a date, but I thought I’d pass on this heartfelt request to any broad minded white ladies (or gals) out there who are around 33 years old.

This was stuck on a building site wall near our apartment. Note that the young man in question is looking not for friendship, but for friendships, so make sure you are at least reasonably broadminded before replying.

Please reboot your airline information boards