To the Incredible Year Ahead

2012 is either going to be the best year of my life, or possibly a very difficult one. But I’m leaning towards far and away the best. So many things happening, so much potential within those things.

So straight up I have about 2 months left in Australia, and in that time I need to finalise some of the design elements of Immortal Outdoors in time to launch it publicly, and start organising events and meetings with key people in order to get it all off the ground in Australia. Simultaneously, I need to work with Elizabeth (my partner for The Traveller’s Trade) to re-record much of the video tutorials we did for TTT and rebuild the website (deisgn and development), setting up all of the necessary elements to create a successful online ecommerce business (as automated as possible) – also all within the next two months (though this timeframe is less crucial, and moreso a desire so that TTT can start producing an income sooner, while I need it more).

So the heat is on right now, and it is exciting, and terrifying and all that good stuff.

Oh, and of course, the fact that I have to be in Chile by around Mid March means that while I am working on those two projects, I also need to be making sure everything is in order to set up my life in Chile. So that involves getting visas, booking flights, finding accomodation, learning spanish (yeah, seriously, we’re learning spanish from scratch via audio cd’s etc) and all that usual stuff that goes with planning an indefinitely long trip overseas…

Once in Chile though, well, I have no idea how much pressure I will be under. Obviously I will want to get as much done as possible, but going through this process of getting Immortal Outdoors off the ground has made me realise moreso just how big a project this all is, and what I really need in order to make it all happen as I want it to. I have finally caved in to the idea that I am probably going to need some real investors, and I am going to need my own in house CTO. So I now have a new objective for my time in Start-Up Chile – Find the right investors (without putting too much thought in to it (too soon to do that properly), probably something like 1 or 2 million dollars worth of investment) and meet the right CTO partner.

Maybe I don’t “need” that – but what I want Immortal Outdoors to do, it probably will need that major amount of funding and a seriously good inhouse development team to rebuild everything from the ground up again, on a bunch of servers, with all of the stops out in order to really get what I want. The mobile platforms, the social network plugins, the seemless user interfaces, and all of the clever little automatic systems which are so easy to think of, but so challenging to make work smoothly… It will take time, and a lot of development from some great coders. And that is the new Start-Up Chile goal.

And that should take me through to about December. At which time the goal is to have a chance to head back over to the UK for Christmas with Vanessa’s family (and ideally mine too if we can afford it), and then NYE in London.

How is that not the best year ever?

PS: I forgot to mention, I contacted Sydney Skydivers today too – I am finally getting back in to sky diving, and after a quick refresher course, I should be starting on my B license… So of course, that needs to fit in to this final two month period in Sydney too…

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Immortal Outdoors and Start-Up Chile

Immortal Outdoors is online now. Still much work to be done, but it is online.

In other exciting news, I was selected to participate in Start-Up Chile. Yay. Heading over to Chile at the end of March now.

Oh, and I almost forgot too – this was the first year my domain http://www.SydneyToHobart.com.au was live with some content on it prior to the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race, and it received about 5000 hits. ALmost 3000 hits today, which is more than any of my websites have ever received in a single day.

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The Fiverr Design Experiment

Attempting to get a good business card design for Immortal Outdoors I have opted to experiment with crowd-sourcing design through Fiverr. I have hired the following people through their advertised gigs:

iambdus, boyluiji, and oneream.

Total time = about 30-45 minutes to casually find the jobs, pay for them and describe what I wanted to each of them.

Total cost = $15

First Result

Boyluji was the first to deliver, taking almost exactly 24h from my deliver of the specs of the job. He asked for:

provide me your details such as:
Logo
Desired card Details
color preferences

and receive a business card design in printable format.

and I provided:

Colors – Please stick with the color theme on the website (visible here: http://immortal-test.mycms.com.au/) and in the logo.

Slogan/Phrase “Mapping the Outdoors”

Card details should be:

Shane Greenup
email provided
http://www.ImmortalOutdoors.com
+61 413 295 020

I received:

To which I messaged back to him:

OK that is really really ugly. Can I get a complete redesign, this time focusing on the brand (this is a card for my website, on which my details are present. Like most ‘Business’ cards) also actually sticking with the colour scheme and theme of the logo and the website I directed you to.

*fingers crossed*

Which I think you will agree is pretty accurate. That design is bad on so many levels. It was a little heart breaking to get such a horrible design. I mean, sticking the logo on it and writing my details in whatever the default font was would look better and take much less time. So anyway, he replied with:

ok no worries communication is key i will do a complete re design you should have results soon.

and delivered the following solution:

shane greenup business card design 2Which was a significant improvement, but still didn’t work for me at all. I thought it focused too much on my name, while the focus is meant to be on the Website Logo. So I left it at that (since I had used up my $5 worth of design and revision anyway), and awaited the other two designs…

Second Result

Iamabdus delivered second. Now I have had a gig delivered by Iamabdus previously, he designed the logo for The Traveller’s Trade, which was quick and effective, so I was already quite happy with his work. I was hoping he could deliver just as effectively on the business card design too.

His request for information was:

Just send me:
(1) Logo
(2) Your name, designation, address and all info
(3) Any sample design.

Note: All source files will be provided

To which I replied with:

1. Logo attached.

2. Shane Greenup
*email provided*
www.ImmortalOutdoors.com
+61 413 295 020

3. The card is for the following website: http://immortal-test.mycms.com.au/ Take design elements from that as inspiration. Is that enough?

Thanks,
Shane
(from http://www.travellerstrade.com)

And the final product was delivered in just under 48 hours from my sending of that information, and looked like this:

SHane Greenup Immortal Outdoors business card 3Which is immediately better than the previous efforts by the last designer, and I sort of like it, but it doesn’t stay true to the overall colour theme of the website, so I wasn’t sure. Plus it was only one side of the card, and I really did want a double sided card design. So I was thinking that Iamabdus is definitely ahead at this stage, I would await the results of designer 3 before deciding on what to do.

Third Result

OneReam was the final designer expected to deliver, advertising a delivery period of 5 days to deliver, but after 6 days nothing was heard from them, so I messaged them asking if they were there.. 6 days later I got a message saying that they had had a family emergency, and asking if I wanted them to proceed or not, so I said “Sure, why not” and awaited the delivery of my designs.

Within 24 hours of that message, I got her designs. This time, instead of just getting a PNG file (like the previous two designers), she provided a zip file filled with print ready PDFs and adobe illustrator working files (and fonts used), and not just for one design, but two designs of a double sided card. All provided for MacOS as well as PC. So that was quite impressive. Better still, the designs were actualyl pretty good! They kept to the colour theme of the website, and focussed on the website logo and domain, while still providing my personal details in an effective manner.

Back_1_PNT

Front_1_PNT

Back_2_PNT

Front_2_PNT

Final Outcome

Anyway, so they were the results from my 3 Fiverr gigs. I was going to pick the best and give them the specifics that I wanted, but I have decided to just make some slight changes to the last set of designs, since I am mostly happy with them.

I really gotta go and do some real work now…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Australia vs England – Price Comparison

A common conversation I have had since I arrived in England a little over a month ago, is how surprised I am at the fact that nearly everything here is significantly cheaper than in Australia (except transport costs- public transport and fuel). When it comes to groceries though – necessities and treats, my experience of prices so far are so very strongly in the UK’s favour, that it is becoming very hard for me to justify living in Australia any more.

So I logged in to two supermarket giants here in the UK, and compared prices with Coles and Woolworths, and this is what I got:

 

Item Tesco Asda Woolworths Coles
Fresh Food
Gala Apples, Loose (kg) $4.35 $2.63 $4.97 $5.48
Closed Cup Mushrooms, Loose (kg) $4.50 $4.18 $11.96 $10.48
Brown Onions Class 2, Loose (kg) $1.49 $1.46 $1.88 $2.48
Meat
Bacon (best / kg) $8.73 $8.73 $9.90 $8.01
Chicken Breast $11.12 $11.12 $15.50 $10.90
Lamb Leg (roast) $12.04 $15.03 $13.48 $14.00
Pantry
750-775g CornFlakes $3.73 $3.01 $5.36 $5.34
Coke 2L $2.68 $2.68 $3.92 $3.91
Cheapest pasta (kg) $0.96 $0.96 $1.20 $1.20

From this small sample, it is immediately clear how badly australia is competing, and it would be easy to continue comparing prices like this and continue the trend. I was even trying to pick products which Australia should fare better with – meats and grain based products should be abundant in our giant agricultural country! And yet the UK was cheaper on every front.

Here is the averaged results:

Actual Exchange Rate
1.5046
Item UK Average Aus Average
Fresh Food
Gala Apples, Loose (kg) $3.49 $5.23
Closed Cup Mushrooms, Loose (kg) $4.34 $11.22
Brown Onions Class 2, Loose (kg) $1.47 $2.18
Meat
Bacon (best / kg) $8.73 $8.96
Chicken Breast $11.12 $13.20
Lamb Leg (roast) $13.53 $13.74
Pantry
750-775g CornFlakes $3.37 $5.35
Coke 2L $2.68 $3.92
Cheapest pasta (kg) $0.96 $1.20
$49.70 $64.99

You can also see the current exchange rate used to calculate the AUD value of the GBP purchase price (from XE.com). The UK is cheaper, often times significantly, in every single product compared.

To be fair, the AUD is at the strongest it has ever been. It has doubled in value compared to the UK over the past 10 years and if we were to use an exchange rate of 3.0 dollars to the pound, then we would have all but one of the above products cheaper in Australia (mushrooms are way over priced in Aus!). So to give the benfit of the doubt, and assume that our grocery prices are simply on a delay with respect to our dollars value, lets compare the prices with an assume dexchange rate of 2.5 and 2.0:

Rate 2.5 Rate 2
Item UK AUS UK AUS
Fresh Food
Gala Apples, Loose (kg) $5.80 $5.23 $4.64 $5.23
Closed Cup Mushrooms, Loose (kg) $7.21 $11.22 $5.77 $11.22
Brown Onions Class 2, Loose (kg) $2.45 $2.18 $1.96 $2.18
Meat
Bacon (best / kg) $14.50 $8.96 $11.60 $8.96
Chicken Breast $18.48 $13.20 $14.78 $13.20
Lamb Leg (roast) $22.49 $13.74 $17.99 $13.74
Pantry
750-775g CornFlakes $5.60 $5.35 $4.48 $5.35
Coke 2L $4.45 $3.92 $3.56 $3.92
Cheapest pasta (kg) $1.60 $1.20 $1.28 $1.20
$82.58 $64.99 $66.06 $64.99

2.5 is probably an acceptable average value for the AUD to GBP, and hovered around that value for quite a long time – but hasn’t really been there for the past four years or so. While 2 was seen about 2 years ago as the value surged straight past it to our current 1.5 position. When you accept the value of 2, then we get costs more in line with what you would expect – Meat and grain products are still cheaper in Aus, but other things are cheaper in the UK.

OK, I have managed to do, what I so often do when trying to research ideas – managed to investigate far enough to disprove my own position. Yay.

Let me explain. My thoughts were that Australia was ripping us all off, charging way too much for every day products etc, when they should be much cheaper – and simply comparing the prices in the UK vs the AUS prices ‘clearly shows that’ – BUT, when you take the time to consider that the AUD has only been at 1.50 very recently, and only for the last couple of years, you cannot expect all of our grocery prices to be set so as to reflect this strength! It takes time for the benefits of a strong currency to somehow filter through to the farmers, the transporters and the other involved businesses so that they can lower their prices (or perhaps more accurately, so that the rest of the worlds prices can catch up with our new value).

Basically, what I am really noticing is that “The AUD is strong at the moment – now is a good time to take advantage of that”. No shit huh? If the dollar was to retrace back to an exchange of 2.0, then suddenly my whole perspective of “Australia is expensive” would be completely unsupportable – yet the prices would probably be the same.

Let this be an important lesson to me to remember that the rapid fluctuations of international currency markets can not be used to immediately label the regular prices of daily living “Expensive” and “Cheap”.

I wonder if the recent study which found Sydney to be the 6th most expensive city in the world made the same mistake I did?

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Web Social Phenomenons

I have just been getting myself aquianted with a couple of recent web phenomenons. Fiverr isn’t exactly new, but it is still a very current trend which I definitely think deserve classifying within the realm of ‘most recent’ internet trends. In case you don’t know what Fiverr.com is, it is all about ‘what would you do for a fiver?’ Basically, it is a giant list of ‘services’ of sorts being offered for the price of $5. And of course, you can request services for $5 too, if you can’t find exactly what you are looking for.

I think I like this website and trend. Superficially it seems to offer a LOT of really useful services for very cheap. And if you can use any of those services, then they are all bargains. I have taken a few deals out already, but am still waiting for delivery of them all, so I will have to report in again on what I thought of those services. I hope to continue exploring and finding really good services through fiverr for a while to come.

The second phenomenon I have found, thanks to Fiverr, is called Twiends. Now this one I am far less sure about. In fact, I am pretty sure it highlights exactly my biggest complaint and annoyance with the overall social phenomenon scene created by Facebook and Twitter et al. That you end up with giant crowds of people – who don’t really care…

I guess I will have to explain this – How Twiends works, is basically you follow people on twitter, or like pages on facebook and in return you get ‘seeds’. These seeds then allow you to ‘pay’ other people to follow your twitter account and like your facebook page. Pretty simple, apparently completely within T&C of both organisations (since they aren’t actually being ‘bought’ or ‘sold’) but completely pointless too…? I mean, what is the point of getting people to follow you who are only following you so they can get more people to follow them… Surely the people who have blindly followed you have blindly followed many other people too? So how are your tweets and updates even going to get through the noise of all of their other follows and likes???

The analogy which comes to mind is of these social networks being like a large party, where there might be 1000 people, but everyone self-organises in to smaller social circles where they can have discussions with one another. You can’t talk to everyone, but at least the 5-10 people in your circle can hear you. But with Twiends, it feels like we are trying to turn that party in to a rave where everyone is free to talk, but it is so noisy, no one can hear anyone at all. You might accidentally hear what the raver next to you says, but it is by accident more than design.

What is the point of all of it all anyway?

 

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SydneytoHobart Website Progress

I am making some good progress with SydneyToHobart.com.au. A few days ago I came up with a decent purpose for it – basically it can solve the problem I had last year when I tried to go in to the city to watch the start of the race: I had no idea where to go! So SydneyToHobart.com.au is all about helping people to figure out where to go, when to get there and how to get there to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Simple enough, and hopefully enough people will be interested in that same problem as the Sydney to Hobart race approaches.

Monetisation is still not settled. It might just be an adsense blog, or if I can sort it out well, I will try to sort out advertising deals with local cafes and restaurants. There is also scope to affiliate with the numerous boats who offer spectating from the water for a fee.

Not a big issue at this point. First challenge is actually to get adequate information together. I’d love to be able to find a few Sydney to Hobart spectating veterans who would like to help out. But until they offer themselves up to help, I am all on my, like with all of my projects 🙁

😀

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Global News Network Syndication

I am very happy to report my first ever Flippa.com purchase. I am even happier to (tentatively) report it as a complete success. I will have to write another entry about my evolving Flippa strategy because this post is about my new website, a global news syndication network, KLTNews.com.

Not a bad domain name. The KLT doesn’t really stand for anything, it is just ‘cool’ (I guess???) but basically it makes a short, somewhat easy to remember domain name for a simple automated news syndication blog. And it actually looks really good. I sort of broke all of my own basic rules when purchasing this one, but it was really very cheap, and so the risk didn’t seem to be very big.

My job now will be to develop it a little bit further, bring in some more traffic and help improve its overall penetration in to the news market. With a design as well made and intuitive as it has, there is good scope for return traffic and visitor retention.

Wish me good luck with my new website!

 

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Kalang Falls and Dalpura Canyon Updated

Been doing a bit of canyoning lately, and so I have updated the guide article entries on Dalpura Canyon and Kalang Falls. I have also added entries for Boyd River Camping Area and Kanangra Boyd National Park.

In other news, I am still a bit stuck with Immortal Outdoors. Working on it still though. I will make this site, and it will be worth the wait.

I have also been doing a lot of work on Sports Arbitrage Guide lately. I have added a forum finally, and am just letting it grow of its own accord. You can see the forum here: Sports Arbitrage Guide Forum

I am also working on the website schematic plan for the Helping People website. I was able to find someone who offered to build it with me, so we might as well throw it up and see what happens.

All in all, lots of stuff happening.

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Lake Kinkony, Madagascar added to my Outdoors Guide

And continuing on from the last post, I have continued to add guidebook articles from my Madagascar trip to TDMSKP. I have just added a rather large article for Lake Kinkony, the second largest lake in Madagascar found to the west of Mahajanga in northwestern Madagascar. If you are into bird watching, then you absolutely want to visit Lake Kinkony one day – that is of course, assuming that you have a stomach for that sort of travelling 🙂

I also added an article for the Grotte d’Anjohibe the other day too, but I was unable to visit these caves myself, so the information provided on TDMSKP is necessarily quite scant. Oh, and of course I created an entry for Riverwood Downs because I was camping there over the long weekend – I hope to get many more articles created for activities in the Barrington region because I think the area is quite spectacular.

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On Track

Just a quick post to say that everything is on track and doing really well lately. I am actively working on a major development for Sports Arbitrage Guide which I really hope to have in place in the next month. Following that I will be working intently on the new embodiment of TDMSKP.com which will be huge too. So I am very busy at the moment, and hope to be making more posts in the near future as I have some actual results and announcements to make (rather than filler posts).

Watch this space! 😉

Shane

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