I’m a Guest Editor on Tech Talk Blogs

BronwenWeeGo.jpgFrank put out the hints yesterday about the latest group of guest editors for Tech Talk Blogs.  Today he announced that 3 ladies will be the latest guest editors and I’m one of them.

Our topic is Tech.Ed

Tech.Ed 2007

Should be heaps of content..but if our blog is starting to look bare..i’m probably blogging on tech talk instead.

Let me know anything you want me to talk about…always up for suggestions.

Dealing with non-paying clients

BronwenWeeGo.jpgI’ve just finished the ordeal of dealing with a non-paying client.  So what can you do about it?  Really there’s not a lot. 

  1. Call, email, send letters asking for payment or explaination.  This only seems to do any good if they’ve forgotten about paying or they care about paying.
  2. Office of Fair Trading  – don’t care unless you are a PAYG employee who has effectively had “wages witheld”.  So if you’re a company contractor, you’re on your own.
  3. ASIC – don’t care unless the client has been doing something illegal, like insolvent trading…and even then, only send a “reminder of your legal obligations letter”
  4. Engage a debt collector – The generally take about an 11% cut of whatever they get out of them.  Pretty much, they just send letters, and ring the client a lot.  The extra advantage, is they can list the client as a defaulter…but this is only for debts over 90 days old.  This can be effective if the client cares about being listed as a defaulter.  It also means that the client can make threats and yell at the debt collector rather than you 🙂
  5. Go to court.  If the debt is under $7,500 you can go to small claims court, which doesn’t involve lawyers etc.  If the debt is over that amount, which in my case it was, you can take it to magistrates court..which costs lots more money.  If you win..which you hopefully would, the other party has to pay your court costs..but not for your time for preparation or being there 🙁

In my case, I did step one over and over until my letters and emails were being ignored. Step 2 and 3 are no use to me.  Step 4 – this at least got a reaction.  After many unanswered emails, using a debt collector at least got me an email telling me to back off or my invoices would never be paid.  When i was just about to start step 5, and  organise a summons, the money magically appeared.

So 4 months later, I’ve finally been paid…yay.  Lucky i always stash a bit of money so didn’t starve to death when i had close to 12 weeks of invoices not paid.

So what did I learn from the experience?

1. Trust my instincts – earlier I had a bad feeling money would become and issue.  I really should have stopped working at that point and demanded payment before continuing.  After finishing up a contract, you don’t have any leverage to ask for money.

2. Start your own – “Never do work with again” list.  Pity it’s probably not a good idea to publish this list. I think that a lot of ppl would think twice about burning contractors if there was somewhere ppl could publish it…like ebay feedback 🙂

So anyone else got any horror stories?  Any advice on how to deal with non-payers?

Back from Remix

BronwenWeeGo.jpgWell we made it home.  We’re back from the first Remix Australia.  It was good to catch up with some people and to meet people we talk to or subscribe to their blogs for real.

We flew in on Sat morning and went out to Port Campbell to take some pics of the 12 Apostles.  Bad weather for sunset 🙁 So up we got for sunrise the next morning.  Hadn’t really put much thought into the trip before we went…didn’t think about the fact that the sun doesn’t rise very high very fast in winter that far south..doh!

Then we had some fun with Tom Tom getting our car back to Franklin Street (in the city) .. we ended up out in some suburbia Franklin Street ..doh!

Then next day it was off to Remix….Found it a bit of an overdressed crowd…lots of people in business /  dressy shirts…must be a melbourne thing.

Congrats to Niall for his placing at Web Jam for his Media Centre Big Screen Photos 2.  If you haven’t seen it..it’s a great app to view all your flickr pics on media centre.  Hopefully he’ll do one that integrates with SmugMug.  I’ll have to send them an email to help the cause as I am a big smug mug user and fan.

The 4…uh 4-15 min shower timer

BronwenWeeGo.jpgLike the rest of Brisbane (maybe even Queensland) we were issued with our 4 minute shower timer in an effort to get all households to use a maximum of 140L of water per person a day.

timer 003_small.jpg

This is all well and good…except it’s not the best “egg timer” in the world.  Not sure what they’ve done with the design, but I’ve seen it “clog up” on 3 separate occasions now..and you have to give it a little tap to restart.  This of course means your 4 min shower can easily become 15 as it’s hard to see the grains of sand falling in a steamy shower room..let alone notice that it’s blocked up.

So did I get a faulty one or are they all llike this?

New Article – Clustering Virtual Earth on Version 5

johnWeeGo.jpgWe published today the third installment in the clustering articles for Virtual Earth. This time we focus on the client side, updating our javascript to support the latest Version 5 of Virtual Earth.

Clustering Virtual Earth on Version 5

We also have moved to object oriented Javascript and show how to use shape differiential to further optomise your swillions of points added to Virtual Earth.

Let me know what you think and if you find it usefull, I do enjoy the emails from people letting me know!

We’re presenting at Tech Ed! What do you want us to cover?

BronwenWeeGo.jpgjohnWeeGo.jpg It’s just been confirmed today that we’re presenting at Tech Ed at the Gold Coast.

Here’s our brief of what we are intending to do:

Mastering Virtual Earth

John O’Brien MVP

Bronwen Zande


Want to add interactive maps to your applications or just learn more about this exciting technology? Explore the latest features of the Virtual Earth and how to extend the control to suit your requirements. Take your applications to the next level with information on how to customise all aspects of the user experience. Learn how others are successfully exposing vast sets of data over the web utilises AJAX and web services.  See how Virtual Earth can be integrated with other live services.

This session will include live demonstrations, code snippets and example sites.


We’re looking for feedback on what you’d like to see in an awesome Virtual Earth session.  So leave comments here on your ideas

1 year ago…..

BronwenWeeGo.jpg1 year ago today I left the safety and security of full time, working for someone else employment, and joined John working for Soul Solutions.

I have really enjoyed it so far.  Even though you essentially work for someone else (on contract or to deliver a project).  It is cool to build up your own company identity and not have to worry about gettig approval for every little thing you want to do, or say on the website etc.  I definatly feel more in control of what I’m doing and where i concentrate my effort.  Plus you’re your own “boss” so you get rid of the whole performance management, bonus, pay, direction issues.

A lot has happened in the last year… 

  • We revamped the website and started blogging and putting up articles here which has seen a steady flow of readers etc. 
  • I could decide to go to Tech Ed without begging and pleading and then being refused cause after all my persuasion they thought it was a good idea but sent someone else.
  • John was awarded an MVP
  • We did a user group presentation on Virtual Earth
  • We’re working with clients from many different countries

And of course it hasn’t been without it’s challenges…

  • I’ve had to learn how to use MYOB (evil beast that it is)
  • Learning to deal with recruiters and selection criteria when looking for contract work
  •  Learning to deal with not having a set amount of money flowing into your bank account every day.
  • And of course dealing with clients that don’t pay their bills.  This is by far the WORST part of having your own company and a very time consuming and frustrating process if you actually want to recover money.

The next year is looking exciting…

  • Going to Remix end of the month
  • Hopfully visit some clients in July
  • Off to TechEd in August
  • Some interesting projects and ventures on the horizon.

How big is a box of 500 Lego Stress toys?

BronwenWeeGo.jpgToday I received my 500 lego stress toys.  Lots of people asked how big the box was going to be and how were they going to be packed. 

Boxes – well they are a lot smaller than you first expect (unless you’ve done the maths).

Packing – well they’re all individually wrapped but they slot together nicely (a good lego should).  This is where a child would be usefull..as i’m not looking forward to unwrapping 500 lego blocks.

So now to build something cool with them…any suggestions?

Here’s some pics of them in the box..for those who wanted to see the box etc.

lego 001_small.jpg

lego 003_small.jpg

lego 002_small.jpg

Creating your first Live Messenger Activity

BronwenWeeGo.jpgI was seeing how easy it would be to create a Live Messenger Activity and turned out to be pretty simple to do your own test if you know how to find the menu.

1. Take the xml file example on the MSDN Site.

2. Save it as MSCRP2P.xml where MSN Messenger is installed.  For me this was C:\Program Files\MSN Messenger

3. Open the activity.  This was the bit that tricked me up…finding the menu option.  So find a contact, Press Alt to make the menu display, then choose Actions and then choose the activity you want to launch. 


4. Turn it into your own site…I changed the name, description and URL so it would launch www.soulsolutions.com.au instead and now i can browse my site while talking to someone in IM.


Here’s the xml that i used for anyone who’s interested:


<?xml version="1.0"?>
  <Error />
  <Name>Visit Soul Solutions</Name>
  <Description>Goto the SoulSolutions Web Site</Description>
  <IconURL />

Queensland Traffic Gadget – 15 cameras

johnWeeGo.jpgYou would not believe my surprise when after spending the whole of Sunday building my first gadget for the QLD vista competition someone had beat me to it!

Well, mine maybe the 2nd but it has some great features and worth a download:


It is build based on the Vista slideshow gadget, I have resized the undocked window to show the full resolution of the main 6 brisbane cameras. The settings allow you to stay on the default slideshow of all 15 cameras or you can set it on one (updates every minute). Clearly you need an internet connection to get this to work.

One of the great things about gadget is you can run multiple instances of them. So for example I could run 4 of this gadget with each set to a camera I’m interested in.


To undock a gadget simple click and drag it off the sidebar.

One major concern for me was how much data this gadget would download. For example if you had it running with the 6 higher resolution cameras, 1min updates 24×7 you would clock up close to 4.5GB of downloads! That would not be good. So the sidebar gadget has a neat event that fires when the gadget made visible or not. This was the perfect place to pause the gadget, if your not looking at it why download images?

Anyway this was my first crack at a gadget and the experience was enjoyable right up until I found someone else had also built one – doh! Regardless I recommend you have a go, if your in Queensland, Australia you can even win an XBOX360.


Using the Live Alerts Service

BronwenWeeGo.jpgToday I thought I’d have a play with the Windows Live Alerts service.  Thought the easiest way was to try the RSS no deployment solution.  It’s pretty damn simple to use…

1. Register you feed here

2. Post some html onto your blog page so people can sign up.


So now when people sign up they can get the new blog entries sent as a messenger alert, an email or sms to their phone.