Friday, 30 March 2012

Thank You and Good Bye

It's time to draw the curtain on this blog. I simply don't have time to write for leisure anymore. With Wenty starting her wall sticker business and me starting a new job in less than three weeks and us wanting to spend lots of quality time with Rafa, time is becoming more and more precious.

Oh I just handed my resignation letter to my boss last week. After the last interview that didn't work out (that job required lots of traveling), I thought I would stay put for a while. May be at least until I become eligible for my long service leave as I only have less than 2 years to serve to get that.

However, a good opportunity came up and I was in between major projects at my current work and got stuck doing rather uninteresting work and not learning anything. Rather than continue doing something I don't enjoy for a few more months and waiting for the next major project to come along and hoping that I will score a significant role in that project, I took things in my own hand and grabbed this new opportunity with both hands.

The chance to work with a group of technically smart people working on cutting edge cloud and web based technologies are simply too good for me to pass up. I'll be busy keeping myself and my hands on technical skills up to date in my spare time. It's gonna be a very exciting year ahead for both myself and Wenty.

It'll be a bit sad saying good byes to my current workmates. I've spent over 5 years there and you don't spend 5 years at a place without developing some bonds. But hey life has to go forward and nobody expects to stay with the same employer forever these days.

Same with this blog, it's time to move on. I will keep it online as some old posts may be informational and useful to some people but I'll set some of the more personal posts to draft mode when time permits as I have shared way too much information in the past. Wenty's website comes with a blog so we will be posting there once in a blue moon if we have something interesting about her business journey to write about.

Good bye and thanks for reading my ramblings.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Introducing www.wentywallsticker.com.au

After months of hard work, Wenty has finally launched her fabric wall sticker business today. It's just the online presence for now. The website is available at http://www.wentywallsticker.com.au/ if anyone is looking for some high quality fabric wall stickers for their home.

Initially it's just the web presence for now. I am sure she'll be busy approaching the relevant stores to sell/stock her range and selling directly to customers in weekends craft or babies/kids markets very soon. It's a big milestone though just to get to this stage as it means she has figured out the correct calibration for her equipments and materials and produced the actual end products for each one of her initial set of designs (20+ of them) to our satisfaction.

That's her website homepage.

A few of the products on her catalog.

It's good to see Wenty put her background in interior design, her passion in quality kids' products and her vintage taste into good use.

I can claim some credits too as I have laboured alongside her creating her e-commerce website and providing moral and technical support when she has issues with the printing and cutting equipments.

Rather than code her site from scratch and reinvent the wheel, I went the open source way. We ended up using NopCommerce, an ASP.Net (4.0 with MVC 3.0 and SQL Server back end) based open source shopping cart software. It seems to be the best out of the Microsoft based solution and I prefer MS platform as it's the one I am most familiar with so I can support and customise it easily if required and I must say I am impressed with its depth of functionality and its ease of customisation. Integrating with paypal was a breeze too. It's definitely worth considering for anyone looking for an open source shopping cart out there.

Rafa can claim some credits too for posing along with the stickers for some product photo shoots and behaving himself well while mommy was busy working on her products.

He also 'assisted' Wenty in sticking and peeling the stickers on our walls for photos taking. Yeah design aside, the fact that a little boy like Rafa can peel and stick it on the wall multiple times without damaging the walls and the stickers is one of Wenty's selling points. The stickers are made of a re-positionable fabric material that doesn't leave residue/damage on your walls and is very resistant to rip and wrinkle.

We also set up a Facebook page for it at http://www.facebook.com/WeNTyWallStickers. The Facebook page is still rather bare at the moment and we'll add more to it in the next week or so. However, if you find her product range to your liking, please do like the Facebook page to give her new small business some visibility among your friends. Thanks.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

That's Not Something You See Everyday

We were working late in the office on Tuesday night when one of my workmates pointed out that there were people in parachute jumping off the Rialto tower across our office. It provided a nice little distraction for us and it's definitely not something we see everyday.

Photo copied from The Age website.

We only found out the next day that they were adventure seeking base jumpers doing unauthorised jump off the 55th floor of Rialto. Well, that's one way to skip the bills at Vue De Monde.

Just a short entry and this blog is getting very neglected recently. We haven't done any interesting or new things lately to write about anyway. Just the usual work, and getting Wenty's products ready, and ocassional catch ups with friends and family, and keeping the little boy happy.

Getting Wenty's products ready is taking a lot of time and efforts. We hit an issue with the cutter but the guy who sold Wenty the machine came over and solved it for her. That's the benefit of buying through local reseller, we've got local support. I am also busy spending whatever free time I have left upgrading my programming skills.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

When Did Melbourne Computer Swapmeets Become Pirate Markets?

We needed a piece of software for Wenty's new business and thought we might try to save some money by buying 2nd hand older (but genuine) versions. We thought we would try our luck at the computer swapmeet markets so we went to one in Collingwood recently.

I haven't been to one of these for many many years and boy I was surprised at how much things have changed. Almost half the vendors there were Asians and Indians selling pirated discs of software, games and movies openly. It felt more like a Malaysian pasar malam (night market in Malaysia where pirated discs are commonplace).

As this was for business use, we wanted to do it properly so pirated copy was not an option for us and we left empty handed. We ended up getting a brand new copy directly from the vendor's website. We got my brother in law to purchase it for us from Singapore though as it was $200 cheaper that way.

Their Singaporean site had it at S$900, their Australian site had it at A$900. Perhaps someone should tell the vendor A$1.00 is now worth about $S1.30 and they should adjust their local prices to reflect that. But then again, the US price was only around US$500 (and A$ is still slightly above parity now). Too bad we don't have a close family member in US to buy for us to save us another $200. But hey even paying $700 is better than paying $900 right?

Yeah it's very typical of these big US software vendors to price gouge their overseas consumers, and Australian customers tend to get screwed more than others in the region because the vendors know they can get away with it.

Anyway, enough rant about computer swap meet and price gauging in different countries. We got quite a bit more done for the business in my one month leave from work, especially after we came back from NZ. Wenty has finalised the initial set of designs that she plans to launch with, researched and purchased the necessary equipments to produce the end products, and researched about shipping options and costs. I did the E-Commerce site and looked after Rafa while she was busy. She just needs to modify her drawings to suit the equipments and calibrate the equipments and materials, and do a few trial productions.

Hopefully it can be officially launched in the next few weeks. Oh and for those who don't know, she is designing and making (with equipments from our own home in Melbourne) removable wall stickers/decals to decorate kids room. If you are interested in this kind of decoration product, watch this space over the next few weeks.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Our NZ Trip: Conclusion

A few photos from Napier, the so called 'art deco capital' of NZ.




We got a nice ocean view from our hotel room during our stay in Ahuriri, Napier. I can highly recommend Crowne Hotel and the general area of Ahuriri as a preferable place to stay as compared to the Napier CBD itself.

This area must produce a lot of manuka honey, even the soaps and shampoos are made out of it.

Oh and of course, a waterfront playground near the hotel for Rafa to stretch his legs a bit.

And then the long drive (over 5 hours including breaks and what not) to reach Wellington, the real capital.

We stayed a couple of nights at Ibis in Wellington. It's very good value for money. We actually paid less than A$50 per night for it (thanks to the previously mentioned Accor sale).

Budget hotel. Clean, modern enough, and conveniently located. Very happy for the price we paid. You know it's a budget hotel when you called for room service and you had to go down and pick it up yourself and it came in a catering (rantangan) container like this.

We returned the rental car at Wellington after we checked into the hotel so we had to rely on the most primitive transport (our feet) and were restricted to the Wellington CBD area in our last couple of days. Wellington CBD was quite small, so it's quite easy to do. Oh and we were glad to find out they had free wifi in the CBD.






A few more photos around Wellington. Wenty got Rafa a puppy soft toy during one of the pit stop on the way to Wellington and the little boy grew very fond of it. Rafa liked to carry the little doggie around and showed it around Wellington too.




We also spent a bit of time in the Te Papa Museum of NZ. It's a huge museum (6 storeys with many exhibitions and many different kid activity areas), and best of all, it's free. I could only wish Melbourne had a museum like this one.




Not much happened on our final day as it rained a lot so we just ate and shopped a bit in the city and caught the cab to the airport. That was our week in NZ. The trip made me want to visit the south island even more as it's supposed to be even more beautiful than the north.

We found that it's a lot easier to travel with Rafa now. The difference in traveling with a 2 1/2 years old and a 14 months old is huge. He ate, played, and slept well, unlike our last trip to Asia. Perhaps the similarities between Australia and NZ (in term of food and environment) helped a lot too.

The shorter flights helped too. We even got to finish a few movies during the flights despite the flights being only 3-4 hours each way.