The Elephant and The Mouse

pantone The Pantone Matching System is a wonderful idea.  Imagine being able to say “I want that exact shade of red on my poster.”  And actually get it.

That, in a nutshell, is what the Pantone Matching System is about.  It’s a system of describing colors, so the color you ask for on your commercially printed page, is what you get.  That makes it very popular with the print industry.

elephant-mouse The Pantone Matching System was first created in 1963, and Pantone have jealously guarded their intellectual property rights ever since.  They particularly dislike attempts to create conversion charts.  Not that I blame them, color charts are a big part of their business.

Now the picture of the Elephant and the Mouse is from a site which did offer a PMS <->RGB lookup.  Pantone told them to stop.

And they did.

(Much to his regret, Dale has neither printer’s ink or graphic designers flair, coursing though his veins.  He is very grateful to have spent time working as the IT guy for a large printing company.)

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Cheap Dell computers.

Dell logo When non-IT people ask me what they should buy, I say Dell.  They are hassle free and reliable.  My last personal Dell computer lasted me 5 years.

They are not the cheapest computers you can buy.  You can buy “no name” “white box” PCs.  But “white box” PCs are often they are made of unreliable/short-life components.

But wait! There is a way to get cheap Dell computers, often with a full warranty.  And you can do this by visiting the “Dell Outlet” sites.  Where they offer Refurbished (aka “Scratch & Dent” ) or Pre-configured systems.

The Dell Outlet websites can be found here:
Australia – Dell Outlet
USA – Dell Outlet
United Kingdom – Dell Outlet

“White box?” – generic PCs built by computer shops.  As it a competitive market, computer shops compete on price, often at the expense of reliability.

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Cafe Entity – cheapish and cheerful

Cafe Entity, North Fitzroy I hate shopping and loath factory outlets, can’t stand crowds.

“Do you want to go with me to the factory outlets in Fitzroy?”

A No, would see me in the doghouse.

‘Of course dear’

So we visited True-Blue Shoes in Fitzroy, and Gloweave in Smith St. Fitzroy.  Glo-weave was disappointing, no french-cuffs on offer.

‘Let’s repair to the cafe’, say I.

Cafe Entity do a roaring trade, as they are cheap and cheerful.  A cheese and spinach pida* was $7, and an ICE-COLD ice coffee, $5.50.  The ice-coffee was so good, I had two!

* a pastry, also known as a Spanish Crescent.

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“I don’t care about PLATFORMS, Dammit!”

My current business card is far too busy:
Exit Stage Left Business Card




The replacement: : How to tell when your techie's been smoking crack ... I don't care about PLATFORMS, Dammit!  I care about THE USER!! Business card back

“Platforms don’t mean crap.  It’s all about getting the customer working again, and they shouldn’t be thinking about IT at all.”

Other images which didn’t make the cut (I was tempted): : ... businesses are run by people who hire and fire I.T. departments. 
“A fact often forgotten by people who work in IT.” : ... permanent state of re-invention
“Often introduced by bungy bosses …” : The problem with being in tech marketing: Ok, everybody who wants to talk about Tech RAISE THEIR HAND!!  Note, not original the artwork 
“Outside of work, I don’t want to talk about tech either.”

The back?  I was going to run with this quote, but decided not:
I expect to pass through this world but once;
any good thing therefore that I can do, or
any kindness that I can show to any fellow-creature,
let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it,
for I shall not pass this way again.

All the artwork here, apart from the first card, is by artiste extraordinaire Hugh Macleod, over at  You can buy his own designed business cards right here: Street Cards – Gapingvoid (bit expensive if you’re not in the UK).

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Free Software and Online Services from Microsoft.

If you are looking for Free Software and Online Services then this resource guide should help point you in the right direction.   …  You should refer to the appropriate licensing agreement, terms of use or contact Microsoft if you require further information or clarification.

As seen over here.

It’s amazing how much free stuff Microsoft has to offer.

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Two gadgets from Jaycar.

productLarge_10996 USB Activated 6 Way Powerboard

At last we can offer an ideal solution for turning on all your computer’s powered accessories at the same time as your computer turns on. This powerboard connects to your computer’s USB port and once your computer powers on, it applies the mains power to the 6 way powerboard without you needing to flick a switch. Perfect for powered speakers, powered USB hubs, scanners, and powered docking stations.

In-Desk 4 Port USB 2.0 Hub

This unique USB hub is built into a 3″ desk grommet and provides an elegant solution for your desk top expansion. The hub has 4 x USB 2.0 ports and supports data transfer rates up to 480Mbps while the grommet section allows easy access to cable under your workstation.

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TechNet Plus is GOOD value for money.

Update 31 August 2013:
Well it WAS a good thing while it lasted.  Microsoft closed the service today.  The below post is left for historical reasons.


Particularly if you’re in the IT industry.  And the main reason I like it:

Full-version software for evaluation – without time limits – including Microsoft operating systems, servers, and Office System software.

Now when I was working for a large IT company, I got that benefit for free, via our corporate Technet / MSDN / Enterprise licensing agreement.  But now I’m not, I had to find another way.

And that other way is: TechNet Plus.  One of the great “secret” deals from Microsoft.

Worth every cent, as Kevin Remde explains.
(if you visit via Kevin’s site, as a new subscriber you can get a 15% discount until June 2009)

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Two good companies I’ve dealt with recently

Imprint Rubber Stamps
Based in Wollongong, they sell a complete range of Regular Rubber Stamps, Self Inking Rubber Stamps, Pre-Inked Rubber Stamps and Craft Stamps plus a full range of rubber stamping accessories.  They do web based ordering, and their service is prompt and cheap.
Since I’ve told people I’m leaving my current employer, people have been asking for my contact 112002935523-1427details.  Best way I can do that is give them a business card.  It’s the one pictured here.  Total cost for 250 cards, $67.45, including postage.  $67.45 for printing front and back, 310gsm card stock with a varnish finish.  The equivalent card ordered from OfficeWorks?  $119.  Very happy.

A set of Dbase III commands which sets message output to screen, and allows you to turn off the "Do you really want to do this" messages.  Bit geeky.  Normally followed by the phrase, "And away we goooo!"