When Planning and Serendipidy Collide

My friend Melina Chan is leaving for a second time to Battambang, Cambodia. On Mel’s last posting I was privileged to work with Mel, Steve Hopkins and Pat Allan in March 2009.

It all happened through a combination of planning and serendipity.

As a team we overlapped dates and contributed equally in different ways. I was the last to leave and captured a fair bit of footage as well did Steve. This video is a mini documentary is an ode to the idea of friends coming together in a foreign country to give in a different way than just spending on the tourism industry but primarily as a gift to Mel as she prepares for her second journey.

When Planning and Serendipidy Collide from Cameron McGrane on Vimeo.

Use these firefox shortcuts and save 1 year of your life

While undertaking firefox intensive activities, my friend Mel was surprised how many shortcuts I was using and so was I.
Last year I was teaching excel and at that moment realised the shortcut virus had gone airborne and moved to firefox. Luckily, it was not the H1N1 strain and I am finding my new found ability variant handy.

In fact, so handy, I created a quick video on the shortcuts and how I use them to speed up following people for my twitter service FestivalAlert.

CTRL + t = New Tab

CTRL + click on link = New Tab

CTRL 1 + 9 = Select Corresponding Tab

CTRL + PGUP = Move to the Next Tab

CTRL + PGDN = Move to the Previous Tab

CTRL + W = Close Active Tab

CTRL + L = Go to Address Bar GOLD

CTRL + K = Go to Google Search

name="allowFullScreen" value="true">

What do you think? What shortcut do you now “own” when using firefox?


Thanks @Nathan_scott for the OS X equivalent

So you want to Freelance in Thailand?

Sunset Status Update on a Beach in Thailand from Cameron McGrane on Vimeo.

With the current economic downturn, Thailand’s political instability and shoulder season approaching the price is right to freelance for a couple of months in Thailand.

Here my tips time to freelancing and playing in Thailand

  1. Chime in on the Timing
  2. The shoulder season is May-June when cheap flights and accommodation are available but expect frequent storms. I found December to February perfect. The weather was mild, no rain and cost of living bearable.

    Note: Though I encourage Thailand, use this travel danger resource page to make up your own mind

  3. Buy a Cooling Pad
  4. Thailand can get real hot. Do what the locals do and buy a cooling pad for your laptop. It will keep out critters, reduce memory crashes and protect your groin from 3rd degree burns.

  5. Don’t give your Passport to Anyone
  6. Especially moto rental places. If they absolutely will not take a credit card, cash deposit or license instead of a passport go some where else.

  7. Play in commercial playgrounds in moderation
  8. I was in Phuket so Patong was the commercial epicenter . Sure, have a sniff now and then, meet friends, have a shop. But don’t make a habit of it. There is no faster way to burn through cash then bars and you will only feel dirty, ugly and likely smell of arse.

  9. Participate in Couchsurfing
  10. Couchsurfing is an excellent way of getting to know people in any country expect North Korea.

  11. Frequent ThaiVisa.com
  12. If staying longer than 30 days you will need to undertake a visa run.
    Thai Visa is “the watering hole” for ex-pats with a rich source of information ranging from visa’s to local gossip

  13. Buy Water in Bulk
  14. Staying longer than a week? Nip the daily pilgrimage to 7 eleven to buy water and get it bulk. It is 900% cheaper and saves time too.

  15. Challenge Yourself Physically
  16. Being fit and strong in a developing country\ new world dramatically reduces the risks of stress, sickness and accident. It provides balance to the mental exercise completed on a daily basis as a freelancer. With a diet low in gluten and dairy and high in protein, time in Thailand is conducive to getting bloody fit.
    Muay Thai is the obvious choice but do something you really like or want to do and sign up for 5 days a week.

  17. Don’t Date Bar Girls or Prostitutes
  18. If you want company then use the assets that got you abroad freelancing in the first place and meet an ex-pat or a local\holidaying thai person. Dating Thai’s is a high stakes game financially and emotionally. Here are a few rules to chew on.

    • Tell them what is going to happen and stick to it
    • Make sure they can afford to pay for meals too
    • DON’T ever buy gifts
    • Practice safe sex
    • Watch out for the boyfriend (s)

    Remember: If she is the sexiest woman you have ever been near and she is interested then she is likely a lady boy.

Above are a few of the ideas that came to mind writing this post. If you have others that are important please let me know here or on twitter @cama

Some call it a standup wank station. I call it..

innovation on the cheap!

With all the focus on internet innovators people forget about the oldest of innovators; the craftsman, tradie, mason, DIY Handyman type individuals who come up with innovations on a daily basis.

This video is dedicated to the work of my friend Nathan from Panache Installations who made a custom stand up work station out of scrap for me in an afternoon including multiple prototyping of the the stand up mechanism.

Knowing innovators outside of the tech space has its advantages when customizable tables can easily sit above the $700+ market.

So an ode to tradies across the world who though they could not hack css (and as if they would want to) are creative in so many different levels.

Poverty is like Acne – Blog Action Day 2008

Squeezing them only makes them angry
Courtesy of SlopJop

Everyone is going on about this thing call Poverty.

To be honest, I don’t even know what poverty REALLY is?

In fact, I am desensitized to most messages thrown at me about poverty.

I partially blame World Vision (and main stream media) for throwing the shock card at me.

You know?

The starving bloated fly ridden African child and a fat white bearded Santa Claus looking guy telling me I should give money so I don’t have to feel bad.

Well. It worked the first time. Then what happened? I got use to it and then instead of feeling guilty, I would go to the kitchen and make a cheese and tomato sandwich.

Luckily, World Vision has fresh blood in the form of the new media cow boys\girls at “Learn About Poverty”. Who if it was not for them I would not be typing away right now!

At his moment in time. I don’t know how to relate to poverty!!


I am a Caucasian western white bread gen x with nice parents who took care of my basic necessities and then some. I had an ordinary life in an ordinary Australian town.

I never experience poverty.

Maybe if I did the “religion” thing? I would have gone on a mission to a “New World” and built a church or school and smelt, felt and tasted “Poverty” first hand.

Then I would KNOW what POVERTY really IS.

My Dad could have been in the Army and we would travel to places of “Poverty”. I would make a friend on the other side of the fence and he would take me to the slums and I would get to see and hear “Poverty” through my eyes and ears first hand.

Then I would KNOW what POVERTY really IS.

Am I the only one desensitized to poverty?

Sure, I can get worked up on the 15th October, write a blog entry, loan more money on KIVA.

But the following day, I will be doing my own thing and it won’t be related to reducing poverty.

What if I was not atheist? I could break out of this ensuing numbness by having GOD tell me it was my mission to complete these steps after the 15th October.

It seems to work because World Vision is faith based and am fairly confident blog action day is faith driven based on the last video in the link above. And look at the awareness they are creating!

But unfortunately, I am atheist with a bit of Hari Krishna and Buddhist and some home cooked spirituality. All of which do nothing to embed a sub conscious agenda to convert less fortunate people to my belief system. In other words I don’t have a compelling reason to go out and help.

If I did maybe I would KNOW what POVERTY is?

I know! Could poverty be like ACNE?

Once you get it, it is nearly impossible to shake for years.

You can pretend not to have it but when you look in the mirror it is hard to ignore.

You can conceal it using make up but that makes it even worse.

You can try and fix it by using pimple cream which works in the short term but comes back with vengeance when you stop.

Ultimately, when you have acne you have NO CHOICE. You either have it or you don’t.

So I guess it is the same for POVERTY. When you are experiencing it.

You have NO CHOICE, NO CHOICE on anything to do with your future. You probably have less choice then options to reduce your ACNE.

O.K I now have an idea of what is poverty.

Next question. If I am desensitized towards pro-active advertisements and churchies, I mean anti-poverty advertisements. What am actually sensitive towards?

I guess, I am sensitive to the flesh, the personality, the life energy of people, the understanding, the interaction, the play.
Thinks like the smile you give another when something unspoken happens that you simultaneously find amusing.
The moments of shared understanding between you and a stranger that instantly makes you realize we are human and one of the the same.
The times sitting around listening to the stories of people with diverse backgrounds to you and being able to relate it your own life experience.

These types of experiences motivate me to make life better for others. And if I can help directly, in person, with two hands even better.

Wow! Now I have an idea of what is poverty and what I am actually sensitive too.

I can build into my life situations that give me a fighting chance to contribute to equality and giving people the choice they deserve and we take for granted.

What will this involve? It will definitely involve travel and when in Australia, going out into the community with people outside of my comfort zone. Where I will do things that sensitize me like meeting people experiencing difficulty in person, story telling, enjoying a game and having a laugh with my best attempt to be void of judgement and righteousness..

Linking Friends Flow Chart Using Facebook Connect

Facebook Connect Friend Linking Flow

Facebook Connect is the next evolution of Facebook Platform – enabling you to integrate the power of Facebook Platform into your own site.

Facebook Connect is a cool opportunity mainly because I have social networking enabling modules that Dotnetnuke (Open source .net framework) site owners can install, Facebook Connect is an excellent opportunity to re-shape the existing versions.

I am sold, but before we start coding the new version I had to get my head around the new platform extension. What I found I have been trawling through the Facebook Developer Wiki and Forum to understand “Facebook Connect” to design requirements to integrate facebook with my existing application.

The documentation is good but as I am more of a visual thinker, I felt converting the documentation into flow\decision charts would add extra depth and flesh out any assumptions

Above is my first effort for friend linking using Smartdraw a kick ass product that leaves Visio weeping in a heap.

I plan to enhance the above, and create a few more including:

  • pseudo-code\flow chart for the Connect.RegisterUsers
  • sharing information and actions on your site with their friends on Facebook
  • single login that is being thrown around Facebook employees on the forums

Lessons from Porn Stars on Personal Branding

Disclaimer: Links could lead to x rated content.

I believe the porn industry was the first to really understand and implement the ideas of the 1997 Fast Company article by Tom Peters on personal branding.

Below are porn industry contributions to the evolution of BRAND YOU

1. Identify what you are great at and stick to it!

Do a couple of things great than many things mediocre. e.g. Porn stars who love certain acts, stick with these acts because otherwise they risk losing their core audience loyalty.
Where are your strengths? What is your favorite position?

2. Build a small team, learn, do, learn some more

Porn stars are cutting out the middle men and doing there own thang with their boyfriend as the agent\director and the nerd down the street as the web master.
What can you learn today then do yourself? What does your partner bring to the table?

3. Produce content that sucks.
Sucks them in off course and has them coming back for more with new “variety” on point No 1..

4. Treat your audience as if they are the only person in the room.
Branding was a corporate creation to mass communicate differing value. Some where along the line it stopped being personable. As a personal brand you have a competitive advantage over any corporation. To be personable. How do porn stars scale up to the corporate level while maintaining personal-ability?

Do the camera not the person you are actually doing.

4. If it feels uncomfortable do it.
Every porn star had to overcome inhibitions to perform, social taboos and in-denial parents. If it is a bit riske, out there, or damn right impossible (See DVDA) and you love it. Then maybe it is worth doing?

And most importantly…..


All successful porn stars have memorable, easy to spell, low syllable, short, first and last name.
No one wants to twitter a @difficultname to spell and using nick names is a faux par.
Some people are lucky others not.

If you are one of the lata?

Do what I am about to do.

Use the “What is your Porn Star Name” facebook app and go straight to your local births and marriages office and change your name to it by de-poll.

We can keep looking to the porn industry for insights but I would prefer for you to learn from rock stars not porn stars so take the next step in personal branding and check out
Chris Brogan’s free personal branding book that even the porn industry can learn a thing or two from.

Get the keys to your wireless internet locations

CC – http://www.flickr.com/photos/blipmusic/421490954/

Sometimes you are connected to a WIFI point and don’t know the WEP key you used to connect.
After you do a search on Google you will likely be offered software that costs $49.95 to retrieve keys

The windows application below has been separated from the big bundle of security apps at http://www.aircrack-ng.org to help you instantly retrieve all the WEP keys your computer has used to connect to wireless access points.

Grab the Download

Or for the official suite of tools on AirCrack including wzcook

Be Aware Of The Book

Creative Commons – http://www.flickr.com/photos/florian_b/44227093/

Cash going into your business\muse\micro-enterprise and NOT the library? Here are free books to keep you inspired and skilled up.

  1. http://thepiratesdilemma.com/download-the-book/
    Here are four books go start your own X, Y and Z
  2. http://free-culture.cc/freeculture.pdf
    Question your deep seeded beliefs on copyright. Now go innovate.
  3. http://www.storycenter.org/cookbook.pdf
    Our society is constructed on stories. Time to tell yours.
  4. http://s3.amazonaws.com/bzzagent/The_Word_of_Mouth_Manual_Volume_II.pdf
    It may infuriate but you should be across it.

    Free to some degree book resources

    Huge resource of expired copyright material

    One web page for every book ever published.

    Chock full of advertising but plenty of material

    Thanks to Dan, Fred, Dennis and Chris Brogan for contributing one way or another to these resources.

Reverse Cold Calling – How I get business asking to stock my product

Yesterday, I received this message from a retailer asking to stock a product I sell purely online.

Did it make sense? Probably not.

Why? Because the guy had never heard of my business or the products I sell but strangely enough customers kept coming in hassling him for my product.

What did this business owner do on encountering this unusual situation?

Cold called the person who had what the customers were asking for!

Ok. How can you do what I did?

  1. Identify a “Bricks & Mortar” retailer that your online customers would visit
  2. List the retailer (with out telling them) on your website as an exclusive dealer of your product
  3. Sit and wait for the retailer to contact you after customers repeatably come in asking for your product which they don’t stock.

This strategies success is heightened if these three key factors exist to some degree

  1. A great product – I have a niche product, with a robust barrier to entry, that repeatably sells online.
  2. Time sensitive – Many people want my product NOW, not 2-3 days after ordering online. Remember B&M shops still hold it over the online world when it comes to Right Now
  3. Geographic evidence – When customers want it NOW. They ask where I am? I ask them where they are? The more geographic specific requests for pickups the more likely this strategy will work. Alternatively, place a “pickup location” page with analytics to see who and where the people are from who click on it

Happy reverse cold calling. And be super nice to your new retailers because you will have to work harder then usual to build rapport for being a cheeky little bastard.