written by john lewis

A Blunt or a Senz?

It has been quite a while, but rain has returned to London. I forgot to take my umbrella with me when I left OTHERmedia in March and it was only today, well over two months later, that I had to buy another one.

Umbrellas came up in conversation with Ari a couple of nights ago. For anyone who’s lived in Wellington, actually getting to use an umbrella is a novelty. It’s a novelty I do enjoy, sometimes.

It’s certainly an excuse to geek out over brollies. There are two umbrellas I’ve seen lately that may be up to some of Wellington’s weather.

The Blunt

Blunt Umbrellas

The first is Kiwi-company Blunt Umbrellas. These things look precision engineered compared to your average brolly. As soon as the Blunt Lite becomes available I am getting one. I don’t care how much it costs.

The Senz

Senz Umbrellas

The second is the Senz. Designed to withstand 100 km/h wind, the only problem I have with it is that you’ll look like a right bell-end carrying it about.

Posted in: Life, Wishlist

iCloud predictions

It’s now only about 24 hours before WWDC kicks off and the two major themes emerging pre-keynote are that announcements will centre on software (no hardware), and Apple’s cloud services offering; iCloud.

It’s unique Apple that have let it be known that iCloud will be presented and I wonder if it’s partially to allay the disappoint of no new iPhone.

But if I had to make a single prediction on iCloud it would be less about the actual services included and more about its value. My guess would be that it matches MobileMe – in that it’s an Apple service I’ve never found convincing enough, value-wise, to sign up for.

For £60/year you get a service that almost matches what I currently receive for free from a combination of Google and Dropbox.

24 hours and counting.

Posted in: Apple

What gives with iPhone screen brightness

I’m one of those 60% of people who sleep with their iPhone within arms reach. Usually its because of that last game of Tiny Wings I just had to play before drifting off.

In a dark bedroom I usually have the brightness set very low. I’ll notice this in the morning when I can barely see the screen in any form of background light.

No problem, I’ll just scale up the brightness a little.

Hmmm, maybe some more then.

What? More!?

Gah! My eyes!

My iPhone seems to only have two brightness settings. There is this tiny magic space in the middle of the brightness slider where it goes from too-dark to too-bright. Auto-Brightness as a setting is relatively useless as I’m constantly changing brightness regardless, multiple times a day.

What would help is if brightness was in the multi-tasking bar for the iPhone, like it is on the iPad. It could completely replace the volume selector that is two swipes to the left. I never use it considering there are actual buttons on the phone that work just as well.

Perhaps June 6th will provide answers.

Posted in: Apple, iPhone

Just curious

It has been 641 days since I last posted.

All of 2010 sailed by without a mention, while 2009 fared slightly better with 5 posts. In fact, the last 979 days have produced a total of 10 posts.

Given statistics like that, is anyone still subscribed?

Posted in: Blogging, Life

Saw war and tried to stop it

With the passing of Ted Kennedy, I think it is worth remembering what I think are three of the best delivered lines of spoken word of the 20th century. From his eulogy for Bobby Kennedy:

My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life;
to be remembered simply as a good and decent man,
who saw wrong and tried to right it,
saw suffering and tried to heal it,
saw war and tried to stop it


Posted in: Life

Introducing AcornHq

A couple of months ago I left my position at Ponoko, handing over to the highly capable Josh (aka Mr Judkins). It was quite emotional leaving Ponoko, *sniff*. We were in Argentina at the time and Sarah suggested it would be a good idea to take a couple of months off once we got to London.

“And do what exactly?” I said.

“Whatever you want!” came the rather apt reply…

I got to chew on that chestnut while we continued traveling around Argie. The two big reaffirmations for were: 1) I love the web, still… and 2) I love to create. Then I had an idea I knew I wanted to work on followed by another and another.

So here’s the first, AcornHq:


AcornHq is, in a sentence, a carbon offset site for iPod and iPhone users.

At the very core the idea was to promote more environmentally responsible gadget ownership. To start with this means we provide an easy way for people to offset the carbon associated with their iPod or iPhone.

We all love our iPods and iPhones but they do have a very real cost to the environment. Carbon is emitted when your iPod is manufactured, when your iPod is transported from the factory to you, and when you use power to recharge your iPod. How that power is generated to recharge your iPod also has a huge impact. Think hydro vs. coal…

So you come to AcornHq and join a tree by purchasing a leaf, for US$3.50. Once all the leaves on that tree have been taken, we plant a tree in the South Island to offset those iPods. Trees being most excellent at extracting and absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

You can then place your tree on your website and watch it fill up with leaves as more people join it. Also, when the trees we plant reach the end of their life, the plan is for any timber produced by the trees to go into community housing projects.

This is just the start and I’m quite excited about everything else to follow but do have a look and let me know what you think!

A big public thank you to my lovely wifey for helping me wrap my brain around this idea and asking the hard but essential questions. Thanks to Olmec Sinclair too for his hard work which has ultimately allowed me to realise this idea.

This is the first of (what I hope will be) three or four wee projects you’ll see from me in the next couple of months.

P.S. Argentina has to be one of the most insanely great countries in the world, you really should go visit. It’s a total Lovemark for me – hope to go back to live one day.

Posted in: Apple, Environment, Web, Work

Web 2.0 presso breaks the 100k mark

About two years ago, Intergen, gave me an opportunity to create a Web 2.0 focused presentation:

I presented it in Auckland, Wellington, & Christchurch as part of Intergen’s Twilight seminars as well as a Brightstar conference in Auckland. It was a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I uploaded the slides to Slideshare to create an easy way to share them around. I noticed after a few weeks it was getting a consistent amount of views – something that has continued for 2 years now having just now recorded it’s 100,000th view!

I think it’s probably the most popular piece of media I’ve personally produced. Next goal: 1,000,000!

Posted in: Presentations, Web, Work

The last flower of Latium

Title quote: Olavo Bilac

One of more fun experiences since being in Brasil has to be the language. I knew Portuguese was supposed to be similar to Spanish so expected I’d pick some stuff up quickly and at at least have the pronunciation down.

I was told pretty shortly after arriving that it can be considered offensive speaking Spanish as a gringo in Brasil and expecting to be understood (so don’t…). But the first surprising impression was that Portuguese here sounds less Iberian and whole lot Eastern European. It’s vastly different. Reading is much easier but hearing it, and having some Spanish knowledge, doesn’t really help at all.

There are some funny (for English-speaking ears) aspects to Brasilian Portuguese pronunciation. My favorite has to be words that begin in the letter ‘r’ – where it is pronounced with an ‘h’ sound. So people like my brother Richie get called “hitchie”, Ruth turns into “hooch”, the currency Real or Reais is “heyal” or “hey-eyes”, etc.

Another awesome aspect to Portuguese is that speakers can’t have a harsh consonant end to a word, which is most notable on imported English words. Something like a Big Mac from McDonalds turns into “biggie mackie de Mackie-Donallls”.

But this is my absolute favorite: Hip-hop Rap turns into “hippie hoppie happie”.

Listening to Brasil’s gangster-rap-thug-dudes singing about “happy musica” endlessly makes me smile :)

Posted in: A gringo in South America, South America, Travel

New year update

My slackness at blogging in 2008 seems to have carried over to 2009 and through our move to Brasil (where at least I thought I’d have something to blog about). So here’s my attempt to engage and enlighten… with a quick update.


Santiago was our first stop after leaving New Zealand and where I popped my South American cherry. Flying into the city looked a whole lot like Mackenzie country and the Southern Alps. Santiago itself is a very cool city with a lot of modern aspects – we felt pretty safe there. The smog is unreal though and your sinuses will struggle. Another almost annoyance is trying to work out what stuff actually costs as the currency is roughly 400 Chilean pesos to the Kiwi dollar.

Buenos Aires

Next stop was Buenos Aires, flying over the Andes was amazing. BA has probably become my favorite city outside of NZ. It is amazing, and Pablo, it must have been very tough to leave! We’re hoping we’ll get a chance to go back and stay for much much longer. We stayed in Palermo which was a really funky part of the city but almost overrun with dog shit. The hostel we stayed at, an old geriatric home, was certainly full of character. One of the folks there showed us all the ways to spot counterfeit currency – which appears to be quite a problem there as even the odd ATM will deal it out. For my Wellington-acclimatised self, the heat was oppressive.

Sao Paulo
We then flew up to Sao Paulo and I got to catch up with my brother for the first time in years. I think I’ll save Sao Paulo and our Brasil travels for another post but this city is enormous. It just goes on and on and on and on:


I hope you’ve all had a great break and your new year is going well.

Posted in: South America, Travel

Being a community manager

A few months ago I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Simon Young for his iJumpTV podcast. A few weeks ago Simon put the interview up:

This was my first interview and it was a lot of fun to do. Watching it was quite a bit tougher – I think some media training wouldn’t go amiss…

If you haven’t checked out the iJump podcast you really should. It going to be a great record of online Kiwi’s years down the track. And if you need help making sense of social media talk to Simon and Marie!

Update: this is the quote/slide from Heather Champ I referred to. (Hattip Sue)

Posted in: Life, Presentations, Work

E noho rā Wellington… thanks for the coffee

Sarah and I are leaving Wellington today. Yay!

We’re flying to Santiago today, then onto Buenos Aires in a few days and I can’t wait. After that we’re then going up to Sao Paulo where we’re going to be spending the next few months – and I’m still working for Ponoko.

If you’re over that way look us up. Otherwise see you in San Fran or London later in 2009!

I’m going to miss Wellington. Bye!

Posted in: Life


agave.jpg As a community manager one thing you never have a shortage of is email. It forms a huge part of my average day.

So by extension I get to see a lot of away/out-of-office messages. This one I received just this week and it’s my absolute favorite:

Subject: He’s gone, real gone

Body: Hi! I’m on a humanitarian mission to rid the vacation resorts in and around Tulum, Mexico of cell phones and Tequila.

I should be returning to the world of the working somewhere around September 19th.

If you need to get in touch with me, I suggest carrier pigeons or a hand-written note in a bottle, dropped in the gulf of Mexico. I will likely not be responsive to anyone who is not offering me some sort of appropriate beverage in person until I return.

Cheers, and safe travels to all.

Totally going to plaigarise that the next time I need an away message…

Posted in: Life, Work