@madpilot makes

I was at Web Directions, honest

Miles Burke decided that we all need to prove that we were at Web Directions last year by finding photos of us on Flickr. Mo problem! Here are pictures of me looking rather disheveled.


Me in my natural habitat

Me working at the after party

Me still working at the after party

Ok, to pass on the meme: I wanna see photos from Tim Lucas and Lachlan Hardy.

What a week!

The past few weeks can safely be described as insane – even when compared to a regular working week for Perth-based web developer.

As hinted in my previous half-arsed blog post, BarCamp Perth has come and gone. The event was amazing. I don’t think anyone could have predicted how smoothly and inspiring the day was. To all the people that put there hand up to help out thank you – I would not have been able to mask my usual lack of organisation with out you. Thanks to Simone and Pascal for sorting out the food, thanks to Jordon for keeping everyone caffeinated, thanks to Gary for all the artwork and the t-shirts and thanks to the helpers that turned up early and setup. The day would have run a lot less smoothly if it wasn’t for you all.

Senor Coffee Maker One of the presentations

Unfortunately, I forgot to record one of my presentations – luckily it was the one that I spent some time preparing, so you can download the slides if your fancy is tickled. The (impromptu) Intro to Rails talk that myself and Matt Didcoe did was videoed so as soon as I get the link, I’ll post it.

The synopsis of the day is available on the offiicial BarCamp Perth wiki – go and check it out and click through on the notes that have been posted. We had over 55 attendees which was amazing – and there was a great cross-section of people there from many different fields. We had web developers, designers, librarians, educators, podcasters and bloggers which meant that there were lots of new people to meet. We even had a Microsoft evangelist – Scott Barnes, fly over from Queensland to see what the west coast had been up to. The event has really created a buzz around those communities, which is evident in the number of times I’ve been asked “When is the next one?”. To answer, AWIA there will be organising definitely early next year, but there are plenty of events between now and then to keep you appetite whet.

One final BIG thankyou goes to each of the sponsors: Eduka, Itomic, Millstream, River Designs, Central TAFE, Five Senses Coffee and Microsoft Australia because without them, we wouldn’t have been able to put on the food. A great day had by all.

New job, new digs

This week I started work at Norg Media with Bronwen in our new shard office space in the city! We are sharing with Nick and Dave from Softteq and there is still desk space available if your are a start up of small company that needs a desk or two. You can view the guided tour on YouTube.

The new office The new office

If you are interested, drop me an email – we can show you around! Our address is 90 King St.

What’s coming up

The WAWA‘s are in full swing, so don’t forget to buy your tickets! Only a month-and-a-half to go. The AWIA AGM is coming up in August too, so if you want to support the industry association that supports you, it might be a good idea to head along and maybe put your hand up for committee. It will be on August 1 at the Velvet Lounge in Mt Lawley. As a result we aren’t having any mini-talks next month.

As you can see, busy, busy, busy!


BarCamp Perth – an awesome day

I seriously could not have asked for a better day. I’ll write up a better synopsis later, but now I am just too tired.

Big thanks to all the sponsors, and an even bigger thanks to everyone that came along – with out you guys it wouldn’t have been the great day that it was.

I need some sleep now.

Selling t-shirts on the web! Some statistics.

Picture of the famous shirt :)Well, it seems that the controversy over that code has settled down somewhat since early May, and little ol’ entrepreneurial me has successfully sold a number of t-shirts that rode the wave of hub-bub. It has been amazing seeing some trends in the statistics which I thought I would share with the world.

Some background for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about

Earlier this year, someone had posted the a code that broke HD-DVD encryption on Digg. Digg received a Cease-and-Desist letter, and took the story down. As a general rule, when a story of similar content is posted, the moderators remove it, and this is exactly what happened on the first of May. What the moderators didn’t expect was a community revolt. Many of the community thought that Digg was “giving in to the man” and quashing their freedom of speech. In retaliation they started posting the number faster than Digg could take it off. At one point the first 8 pages of Digg was covered by the number.

Anyway, we were discussing the event unfold on twitter, and I decided to post a quick website representing the code as web colours. It was then suggested by Miles that “they would make cool t-shirts”.

Excuse me Mr. Bull, here is a red rag.

So just as any good geek would do I knocked up a little web site to take orders for t-shirts that didn’t exist yet (The design wasn’t even conceived, let alone at the printers), and by 2am (Western Australian time) I was getting a list of people who actually wanted this t-shirt.

Vital Statistics: Thursday 3 May:

  • Number of hours since the digg story broke: about 36
  • Number of hits: 5,854
  • 60% of the referrals are from Boing Boing (Thanks Bronwen)
  • Number of pre-sale orders: 136

Statistics for Thursday 3 May 2007

Closing down sale! Everything must go!

It was at this point that I finally got a quote back from the t-shirt company. Armed with a price of $18.32 per t-shirt, I could create my shopping cart application. Because I take payments via my online application – 88 Miles, I already have a merchant account which charges me 3% per transaction and a gateway which charges 50c. I wanted to give those that did pre-orders a discount, but I also wanted to make sure I gave myself some breathing room in case I missed any expenses . After some back-of-napkin calculations, I arrived at $AU25 (inc GST) for pre-orders and $AU30 for regular sales. If I only sold the pre-sale shirts, my break even point is 37 units.

I also needed to make an educated guess at the shipping at this point, as I didn’t know how much the shirts would weight. I guessed at $5 for postage around Australian and $13.90 internationally.

Vital Statistics Friday 4 May:

  • Number of hours since the Digg story broke: about 72
  • Worst case scenario: I sell no shirts, and lose $915
  • Conservative case: I sell 37 pre-ordered shirts and break even
  • Best case scenario: I sell all 50 shirts at full price and make $585
  • Number of hits: 5,577
  • Number of shirts sold: 28

Statistics for Friday 4 May 2007

At this point the site had been listed on both an Italian and an Austrian online tech magazine, which resulted in the traffic being a little less boing-boing heavy.

What goes up, must come down.

If I could keep this momentum up, I was going to sell out in two days! Unfortunately, things slowed from this point – Saturday, Sunday and Monday saw 3 shirt days each, which thankfully got me over the line from a break even point. It also meant that I now had enough money to actually BUY the t-shirts! So the order was made. Seeing that things were slowing, I stuck with my decision to only get 50 made. It was also at this point, that I noticed the referrer traffic was starting to switch – Boing-Boing traffic had basically stopped, and now StumpleUpon was was sending the lion’s share of the traffic.

Vital Statistics Monday 7 May 2007:

  • Total hits: 3838
  • Number of shirts sold: 37
  • 73% of referral traffic was from StumbleUpon; Boing-Boing didn’t register
  • 22 (59%) of the shirts were pre-sales
  • 19 (51%) of the shirts were sold overseas.

Statistics for Monday 7 May 2007

The Wagging tail

It was at this point sales really dropped off – not that it really mattered, I had hit the target I needed to make sure I wasn’t out of pocket. That was until Tuesday 8 May, when I was notified by my bank that three transactions had been flagged as fraudulent. The advice I was given was to refund the money and obviously not send the stock. This actually took me below the break even point by about $10 (they were all regular sales, totaling $90, plus I still got charged the merchant and gateway fees). Thankfully, I managed to sell one more shirt that afternoon.

The final part in the saga is the shipping. To be on the safe side, I charged $7.50 for shipping within Australia and $15 for international shipping. Luckily I added in the padding, because the shipping (as expected) was less than predictable. Firstly I, and I’m the only one to blame for this, forgot to take in to account that the t-shirts needed to be packed in something. 32 (10 of the shirts where purchased in Perth, and were/are picked up/going to be picked up directly) post bags cost $38.40, minus a $3.84 discount. Thankfully I was right about the shipping to Australia – it cost by $5 each, bringing the postage total for each Australian shirt to $6.08. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise that postage isn’t subject to GST – I charged my customers GST, but didn’t pay it to the Post Offce. As such the $7.50 turns into $6.82, so I made 74c on the Australian postage.

The international postage was much more difficult – I had guessed based on the Australia Post sheet that postage was probably going to cost my $13.90 per package. I assumed that a t-shirt weighed less than 250g – and that wasn’t such a bad assumption – FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM SHIRTS! All the bigger sizes weighed more than 250g, costing me $16.95 (to Europe) and $13.90 (to the US). Thankfully the two smaller sizes only cost me $10 (Europe) and $8.50 (the US).

Postage Statistics:

  • 10 shirts had no shipping
  • 11 shirts were being sent with in Australia ($5 flat fee + $1.08 for packaging)
  • 3 shirts were being sent to the US for $8.50 (plus $1.08 for packaging)
  • 5 shirts were being sent to the US for $13.90 (plus $1.08 for packaging)
  • 6 shirts were being sent to Europe for $10 (plus $1.08 for packaging)
  • 7 shirts were being sent to Europe for $16.95 (plus $1.08 for packaging)

Luckily, there were enough shirts under $15, average postage for international postage: $14.11 – an 89c profit.

Overall Vital statistics:

  • T-shirts sold to date: 42 (84%)
  • Giveaways to family or as part of bartering deals: 5 (1%)
  • Total hits up until 28 May 2007: 20,915
  • Percentage of traffic served in first two days: 55%
  • Number of overseas sales: 21 (42%)
  • Number of pre-sales: 29 (58%)
  • Number of small shirts sold: 6
  • Number of Medium shirts sold: 14 (Sold out)
  • Number of Large shirts sold: 14 (Sold out)
  • Number of X-Large shirts sold: 10 (Sold out)
  • Number of XX-Large shirts sold: 3


Sure, you would be hard pressed to extrapolate any of these numbers to predict long-term sales, but it would be extremely interesting to see how the correlate with longer term projects. The entire sales cycle, from conception to delivery is basically done in less than 1 month. One thing is for sure, it has been a buzz to see people from all over the world wearing something that I made! If you bought a shirt, send me photos of you wearing it – I’d love to see them.

Australia’s top 60 Web 2.0 applications

Ross Dawson, who is holding a Web 2.0 conference next month has compiled a list of the top 60 Australian web 2.0 companies, and us developers over in here in the west haven’t done to badly!

In at number 5 is Minti, the parenting social network. Number 6 is Scouta – the Podcast suggestionsnetwork started by Richard Giles. 23 is Bronwen Clune’s PerthNorg (where I’m starting a work at shortly). Number 29 is the social bookmarking tool, Buzka and number 43 is little ol’ 88 Miles!

It cool to see that there ARE 60 Australian Web 2.0 companies, I feel a Oz based revolution starting soon – I’m going to make an effort to see what some of the others do over the coming weeks.

Access your Pandora account outside of the US

I must admit, I’m not actually a Pandora user, but many of my friends have been complaining about the recent close of service to the rest of the world. Well you can get around it quite easily is you have a US hosting account with SSH access, a program that can SSL tunnel (Putty on Windows, OSX/Linux has one built in) and one small change to your host file.

If you don’t have a US server and you don’t mind paying a small amount, there are plenty of cheap hosting plans over in the US just Google then and find one – bandwidth is so cheap over there you can probably get an account for a couple of bucks a month.

The only other caveat for this hack is that you won’t be able to have any other application listening to port 80 or port 443 on you computer. For most people with won’t be a problem – the most likely culprit will be skype.

For Windows

Step 1: Open you hosts file – this is located in the C:WindowsSystem32DriversEtc directory

Add the following line: www.pandora.com

Step 2: Open Putty. Enter the URL of you US SSH account in to the Host Name field:


Select Tunnels from the SSH men on the right hand side – you will need to add two entries, one for HTTP and one for HTTPS. To do this enter 80 in the source port field, then enter www.pandora.com:80 into the Destination field and finally click Add. Repeat substituting 443 instead of 80.


Click open, enter your SSH username and password. Finally, open your browser of choice, browse to http://www.pandora.com and you should be in!

Linux (and probably OSX)

1. Open you hosts file – this is located in the /etc directory. Add the following line: www.pandora.com

2. In a terminal (or terminal.app) type:

ssh -L 80:www.pandora.com:80 -L 443:www.pandora.com:443 www.your-us-server.com -l username

Enter your password and finally open your browser of choice, browse to http://www.pandora.com and you should be in!

How this hack works

SSH allows us to “port forward” which means it will open a port on your computer and feed all data through it to the remote computer, then make the request on your behalf. What we do is pass the pandora data traffic through the US server. So why the hosts file modification? The hosts file allows you to override the IP address that your DNS server returns – computers like to speak in IP addresses (such as rather than nice human names, so they need to ask a DNS server to what IP address www.pandora.com is. We override it and return – which means “this computer”. This forces the browser (and the Padora flash player) to route all traffic through our tunnel, so the Pandora servers think we are in the US. Simple!

Please note, I don’t recommend you use this to leech music off Pandora. If you like an artist – buy the CD or the MP3 or whatever, and support the Pandora guys by upgrading your account.

Get your very own 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0 hex colour t-shirt!

The new swanky HD-DVD T-shirt!After the huge Digg fiasco today, the twitterati, after seeing my hex colour representation of the HD-DVD crack code, thought it to be a good idea for shirts to be made up. Well, I though it was a pretty good idea too!

I’ve created a site where you can pre-order your t-shirt. Once the price is finalised (probably around $AU35 + p/h) I’ll email you a discount code (probably a $5 discount) and you can get your hands on one of these pieces of history!

The shirts will have the colour swatches on the front, will be black (what good geek tee isn’t?), but more details will become available as I get them.

Once the shopping cart goes live, you won’t be able to get discounts any more.

Don’t miss out! All the cool kids will be wearing them!

The times, they are a-changing… Part II

It is with a mixture of jubilation and sadness that I announce I am moving on from my current position at Bam Creative to take up a contract position at with Norg Media. Jubilation because of the opportunity to work on an exciting Web 2.0 startup over here in Perth, whilst still being able to pursue my own projects – sadness because I will be leaving a great bunch of workmates over at Bam.

By the time I leave at the end of June, it will be just over a year since I made the move from freelancing to full time work. The past twelve months has taught me more about teamwork and running a business than I could have garnered in a lifetime of freelance work, and for that opportunity I would like to offer my sincerest thanks to Miles and the rest of the team. I’m going to miss the crazy shenanigans that have gone on within the Bam walls.

I am really looking forward to taking the development position at PerthNorg – having the opportunity to work with a site that is young, growing and showing it’s potential is one that is hard to pass up. The fact that Bronwen has allowed me to work four days, giving me to have a MadPilot day has made the deal even sweeter, so now I can spend more time on 88 Miles, Twitteresce, AWIA and the WAWAs as well as pursue some of the other projects that I have in my head.

All in all an exciting time to be in the industry really!

The clothes are back on

Was it good for you?

Naked for a good cause

“Hey Myles!” I hear you ask, “What’s with the bland website? It was so colourful before”.

Well my fine feathered friends, today is CSS Naked Day an exhibit of what what happens when you correctly separate content from presentation. YOu SHOULD still be able to make sense of what a website is trying to say without relying on CSS to pretty things up. How do I rate?

If it has freaked you out to much, it’ll be back to normal tomorrow.

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