The office fitout

11 03 2010

Before we could move into our new house, I needed to get the room we’d decided on for the office fitted out. We couldn’t move until I could work — my transition from one location to another had to be seamless for my clients. And I couldn’t work until the office was sorted. I did not want to shift, then have workmen trying to work around me and the computers while they set up the office!

I contacted Flexi Home Offices in Perth — they’d done our home office fitout back in 2002 when we were still living in Perth and I was impressed with their workmanship, their ability to cater for our designs and requirements, and the way they cleaned up after themselves! So I was pleasantly surprised that they were happy to come this far south to do this fitout.

(BTW, I tried a local company too, but they never got back to me to arrange a time to come out to even check out and quote on the job! Flexi, on the other hand, did pretty much everything except the final measure over the phone, fax and email.)

Here are some photos of the office during the two days it was installed — click on a photo to see it in a larger view. Oh, and the design was essentially mine with some adaptations and suggestions from the Flexi people during the design stage.

Power adaptor pack

5 04 2009

The little power adaptor pack I got from Adobe at the conference is REALLY neat. It has adpators going both ways for heaps and heaps of countries that use any of these adaptor formats: US, Europe, UK and Australia, which pretty much covers most of the world. The total pack is about 2″ long, and 1.5″ wide and deep. There are three interlocking pieces, and between them they cover almost every power outlet you’re likely to find.

On previous trips I’ve taken special adaptors for the US and Hong Kong (UK) — now I only have to take this little box and I’m all set.

(I’ll try to get some photos taken of it soon…)

Sometimes I wonder…

28 02 2009

… why some people are in business.

During the week, the state’s newspaper had an article on one of Western Australia’s hidden treasures — a shop in Mt Barker full of collectables, including several hundred/thousand (?) vinyl records from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. As my husband is a music ‘detective’, we decided to drive to Mt Barker yesterday (Friday) so he could see what was available.

After a 2-hour drive on winding, narrow roads (Muirs so-called Highway!), we got to Mt Barker around noon. We found the old bank building in the main street very quickly (Mt Barker is NOT a big place!), but the sign on the door said “Closed”. On a Friday. In the middle of the day.

Now to put that into perspective… This weekend is a long weekend in Western Australia, and The Great Southern Festival is on this weekend (based in Albany, about 50 kms away — tourists HAVE to go through Mt Barker to get to Albany if they’re driving down from Perth). The owner of the shop had a feature article on his shop in the state’s only newspaper earlier in the week…

So why on earth would he close on a Friday at the start of a busy long weekend for the town, one of the last fine weekends before winter, and the same week he was featured in the paper??? We weren’t the only ones who turned up and shook our heads when we saw the store was closed — at least 3 other couples did the same in the few minutes we were there checking the opening hours.

His opening hours according to a sign on the door are Monday to Thursday (10:00 to 4:30) and Saturday (10:00 to 2:00). He closes Fridays, Sundays and public holidays. So Friday closing is normal — but on one of the busiest weekends of the year for his area, and straight after a glowing article in the paper???? If it was me, I’d be cashing in and making sure I was open the entire weekend — including Friday.

And it baffles me as to why he’d have those days of opening anyway. I know I’d want a 2-day break so I could go away if I wanted to, not two single days off separated by an opening day. Most similar shops would be closed on Monday and Tuesday (perhaps Sunday) in lieu of the traditional weekend.

And no, in case you were wondering, we couldn’t call beforehand to check the opening hours as the article did not give the name of the shop or its phone number. We now have that, but will we be back? Unlikely. We travelled close to 5 hours on the round trip only to find the place closed.

We did have a lovely wood-fired pizza at the Mt Barker Hotel for lunch, though — the only highlight of a disappointing day. And we discovered a REALLY narrow ‘shortcut’ road home with almost no traffic — a road I’d hate to travel on at night, but which was OK on a fine, dry, late summer’s day.

Free book from Suze Orman

9 01 2009

Suze Ormans’ 2009 Action Plan for managing your money is available as a free PDF download from here:

I first saw Suze Orman on a cable channel some years ago — boy, what a dynamo she is, and boy, does she tell it straight to people who are looking for ways to get out of their personal and business financial messes.

I haven’t read this yet as I only heard about it today (thanks Wade C), but based on her practical, down-to-earth, no-punches-pulled advice on her TV show, I’d expect this to be a pretty decent book.

It’s free until January 15, 2009, so download it now.

New work, old friends

10 09 2008

I’ve been in Perth the past two days, getting acquainted with the new company I’m about to start a three month part-time contract with. They are a BIG global company, and the project I’m working on is MASSIVE (many billions of dollars). So lots of new things to learn. The actual work should be relatively simple, but, as always, learning the corporate acronyms, getting some understanding of the corporate culture, the document management system, the file structure, the smart card login system, the people who make things happen, the business processes, etc. takes time. However, it’s an exciting project to be part of—even if it’s in just a small way.

While I’ve been here, the large company has put me up in one of Perth’s 5-star international ‘brand name’ hotels and I ended up in a massively huge King Suite (yes, I know that’s not all grammatically correct, but this suite is damned big… nearly as big as a small house!). They’ve set a precedent now!

Dining/study area of King Suite

Dining/study area of King Suite - this is part of what I saw when I first walked in

Living area of King Suite - this is what I saw when I turned to the right

Living area of King Suite - this is what I saw when I turned to the right

Bedroom of King Suite - only part of this separate room...

Bedroom of King Suite - only part of this separate room...

While I’ve been here, I’ve had the pleasure of catching up with some old friends. I had dinner last night with Clare who was the person who referred me to the powers that be in the BIG company, and we caught up on a lot of news. She also gave me a rundown on some of the high-level background stuff about the company and the project, which was great. Tonight I had dinner with Claudia, with whom I go back an awfully long way—we were at Teachers’ College together doing the Library Studies course. I think I was 17 when we first met. Such a long time ago. It was wonderful catching up with them both.

And tomorrow morning I’m having breakfast with Gail, with whom I worked for some four or five years at the first software company we both ever worked for. Then it’s off to the Perth office of the Brisbane company to pick up their new software release, learn about the new stuff, and to catch up  lunch with two workmates from there over lunch. It sounds like I’ve been on an eating feast! But seriously, I’ve been working hard and learning lots. I just can’t talk about most of it.

It’s sorta been nice being back in an office again, especially one with such fantastic views over the city and river, but I’ll be glad to be heading back to my home office tomorrow. I really couldn’t work in a cube farm ever again, and having worked with those views before, I can tell you that you learn to ignore them fairly quickly. Give me the birds and the trees any day.

Just gobsmacked

3 09 2008

There’s no other word for it. I got the biggest surprise today—and a most pleasant one at that. A real warm fuzzy surprise, and totally unexpected.

The small team I’ve been working with on the big project for the Queensland company had their final meeting with me today. But it wasn’t a meeting. It was a ‘surprise party’ to say “Thank you”.

So, how do you have a surprise party from the other side of the country? You enlist the help of people at this end (my husband and good friend Bobbie), and get other things happening at their end.

The meeting starts. They want me to connect via webcam but as I haven’t used the webcam or headset on the new laptop, and as this was a last minute request, the technology beats me. So we go back to a standard Skype conference call. Which is a pity because they wanted to see my face while the surprise was happening.

Steve D sends me a file which is a PowerPoint presentation created by Sarah P (I think), and I open it. It’s a neat presentation thanking me for the work I’ve done on the project and compares a good technical writer (me!) to Da Vinci, with a doctored photo of the Mona Lisa with my face. Cute! Then there’s my name spelled out with a suitable word for each letter, the last of which is A for ‘anal’. Which I then proved by pointing out that someone (Sarah?) forgot the ‘f’ in H for ‘helpful’!! and that Hamish B didn’t pick it up in proofing it. Lots of laughs about that one. And no-one suggested it was a deliberate error. LOL.

Then after the great presentation has finished, Mel K (my boss) asks my husband to do his bit. He reaches into a shelf and pulls out a gift and card for me! The card was signed by many members of the team, and the gift is the Ricky Tims Convergence Quilt book. I was blown away. My husband then pours me a glass of wine (that was part of the surprise too), so I can take the toast from the others… at 2 in the afternoon!

I was blown away for a few reasons:

  • The choice of gift was absolutely appropriate and the card was signed by many members on this project
  • My husband was complicit in all this without my knowledge—he received the gift and card and hid it from me without me knowing; he was in regular contact with Mel regarding the timing of all this and setting up the toast etc.
  • Bobbie was involved somehow (choice of book would be a given, but I think it was mailed to her by Mel and she ‘couriered’ it to the house without me knowing); somehow Mel and Bobbie got each other’s email addresses and/or phone numbers—again, I suspect my husband…
  • The time and effort that went into getting all this organised behind my back was particularly special as I know that the team is working their butts off on this project and are moving corporate offices at the end of this week

Thank you guys! It was a terrific surprise and a great send off. You’ve been a fantastic team to work with, and it won’t be ‘goodbye’. I promise.

I almost forgot… One other cool thing. Sarah P asked if I’d mind if she named her next fish after me. Then later she referred to her “fish called Rhonda“. ROFLMAO!

Bridgetown training venues

4 05 2008

I gathered all this information late last week about venues in my town that may be suitable for small group training, and didn’t know where to put it, so I figured I may as well blog about it in case others are looking for this information, or in case I need it again (as Steph would say: “Propping up a dodgy memory”!).

All information relates to Bridgetown, Western Australia and is applicable as at 2 May 2008.

I had to find a venue suitable for 2 trainees and a trainer, each with laptops. My requirements were:

  • relatively cheap
  • heated
  • power outlets
  • suitable desks and chairs
  • tea and coffee facilities (not essential)
  • wall or screen to project computer images on to (not essential)

After some phoning and internet searching, I found these venues:

  • Lesser Hall (Shire): $69 / day (there’s also the main Shire hall but it’s very big)
  • Old Yornup School (Shire): $66 / day (tucked in behind the Telecentre)
  • Bridgetown Hotel: $150 / day (function room)
  • Nelsons: $150 / day (function room)
  • Bridgetown Telecentre: $40 /day (conference room or office; they have a computer training room but it is much more expensive as you pay for the use of the computers too)

These venues were also possibilities, though after I inspected the Telecentre’s facilities and signed up for the conference room, I didn’t look any further so I can’t give any more information about them except that they MAY offer suitable space:

  • Bridgetown Gardens function centre
  • Silver Chain community centre
  • St John Ambulance training room
  • Bridgetown Club
  • Bridgetown Bowling Club
  • Bridgetown Golf Club
  • Bridgetown Tennis Club
  • Bridgetown Recreation Centre
  • Bridgetown Family and Community Centre
  • Ford House B&B and function centre
  • Lucieville Farm Chalets

If anyone else knows the Bridgetown area well, and can add to this list of possible venues for a small group, please do so!


14 03 2008

I heard a new term the other day – “partnering”. It’s used by those bidding on large projects (such as construction) and is a budgeted line item.

What it really is, is costs for entertaining the bigwigs – golf afternoons, drinks at the bar, lunches, dinners. Schmoozing, basically. But I guess the bean counters wouldn’t agree to “Schmoozing” as a line item… “Partnering” sounds better, but it’s the same thing.

Busy days

4 03 2008

My first two (of four) days back in the office have been busy. Quite a lot of staff on the team are away in far-flung places, but that hasn’t made it less busy. I think they’ve been keeping some things aside waiting for me to arrive!

I didn’t get a chance yesterday to write in this blog, and it’s now 10:30pm on Tuesday night and I should be in bed, but I wanted to get this out of the way before I rested my head.

After work yesterday I caught the train out to Thorneside (?) with Ian from work, then he drove me to his and Donna’s place. From there we went to a restaurant called The Lighthouse over in Cleveland, where we had the most fabulous meal. Ian had the Tempura Tiger Prawns to start, and while there were only three prawns, they were HUGE. Donna and shared an entree serve of the most beautifully spiced and cooked calamari. To die for. Then we all had a Coral Trout as our main course (delicious), and shared the ‘for two’ “Lighthouse Death by Chocolate” dessert. Three of us couldn’t finish it! I took photos of a seafood platter at a nearby table (yes, TFP, you’d be proud of me–I just went up to their table and asked permission to take a photo!) And I took a couple of photos of the chocolate dessert we shared. When I get better connection (tomorrow?) I’ll upload the photos…

Seafood platter

Death by chocolate

The worst thing was catching a cab back in to the Brisbane CBD. I have no clue where Cleveland is, but the taxi fare was over $70!!!! And I had to wait 20+ mins for it… the restaurant staff were in the closing up stages by the time it arrived.

Today was another busy work day, starting at 6am (under pressure to get a doc finished for the client by 8am–two of us came in early to get it done as we couldn’t finish it yesterday). And my $5 fake Rolex that my Mum bought for me in Bali died! For the past 12 months I’ve hardly needed to wear a watch–and just when I have to, it dies. So I bought a $15 watch from Big W. It’s only got to last 4 weeks… Normally, I wouldn’t have bothered, but tomorrow I’m doing my conference presentation for the software development teams, and have a couple of meetings, and so I NEED the correct time. My husband suggested the clock on my phone, but the phone will be turned off in the presentation, so that wasn’t a solution. It’s not like I have a plane to catch… NOT!

Tonight I practiced my presentation out loud and had a go at recording it on a voice recorder I purchased a while back. So I ended up not eating an evening meal. But then, after last night’s feed and breakfast and lunch today, I really didn’t need it.

OK, to bed!

How many degrees of separation?

8 01 2008

Late this afternoon I get an email from someone I don’t know. Let’s call him Mark. He addresses me by name and tells me that someone else (let’s call him Larry) from some company I’ve never heard of has recommended me for some proof reading work.

I’m intrigued, so I call Mark. I tell him I don’t know Larry or Larry’s company. Mark fortunately remembers that Larry actually got my name from someone else—let’s call him Rob S. Somewhere in the dim recesses of my brain I vaguely recall someone of this name—he was the contact person at a printing company. But I’ve never met Rob. I only know his name because I recall that a friend of mine—let’s call her Kris—mentioned him some years ago when I edited some company prospectuses for her.

So, I do some work for Kris back in 2000/2001. She mentions my work to Rob. Sometime between 2001 and 2008 (!), Rob—whom I’ve never met and never done any work for—mentions my name to Larry, who remembers it and mentions it to Mark, who has enough information about me to find my website and send me an email requesting an hourly rate quote for occasional proof reading!

What’s that? Four or five degrees of separation?

BTW, Mark’s happy with my hourly rate quote over the phone and is happy to hire me to do work for him on an ad hoc basis, purely based on a recommendation. That’s what it’s all about! Love it.

Update (1 February 2008): It’s happened again! This afternoon I get an email out of the blue from someone I don’t know (M) who works for a company (A) I’ve never worked for. It’s a pretty generic email asking about my availability for some Word template work. I’m not available, so I respond saying so. I get an email back thanking me for a suggestion I made, and stating “I heard you were the best Technical Writer around – obviously your commitment speaks for itself!”

So, taking the bait, I ask who they’d heard that from. The return email gives me a name (J) and company (C). I don’t know the name, and I’ve never done work for company C. BUT… I have worked with someone (F) who’s currently at company C. Now, before you think, “Ah! That’s easy!”, let me tell you that company C is a global company with some 15,000+ employees in numerous locations throughout the world (think of a company starting with C + oil and gas…). I last worked with F back in 2002 or thereabouts. And I’m not even sure that’s where the connection is.

Cue Twilight Zone music about now…