Today I learnt… Not all disposable nappies are toxic to babies

26 Jun

Today I learnt… Not all disposable nappies are toxic to babies (and some are less worse for the environment)

Why: Many disposable supermarket nappies include toxic chlorine, phthalates and dioxins.

I learnt about the brands that are better because they are

Chlorine Free: Chlorine is often used to bleach the paper liners and wood pulp in nappies. This process can leave traces of a toxic chemical called Dioxin in the nappy as well as releasing it into the environment during the bleaching process in manufacturing. Dioxins are carcinogens and are linked to many health problems. There are lots of chlorine free nappies available, so it’s just not worth going there – for your baby’s health or the environment.
Fragrance free: Fragrances are frequently used in nappies to block odour. They often have endocrine disrupting phthalates in them which are linked to a whole host of negative health effects. These are unnecessary nappy ingredients as you should change a nappy frequently anyway. Nappies with fragrance should definitely be avoided.
Phthalate free and lotion free: Phthalates can also hide in lotions which can be used on the inner layer of the nappy. Either look for a nappy without lotion or make sure that they are phthalate free.

In the end we choose

Amazing detailed brand comparison here:

Today I learnt… Don’t put a hanging mobile over your baby cot

25 Jun

Today I learnt… Don’t put a hanging mobile over your baby cot. It could make her less creative.

My favourite parenting expert Janet Lansbury explains

If an infant can begin to spend time gazing at, listening to, and later touching and examining what interests him in his surroundings, rather than being forced to see and hear a mobile above his face every time he wakes up, or a rattle being shaken in front of him, then he has a better chance of staying in touch with his own unique essence.

There are only a few choices an infant has the opportunity of making in his world, so let’s allow him to make those choices.

If we have artwork or a wonderful mobile that we want to share with a child, then we can place it in his room somewhere for him to choose to focus on it, if and when he wishes to do so.”

Read more

Goodbye fat wallet, hello Coin.

20 May

I love new gadgets and this is the coolest one I’ve seen this month.


Coin” is a credit card sized device with a screen and a magnetic strip that can store all your cards. Keep this in your wallet, press the button to choose which card you want to pay with and then hand it over to the merchant as you normally would.

Cool features:

  1. Bluetooth alert to your phone if you leave it behind (distance from phone)
  2. No recharging, battery is designed to last for 2 years, then you buy another Coin ($50).
  3. As thin and light as a credit card

Coin is in beta and not yet released, but accepting pre-orders now.

Looking forward to version 2 which will hopefully support chip payments and contactless payments like paywave and paypass.




Build a sailboat at home

21 Apr

The Balmain Boat Company sells flat pack kits so you can build a sailboat at home. What a way to impress your family. Awesome

Drones are fun

31 Jul

I caught up with a mate the other day and he bought his drone around. We headed down to the harbour to give it a high risk over the water test flight. This thing doesn’t float and it was a windy day.
It’s a pretty mean looking quad-copter with a very serious looking remote control handset.
I turned the video on a little late, but it gives you an idea of how quickly it can shoot off. My friend is on the controls.

The drone is called DJI Phantom and costs about $700+

It has a built-in GoPro camera mount. What’s really cool is the built-in GPS with automatic-return-to-base feature if you get out of range or into trouble.

The Phantom is a step up from the more mainstream Parrot AR 2.0 drone ($300) which is flown by using your iPad as a controller looking at the live stream of the drone’s camera.

It is great to see consumer technology like this becoming so advanced and affordable. Even more exciting is when the technology intersects. In this case we have Drones + Wifi + HD Video camera + GPS technology coming together. The possibilities are only limited by one’s imagination.

Some other interesting drone resources / videos:

Put “Givers” in charge of customers (not Takers)

30 Jul

I enjoyed this short, simple video on improving customer experience.

It begins with:

To improve customer experience, every company needs to act like a start-up. 

Politifact – Political Fact Checking

18 Jul

Politicians have a reputation for lying. Sometimes this can be unfair, but some of the time it’s a case of ‘where there is smoke, there’s fire’.  It frustrates me whenever I hear an interview where a MP is misleading the audience and does not get called out on it.

It turns out that Politifact exists to check the facts and call out the liars. A fantastic idea, and on the whole, the site is excellent. Here is an example of a ruling where “The truth has taken a holiday”

While I like this non-partisan site in general, they lost a bit of credibility with me here with this “Pants on Fire ruling”. I don’t believe any reasonable person would have been misled by those comments.

Politifact has a USA version too.

All in all, I love the idea of holding people who deliberately try to mislead the public to account.

More online sales by removing friction – tablets

9 Jul

A general principle for improving the conversion rate of your e-commerce website is to hunt down any friction or frustration that your customer encounters and to fix it.

Here is quick win I found recently via

On your checkout page, code the fields so that auto-correct and auto-capitalise are disabled. As a customer, there is nothing more frustrating that Apple auto-correcting your street name, especially if you don’t notice until the parcel doesn’t turn up 2 weeks later!

Pass this link to your developer if they need a point in the right direction. 

Most have seen this classic video by the Google Analytics team now, but it applies more often online retailers would like to think:

Coming soon – a connected world

24 Jun

This post on The Oracle Alchemist shares a-day-in-the-life, in a connected world.

I really enjoyed it:

My ideal day with all the Things

Alarm ClockAs morning time rolls around, my bed begins to vibrate slightly. It does this in a way similar to the Jawbone Up, sensing when I am in the lightest stage of sleep and using vibration to gently nudge me out of it before the time I am supposed to wake up. This is a great and gentle way to wake up that I find very refreshing. As the bed wakes me for the morning ritual, it stores information about my sleep and waking patterns to a data store and sends messages that yes, Steve has arrived from the land of slumber.

When my eyes crack open and the bed knows that I am fully awake based on my movements, my shower will turn on and begin heating up. Sensors on the tub floor will keep track of how long it takes for the water to get hot and how long it takes me to actually step into it to ensure proper use of water and gas heating. If there is a time discrepancy, the next morning will be adjusted to maximize resource savings. I step into the shower and notice my bar of soap is nearly out; luckily, the soap tray knew that before I did based on the weight of the bar and has already ordered me a replacement online that will get here tomorrow. As I go on about my shower, sensors pick up the relevant details about my movements, the time I take, and the amount of water consumed for storage and later analysis.

I leave the shower and the coffee maker downstairs starts brewing the morning cup. One I get to the sink Continue reading

Inspirational Business Story – Herbert Dow

24 May

Just found this inspiring answer on Quora  to the Question:

What’s the shrewdest, smartest maneuver you’ve ever seen in business? 

Read it on Quora here

Herbert Dow founded Dow Chemical in Midland, Michigan when he invented a way to produce bromine cheaply. He sold the chemical for industrial purposes all over the US for 36 cents per pound at the turn of the 20th century. He couldn’t go overseas, however, because the international market was controlled by a giant German chemical cartel that sold it at a fixed price of 49 cents per pound. It was understood that the Germans would stay out of the US market so long as Dow and the other American suppliers stayed within its borders.

Eventually Dow’s business was in trouble and he had to expand. He took his bromine to England and easily beat the cartel’s fixed price of 49 cents per pound. Things were okay for a while until a German visitor came to Michigan and threatened Dow that he had to cease and desist. Dow didn’t like being told what to do and told the cartel to get lost.

Shortly thereafter German bromine started appearing for sale in the US for 15 cents per pound, way below Dow’s price. The cartel flooded the US market, offering the chemical way below their own costs, intending to drive Dow out of business. But Dow outsmarted them. He stopped selling in the US market entirely and instead arranged for someone to secretly start buying up all the German bromine he could get his hands on. Dow repackaged it as his own product, shipped it to Europe, and made it widely available (even in Germany) at 27 cents per pound. The Germans were wondering 1) why wasn’t Dow out of business and 2) why was there suddenly such demand for bromine in the US??

The cartel lowered its price to 12 cents and then 10 cents. Dow just kept buying more and more, gaining huge market share in Europe. Finally the Germans caught on and had to lower their prices at home. Dow had broken the German chemical monopoly and expanded his business greatly. And customers got a wider range of places to buy bromine at lower prices.

Dow went on to do the same trick to the German dye and magnesium monopolies. This is now the textbook way to deal with predatory price cutting.