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Brislen on Tech

Paul Brislen, Editor. 20 March 2020, 4:14 pm

Here's a weekly update from TechBlog Editor Paul Brislen

Once more unto the breach

Once again it's March and I'm forced to say "there really is only one story to write about this week". Instead of man-made stupidity this time it's the microscopic world throwing its weight around.

COVID-19 is wreaking havoc around the globe, killing old and apparently young alike, causing entire cities and countries to shut down and generally pushing the big red stop button on the world's economy.

While governments scramble to secure borders, and train us all how to wash our hands to buy some time for the hospitals to gear up to cope with an expected influx, for IT managers, CIOs and technical teams around the place it's a time to dust off your Business Continuity Plans and put them into practice. Or write them from scratch and put them into practice. Or panic that you don't have one and don't even know how to spell BCP and put that into practice.

Laptops are needed for remote workers but there are none to be had. Teams are taking monitors and chairs home but do we have a list of who's got what? Some projects are cancelled because we don't have the resources and others are put into turbocharge because we need it before we run into more trouble.

Generally speaking it is a time of unrest. Plans are created, executed and thrown away because everything has changed. As the Director General of Health said on the radio this morning, imagine what you'd be doing two weeks from today and do it now. So carefully prepared operations are thrown into chaos once again. All against a backdrop of grim news from around the world.

I was heartened today to see the New Zealand Herald infographic, which pinpoints the centres of COVID-19 outbreaks, has started to include "recovered" as a metric, which gives me great hope that this isn't endless and we will see ourselves through it and blinking out into the light in a few months' time. But the economic turmoil might last a lot longer.

Never let a crisis go by without taking advantage of it, a wise man recently told me, and with that in mind this is a golden opportunity for many companies to revolutionise their businesses. Forget downtown office buildings with lots of desks - now you can manage remote teams why not leave it that way? Collaborative tools, video conferencing, good desk set-ups at home, reduced commuting times, reduced international travel - we can do all of that and still run our organisations so why not keep at it?

Time will tell how successful we are but it would be a shame to get through all of this and not take what we can in learnings along the way. Let's put this wisdom, hard earned as it is, to good use.

TechBlog - It's Y2K but with germs

TechBlog - Telcos ready for impact of Covid-19

TechBlog - Video conferencing - a guide to etiquette

TechBlog - Kiwis rate their digital skills

Washington Post - China reports no new local coronavirus infections



Can't you hear the bell? I've been ringing for ages

But into each cloud a little ray of sunlight must fall and so it is I want to share with you the best shopping site I have ever visited.

I don't have a cat because my wife is terribly allergic to them but one moved in some years ago and seems to consider us her servants. I suspect it's a trial employment of some kind or other but for now we're passing muster so allowed to wait on her paw and tail.

However, she's elderly now and not terribly pleased with the kitchen's offerings. Mrs Padmore is clearly not living up to her reputation and sadly the cat (who still doesn't have a name) has lost some weight.

Several expensive vet visits later it turns out she has a kidney problem and needs a different type of food. Actually several different types because she need variety (apparently) and she's now wolfing through it (EDITOR: Do cats wolf?) like a teenage boy on his second breakfast.

Enter, a site that allows you to buy cat food (and dog food I'm told) and other assorted goodies and have them shipped to you on a regular basis.

So far so e-commerce 2005, right? The beauty of this site is they've put some serious thought into what it is that shoppers actually want to do when they visit the site (radical I know) and now when I get the TXT to say SHE LIKES IT BUY MORE or SHE ATE THE LOT AND WE'RE OUT BY FRIDAY I log on, click a maximum of three times and a new shipment of food is on its way, typically arriving the next morning.

It's cheaper than the vet, faster than Amazon, great when you want to return stuff and the UX is amazing. "Your next shipment is due in two weeks, would like to cancel it/send it now/change the delivery schedule" and you're done.

Kudos to them, three paws up, and to those designers who haven't quite figured out why customers visit your page (I'm looking at you, university websites, and you restaurant websites) take a wander around and base your site on this one.

And I can highly recommend the renal diet tuna bites. They're flavour of the …  well let's not go too far, they're flavour of the day.

Pet Shop Boys - You know you want to click here


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