Monthly Archives: January 2010

Perfect Personalised Plates

Bentley MotorsI love personalised license plates, not the standard ones you see with a couple letters and numbers – but the custom plates that let you have anything on it you like. I especially like custom license plates when they are clever or make me chuckle. On the way home from work today, I pulled along side a Bentley Azure T. For those that aren’t aware, Bentley make some of the finest motor vehicles in the world – they are big, plush and are generally speaking the most luxurious car you could imagine. Of course along with that luxury comes a luxurious price tag, don’t expect to get change from $500,000 even for a second hand one. With the lofty price tag in mind, I thought a personalised plate with DOUGH on it was fantastic!

Personal Information, Over Disclosure & Security

These days too many businesses that we interact with on a daily basis require far too much personal information about each and every one of us. A prime example of this is signing up for a non-essential service at a shopping centre or local shop – some of those businesses require a comparable amount of information to that of a bank. Why do they need all that information?

I recently signed up at our local video store in Upper Coomera on the Gold Coast and they required a credit card or debit card, without one they simply wouldn’t sign you up for an account. I appreciate that they probably have issues getting money from clients who return videos late, however I’m not convinced that providing my credit card information is a reasonable measure and I’ll tell you why.

Every time I see someone pick up a pen and write down my personal information, especially if they aren’t an organisation who’s business is managing personal information, it worries me. Everytime a EFTPOS terminal is down and they take a manual imprint of a credit card, it worries me. In the case of the Upper Coomera video shop, the staff member wrote my credit card information down on a signup form – but once they’ve entered my information into the computer – what happens with that piece of paper? Is it simply scrunched up and put in the waste paper basket, burned, shredded or none of the above. What about once it is entered into the computer, is it encrypted or stored unencrypted for anyone to see. Can any staff member at the video store view my personal information, including my complete set of credit card details? Is the business and their staff adequately equipped and trained to handle that sort of sensitive information?

In my opinion, these are all good questions that the average person never thinks about. They assume that our personal information is handled with care, that businesses have reliable processes in place to minimise the potential risk of having their clients information disclosed or compromised.

These sorts of issues are being raised more and more frequently in the mainstream media, fueled by the unchecked rise in personal information and identity theft taking place. Getting this ugly secret out into the open is the only way to deal with it – people need to be made aware of it and what sort of measures they can put in place to reduce the likelihood of their information getting out into the wild.

The sad thing is, that while I read their terms of service and I know they are bound by the Australian Privacy Act – I still signed up for an account at my local Gold Coast video store. I pressed them to sign me up without that information but they wouldn’t budge and the alternative was a Video Ezy at Helensvale – a 15 minute drive away, hardly convenient.

If  you take anything away from this, let it be an increased awareness of what and how often you disclose your personal information and to what types of people, organisations or companies.

Medibank International Sydney Winner

The Medibank Internatioanl in Sydney was held this week from the 10 January to the 16 January and had a fantastic turn out of the top players in the world.

From the womens side of the competition, Dinara Safina, Elena Dementieva, Serina Williams, Jelena Jankovic and Australians Sam Stosur and wildcard Casey Dellacqua. The mens players with lights shining on their names were Marcos Baghdatis, Richard Gasquet, Tomas Berdych and Australians Lleyton Hewitt and Peter Luczak.

The womens Medibank International final was between world number one Serena Williams (USA) and Elena Dementieva (RUS). It was expected to be a close match, with Dementieva beating Williams in a previous encounter however Serena Williams was rightfully the favourite for the match. As the match unfolded, there was fantastic baseline hitting from both of the women and it appeared that Williams was being unsettled by the great movement of Dementieva and ability to continually run the balls down and put them back into play. This resulted in Williams pressing harder and harder, which ultimately lead to errors which when coupled with her below par movement due to a leg injury she was carrying meant the Medibank International winner was Elena Dementieva in 6-3 6-2.

Medibank International mens final was between Marcos Baghdatis and Richard Gasquet. Both players have had a great run into the final, being pushed along the way – making sure the were hitting the ball cleanly for the final. Baghdatis came out with all guns blazing in the first set and his angles, depth of shots and pace were enough to push Gasquet well behind the baseline, at times 3-4 metres even during rallies. The first set was over before it began and it looked as though Baghdatis was going to steamroll Gasquet when at the beginning of the second set, there was a rain interruption for a little over an hour. When play resumed, Gasquet was a change man – hitting the ball more aggressively, standing up to the baseline more regularly and hitting some of the most spectacular topspin backhands the game has seen. Baghdatis was a slow starter in the second set, letting Gasquet get away for a 4-1 lead and it looked as though we were in for a three set thriller for the Medibank International final. Baghdatis persisted and finally got his rhythm back and managed to take claw his way back into the match. After forcing his way into a tie break in the second set, Marcos Baghdatis was annouced the Medibank International Winner 6-4 7-6.

Both finals were good to watch, however I think the free hitting in the first set by Baghdatis and subsequently Gasquet in the second made it a more enjoyable final to watch – especially when combined with the serve volley and all court action the two were creating every at least once a game.

I can’t wait for the Australian Open for 2010 to start on Monday night.

Optimising Dan Brown

The team I work with at Mantra Group have a bit of a ritual regarding birthdays, everyone puts in a small amount of money and we organise some cake and a present for the birthday person. My birthday of course doesn’t fall during the work year, so when I joined the marketing department at the start of the year and was introduced to all of these new rituals – I thought I stood a reasonable chance of missing out on some level. However, I was very pleasantly surprised when I had a belated birthday when we returned to work after Christmas.

I asked for a gift voucher and I was lucky enough to receive a $70 voucher for Borders books. Even more fortuitous, only days after receiving the gift voucher – Borders had an enormous sale – the more books you buy, the heavier the discount. I scampered off to the technical section of Borders, followed by the crime section and came away with:

  1. Always Be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer by Bryan Eisenberg & John Quarto-vonTivadar
  2. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  3. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

All up I spent about $60 of my voucher and considering Always Be Testing was $55 – it makes the two Dan Brown novels and absolute bargain. If anyone is looking for a new book to read, I recommend getting down to Borders and taking them up on their sale offer – 40% off for three books is hard to pass up!