Monthly Archives: August 2010

Hugo Getting His Hair Cut

While sorting through some old photos and videos, I came across this great little video from November 2009 of Hugo getting his first big boy hair cut at Snippetty’s, who are located at Cocos Shopping Centre in Carrara on the southern Gold Coast.

Snippetty specialises in hair cuts for kids and it is fantastic. The store is fitted out with lots of things to make little people feel at home, including toys, things to touch, a giant fish tank and also a secured play area. The hairdressers are really friendly and work around the kids wonderfully, happy to cut their hair on their schedule and accommodate them. After the hair cut was done, Hugo even had his hair jooshed with product!

Having trouble viewing the embedded video, watch Hugo Lattimore Getting His Hair Cut on YouTube.

Windows Live Profiles & Twitter Integration

Last year I wrote about Microsoft Windows Live getting smarter, specifically that Microsoft were gearing the new Windows Live profiles as a one stop shop for social web site aggregation. In a few quick clicks of your mouse, you could consolidate down dozens of your social networks and personal services into a single place, removing your need to visit each of them independently – fantastic!

One of the social networks that the Windows Live profiles had a web activity for was Twitter. Without any hesitation, I configured the Twitter web activity and all of my tweets were seamlessly imported into my activity stream within Windows Live. My only criticism at the time was that Twitter is a real time service, however my tweets were slow/sluggish to appear in my activity stream – sometimes taking a few hours to show up.

I was disappointed to receive an email on 30 June from the Windows Live team stating that they were no longer able to support the Twitter web activity and that they’d be disabling that functionality, until such a time as they could work with Twitter on their policy change which meant that Microsoft could no longer use the service.

Fortunately, Microsoft provide a generic web activity named “Blog RSS Feed” which will import any valid RSS or Atom XML feed into the Live profile activity steam. Of course, Twitter being the good netizen that they are, also provide an individual RSS stream for each user. Joining the dots and it means that Windows Live profiles and Twitter integration is still possible.

The downside is that because it is using a ‘generic’ web activity, how it is displayed within my activity steam isn’t as elegant and neat as it was prior – bug beggers cant be choosers.

Suncorp Bank, Looking Out For Clients

Last week I unexpectedly received an email purporting to be from Suncorp Bank. In the last year or so of banking with Suncorp and using their online banking system countless times, I don’t ever recall receiving an email from them about anything.

It doesn’t surprise me that I haven’t received an email from Suncorp before, given the prevalence of phishing attacks these days. For those unaware, phishing is an attempt to fraudulently acquire personal information from someone by getting them to enter it into a web site that looks familiar, that is in fact just a shallow replica of a real site. Phishing attacks are one of the reasons you’ll read and hear major institutions state that they will never ask you for your username and password, ever.

Just to checkout what the latest phishing attempt looked like, I thought I’d investigate the email to see if the spammers had gotten any smarter over the years. First thing I noticed was it was from an email address that was clearly related to their online banking system and at the correct domain. Secondly, the subject had to do with BPay – so I though how fantastic that the spammers now use brands or products related to the local country to garner trust with the user.

After opening the email, I suddenly realised that the email was legitimate and I couldn’t believe it! It turns out that Claire had just paid our rates online, through the Suncorp internet banking web site using BPay. The email was a notification, to let me know that a large payment had just been processed and if I hadn’t arranged it to call them immediately.

What I love about the email though:

  1. The subject was clear, it was a BPay notification
  2. They sent it to both of the email addresses I’d provided Suncorp, not just my primary one in case I didn’t check it immediately.
  3. It was a plain text email, so no fancy images or design – just the message. That meant that you needed to read the content of the email to see what it was about and not blindly clicking on something because it used the familiar Suncorp branding.
  4. The first line stated what it was about (high value BPay transaction), the second contained what action to take (phone Suncorp) and for full details you could check the transaction on their site.
  5. Suncorp include their business name, address, ABN, contact information in the footer
  6. Most importantly, there isn’t a single hyperlink anywhere to be seen in the email. As such, you can’t just ‘click the obvious link’ to go to their site.

A lot of the things above seem pretty small things to a lot of people, however I’m really impressed that they’ve chosen a lot of those options – especially the plain text email. Nefarious individuals and companies that use phishing attacks prey on people reacting to a familiar company and brand, such as from their bank to take an action. By providing it in plain text, it removes the familiarity aspect away to make you read the email. By not providing any hyperlinks, you need to open your browser yourself and go to their web site.

All round, a great email from Suncorp and they should be congratulated for doing their part in helping keep their clients information private and their money safe. If I were to make a single change to it, it’d be to remove the phone number and direct the user to their web site (no hyperlink) to get the phone number if they don’t already have it on hand. That way, all of the contact information needs to be entered by the user on their own behalf, which would all but remove the risk of a phishing attack.

Hogs Breath Cafe

Another thing that was a happy coincidence after eating dinner at Hogs Breath Cafe last night was they have their 21st birthday celebration on until the 21st August.

The 21st birthday celebration means if you eat at Hogs Breath and order one of their signature steaks, they’ll give you a frequent diners card for free that entitles you to 21% off your next meal at Hogs Breath. If you’re a current frequent diners card holder, you’re entitled to your normal frequent diners card discount and they’ll give you a Hogs Breath steak knife for each prime rib meal as well.

Since Claire and I have had Hogs Breath cards for a long time, they were still happy to give them to us so we signed up Lorraine & Sterle – fantastic. I’m now thinking we should go back before the end of the month, get a couple more frequent diners cards for some other friends that don’t have them and get another pair of steak knives!

Dinner For Four

Claire, Hugo, Evie, Sterle and I went out for dinner tonight to Hogs Breath Cafe. Our intention was to go to Hogs Breath at the Logan Hyperdome, however they were booked out so we booked in at Hogs Breath on Seaworld Drive Main Beach near Marina Mirage on the Gold Coast.

The fact that we went out for dinner might not seem all that interesting, except it was the first time that we, as a family of four, have gone out for dinner since Evie was born in May. Hugo was on his absolute best behaviour, ate more food than I think I’ve ever seen him eat for dinner and helped put our empty glasses onto one of the waiters trays, which was followed up by a couple of high fives. Evie was happy resting in the pram for the first half an hour and was a little grizzly midway through but then had a power nap, which was great.

I remember when Claire and I took Hugo out for our first dinner after his birth, we were really nervous and weren’t sure how it’d turn out. It wasn’t a train smash by anyones standard but with a little more practice, it became easier. Of course, with two children I figured that’d be a completely different beast, however on this occasion it was a screaming success – metaphorically speaking.

Now we just need to find the next place we’re going to grab an early dinner at!