Miles Burke

Thoughts on startups, small business, marketing & more.

Category: Personal (Page 1 of 17)

Abandoned power station

Instagram Photo A Day

I joined Instagram back in December 2010, as one of the first million users (yes, they managed to attract one million users in the first two months!) and I’ve posted an image on and off since then. I’ve been fairly low key, not making a point of using hashtags, or finding new users to follow.

Then, in late December last year, I decided to set myself a challenge of posting a photo a day during January, jumping in on the #instadaily bandwagon.

So, 57 days into 2016, and I am still posting every day. It has been a great motivator for me to take more photographs, and to encourage my often set aside hobby of Photography.

If you want to start taking photos, the stress of posting one a day is surely a good motivator. I don’t know how long I’ll keep this up for (some days I feel drained for time), however it is a fun ride so far.

If you like street photography, photos of motorcycles, random pics of mocha or coffee, please consider following me. Would be happy to follow you back. Cheers!

Festive wishes to you!

Seasons Greetings!

Hey there! I’d like to take a moment to wish you and your family a very merry, safe and frivolity-filled festive season over the coming weeks.

I am hoping that everything about 2010 was good to you, and that the coming new year (2011 – amazing!) has plenty of success in store for you; both professionally and personally.

If we know each other in real life, I trust that we’ll see each other in the coming new year. For those of my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn friends, thanks for connecting, and I look forward to staying in touch. Finally, for those who read my musings here on my blog; thanks for taking the time to visit, and I really hope that you’ll stick around.

Enjoy the break, and best wishes for 2011!

Hiding your first geocache

Geocaching containers

Before hiding a geocache, I recommend that you have at least a dozen or so finds as experience. Finding what others have hidden (such as the containers in the image above) really helps demonstrate what works and doesn’t work when it comes to hiding geocaches.

Once you’ve done this, you may want to consider hiding a cache of your own. The first step is to find a suitable location. Look for nearby parks or nature reserves with plenty of good places to hide a cache. Don’t just hide the cache on a verge or somewhere it could be found really easily by muggles.

For the purpose of this post, I’m assumign you wish to place a fairly traditional cache. These are a good start for beginners, however you may want to turn your hand to more innovative hides, such as constructed containers using the materials nearby, etc. I’ve placed caches using power point cases, carved wooden planks, hollow sticks, and the like.

My philosophy is that it either should be an interesting location (so in a beautiful part of nature, an area worth visiting for some reason; historical or otherwise, or a tourist landmark) or that the cache should be an interesting hide (so well camoflauged, or in a very tricky hiding spot). If you’re planning to throw a plastic container under a bush in an ugly industrial site, you’ll find that your cache won’t be well received.

Also be aware of the placement rules. It’s not a smart idea to place the cache on school grounds, outside a police station, or anywhere that it could be considered a security issue. I also suggest that you don’t place it right near a playground, as the hunting process, especially for lone males, will look very suspicious.

Next, put together the cache. Remember that you’ll need to maintain it, so choosing the cheapest container isn’t a smart move; cheap plastic containers tend not to be watertight, and therefore will soon need replacement. I tend to use Sistema containers, which are hardy well constructed plastic lunchbox style containers, with multiple locking latches, to help keep the cache watertight.

Next, consider camouflaging it. I have a few different spray paints which I use to paint the outside of the container. Using brown, green and black or beige in a random fashion helps make the container less likely to be spotted by non-players.

Whilst letting your painting job dry, start collecting the contents. I typically have a bag of cheap toys that I have bought at a local bargain outlet, and a few different sizes and styles of notebooks. Place a notebook and pencil in a snap lock bag, add a few swappable items, and you’re good to go!

Visit the location you wish to place the cache. Make sure that there are no other caches nearby – you wont get your cache listed if there is another cache less than 200 metres away, and it just doesn’t make sense to place yours that close, anyway.

Place the container, ensuring that it’s hidden well from accidental finds. Take note of the location, and record the co ordinates using your GPS. It’s wise to let the coordinates settle for at least a few minutes, and it’s advisable to actually take a few readings, so you can average them out.

Once you’re happy, return to your computer and from the Geocaching.com homepage, click the ‘Add a new Cache’. Make sure that you read the Guidelines before listing, and that you add plenty of information, including those important attributes.

Best of luck with your first hide!

Stepping aside…

Blokes and Sheilas

The cat is out of the bag, so to speak. I’m stepping down from my role as National Chairperson of the Australian Web Industry Association, at this years AGM. Since this forum post appeared, a number of people have been emailing or calling me to ask the inevitable ‘What’s up?’ and I felt that it was worthy of some explanation.

I rose to this role way back in 2002, when I did a call out for people to catch up for a pint and a chat with industry peers. The idea was low key, and it wasn’t long until we became an Incorporated Association under the name Port 80 Inc in July 2004. We then changed names to reflect our national focus a few years later. We’ve had great committee members come and go during the last seven or so years, and it’s been a great journey.

However, I’ve always been the Chairperson. Over the last eight years, we’ve really grown up as an Association, and I feel the last real change has been obvious for some time now; a changing at the top.

The reason is that I embrace the notion that great organisations need regular new blood to surivive, prosper and grow. We’ve had great new committee members join in the last few years (well, ever since the start), but I’ve always been there. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have consistency in management, but there must be a point that the Chairperson can change, and the underlying committee and structure becomes the constant.

I believe we’ve reached that point.

I’ll let my resignation email tell the story from here…

This hopefully won’t come as a surprise to anyone, however i’ve been thinking more frequently recently, that it is my time to move on from AWIA.

It’s been a very difficult decision, because since starting Port80 back in mid 2002, I’ve been involved in every decision and direction that AWIA has chosen. I’ve often felt that AWIA is one of my children, and I don’t want to stop being involved. I have, to a certain degree, felt resistant to leaving because I worry about the message that sends to our members.

On the other hand, I strongly believe that it’s important for any association to be seen to have fresh blood, and to reinvigorate the management committee frequently. It provides innovation, career paths (can you call this a career? :)) to fellow committee members and encourages fresh thinking. Over the last year, I have had less involvement from meeting to meeting, and it has been great that others have taken these duties and run with them.

My life has been very full the last 12 months. I feel that I’m not giving the Association the attention it deserves, and therefore not living up to the high expectations I personally have for somebody in the role of Chairperson for AWIA. A plethora of changes have occurred for me both professionally and personally, which has meant the time I have to devote to AWIA activities has become increasingly smaller for some time now. As a result, I’ve felt frustrated and guilty, in equal measures.

This is a long winded way of saying that after careful consideration, I wish to notify the committee that I will not be standing for re-election at the end of my current tenure, the August AGM. I would be open to being co-opted for a position such as ‘Immediate Past Chairperson’, which many Associations have as a way of reducing information loss, however I will not be standing as Chairperson. This has possibly been the hardest decision I’ve had to make in a long time.

I strongly believe that AWIA is in great hands, and the current committee have done a great job since the last AGM. Many of you have been on the committee for far longer, and a HUGE thanks for that. I wish to thank you all for showing through your actions your willingness to help foster a great web industry and strong member community. AWIA has an exciting time ahead of it, however not without some challenges, and I look forward to seeing where it heads in the future.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the committee members, both past and present, for giving their time up for such a cause. I’d also like to thank all Australian Web Industry Association members, for supporting the work that we’ve done, and will continue to do.

It’s been a great journey.

Finding that first geocache

Geocache camouflage

So, you’ve read my previous posts about Geocaching, and you’re up with all the lingo and how to read the Geocache listing page, and ready to try your first cache. Let’s walk you through finding that elusive first find.

Start by reading everything you can before you leave the house. Read the attributes, ratings, description and possibly the hint (if your confidence is low). I’m going to assume you’re attempting a Traditional cache with a fairly low difficulty and terrain rating.

As a result, you won’t need to take much with you, besides perhaps a print out of the cache listing or your smartphone, which you can use for ‘paperless caching’. It’s also a good idea to take a pencil or two (bring a spare to place in the cache, if the one provided is missing), a few cheap trinkets to swap (especially important if you’re taking children) and it’s probably worth taking a drink bottle.

Arrive near the listed coordinates, and find somewhere nearby to park. Now, head on over to the rough location. Take a look around, and see if there are any people nearby – part of the geocaching game is to not be caught, so you need to be ready to abort the hunt if there are people nearby. Fire up your geocaching app, or your GPSr if you have one, and wait a few moments for the coordinates to settle.

Then, walk in to where the device leads you (if you’ve got the excellent Geocaching application for the iPhone, it features a handy compass and map). Once there, remind yourself of any clues to where the cache could be hidden. Perhaps the clue is ‘down low’ or ‘in the abvious place’. For many caches, the obvious place to start looking is at the base of a tree or underneath a bush.

Be careful! There may be broken glass, spiders, snakes or other refuse to keep an eye out for – you may want to resort to using a stick or heavy duty gloves to hunt. Look for anything that could be out of place; an unusual pile of twigs or leaves, or a stack of stones are a good giveaway.

Be careful with the environment though – the purpose of Geocaching is to enjoy nature, not destroy it. Trampling over plants and throwing rocks and sticks every which way isn’t taking care of the environment.

Another good hint is to consider where you would hide something. That’s helped me find a number of elusive hides before. Could it be up in a tree, underneath some rocks, or hidden inside a log?

If you don’t immediately find it, start to widen your search area – some devices (especially the iPhone) could be out by a few metres at least.

Assuming you find it (and face it; many first hunters don’t, so please don’t despair), pull the container out a distance, open it carefully, and pull out the logbook (typically an exercise book or notepad). Find the first blank page, and sign the log – something along the lines of date, your caching username, and a comment or feedback, such as ‘Thanks for the great cache – love the location!’.

Now, if you have kids, they’ll want to look through the trinkets and perhaps swap something. The key here is to swap to approximately equal value. Don’t go putting in a 10 cent coin in exchange for a watch, for example. It’s also worth noting you shouldn’t place food items or any perishables in, either, as this could go off, and attract wildlife.

If the log book or pencil needs replacing, feel free to do this – leave the original log book in there though. Experienced cachers often bring spare pencils, plastic ziplock bags, etc for this very purpose. It’s a nice way to help the community and the cache owner.

Once you’ve gotten over the excitement of the find, replace the container exactly where it was. Hide it well (so take note how it was originally hidden) and head back home. Once back at your computer, revisit the listing page, and click the ‘Log this cache’ link. Even if you didn’t find it, this is a step to take regardless. Choose the appropriate choice ‘Found it, or Did not Find’, choose the correct date, and then leave your comment or feedback.

Hit save, and that’s it! You’ve found your first cache. Now, there’s plenty more to find in the future – many of us have thousands of caches available within a few hours drive!

Best of luck finding that first find!

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Words & Images © 2005-2016, Miles Burke. All rights reserved.