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02 November 2009

Stationery Magazine - My First Online Venture

I have been working towards launching an online magazine for the office supplies and stationery industry in Australia for the past 6 months. And finally today we have launched the Website.

Please do check out the site and post comments here on things we can improve on the website.

A bit about what the site is all about:


Stationery Magazine (, a new online publication that intends to cater to the Stationery and Office Supplies Industry in Australia, launches today.

One of the few (if not the very first) web sites to target the diverse and complex Office Supplies Industry in Australia, Stationery Magazine wants to become the definitive and most reliable source to which the Resellers can turn to for their various needs. They will be providing the Industry Players with the latest, relevant and exhaustive information about the different Products, Promotions, News & Events.

Stationery Magazine will be acting as a central hub where Suppliers, Resellers and anyone belonging to the Stationery and Office Supplies Industry can come together and interact with each other for finding solutions to their business-related problems, publish editorials for free as part of their promotional efforts and also place paid advertisements towards enhancing their Brand- building efforts .

All those who are interested in joining the Stationery Magazine community in order to enjoy the full benefits offered by the web site can do so, by registering at the site for Free.

For more information, visit


Fingers Crossed!! Lets see what it turns out to become :)

06 July 2009

Our House - Substantial Completion of Brick Work

It has been 3 weeks since the frame was erected. The brick layers have completed most of the Brick Work.

Bricks Delivered

Concrete Mixing

Brick Laying

Ground Floor Completed


Starting Work on First Floor after Scaffolding

Substantial Completion of Brick Work

Next week, they will start Roofing, finish Brick work and also the internal Electrical wiring works.

Things are moving as planned... Fingers Crossed!

If you would like to read Part 1,2 & 3 please click Part 3 , Part 2 Part 1

22 June 2009

Behind The Scenes - Making of a Website

Having a website is a fundamental requirement for every business in this internet age. So learning the basics of getting the site ready was of utmost importance to me during my preparation period. My aim was to identify a platform that is simple to use and can be updated and managed easily.

Before this, I never even knew that there were open source platforms like Drupal, Joomla, Word Press etc., using which we could build full-fledged websites. While searching online, I found a lot of paid platforms, however none of them came close to open source. Maybe I am biased here, due to the cost factor :).

With a multitude of free platforms, it was rather tough to pick one. I knew what I wanted, but mapping my requirements to the appropriate platform was taking more time than anticipated. I had to tackle this a bit differently.

My first instinct was to seek professional assistance of a web developer. But then I realised that I would only be given a suggestion based on what one person knows or is exposed to. If, at a later stage, it turned out to be wrong, I would be in big trouble. To be on the safer side, I had to ask at least 8 to 10 professionals to reach a final decision. But the tough part was to find these professionals and secondly, even if I find them, would they care to help?

Linked-in was the answer to my problem. I posted a few questions about what I was looking for and in reply, a lot of experts around the world shared their point of view. I got a really balanced and informed opinion about each of the available platforms and within a few days, was able to make a decision! Thanks to social networks!

And Joomla was the winner.

The next task was to select a hosting provider. When I typed in web hosting, there were hundreds of companies that came up in Google, starting from Free sites to those charging $500 per month. The range of options was too vast and it was hard to make comparisons! I started going through a few of the plans and had to research further when I came across words like Dedicated, Virtual, Co-hosting, Grid etc.

I realised that I had to first determine the type of hosting that I need, before looking into the nitty-gritties. Once I had a fair idea of the different hosting options available, I framed a few questions around my requirements and posted it in Linked-in to get expert opinions. I also put posers on other websites like to get a local perspective. The suggestions were more or less similar - Dedicated Virtual Hosting looked like the best bet.

Once I decided on Dedicated Virtual Hosting , I had to find a provider. The available options were narrowed down as I was looking for a DV provider within a certain price range. There were 4 or 5 providers that always came up in searches and there were a lot of comments available on the web about each of them. From there, it was an easy pick.

The choices around the website were finally made; all thanks to the internet and the online communities ever ready to help.

09 June 2009

Our House - Progress so far

The framework of our house has been completed. For the past 3 weeks, I have been going on-site every day! It was really exciting to see the shape of the house evolving.

Timber framing the ground floor

Fixing up the front

Starting work on level one

Getting the roof done

Half way through the roofing

Final Touch up on the sides

Windows fitted

Frame work almost done

Being there, I just felt like all the hard work is starting to pay-off finally.

Next stage is brick-laying. Once they complete laying the bottom half of the house, the Scaffolding will go up. Waiting for that to happen!

If you would like to read Part 2 please click here

If you would like to read Part 1 please click here

28 May 2009

Testing the Waters, Toe by Toe - Which ERP system should I pick?

The second question in my mind, was around the accounting package for my business.

Having managed a couple of SMB Accounting Packages and having had to grapple with the complexities associated with them, I figured that I needed something that is really simple to use.

I certainly did not want to get mired in the complexities of managing a software application on site. Things like

1) Backing up the software application

2) Taking daily Server Snapshots for disaster recovery

3) Paying license fee for using the Software

4) Paying license fee for Users on the Servers

5) Paying for Terminal Server Licenses ( If I wanted remote access)

6) Paying for software upgrades

7) Paying for software management and support

etc. were aspects sometimes overlooked. I have seen people in various businesses going through this and tearing their hair out. The main point here is, it is hard to notice money flowing out in trickles.

Anyhow, I did not want to take this path when other options were available in the market. The solution for me was to find an application that sits on the cloud which would solve all the above issues at one go.

I was not sure how to go about finding one. As always, I started with a google search and it came up with a few applications. Figuring out how each of those apps work was taking a lot of time. I realised that if I go on like this, I will be researching forever and will not be able to reach anywhere.

I suppose one of the best (and the quickest) ways to learn is from others' experiences. So I decided to search for articles and blogs that talk about cloud computing and software-as-a-service.

I stumbled upon an article written by Brendan Lewis around "Accounting on a Cloud". The article really helped me to narrow down my search. I checked customer feedbacks on each of the software apps Brendan listed in his article and found Saasu to be the best fit for my requirements.

The best thing about Saasu was the ease of use & the simple layout. I figured out how to use the basic application in just a couple of days. I also did my BAS (Business Activity Statement) reporting in one minute.

I just had to run a report and it gave me all the totals and step-by-step instructions on which value goes to which column of the BAS statement.

Doing my BAS was a big deal for me as it was my first time. The other reason being, I have experienced first hand what happens when the accounting package fails to give correct BAS totals thereby forcing the accounts department to manually do the calculations!

In addition to all of this, the pricing of Saasu was phenomenal. They had a great pricing model where the cost was based on volume of transactions which was capped after a point. So worst case, I knew how much I would pay. Best case, I did not have to pay anything as it was free till a certain number of transactions per month.

Lastly, it was a web based application which followed the software-as-a-service model and I could access it anywhere and anytime I wanted. I would not need to worry about system crashes, changing backup tapes, renewing server licences, and so on...

Phew! Finally got that question answered!

Read Part Four - Business Structure

18 May 2009

Kangaroo Island - The hidden Gem of SA - Part 3

We decided that we will take it easy on the last day of our trip and checked out of the B&B at 9 in the morning. We headed towards Paul's Farm via Pardana. Had a quick Brekky there and continued our journey.

View Larger Map

By 11 AM we reached Paul's farm but it was closed. As we found out, there were two opening times - 12 PM and 3 PM. We were an hour early and decided to head towards Stokes Bay which was 10 minutes from there.

It appeared to be a tiny inlet of water and was filled with multi-coloured pebbles and beautiful stones. On one side of the inlet there were large rocks stacked high one upon the other in such a way that we could not see what was on the other side.

We walked over the pebbles for some time and then decided to do something else as there was nothing more to see. Suddenly we saw people coming through the gaps in between the rocks. We were curious to find out what was going on and decided to explore the place a bit more.

The path between the pile of rocks was magnificent. We were really excited, not knowing what to expect on the other side. We went deeper through this path (which was almost like walking through a cave).

The beach was amazing! It was really beautiful and had crystal clear water with white sand... We walked on the beach, soaking in the beauty of the place.

I also found an orange Starfish washed down by the waves. Had never seen an orange one before (except in the cartoons).

We lied down on the sand for some time, enjoying the sun and left for Paul's place just before 12 PM.

As we neared the place, we saw that the entrance to the farm was packed. There were 8 to 10 vehicles waiting to get in. At 12 PM, Paul arrived in his UTE to open the gates and we followed him into the farm. The cars were to be parked outside the farm and we had to get in by paying a modest entry fee.

The place was filled with animals. There were Kangaroos, Alpacas, Ducks, Hens, Sheeps & Peacocks walking amongst people. The animals seemed pretty friendly and used to being around people. First, there was an animal show and I got to carry a Roo in my arms. That was fun.

We were then taken to another area in the farm where we could see other kinds of animals. Emus, Deers, Ducks, Hens etc...were just a few of them and of course, more Kangaroos. We got to feed these animals too. I was a bit scared of the Emus as they were massive and looked none too friendly, to me!

Next, Paul said that he would bring out a "secret" creature from the small cabin and asked all the men whether they would like to volunteer their wives to hold the creature. Nykaj got excited and he wanted me to volunteer so he said that his wife is bold enough to eat a cobra's heart (I don't know how he came up with that! :) ). No one else came forward as the whole idea was to scare the lady in question, so Paul suggested that I do it to test my courage. I was asked to close my eyes. All the kids were screaming when Paul placed the creature in my hands. I opened my eyes and presto, a Marron!

From there, we went to another section of the farm where there was a Koala and couple of snakes on show. We got to carry the animals and take some pics.

Next we went to the area where birds were on show. I tried to get the birds to sit on my shoulder but they flew away and instead, went on to sit on Nykaj's shoulders. It seemed that the birds liked only men!

The entire show was really great! We had a fun time and by the time we got out, we were starving. We decided to go to Marron Cafe and have lunch.

The Cafe had its own label called Two Wheeler Creek. They also farmed freshwater crayfish – Marron. We went around the fish farm and saw how they farmed the Marrons.

Afterwards, we tasted a few of their Reds and ordered some Marron and wine to go with it. The food was delicious.

After lunch, we went to Kingscote and visited the Honey Farm and tasted some honey. We were tired by then and returned to Penneshaw before the sun set. Our Ferry arrived at 7.30 PM and we reached home by 11 PM.

We had a great time at Kangaroo Island. I would suggest whoever visits the place to spend at least 2 days to enjoy the beauty and the variety the place can offer. It is truely the hidden Gem of South Australia!

13 May 2009

Kangaroo Island - The hidden Gem of SA - Part 2

Next morning, we drove to the other end of KI which was about 175Km away from Penneshaw.

View Larger Map

On our way to Flinders Chase, we stopped at Pardana and had breakfast. Pardana was a small and extremely quiet town. We must have spotted a couple of tourists and three or four locals around. That's it. The rest of the area looked deserted and it felt a bit eerie.

We reached Flinders Chase in 2 hours and got Passes to enter the National Park. Our first stop was to see the New Zealand Fur Seals in their natural habitat. For the visitors to have a really close look at the seals, there was a wooden pathway that stretched out about 500 meters or so from the Cliffs.

The view that met our eyes was surreal. We must have spotted around 50-odd seals lying lazily all over the place. Some of them were hard to spot since it appeared as though they took on the same colour as the wet rocks.

After watching the seals for an hour from the deck, we moved on and then stopped at the Lighthouse.

The next stop was at Remarkable Rocks. And remarkable they really were... Massive granite boulders shaped by the forces of wind, sea spray and rain for the past 500 million years or so.

Next, we went to Andermel Marron Farm and Cafe to have lunch and afterwards, we headed towards Seal Bay to watch some Australian Sea Lions.

View Larger Map

The Seal Bay was a restricted area and we had to pay a fee to get to the beach and have a look at the seals at close range. It was a guided tour with 5 to 10 people in a single group. The guide gave a detailed description about the different families of seals, the behaviours of males and females etc etc...All Nat Geo stuff!

There were about 100-odd sea lions scattered around the beach. We ended up watching them for almost half an hour. They were lolling around on the beach. What a life! Or, so I thought.

But, as it turned out, these poor creatures have to go deep into the ocean searching for food, for 3 days at a stretch. If they do get back after managing to avoid the various predators in the ocean, they will sleep for the next 2 to 3 days and then, do it all over again. On second thoughts, not such a great life.

On our way back from the beach we spotted an Echinda.

It was almost 5 by the time we left Seal Bay. We had to get back to Penneshaw before it got too dark and 2 hours of driving were ahead of us. We were bone weary by the time we reached our B&B and dropped dead (well, almost) as soon as we finished our dinner.

Part 3 - coming soon!