To Sell is Human – Dan Pink

One of the TED talks I have watched the most and basically require other people to watch is on The Surprising Science of Motivation. In the presentation Dan Pink talks about Intrinsic Motivation, something which as a programmer, film maker, entrepreneur and activist I am very deeply motivated by.

Dan Pink : To Sell Is Human (Book Cover)
Dan Pink : To Sell Is Human

In the TED talk Dan Pink basically explains the core premises behind his book Drive. I loved the book so much that I purchased multiple copies and gave them away as presents.

When Dan’s website showed he was going to release a new book I jumped on the pre-order.

Well the book, To Sell Is Human arrived yesterday and straight out of work I started reading it. Waiting for the bus, riding the bus, at home until I basically fell asleep.

I’ve only read 72 pages so far (out of 250), but I’m loving it.

Some points so far :

  • There are two types of selling. The normal sales type, of which 1 in 9 Americans are employed to do (a lot more than I expected). But there is also the non-sales selling. Things like a teacher convincing a student to study for the up-coming test, or an entrepreneur pitching their idea to potential co-founders. The thing is, pretty much everyone is doing non-sales selling. They are moving people. Getting them to change their ways or part with time, expend effort and do things which are the the mutual interests of both parties involved.
  • When most people thing about salesmen they think of the classic used car salesmen, Avon ladies, or insurance salesmen. Those situations, especially use car sales were fraught with information asymmetry. The seller knew if the car was a ‘lemon’… A dud that would break down and be very expensive to maintain, or if it was a peach. So the buyer had to beware. However these days it is the sellers that have to beware. With the Internet and sites like eBay, Amazon and the like it is easier for buyers to do research and know more about the product than the salesmen do and if they suspect any deception or problems they can buy it online.
  • The new ABCs of selling is no longer Always Be Closing. It is attunement, buoyancy and clarity.Attunement : Being in tune or harmony with the people, groups and contexts with which you are trying to move them.Buoyancy : The ability to bounce back from rejection and why believing in what you are selling is essential.

    Clarity : The capacity to make sense of murky situations. What matters more today isn’t problem solving but problem finding. Uncovering challenges that the other person may not know they have. In the world of information overload curation is also important.

My only real issue with the book so far is that Dan Pink spends so much time trying to convince the reader that selling is a big part of the modern world, something I already understood, that it has taken a while to get into the actual techniques .

I’m hoping that some of the techniques in the book will help me be both a better activist and also a better entrepreneur.  Hopefully in the future I will be better at explaining to people the ideas around the Price of Zero, a future where the necessities of life can be free to everyone on the planet. Food, water, electricity, education, entertainment, health and more, for free, to everyone. In case you are interested, I am working on the Education side :)

Have you read the book? If so what did you think?

NB : I am not affiliated with Dan Pink in any way, nor am I getting any money for this post. I just like his stuff.

Dust, insidious dust

The sun beats down, heating a particle of dust on the ground. It shakes and vibrates with heat and excitement, raring to get away.
Plod goes the feet and with a puff of air the dust is off and away.
In the air, it is joined by millions of friends as a cloud forms behind the walkers on the dirt road.
Up, up and into someone’s nose it goes.
Out it goes.

The pressure changes, the wispy clouds bring the wind with them.
Dirt, dust, destruction.

The dust is insidious. It gets into everything. Buttons, camera lenses, your skin, your eyes, into your brain. It clogs everything up, turns sliding surfaces into scratching, grinding, destruction. It lets itself into your tent, into the weaving of your clothes, it refuses to leave from under your fingernails and even when evicted returns before you have had a chance to admire the clean white view.
Your skin turns brown, not from the suns rays giving burning your skin, but from the dust which seems to make its way under your skin.
The dust can eventually be washed away, although a 3min shower isn’t enough. Try an hour long bath.
Blow your nose 3 days after you have been in the outback and you will still find enough dust to turn your hanky brown.

Water, an essential part of life. But mix it with the dirt and dust and you get mud. Soft, squishy pervasive mud that cakes itself onto your clothes, weighs them down and then hardens upon drying.

Civilisation, cities. These are havens from the dust, a place where the insidious, malevolent force of nature is not allowed, is banned, shunned, hated and attacked.

We are ripping open the heart of the land to extract minerals, we are drilling in more and more remote places to find oil. We are cutting down trees far faster than new ones can grow. We are over fishing, poisoning and even blowing up our marine habitats then destroying the rest with increasing ocean acidification.
Our burnt waste and car, truck and plane fumes are turning the very air we breathe into a caustic cocktail…. And it is all nearly worth it. It is nearly worth the destruction of the planet and all humans, plants and animals, for we are putting up a barrier against dust.

But no, it is not worth it because we can do better. We don’t need to destroy the world, we can live within in. We can enjoy it.


The post above was written by Michael Kubler after having spent some time up at Roxby Downs (Lizard’s Revenge) and also from the first few days of the Walk for Solar (328km walk from Port Augusta to Adelaide). I don’t actually loathe dust THAT much, I suspect I’m just not used to it and the effects it has on things like electronics.

Yeast or Egg, the future of Humanity?

My Dad thinks of humans as akin to Yeast, we will eventually kill ourselves off, swimming in our own waste. I think of us like an embyro in an egg, we have to break out of our current growth mentality.


Yeast produce Alcohol as a waste product. Given enough sugar they will produce so much alcohol that they eventually kill themselves off when they are swimming in Alcohol (about 14-16% worth).
My Dad doesn’t care about all the environmental destruction being caused because he figures that the Earth will fix itself within a few million years just like it did when the dinosaurs were wiped out and it doesn’t matter to him if humanity dies within a hundred years or so, he figures he’s got less than 40 years left on the planet.
My response to that is that the Australian Aboriginals lived in balance with nature for (possibly) over 40,000 years. That shows that humans can live a sustainable lifestyle, although I’d prefer to use newer technology to allow us to do so.


Bird Embryo Development
Bird Embryo Development

My view is that humans are like an embryo of a baby bird growing inside an egg. The hope is that we have enough yoke to grow a beak and peck our way out of the shell. If we don’t make our way out then we will die inside the rotting egg.

To me the yoke is fossil fuels and our old ways of thinking, breaking out of the shell and feeling the sunlight is our transition to renewable energy, new forms of thinking. More collaboration instead of competition, shared access instead of private ownership, managing for abundance instead of scarcity and a systems approach to fixing the core problems instead of band-aid solutions.

I care about what it will be like as a human in 7 generations time and even 1,000 years time, which is why if we don’t change our ways I question if we will we still have bird, trees and even air to breathe. If we do change then I think the world will be a much more amazing place for everyone.

Fishburners Skype convo – List of Angels/VCs in Australia

[3:35:58 PM] robertaoliu: if anyone else finds this useful, here’s what I’ve got so far for angels/VCs in Australia
[3:36:09 PM] robertaoliu:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
[3:36:17 PM] robertaoliu: and USA so far:
[3:36:26 PM] robertaoliu:

The first day of a new chapter

Today is the first day of a new chapter in my life.
I’ve just travelled from Adelaide to Sydney and am about to take a leap of faith. I’m about to bet all my money and 3 months of my life on my own skills and ideas.

I’m an entrepreneur and web developer. I’m also a photographer and film maker. Because I’m both is one of the reasons I have to make such a leap. Because I need to focus.


The Points

The Goal : Create a collaborative community fostering platform built around the concept of Multipath Interactive storytelling.

The Problem : When in the Adelaide Films on the Fly office I am surrounded by people (like Sunny Wu, Amy Campbell and Tim Standing) who are talking about and making films. Mainly short films.  This means that I also talk about and make films. I am (well was until very recently) the South Australian chapter co-ordinator for the Zeitgeist Movement. I also worked part time at ANAT, the Australian Network for Art and Technology, as their Technology Officer. All that together means I had no time to program the web platform.

The Solution : I’m in Sydney! I’m maxing out my credit cards, emptying my savings, pulling in lots of favours so that I can get a chair, desk and access to wireless Internet, plus somewhere to sleep for 3 months. The office I’ll be at also has other web development companies there, allowing me to be surrounded by people developing for the web… So I’ll be focused on web development.


Being Prepared

I’m armed with a netbook, a laptop, a massage cushion (to relax my back after those long nights programming) and a culmination of 2 years worth of ideas and concepts compiled into a 70 page master design document.

We’ve also got a starting point, an alpha prototype that is almost worth showing to people, hopefully by the end of the week I’ll be posting some more screenshots and video, asking for feedback.



I run Films on the Fly. A small startup company that myself, Sunny Wu and John Willanski created a couple of years ago.

John’s no longer a part of the company as he’s been busy with his own stuff. Sunny does a lot of the video editing and we work together on the ideas generation and filming. Amy Campbell started as an aspiring actress and 3 quarter lawyer that came along to the 2nd Linkr film making workshop. She’s now my girlfriend, the general administrator/organiser and has recently done the directing for The Remainderman.

The Questions

I have a lot of questions for my future self. The two main ones being :

  1. Is the world ready for this?
  2. The other being, Am I ready for this?

The Films on the Fly platform that I want to create can go a lot of different ways and become a lot of different things. It might only work as a WordPress plugin, or it might work best as it’s own platform. Because we are trying to foster multiple collaborative communities, I’m expecting that we’ll need our own platform. The other side of things is that Films on the Fly is also looking to change part of the education, entertainment and economic paradigms. Not easy tasks.

On the flip side. I don’t know if I can do it.
I’ve worked at a service station, in the Air Force Reserves, done 2 years of Uni, spent 3.5 yrs on the Internode helpdesk and 16 months as the Technology Officer at ANAT. I’ve also gone through the MEGA (Mobile Enterprise Growth Alliance) course which taught be about entrepreneurship… and is how the directors first met, and where FotF and Multipath was born, out of what was Kino Portable and the Non-Linear Narrative concept. More recently I also attended most of the Innovate SA Investment Attraction course. I’ve spent the 2 years between MEGA and now learning everything from distributed, scalable computing and various programming techniques, including lean startup and testing-driven-development, through to management using intrinsic motivation, the biological processes of human behaviour and much more.

But… Can I hack it? Will I end up spending all my time watching TV shows and chatting on Facebook, or will I actually create a web platform that customers can not just use, but enjoy, love. A platform that people (almost) can’t live without.

Check out the and blogs to learn more about the  journey that I am taking.

Web Browser Extensions

One of the extensions I’ve come to love is Facebook Photo Zoom. It lets you put your mouse over a small image (e.g someone’s display pic) in Facebook and it’ll show a full sized (or as close to it as your screen will support) image.

Download Facebook Photo Zoom for Google Chrome or Firefox.

Update : Another great Firefox extension is Download Flash and Video, which allows you to easily download YouTube videos, plus the Extended Copy Menu which lets you copy as plain text (great for pasting into other documents without the crazy formatting that you sometimes get).

Other recommended Firefox extensions :

  • Tab Mix Plus : Adds advanced control over how Tabs are used in Firefox. I love the ability to protect tabs, plus set it up to always opento the right and focus on the right tab on close. Makes it easier to deal with many, many tabs.
  • Xmarks Sync : If your like me then you’ve got multiple computers then you’ll know how annoying it can be to syncronise bookmarks between your different installs of Firefox.

Extensions for Web Developers

  • Firebug : Firebug is great for inspecting elements and the DOM, checking jQuery expressions, making live CSS, HTML and Javascript changes, viewing the console logs, etc..
  • DOM Inspector : A plugin for Firefox which is similar to Firebug.
  • Colorzilla : It’s amazing how often I need to find the right colour. Using Colourzilla I can use the dropper to work out what another colour is, use the colour wheel to select my own colour and easily copy the # or RGB colours for my CSS files.
  • Screengrab : Ever wanted to make a screenshot of a WHOLE page even though it was say 8 times longer than the screen? Now you can! I often use Screengrab to save screenshots at the end of the Scrum sprint (Friday’s) so that I can see a history of the sites I’ve been working on and their evolution.
  • WebDeveloper : This should be on every web dev’s toolbar. Whilst doing a number of features similar to Firebug it’s still incredibly useful, especially when trying to test the page with javascript disabled (or disabling those damn right click restrictions on certain sites). I usually like the inspect element tool when trying to write jQuery selector expressions, although sometimes also use Firebug or Google Chromes built in inspector.

Got some more Firefox or Chrome extensions you think should be on the list? Comment or email me.

Program Installers should show the Readme AS they are installing

This is my call to all programers who use, and especially those that make installer programs.


If it takes me 5mins to find and download the app, then 2mins to go through the installer and another 5mins to actually install the program, then before that 5mins at the end you could have easily opened up the readme file and showed the user something possibly interesting or required. At the moment only once the application is installed does the readme file get briefly flashed up to the user, who, wanting to actually use the program closes it and everything else down.

The biggest problem was when I went to install Nero 7. It took NEARLY AN HOUR, and at the end of it they opened up the readme. To me it’s just a bad waste of users time.

If you want to go another step then how about using the installation time to actually show something interesting and useful. Some computer games kinda do this, but not to the full extent they could. With the dual/quad core, 2GB+ ram, NVida/ATI graphics card nature of most computers these days it would be easy to show tutorial information as the program is installing.

Imagine this : As you are waiting for a big program to install it actually shows you a screencast of how to use the program. A getting started  guide, or even a trailer.

Note : With Steam and the prominence of Internet download/preloading this issue isn’t such a big issue for computer games, but some apps could still do with an updated installer.

Ubuntu /etc/init.d/ventrilo startup script

Target Audience : Ubuntu Linux admin guru’s trying to install Ventrilo (i.e geeks)
Document : An example /etc/init.d ventrilo file

Well, it looks like having an automatically starting ventrilo server on Ubuntu isn’t as super easy as I’d hoped, unless I’m missing something stupidly wrong.
Thankfully I’ve already made an init.d file for a complied version of PureFTP (which I’ll post soon).

Firstly, go to the Ventrilo website, and download the server application, then upload it to your server. Some basic setup details are available here.

Let’s assume you’ve uploaded the ventrilo server file to the directory you are currently in.

Installing Ventrilo (assuming it was just uploaded to the server).

mkdir /usr/installed
mkdir /usr/installed/ventrilo
cd /usr/installed/ventrilo
gzip -d ventriloServer.tar.gz && tar -xf ventriloServer.tar
rm ventriloServer.tar ##Removes the zip file
touch /etc/init.d/ventrilo ##Create the startup script file
chmod ugo+x /etc/init.d/ventrilo ##Set file permissions
/etc/init.d/ventrilo ## Write/configure the startup script. Note that you can use vi, or what ever editor you like

You can tweak the server settings by editing /usr/installed/ventrilo/ventrilo_srv.ini
You can manually test Ventrilo by running /usr/installed/ventrilo/ventrilo_srv

Now copy the custom Ventrilo startup script from below, tweak it as required (e.g if you installed to a different directory), and write it to /etc/init.d/ventrilo
File : /etc/init.d/ventrilo

#! /bin/sh
# Copyright (c) 2009 Michael Kubler
# All rights reserved.
# Author: Michael Kubler, 2009
# /etc/init.d/ventrilo

# Provides:          Voip
# Required-Start:    $network
# Short-Description: Ventrilo daemon, Providing Ventrilo voice support
# Description:       The Ventrilo server provides a server for Ventrilo clients to connect to


cd /usr/installed/ventrilo/
# /etc/init.d/ventrilo: start and stop the Ventrilo daemon

export PATH=”${PATH:+$PATH:}/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/sbin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:”
VENT_COMMANDS=”-d -f/usr/installed/ventrilo/ventrilo_srv”

## Set Colours (For a more interesting output)

# Check for missing binaries
test -x $VENT_BINARY || { echo “$VENT_BINARY not installed”;
if [ “$1” = “stop” ]; then exit 0;
else exit 6; fi; }

. /lib/lsb/init-functions ## A file that contains some useful functions, esp the logging stuff used in the script below.

case “$1” in
log_begin_msg “Starting Ventrilo daemon : ”
echo -e “${WHITE}\c”
if [ -s $PID_FILE ] && kill -0 $(cat $PID_FILE) >/dev/null 2>&1; then
echo -e “${RED}WARNING : Ventrilo daemon already running. It will NOT be started.”
echo -e “${WHITE}Suggestion : Try using ‘/etc/init.d/ventrilo reload’ instead\033[;37m”
log_end_msg 1
exit 0
start-stop-daemon –start –quiet –pidfile $PID_FILE –exec $VENT_BINARY — $VENT_COMMANDS
echo -e “${WHITE}\c”
log_end_msg $?

echo -e “${BRIGHT_WHITE}\c” ##NB : The \c prevents a new line char
log_begin_msg “Stopping Ventrilo daemon : ”
echo -e “${RED}\c”
start-stop-daemon –stop –pidfile $PID_FILE
rm -f $PID_FILE
echo -e “${WHITE}\c”
log_end_msg $ES
echo -e “${BRIGHT_WHITE}\c”
log_warning_msg “Stopping Ventrilo daemon : ”
echo -e “${RED}\c”
start-stop-daemon –stop –pidfile $PID_FILE
rm -f $PID_FILE
echo -e “${BRIGHT_WHITE}\c”
log_end_msg $ES
log_warning_msg “Starting Ventrilo daemon : ”
echo -e “${WHITE}\c”
if [ -s $PID_FILE ] && kill -0 $(cat $PID_FILE) >/dev/null 2>&1; then
echo “${RED}Ventrilo daemon already running according to $PID_FILE”
exit 0
start-stop-daemon –start –quiet –pidfile $PID_FILE –exec $VENT_BINARY — $VENT_COMMANDS
log_end_msg $ES
echo -e “${WHITE}\c”
log_success_msg “Usage: /etc/init.d/ventrilo ${BRIGHT_WHITE}{start|stop|reload|force-reload|restart}${WHITE}”
exit 1
exit 0

You should now be able to start, stop, and reload ventrilo as you are used to with other apps.


/etc/init.d/ventrilo start
/etc/init.d/ventrilo stop
/etc/init.d/ventrilo restart

However it won’t automatically startup on boot. You have to run one last command to get that running.

update-rc.d ventrilo defaults

You now have a Ventrilo server that you and your friends can connect to.

Please note : The free version of Ventrilo only allows for 8 people to connect, and their purchasing licensing is very restrictive (you have to purchase a minimum of 1000 slots). I’d suggest looking into Teamspeak, or Mumble instead.