The results of my Apple vs. Microsoft auction experiment

Some of you may have read my last post,  in which I announced my way of celebrating the 1st birthday of WIndows 7 with an auction of my pristine, never-worn, Windows 7 t-shirt, cap, shopping bag and 2GB USB memory stick.

That auction was crosslinked with another for a frequently-worn Apple Store Sydney opening t-shirt, from 2008.

I’m a big, sweaty, guy. You don’t want to wear my old t-shirts. Trust me.

The result?

The Windows collection attracted 106 page views, five watchers and a couple of bids. The winner, who bid more than 24 hours before the auction closed, will pay $4.25 for the collection.

The Apple t-shirt attracted nine watchers, 12 bids and a final price of $51.00.

The proceeds of both auctions will be donated to MS Australia, as part of my participation in the Gong Ride.


Post 70:08 Social networking saves my bicycle

Last week my nicest bike, a road bike with carbon fibre forks,  was stolen.

I rode it to the station, locked it on a bike rack and … when I returned it had gone.

I parked it there because it is 10 metres from the entrance to a train station and in full view of a shop. Between the presence of the shopkeeper and the near-constant foot traffic to the station, I figured it was pretty safe.

I was wrong.

Someone approched the shopkeeper and said they had lost the key to the bike lock, which was why they had a hammer and chisel with which to break my cable lock.

The first thing I did was call the police.

The next thing I did was log on to Sydney Cyclist and the Dulwich Hill Bicycle Club‘s forums  to report the loss. And of course I Tweeted about it on Twitter, which quickly offered all sorts of solace and suggestions.

The immediate outpouring of sympathy was just what I had expected and hoped for, in a needy kind of way. And the “I’ll spread the word” and “I’ll keep an eye out for it” sentiments were definitely what I wanted when I let people know about the theft online.

What I did NOT expect was that Sydney Cyclist members started offering money towards a new bike. In $10s, $20s and one $50 they raised $120 as gifts to buy me new wheels. Just how touching that was, I cannot begin to describe. But suffice to say that when people you may or may not have met in the real world reach into their pockets to help you out, you feel very good and very humbled at the same time.

Others on the two sites started to suggest possible locations that stolen bikes have been known to turn up.

I followed those suggestions and, happily, recovered the bike.

The first thing I did was Twitter it. And as soon as I found a moment, I got onto the DHBC and Sydney Cyclist sites to let those communities know about the good news. Suffice to say I felt the love again.

Some members of the social networks are now networking in other ways to take steps to restrict the market for stolen bicycles.

Thinking about it now, I find it simultaneously remarkable and natural that I turned to social networks so quickly in this situation. I wanted to share events and emotions with people that matter to me – even if only because they have taken the time to join the same online community as I.

I’m now trying to figure out how I feel about socialnetworking’s role in the incident. It says a lot about the things I use social networks for and the power of those networks. It makes me wonder if I should explore more networks to tap into their power for other occasions in my life.

Above all, it cements the power of social networks for me while also re-enforcing their social nature because this was a social transaction, not a for-profit use of a network.

Many, many thanks to anyone who contributed to helping me find the bike, or participated in discussions about it!

Postscript: Since I got the bike back, our iPod has died. We ripped all our CDs and stored them in the shed three years ago. Looks like the household will be making another purchase soon after all!

Post 44:08 PR-ing bloggers vs. grass roots sponsorship (With an update!)

I’ve known for a while that PRs target bloggers.

Now I have seen it at work and reaction to it among members of the bicycle club of which I am a member.

One of the members of the club runs a blog that mentions his cycling exploits, and received an email from a PR to this effect:

I work on behalf of [an energy drink] . I came across your blog when searching for Australian blogs that focus on sport and noticed you’re a keen cyclist.

We recently launched [new energy drink products].

We would like to know if you would be interested in receiving some free product … to help you reach your cycling goals. Please note that this is a gift, [Energy Drink company] do not expect you to write or comment on the product but given your interest in sport would like you to sample the new products. However, if you do chose to write something, we ask that disclose that [Energy Drink company] provided the product sample as a gift. “

Reaction to this offer on the forum has been interesting.

The recipient of the offer decided to ignore it, thinking it was an imposition. unwelcome intrusion.

A couple of folks declared it Spam.

Another couple said “Cool! Free stuff!”

One said that it is a cynical ploy he finds distasteful and that a better idea would be to sponsor grass roots sporting organisations, which would create more goodwill.

My reaction? I can imagine this is quite effective, although risky if a blogger/rider feels the drink did not help their performance.

If can also imagine a rider shows up to a bunch ride with a few bottles of this stuff, there will be a lot of talk about it during the ride and it could spark other riders to try it.

But that is where it gets cynical, for me. Instead of sending out a few bottles of this stuff, why not actually help out the grass roots? Our club could use a sponsor. Even $500 would make a difference.

By the time the PR has couriered the drink into their offices, couriered it out to the blogger and charged their hourly rate for the whole exercise, I reckon a $500 bill is not far fetched.

If a brand simply handed over $500 and some branded goodies (cyclists often wear bandannas under their helmets, to soak up sweat and I cannot imagine those cost a whole lot to make) it would make the whole club more disposed to try their goods, and possibly also more disposed to use them in the long term. And seeing as most clubs have online presences, including forums, I think the $500 could go a lot further used in this way because it would expose the brand to enthusiasts for a longer period, rather than just in a single blog post!


Today I checked my Hotmail account, something I do only once or twice a month.

I got the energy drink offer too!

I have emailed the PR concerned and asked if my club can get sponsorship instead of energy drink, disclosed this post and my role as a journalist who grazes on this space.

Let’s see what happens next!

Post 25:08 Signing my life away

I’ve signed some scary documents lately.

One, which I signed last night, declared that as I am now a Volunteer Under 7 Soccer Team Manager I have not ever been convicted of a child sex offense. If I have lied about this and am found to be a sex offender who comes within a mile of a kids soccer team, I get thrown in jail.

I have also signed, when becoming a member of Cycling NSW, a document that says whoever it is that runs drug tests can come and drug test me any time they want. Now I take a fair bit of pseudo-ephedrine, as I am especially prone to colds for all sorts of dull reasons.

So if I suddenly disappear, you now have a fair idea why!

Post 96a: Organised begging for a good cause

Hi readers.

Some of you may know that last year I rode in the Sydney to Wollongong bike ride to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis.

Well I’m going again this year.

It is a terrible worthy cause and if you want to make a donation, click here for details of the wee team I have formed with some IT PR folk and all the things you need to send some cash to the MS folk.

BTW, it should be an interesting ride. I’d been training well through the winter, getting my average speed up and generally getting stronger. Then came my cold of the last four weeks, which has seen me ride about 8km in a month! Hopefully in the next four weeks I can build on that base and hit my target of doing the ride in 5 hours and 30 minutes, a fair target on my very clunky MTB.

If I can do it, I will buy myself a road bike and get serious about this cycling caper!

Post 77: Achoo! A modest proposal

How long will it be before Horse Flu gets political?

Part of me thinks that in the current climate neither side will be immediately leaping into action.

But both sides are also finding it hard to pass up any sort of point-scoring opportunity. I reckon it won’t be long before some kind of rescue package gets floated, which will be bloody hard to rebut.

Which way does the horse racing industry vote, anyway?

Interesting, meanwhile, to see that the economic effects are already being reported.But as my wife pointed out, it is ancillary industries like millinery that may be the silent victims – those guys basically rely on the big racing carnivals for their coin!

In any case,  let me offer a modest proposal that could help in these horse-deprived times.

Bicycle racing.

Imagine that, instead of racegoers turning up to watch the horses charge down the straight, they instead got all dressed up to see mountain bike riders churning up the turf. We could put some berms and jumps around Randwick, Caulfield, Flemington and Rosehill. The crowds would love to see the lycra-clad riders (of both genders, naturally) and their shiny iron steeds.

Cycling would love the exposure (and the kickbacks from the TAB). Racegoers would still get to have their afternoons out.

Okay … maybe not quite the same. But worth a try?

Post 62: I really must stop taking phone calls on my bicycle

I really must stop taking mobile phone calls on my bicycle.

There seems to be some weird variant on Murphy’s Law that means if I ride my bike and the phone rings, it is PR person trying to pitch to me.

A very odd conversation ensues in which the poor PR, quite reasonably, finds it hard to adjust their pitch into some nano-pitch suitable for bike-riding journos. I end up sending an email apologising for being so brusque and explaining that my panting breathlessness really was the result of being on a bicycle.

Best, from now on, just not to take the calls, I think.

Unless someone knows of a bike-mounted mobile hands free speakerphone gizmo.

Post Forty Six: Bikers get it right

I try to ride a bicycle whenever possible. It’s fun and there are obvious benefits.

So why doesn’t everyone do it?

Laziness is one factor.

I also find the cycling lobby tends to be pretty sanctimonious with its promotion. And the clogging up of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge at peak hour is exactly the way to make yourself look like fringe ratbags.

I occasionally get into online spats with people by suggesting that the key message for cycling promotion should not be “it’s good, do it” and instead should focus on a message that shows people that they CAN make cycling a part of their lives without undue hassle or expense.

So the video below is pretty heartening to me because its depiction of all sorts of people cycling in all sorts of situations seems to me to be a far better attempt at promoting cycling than many other campaigns I have seen.

It’s quite fun too, and not a bad demonstration of a viral campaign.

Thanks to Spinopsys for the link.