Business things

Sway, Power point, Word, Dynamic Heuristic Data basing ARGH!!

Once upon a time, there was a little 14 year old nerd, who got a nice ticket that let him wag school, to fix the computers in the lab whenever they went down. Somehow I got one too, haha. Ah, the good old days of NT4.

I stayed hard out on the old computers until I guess I was about 21 or so. Then I became something more of a dabbler as superbike racing, quantity surveying and arguing on forums took over my life.

What kind of sucks about that? It means databases no longer come naturally to me – it is a hard slog.

To produce these reports, everything goes into a creaky database structure. My earnings for the last quite some time have come from writing reports, but my work for the last 2 years has been defining the data to collect, and figuring out how to meaningfully extract information, for you, from that.

In the bid to try and make that information better (read non linear, multiple levels of detail, automated informatics) I have been playing with everything in microsofts low end arsenal.

But there comes a time, when every man must recognize his limitations, and when a man recognizes a software limitation.

I have spent the last few weeks trying to get to a better system of report delivery, I hate PDF. It is so, well, limiting. Using word as the generator disallows one from easily using Iframes – which matters when half of the product is 3d models of a house, and 360 videos of it!

The goal is to take a huge wad of complex information, and distill it until you can get exactly what you need without reading swathes of gibberish.

And because I have standards, I want it to look good too.

I got the idea in my head, I might be able to use the non linear functions of powerpoint to do that – you see, word does some funny things, as noted above – It can cope with video Iframes, until you export as a PDF. I could send reports out as word documents, but that destroys the “must look pretty” imperative if you open it on a computers web viewer, or office 365 online. Can’t figure it out, works mint on mobile (where 57% of you look) but turns to jelly on a real computer. Powerpoint should have been able to deal with that. But it didn’t.

You see, making powerpoint connect to vast data sources is difficult, and formatting for variability is even harder!

I was gutted that microsoft removed graph support in sway, because in theory, though difficult to set up, and slightly undergunned, that would have been perfect for reporting. Sadly, it seems a bit like a shelved product now.

A web infrastructure that can dynamically generate reports from database content would be ideal, but there is a lot of time, learning and money to go under the bridge before I can make that work properly. That said. If you are reading this, and seeing what I am doing, and you can see the implications (no, I ain’t putting the whole business plan online for the world to see, sheesh!)

If you like what I am doing and have lazy capital, that is performing worse than the property market on mars, or mad DB, or UX, or UI, or front end, or back end skills, maybe give me a holler – 0212440865. I ain’t that much of a secret squirrel nut, and I’d like to get this cat going a bunch better and faster.

If you just like what I am doing, or are nosy (or worried), sweet. Keep watching, because it only gets better from here.

Rant out.


Business things

Business models

I realise that business models only excite a small portion of the population – most of us are focused more on the outcome of any transaction – what we get, rather than the working parts inside that transaction.

I happen to agree with Dale Carnegie – the other persons perspective is vital.

Hence, I add this section – a way to compartmentalise my business yammering, while still making it available. My personality tests on the big 5 aspects reveal I am very open. What does that mean?

For the longest time, I have considered open sourcing this businesses financial data. I am not quite there yet, but here are a few reflections from my data collection.

Dunedin sells between 2500 and 3200 houses per year – with much less market fluctuation than many cities.

Approximately 1 out of 3 property sales have a building inspection clause.

Dunedin has 11 private building inspectors.

Each inspection takes 1.5 – 2.5 hours.

Writing a report can be done with a checkbox approach in half an hour or so – I don’t use one of those systems – It limits the value of what can be said.

My report writing/research time can vary from 1.5 hours (when I am absolutely on fire and focused!) Through to 16 hours for some of the very hairy ones. (ever tried to digest and understand a 200 page LIM?!)


That gives enough information for you to roughly calculate what building inspectors can earn – but you should also be able to work out that we have a very real theoretical cap on the amount of work we can do.

This new model aims to solve that problem – necessity is the mother of invention. At 10 inspections a week, I am forcing myself to be more efficient than I normally am.

In simpler terms, I am trying to swap a high value low turnover business model, for a significantly lower value, but much higher turnover business model. More work? Maybe, but more scalability? Yup.

Hit me up with any questions.