Friday, April 29, 2011

SATIS-faction - a Japanese toilet that washes you and plays Chopin

If you have every visted Japan, you will have expereinced Japanese, or 'Shower' toilets.

The 'shower' function
Depending on the standard of luxury, they wash and dry you bum, play music, dispense aid deodorant, warm the seat, and have other degrees of automation that make standard Australian and American toilets seem like the equivalent of a hole to squat over.

In my experience, they take some getting used to, but once you are - you never want to go back.

All this luxury doesn't come without a stiff price tag.

At a recent expo of of Bathroom ware in Las Vegas, Japanese company INAX showcased its new 'Satis' line. As well as looking sleek and modern, it has 'vortex flush', and is fully automated that means that it opens its lid on approach, plays music, flushes and closes its lid automatically according to your movements. Oh and it has 'double power deodorising', plus energy saving techology.

Anyway, if you have a spare US$4,800 - it could be yours.

Oh, and they make some interesting wall tiles as well.

Source: LA Times and INAX USA website

Thursday, April 28, 2011

iPadulation - UPDATE #2 - Mine has arrived!

It's here via TNT about a half-hour ago.

It's so thin!

I've clothed it in its orange cover!

It looks sooo cute!

I have to wait until after work so I can get it home, and load it with all my old iPad data!

It makes me hit the ! button far more times than is healthy!

We used to call it 'Word of Mouth'- now its something called 'F-Factor'


For a long time we have known that the people you know influence what you like, and what you buy.

Years ago when I started out in marketing and publicity, we would work on ways to increase and accelerate word-of-mouth. I remember providing postcards and free postage to theatre goers to increase the circulation of positive word of mouth.

I'm not sure the principle has changed much - just the method and the frequency.

The F-Factor
In their latest trend briefing: 'The F-Factor', trendwatching has a very good summary of how social networking (Friends, Fans & Followers) is affecting consumers, particularly consumption online.

Curated Opinion
The internet is full of opinion about almost anything. What has been missing is the notion of 'curated opinion' - that is a way of evaluating the opinions offered. For example, if you have never stayed in a 5 star hotel, then any 5 star hotel is going to be 'fantastic', 'the best' or 'awesome'. But if you stay in good hotels consistently, then, what you think of as a great hotel will be different.

We tend to share opinions with our friends, as well as other things like political and social outlook, so they are our trusted 'curators'.  Social media use this to accelerate the communication of opinion, and to make it more visible.

Read the article - it has some good synthesis, as well as interesting factoids.

I also like one of the phrases they use 'consumption is social'


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Knife with ambition

Yesderday I dealt with an ambitious knife.

I wanted it to chop parsley to make gremolata to accompany Osso Bucco in Bianco and Risotto alla Milanese.

My knife wanted to perform hand surgery.

The middle finger of my left hand got caught in between.

The nail on that finger is now clipped very short.

The finger and me will recover.

The knife is undamaged - however its ambitions have been thwarted.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

There are some things that are just wrong - 750,000 times

750,000 of these featuring William and Catherine are available now on London Transport
Anachronistic and ugly - I am referring to the design.

Source: Australian Business Traveller

Monday, April 25, 2011

agideas - Melbourne May 1 to 5 should I stay or go?

The agIdeas 2011 international design week - is on in Melbourne in about a weeks time.

I only came across this conference over easter, and am now trying to work out if I can make it there.

Over 3 days I could hear over 40 international designers speak - although actually, when I look at the program only 12 are actually not working in Australia.

Still these events are wonderful to inspire a jaded pallette.  Hearing about and seeing other people's inspiring work and ideas can be - well inspirational.

I'm talking to my accountant now, looking at that P&L statement to see if I can afford it.

OK - I'm giving myself 24 hours to decide

Sunday, April 24, 2011

iPadulation - UPDATE - Mine's going to arrive early!

Just got an email.  My iPad is going to arrive earlier than promised: 28 April.

One of the simple service tricks that Apple uses is to send you an update on your order which includes a link to the courier's tracking website - so you can monitor its progress towards you. Shriek!

Terribly exciting to see that it has left Shenzen, went to Hong Kong, and then:

That orange line of text at the bottom says 'TNT web services are temporarily unavailable' - which kind of goes for TNT Services in general from my experience.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


I've had an iPad since just after they first came out. I have probably used it every day since. Non-iPad people ask me all the time - 'What do you use it for?'.  Well here is the top 10 list:
  1. Viewing the Sydney Morning Herald, because it has not been delivered on time, or I'm traveling
  2. Catching up on email while I'm watching TV
  3. Writing blog entries while I'm on the bus/train/watching TV
  4. Reading books, or that terribly important Christopher Hitchens article just published in Vanity Fair
  5. drawing/doodling when I have a design idea and I'm not near my desk or a pencil and paper
  6. Showing my travel photos to friends and family
  7. Sharing presentations at small meetings - everyone can see it, or can grab it to look up the website they want you to know about
  8. Showing clients PDF's of design options
  9. Watching video when there is nothing I want to watch on the inflight video - or when there is no inflight video
  10. Showing how cool the iPad is to my clients and friends
I have a few others, like listening to all the podcasts I keep on it, playing games, and keeping my workout records - but they don't fit into the top 10.

I'm currently in-between iPads. I sold my old one on eBay, sending it to the wilds of Perth, to some lucky (but slightly cranky) purchaser, and my new one doesn't arrive until May.

I am in withdrawal.

Return of Return of Edina and Patsy

After months of speculation, confirmation arrives today that the cast of Absolutely Fabulous will reunite for three new episodes.
Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley will reprise their roles as Patsy and Edina in three new episodes of the sitcom expected to begin filming later this year. The BBC said it was "putting the finishing touches to the deal" and is expected to confirm it imminently. Lumley is reported to have told Hello! magazine that shooting will begin in the summer, but she said Saunders had not yet started on the script. "In late August I start filming on three episodes of Absolutely Fabulous, which we are all ecstatic about," added Lumley. "Miss Saunders has been so busy writing Uptown Downstairs Abbey for Comic Relief and also Spice Girls: The Musical, I don't think she's started [the script]."

The great thing is that because ... we fast-forwarded to where they're very old and nearly dead and practically plugged into vodka machines, it doesn't matter how beyond [the original series] we do it," she added.Absolutely Fabulous was first broadcast in 1992 and ran for three series and a two-part special until 1996. It returned for two more series and another two specials between 2001 and 2004, with a Comic Relief edition on BBC1 in 2005.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "We're putting the finishing touches to the deal to bring it back and as soon as we're in a position to confirm it we will."

The last new episode of AbFab aired in 2005.

Source: JoeMyGod

Friday, April 22, 2011

My life had no meaning until I found Armani Easter Eggs

Now for a holiday treat – or maybe more like jewish/christian/pagan horror. The Armani Easter Egg!

Easter is such a weird thing in the southern hemisphere, because it comes preceding Autumn. Originally a pagan festival celebrating the Spring equinox (hence those pesky wabbits and delicious eggs), it morphed into a Jewish festival (Passover) to celebrate the Exodus of the 'Children of Israel' from slavery in Egypt, and then into a Christian festival celebrating the crucifiction and resurection of Jesus.

Now apparently its a special occasion for Giorgio Armani.

Source: Glamchic

How to avoid those ridiculous overseas conversion charges on your credit card

In a well researched article at Australian Business Traveler, they have come up with some solutions for that perennial problem of trying to avoid high charges for converting your currency, or using your credit cards while overseas.  You can read the full article here.

Basically these are cards provided by financial institutions that you can load up with a currency (sometimes multiple) at a set exchange rate (like the US$ when it is over AU$1.05!)

No solution as you will find is perfect, but some are more perfect than others.

Now all the telco's need to do is to find a similar solution to the ridiculous charges for data and international roaming when out of Australia.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stop! Hermés now does furniture?

I've been a follower of the Hermés brand for some time. Not their saddlery roots, or horsy designs for scarves, but for their handcrafting, innovation and collaborations. And for the fact that they have not gone down the LVMH route, which for me means that you don't end up on the edge of cheesiness like Louis Vuitton.

Enzo Mari, Antonio Citterio and the RDAI studio recently joined Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermès, to design a complete furniture collection for the iconic French maison. Sofas, chairs, tables and other pieces accompany wallpapers and furnishing fabrics. Opulent materials like precious wood, leather and fine fabric are central to the project, come only second to their approach to design around the essential needs of comfort and and basic function.

Although not entirely to my taste (all a bit sombre and neutral even for me), the work is elegant, and I am sure beautifully made.  A large lottery win will be needed before I can view these products with any more than envy.

Scource: Cool Hunting

Cheap airline - even cheaper PR!

There is a principle in modern Public Relations when handling an adverse news story, or bad press, and that can be sumarised as 'come out quick, come out loud, come out honest'.

In the airline industry, you can see this in the way Qantas handled the A380 Singapore engine explosion - even co-operating with 4 Corners in making a documentary.

Today, when talking about two cancelled flights out of Melbourne that would create chaos for the airline over the Easter break, Tiger Airways showed exactly how NOT to deal with bad publicity.

Tiger spokeswoman Vanessa Regan said the planes were near capacity, with about 170 passengers on each flight. She apologised to passengers, saying the cancellations were due to "operational reasons".
It comes as the budget airline faces being grounded by the aviation regulator following a series of serious safety and maintenance breaches.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) issued Tiger with a show cause notice on March 23 giving the airline 21 days to respond, News Ltd has reported.
CASA raised concerns the cut-price carrier was not following proper procedures to ensure the utmost safety of passengers, and demanded urgent answers amid concerns pilot training standards had slipped and short cuts had been taken on maintenance and other operations.
Ms Regan said the airline had a policy of not commenting on dealings with aviation regulators.
"However, last month, CASA asked Tiger to clarify certain matters, which Tiger has responded to promptly in full," she said.
. . . and as yet no mention of any problem on their website home page.

I think their low-cost model even extends to the cheapness of the PR advice they get.

Source: SMH

Social tolerance makes for more supportive communities - WOW!

It's almost shocking sometimes, that in America, research has to be done to prove things that most progressive communities have known for a long time. Mind you, its nice to have some empirical evidence.

Mark Hatzenbuehler a psychology Phd at Colombia, recently concluded a study: 'The Social Environment and Suicide Attempts in Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth'.

After surveying over 31,000 students, they looked at the influence of society on the rages of LGB teenage suicide. To simplify, they allocated counties a score on a conservative to progressive scale, and then found that the more socially progressive the community the less the likelyhood of LGB youth committing suicide. Suicide was 20% more likely in conservative communities.

To simplify even further, it looks like the better educated, and the more open-minded a society is, the less teens feel they  are unwanted by their communities.  To most this is self evident - but in the USA, this will be a red rag to conservatives.

Source: JoeMyGod

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Airlines increase price, reduce seats, reduce resale chanels

When things are going bad, airlines and hotels want every website possible to be selling their wares.  Reduced price - no problem, at least some income is being earned. Remember when a plane leaves the gate, or the sun rises, that airline seat, or bed-night either did or didn't earn something.

Airline seats and hotel rooms are sort of the ultimemate perishable goods.

Over in the USA - there has been constant tension between airlines and hotel chains, and travel re-sale websites (or Online Travel Agencies [OTA's] in the jargon of the industry) like Orbitz, Expedia etc. Sometimes they are in love, when they can't get rid of inventory, and sometimes divorced, when demand is strong, and the discounts OTA's offer eats in to airline and hotel companies profits.

At the dawn of OTA's it became a way for hotels to get rid of inventory they couldn't shift - but when the OTA's became successful, they started cutting into non-discounted sales.

Now when things are going well - especially in the airline business where in the USA capacity has been reduced, while demand is increasing - planes are traveling filled to 87% of capacity - which is basically full.  So now the turf wares have begun. Airlines don't need the OTA's to discount, so some have decided they don't need OTA's.

The war has become particularly nasty between American Airlines and Orbitz who are suing, each other, one claiming the other is trying to control airline ticket distribution.

Under the current system, airlines pay a middleman to list their seat availability, and distribute this information to travel agencies - including OTA's. The idea is to cut out the middle man, so that airlines primarily market their own inventory.

This is affecting the OTA's especially since they leverage airline ticket buys by adding hotels and care rentals.

Now if this is not enough, add in a deal between ITA (Travel software company) and Google (see The Googalisation of Travel), which could list travel results - airline, hotel and car rental deals - as part of search results, and you have an almost perfect dark storm for the OTA's such as Travelocity (or zuji in   Australia, Orbitz, and Expedia.

The other complexity is the aggregators (Kayak, Momondo, TripIt) which sort through hundreds of travel sites to find you the best deal - getting a referral fee. Will this development favour them?  Will airlines and hotel operators prefer to pay the referral fee rather than the commission?

I think it will be a case of wait and see.

Main scource: BNET

Tweet your airline rage

Social media is hailed as the new way of marketing.

In many areas when handled appropriately, it can be a great tool. But many a company has listened to its PR people and set up Facebook and Twitter accounts, and then not really had any plan, or unique abilities, or real advantages.

There are some who have dealt with it well. Delta airlines in the USA have used @DeltaAssist to help out travelers on Twitter and Facebook.

Its no surprise that 93.8% of all tweets to airlines in March 2011 were about customer service issues, which is airline parlance for 'complaints'. No surprise, because Twitter is the perfect medium to release explosive anger.  It is short and immediate - just what you need.

AirAsia - are using Twitter to harness that anger by letting you have a faux twitter conversation with their CEO when you can't get through to their call centre.

There model is perfect - it allows frustrated flyers to get an instant answer to simple complaints (during restricted hours) without publicly sharing passenger anger to everyone else, by using Direct Messaging (DM).

It will be interesting to see if they take this further, and use these complaints from passengers to:
  1. Improve service based on customer feedback
  2. Use public responses on Twitter to provide other passengers who might have the same problem, the same response
  3. Build relationships with their passenger complainants
AirAsia already responds to the highest percentage of tweets of any airline (>40%).

The proof of service will come when we see how many of these complaints they resolve satisfactorily!

Source: Simpliflying

Monday, April 18, 2011

Business mag redesign

Businessweek has been relaunched with a redesign by Richard Turley.  Some of the work is pretty impressive - its kind of business magazine meets Monocle, meets David McCandless.

If you like this image, take a look at the slide show: My current favourite is the Steve Jobs/Apple share price chart.

If you like these - you should consider buying this book: The Visual Miscellanium

What do horoscopes really say about people?

Graphic edited from Information is Beautiful
After scraping through and analysing 22,000 horoscopes - these people found that not all star signs are the same, well at least they don't all use the same words, the same amount of time. You can even do it yourself.

If you want the ultimate word analysis of horoscopes - then here it is.

Information really is beautiful.

Source: Information is Beautiful

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Googleisation of travel vs the Travel Agent

You may not have heard about them but a company called ITA has recently been taken over by Google.

ITA is a ticketing software company based in the USA.  Major travel websites like TripAdvisor, Kayak and Expedia, as well as a bunch of US airlines use their software, which collates flight schedules, prices and availability.

The purchase by Google is old news - it started in July 2010, but recently the deal has been given the OK by the US Department of Justice - although a few strings have been attached. The fear was that giving Google this much control of this kind of data might lead to price and search manipulation.

Manipulation - maybe not, but googleisation of Travel - there is some evidence with the website Search Engine Land publishing what it purports to be test pages of hotel price ads which pop up when you are searching Google Maps.

Although other travel sites have a right to be concerned - that Google is taking over the world - they should have more confidence in the the other services they provide.  I use a combination of Kayak and Tripit to diarise all my travel - flights and hotel bookings, but I never use them to actually book anything.  That I do the old fashioned way, with a travel Agent. I like to talk to someone, and get their advice, and give them the commission.

Travel for design inspiration

Two years ago, I went to Beijing for the ICOGRADA international design congress.

It was one of the best decisions I have made. Not only did it let me visit an extraordinary city and culture, but it opened my eyes to the clash between culture and design.

Besides having my temperature measured every time I entered the conference (it was bird/swine flu scare time) I have a memory of walking into an exhibition space to see an exhibition of new font design. It hadn't occured to me that these would be Chinese characters. I suddently felt disposessed - culturally at sea.  It took a few minutes of looking at each example, and then looking again, and slowly you could see the parallels with western fonts. Serif or sanserif, casual or formal, and whatever the Chinese character equivalent of script is.  The application may be different, but it was almost like the design principles were the change.

So if you want a few dexign principles that you take for granted challenged - try attending the  Design at the Edges IDA Congress in Taipei this year.

The conference theme will travel to the edge of design, where it overlaps or dovetails with other disciplines - communication, science, technology, government and business, and where it is at the 'cutting edge' - the radically new, the controversial.

I'm going to try and be there - hope some of you will be too

Thursday, April 14, 2011

We followed your bathrobe

Obviously hotel bathrobe stealing has assumed epic proportions in the USA.

CNN reports that a Miami based company has pioneered a linen technology tracking chip.

They implant them in the linen. They last 300 washes apparently - I suppose that is the life of a hotel sheet.

Not only do they assist in tracking those bathrobes guests secrete in their luggage, they are used to tack linen as it passes around the hotel.

Apparently in a given month, hotels can lose between 5 and 20% of their towels, sheets and robes.

The towels and robes I can understand - but the sheets - who knew?

Singapore airlines becomes a PayPal

Singapore Airlines - regarded by some as Asian's premier airline has teamed up with online payment service provider PayPal. If you are in the USA, Singapore, or some other Asia Pacific countries, you can pay for your tickets via your paypal account.

That should reduce the number of clicks you need to pay for your airfare down to 3.  No having to retype all those credit card numbers. 

I can see an iTunes 'one click' and password purchase just around the corner!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eleven steps that Middle Eastern despots take

The latest episode of This American Life: Know when to fold 'em has a segment by Nancy Updike on the current spate of trouble in the Middle East. She lists the 11 actions dictators take on the path to losing power:
  1. Shut down the internet
  2. Send thugs (on foot or horseback)
  3. Attack and arrest journalists
  4. Shoot people
  5. Promise to investigate who shot people
  6. Do a meaningless political reshuffle
  7. Blame Al Jazeera
  8. Organise paid demonstrations in favor of your regime
  9. Make a condescending speech about how much you love the youth
  10. Threaten that the country will fall into chaos without you
  11. Blame foreign agitators
Stage 12 which remains unspoken is simply 'Leave - get out'.

She spoke to Mark Lynch from the Middle East Studies program at George Washington University, and he got excited because Arabic language media have been publishing almost the same kinds of lists, and commenting sarcastically according to the stage the particular dictator has reached.

I wonder if we could draw up a similar list for labour party governments - or indeed coalition governments - especially in their 2nd terms. Anyone want to try?

Monday, April 11, 2011

When is a virgin really a virgin?

Virgin Blue /  V Australia is to re-brand as Virgin Australia as tipped by Australian Business Traveller who have been sleuthing amongst domain name registrations and come up with the fact that Virgin Enterprises Limited (the holder of the virgin trademark amongst other things) registered the domain name on 21st March. No link is provided, because it currently doesn't get you anywhere.

This is no big revelation, they were tipped to rebrand mid year, and presumably just had to drink the financial cool-aid to use the monicer, which I believe was licensed to Singapore airlines as part of the Virgin Atlantic brand.

Whether V Australia will be able to use 'Virgin Australia' outside of Australia is a moot point.

We may not have to wait until June to find out, as ABT suggests it might happen earlier.

For consumers, it will make sense to have Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, and Virgin Australia. It might make the Virgin airline group sound more like an actual international airline, rather than a bunch of franchisees. Adding Virgin Pacific would just make it perfect!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tap turning as a test of masculinity

There's a bathroom I visit regulary.

Recently new people moved in.  Two men, and six women.  So with me, there are only three people who visit the male toilet.

Since they moved in, the cold tap has required particular force to turn it on, due to the vigor with which it has been turned off.

This is no leaky tap. A gentle turning completed with fingertip touch staunches all flow.

Besides my obvious concern that the washer will be worn out sooner rather than later - do you think that this person is consciously providing a daily masculinity test for the other males in our building?

Should I place the sign I have prepared  'Tap turning does not need to be a test of masculinity' above the tap?

Or is this over-firm closure just a habit borne of their experience of poorly performing washers elsewhere?

My ear-buds stopped your car from stopping!

I walk 30 minutes to work and 30 minutes home nearly every day. I've been doing that for the last 30 or more years at one workplace or another.

Yesterday, in the last 20 metres of my walk to work, I crossed the road at a well marked, signposted, and speed bump style pedestrian crossing outside my workplace.

I was wearing ear-buds - but had turned the rather interesting (discussing the Bhagavad Gita ) edition of In Our Time with Melvyn Brag off on my iPod, as I usually do when approaching a road I need to cross.

To my right, traffic stopped, and traffic to my left was traveling slowly, as it was banked up towards the round-about which comes straight after the crossing.

When the car on my left did not stop as I was about to plant my foot in front of it, I raised my arms (to be noticed) and shouted out 'stop'.

The driver then started shouting within her car and miming that I should not be wearing earbuds.

I shouted. 'You have to stop - its a pedestrian crossing'.  More gesticulating and swearing within her car.

I wish I had the perspicacity to shout "Darling, it doesn't matter if I have a Widescreen TV glued to my head - you have to stop. It's a pedestrian crossing."

When I got to the cafe below my workplace.  The best barista, who had seen it all said mockingly as he shook his head - 'you can't stop when someones wearing headphones'

This is not the first case I have experience of road rage directed at pedestrians merely doing what they are meant to - crossing at a pedestrian crossing.

OK, so drivers, if you can resist the powers of my magic ear-buds, here is what the rules are in NSW, Australia: Road Rules 2008 - regulation 81:

(1) A driver approaching a pedestrian crossing must drive at a speed at which the driver can, if necessary, stop safely before the crossing.
Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.
Note: "Pedestrian crossing" is defined in subrule (3).
(2) A driver must give way to any pedestrian on a pedestrian crossing.
Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.
Note: For this rule, "give way" means the driver must slow down and, if necessary, stop to avoid a collision-see the definition in the Dictionary.
And if its a Children's crossing - then the rules are even tougher:
(4) If a driver stops at a children’s crossing for a pedestrian, the driver must not proceed until there is no pedestrian on or entering the crossing.
Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.

So drivers - please a little more respect on those pedestrian crossings - no more autopilot - just following the car in front please.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Servicing design

Since my first work in graphic design for print, I have been interested in the way people interact with a book or a brochure, an image or font - in fact with the whole product. How do they consume the product, their preferences and prejudices.

Moving into web design in the 90's opened up a whole new area of human interaction with design. Drawing from emerging field of computer/human interaction, the web added a new layer to this evolving discipline, which now encompasses information architecture, interaction and now even service design:
"The second ICID is looking at how interaction design is moving beyond human-computer interaction to creating delightful and responsible individual, social, and organizational experiences."
The 'ICID' in the title stands for International Conference on Interaction Design.  It's being held in Hong Kong in November this year, and I want to be there.

For more information go to

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Airline bed fantasy

Up, up and away . . .
At last - real beds at the pointy end.

Lufthansa is planning to introduce beds plus a seat for some lucky first class passengers who travel on the upper deck of 10 of their 747's.
The new first class cabin on 10 lucky Lufthansa 747 upper deck's

This would make if very soft and comfortable, and more pointed at, than pointy at the pointy end of the aircraft.

I personally am working on having right side blindness on entry to aircraft, so that I can only ever turn left.

Thanks to cranky flier

Saturday, April 2, 2011

You wil be asimilated!

 I love Apple products - but this is just going too far:
According to ThinkGeek, the set "introduces children to the magic of Apple technology." There's an entire two-level Apple Store staffed by PLAYMOBIL™ associates, with tiny demo tables filled with minuscule Apple gear, software shelves, and even the kid's corner on the ground floor. Upstairs, there's a Genius Bar and a Keynote Theater staffed by a mini Steve Jobs figure. The Store is designed so that you can use your own iPhone 4 as Steve's screen in the theater, and there are simulated Keynote presentations available for download on the PLAYMOBIL™ website.
Comes to you via Joe.My.God

Friday, April 1, 2011

Office-home more than Home-office

Not a home-office, or office-home, but a desk in a Shanghai Grand Hyatt Suite
At my workplace, a new tenant has just moved in.

With about 7 or 8 staff, I expected them to use the pre-existing exchange phone system.  You can have multiple lines in, pick up from every extenion, have general and direct lines, as well as an answering machine, music on hold etc etc.

Instead they are using standard off-the-shelf (think Dick Smith/Harvey Norman/Good Guys) multiple station cordless home phone type handsets.

Each of their computers seems to be connected to its own domestic style printer. No networked printer. In fact I am not sure they are running any kind of network, or server.

They seem to be surviving on re-purposed kitchen tables and what I suspect are collapsible event-type tables. A domestic lounge, chairs, and a bunch of 'persian' carpets and beanbags seem to complete the decoration. Unlike our past tenants, no wall decoration, signage, or self publicty.

So, is the distinction between the home and the office environment changing - or are our new tenants just running on a shoestring?

Everyone seems to have a home-office - but an office-home?