What the end of Net Neutrality means for Australian Business

What is Net Neutrality ? 

Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites. The first sentence on the Wikipedia entry states :  

Net neutrality is the principle that governments should mandate Internet service providers to treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication

Europe and the US have specific laws forcing providers to comply with the principle. There is a recent case, making the news where the US laws have been overturned.

Even though the laws apply to the USA only, a number of ISP’s that are used by companies world-wide operate from the USA.

There is a group that has appealed the overturning of the Net Neutrality laws, so for the time being nothing much will change unless they lose their appeal. ( we hope they don't lose)

This currently provides a level playing field for startups and small companies against much bigger incumbents, and allows tiny e-commerce startups to function and operate in an environment that may otherwise be more challenging. 

How does this affect your company, website, app or ecommerce store?

If your website is hosted on US based servers, whether that’s via a US company or a local company with US hosting arrangements, then you will be affected by the changes to the Net Neutrality act, even though your company may not be a US entity.

How does this work ?

All US based hosting providers with servers in the US purchase their bandwidth from the major ISP’s - such as AT&T, Verizon, Google fiber , etc .

Once Net Neutrality  is fully revoked, these major providers will no longer be required by law to provide that even playing field we mentioned at he start of this article  .

This means they can tier the access to bandwidth and the speed of the connection at different price points.

In blunt terms, this means your website could get slower, or even be blocked entirely unless you pay more to have the same current access and speed that you have now, if you host with a US based company on servers located within the USA.

Whether this happens to you or not depends heavily on what your hosting provider has negotiated and is prepared to pay for, or subsidise.

What can you do about it.

Host locally wherever possible. Find a provider with servers in Australian or your local jurisdiction, or as close as you can get to the majority of your clients. 

What about AWS, Google and Microsoft - which are US companies with local servers.  Are you affected if you host on Sydney or other local servers with these companies ?

You are protected by local Australian laws, although not specific to Net Neutrality, the ACCC claims to be confident that our current laws are enough to protect consumers.  If your website is hosted on a local server - even if that server is maintained or provided by one of the big Cloud providers mentioned you should be safe. 

What if you're an Aussie company with International presence and US clients - how does this affect you ?

Your Australian clients will have the best experience of your web presence if you are hosting locally - however - you might have to replicate your website on several US based servers across different providers, in order to provide  the best experience possible to your US clients. This may come at significant extra cost, and at different price points depending on the providers and the ISP’s they work with. Several companies offer this as a service , including AWS, Google and Azure ( Microsoft).  

Your checklist / conclusions

  • Try to go local ( relative to your clients) - find a local reliable hosting provider — it might cost more, but you won’t be affected by Net Neutrality.
  • If you’re a local company with International Presence - start investigating options now to replace or host mirror sites.
  • If you are hosting with a local reseller ( ie someone who resells hosting on behalf of a larger provider) - check where exactly your site is hosted geographically.


The LinkedIn Comment Unsubscribe Option (yay!)

I realised a couple of days ago that I have reached LinkedIn Comment Fatigue.

I will go to comment or like a post, or an image, or a share by someone in my network, and , wait for it ... I hold back for a moment rethinking if I should indeed participate or not.

Not because I don't want to comment  - and not because I'm rethinking the engagement of others in a thoughtful debate. I hesitate sometimes,  on particularly popular or viral posts and shares.

For the sole reason, that I know, for the remainder of my time on earth, I will be pinged to death by notifications as the whole rest of the world negotiates and comments and likes and shares their own thoughts on the post. At some point it all gets a bit annoying.

Whats the Answer then ?

Today when I discovered that LinkedIn has the exact same Unsubscribe Option as Facebook Posts ( ie , you can no longer receive notifications when someone so much as breathes in the direction of the post ) - Oh Glorious Days was I happy!

And it's as simple as clicking on the little x . X Marks the Spot indeed.

Screen Shot of LinkedIn Unsubscribe option on posts

If anyone needs me, I will be unsubscribing from the posts that I commented on last  month that are still kicking ....

Red wine for a High tea - why not ?

Rocking Rose has made it's first charitable donation ... and it feels good.

Cue - some red wine for the White Ribbon High Tea to make a Difference. 

I just finished gluing some paper strips with a rose and the company name around 7 bottles of red wine ( it is temporarily while I await some designs and concepts for the logo from my graphic designer)

Photo pf wine bottles with homemade Donated By labels for Rocking Rose temp logo
Wine for Hight Tea ? Why not .... ;-)

So there you have it , the very first donation of Rocking Rose Pty Ltd to a charitable cause.

Ladies of Sandringham Victoria ( and Melbourne surrounds) I hope you enjoy the wine at the High Tea in November.


Just Do it ! And test, test, test ....

This is a quick post , being written on a train , at 7:52 am on a Saturday.

Yes - I'm on a train to the city before 8 am on a Saturday morning - welcome to the life of an entrepreneur ! Why I'm on the train , is another story for another post ...

This post is about a wee bit of testing I did recently for the Network Buddy app and service that I am developing.

There are 2 pieces of advice startups and new business owners with new ideas will hear over and over,

The first , is just do it. Get started. Don't wait, don't keep your idea secret and work on it alone, tell everyone and anyone, and get started. Want to know if someone will buy something at a certain price point ... sell it to them.

And the second , is to test, test and test some more. Never stop testing assumptions, never stop testing your idea, and never stop testing the advice you get from people.

And to help you understand how you really and truly can do this , on a shoestring budget, for a new idea in it's infancy - here's a real world example from the life of Steph ( it's like the life of Pi but without the amazing CGI, or a tiger. It's more like the Life of  Brian actually.... )

So about 6 weeks ago ( give or take) I decided to take this idea I had for being a Network Buddy / consulting mentor/ networking helper - and turn it into a scalable tech business .

It didn't just happen by itself, I had several conversations with some amazing women at the Fishburners Female Founders Hackathon in Sydney . And I had several more conversations with lots and lots of people subsequent to that weekend , as I attended every single networking event I could lay my hands on to test the hypothesis.

And here's how it went.

I put up a website , with a landing page - briefly outlined Network Buddy as a service/app to connect people for the purposes of mentoring/buddying each other at Networking events.Thus far , this has cost me nothing but time, and a small fee for shutterstock. I'm using a free AWS micro instance and a wordpress install with a free launch page template

At the first networking event I went to , I had nothing printed with me, I just talked about the idea,and mentioned the website . I had 8 signups in one night.

I then put up a facebook page - and asked the amazing secret society of awesome women that I belong to ( you know who you are *wink wink*) to give me some feedback on the landing page. They did, and it was good constructive feedback . Some even signed up. The page hasn't changed much publicly (mostly because the launch page template I used doesn't lend itself to too much customisation) - but all that awesome feedback has been taken in and will be used for the final release of the website.

Then I attended a networking event which was all about networking. ( duh!) And to that event I took with me pamphlets, which I designed and ran off on my home printer.

Home printed Pamphlets ???

They were not perfect, or professionally printed. But that wasn't the point. I didn't have time ( or the budget) to have 1000 pamphlets printed . I need 30. and this is why.

I printed 2 variations of the pamphlet , so only 15 of each .... they looked the same, but had slightly different content .... I placed them on the table at the entrance to the event in 2 piles , right next each other.

At the end of the event , I had 3 left of option A , and 14 left pf option B . A very definitive result for my test.

Option A - all about finding a Network Buddy, being too shy to introduce yourself , and not knowing where or how to effectively network at an event.

Option B - All about becoming a mentor and the Network Buddy - helping other people to find their feet , and raise money for the charity of your choice at the same time.

 Photo of Homemade pamphlets showing 2 piles with sightly different content
Option B at the top - lots of leftovers
Option A underneath - only 3 left ... much more effective

My theory going in, was that at that specific event, I would likely find a lot of people looking for help and feeling unsure , and probably not more than 1 or 2 Buddy Mentor people.

Knowing this - I have tailored the actual content and design of the brochure to speak to people who need help, and will be sending it off to a graphic designer imminently for that professional touch.

I just received my first batch of 50 business cards -- and have commenced dishing them out to test reactions to the design .... watch out for the results of that test in future posts.


 Photo of Network Buddy Business Cards - first draft from and back
The test cards ... (ps I do love them myself)

So - there you have it - for the cost of 30 sheets of A4 paper , printed on a home printer - I established very firmly what type of content and style I needed for my brochure , and I also established a very firm need for the idea as well.

Test, test and test some more -- just do things - don't wait until you have the perfect design or the perfect budget. People will not be able to tell you about something that they cannot see , so if you need to know which content works better, or which image works better , print up something and hand it to people, and watch their reactions . Far more accurate than asking them outright what they prefer or think about your idea or how you should market it.

Rocking Rose  over and out for another day of hustling.

Just graduated to Tech Geek - the advanced class

Ok , so maybe not quite as advanced as some.

But this is what I did yesterday ( and perhaps you'll see why I'm so chuffed with myself)
After battling for weeks to get some minor settings on my new Wordpress website for Network Buddy to update, I pulled the band-aid off this weekend , and started from scratch .
And this is what I did yesterday ( Sunday)
- Started a new Linux  instance on AWS. - it's a micro instance, which I will scale up as a need to once we go live.
- Setup ssh to get to the instance and then used the Terminal ( command line ) interface on the Mac to install pip , and then php, followed by MySQL on the instance .
Then I installed and configured and started up an Apache web server.
I had break for some tea and lunch at this point.
After lunch, I installed the AWS CLI , and proceeded to download and install the latest version of Wordpress, which again, I configured through Terminal / CLI.
For my final act, I logged in through the browser GUI on my brand new Wordpress website , and installed the theme, made the changes I was battling with on the first instance , and voila! Everything worked perfectly.
And with that I moved some of the content over from the old website, and proceeded to workout some of the kinks until it was time for dinner .
So Network Buddy is probably a couple days over where I would like to be ... But it's working so much better than it was yesterday morning .
And the one lesson I have learned is that if you want your own website with your own stuff on it, probably best not to use the AWS default marketplace install of Wordpress , which as it turns out was the issue all along. Seems the people ath bitnami set up some security that blocked the theme I had purchased from working properly, and it was so badly setup I pretty much couldn't even use ftp or ssh to override anything or adjust the rights on the instance or the Wordpress database.
And I'm chuffed with myself, because with only a couple of pointers from my tech hubby , and some help though a couple of tricky commands , I pretty much did the entire thing by myself.
Go me !

New reaction snuck into Facebook overnight

Check it out ... Facebook snuck in a new reaction overnight

Screenshot from iPad of the Facebook reactions buttons with focus on the Gratitude button ( purple flowers )
Love this addition - especially since it blasts little purple flowers all up the screen on my iPad when picked ...
Let's hope it's not a temporary thing just for Mothers Day ...because I think it's fantastic.
And of course it doesn't hurt that it happens to be my favourite colour ... Purple !


Facebook's Save feature : on the iPad app.

Yes, we all know in a perfect world, when you're checking Facebook, you would be able to savour every movement, and reply with great thought and care. You'd have the time to go to each interesting article or link and take your time reading and digesting.

That doesn't happen though, particularly if you are super busy growing your entrepreneurial empire.
Facebook has a save feature, as in save and digest later. Kinda like wrapping up that muffin from morning tea to have at your desk later.
Here's how it works in the iPad app :
First up,  tap the little arrow on the right of the post you're interested in, and then tap the Save option on the menu that pops up .
 screenshot of Facebook save option from an iPad app screen
This is the same menu you  would use to block or report a post , or hide a post
To find your saved posts and content later, tap the More menu on the bottom menu bar and swipe down until you see Saved :
 Screenshot of the Menu showing where the saved items in facebook can be accessed on an iPad
Tap on the Saved to view and select what you want to read, watch or reshare, Facebook shows you how many saved items are not viewed yet ( in my case it's 3 out of a total 4)
Tapping the item opens the link , video or other shared content. The ellipse to the right gives 4 more optional actions :Archive, share as a new post, send as a message, or view the Facebook post.
I love, love, love this feature, it's made it so much easier for me to digest the incredible content that  flies by in my Facebook feed later on when I nave more time and some quiet space around me.
Happy content management ladies and gents !

Word of the Day : Sweat Equity

Ok, so it's 2 words.

But Words of the Day doesn't really sound as formal, educational and proper.

Sweat Equity. 

Anyone in their own business, or in a small business, partnership or otherwise will be totally familair with this concept. It generally refers to the increase in value (or equity) in your business as a direct result of the work you do in  your business.

More recently, it's become associated with employee share schemes. Where employees that contribute greatly to the value of the business become partners and shareholders as a result of their 'sweat equity', often while working for a vastly reduced salary compared to market rates.

Interestingly, there are apparently numerous ways to account for not only the increase in equity of the company , without an actual direct cash injection, but also for the quid-pro-quo associated with an employee (or the owner) doing the work.

But what I find most interesting, is discovering today, that apparently in some jusidictions a company can undertake a sweat equity issue, where the company can issue shares to employees, making them partners in the business, specifically because of their 'sweat equity' and without them having to buy the shares. And that in those jusidictions it's actually called a sweat equity issue on the formal paperwork. Who knew?  Not me.

I have learnt my new thing for today.

So there you have it.

Sweat Equity. My new favourite term.

IT BA and BA : what's the difference ?

OK Cherubs , here's a thought. Debate rages all around about BA's and what is a BA exactly . While we have been blessed with the thorough and extensive work in the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK ®), and the rising star of the International Institute of Business Analysis IIBA®and its various local chapters, there is still a lot of debate around whether a  BA focussed on Business processes only – also sometimes called a Business BA ( don't you love the redundancy in that term ? A Business Business Analystwhat a mouthful!), and an IT BA need the same skills necessarily, and what those skills should be.

Chief among the sticking points is calling an IT BA by another name, such as a Systems Analyst. The BABOK®  is clear in its definitions , anyone who does anything that is remotely considered under the auspices of the work of a BA , is considered to be working in the realm of BA'dom. This includes (but is not limited to ) System Analysts and Process Analysts, as well as Project Managers.
This article however will focus on something that I find to be a very contentious issue, hotly debated amongst my previous and current colleagues. If we are going to make a distinction between a BA , and an IT BA, then which do we need on a technology project , and why should the IT BA do the business requirements at all?
I’ll start by listing what I see as the main differences between a BA and an IT BA.
In general all BA’s should be able to:
·        Analyse and document business processes.
·        Conduct Stakeholder analysis
·        Elicit, identify, analyse and decompose business problems.
·        Produce from this analysis a Business Case.
·        Refine the business problems into a set of Business Requirements
·        Propose and document a solution for the business problems which can consist of any one,  or a combination of the following within the business requirements document / specification:
o   TO-BE Business Process
o   Business context diagrams
o   Business conceptual Domain Models
·        Elicit , identify , analyse and decompose Solution Requirements.

see also Requirements Analysis  for some background and a more information

All of the above does not require the Solution to include any technological aspects.

It is when a technology solution is required that we see the rise of what is more commonly being referred to as the IT BA .
An IT BA should further be able to ( in my opinion):

o   Elicit, identify, analyse and decompose Solution Requirements that consist of

  1.      Functional Requirements
  2.      Non-Functional Requirements

The IT BA therefore, it is presumed and assumed should have some background in technologyMany graduates with IT focussed degrees , become junior developers , moving through the systems analyst role, and eventually taking on the role of IT BA. This is not always the case however, IT BA's, and BA's come from many different backgrounds.

Further to that - in my opinion, the IT BA  should also be able to hold their ground , and have substantial input into the architecture of any solutions. As the person who understands ( hopefully!) the business problems and needs more so than any other project member, they must be able to discuss and debate the merits of various approaches with the project Architect, and Developers. It does not matter how fabulous they are at documenting anything, because people are uniquely shaded by their own perspectives. An Architect will have a leaning towards their own personal preferences in technology and platforms, developers will present solutions that fit within their preferred languages, and it takes a strong person to ask the questions regarding the 'fit' of the technology design onto the solution requirements and back to business requirements. Which is in itself a constant process of re-evaluation throughout the project. Don't hesitate to ask those questions of yourself and others , even when you think you have everything nailed down.
There is in my view a  distinct separation of a BA role and an IT BA role , and the outputs they should produce in a project cycle. In an organisation where the roles are distinct and occupied by different people , the BA will do the analysis of the project up to the point where the business requirements are documented and signed off, and will hand over  at that point to the IT BA.
This is where, things start to go pear-shaped. And where many good people lose the plot, so to speak.
In theory - at each stage of a development cycle, the previous role player hands over perfectly executed , exquisitely documented  outputs. There is,  in an ideal world, no shades of grey, when the BA hands over the business case or business requirements to the IT BA, they are getting the best possible representation of the business needs , without exception.
The reality is however that projects start late, they are delayed and impacted  by people who are sick, people have sick children/dogs/parents/spouses. They have car accidents and flat tyres. Key stakeholders miss meetings , or are not identified. Strong willed business stakeholders hijack meetings to push their own agenda's.  Any number of things can go wrong , or be missed in the first stage of requirements elicitation. And when the project is high profile, and impacts the business deeply and badly , there is constant pressure to deliver things quickly rather than properly.
Yes - the IT BA will be given the best possible document that the BA can produce, but it will be subject to any number of negative factors. The IT BA must therefore operate under the assumption that the requirements need to be managed , and QA'd. Even updated , added to , or in some cases scrapped entirely and replaced.
This begs the question - why even bother with the split approach anyway? Surely it would be better to just have the IT BA do everything ? That way , they would be able to make sure they do the best they can do , and at the very least , even if they do a bad job documenting the business needs , they'll understand them , and be able to make a brilliant solution anyway?
I think not. I think that both the BA role and the IT BA  role should be involved in all parts of the project from the start to the end. Buddy Buddy works. And it works well when the BA's on the project collaborate effort skills and knowledge.

The roles and responsibilities stay the same , but the collaboration of the two uniquely positioned viewpoints means that the processes , the analysis , the outputs and the resulting requirements definitions are, within the constraints of the project , the best they can be.

This does not mean necessarily that there will be two people working on the project. In organisations with resource constraints, or where there is no distinction between BA's and IT BA's , there will often be only one BA assigned to a project.

It is these projects where the BA's ability to don different hats becomes critical. If this is you , you must be able to do the BA work as a BA, focus on the Business definitions , concepts , problems and terms. Talk about the solution in terms of what the business will want to achieve.  You should then effortlessly be able to step out of that role , and converse technically with the relevant development team as an IT BA regarding the mapping of those business requirements into functional requirements and solution architecture, while maintaining in the back of your mind anything that might impinge on the business needs.

Globally the role of the BA is becoming more recognised as a profession in it's own merit , and as this thinking gains ground, it becomes ever more critical that BA's step up to the challenge of delivering on that expectation. This means we all need to be able to play different roles, BA, IT BA, technical advisor, systems process analyst, process designer. User Champion.

Yes - User Champion. If that role has not been represented correctly on your project ( a senior VP Exec is NOT a user champion. ) then you need to take on that responsibility , at least to the extent of owning the Functional Requirements and relating them back to an actual business need.

Don't know what a User Champion is  ? Check out below for some interesting reading :


A BA is not someone who takes notes and writes down what the users want. A BA questions , probes , elicits information , and gathers details. All of this for the purpose of creating a unified view of the problem , it's solution and the road map to get there. In order to accomplish this they will need to play various roles, produce several artefact's and acquire and hone many skills, all of which combine to produce a uniquely skilled individual. An individual who is capable of filling those messy inconvenient gaping holes between Project Managers , Users , Architects, Developers , Business Management, Development managers and  Executive Stakeholders.

If you're up to the challenge , it can be one of the most stimulating environments to work in. Nothing can ever be the same , and therefore everything changes , all the time.

A last word of advice : If you don't like your cheese moved, don't become a BA.

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