Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Excel tip! Extract text from a string in a cell


Where E2 is the text string, "V3/" is the text immediately before what you're trying to extract, +3 is the number of characters you've selected preceeding the text you're after and 50 is enough character to ensure you extract all the text you're after.

Of course, this works most easily when the text you're after is at the end of the string but the number of characters you're after varies.

You'd probably have to work on it a bit more to use it to extract text from the middle of a text string.

Something to come back to.

Monday, September 23, 2019

I can't believe it's been four years since my last post


It's time I get back into jotting down my thoughts and fascinations with world as it develops all around us.

Something things are fun, some scary and some just mesmerising.

Something that is fun and scary is the speed at which graphical manipulation is developing.

A great place to start is NVIDIA, they're not just a PC graphics card company anymore. They're one of the leaders in imaging research.

Nvidia has some great demo tools to show you how modern AI research is allowing us to control and manipulate imagery.

Of course, it's not all just about playing around with images, NVIDIA also utilise their imaging and spatial technology in things like the development of self-driving technology. Here's an example of how imaging research has a practical application in finding a car-parking spot.

But imaging research and manipulation can also have its downsides. Deep-fakes is an area that has the potential to sow seeds of doubt and confusion in the minds of the public. Indeed, we now have experts in the field saying we're very close to the point where it will be difficult to tell real from fake (read digitally manipulated) videos.

But then, Deep Fakes have also given us gems like this:

And this:

You can keep up to date with people playing around with Deep Fakes here on Reddit. And if you wish, have a go at making your own Deep Fake.

And now here's something completely different...

Warehouse Automation. Maybe it is the seemingly infinite loop of conveyor belts or the little armies of robots going about their duties, but I'm fascinated by automated warehouses and their videos are my jam.



Fake humans on TV, no humans in the workforce. It begs the question, what sort of a world are we developing? And, is it what we want the future to be?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Claiming an existing business on Google listings

This is something i've come to be responsible for only recently - managing a whole big list of stores on Google MyBusiness. When an acquisition occurs stores need to be transfered from one Google account to another but if you'd can't get in touch with the current listing owner you're in trouble.

Trawling through Google support pages there are confusing references to transfering ownership (only if you're currently listed as a manager or can contact the owner) and verifying businesses but nothing written in plain English about how to claim ownership of an existing listing without contacting the owner.

Here is it in plain English:

1. In your Google Business account create an identical listing to the one that exists under a different owner
2. Google will identify this as a duplicate listing
3. Google will present you with a form to submit a request to the current owner to take Admin rights of the existing listing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The lesson of Australian wine

I've been reading a great wine book, Why the French Hate Us, by Campbell Mattinson. Not only does it tell the story of Australian wine, it provides ample lessons about the folly of so many 'business strategies'.

Back when I was at Uni, we were given case studies after case studies about the growth of the wine industry. About Foster's ambitious plans for Southcorp.

Campbell's book shows us how hype can get the best of even the most senior business people.

Campbell gives every university professor or business executive a lesson in two short sentences:

The point to come out of it all: wine is meant to be about wine. The wine investment frenzy was related to wine, but was mostly about greed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Learning CSS layout.

As a fair DIY digital marketer I often have to sort out my own web design layouts. Quite frequently the CMS I'm using doesn't quite have the design templates built that I want. Sometimes I just want some images laid out in a specific way on the page.

And other times i just want to create funky buttons using CSS.

So, when I need to figure out a little bit of CSS magic I turn to CSS-Tricks and Learn CSS Layout. They're two great resources that range from basic design to stuff that I have no idea about!

I'm also keen to learn more with resources like Code School.

Always Keep Learning!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Art of Telling Stories through Architecture

Previously I've written of how architects can take their cues from historical connections to the area or site - I like to think of buildings as cryptic crosswords, with me trying to decipher the story the architect is trying tell.

The photo here shoes the entrance to the new Westpac Melbourne headquarters on Russell Street. In this instance I like how the architect has made a feature of sandstone. As anyone from Sydney knows, it's a city built on sandstone - just like Melburnians know Melbourne is a city built on bluestone. So for Westpac, a Sydney-based bank, to use sandstone in their new Melbourne headquarters is a little architectural dig at Melbourne.

A little piece of Sydney in the heart of Melbourne.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Privacy on the web. What privacy?

Listed above are all the pieces of code and technology that was tracking my activity on a single news website today. Using a browser add-on like Ghostery you're able to see the staggering amount of companies out there tracking our online behaviour.

Of course, if you don't want to be tracked by all these little bits of technology most browsers have the option to tell these robots not to track you (see below). But with all the browsers that you use throughout your day it is quite a chore to escape the net of these trackers.

With all the talk about governments snooping into our private lives it is simple to miss how much privacy we've already given away.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Getting past Log-in gates

You've probably come across sites like this on the web, it has those annoying blurred overlays that require you to log-in/sign-up using a social account just to get to something you might or might not find useful. The example I've given here is Quora. So annoying these type of things have even been given a name - Dark Patterns.

Fear not, there is usually a way around this. Usually these blurred overlays are no more than a < div > in the page source code. Here's how to get around them...

Hit F12 on the keyboard. This will bring up the Page Insprector and the source code of the page. Scroll with your mouse pointer down all the lines of < div >s until you come to the one that highlights the blurred area or the log-in box. For Quora, below, you can see it's called '...signup_wrapper'.

Right-click and select 'Delete Node'.

It's usually that simple.

Simple fix for an annoying dark pattern.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


The new design of the LA Times has put sharing at the forefront of publishing - quite literally. Every article on the LA Times now starts with 'sharelines', pre-formatted quotes or facts from the article to make it even easier for you to share.

Often the headlines of articles will be creatively cryptic, too long, or not describing the main point you want to get across. Sharelines aims to do all the work for you. And it's not just the LA Times, across the web publishers are looking for ways to make sharing easier and more enjoyable.

Here's a quick run-down of some of the ways this is happening:

LA Times – they start each article with key facts

Good Magazine – they have a tweet button on quotes they highlight
Other publishers are customising tweet text so the shared text is shorter than the original headline:


Many more mobile sites are emphasising sharing as well. At The Atlantic, the top of the article has share buttons and when you scroll below the fold, the design of the site keeps two share buttons permanently at the top.

Top of page:
Scrolled view:

With friends, family and colleagues sharing more often, it is interesting to think that there could be room for 'professional sharers'. Adrienne LaFrance takes up this theory in her Atlantic article discussing that there could become a marketplace for subscribing to customised news feeds.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014