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Archive for January, 2012

Create a Simple Film Drying Cabinet

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Shooting analogue film can pose challenges outside the exposure triangle and one of the most frustrating can be the post-development drying of processed film negatives. More than occasionally my 120 film negatives have been impacted by particles of dust that appear as unsightly white spots after scanning.

You can Google film drying cabinets – they are EXPENSIVE. So I went hunting for a simple idea to create a cost effective solution.

To make my film drying cabinet I cut four large squares from the end of a disused roll of dog fencing wire from our back yard. I used the excess wire at each join to connect the structure together. This formed a stable wire tube frame. I then joined a smaller section of the fencing wire across the top and bottom of the tube – this will give me somewhere to hang my rubber band & top peg. The 120 film will hang from that peg with a second peg at the bottom of the film to keep it straight.

I needed to cut out a door large enough that I wouldn’t scratch the unwound wet roll of film as it entered or was removed from the cabinet. So I used wire cutters to remove all but the top and bottom rectangles in a vertical line and taped over all joins and wire ends to further ensure that my negatives would survive.

Film drying cabinet

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Contracts are Serious Business

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer and I have no claim that this advice should be taken as legal advice in replacement of seeking out professional help. What I hope to do is educate you over a series of small posts about what constitutes a contract and you should be able to figure out when you might need to see a real lawyer. Although this series is in the Australian context many of the principles apply in other countries.

The Myth of Writing your own Contracts

One of the stupidest things anybody could do in business is try to shortcut their way through the legal landscape. Just like accountants will save you more money than they cost… so will hiring a decent lawyer.

For a lot of people this is real news: a contract isn’t just anything you cobble together and get some fool to sign. There is a structure, like a dance, that determines when and where any contract was made, the parts that are valid and the aspects the courts will or won’t enforce. But I’ve received my fair share of these self-authored car wrecks to know it’s a real problem. People do want to cut corners in the short-term.

The real and present danger is that small businesses generally have no idea about contract law… and I’m hoping they might glean one thing from reading through this series of 15 posts (starting with Contracts 101 – Part 1: Outline). That one thing is this: Sometimes you just need to know when to hire a lawyer. Appreciate what you don’t know.

Installments in Contracts 101

  • Contracts 101 – Part 1: Outline
  • Contracts 101 – Part 2: Which Contract?
  • Contracts 101 – Part 3: The Six Elements
  • Contracts 101 – Part 4: The Agreement
  • Contracts 101 – Part 5: The Offer
  • Contracts 101 – Part 6: The Acceptance
  • Contracts 101 – Part 7: Battle of the Forms
  • Contracts 101 – Part 8: Consideration
  • Contracts 101 – Part 9: Capacity
  • Contracts 101 – Part 10: Legality of Object
  • Contracts 101 – Part 11: Possibility of Performance
  • Contracts 101 – Part 12: Genuine Consent
  • Contracts 101 – Part 13: Promissory Estoppel
  • Contracts 101 – Part 14: Ending the Contract
  • Contracts 101 – Conclusion: Protect your Business

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Small Business Advice is difficult to Swallow

Friday, January 27th, 2012

One of my favourite pieces of crap television is watching chef Gordon Ramsay try to save a sinking restaurant against the best efforts of the incumbent restaurateur – Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. It’s like watching the evolution of a slow-motion car wreck unfolding from a power pole.

The part that really gets me is that cameras can go in and reveal mouldy fridges and grubby hovels, they can reveal the most disgusting vestiges of slop being fed to patrons… Ramsay can show them they’re losing a thousand pound every week… they’ve lost their house and live in a box in the alleyway… everything in the commonsense world says THIS IS FUCKED – but the restaurateur disagrees.

And that’s the amazing thing about offering advice to small businesses whether they’re doing well or going down the drainpipe. The owner is in the trenches with invested money and emotion. The owner is invested in a dream… in reconciling the success or collapse of that dream in their own fragile human world. So when Ramsay comes and tells them the facts, they don’t find it easy to accept.

This is the saddest part about watching a lot of small businesses slowly fall out of business. Sometimes it’s not that hard to pick what’s wrong – they’re selling too expensively or too cheaply to be viable concerns, their value proposition is crap against the alternatives, they’re not breaking even, they haven’t figured out that you need a strategy and focus… and the entire enterprise is falling over.

But what do you do? I mean, if the owner even respects your ability to identify and fix an issue then you can bet they’re not going to hand over the keys. Even if they hire you on board as a manager… they still probably won’t hand over those keys.

The keys to the shiny Jaguar that lives in their minds-eye when they envision their beautiful (but failing) business.

Sometimes all a business is doing wrong is not understanding who their real competitors are… or they’re in the wrong business… or they’re trying to sell ice to fucking Eskimos (or Innuit)… or there’s a systemic issue with some slugger in the office playing gatekeeper and they need to be relieved of their employee’s cap.

Because business isn’t all about living the dream. It’s all about being in business. It’s about realising the reason you are in business isn’t even to make money – the reason you’re in business should be to serve social needs not met by government; the reward for doing that well (better than most, if not all, others) is people will give you money.

Money is a consequence of doing all that other stuff correctly. All the Ramsay detail laid out in Ramsay’s honesty. You may like the man or not; he produces one of the best practical small business shows on commercial television if you’re interested in how small businesses struggle to evolve.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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