Open Letter to Qantas – Carbon Offset and Vegetarian Options

Hello folks,

On your website you claim that Qantas is serious about the environment and you request other businesses to get serious about it to. 

Yet, of the 4 meal options that I can pre-select, 4 contain meat:Screenshot 2015-02-24 19.11.45


There is no vegetarian option, neither is there any way to select a vegetarian meal when booking. I enquired about this on Twitter, and Aimee responded that “Special Meal” requests must be made 24 hours before departure. How?

Of all airlines I have flown (typically 3 to 4 international flights per year), Qantas makes it the hardest to request a vegetarian meal. I’ve tried online, by phone and at check-in.

Fortunately, your on-board staff have been consistently excellent and have always managed to “make a plan” to serve me a vegetarian meal.

If you are truly serious about reducing your environmental impact, removing (or at the very least, reducing) meat from your menus is an important first step. Perhaps have 3 amazing vegetarian options, and 1 meat option for anyone who thinks they are actually a carnivore and that humans need to eat meat at every single meal. And then ask them for the carbon offset donations common to airlines these days… Vegetarians’ footprint is already half ūüôā

You get to save the planet, reduce animal suffering AND you save money!

So what’s stopping you?

Kind regards,
Henk Kleynhans

p.s. Here are some quick calculations showing how massive an impact this simple change can actually have

iOS vs Android – a Response to @gregmuender

@gregmuender lasted 37 days hours on Android and wrote about it here.

He makes two valid points: 1. Android is more of a mission to set up and 2. iPhones come with better charger cables. 

I agree with Greg that it would be nice to have things that “just work” out of the box. And Apple has played perfectly to the fact that the vast majority of people on the planet, when it comes to having to _learn_ anything tech, are muppets.¬†

But what if you’re not a muppet? What if you speak 4 languages and want a keyboard that automatically figures out, and actively learns, the language you’re texting in (I’m talking about SwiftKey)? It’s actually a feature that’s truly useful, even without dancing ninjas.


So that when you type in “moet” (Afrikaans for “must”) it doesn’t auto-correct it to “Mo√ęt”.

Every. Single. Time. 

What if you want to be able to simply drag & drop your MP3s to a folder on your phone and they will simply be found and be played? Instead of having to first do a huge iTunes import mission. 

Same goes for videos! Why the hell must I struggle converting them to a special Apple format first?

Then there’s the “Photos” app in iOS 7. I have ~800 photos in the “Camera Roll”. Many of them are 5 pictures of the same thing – parents of kids know what I’m talking about. So I pick the best one and add it to an Album (a mission unto itself). I keep doing this until I’ve taken the 100 photos I want to keep and put them into albums. So now I Select All in Camera Roll and select Delete.

*BOOM* All the photos you had meticulously copied into Albums are now also deleted! 

Yes, you get a warning… so you get a chance to, erm, … yes… try to figure out which ¬†100 pictures you actually put in albums! So that you can be sure NOT to select those ones. (No, my dear Android users with no exposure to iOS, I’m not kidding. That’s really how the Photos app works.)¬†

Is iOS “easy”? Yes, maybe. Does it make anyone more productive?¬†

No way.

How to Save the Rhino? Like Superman defeated the KKK…

The only way to end rhino poaching is to stop the demand of Rhino horn. And the only way to stop the demand of rhino horn is to parody the buyers Рrelentlessly! 
Here’s a story from Mental Floss magazine about how Superman defeated the KKK in 1948:¬†

In the 1940s,¬†The Adventures of Superman¬†was a radio sensation. Kids across the country huddled around their sets as the Man of Steel leapt off the page and over the airwaves. Although Superman had been fighting crime in print since 1938, the weekly audio episodes fleshed out his storyline even further. It was on the radio that Superman first faced kryptonite, met¬†Daily Planet¬†reporter Jimmy Olsen, and became associated with “truth, justice, and the American way.”¬Ě¬†So, it’s no wonder that when a young writer and activist named Stetson Kennedy decided to expose the secrets of the Ku Klux Klan, he looked to a certain superhero for inspiration.

In the post-World War II era, the Klan experienced a huge resurgence. Its membership was skyrocketing, and its political influence was increasing, so Kennedy went undercover to infiltrate the group. By regularly attending meetings, he became privy to the organization’s secrets. But when he took the information to local authorities, they had little interest in using it. The Klan had become so powerful and intimidating that police were hesitant to build a case against them.

Struggling to make use of his findings, Kennedy approached the writers of the Superman radio serial. It was perfect timing. With the war over and the Nazis no longer a threat, the producers were looking for a new villain for Superman to fight. The KKK was a great fit for the role.

In a 16-episode series titled “Clan of the Fiery Cross,”¬Ě the writers pitted the Man of Steel against the men in white hoods.

As the storyline progressed, the shows exposed many of the KKK’s most guarded secrets. By revealing everything from code words to rituals, the program completely stripped the Klan of its mystique. Within two weeks of the broadcast, KKK recruitment was down to zero. And by 1948, people were showing up to Klan rallies just to mock them.

A UK Porn Filter will lead to a higher birth rate

I’ve been wondering about the effects of the UK’s proposed internet porn filter on society.¬†

A (potentially negative) side effect will be an increase in the birth rate and a subsequent increase in health care costs.

My reasoning goes as follows: people who watch porn have less sex. Thus, if people start to watch less porn because of a filter, they’ll have sex more frequently and we’ll see an increase in pregnancies.¬†

We know that countries with high internet usage have lower birthrates, but this correlation has typically been ascribed to wealth and education, rather than internet usage. Perhaps it’s time to consider other reasons (easily accessible porn) for their lower birthrates?¬†

Here are some interesting facts: 

  1.  >35% of all porn in the USA is consumed by individuals who earn >$75K pa. Only 11% of households earn more than $75K. See this and this.
  2. Wealth correlates strongly to lower birth rates. Read about the Demographic Economic Paradox here. 
  3. High broadband penetration correlates strongly to low birth rates. Of the 34 countries with the highest internet penetration, none are in the top 75 countries with the highest birthrate. Only two, Israel & Mexico, are in the top 100. See here and here. 
  4. One third of all internet usage is pornography. 
  5. Porn kills your sex drive. See this, this & this or go and find any forum with 100s of replies from people experiencing the same thing. 

Of course, correlation doesn’t always mean causality. And it can also be argued that low birth rates are not a positive thing (who’s going to take care of ever longer living aged people?)


Too Much Due Diligence


I’m currently evaluating a 2 (maybe 3) exciting opportunities to start a new business venture in Australia.¬†

I decided that I would objectively evaluate these opportunities, as if I were a venture capital investor. I.e. don’t just go on gut, but spend a few weeks doing some decent “Due Diligence” on each of the ideas.

Of course, there’s a risk of over analyzing, especially once you have a bit of experience starting up businesses and you’ve faced plenty of customers saying “No!” to you and your amazing products!¬†

So it was refreshing to read Fred Wilson’s post on A VC¬†about how he missed a great opportunity because of Too Much Due Diligence!¬†

In particular, he called up some of the major publishers to ask if they would use FeedBurner for their RSS feeds. They all said “No!”, as it would mean a 3rd party would have access to their analytics. Because of this customer feedback, Fred passed on investing in that round. Then this happened:¬†

About six months later I ran into Dick at an industry conference. We decided to grab lunch together and during lunch he said to me “you know those dozen publishers you called?” I said “yes, what about them?” He said “every single one of them is on Feedburner now.”¬†

Fred was still able to invest in FeedBurner, but at a 50% premium. In 2007, FeedBurner was acquired by Google for $100 million!  

So what did I learn from this lesson? First, trust your gut. I was using Feedburner and knew it was a very useful service. I felt that others would see that too. They did, but it took some time. Second, I learned that a service can get traction with the little guys and in time, the big guys will come along. 

From  (Audio version: 

WordPress: Please Don’t Make Me Think

About a month ago I moved my blog from Posterous to a self-hosted¬†WordPress¬†installation. I didn’t bother setting up the Akismet comment spam filter at the time and started noticing quite a few spam comments coming through. From having previously worked with WordPress, I knew that I needed an API key.¬†

These days, it’s a bit easier to get, as you can simply sign up for a account which gives you a whole host of benefits when using a standard installation on your own server.¬†

I clicked on Plugins and selected “Settings” under Akismet. I entered my API key and started frantically looking for a “Save” or a “Save Settings” button. I found none, and thought that maybe it would auto-save once I navigated away from the page ‚Äď a trend in desktop software, especially since Mac OS X’s System Preferences started doing this.¬†

I noticed a button saying “Update Options >>” (see below). I clicked on it to see what the “Update Options” might be, expecting a popup where I could choose whether Akismet would update automatically or manually. ¬†The little double arrow indicated that further options would appear.¬†

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 9.46.03 AM

Ha! I was wrong. A message appeared saying; “Options saved.”¬†
Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 10.02.38 AM
So why doesn’t the button say “Save options”?¬†
Steve Krugman writes in¬†“Don’t Make Me Think”¬†about naming buttons. In particular, regarding a Search box/button:¬†
It’s a simple formula: a box, a button, and the word ‘Search’. Don’t make it hard for them ‚Äď stick to the formula.”¬†

Porridge for Chess – Phiona Mutesi

My sister, Elodie, is getting married next weekend.

When I was young, I loved chess. As a 7 year old boy though, I didn’t have many people to play it with, though. Elodie, was 4 years old at the time. I taught her how to play chess and she picked it up quickly, but she lost interest in it just as rapidly as she lost interest in most of her boyfriends in later years. (until Justin came along).¬†

So I made up a story. This being the early ’80s and South Africans still being taught to hate & fear the Russians, I told her that if she couldn’t play a good chess game, men from Russia will visit and chop off her head. She believed me and within a few short weeks ¬†Elodie was South Africa’s best 4 year old chess player…¬†

I was reminded of this today as I read about Phiona Mutesi. Phiona grew up in the Katwe slum of Kampala, Uganda. Her family was starving. 

She heard about a sports centre that was giving free chess lessons. And free porridge. She went there with her brother, but was chased away because she was too dirty. 

“My brother was very annoyed and took me back to my mom. My mum told me to never go back to chess, but I went back because I wanted that cup of porridge”¬†

She walked six kilometres ever day to play the game. Two years later, she won the Uganda women’s junior championship.¬†



Google vs Yahoo

A week or so ago my iOS Safari browser started using Yahoo!

I’m not sure why – I suspect an iOS update – but I thought I’d give Yahoo! A shot after many years of not using it.

It’s hasn’t been great overall, but today I remembered why Google is Great. I quickly needed information about the flight Althea is on. Here’s what Yahoo! showed me when I entered “qf571”:


And here’s Google’s: