Dear @Afrihost, it’s time to part ways

We’ve been in Israel for almost three years now and I think it’s safe to say we won’t require Afrihost’s services any longer. I decided it’s time to part ways with our former ISP and unsubscribe from Gian’s emails.

I scrolled down Gian’s latest email about how Openserve will only charge me R2,850 for fibre installation from 1 August. I’m a bit out of touch with Internet access costs in SA but at least they have fibre access. Still, I doubt Openserve will install where we live so I found the link to unsubscribe.

I clicked on the link, taking Gian at his word that doing this would unsubscribe me altogether. I was hopeful that this would work as well as their ADSL service back in South Africa (at least back in 2014).

Unfortunately things didn’t quite work out as I had hoped.

While we had good times together, I think it’s time that we part ways, Afrihost. We’ve moved on (literally) and while we’d love to have fibre Internet access too, I just don’t think you can help us all the way here.

So, if you could remove me from your mailing list, that would be great. You can get in touch with me on Twitter and we can say our goodbyes there.

Featured image credit: Mathyas Kurmann

Business and work

How best to contact someone new

I came across a question on, a great inbound marketing site, asking about the best way to contact someone new? Aleksandra asked for some feedback:

I was just wondering which channel you guys mostly use when it comes to contacting someone new? For business matters, of course 🙂

Is there any difference for you whether this person is an opinion leader/influencer or not. Maybe you have an unusual approach/tactics you want to share.

Just to make it more precise, let’s imagine you need to ask someone for advice/opinion, etc.

I’ve thought about this often, especially when I had a small business I was trying to grow. People commenting on the question outlined when they’d use Twitter, LinkedIn, email and phone calls to contact someone new but I have a different approach I thought I’d share here too.

How I prefer to contact someone new

I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all approach here. I think it very much depends on the person you want to reach. Some people are pretty active on particular platforms and you’d pick those platforms to reach out to them. Understanding which platforms those people are most active in is probably also a really good way to get to know them better and signal to them that you have made an effort to connect more meaningfully.

We’ve found that Twitter is a great way to reach out to some media people, for example, just @-mentioning them. Some people even accept direct messages on Twitter so that is an option too. Email is a standard way to connect to people but it can be a very bland medium. LinkedIn is great, in theory, but I only use it if I know the person is an active LinkedIn user. Otherwise, you may receive a message months later with an apology explaining that the person barely looks at LinkedIn.

I think phone calls can be one of the most effective ways of reaching out to people. I usually send a WhatsApp message to someone with a brief introduction and asking when I can call to discuss the issue with the person. We get so caught up with digital and social that we forget just how meaningful a phone call can be. Sure, there are people who find phone calls to be very invasive or disruptive but that is why I start with a message first.

What do you think? What works best for you?

Image credit: Pexels

Applications Business and work

How sandwiches switched from email to Slack

It is starting to seems like everyone is using Slack for internal comms within teams. I have at least two clients using it and I know of a couple other small teams using it too.

(On a related note, the Slack referral program which gives you $100 in credit when you sign up expires at the end of November 2014 so click on this link if you want to take advantage of that)

I’m experimenting with how I can tie into my clients’ teams and use Slack to collaborate with them rather than our usual email+Skype+Hangouts channels. I also switched to a beta version of the desktop app which better supports multiple teams (the stable version allows you to switch between teams which also works), thanks to Richard Oakley.

I am not a huge fan of email but it works (most of the time). I do like the idea of using chat-style services for communications with clients. Email can become pretty painful when you just want to have short conversations in close to realtime. I also like the idea of not using email much for work comms too and Slack is a great service to use for that.

I had a discussion along these lines with Nathan Jeffery recently and the one thing that came up was whether it is productive to switch to more realtime comms with clients. We have become accustomed to pretty fast comms with email, calls and chat. Email still has a semblance of a lag because it is still asynchronous so you can manage expectations to a degree. If you switch to a realtime option like Slack, you risk creating an expectation that your responses will be realtime simply because the tech enables it. That means you spend all your time chatting and not enough time working. At least that is the risk. I’m not sure that shifting to something like Slack is the end of productivity. I think managing expectations goes beyond what the channel enables but it is worth thinking about.

One of the companies that moved over to Slack is Sandwich Video Inc. The story about their transition is documented in a Slack blog post which is a great read. It is, ironically, a series of emails between Slack’s co-founder and CEO, Stewart Butterfield, and Sandwich Video’s CEO, Adam Lisagor. Sandwich Video created an awesome video (as you would expect) explaining why they moved and beautifully animating their enthusiasm for the product. I had to share. Watch the video in HD. You may need to watch it more than once, it’s that much fun:

I’m curious how many people are using Slack. It is easy to look around your local bubble and think everyone is doing it and forget about the world outside that bubble.

Business and work Mindsets

Unsubscribe CAPTCHA

I receive a fair amount of unsolicited marketing email (you probably do, too) that manages to evade Google Mail’s spam filters. I usually just scroll down, find the “unsubscribe” link and opt-out. One of the emails I received today had an interesting unsubscribe “protection”.

I’m accustomed to seeing a CAPTCHA mechanism to prevent automated email subscriptions (and logins, for that matter). It is an anti-spam protection and although CAPTCHA implementations can be problematic, it is a decent way of ensuring a human is interacting with you deliberately. That is a first step towards consent.

This particular implementation is odd because the CAPTCHA mechanism was presented to me when I clicked on the “unsubscribe” link in the email. Why would I need to prove I am a human to remove myself from a mailing list I didn’t ask to be included on (or even if I did request it, why require this verification if I decide to opt-out)?

To add to this peculiar configuration, I was presented with this screen after I typed in the number:

Again, pretty odd. After clicking on the link to unsubscribe and then going through the process of satisfying the CAPTCHA mechanism that I am a human, I am still prompted with a button offering me a chance to opt-in just in case I experience some sort of opt-out remorse?

This whole mechanism is pretty ironic considering I didn’t go through this process to receive the emails in the first place. It isn’t designed to prevent spam, it is designed to add friction to the process of unsubscribing and preventing automated means of unsubscribing from spam. That seems a bit backwards to me.


This brings me happiness


A poorly funded phishing attempt

These people aren’t trying very hard to fool anyone.