Monthly Archives: May 2009

Event Report – Smart Clothing

From the Churchill Club event on the 14th May 2009

Australian swimmers were the first to use the ultra low friction swimsuits that are now common attire.  Sensors woven into clothing can communicate the heart rate of the elderly.  Remote sensors such as accelerometers and environmental monitors can be picked up for as little as $20 and integrated into Twitter with two lines of code. All this and much more has been promised for a number of years, so when will our suits have bio monitors and respond to how we feel?

Two questions were put to two experts in the area of smart clothing.  What’s happening, and where are the opportunities?

Our panel was:
Andy Gelme – Director of Geekscape
Dr Richard Helmer – Theme Leader: Advancing Human Performance,  CSIRO

Brendan Lewis – The Churchill Club Ltd

Where are we at?
Electricity can now be run through textiles using conductive thread either sewn in, or as part of the the fabric.  This means that power sources and devices can now be directly incorporated into clothing.

Smart Clothing can sense the shape of the body at any particular time through flexible resistor strips, and where it is in space through incorporation of a GPS chip.  It can also monitor your immediate environment using remote sensors such as:

Milestones or Millstones

Three  times in recent weeks I have been asked the question “Is LinkedIn useful”.  All three people had a service offering (lawyer, designer, facilitator) and were on LinkedIn but had less than 5 connections.  My response in all three cases was “Yes, but not until you have atleast 120 connections.  Reach that milestone then ask the question again”.

Which got me thinking about milestones.  I regularly meet with small technology startups which aren’t particularly profitable as yet, so they tend to talk about non-financial milestones they have achieved.  Product Launched, First Sale, Press Release picked up etc. And when someone rolls out a milestone to me, the first question I ask is “so what did you learn?”.  The response is normally silence plus a half smiling half nervous look that means “Is that a trick question?”.

You see milestones, like way too many other business concepts, have been dumbed down for consumption by the mass market (bloody marketers and television to blame for this as usual).  A milestone is generally perceived as something you can be proud of, a moment that you can reflect on and perhaps pause to take a breath.

Which is great, but it misses its true value. Continue reading Milestones or Millstones

Some thoughts on climate change

I had coffee today with Monique Conheady of Flexicar and amongst other things we discussed Global Warming and Climate Change.  Now the funny thing about talking about your ideas is that all of a sudden you have to defend what were previously whimsical musings.  What’s even funnier is to write a post about them, you really need to order your thoughts as well as support them.  So three points about Climate Change.

Point 1.  I don’t believe in man made Climate Change
I suggested to Monique that I don’t believe in man made global warming.  My belief is that climate change is occurring but its part of the natural order of things.  As a systems person I know that you can create great complexity from a number of simple rules or changes, but in an open system with an infinite number of variables its ridiculous to believe that the actions of man over the last 100 years are responsible for the climate change and experts on either side of the table make good arguments to me (the climateology luddite).  So I reckon climate change is clearly ocurring but to connect that to the actions of man with certainty and religuous fervour is insane….but……

Point 2. Its stupid to shit in your own backyard.
I don’t think its a good idea to shit in your own backyard.  When  I trained in the Army, we always dug our latrine well away from anyone’s position.  If you didn’t you knew that the insects were going to crawl all over it then poison your food.  There were plenty of stories from a couple of thousand years of warfare were people did exactly that and ended up sick and dead.  Therefore although I don’t believe in mad made global warming as yet,  I do believe its clearly ridiculous to polute the planet sicne we only have a finite amount of real estate.  At some stage things we will have to pay the price, so lets stop doing it right now.  No more ridiculous abstrations such as the ETS (they still let you polute for gods sake).  So lets be a global leaderleader not jus a follower.  Sure it will damage/kill some industries but clearing out dead wood always allows for unexpected new growth to occur.

Point 3.  Killing life is not going to happen, but thats not the problem.
At the bottom of the ocean in compelete darkness, under tonnes of pressure,  there are bacteria living around sulphur vents practising chemosynthesis and having a good time.  They don’t care about climate change as our current environment would kill them.  This situation is repeated again and again in nature,  In almost every niche there is life that has adapted and filled out the niche.   So the problem of climate change is not about killing life, but killing life like me.

The Best Advice I have Received

Last week I wrote about the advice I would give myself if I could go back in time till when I was a fresh faced graduate.  I had a couple of other ideas as well, but on reflection I realised they weren’t actually mine.  They were great peices of advice that I had got from others.  So I thought a nice partner piece to last weeks post would be to describe the best advice I have been given by others.

Bill Lang  – CEO of Bill Lang International “If you can’t measure it, its not business”

Bill and I owned a small IT consulting firm that we built up and sold many years ago.  Bill, being ex McKinsey and Harvard Business School, is a big believer that everything can be measured, including subjective and qualitative things.  He has built systems for the banking iundustry that regularly ask questions like “On a scale of 1 to 5″ how do you feel about work this week”.  Bill’s point of view was that if you can measure it, you have a basis to determine whether innovations actually add value.  If you can’t measure it, stop wasting time on it.  I have carried this with me for the last decade.

Campbell Sallabank – CEO of LinkMe “Pay yourself first”

Campbell and I shared some office space in the mid to late nineties.   Campbell made me realize that you can’t let a venture totally consume you.  Kind of “one hand for the ship and one had for you”.   If a venture can’t afford to pay you as a  resouce, there’s something wrong with it and you need to fix it.  When doing break even calculations, factor in your required profit as a fixed cost.  When cash flow is tight, you still need to eat.

Ray Lewis – CEO of Greypath “Power unexercised is pointless”.

I had a business a number of years ago that became distressed when we lost our two major customers (about 60% of sales)  in six weeks and one became a very large bad debt.  My partners in the business responded by resigning as Directors en mass, then hammering me about what I was going to do.  Ray, who is also my father , pointed out that I needed to look at what power I had as a Director and use it or shut up about it.  Consequently I put the company into liquidation without discussing it with the other shareholders first (that was character building!).  The concept about understanding what power I have in any situation and using it has formed the basis of my negotations since.

Peter Zarris – CEO of OPICIf you get to thirty and you still think persuasion is about making a logical argument, you have already lost”

I first came across Peter when one of my businesses built a website for Peter that would allow them to select the best psychometric tool for any situation.  Downstream we became friendly and he also did some testing for my staff.  On one discussion with Peter over coffee about why a business partner couldn’t see sense in a particular course of action, Peter stated “If you get to thirty and you still think persuasion is about making a logical argument, you have already lost”.  I came to realise that what was logical to me, was based on my values and experiences and others would intepret the same  set of facts according to their own values and experiences.  It was a real slap in the face to me because up to that moment, logic had been king.  Peter also told me that if you really want to change, understand its going to hurt.  And if it doesn’t hurt, your not doing right.  Peter’s insights fundamentally changed the way I deal with people.

Old Lady on the Radio  “Listen to many, consult with a few, but paddle your own canoe”

My brother Peter who is a Global Strategic Business Development guy and I had been having a discussion about the value of third party advice and expertise.  Peter felt you were insane to go into a new venture without getting advice.  I somewhat bitterly felt that if you asked around, you could always get advice for and against  course of action.  So asking around for advice had little value.  Driving away from the lunch I heard and old woman on the radio say “My grandma used to tell me …Listen to many, consult with a few, but paddle your own canoe”.  This appears to be a quite ancient piece of advice.   It didn’t change my life but it did stick with me as it consolidated my thinking on the value of third party advice.  Basicaly if someone isn’t a subject matter expert on something that’s tangible (eg. “what is the melting point of steel?”)  I am happy to listen but I don’t let it cloud my own jdugement.  I value my own judgement the highest.

Oprah Winfrey“The Universe rewards action not inaction”

So I was laying on my back in a hotel room in Lima, Peru watching TV (which was mostly in Spanish but I enjoyed the absrdity) when the Oprah Winfrey show came on.  Its funny/scary how two things are constant around the world.  McDonalds around the corner and Oprah on the TV.   Anyway Oprah stared into the camera and said “The Univererse rewards action not inaction”.  I’m a little embarressed to admit that I first heard it from Oprah, but I reckon its a great distillation of many other philospohies such as Landmark Training and Stephen Covey‘s First Habit of “Being Responsible”.  Basically if you want somethign to happen, pull your finger out and make it happen.

Now I’m sure everyone has their own advice that they value, but the interesting thing is that simply the act of writing it down , such as it this post, reall brings it to the forefront of your mind.

Advice I would give to myself

Two events last week prompted me to write this post.  The first was that my wife watched some crappy movie with our daughter the other week about magically becoming young again for a while.    Actually “crappy” was her word not mine,  although our daughter thought it was great.    The second was later that week I attended a Hive function where Monique Conheady of Flexicar spoke (a cool business) and met a number of aspiring entrepreneurs at the start of their careers.

Both of these things got me thinking about what I would have told myself  about business at the start of my career, if I could go back in time and speak to/slap  myself in 1985 when I graduated from Curtin University.  Now everyone would have different ideas on this but I could think of five things that I felt I would really want to get across, because I have had to learn them the hard way.

Have Goals
If you drift along in life you will still reach a destination, you just won’t like it.  So set yourself some Big Picture Goals and try to make them SMART and worthwhile achieving.   It almost doesn’t matter if your not sure if these are the right ones.  You’re better off having goals that are kind of right, then having none.  Having big picture goals also means that in every situation you can ask yourself “what outcomes do I want from this that will help me achieve my big picture goals?”.

So – Write down some big picture goals and figure out the actions you need to take to get there.  Develop the habit of asking yourself “What outcomes do I want from this event/meeting/accident that would help me achieve my goals?”.

To get to the top of anything you need to be very, very good at what you do.  So outsource other activities to others who are very good at what they do.  Don’t abdicate responsibility though,  you still need to have an understanding of what others do so that you can give clear guidance.

So – Concentrate on getting continuous professional development in your area,  but read widely to give you insight into those that will help you.

Be confident
There are two reasons why you need to be confident.  First and foremost confidence is rewarded as subconsciously we all want to deal with confident people (just like we all want pretty people to like us).  Secondly my experience is that regardless of the industry, topic or seniority of the speaker.  90% of people don’t really understand what comes out of their mouth or how horribly biased it is by their own experiences. Mostly they just repeat other peoples ideas “parrot fashion” and use big words to sound important .  Therefore you have every right to be confident about your own ideas or perspectives.

So –  Speak loudly, clearly and smile.  Rehearse your messages if you think you sound clumsy.

The most successful people I have met over the course of my career all have large networks full of interesting quality people.  Generally people who are very good at their job.  So for instance they don’t just know a lawyer, they know a great divorce lawyer, a great IP lawyer, a great lawyer  for commercial negotiations.  So actively networking is the best way of surrounding your self with great people.  The bonus is that the best opportunities in life normally come from your network so the larger the network the better.

So – Remember that being connected to 1,000 people on Facebook  isn’t networking.  Make a point of attending a networking function once a week and not just in your industry, try to meet new people (it becomes easy fairly quickly), record their contact details and make an effort to contact these people again.

Volunteering for activities is a great way of meeting new people, gaining new experiences and/or perspectives and developing profile (and opportunities definitely come to those who have profile).  It almost doesn’t matter what the activity is, whether its working group at the office or a volunteer for a social venture or charity.

So – Regularly stick your hand up at work, and/or volunteer to help out in a not-for-profit whether it be a sporting club, charity or social venture.  As Woody Allen says “Seventy percent of success in life is showing up”.

Now in 1985 as a fresh faced graduate I probably wouldn’t have listened to the speech.  But I would have incorporated some of the takeaways.  Certainly with my own kids we encourage them to think about what they want, have goals, be confident, maintain friendships outside their school and volunteer for things.  I just hope they learn these things quicker than me.

Event Report – The USA on Australian Technology Firms

From the Churchill Club Event on the 30th April 2009

Two questions were put to two Americans, and an Australian whom had just picked up $5M of investment from an American VC in the middle of the Global Financial Crisis: One – How do Americans see Australian technology firms moving into the USA, and Two – How does the USA feel about Australian investments? Since most of our advice comes from Australian Government employees, or Australians with limited experience in the space, we thought it would be nice to get some answers, straight from the horses mouth so to speak.

Our panel was:
Bipin Shah – Managing Director, Kovair Software, Inc. and former president of TiE (Silicon Valley)
Mike Gigante – CEO, Evostor
Jim Balog – Principal, Colfly

Brendan Lewis – The Churchill Club Ltd

The USA on Australia Generally
Australia is not particularly on the radar for American Investors, Bipin Shah only made an investment here after coming as a tourist.

However for those aware of Australia it is scene as a land of opportunity much less damaged by the Global Financial Crisis. In fact Gartner Research has indicated they feel only two software markets will grow in the next two years, Australia and Latin America.

Travel to Australia is not seen as a big impediment as for many its quicker than travelling to India or other Asian regions.

The USA on Investing in Australian firms
Australian Revenue’s aren’t overly attractive. As a rule of thumb for an American business serving global markets; 50% of revenues would be generated in the USA, 33% from Europe, 14% from Asia and at best 3% from Australia.

Australia is perceived as being much cheaper to operate in than the USA or Europe. Engineers in Australia are two thirds cheaper than those in Silicon Valley and half as much as Engineers from the Midwest. And this is usually combined with much deeper expertise (All SV engineers turn over jobs regularly, Some Midwest Engineers hang around for the longer term, but they are normally dead wood).

Venture Capitalists from the USA like to exert more control than their Australian counterparts. Terms for investment would normally include appointment of a CEO (Gun for hire) where an Australian VC prefers to guide from a board position.

Australian business models are not perceived as being very good for generating global sales. One structure that was attractive to American VC’s was a Delaware registered company, with R&D operations in Australia but Sales & Management in the USA.

American VC’s also like to syndicate some of their investment to Australian VC’s as it gives them local eyes on the ground. Evostor was invested in by Hummer Winblad but with a portion syndicated investment to Australian firms Starfish Ventures and Southern Cross Group. The local VC’s also enjoyed have a very large American lead in their investment.

It was perceived that Australian Universities are generally fairly open to collaborate with in generating new IP.

Australian firms on Investment from the USA

In Silicon Valley, quality local introductions are the key to getting money from Venture Capitalists. These introductions are normally either though angel investors or lawyers with the right connections. So you need to have the right lawyer or Angel investor if you want to take the next step.

Currency fluctuations can make an enormous difference. Evostor’s investment went into escrow as US$ and came out as Australian dollars a couple of weeks later, 20% higher.

The concept of a deal “smelling” because it has been shopped around to much doesn’t really exist in the US. As every VC has a different appetite for risk, technology, foreign investment and business models. So getting a “no” from the first dozen or so VC’s doesn’t matter.

As a reference point, Evostor:

  • Made 150 pitches to 55 VC’s
  • Attended 400 general meetings
  • Had 60 due diligence meetings
  • And spent $150,000 on the process to raise $5Million.

Pitches were generally done to extremely hostile audiences, whom won’t sign NDA’s or keep secrets and whom may only be listening to validate competition for another investment they are actually making.

Due diligence meeting were regularly held over the phone at 2am with teleconferences that may include competitors or other “worst nightmare” people involved.

All references were checked plus plenty of others generated. Nothing could be hidden.

The USA on Australian Firms doing business in the USA
The American market does not care where you come from. The fact that you are Australian is irrelevant. What matters is the ability to quickly fit in and understand how business is done there.

The USA has all the same industries as Australia; Banking, Agriculture, Mining, Telecommunications however they are all much wider, deeper and faster moving.

The USA is more “regional” than Australia, so there are more markets that matter. Think what Australia would be like if there was 20 plus cities bigger than Sydney in it.  Silicon Valley isn’t the only place for IT.  Don’t forget other centres such as Boulder Colorado, Austin Texas, North Carolina, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Cambridge Massachusetts, New York and Los Angeles.

You have to remember that large firms talk behind the scene and news travels fast.

The key to success is of course localisation.  In Silicon Valley they don’t care where you are from but you must learn to fit in fast, or you are guaranteed to fail.

Remember that despite the fact that the culture & language are similar, communication , and its subtleties, are going to be a problem.  For instance it may take 5 meetings to come to an agreement in the UK and 3 meetings in Australia, a decision is expected to be made at the first meeting in California.

Some lessons Australia could learn
Americans simply aren’t nationalistic when it comes to making a dollar. Many of the Silicon Valley Success stories have been from immigrants to the US. For instance two of the four founders of Sun Microsystems were foreigners (an Indian and a German).

High profile universities in the USA (Stanford, Berkley MIT etc) don’t just attract the best people from around the world because they have great courses, but they connect their people into great networks and have employers lining up at the door to grab these great people when they are finished studying.

3 questions around a good idea…

Last week I mentioned I was going to have lunch with an old workmate Glenn to discuss an idea he been asked to get involved with.  I responded to his initial email in detail about things to think about in regards to getting involved, but not whether the idea was a good one in the first place. We discussed that over lunch

To judge whether the idea was a good one, I adapted an easy framework written about by Amar Bhide who has been a Professor at Harvard and Columbia Business School for many, many years.  He calls it the 3 questions that every entrepreneur must answer.

The three questions before going into any venture are;  What are my goals, what is my strategy to achieve my goals,  and finally, what  do I need to execute this strategy?

To flesh it out, I put these questions to Glenn.

    What are the Goals?

  1. What exactly do the founders want to achieve ?  Saying you want to create a profitable business isn’t exactly a tight goal.  How much, when, why, how,  are great places places to start if you want goals you are likely to achieve.
  2. What type of business is this and how will this business work?   Understanding what business you will actually be in, how the offering is to be moneytised, who will buy and what is the value proposition is essential.
  3. What growth rates do you need to hit the targets desired?  Its great to say you will trade sale the business for $5M in two years, but what growth rates does that require?
  4. What are the risks to risks to the venture?  Any venture you expect to make a return on has risk ( finance 101 ) if they are not explicitly recognised, they don’t get planned for, which turns setbacks into failures.
  5. What sacrifices that are being made?  Only in fairy tales do start-up founders get to have it all.   If nothing else there is an opportunity cost of focussing on this deal.  But much more likely its salary  and time with family that’s being missed out on.
  6. Can the founders live with the risks and sacrifices?  This is the question that will normally determine whether a partnership will disintegrate as soon as things get tough.
  7. What is the Strategy to achieve the Goals?

  8. Is there a clearly defined strategy that addresses all the goals? As the old adage goes,” those that fail to plan, plan to fail”.
  9. Can the strategy generate sufficient profits?  You’d be surprised how often there is a disconnect here.
  10. Can the strategy generate the growth required?  If you want to deal with Australian dog owners, do your research to understand what your real market is, not just a percentage of our population.
  11. Is the strategy sustainable ?  How will you protect your growth rate as you come to the notice of others?
  12. Is the rate of growth too conservative or too aggressive?  A rate of growth picked to hit the target revenue is meaningless if its not deliverable by the strategy.
  13. Can the founders execute this Strategy?

  14. How much money will it take to get this business operational?  Entrepreneurs are notorious for underestimating this, and, assuming that they will simply get the money.  So is the number realistic and have sources of funding been validated?
  15. The Customers.  How many, who are they, how are you going to get to them, how much will it cost to get to them, will they buy and how much?  If you haven’t validated the customer base then the risk increases astronomically.
  16. What does the supply chain look like  to deliver products and has every step been validated?  If you haven’t done this, how do you know you can deliver at the right price, and make the profits required?
  17. What organisational systems and processes will be required, are they clearly identified and available?  Tight organisational systems are always a major competitive advantage against copycat offerings and comprise a large chunk of the goodwill of a business being sold (think franchises).
  18. What is the founders role in the business and are they the best people for the job?   This is of course always the toughest question because founders never want to recognise that maybe they aren’t the best person for the job (its part of the entrepreneurs raison d’être)

So a tough session with Glenn.  I asked a question, then stuck pasta in my head. Asked more questions, more pasta.  Glenns lunch went cold and he got grumpy because there were simpy too many questions that couldn’t be answered.  So the idea was good, but was it a good idea for him to invest?   The answer clearly appeared to be not yet.

Some freebies for equity

When Glenn and I went our separate ways many years ago it was because he wanted our business to be more about lifestyle than I did. He wanted the office to have New York attic style windows and be above a coffee shop. I felt we had to keep our belts a lot tighter so that I could go all Scrooge McDuck  . Of course now that Glenn is the owner of his own software engineering business, he cares about the money, not so much where the coffee shop is.

Ten years later and we still maintain a casual friendship catching up a twice a year for lunch. But yesterday he emailed me, taking me to task over my use of apostrophes in the Churchill Cub Newsletter. He also mentioned at the bottom of his email

“I’m currently working through the due diligence for an online idea for which I’ve been approached to perform web development hours in exchange for equity in the company.”

Glenn isn’t an investment banker, and the deal isn’t large enough to warrant fees to third party advisors. So I gave Glenn a bit of feedback on it since I have been on both sides of these deals a couple of times and have advised on some arrangements as part of a Flinders Pacific project. Glenn thought it was good feedback, so without going overboard I thought I’d flesh it out and share it.

Why you?

  • So family, friends and fools generally invest in new start-up ideas. Which are you and how do you feel about it?
  • Are you the first person they asked to do the work, and if not, why did others knock it back?
  • Do they want you at the table because of your skills, network and resources?  Or just because you’ll do the work for the right price.  If the latter, its unlikely to have a happy ending.
  • Do you think you are the right person to manage this investment once the job is done?

How much do you Charge?

  • What is the price of the work if you just charged for it?
  • Is there an opportunity cost here that you need to account for?
  • How much a loading do you need to account for the risk?
  • How much of a loading do you want to account for the delay in getting a return on your investment (think discounted cash flow)?
  • The other side of the equation is “what is the value of the work you will do, in the eyes of the other party”? (eg. Are they just bringing an idea to the table?)
  • What non-cash components are you going to include in the deal (eg. are you locked in as a supplier and at what price?)
  • How are you charging for scope creep, extensions and ongoing maintenance?

Undertaking the Work

  • Make sure you have the work very, very, very clearly defined. Exactly what are you doing and what aren’t you doing.  Enthusiastic people tend to evolve a start-up without documenting changes. There is sure to be an ugly customer expectation gap unless you keep things tight.
  • Who will actually do the work and are they the best choice?
  • How are you going to ensure your team acts professionally and follows good process ( including managing scope creep) if they think its a “kind of freebie” for the boss?
  • At what point is ownership of your code and IP transferred or are they just getting a license, or a hybrid?

Managing your Investment

  • How much equity are they offering, and how is it going to be protected overtime (and not watered down dramatically in a couple of months)?
  • Are there any other material things going on that you need to know?
  • How are they valuing the business at the point where you deliver the solution?
  • Are they open to alternative offerings such as a convertible note?
  • If you were making a cash investment (because its the same)  would you be happy with business idea and the people managing your investment?
  • What is their plan to actually get you a return on your investment, and are you happy that its its clearly articulated and achievable?  And what’s your plan B, C & D?  (can you sell your equity in three months time)?
  • What arrangements are in place so that you can monitor/govern your investment?  (Eg Financial reporting regime, briefings, Board slot?).

But when things don’t work out as planned?

  • Things always turn out differently, especially in start-ups that are bootstrapping,  and remember that people have difficulty valuing something they get for free.  So how do you protect your position if they change direction dramatically and/or resent your stake?
  • What if they dispute you have satisfied your side of the contract (this just happened to a mate of mine after he had tripled the sales of a business with an equity deal)?
  • How will you know if things are going off the rails?
  • How do you get a return if things go into liquidation?
  • How do you protect yourself if the others “act without integrity?”

All these things for him to have a think about and I haven’t even really asked whether their idea is a good one in the first place. We are going to have to do that one over lunch, somewhere with New York attic style windows.

Remote Access update

Ages ago I wrote about remote access to your pc via free product called VNC.  However I have just discovered that it doesn’t work as well as it used to, as the free product doesn’t work with Windows Vista.  And Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection software doesn’t work with all versions of Vista (its there, just disabled so you pay for an upgrade).

How did I find this out?   Well I got the dreaded free computer support call from family again.

My Dad, who has stated “I know just as much as you about computers, except for the rare occasions where you happen to know a little bit more”, needed help setting up email on his new computer.  Now I generally avoid computer support over the phone to senior family members because If  I use words like email client, or window or tabs, I’m accused of being difficult and a pedant.

To cut to the chase though, I thought bugger it.  I’ll just get him to download VNC then I’ll take control of his desktop and fix the problem without having to discuss it.  Unfortunately the version of VNC I wanted wasn’t free and Im hesitant to get my Dad to pay for software if I don’t know whether it will actually do the job.  So I went down the Microsoft Remote Desktop connection route and found it had been disabled for his version of Windows (Home Premium).  Damn.  I then downloaded a TightVNC and UltraVNC.  Both of these though were too complex for my father (or the average user) to use.  Any time I ask the question “Whats’ your IP address” I know I’m not going to like the answer.teamviewer

So looking around in desperation, I found a new service called Team Viewer that worked a treat.  We both downloaded the software then ran it (obviously we both had a working internet connection).  Speaking over the phone he gave me his ID  number and password that was shown in the TeamViewer window, I entered it into mine and voila,  I’m on his computer.

The non-commercial use version was free so Dad was happy, and so was I.

I managed to fix the email problem in a couple of seconds and regained the wonder boy crown from my brothers.

I wasn’t so churlish though to point out to Dad that the solution was simple, because he knows everything there is to know about computers.