2015_07_16 Dresden

Open for business

It feels like a long time since I’ve rolled up the sleeves, dusted off the text editor and put pen to paper here. Yes, yes, I know — we’re all very busy. But it seems that 2015 has been the year of unsurpassed leaps and bounds, taking me deep into vast and uncharted territory. The best part is, I have no idea how we got here & no intention of ever seeking a way back!

In short, dear friends: I have much to report.

Let’s start with the farewells. After roughly two years at the helm of BrightHearts for iOS, in July 2015 I resigned as a company Director & will no longer be actively involved going forward. This was a tough decision to make for several reasons, the biggest being that I felt that we simply hadn’t reached our goals for BrightHearts & this kind of unrealised potential can weigh heavily on the mind. I was also concerned that leaving the company at this stage would place a burden on my co-founder George, potentially crippling the app further still.

I’d been mulling these factors over for some time when I understood two key insights that helped me realise I wasn’t seeing the bigger picture.

  1. By considering myself irreplaceable, I’d placed an artificial barrier to the app’s growth and success. Why should the app be fuelled by myself alone? Developer talent is indeed hard to come by, but I don’t hold any hidden secrets or magical powers to make great things happen; and
  2. Over time I’d noticed myself feeling less driven to create new features, to fix apparent bugs & to explore new approaches to the app or it’s business model mechanics. I found myself letting go, explaining away small problems or lamenting the amount of time I was pouring into a project that wasn’t growing as fast as I thought it could.

I had fallen out of love with the project. These insights told me something important – that I was certainly not helping BrightHearts achieve greatness & that I was possibly even hindering it’s future.

Time to say goodbye.

Given all this, I’m very pleased to say that my former business partner George has found a bright young developer to help him build the next phase of the app, Trent Brooks. I worked closely with Trent during the handover period & can see him taking the app into new places I might not have even imagined. George is an incredibly driven guy, curious and insightful & I look forward to watching the next chapter unfold.


Now to new beginnings. Over the past 18 months Bruce Jeffreys and I have been building a new company, from scratch, that is literally changing the face of eyewear in Australia.

It’s called Dresden & it’s here to make eyewear simpler and more affordable than ever before.


So what’s the deal with Dresden? I’ll give you the skinny: for too long, too few players have dominated the global optical industry. We’ve become accustomed to spending a lot of money on fragile, easily lost spectacles that are also rapidly out-of-season. We thought this was madness, when we were customers. We thought surely it doesn’t have to be like this. We thought we could do it better.

The irony is that the benchmark for a good eyewear customer experience has been set so low by the major retailers, that industry novices such as ourselves have a real chance to shine.

At Dresden you don’t buy a pair of glasses, you buy into a system of eyewear unlike any other. Our frames are designed with interchangeability at the core: we’ve simplified eyewear into four sizes (XS, S, M & L), which can swapped with ease.

Let’s say you have what’s known in the biz as a fat head*. No sweat, our Large frames are exactly that, Large. If you also happen to need shorter arms, we can swap them for you in seconds.


It really is this simple

Best of all, a pair of Dresden prescription glasses will only set you back $49 AUD.

Also, if we have your lenses in stock, we can make them for you, while you wait. Yep, just 10 minutes is all it takes.

All of our frames are made locally, at a manufacturing facility in Lakemba. We found a partner who saw something great in us & wanted to be a part of our story – Astor Industries. For Astor, we’re another small thread in a growing tapestry that spells the resurgence of Australian manufacturing. For us, they’ve opened our eyes to a world of self-sufficiency and locally sourced products that we never dreamed possible.

2015_07_16 Dresden

Since opening our first store in Newtown four months ago, the response from the public has been phenomenal. Before launching, we shared as much as we dared with our friends & family members. But opening doors to the public – to random strangers – is another thing altogether. It really is the litmus test of the business concept. Will people accept the premise? Will they find our colours appealing? Will they want to tell their friends? Will they be nice to us? You can never really know how a retail concept will work.

Needless to say, it’s going very well & we’re already planning the next phase of Dresden. I have some pretty special news for you on that front – but I’ll save that for another time.


Dresden is something truly special. We spent the better part of a year perfecting the design of our eyewear range, choosing the perfect materials to use & honing our skills at high quality manufacturing — right here in Sydney. We’ve been remarkably fortunate to have met an incredible group of people who believed in the idea from the very beginning (even if they thought we were a little bit nutty) and who have done everything they could to shape Dresden into something special. Lucky is not even an understatement.

Dresden simply wouldn’t be what it is today without this small group of yeasayers who dared to dream big.

It’s not often that a startup can enjoy the luxury of three key ingredients: a hungry market, an outstanding product & a truly kickass team, but we’ve been able to do just that. As our systems guru Isaac would say: it’s “oh my god” stuff. We’re just having too much fun with this company.


As I’m writing this, I can’t help but notice a difference in mood, in timbre, between the first part and the second. The truth is that I’ve found my calling in Dresden, it’s grown from simply being a project to being the project, one that I look forward to building, learning growing for many years to come.

If you’ve recently wondered, “where’s Jason hiding?”, well now you know.

I’m not hiding, I’m open for business. Come say hallo, one day.

The first Dresden workshop can be found at;
417A King Street, Newtown NSW 2042
Our phone number is 1300 535 110, or email newtown@dresden.com.au if you’d like to learn more.

Check out Dresden Optics to see our range.

*seriously, people confess these things to us, openly



The jostling for position within the constrained real estate on the wrist will be analogous to the competition for positioning on the phone. You’ll note that the winners on the phone were different than the winners on the PC. My bet is that the winners on the Watch will be different than the winners on the Phone.

And that’s not a bad thing.

Horace Dediu at Asymco.com

I can’t wait to see what incredible apps are created for this new platform. It’s hard to imagine just what will be possible, what the wrists of tomorrow will be capable of doing. Very exciting.


keep riding that dead horse

Whether Mr Abbott even survives as prime minister until the next election is open to debate. But the fact remains he has instigated a series of changes to the fundamental nature of Australian society that were never put to the people before the last election and which have been kept shrouded in euphemism ever since.Tim Dunlop, in Spook Magazine

I wanted to quote more, but I won’t. Well worth the read, if you’re at all interested in understanding the underhanded, dishonest government we’ve had since late 2013.


Does a Daring Fireball sponsored post actually work?

I was putting all of my proverbial “eggs” in one basket and was hoping that it would work. But, it wasn’t without research and it wasn’t a decision I took lightly (obviously). You see after reading DF for years I’ve been witness to many companies that have had great success with sponsorship. The kicker was that I have purchased many products just because I first saw it on DF.
John Saddington, creator of Desk

A fascinating glimpse behind the curtain of high profile sponsored posts. I’ve often wondered if blog sponsorship was an effective marketing channel for apps and products. There’s a lot of it going on in tech, also on podcasts, but are they actually effective? For Desk, the answer is a clear yes.


Paul Ford on Reply All

Two of my favourite things are now in one place: Paul Ford on Reply All.

It turns out that you’re not as important as you think you are, nowhere near as terrible as you think you are and actually fairly ridiculous.

Reply All is the new show from Gimlet Media, created in part by former Planet Money & This American Life producer Alex Blumberg. Paul Ford is one of the best technology writers on the internet today. His writing is always poetic, human and sometimes hilarious. On this episode, Paul talks about his anxieties, how crippling they can be & how he decided to manage them. In short: he built himself an anxiety box. I won’t spoil it for you, just listen.

If you’re into podcasts and the internet (hello? is this thing on?) you should go subscribe right now. Alex also hosts a remarkably good podcast called Startup, logging his journey into the world of internet businesses. At first I scoffed, then I listened, sat up and paid attention. Both shows are very well produced, never longer than half an hour & always worth the listen. Reply All is particularly good.


Gamergate finds new depths

Yesterday, ArbCom announced its preliminary decision. A panel of fourteen arbitrators – at least 11 of whom are men – decided to give GamerGate everything they’d wished for. All of the Five Horsemen are sanctioned; most will be excluded not only from “Gamergate broadly construed” but from anything in Wikipedia touching on “gender or sexuality, broadly construed.”

Mark Bernstein, Infamous

All is not well in the wiki.


Friends don’t let friends look out of date on the internet

Content on the internet can be frighteningly fast-paced. You don’t need to look much further than twitter or Facebook to notice the deluge of content being posted daily. It’s overwhelming – blink and you miss it. Yet websites often fall into the trap of hard-coding content into less-obvious page elements and forgetting all about it. One excellent example of this is the Copyright text appearing in the footer of many websites. You’ll often see something that looks like this:

© 2015

Obviously, the content here is not © Marco Arment.

This innocuous piece of text doesn’t only lay claim to copyright protection, it also clearly displays the year in which the website was ‘last updated’. It dates the content you’re currently reading. It plants a flag, sending subtle signals about how fresh your site happens to be. It might be dead-right, but then again it might be way off. Like, several years out of date.

Now why is this a problem? Well, most bloggers and webmasters tend to think about these things very infrequently. You might look at the footer text when setting up a new theme, or changing plugins, but that doesn’t happen very often & chances are that your web footer text is now a whole year out of date (© 2014). If you run a website, I’ll pause here to let you go check your footer text. No really. You’ll thank me for it.

Ok, so now you know. Is your footer text up to date? If not, I’ll bet you just changed it. Job done, right?
For now, yes. But what happens 12 months later, when 2016 rolls around and you’ve forgotten this piece of sage wisdom? You’ll be back where you were today, before you read said piece of wisdom. There must be a better way.

updateyourfooter.com is here to help.

updateyourfooter.com is here to help.

Well, there is. Computers are fantastic at doing things without even requiring human thought. Automatically. It’s great. Here’s my special tip that will save you literally seconds, once a year, every year from now until your website dies.

Just use software to automatically update the date. It’s that easy. Set it and forget it. If you run more than one website, you may never need to think about checking your footers (feet?) again. Let the computers keep track of the date, you can get back to the business of writing killer headlines & splitting long articles up into separate pages.

It’s called software and it works. One change and your site will look fresh and new this year, next year and every other year, for as long as you like.


Bringing the progressive calendar to Australia

David Malki (creator of the insanely great web comic wondermark) recently posted a progressive calendar PDF that he’d produced for printing & hanging. I’ve long thought that this kind of calendar is so much better than calendars with months separated by white space, but never thought about creating one of my own. When I saw David’s calendar, it was a no-brainer to download it for my own use.

But there was one small problem. David’s based in the USA, so some of the details of the calendar are US-centric. The Daylight Savings dates, for instance. Or all of the holidays. These aren’t deal-breakers for me, but wouldn’t it be so much better if you could have one with Australian dates?

Well, now you can. I downloaded and tweaked David’s calendar PDF to reflect the correct Australian dates for 2015.

You too can now download the Australian Holidays 2015 calendar.

Thanks again to David Malki for the idea & the heavy lifting on the original calendar.

[Update: David added this page to his download section on wondermark!

João Paulo Bernardes has also made a Brazilian version! Spread the love..]