Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I hate April 1st!

I HATE April 1st! The worst day of the year for people that live online. It was bad enough when I was a kid. My parents would short sheet the bed or replace my drinks with something else. Friends would make lame attempts at fooling me with stories about upcoming albums or video games. Yawn.

Now with the Internet everyone has to be a joker. Even sites that a person normally trusts, think they are oh-so-damn-funny with fake news stories. Online catalogs put up fake crap you can't order. Your favorite sites put up fake pages or announce they are being bought out for huge sums. I'm betting this year the fad will be that they are filing for bankruptcy or applying for a bail out. Or somehow changing the business model due to the economy. The worst is that every person in your contact list send you emails trying childish things like attempts at rickroll gags or tricks to get you to view disgusting photos.

All of which is normally funny. When no-one is expecting it. Just NOT on the same fraking day that the billion or so other idiots with Internet connections think they are the only ones that can pull a prank. Read my lips. YOU ARE NOT FUNNY.

This year - be original - be different. Don't be a lame ass internet joker on April 1. Surprise me - Please!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Star Trek Punk!

Sorry to keep posting Youtube stuff but this is just awesome!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Non Sequitur

I guess I'm the cranky geek this week. Continuing the theme setup by my distaste for the Iphone and said fanboys - I have a rant on a behavior that drives me little by little closer to the edge.

Since changing my working situation a couple of months ago I have set about many things. One of the more minor is changing the flavor of ham that makes it way to my mailbox. (Three descending kinds of email. Bacon, Ham, and then the dreaded Spam) As an IT manager I was on all manner of mailing lists and got stuff from many vendors and a ton of newsletters on the full gamut of IT related topics and vertical industry stuff.

In my new role my interests are much more focused. So most of the stuff I used to get I'm now unsubscribing from. Most of the senders get it. I click the link to unsub and that's it. A few however seem to think that this is a good time to send me yet more unwanted mail. Like the confirmation web page isn't enough. They need to send me an email saying "we've received your request". Then another with "We are reviewing your request", Then yet another with "we have removed your name". Often followed by yet another that has links in case I ever change my mind. Wait didn't you just say you removed my name? WTF?

All you have done, my seemingly lonely e-friend, is make sure I never give you any business. Stop it.

This is as stupid as companies that insist on the telephone follow up to an email query. If the customer had wanted to waste time talking to a sales drone - he would call one in the first place. Take my advice. Be logical and return the communication on the same channel it began on. You will significantly increase your chances of making the sale.

Case in point. The last time I went looking for a new vehicle. Like many savvy modern car shoppers I did my research online. I knew the exact car I wanted. Knew it's real dealer cost. Had my personal budget planned and knew what my trade-in should bring. I contacted several dealers via their web sites inquiring about price and availability of the specifics I was looking for.

All but two of them simply added me to their mailing lists. Down to two possibilities. Of those two, one refused to get me any information via email - said I should "stop by" and they would answer all my questions. Even when I pointed out that "stopping by" a dealer 300 miles away was really impractical they refused. Down to one.

The last dealer not only answered my questions but let me know when they got in a 1 year old trade in that met my specs. Of course as a used trade it would save me a ton of money. They even gave me an estimate on my trade. I told them I was interested and setup an appointment. After I purchased the vehicle I searched out the dealership management and told him that I purchased from them due to the way their "online sales manager" had responded.

Similar story on my motorcycle purchase. I also have pizza delivered only from stores that take online orders. You see as a customer I made a choice of communications channel. I thought about it. Every time I order on the phone I get something I didn't want. Online - I click "repeat last order" and 30min later I'm happy. The next time I want to play roulette with my order I'll call you - thanks. Gratefully, these places seem to get that.

When a customer tells you to stop. Stop. When a customer emails a question - email a response. If you need a phone call to truly answer, use email to setup an appointment to talk. Consider that the customer might work nights and calling him in the middle of the day will really put a lid on any sale you might make. Simple - whenever a customer contacts you it's a good thing. Don't blow it being dumb. Are you listening IBM? Hello?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why the Iphone sucks

Who isn't sick of the smug Iphone owners? I played with one at the Apple store when they first came out. After about 5 minutes of trying to like it what I really wanted was to do was throw it at the wall. Just like a supermodel it's all beauty on the outside but a vacuous bitch on the inside. Try typing on that stupid on-screen keyboard. Try texting an Iphone user your number or anything important and watch them scramble for a pen to write on their hand...

Now all the fanboys are rubbing their hands together over tomorrow's pending os 3.0 release. Hoping that the damn thing will finally have the features I've had since 1995 on my Kyocera smartphones and Treos and Centro. This posting lists off the shortcomings in full detail.

Hey Iphone boy - Save $300 and drop $49 on a Centro. Get all of those features - plus a real frackin keyboard - and STFU!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Carrier Promises Unlimited 3G Data, VOIP

I love creative uses of tech and carrier agreements. Can't go into detail but we used to do creative things with our carrier agreements and tariffs when I had an ISP.

Also - while I'm at it, didn't I predict something like this a while back... Seems like my idea was spawned by voip and my N810's ability to grab wifi and to tether to a cell phone.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Quality vs Quantity

Simple rules to work by or maybe this should be called "The Golden Rule of Thumb". This is photo from the flickr stream of Tim Ferriss - author of one of my favorite personal productivity / work-life balance books (the The 4-Hour work Week). The blog posting I'm linking to is by Gina Trapani - the founder of and also an author of two great books on hacking your life and things in it.

This is pretty much what I've tried to do for some time now. I recently made a switch from where it was my job to keep on top of things and I had to constantly communicate - to where it's now my job to get to the bottom of things and communicate results. The experience has been somewhat like shifting without a clutch but I've found that the wisdom of these two people still serves well.

To make this shift, some of the changes I have undertaken are that I stopped using the intra office IM client for everything except direct real-time collaboration. I turned off the e-mail notifier and I am working hard to stick to these rules. The hardest ones are out by 5:30 and no (work related) email at night/weekends. I admit to more that a few transgressions of those two. In my circumstances setting a time like 5:30 isn't possible. There is a time that we all know we should leave the office however. I try to keep my work hours inside of those marks. My rule is to limit my work hours outside of emergencies. The problem now is that my definition of emergency seems to shift with the given project.

During the work day I also try to keep my personal IM to a period in the early morning when I'm organizing for the day. This is a block of time I have always used the same way. Saying I read the news would be generous - I normally turn on NPR and I scan the headlines. I go a little deeper on stories that I think will be important, job related, or widely discussed during the day. Following that I do what most would call organization in that I create a battle plan for the day with my meeting schedule in mind. Then I shut down IM and minimize my email.

Then a few days a week. I reach that point during the day when I know I've reached that daily productivity max on my projects and only a fool would continue. Then I'll fire up my personal IM and dig into email (both personal and work). Lately my boss and I have found that this time is really useful for us to catch up on what's going on and make strategy for the coming days. Your results may vary but I still think the linked rules are a really good golden rule of thumb.