The Colonel Sanders Conspiracy http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/ en-us Nucleus v2.0 beta Weblog http://backend.userland.com/rss http://jhoover.weblogdog.com//images/chicken_bucket_tiny.jpg The Colonel Sanders Conspiracy http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/ PHP vs. Java http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=498 Matt Raible asks for opinions on PHP vs. Java, while giving his own thoughts on the topic. I left some comments there. Anyone who has read my posts lately probably knows what I'm going to say: The business needs come before the technology. If the technology can't handle the business needs, then it's time to find a new technology that can. Anyway, most of the comments on Matt's weblog are reasonable, if not a bit misleading in some areas. In other words, it's better than most Slashdot or The Server Sidediscussions on this type of subject matter. Matt Raible asks for opinions on PHP vs. Java, while giving his own thoughts on the topic. I left some comments there. Anyone who has read my posts lately probably knows what I'm going to say: The business needs come before the technology. If the technology can't handle the business needs, then it's time to find a new technology that can. Anyway, most of the comments on Matt's weblog are reasonable, if not a bit misleading in some areas. In other words, it's better than most Slashdot or The Server Side discussions on this type of subject matter. ]]> Technology http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=498 Sun, 24 Aug 2003 00:35:06 -0400 The danger looming in depending on a few vendors http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=497 Dave Winer points to an interesting post on Microdoc: The problem with email is that every email client works much the same way regardless of who constructed it, that widespread damage can be done by relatively few to so many. Because we have a world where software is made by Microsoft, and it works relatively the same the world over, we have created huge gaping holes for people in any society of the world to bring down the masses. The argument is for diversity in technology. This is not a popular thought within the IT industry as a whole. Go ask your nearest IT worker if he/she thinks their company would be better off using a lot of different technologies from a lot of different vendors versus settling on Microsoft as the vendor of choice for most software needs and a handful of other large vendors for the few holes that are left to fill. If they're being honest, they'll say they'd rather take the Microsoft and a handful of other large vendors scenario. It's easier and it appears to be safer. I think we just might see what the greatest danger is in relying on one technology and one vendor too heavily. Dave Winer points to an interesting post on Microdoc: The problem with email is that every email client works much the same way regardless of who constructed it, that widespread damage can be done by relatively few to so many. Because we have a world where software is made by Microsoft, and it works relatively the same the world over, we have created huge gaping holes for people in any society of the world to bring down the masses.

The argument is for diversity in technology. This is not a popular thought within the IT industry as a whole. Go ask your nearest IT worker if he/she thinks their company would be better off using a lot of different technologies from a lot of different vendors versus settling on Microsoft as the vendor of choice for most software needs and a handful of other large vendors for the few holes that are left to fill. If they're being honest, they'll say they'd rather take the Microsoft and a handful of other large vendors scenario. It's easier and it appears to be safer. I think we just might see what the greatest danger is in relying on one technology and one vendor too heavily.]]>
Technology http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=497 Fri, 22 Aug 2003 18:04:50 -0400
Microsoft and ants http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=496 CNET: When a machine gets too big, it doesn't know when it's stepping on ants. But every once in a while, you step on a red ant. - Ernie Ball, CEO of Sterling Ball makers of premium guitar strings. Scoble (a Microsoft employee) likes to refer to ants quite a bit, so I figured this ant reference was especially appropriate. CNET: When a machine gets too big, it doesn't know when it's stepping on ants. But every once in a while, you step on a red ant. - Ernie Ball, CEO of Sterling Ball makers of premium guitar strings.

Scoble (a Microsoft employee) likes to refer to ants quite a bit, so I figured this ant reference was especially appropriate.]]>
Technology http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=496 Thu, 21 Aug 2003 11:57:02 -0400
Another example of great customer service http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=495 I'm a Netflix subscriber. Before my wife and son were up here in Wisconsin with me, the unlimited rentals for $19.95 a month was great. I watched probably 10 movies a month. But, now that my wife and son are here I'd rather spend time with them than with all those movies (imagine that) so I was going to cancel the account. I figured for the DVD's I really wanted to rent, I would make the journey over to Hollywood Video or Blockbuster. I would probably normally rent about 3-5 movies a month tops. So I go to cancel my account, which was very straight forward to do via the Netflix web site. I was going to cancel when Netflix offered one last chance to save my business with this: Excellent service! Rather than lose my business, Netflix offers something that actually makes more sense for me. They could have just given me a message letting me know how much they appreciated my business or nagged me to stay with them. Or, worse yet, they could have made it almost impossible to cancel. They didn't and I'm still a satisfied Netflix subscriber. Netflix subscriber. Before my wife and son were up here in Wisconsin with me, the unlimited rentals for $19.95 a month was great. I watched probably 10 movies a month. But, now that my wife and son are here I'd rather spend time with them than with all those movies (imagine that) so I was going to cancel the account. I figured for the DVD's I really wanted to rent, I would make the journey over to Hollywood Video or Blockbuster. I would probably normally rent about 3-5 movies a month tops.

So I go to cancel my account, which was very straight forward to do via the Netflix web site. I was going to cancel when Netflix offered one last chance to save my business with this:



Excellent service! Rather than lose my business, Netflix offers something that actually makes more sense for me. They could have just given me a message letting me know how much they appreciated my business or nagged me to stay with them. Or, worse yet, they could have made it almost impossible to cancel. They didn't and I'm still a satisfied Netflix subscriber.]]>
General http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=495 Wed, 20 Aug 2003 11:42:00 -0400
Getting lost in a design http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=494 I'm finishing up reviewing some preliminary code and documenation I wrote to help prototype a database schema I'm proposing we use for a project here. The project is both an online and print catalog. It has lots of models in it that fall under a lot of different categories, subcategories and sub-subcategories. The models then can have many SKUs/parts related to it. On top of that, each SKU has a set of attributes that make it unique like sizes, color, material, etc. All of this stuff has to allow the user to drill down into the catalog in order to find the part the user is looking for. It's not rocket science, but it makes my brain hurt. It gets worse. I'm looking at the SQL I made last minute changes to late last week and realize I'm not all that sure what I'm doing anymore. I've twisted things around so much that I'm not confident this is going to work. Hmmm... I guess I should've paid better attention to how I've done this type of stuff in the past. The only difference this time around is that this catalog has a few more relationships that make things all the trickier. So now I get to make the long walk down the hall and face the developers with this concept I'm not even sure about anymore. Oh will the fun ever stop?
It gets worse. I'm looking at the SQL I made last minute changes to late last week and realize I'm not all that sure what I'm doing anymore. I've twisted things around so much that I'm not confident this is going to work. Hmmm...

I guess I should've paid better attention to how I've done this type of stuff in the past. The only difference this time around is that this catalog has a few more relationships that make things all the trickier. So now I get to make the long walk down the hall and face the developers with this concept I'm not even sure about anymore. Oh will the fun ever stop? ]]>
Technology http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=494 Tue, 19 Aug 2003 11:33:06 -0400
Why IT's offshore mentality is not a fix http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=493 Robert Cringley: Productivity is producing more with fewer resources, usually with fewer people. Its all about simplification, reducing or eliminating labor, improving tools, locking in on a standard approach and being smart about changes. Is this what IBM and others are doing? When was the last time a systems management product like Tivoli or OpenView really reduced IT labor? The IT business model is based on bodies. To improve profitability they are looking for cheaper bodies. They can't envision a business model where they can do more with fewer bodies. IBM has invested hundreds of millions in tools for its services division. Very, very little of it actually reduces the labor IBM needs to support a customer. This mindset is what is damaging the U.S. IT industry. A great take on offshore outsourcing! I never thought of it in those terms. Think about it. Isn't it strange that IT companies are looking to send more jobs overseas so they can afford more people? Shouldn't IT be about doing more with less? But, offshore outsourcing has just the opposite goal — add more people at cheaper rates to do more. I'm not opposed to offshore outsourcing, but I think you better have a really good reason for doing it. Cheaper labor alone is not necessarily a good reason. Robert Cringley: Productivity is producing more with fewer resources, usually with fewer people. Its all about simplification, reducing or eliminating labor, improving tools, locking in on a standard approach and being smart about changes.  Is this what IBM and others are doing? When was the last time a systems management product like Tivoli or OpenView really reduced IT labor? The IT business model is based on bodies. To improve profitability they are looking for cheaper bodies. They can't envision a business model where they can do more with fewer bodies. IBM has invested hundreds of millions in tools for its services division. Very, very little of it actually reduces the labor IBM needs to support a customer. This mindset is what is damaging the U.S. IT industry.

A great take on offshore outsourcing! I never thought of it in those terms. Think about it. Isn't it strange that IT companies are looking to send more jobs overseas so they can afford more people? Shouldn't IT be about doing more with less? But, offshore outsourcing has just the opposite goal — add more people at cheaper rates to do more. I'm not opposed to offshore outsourcing, but I think you better have a really good reason for doing it. Cheaper labor alone is not necessarily a good reason.]]>
Technology http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=493 Mon, 18 Aug 2003 15:24:45 -0400
An example of great customer service http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=492 My email service provider, FastMail, was affected by the power outages last week. The data center where their servers are lost power and the diesel generator failed, so the service was down for about 18 hours. During this time, FastMail kept people up-to-date via its weblog and also announced the following: We apologise to all customers who were affected by this power failure. Our contract with NYI ensures that we are compensated with one month of free service in any month that power or network is down for > 30 seconds in total. We are passing this compensation onto our customers; so we are pleased to announce that all subscribers are getting an additional one month of free service added to their existing subscriptions. In this day and age where customer service means calling phone numbers where you're put on hold forever to wait to speak to a customer service rep that speaks English as his or her second language and can do no more than put you on hold some more, FastMail's actions are praise worthy. It's sad that doing the right thing for the customer stands out so much, but I'm happy there is at least one company that I can point to and say they understand customer service. A little further rant on customer service... Note to all companies sending their customer service (call centers) offshore. If a person's English cannot be understood that well over the phone, then I'm going to go out on a limb and say they're probably not the best candidates to serve as the only representatives most people will associate your company with. Companies today are so gung ho on saving money with outsourcing everything offshore that they don't stop to think how it may lose more sales than they ever save in costs. Ditto for those companies not paying good customer service reps much money. Remember, customer service workers are often the only people customers will interface with when dealing with your company. If I get a bad taste in my mouth from your customer service department, chances are I'm not going to be doing business with you much more. No amount of advertising or any other hype will win me over when I know your customer service is sub par. FastMail, was affected by the power outages last week. The data center where their servers are lost power and the diesel generator failed, so the service was down for about 18 hours. During this time, FastMail kept people up-to-date via its weblog and also announced the following:

We apologise to all customers who were affected by this power failure. Our contract with NYI ensures that we are compensated with one month of free service in any month that power or network is down for > 30 seconds in total. We are passing this compensation onto our customers; so we are pleased to announce that all subscribers are getting an additional one month of free service added to their existing subscriptions.

In this day and age where customer service means calling phone numbers where you're put on hold forever to wait to speak to a customer service rep that speaks English as his or her second language and can do no more than put you on hold some more, FastMail's actions are praise worthy. It's sad that doing the right thing for the customer stands out so much, but I'm happy there is at least one company that I can point to and say they understand customer service.

A little further rant on customer service... Note to all companies sending their customer service (call centers) offshore. If a person's English cannot be understood that well over the phone, then I'm going to go out on a limb and say they're probably not the best candidates to serve as the only representatives most people will associate your company with. Companies today are so gung ho on saving money with outsourcing everything offshore that they don't stop to think how it may lose more sales than they ever save in costs. Ditto for those companies not paying good customer service reps much money. Remember, customer service workers are often the only people customers will interface with when dealing with your company. If I get a bad taste in my mouth from your customer service department, chances are I'm not going to be doing business with you much more. No amount of advertising or any other hype will win me over when I know your customer service is sub par.]]>
General http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=492 Mon, 18 Aug 2003 09:35:19 -0400
I'm so proud of my hometown http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=491 It's not everyday you can say the area where you grew up was responsible for the worst blackout ever in the US' history. I feel a tear coming on. responsible for the worst blackout ever in the US' history. I feel a tear coming on.]]> General http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=491 Sun, 17 Aug 2003 13:44:03 -0400 The Pirate debate continues http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=490 A few days ago I posted a letter that I sent to Boundless.org concerning an article J. Budziszewski wrote concerning downloading music on the net. Me not being one to just let things rest (why, when you can beat it into the ground? ), posted some thoughts on Jason Steffens' Antioch Road weblog. I'm fighting for my intellectual life here people. Yes, I concede that's not much, but it's all I've got in terms of the grey matter department. By the way, I'm happy I ran into Jason's weblog. I'm now subscribed to his RSS feed. I posted a letter that I sent to Boundless.org concerning an article J. Budziszewski wrote concerning downloading music on the net. Me not being one to just let things rest (why, when you can beat it into the ground? ), posted some thoughts on Jason Steffens' Antioch Road weblog.

I'm fighting for my intellectual life here people. Yes, I concede that's not much, but it's all I've got in terms of the grey matter department.

By the way, I'm happy I ran into Jason's weblog. I'm now subscribed to his RSS feed.]]>
Music http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=490 Sat, 16 Aug 2003 18:46:13 -0400
The best Barney song ever http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=489 Michael Knott has always been a favorite artist of mine. A while back I found a link from his web site to Knottchords.com that had quite a few MP3s of live Michael Knott songs. Tonight I saw that I had some of those songs on my hard drive so I played them and was reminded of this very funny Barney song. Amazingly, it doesn't bash our formerly favorite purple target. Listen to the song and read the lyrics below. Very funny stuff! I was sitting in the kitchen getting depressed Had a hand full of bills from the IRS My little girl hugged me and it gave me a chill When she said, “Barney could pay those bills” My wife and I got in a big fight So I had to sleep on the couch that night My little girl hugged me so I wouldn't feel bad She said, “Barney loves you Dad” Now my eyes started watering and I almost died And my heart started breaking when I looked in her eyes I picked up my guitar to sing her a tune She said, “Barney sings better than you” Barney, Barney, Barney Oh I need a Barney So I went out drinking later that night And I drank so fast I couldn't see right My wandering eyes past by the front door And in walks some big weird purple dinosaur - Barney He started dancing, he put on a show And when he was done he recapped it all I said, “Hey big guy, please leave me alone” And then I got so drunk he had to drive me home Now the government came to my house the next morning And they took me away without any warning They said, “You're guilty of evasion - how do you plea?” I just looked them in the eyes and said, “Barney” Barney, Barney, Barney Oh I need a Barney Michael Knott has always been a favorite artist of mine. A while back I found a link from his web site to Knottchords.com that had quite a few MP3s of live Michael Knott songs. Tonight I saw that I had some of those songs on my hard drive so I played them and was reminded of this very funny Barney song. Amazingly, it doesn't bash our formerly favorite purple target.

Listen to the song and read the lyrics below. Very funny stuff!

I was sitting in the kitchen getting depressed
Had a hand full of bills from the IRS
My little girl hugged me and it gave me a chill
When she said, “Barney could pay those bills”

My wife and I got in a big fight
So I had to sleep on the couch that night
My little girl hugged me so I wouldn't feel bad
She said, “Barney loves you Dad”

Now my eyes started watering and I almost died
And my heart started breaking when I looked in her eyes
I picked up my guitar to sing her a tune
She said, “Barney sings better than you”

Barney, Barney, Barney
Oh I need a Barney

So I went out drinking later that night
And I drank so fast I couldn't see right
My wandering eyes past by the front door
And in walks some big weird purple dinosaur - Barney

He started dancing, he put on a show
And when he was done he recapped it all
I said, “Hey big guy, please leave me alone”
And then I got so drunk he had to drive me home

Now the government came to my house the next morning
And they took me away without any warning
They said, “You're guilty of evasion - how do you plea?”
I just looked them in the eyes and said, “Barney”

Barney, Barney, Barney
Oh I need a Barney]]>
Music http://jhoover.weblogdog.com/index.php?itemid=489 Sat, 16 Aug 2003 02:59:58 -0400