Entries Tagged 'Uncategorized' ↓

Good Article On Failed Projects

Lessons learned from 13 failed software products

It seems like the main take aways are to listen to the users and that, yes, we do need marketing.

Beware The Astroturfing

Astroturfing” is a term that refers to generate fake grass roots effort by actually paying people to pose as everyday citizens. The term was coined by Lloyd Bentsen, the same gentleman who told Dan Quayle, “You sir, are no Jack Kennedy.”

In the Internet business, astroturfing mostly refers to posting fake comments, “I LOVE Brand X! – Joe Schmoe.” I’ve dealt with a few marketers who wanted to try it and I consistently tell them not too. There are many reasons, but the main one is, you will get caught. While your marketer is working for a paycheck, many forum moderators are doing it for the love, and thus will spend more hours trying to catch you than you can trying to evade.

Now there is another new reason. It’s against the law and you can be fined thanks to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. $300,000 for a few false comments is not chump change. I think the fines and anything else that discourages the practice is good for consumers and Internet businesses.

My Google Profile


Google announced a new feature today that let’s you share a page of public information about yourself across Google sites: Google Profile. It’s a very cool features, especially if you want to affect how you appear in Google searches. However, it does raise issues of safely and easily people divide their public and personal information. I wrote a post about this when I first branched this blog from my personal one.

My policy now is that anything associated with my name should be written as if it were going to show on my resume. This means Facebook is only good for viewing other people’s posts. Anything personal, I post to a blog using a pseudo name. However, I stick by the overarching policy, anything that you don’t want the world to know, don’t post it on the Internet. Period. I think Google could do a lot of good teaching people that with their default feature sets and instructions.

Making The Internet Easy

I just talked my mother through creating her new website on Blogger. This is after she somehow created and lost a domain name with Microsoft “Live” or whatever brand name that world is now. For all I know, her credit card will be automatically charged for that until it expires. Via a NetworkSolutions whois, I know who the registrar is, but I haven’t had time to wait on the line.

For some, the Internet is not easy. For others, it is not easy to make it easy. Especially over the phone.

To IDE or Not

An IDE is an Intergrated Development Environement. Like most things in technology, it’s as easy to find someone who loves them as someone who hates them. The PHP programmers on my team consider IDE completely bloated evil, while the Windows C++ team swear by Windows IDE, Visual Studio. (The PHP team does do debugging and profiling with xdebug, so they are not complete heathens.) I’ve been in both camps, once developing all my ASP in Visual Studio, later PHP websites in Notepad. I’m always hesitant to take a dogmatic opinion on a technical battle, so I remain open to both.

I’ve been playing with Zend v. 6 and found this interesting comparison chart of some other web development IDE options by Davey Shafik.

The biggest problem I have with IDE and frameworks is not the overhead they call create. It’s how to get five different programmers to all buy into the same platform, with out beating them with a stick or owing them beers for the next dozen Fridays.

Programming As A Hobby

I spent a large part of Saturday compiling my own instance of PHP 5.2.6 for STC.com, logged into a SSH session at my hosting provider Dreamhost. The goal was to include GMP so I could use the Zend OpenID library for my FlickrOCD application. All that means is a I did a ton of stuff to only make a little bit of progress. Then I went for a walk.

The Social Developer

Blogger and CTO, Jon Williams, wrote a nice post explaining why some developers relish the opportunity to manage; they want to be social. It’s been a driving imperative in my career as well.

Jon goes on to posit that Agile development, with the dependence on verbal communication rather than arduous specification, can scratch the social itch.

While my team is not always using strict Agile methodology, we do have frequent “scrum-like” project and design meetings. As a very social beast myself, I love collaborative meetings, as long as their aren’t too many cooks in the room and it’s ultimately productive.

Feel Validated

I added some new links to the menu on the right showing that this site has validated HTML & CSS.  The free validation utilities linked from the invaluable Firefox Web Developers Toolbar are a great way to inexpensively and quickly sanity check your website when full breadth QA is not feasible.

What is Twitter? (my take)

This has been covered immensely in the tech news sources, but last night an acquaintance once again asked, “What the hell is Twitter?” so I thought I’d try and commit a friendly response to paper.

Twitter is a website that allows you to micro-blog. What is micro-blogging? Micro-blogging is somehow easily sending out sentences or short paragraphs to people who want to read them, as opposed to regular blogging, which is longer posts, photos, etc.

Why would you want to do this you may ask? Well, it only works if you are followed and you follow interesting people. It can be a broadcast of status to friends “Trish: I’m so sick.” This is a common message on Facebook statuses, another form of micro-blogging. It’s an important message to receive if you care about Trish, but just noise if she’s a passing acquaintance.

Other tweets (Twitter posts) are just open calls for attention or conversation. When you tweet that you liked a particular SNL skit, you are hoping a follower will chime and continue the conversation, thus creating human discourse and one tier of Maslov’s fulfillment.

Professionally Twitter is a little more niche. Some tweets are from publishers who feel they have random domain insights and followers who want to read them. This could be a natural set-up for columnists with followings or consultants who want to espouse to support their brand. Like the personal messages, professional tweets are no good without an audience. It seems like a lot of these are people tweeting about new media to people in new media.

One other mildly interesting aspect of Twitter is when you follow the tweets as a whole. It provides a chaotic, invalidated snapshot of a current moment, as seen recently during the Mumbai attacks. While it is not a reliable source, it is interesting as whirlwind of kneejerk reaction and rumor. I do not have time though to follow events so closely to be also interested in the conjecture, so I generally turn to CNN.

Personally, I’m all done with Twitter, both reading and publishing. I liked the interface and I have quick thumbs. However no one who cares what I have to say is on twitter, or even knows what it is.

The larger problem with Twitter is that it makes no money and it is really a commodity that can be reproduced on any website where people gather. For example Time could easily let Joe Klein, noted political columnist, post quick messages from his phone during a major address like the inauguration. A micro-blogger with a keen eye, quick wit, and really fast thumbs can provide a unique fly on the wall perspective of events closed to the public or to audiences not near a TV. The problem for Twitter is that Time could do that without using their software. Others are adopting the functionality all the time, including Tumblr and Movable Type.

Relate Links:
My Twitter Page (which I’m threatening to abandon)
Wikipedia on Twitter
Wikipedia on “micro-blogging”
Techcrunch: Twitter Hiring Product Manager To Bring In The Revenue
Techcrunch: If You Can’t Beat Em, Join Em. Movable Type’s Motion is Microblogging In a Box