Archive for the 'blather' Category



Thursday, July 26th, 2001

false economy

Wednesday, July 25th, 2001

Pay now for good quality or pay later when it comes to maintaining your “cheaper” solution, I always say. Buy one $150 pair of great wearing shoes that lasts 5 years, or limp through 5 pairs of $40 ill-fitting shoes that give you blisters, one pair per year, total $200 + grief factor.

My parents have always been quite frugal, a trait unfamiliar to many people under “a certain age”. Sometimes, though, they’ll spend all sorts of time and grief avoiding spending money, to which I say the extra money would have been well spent.

They’ve got a well and a septic bed where they are, so it’s pragmatic to limit the amount of flow. To that end, they put a brick in the toilet cistern to limit its capacity. However, every single frickin time I take a dump, no matter how big or small, it’s at least a three-flush payload because of the goddamn brick in the back of the toilet. Some good that does, limiting the flow.

Ahhh, I feel better having let that out.


functionality versus universality

Wednesday, July 25th, 2001

I know this is a circular reference to ScottAndrew’s reference to my red-green discourse below, but he makes a good point that is less relevant to me as a Canadian but worthy of mention. At least for the US folks, the choice is no longer yours. I think there are similar issues here.

Chris at dithered recalls the TVOntario of his youth. I didn’t watch TVOntario much in my own youth (heck, we needed a special UHF converter to get channels above 13 on our B&W tv!) but I watch a heck of a lot of it now with my kids. TVO Kids is absolutely the best children’s programming available, and I’ve seen all the British stuff too. The Nook, The Crawlspace, the Bodsquad, Patty, Phil, Gisele, the two Julies, Hatatoposit, Tumbleweed – what a lineup, and every mouthful a taste sensation.

“We can’t let people fill out this form more than once”

“We must support users who turn off cookies”

“We must have client-side validation”

“We must support every browser ever known to man and people who turn off javascript”

“We must have cool animation”

“No plugins, must support pre-v4 browsers

“We are committed to using this Java applet”

“We must support people behind draconian corporate firewalls”

“It has to look exactly the same in every browser”

“Pigs might fly”

You can’t have it both ways. Functionality or universality. The choice is yours.


openness and ownership, pride and promotion

Monday, July 23rd, 2001

Just downloaded ZoneAlarm. They (and others) ask me to select a download point close to me. I choose Canada (the vast 4000-mile breadth of Canada all being ‘closer’ to me than anything in the US, I guess) I’m sure, though, that even though the server may be located a mile away, I’m probably being routed via my ISP by way of Moosejaw, Miami, and Menlo Park before I get there. I might as well have chosen California to get a more direct route.

I saw a posting the other day on a mailing list I frequent, musing about what impact there would be on remote scripting in light of Microsoft’s stated intention to no longer include a JVM with their browser.

I thought it would be helpful to let this guy know that while Microsoft’s Remote Scripting would not work without the JVM, my JSRS remote scripting library would. In case he worried that it may not be up to the task, I ran down a short list of features and said it was in worldwide production use and is free for the taking. I gave URL to get it. No embellishment, no shtick, just the facts.

In his response he chided me for inserting a promotional plug for my library into a mailing list discussion.

I was a bit taken aback by this. There is no benefit to me whatsoever if he uses my library or not. I’ve put a heck of a lot of my own time into building and supporting this thing, and he’s welcome to have it. I have no fragile ego requirement to corner the remote scripting market. So I blasted him to chill out. Various blasting ensued.

Anyhow, that exchange is history, but it leaves me with some thoughts.

What’s different between a project I wrote for myself, found useful and released to others to use with no restriction, and I continue to support for free, and an Open Source project, in that people might see my project as a vehicle for personal enrichment, whereas the open source project might somehow be seen as more charitable and open?

Or maybe I’m just spending too much time analysing one person’s whacked-out opinion.


oooh what a lucky man he was

Friday, July 13th, 2001

Steve Krug’s company’s motto:

“It’s not rocket surgery”

If you hadn’t been there, you won’t know, but my business website,, until recently presented me as a company that provides services. I’m not a company. I don’t “provide services”. I’m a guy who loves technology and can provide value to people by having some of that enthusiasm rub off on people I work with when I’m doing cool scripting stuff for them. I can help them to figure shit out. So I changed my site to reflect that.

Since I’ve been quoting it, I thought it was time to go out and buy The Cluetrain Manifesto. A lot of it resonates so well with me that reading it is like spending a day whacking myself in the forehead saying “Wow! I coulda had a V8!!”


flash in the pan

Thursday, July 12th, 2001

Hands up everybody who immediately clicks “skip flash intro” without waiting to see ANY of the flash.
ok, now. one, two, three, four…ten..twenty..a hundred… – oh, this isn’t going to work…
Right, then. Hands down.

Now, Hands up everybody who usually cares to watch the whole flash intro before getting to the content.
ahh – that’s better. one… two…you there – is your hand up or are you scratching your head?..ok, two…….three. ok, three – let’s write that down


dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer

Wednesday, July 11th, 2001

Chris Nott at dithered says that the recent spate of comments about marketing-speak

…has made me think if those who are leary of marketing respect the marketing (or similar) department in the companies they work for.

Heh heh. Since i’m an independent consultant, I don’t have a marketing dept per se. My experience, though, is that I don’t have much time for businessspeak or marketingspeak. If a marketing department spouts it, I don’t have respect for them. If they are clear in their communications, I do. I spent over a decade as a snivelling servant for the Ontario government and had my fill of doublespeak and gobbledegook.

I do have a colleague who markets me to clients and I really respect what he does and the value he provides for his percentage. I wouldn’t be happy with him if he told customers they could leverage my synergistic qualities to make a win-win value-added seamless business solution for them, but if he lets them know that I’m personable, knowledgeable and can coax all sorts of extra functionality out of their systems with my scripting expertise then he’s gonna get me solid repeat business, and that he does. All by talking with humans as humans, not interfacing with corporate-speaking entities.

It’s all relationship building. As The Cluetrain Manifesto says it so well, markets are conversations, and the dialogue has to be bidirectional. If the marketers are talking AT customers rather than conveying information, then they’re not listening. Senseless marketing blather is designed to be vague enough not to make any points significant enough to hang a real discussion on. Effective marketing motivates the consumer to enter into a two-way dialogue with the vendor.


eyeballs, impressions, bullshit

Monday, July 9th, 2001

In the past couple of weeks, there’s been a bit of hoopla about KnowNow. This company has cool interesting technology and is populated by more than a couple of industry cognoscenti, but likely due to the dynamics of the post-bust dotcom situation found itself with an internal power imbalance leaning away from the technology and its potential and towards venture capitalists and marketers. The website read like a “how-not-to” guide for clarity in communication. I was glad to see that they listened to the various voices who decried the vacuous marketspeak and rewrote their introductory pages to actually convey understanding.

I’ve been researching some CRM stuff this morning, specifically call scripting software. Marketspeak abounds. It’s remarkable what lengths they go to to provide rambling verbose descriptions of their products without ever giving me a clue what its actual technical specifications might be, how I might be able to use it or integrate it, etc, etc. Just who is the target of these sites? I can only assume it’s aimed towards government and corporate buyers who don’t actually know the problem space the product fills, although my experience with them is that they’ll at least want a technical laundry list.

If I want to know more, I have to supply my contact information, exposing myself to a sales call, numerous followups and a lifetime of self-authorized spam. One place requires me to give them contact info just so they can send me their whitepaper.

Hey guys, just give me INFORMATION. Allow ME to discover your product and its specifications, and I will ASK when I want to know more. The minute you try to force me into your salespitch stream, you’ve lost me. I’m out the door to find a shop that will let me browse in peace without a salesman stalking me through the store.

Ain’t it always the case. I blog about something and then immediately run into someone yakking about the same stuff, usually saying it much better than me.