The strange and the beautiful

About four years and some odd months ago, I took a wonderful trip to a new employer.  This was a move that was very hard to make as it took travel from zero to one hundred and brought lots of unknowns along the way.  Somehow, in all this, I have dealt with more oddities in my tenure than in the years I've been alive.  Today's my unofficial Friday, well, I fly home in the morning and will spend Friday doing the weekly administrative things, but for now, I sit here, propped up by the bar at Killarney Rose in lower Manhattan, reflecting on the strange beautifuls I've had over the last 4 years. 1. Quickr-J: I installed it for a company in Pittsburgh,  long before it had a complete installation guide.  I honestly did not even know what the software was supposed to do 2. Quickr-D: Oh my, this stuff has multiple flavors.  Big differences here in the early days, why was I the one that should know the differences? 3. Connections: Yes, that, too, before it really had substance 4. Quickr-J: We started getting intimate 5. Dot Net: Really, from an IBM centric company, sure, no worries 6. Sharepoint: Ok, this is getting a little bit much 7. Google: Google?  What the - Oh - Google Search Appliance, you want to search what?  Quickr?  Sure, why not! 8. Quickr: Even more Quickr-J sprinkled with Quickr-D 9. OpenText LiveLink: Bring it on! 10. More Google... More Quickr...More Sharepoint... More Connections... More LiveLink I seem to have found this weird little space, and when things don't exactly fit, I get to sort out the oddities.  I'll admit, I've slept with Quickr code for over 4 years now, I'll admit that I know my way around Sharepoint, I'll admit that I've got your Google Appliance covered when it comes to integrating.  I'll go out on a limb that I could probably still dev in Dot Net, and I've worked the LiveLink magic. So I suppose, if it seems out of place, strange, or improbable, you can ping me.  I'll probably speak to how it could potentially work by mixing technologies in a blender to make pleasantries. And I'll bring you a UI/UX team that will make the experience worthwhile! Cheers from Never Never Land!    

7 clicks to happiness

Facebook, today, decided to unleash a new user interface, and a lot of people are, well, they are pissed off!  An article I stumbled on just a few days ago commented that Facebook was getting ready to release a new front end and new services such as music and video in order to compete with Google+ after months of silence.  Well, that's great, I'm happy for them, but I'm not 100% sold on the Google+ interface yet, nor do I like the Twitter interface notifications that happen magically as my browser sits.  As a matter of fact, I don't care for anything in my browser window that refreshes or updates unless I tell it to.  Period.  Same goes for my phone.  So why change? 1. I like the new Lists feature, it was released a few days, maybe even a week, ago.  This answers Google+ Circles and the seems-to-be-dead Diaspora, but it's too cumbersome.  I now have lists on the left with numbers of unread posts in them, sometimes big numbers, and the only way to get rid of them is to click on the list, even if I have read the associated comment or post that this number is referring to. 2. Painful, it's like your kid that sits in the back seat of a car on a 12 hour trip and every 30 seconds says, "Are we there yet?" 3. The stock exchange ticker tape style thingy on the right top column, I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that my email won't replicate as fast as it used to on a slow hotel connection.  I don't like instant coffee, I don't NEED instant Facebook 4. And this little bugger, , is the most unreliable notification thingy I think I've ever experienced - but that's been going on for some time, and now, to think we got the ticker tape (see #3), do I really expect performance to be better? 5. Ah, performance, do you know how long it took me to "Check In" this evening from my phone with a decent signal?  27 minutes before FB Android App recognized I was in NYC @ Kellarney Rose.  It only took 20 seconds on Monday from the SAME seat.  My email replicated today before I could even get a list of "Nearby Places" on FB 6. SLOW, too many requests going on to update this and update that 7. Clutter.  Makes me feel like I'm in Vegas being bombarded with a million pamphlets for adult entertainment/escort services at every corner (and then some) 8. The fact that some stuff scrolls and some stuff doesn't is annoying 9. I get change, I do.  It is needed, but change for the right reasons, not just to be like the other guys.  Change for what your people need, not what you think they need. 10. Would 750 million and growing still be sticking with it if you sucked? I really think you need to add this to the site (can't promise browser compatibility with HTML marquee): Mowracer just shared a link: 7 clicks to happiness

A day of goodbyes

Once again, it's time to move on.  You land, you meet people, you build relationships, you work your tail off, you network, you leave.  Today, I say goodbye to a little town in mid-Indiana that I had written off before I showed up, and then realized that it's a pretty awesome town. The architecture of Columbus, IN has been "ranked 6th in the nation for architectural innovation and design by the American Institute of Architects" with a population of only 39,000.  Not only does this town deliver on architecture, but is a great destination for the foodie inside.  My favorites: Papa’s Deli | 412 Washington Pieper’s Gourmet Catering | 423 Washington Power House Brewing (The Columbus Bar) | 322 4th St Columbus additionally offers a great downtown communal space, The Commons, that includes a spectacular living statue, Chaos, and an awesome playground that was really hard to resist. Indiana was a pretty friendly place, welcoming you as if it were your home.  This was apparent in the team I interacted with on a daily basis for almost 3 months, it was hard to say goodbye.  This was evident in the hotel staff, the car rental agents, even the flight attendants that I spent a few hours with a couple of times a week.  It was hard to say goodbye.  It was also discovered in a hostess at the airport restaurant once a week when I was promptly directed to a table.  What she didn't realize what that she was also the one responsible for wishing me safe travels home with a smile. I've done this enough times now, sometimes a week, sometimes a month, occasionally 6-9 months, and it's always the same.  You get over the place, but you hold onto the people.  So tonight as I weather out a hurricane on the east coast, I raise a glass to all I have encountered, east coast or not, and hope you have a safe night.  Cheers! Tunes consumed on the last day in town:
  1. Violet Hill by Coldplay
  2. Back to December by Taylor Swift
  3. The Cave by Mumford and Sons
  4. Let It Rain by David Nail
  5. Tough by Kelly Pickler
  6. Baggage Claim by Miranda Lambert
  7. Hello World by Lady Antebellum
  8. You and Tequila by Kenney Chesney
  9. Take a Back Road by Rodney Atkins
  10. One More Drinkin Song by Jerrod Niemann

Connections disconnected, now with solution

The frustrating thing about installing software is that sometimes, the installation just doesn't want to go your way.  I'm honestly blaming the operating system this time.
java.lang.IllegalArgumentException: Malformed \uxxxx encoding.
1. My first thoughts were logical, somewhere in my installation response file, I had not properly escaped a character in the install path.  I went back and meticulously replaced every \ with \\ (this ain't your flavor of Linux folks, it's the other OS) 2. Another failure.  I'm still thinking logical, lets try the other fix for the \ character, so I switched them all to / which should be legal, but the install came to a screaming halt at 2 minutes 34 seconds 3. Need log files, need a stack trace, oh error message, please let me peer deeper within your nested inner-ness
org.apache.tools.ant.dispatch.DispatchUtils.execute(DispatchUtils.java:116) org.apache.tools.ant.Task.perform(Task.java:348) org.apache.tools.ant.Target.execute(Target.java:357) ........ Caused by: java.util.Properties.loadConvert(Properties.java:532) java.util.Properties.load(Properties.java:371) org.apache.tools.ant.taskdefs.Property.loadFile(Property.java:458) org.apache.tools.ant.taskdefs.Property.execute(Property.java:391) org.apache.tools.ant.UnknownElement.execute(UnknownElement.java:288)
4. This is not deep enough, even with the full 88 lines in the stack trace.  My assumption thus far is still that somewhere along the way, I have an illegal character, what I'd like to know is where might that be. 5. I'm beginning to get a little frustrated, time to get a fresh cup of coffee and "think, think, think" (a reference to Blues Clues in a post about software installation, pathetic) 6. OK, I'm ready to beat this thing like a polka dotted poodle.  Let's use the response file generation option with the graphical installation, maybe I've fat fingered something 10 times.  This task yields a variety of representations of my friend, the whack (a \ character) , from the old days of MCSE classes where we called UNC shares whack whack server whack share - \\server\share... Don't ask, sorry for drifting off topic, but it has kind of stuck in my head), so I take it we need a combination of a single whack, double whacks and back whacks.  That's whacked! 7. With this new response file, I'm off and running, this is going to be perfection.  Failure. 8. I've lost my mind at this point 9. So I start trying stupid things, changing the encoding of my response files.  Failure.  Double checking all non-visual characters in my response files.  Failure.  Try another server for the installation.  Failure.  Turn on verbose logging.  Failure.  Stand up when kicking off the install.  Failure.  Sit on my desk while starting the install.  Failure.  Singing We All Live In a Yellow Submarine will trying yet another install.  Failure, although it brought a small crowd to my cubical. 10. ***UPDATED***  Apparently if your Windows TEMP path starts with the letter U, the installation will fail.  After resetting TEMP to C:\Windows\temp and rebooting, Connections installs like a champ.  Hmmm.... I'm not sure I believe this one, but too much time was lost and I really was beyond experimenting to prove or disprove this. Happy installing!

Binary life

#!/bin/bash #shortest just10things post that does nothing but wait sudo shutdown -t 10800 -krf '' '1) on or off 2) one or zero 3) yes or no 4) black or white 5) true or false 6) full or empty 7) hot or cold 8) left or right 9) up or down 10) in or out'

Technically selling software

I'm not in sales, so don't count me as the expert.  I'm not even technically in technical pre-sales, although I've done my fair share of late.  These are my observations that have come from the half dozen or so most recent engagements where I have been filling the pre-sales technical role coupled with my new fascination on how we communicate.
  1. Knowledge: The thing is, you are not going to know everything, and you need to come to terms with that.  You customer, however, expects you to know everything.  So what do you do in those situations where you don't have an answer?  Simply stating that you would need to reach out to someone with specific knowledge about the question is an acceptable response and helps to build the trust between the customer and you.  Their perception is, "Hey, he's not going to bull shit me with some made up answer."  This works only when you...
  2. Follow through:  Never fail to deliver (or over deliver) on what you promise.  End every meeting with revisiting the next steps, who is responsible for what and when.
  3. Confidence: Going back to #1, there is a specific way to answer questions where you have uncertainty.  The is a huge difference in "I think that can be done with product X" and "Product X has a lot of flexibility, however, to meet that specific requirement, I'll need to check the product documentation to see what options we have."  Choose your words carefully, "Let me contemplate that for a minute" can buy you precious seconds to formulate a response.
  4. Honesty: If you sugar coat it, the project will fail.  You may be able to make a product fit into the requirements, but when it comes time to execute, the reality of a 2000 hour development effort will surely bring a bad taste to your customers mouth.  Do not hesitate to tell the truth, if it takes X amount of time, it takes X amount of time.  Be up front and avoid surprises later, I promise, the relationship will be better for it.  Additionally, never hold back when you feel there is ...
  5. Risk: Risk is a reality.  Be ready to recognize it and respond, but do not react.  Reacting to a situation can change your tone and relay the wrong information.  Letting a customer know when what they are proposing could be a risk is the perfect time to...
  6. Repeat:  In your own words, repeat back to the customer what you heard them say.  This accomplishes two things, first, it let's them know that you were listening and not checking Facebook.  Also, it confirms that you understand exactly what they have said, and what better way to propose an engagement than to understand what you are going to be doing.
  7. Constraints:  It may be time, it may be budget, but everybody has them, respect that.  Which is why sometimes you will have to make a call to...
  8. Plan B:  If at first you can't succeed, try and try again.  If you still cannot succeed, call in the troops.   This technique is used extensively in jewelry sales, the hand off when you just cannot close the deal on a $10k engagement ring (been there, done that, hated sales at that point in my life), new face, new approach.  If you still cannot succeed, it's time for plan B.  Plan B is not as extravagant (the $5k ring), but it's an engagement none the less (no pun intended).  But with every plan B, you must have a...
  9. Roadmap: To get to plan A.  In these scenarios, both parties must compromise, however, if you can deliver plan B and a plan to get to plan A, you have just made two sales, enough said.
  10. Demonstrations:  Do them well, but not too well.  Whether in functionality or your presentation, if your demo too closely matches what your customer needs, it will be hard to propose any sort of services engagement, you have already done the work.  My point, demo's are risky (see #5).  I guarantee that if your demo goes too well, you will be all over #8.  I'm almost asking you to sabotage them, in little ways, here and there.  Spend your energy over delivering once the contract is signed, until then, keep it simple.
There you are, take it for what it's worth. Cheers from the middle of nowhere, Indiana. "Talk hard, I like that. It's like a dirty thought in a nice clean mind."

Interactions

Pushing the limits... 1. Interactions with insects: I had heard on some radio show trivia contest the other day that the average human gets 17 insect bites per year.  I'd like to know where their sample pool was, I had 17 last night. 2. Interactions with software: Hacking it up because it never does exactly what I need it to.  There is a great challenge in taking something that partially fits the bill and mold it. 3. Interactions with computers: Does not compute!  Kidding aside, I have moved from a traditional laptop to a touch screen tablet with full laptop processing power and no keyboard (well, there is a wireless keyboard that I'm trying not to use).  Getting used to alternative input methods is nothing short of crazy difficult.  Typing on the on screen keyboard is getting better, but I'm still not very accurate.  Not having a cursor is just, well, odd.  I do believe that I will become accustom to this after a few more posts and work day emails. 4. Interactions with Carolina sunshine:  Yeah, so, we had a huge fight this week.  I almost broke up with Carolina in favor of Chi-town after my AC went out and it's only 98 degrees with a heat index of 105.  I love you Carolina, but Chicago treats me so well, is beautiful and pretty "cool." 5. Interactions with caffeine: I'm addicted to coffee, there, I admitted it.  (See #4) Yesterday, I survived with none, today, two cups. 6. Interactions with fragrances: For the last few nights, my yard is covered with the overwhelming smell of gardenia.  There is something about it that is refreshing, ranks up there with jasmine, honeysuckle and wormwood. 7. Interactions with words: Words can hurt, be truthful, but ensure the filter between your brain and mouth is in check. 8. Interactions in the dark: You may really think you can navigate your dwelling in the dark until someone leaves something in the middle of the floor. 9. Interactions with water: We are composed of a lot of water, respect it! 10. Interactions with people: I've realized this week after a brief encounter with my health that I have a lot of people in my life to thank for a lot of things.  In staying with the traditions of the medium, yet also breaking them by nesting Just10Things within Just10Things, here goes a few shouts to people I've interacted with that I may or may not have thanked properly (full names withheld, but you know who you are) (this is not a complete list, but I'm not breaking any more rules tonight) :
  1. For just being there, for support, for a shoulder to lean on - ND, KD
  2. For bookends, I never knew what they were used for before this week - HW
  3. For front porch moments and "My butt itches" - AO
  4. For kicking the town, good food, good drinks, and keeping it REAL - JD
  5. For being a best friend - RT, ST
  6. For saving me when I didn't know what was happening - RH, JW
  7. For Shadowboxer - VW
  8. For the best extended family anyone could ask for - DB and family
  9. For a wreck that was forgotten and you made me remember, it's all good - SS
  10. For showing me that there are still beautiful people in this world - CM
Breaking them anyways: 11. For being the best kids (I'm biased) - ED, JD

PBJ and wine

Things that may not typically go together, however, you never know until you try. I'm not sure I can pull the essence of just ten things into a single post.  I'm not sure I can explain PBJ and wine.  I'm not sure I can handle another day of the heat index over 100. Software: 1. Is like building Legos, interconnected, limitless 2. When it doesn't do exactly what you need, extend and enhance it 3. Needs to be controlled and governed Life: 4. Is like playing with Tinker Toys, sturdy, fragile 5. If it isn't going your way, look to friends for guidance 6. Fluid and unpredictable Lawnmowers: 7. Are like playing with fire 8. When you don't come in first, ask for advice 9. Fast and furious And finally: 10. Single dad lawnmower racing computer geek say what? (You'd get it if you had a daughter into Miley Cyrus) I love the way dusk plays off of the sand and water.  I love having seen Mickey Mouse in a girl fishing.  I love having seen 2 sumo wrestlers in a family walking.  Most of all, I just loved the moments. Drinkage: 1. H2O

Inappropriate icons

I round the corner, roller bag in tow and see the doors of the elevator start to close.  I hurried to ask the occupant to hold the door, but opted for the daring move of sticking body parts into closing metal doors that could surely crush your skull.  The doors opened back up as I stepped into the elevator.  Carrie, as she later introduced herself, apologized for hitting the wrong button to keep the door open.  So for the next 8 floors, we discussed and laughed about why elevator buttons for opening and closing the door were inappropriate icons, which has me wondering, what else it just wrong in the way of user interface that we just accept, and sometimes struggle with.  Since I could not think of any that cause us to come close to the possibility of loosing an arm or a leg should the safety mechanisms fail, today's list is technology news.
  1. Inside the $41 Million Investment in Color
  2. Missing Cobra Shows Up... on Twitter
  3. Amazon Floats Cloud Music Service
  4. Will Apple Grow WWDC in the Wake of Sell-Outs?
  5. Cord Cutters (I dropped cable/satellite already)
  6. Why You Can't Ignore Social Media
  7. Intel Announces 600 GB SSD
  8. Behold the World's Largest Photo: 40 Gigapixels
  9. Google Fast Flip (catching up on news is fun again)
  10. Java Inventor Joins Google
Tunes:
  1. Colder Weather by Zac Brown Band
  2. Hold That Thought by Chuck Wicks
  3. Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way by Alabama (cover)
  4. Staring Down by Collective Soul
  5. Smoke a Little Smoke by Eric Church
Drinks
  1. St Peters Old Style Porter

Beautiful mess

Sunday afternoon randomness.
  1. "Beautiful Mess" in elegant script tattooed on her wrist
  2. "That brick creeps me out"
  3. Social networks keep the world small, a friend is just a few clicks away
  4. The greens of Spring poking through the brown landscape are blips of happiness on the radar
  5. Next weekend may be my own, lost on the map, somewhere, like Waldo, try to find me, I'll be wearing a striped shirt
  6. Some of the most compassionate people are merely acquaintances in the raging river of life
  7. Statistics are alive in the circle I call home
  8. The bartender got me drunk the other night
  9. I enjoy being represented by a large circle with two really big eyes and a smile, and two very long legs coming out of my neck.  And only one arm as depicted by my 4 year old's drawing of me.
Ten I don't know you that well Maybe I did very briefly I can't promise perfect blue skies But things do not grow Without rain and stormy weather So I ask you just once Tunage:
  1. Good To Be Me by Uncle Cracker
  2. Marry Me by Train
  3. Lost by Coldplay
  4. Only Prettier by Miranda Lambert
  5. Animal by Neon Trees
  6. Better Things by The Kinks
  7. Again, Colder Weather by Zac Brown Band
Drinks:
  1. Stone Levitation
  2. Hummingbird Water