Archive for December, 2007

Merry Christmas

To all my readers: Thanks for reading. Have a great Christmas holiday season and wishing you all a prosperous and successful 2008.

The Immortal Hamburger

This is not software related but if you have been following my twitters for a while (but not so much since October) then you know that I like to keep fit.

I challenge you to eat McDonalds again after watching this.

PHP Security

The PHP Advent calendar is shaping up nicely so thanks to all the guys who are contributing. The latest entry by everyone’s favourite PHP speaker, Terry Chay, is a cracker on web security. Which is slightly interesting given that he uses wordpress for his blog and Ed Finkler (Author of PHPSecInfo) is always giving him grief for that.

Thanks Terry, great article.

WordPress tagging

I love the new WordPress tagging but there seems to be a slight bug in it.

The tags are comma separated and then ordered into alphabetical order but the commas don’t move when the tags are reordered, leaving a comma at the front

wordpress_tags

Surely I thought this would be as simple as explode, sort and implode.

Thanks.

Customers are really everything

I first saw this as an acronym in a bank. They were trying to show me that they cared by telling me that customers were really everything and it is true.

I have heard about the 37Signals – don’t listen to customers mantra before and it has always puzzled me. How can a company not listen to their customers? James Governor has been tweeting like a canary this week , ok so it was one tweet, about 37Signals’ highrise. So I thought I would check the horses mouth and lo and behold I found this:

We’ve made some significant, oft-requested improvements to the Basecamp permissions system.

So it sounds like even 37Signals are responding to customers. it’s a good thing because aren’t customers the guys who pay the bills?

At the moment I am snowed under with work that has to get done before Christmas. Let alone all the fun things I would like to be doing, exploring and learning. I have a pile of requests from customers of things to tweak, adjust and correct. Am I feeling overwhelmed? Perhaps. Maybe just a little, if I thought about it too much. I got a whole bunch more customer requests last night.

But here is the alternative – working just as hard with no one wanting (or paying for) your services or products.

I remember Jeff Word in the SAP Demo Jam at Tech Ed in Vegas 2006 getting excited because most of the demo’s were coming from customers. (I watched the video, I wasn’t there)

The bottom line is that customers pay the bills. If my businesses have no customers I have no business. So I am going to be listening to them for sure.

Let me tell you about one experience I have had in the last couple of weeks: We used Snapfish for Christmas presents last year and were very impressed with the quality and the service we received. In fact it is the easiest way I know to get a grandparent to cry.

For the uninitiated, Snapfish create products based on your photos and turn them into books, calendars etc. For example we, ok my wife, made a calendar for my Dad last year and used 12 of the best shot from the year of the kids and then on all the birthdays used a small shot of the person in question. He loved it, raved about it. Showed it to all his friends. Anyway enough back story.

This year we reordered some books and when they arrived the has some serious printing errors. Pages not cut properly, backgrounds not aligned properly and it was a let down. The customer service was let me say fantastic. They immediately recognised there was an issue at their end and reprinted the books. They arrived this week and while some of the issues were fixed there were still some serious problems with the items. I called back again and they were more than happy to listen, apologised profusely and promised to make it right. Now if they really get it right this time I will be a happy customer. I would have been just as happy had it been delivered right the first time but because I was listed to I am just as happy.

Customers ARE really everything.

I am One in a Million

Congratulations to SDN and all the team for surpassing the one million members mark.

Documentation starts in the kitchen and ends with your brother

I am all for good documentation. Whether I do it myself is something that I will leave for others to judge me on. I have had a ‘documentation is like labeling your power sockets’ post ruminating in the back of my mind for a while now and then I read this.

Elizabeth Naramore has added to Chris Shiflett’s PHP Advent Day calendar with an excellent piece on documentation.

She makes some excellent points on how documentation can be like telling a stranger to putting the dishes away, how it helps you examine your code, how it keeps you mindful of portability, how it will save you debugging time and how it will save your ass.

I like the anecdotes.

I have my own. As I said, I have been ruminating on this thought for a while but for me documentation is like well labeled power sockets. Power cables are an interface. They interface your stereo, laptop, dvd etc with the power. The problem is, just like parameters, power sockets all look the same. A little blue label can go along way.

I am sure that you have never had get behind some really inconvenient cabinet and change a video over for a dvd and you had no idea which socket was safe to pull out. Whoops, you just pulled out the TV.

I have to do this all the time. I am always pulling out my laptop and moving it somewhere else. Office to client, back again, into power strips neatly organised with 3 neat little friends it can hide next to, retrieving it from a tangle of power cables printer cables and usb cables.

Power cables with labels

It might look a bit silly but when you go to pull out your power a little blue sticker can save you a whole lot of time.

Ditto for documentation. Sure putting that extra little comment in there looks a little silly but 6 months from now you or the guy who comes behind you is going to appreciate it.

I met someone the other day at and we started comparing notes about all the projects we had worked on. ‘Ahh’, she says. ‘I remember your work from client such and such a project. You left good comments.’

Sometimes your brother can be your best friend.

Brother labeller

Anyway that’s enough serious stuff for a Friday night, I have a friend coming over with his X-box and I am going to have to find some power sockets for him.