mac move

“One other thing that blew me away: When you start OS X for the first time, you’re asked if you want to move from another Mac. I’ve been using an iBook – which will now become my wife’s as a replacement for her XP box – so I said yes. One Firewire connection and 20 minutes later, and everything I cared about on the iBook, including all of my personal configurations, was moved to the PowerBook.” – <via Blogarithms)

  • For you poor souls who are still on a PC it’s likely your mind can’t even grasp how insanely easy it is to move from one mac to another. I know before I Switched I wouldn’t have thought moving between computers could be less than 2-3 day event.


rss changing communication and applications

Part of what I’m trying to do with HelpSpot is change the game for help desk software using RSS. Seth Godin has a nice post about how RSS/Blogs are changing communication and applications. He points out Basecamp which lets you manage your projects with RSS goodness.

On a side note, it’s interesting to take a look at technically how he linked to Basecamp. He did it in a very search engine optimization friendly way. Rather than link to “Basecamp”, he instead used “Project management and task management software: Basecamp”. This is much much better from an SEO perspective for the Basecamp site. Wonder why he did that?

account lockout

“If you’re going to configure Account Lockout policies in a real-world environment, set the Account Lockout Threshold policy to something high like 50 or 100 invalid logon attempts.” – (via

I couldn’t agree more. I’ve dealt with many an overzealous IT administrator who thinks anything higher than 3 is a security risk. This is just incorrect when you look at real world attacks and more importantly is poor policy from a users perspective.

dumping data to excel

I’ve spent the better part of the last 2 days trying to get a simple CSV formatted file to dump to Excel reliably. What a pain in the ass. I’ve been doing some updates to a ColdFusion back end system I built for a client a few years back and one update was to do a basic data dump to Excel.

The data isn’t nice simple fields but big tables some of which have long text fields with nasties like tabs, commas, and quotes. Anyway I escaped everything, quoted the fields, dealt with the line endings but always something wouldn’t work. Often Excel would break fields up incorrectly, etc.

Anyway I found a nice simple solution, at least if you can use Office 2003. It turns out that since Office 2003 there is an XML format that you can use which Excel will open up very nicely. It even lets you specify infinite sheets, workbook info, style info and more. I didn’t find any really good details on the MS site though I’m sure they’re there. All I did was build a tiny workbook and save as Spreadsheet XML.

The fields were remarkably easy to figure out considering this is a Microsoft thing. So if you’re looking to do Excel dumps and you can live with the Office 2003 or newer limitation check it out.

dont throw out the soap with the bathwater

Don’t throw out the SOAP with the bathwater – The help desk software I’m working on has a REST interface. I may do SOAP as well (though I prefer xml-rpc). It mostly comes down to customer demand. All the underlying functions are the same, it’s mostly dealing with the additional support costs of more interfaces and with SOAP being somewhat complex that worries me a bit more. REST is so simply simple. Pass a url and get back xml, duh.

what are you building

“The problem with IT today is that there is a huge difference what software applications logically are and how the IT department actually deliver them.” (via LeapLogic)

  • So what exactly are you building?

help desk interview tips

“interview tip #1:
if you’re being interviewed for a computer help desk position, don’t relay experiences from your past involving your “annoyance” with people who require step-by-step computer help, thus “wasting your time”.

interview tip #2:
do not attempt to read the interviewers’ question/notes sheet, especially at the expense of your concentration. taking greater than one minute to answer a question about which email client you prefer is not preferable.

interview tip #3:
if your interviewers send you material to review beforehand, review it beforehand.” – (via Chumptastic)

I’d say those are good tips if your interviewing for a help desk job. #1 is certainly a instant good bye from the interview.

blogging networks

I was just checking out the posting for the latest branded blog by Weblog Inc and it really got me thinking about how intrigued I am by this concept. I love the idea of this network of blogs covering a variety of information in a formal fashion. However, there’s just something missing for me. I feel like there should be more bang for the buck here than just the Weblogs inc link at the bottom of all the pages.

What about cross blog aggregated postings on different topics? How about “channels” that I can subscribe to on news from across them. I’m just thinking out loud here, but it seems they could be doing alot more with this.