great comments

Those of you who don’t normally follow the comments may want to check out the thread which is growing about what you do when you have a coding block. Well at least if you’re a programmer. Interesting to see how other people deal with it.

MojoMark just posted my new favorite:

“Leave comments on blogs, look at pictures of palm tree’d beaches basking in the afternoon sun. and go pee.”

help desk ticket system

HelpSpot is a help desk ticket system and yet that label, ticket, never appears in the system. It’s one of the first things I choose NOT to do when designing HelpSpot. In my time working with both good and bad help desks I’ve found that the major difference between them isn’t usually the people per se. They are often hard working and relatively competent. No the difference is usually attitude. A bad help desk almost always has a bad attitude. They look at each new ticket in the system with disdain.

I mean just think about the word ticket. It’s so impersonal, it makes me think of standing at a deli counter. Do we really want our employees feeling like they’re behind a deli counter? What about our customers? Every time I get an email with a help ticket ID I inevitably feel a little down. It just has that, I’m standing in line feeling to it.

So HelpSpot uses the word “request” where other systems use support ticket or issue. Now I’m not claiming this is a revolution, or that it will turn bad employees good, or make angry customers happy. What I do think is that over time it can help change the tone, just the tone, around the help desk. Let’s try something together shall we?

Say this out loud:
“Did you see that new ticket from Bill Sanders?”

“Did you see that new request from Bill Sanders?”

Yes it’s subtle, very subtle. But you can hear the inflection the upper one would be said with (especially if you’ve worked in IT) vs the lower. Will it help? I don’t know, but I think it can’t hurt and over a year I could see it perhaps changing attitudes just a hair. Making help desk tickets seem just a little tiny bit friendlier, perhaps making responses to those “requests” a little bit nicer.

From a business perspective it’s interesting because to me it’s a feature that has no marketing value. How would you describe this in a feature list? It also actually hurts from a search engine perspective because nobody searches for help desk request system or help desk request tracking, where as help desk ticket system and help desk ticket tracking do get searched on. But this is one of those features that I hope will pay off in results even if UserScapes customers don’t know why the help desk seems more upbeat since they installed HelpSpot 😉

ms may license xbox software

“Forget the video game console ? your TV could already have the brains to play those games. A coy Microsoft Chairman
Bill Gates hinted Thursday that his company might license the software underlying its
Xbox gaming machine to a variety of outside companies in a bid to expand the market share for the Xbox machine ? a platform that trails the sector’s No. 1 Sony PlayStation.” [Yahoo]

-Interesting. It’s how they won the PC market, no?

yahoo maps api released

So a day after Google opens their map API, Yahoo does the same. I didn’t look very closely at the Google one but it did seem a bit complex. Yahoo’s is very interesting in that it’s based on an extension of RSS. Seems I just wrote about the muddying of the RSS waters, um, yesterday! Hopefully these BigCo’s don’t screw up RSS.

damn i love this feature

One of my all time favorite features of any desktop program I’ve every used is in NetNewsWire. When you click the “subscribe” button it automatically takes the contents of your clipboard and inserts it into the field if the contents are a URL. Just fabulous. So simply, yet I use it all the time and every single time I love it.

sometimes i read while i code

Whenever I get stuck on a problem I usually run off to either check my feeds or lately I’ve been going off to read a chapter of whatever book I’m on. It’s working out really well as when I return I usually find the answer pops right into my head or sometimes even shows up while I’m reading.

What do you do at the roadblocks?

tip how to get more readers

This isn’t that much of a tip for those who know it, but I thought I’d state the obvious anyway. If you’re starting up a new blog make sure you comment on other blogs alot. I just found another interesting new startup via a comment on my blog. This guys seems to be starting a mac game company, excellent!

Didn’t I just post about the lack of games for the Mac? Excellent.

itunes 49 pictorial

Rather than a full on review, I thought I’d just do a pictorial for all you poor souls out there who don’t have iTunes installed 🙂

Overall I think the podcasting integration is great. Much better than any of the iPodders right out of the box. It uses the Music Store interface so everyone will already understand how to use it. The only downside is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to see the RSS feed URL until you subscribe, though that’s minor and I can see why they left it out. Browsing is ridiculously easy and since it’s the Music Store there’s rankings for most popular and so on.

Some of the poor featured sites on the homepage are going to get slammed. I could see sites pulling themselves from the directory, because their bandwidth costs are going to be huge. Apple should really create a way (I think they are) that podcasts can charge using the Music Store technology. Even if you just charged each subscriber 99 cents a year it would probably be enough to help a popular show out. Also alot of folks would buy, since it would be as easy as pushing a button just like you already do for music. Anyway, here we go:

Click on images for larger version if available

The Podcasts link appears directly below the library link as the second link in the navigation. This was a huge decision for them. They could have buried it below the other main navigation or even below your playlists, but instead it gets top billing. Even higher than the Music Store link.

Here’s the Podcast directory within the iTunes Music Store. Some type of new Adam Curry show is at the top. It might be the Sirius show reformatted, not sure. List of most popular on the right. Highlighted shows in the center.

When you subscribe to a show this is where it goes. It immediately starts to download the show.

Here’s the show open, showing the shows. My prefs tell it to only download the latest show but it still allows you to individually download the others.

iTunes shows you what you’ve already listened to and/or currently listening to.

Clicking on the show information seems to be the only way to find out the original RSS feed.

Very simple and functional prefs pane.

That’s it! Too much work to do for any more screenshots. I suggest you download 4.9 and check it out yourself!

rss gets more complicated

” This sounds interesting. So now developers of RSS readers that want to consume podcasts have to know how to consume the RSS 2.0 element, Yahoo!’s extensions to RSS and Apple’s extensions to RSS to make sure they cover all the bases. Similarly publishers of podcasts also have to figure out which ones they want to publish as well.” [Dare]

  • Interesting insights by Dare, I guess as a aggregator developer he gets to think about these things alot. As more Big Co’s embrace RSS and add their own namespaced elements you have to wonder if it will turn into a mess even larger than RSS vs ATOM. Right now nobody has really added anything critical but you can almost see it coming where Microsoft and Apple release competing specs for the same functionality and off you go into the murky land of multiple formats.

its all about the users

“So, my goal for the normally slower summer months, is to make sure I get plenty of face time with users, especially the ones who have come in new this year. I’ve already discovered some mis-training that some of them got from more experienced staff members, and gotten that corrected, so the effort has already paid off!” [Life of a one-man IT department]

Important stuff for any of you IT folks out there. I’ve worked with a bunch of great IT people as well as a bunch of terrible IT people. This may come as a shock to some, but technical knowledge has little to do with how other members of the staff perceive your job performance. If you can’t or won’t talk to your users nobody is going to like working with you even if you do regularly supply patches to the linux core. It’s all about users (baby, yeah)!