boston

I’m in Boston for a few days. Not the best timing, but it was planned a long time ago. I could use a break anyway. I haven’t really taken a day off in months. Be back Tuesday.

database app tip

Building a web based database application? Are the database key’s shown to users at any point in the process? Here’s a tip. Nobody wants there application to seem new to their customers/users. So when you install the tables set the primary key to a value higher than 1. HelpSpot’s requests start with 1240. In mysql the command is: “ALTER TABLE TableName AUTO_INCREMENT=1240”

empower isv arrived today

If you’re doing development of just about anything on Windows you need to get into the Empower ISV program. For $375 you get just about every major product MS makes. I just put it all together into a nice little binder they send. It’s about 20 DVD’s plus updates for up to 2 years.

Joining is a little painful only because the web form they make you use is awful, also you have to become a partner first (free) then you can register to join the Empower program. Anyway, now I can start full on testing of Win Server and SQL Server so this should be fun.
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how blogging really pays off

There’s always alot of talk about how to make money with blogs. While I think some people will do OK with advertising and such, the real money is and will continue to be in the indirect benefits of blogging. So not getting paid for blogging, but rather the opportunities it provides you. So in my case, have this blog has lead to a mailing list for my upcoming product which is many times bigger than I had anticipated. Of course I still have to “close the deal” to make the $ but I now have more opportunity than I would have without blogging. Another example of this hit my news reader today.

Bill Scott, a fellow who works at Sabre (it’s a GDS, I don’t have the heart to explain it but if you feel like being scared go read the history) and one of the developers of the upstart RICO AJAX library is leaving Sabre to join Yahoo. And get this, his job is going to be AJAX Evangelist! I have no doubt that he got this job at least in part to the great job he does on his blog talking about RICO and AJAX. How better to prove you know your stuff AND you can evangelize it?
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weblog footnotes

Good stuff over at the Fireball about using footnotes in weblog posts. I really need to implement this so I can stop writing side comments in parentheses all the time. I just put this on my todo list, it’s number #4563 🙁
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feedburner go bye bye

I just killed my redirection to feedburner. Hopefully you’re seeing this post! It just didn’t seem worth it. They basically only give you one stat and the odd variations in numbers make me feel like they don’t do a much better job in counting than a regular weblog analyzer. Luckily I knew enough to do the mod-rewrite stuff so I easily switched back. I could see the huge lock in there for others who don’t know or have access to that.

why gnome cant make it to your desktop

Interesting post by Joshua about some things going on on the Fedora mailing list:

“I’m not sure why someone who uses the computer for surfing the net, checking email, and writing papers would want to learn these commands, but a very vocal group of people on fedora devel thing were doing them a disservice by not making them memorize them.”

You should read it, but in summary he’s wondering how these folks who say they want Linux on the desktop are ever going to get there. The answer is that they won’t. He dances around the reason why, but luckily for you I know why! 🙂

It’s because there’s no USERS in the process. Sure the developers “use” it but that doesn’t count. The guys are hard core talented programers, but that’s the problem. There’s nobody around to say “hey what’s that big E do” or “why isn’t there a little disk icon so that I can save my work?”. And the reason there’s no users is because there’s no ways for regular users to get involved at a fundamental level.

If you’ve ever looked at one of those mailing lists you know that they can’t go there. Same with the forums.

So here’s the kicker. They’ll never get on the desktop because they have no offices, they’re entirely virtual. This gives MS a huge advantage. Why? Because at this point Microsoft is comprised as much with non technical workers as tech. So when the programmers get out of line some guy from marketing who only uses Word is there to say “I don’t get it”. That’s a very important function, because if he doesn’t get it then alot of other people don’t either. MS has a built in way for users to get involved, where as OS Linux developers don’t.

I know what you’re thinking, that’s the kind of stuff that leads to crazy wizards and overly simplified UI. True, but that’s way better than a UI where you have to be a geek to understand that dropping down to the command line and using cp is superior to copy and pasting your file between folders.

murphy strikes back

As Raza just pointed out in a comment, I’ve been silent the past few days. Unfortunately this was due to a hard drive failure on my G5 Friday morning. I’ve been recovering since then. I had backups and the few things I didn’t have backed up I was able to restore. Plus while all this was going on I figured it’s a good time to redo alot of stuff. So I purchased 2 200gb drives and set them up in RAID 1 (mirrored) so that this never happens again, I purchased and installed tiger (which makes doing RAID very easy), I installed all the latest version of all the software I use and so on. I don’t really have the heart to go into all the details, it’s been to traumatic but I do want to point to a few excellent pieces of software which saved my butt.

  1. SuperDuper – which makes it super easy to create full backups of your system. Not just backups but 100% complete and working copies. This really saved me because I had this backing up to a firewire drive. So when the main drive died I was able to still boot the computer by holding down “t” during startup which made the mac boot from the firewire drive. Worked perfect. That let me install:

  2. Data Rescue X – which did an amazing job of going through the dead drive and finding everything that was recoverable. I only had a week or so missing from the backup, but there were some important things there that I needed. It was amazing, because the drive wouldn’t mount, but Rescue X was able to get on there and pull back that data that wasn’t destroyed.

I’m just getting things rolling again now. This set me back a few days, but hopefully I’ve got everything covered now. I’ve moved into full paranoia mode with the RAID, plus firewire backup, plus I wrote scripts to move critical data to the server. I should have been more thorough before, but that’s how it goes.

why theres still money in web 10

There’s been a bunch of talk on the blogs lately about Web 2.0 and the new (not really new, but they are hot) technologies like AJAX and so on. All I want to say in this post is for everyone to not for get that MOST of the money is and will be in Web 1.0 applications for some time. Most companies I’ve talked with, read about or in anyway know about are still wrapping their minds around Web 1.0. They still don’t have most of their internal applications webified, they still send paper checks to their employees, they still use physical timeclocks, they still have you make reservations by calling someone. So while all us geeks get caught up with nifty AJAX widgets let’s just not forget that those things aren’t going to be on any companies “required features” list for a long long time.

That doesn’t mean this technologies and their exploration aren’t important or that some folks won’t make money with them (see 37signals). Just that most companies simply want help webifying their current infrastructure. They want reliability and support. You don’t need these new riskier1 technologies to make money and be in business. If it’s the right thing to do for your business then great, but there’s no need to feel like you have to use them or you’ll be behind. The fact is that if you even know about this stuff you’re still way way ahead of most businesses out there. And hey just look at Ebay. One of the biggest companies in the world, a company that helped create what the web is today still has a site out of 1995.

  1. In the sense that they’re less tested as well as the fact that you have less experience using them.