best ms blogger around

Jensen Harris is my new favorite blogger. He works on the MS Office team that developed the new Office 12 interface. He’s been posting about the new interface and giving some really good insights not just into the new Office (which would be boring), but also providing great UI information in general that is a must read for anyone out there doing UI stuff.

helpspot its international baby yeah

A little Austin Powers just came over me there 🙂

I’ve been looking at some numbers and it’s interesting how international the HelpSpot beta users are. Currently about 25% of the beta participants are non-US. Of those the majority are from the UK (38%) followed by Australia (16%) and then a mix of countries make up the rest (Greece, Russia, Spain, Germany).

One thing I’m really surprised about is how the time difference hasn’t really been a hindrance to support. The folks in Australia are 12 hours away, but we’ve collaborated easily with them. Some of the biggest changes during the beta have been the result of collaboration with companies in Australia. I’ve also been working very closely with several companies in the UK and that’s gone very well also, even though they’re about 5 hours ahead.

I’ve always counted on and hoped for a strong international presence in the customer base and it’s looking very good for that so far. It’s especially pleasing that the international companies are right in it from the beginning.

katrina relief mission

My dad just got back from a relief mission to Baton Rouge. The big orgs like the Red Cross get all the press, but so many small organizations are making a big impact down there as well.

“I haven’t had a chance to post for a while since I have spent the last week on a relief mission in Baton Rouge. The United Spinal Association in NYC sent a bus and truck loaded with wheelchairs and other mobility devices to Baton Rouge for people with disabilities who had lost or had their wheelchairs damaged during hurricane Katrina. I went along to do the evaluations, adjust and fit wheelchairs, and help out in any way possible.”

process vs spec

Good points by Mike

“Recently I was reminded of some wisdom my dad shared years ago:

“photography is not about the camera, it’s about process of capturing photos. A great photographer can take incredible photos with the simplest camera. It’s not about the camera!”

Now, that may sound simple, and really it is. However, I’ve observed many people getting hung up on Specs when they ought to be focused on Process”

adwords experiment

“If that’s indeed what’s happening, it isn’t illegal and to some might not even be unethical (I guess) but it feels just a little bit EVIL.”

An interesting experiment done with Adwords. It appears that if you lower the amount you’re willing to pay per word that Google may penalize you.


I feel like there’s usually some conferences going on this time of year, but I haven’t seen anything interesting. Am I missing something big out there?

the other reason your company needs web based help desk software

Because it’s great for your search engine optimization efforts. The things you talk about in your manuals and your forums are the same words potential customers are searching the internet for. By having a web based help desk solution you’re increasing your chances they’ll find you all while providing better support to your existing customer base.

I’m already seeing interesting traffic come in from Google on the HelpSpot helpdesk.

viral ideas

A great post by Seth Godin about why and how an idea can spread in a viral manner. How do we get our ideas to spread like this in the software industry?

helpspot beta last chance

Just an FYI to everyone out there. We’ll be closing the beta October 3rd so if you’ve been waiting to get in now is the time!

php iis cgi error

Whew, that’s alot of acronyms.

Anway, one of the bugs that’s really been annoying me is that when running under Windows and IIS as a CGI HelpSpot sometimes throws these weird CGI errors. In fact this isn’t a HelpSpot bug, but rather a problem with IIS, however, that’s not the point because at the end of the day it’s my customers who will be having the problem.

The problem is complex because it doesn’t affect all machines, often on machines with the exact same builds one will send the errors while the other doesn’t. It seems that the issue is related to the speed of the machine.

After looking around for weeks I think I’ve found a workaround. It’s not a fix really, but a setting you can apply to Windows which seems to instantly solve the problem. If you’ve experienced this issue with HelpSpot or other CGI apps (seems to be an issue with PERL as well) on IIS you may want to checkout the workaround here:

I finally found this answer buried in this bug discussion:

Unfortunately for the guys who create PHP the discussion isn’t very flattering for them. They basically respond with the standard “well use open source products” answer instead of any actual help. The bug is from back in 2002 though so hopefully they’ve matured since then.