Archive for the 'PaperThin' Category

Open source makes money on lead referals

July 3, 2007

Yesterday one of our inside sales associates noticed an amazing trend in the referals he was receiving. A lot of them were talking about Joomla, an open source CMS which we _rarely_ come up against. CommonSpot plays more in the enterprise space where as Joomla is good for the lower end market since it is an open source solution. So, our sales associate did some digging and discovered this interesting ad on the “Request a demo” portion of the Joomla site:

Small Joomla Ad

The text right above the ad reads:

To register for the Backend Adminstrative area you will need to “Register” from the link on the left and follow directions.

Of course, the “link” on the left is an ad for “Register for demo” – except it is our Demo.

Clicking the ad brings you to our Demo registration form. So, one would have to expect that either the user thought that the links in the middle of the page (the ad is right in the middle of the paragraph on the page) were for Joomla’s registration or, they actually found our web site during their hunt for a CMS and decided to sign up for our Demo as well (or maybe instead).

This is all made possible by Google being intelligent enough to know that the content of the Joomla page is that of Web based content management. Since Joomla placed the adsense ad on the page it did what it was supposed to – and in this case – displays ads for competitors.

Thank you Google (and Joomla). Full Page Joomla ad

How to delete 80+ unread emails … without trying

June 30, 2007

I have to admit when it comes to productivity I owe a lot to Microsoft. I have been using Outlook for over 10 years now and One Note for over 4. Without these two programs I would be a mess. They help keep me organized and in touch with the people that I work with. So I am not totally complaining here just expressing some discontent with an event that took place yesterday.

I was in a rush (which is not a good time to be handling important items like e-mails) so this may have just been a lack of concentration, but I was mortified yesterday when I lost 80+ unread e-mails from my Outlook. Here is how it happened (I think):

The foldersI organize my e-mails using the folders in the top left hand corner of Outlook 2007. The folders that I use heavily are “Unread”, “Deleted”, “Inbox” and “Follow-Up (red)”. They help me keep track of the emails that I have not worked on, have been removed and those that I have said “Hey, I need to get back to this person”. While I was at the CFUnited conference this week, I went two days without answering e-mails (actually one night – Wednesday – which ended up being 2 days when you factor in that I was at a conference all day).

On Thursday before I left the conference I decided to clear out all of the junk e-mails in hopes that I would get to some of the real e-mails on my plane ride home. So I opened the “Unread” folder and on the right side started selecting the e-mail’s that I wanted to delete using the CRTL key from within the Inbox folder (Under the “unread” folder the contents are grouped by folder so that I can view all types of Unread e-mail).

However, I had the folder “inbox” selected (as you can see here)Inbox Folder

This causes some serious issues because it will bring over all of the e-mail’s in the entire folder, even if they are not selected. So, all of mye-mail’s, including the ones that I needed to read, ended up in the Deleted Items folder. No big deal at this point since I still have them. So I then proceed to highlight the e-mail’s that I wanted to keepDeleted Folder so that I could move them back into the inbox except when I moved them back in there was a weird message that appeared.

At first, I decided to say “no” – feeling that copying these images over was not a good idea maybe I had clicked something improperly. I decided to try again – again the same message. This time I decided to say “yes”. When I said “yes” all of the e-mail’s that I had copied appeared inside a new email (addressed currently to noone) as attachments.Deleted Message I said to myself – no way do I want that. I then clicked the “x” button on the e-mail message to close it. However, when I did that – all of the e-mail’s which were originally located in the deleted folder (by way of the Inbox) were all gone! Ouch!

Ever have that “click-of-death” feeling. Like that click you just executed was not a good one and the likelyhood that you would recover successfully from that click were slim to non? Yeah – that’s how I felt. Not fun.

The reason I believe that this happened? I had the “Today” folder highlighted in the Deleted Folders area (much like I had done on the Inbox to get myself into the mess in the first place). Arrrgh!!! There has to be an extra level of protection here. Now I can see why some organizations make a copy of every e-mail and forward it to a “holding” account in addition to delivering it to the appropriate box. Makes sense now!Deleted folder

Maybe as a fail safe, Outlook should integrate with your computers “Recycle Bin” so that this type of stuff won’t happen. I guess I would like a few more “Are you sure you want to delete this?” messages followed by your computer saying “Ok, this guy is an idiot, I will still save a backup even if he thinks it is a bad idea”.

100 ways to wok your dog

August 5, 2006

There are those people out there that avoid change. There are those out there that feel that they embrace change but don’t and then there are those individuals that truly embrace change.

I have been going through a lot of changes recently and I started to sit back and think about all of them at once. All of my family changes (kids growing up so damn fast), my work changes (our company is becoming so good so fast) and changes with friends in my life (going on the road has given me a tremendous opportunity to meet some cool people).

My work changes are the most mentally challenging. Our company has changed so dramatically in the past year. Up until a year ago, we were a very flat organization. Pretty much all 18 employees reported to our president. Since then, we have had 4 people leave the company (which is big considering the size), added 9 and built some management hierarchy. Of all of the workers in our office (we have some off site sales people) I have been there the longest. Anyways, to say the least it has been crazy and quite difficult at times.

In addition, to all of the personnel changes in the company, my role has changed so much as well. When all of this change started, I was pretty much the CS Trainer/Consultant. Since then, I moved to Director of Support, Consulting Services and have begun to transition again into a Product Manager/Principal style role.

With all of the people coming and going in the company it has taught me a lot about embracing change. So today I was having a conversation about it with Bob (Sr. VP Marketing/Sales) and I came up with an analogy (I love analogies) that I think most people can understand:

Let’s say you were not a dog person. In fact lets say you really disliked dogs. However, since you were the type of person that wanted to embrace change, you decided that you would let the dog in your house. As you and your new dog got acquainted, you decided that you could not stand it. That it was such a change from your original habits that you wanted to get rid of the dog. But, since you were working so hard on embracing change, you decided to get a leash and tie the dog up outside next to it’s dog house. So, what you realized was that you did not really embrace change but instead forced change outside of your comfort zone. You were comfortable in your house before the dog came, and now since the dog is outside your are comfortable again. In essence, you really never embraced change. You adjusted your surroundings to get back into the swing of your old way.

I think that there are people that truly enjoy change. Or at least they are comfortable being uncomfortable. In fact, there are even people out there that are truly uncomfortable being comfortable. So much so that when they get into the comfort zone, they change it.

I believe that it is these types of people that are truly successful. Especially, in technology and business. The eb and flow of each of these is so phenomonal that it is nearly impossible to be successful and comfortable at the same time.
So when I was speaking to Bob about this he asked me if I had ever heard about the best selling Cookbook called “100 ways to wok your dog?”. I think that this offers a perfect solution to the problem. Thanks Bob.

36 Hours of MAX: Small Agile Development Teams

July 8, 2006

I was just reading a blog post on “WeBreakStuff” about “Railsday: Pushing the limits of 24 hours“. I have always been a big fan of ColdFusion (CF) development and find it amazing the amount of steam applications built with Ruby are gaining recently. I found “Railsday” particularly interesting because in 2003 I presented an idea to Macromedia’s Event Marketing team which was built on the same premise. I called it 36 Hours of Max:

Excerpt from my original document:

What: A three-day competition coinciding with DevCon, for MX developers. The goal will be to coordinate the creation of a web site/application based on a strict specification in 36 hours using nothing but MX products. By holding the event at (or around) DevCon we would maximize exposure and create an added feature for future DevCon gatherings. (A humanitarian angle could be added to the “what” by choosing a Non-Profit organization and either re-designing or creating a site for them. Maybe an organization with little money or resources.)


Teams of 6 (could be more or less) would work together to complete an application based on a pre-defined specification. The specification is the same for all teams and the application must be built exclusively with Macromedia Studio MX.

On the final day all the entries are *collected* and the judging begins [may want to perform preliminary judging during the day on Saturday so that Judges are aware of the programs before actual judging]

The awards ceremony follows the judging and is open to all attendees of DevCon

[Optional] require no pre-coding by releasing the specification at the beginning of the contest

Since one of the values of CF is to be a Rapid Application Development architectures I was a bit surprised that Macromedia did not take me up on my idea. Maybe the idea was before its time (Hey Adobe if you are listening….) Now with the advent of Flex and the tight integration between CF and Flash I think that an idea like this has even more merit then it did in the past. I do not know a lot about the architecture of Ruby but I know a lot about CF and I can say that it would be difficult for any architecture to have the IDE/Application Development integration that CF is pushing.

Value of Small Agile Development Teams
One of the topics that WeBreakStuff spoke about was the value of small agile teams. I left a very small agile team at Seton Hall University a few weeks ago. The web team responsible for implementing our CMS has some incredible talent and interesting dynamics. Lee Clark and Mike Hyland are avid bloggers and compliment each other in their development/design skills. Where Mike leads the way in CSS and HTML layout, Lee produces database interactions in PHP and CF. In addition, there is Marie Somers (Team Lead) and Kevin Whary (Applications Development).

I have seen some good applications development teams out there but none with the dynamics that match this groups abilities. Covering the gammut of CSS/HTML/JS/CFML/Linux/SQL Server/MySQL support, the team is nimble and efficient. [Ok, enough promotion]

The real value here with teams of this size, is that they can get things done. There is no time to overthink things and rarely is any time wasted. In the fast moving environment of Web Development these are great qualities in a team. What makes this group really interesting is that they can cover start-finish an entire Web application.

Nimbleness + Proper Planning = Success
Often the notion of Rapid Application Development carries with it a connotation of poor quality. How can you produce proper applications in weeks in months?

The intricate World “WIDE” Web

March 15, 2006

As I travel around to the different PaperThin customers, I have the opportunity to meet other individuals that are truly connected to the web. The kind of people that read or write in Web logs (blogs), that not only understand the value of an RSS feed but actually use them. What I find to be interesting is that each of the places that I go, I eventually get into a conversation about their usage of the web. The only way that I can explain what I see is like this:Imagine if you would that there are 4 local channels for TV. And in each major metropolitan area those 4 channels are controlled by 4 different media companies. So in New York, Channel 1 is controlled by Company ABC and in LA, Channel 1 is controlled by Company XYZ. I know that this is not a good representation of the Web because the Web is global but what I guess I am talking about is the "undercurrent" of the web. We have all experienced the global web (you get the same funny video from three random people and your like 'yeah already saw that, that was funny') but this "local" web can be described by the type of information that travels in certain social circles.

For instance, I was travelling to DC and one of the people that I met there showed me this site:

Now this is a bit of a cult site but it has some interesting content and has been around for quite some time. This person appears to be completely connected to the world of hollywood and has all sorts of dirt on everyone. Some of the content that he posts is original and other pieces are referencs to news stories with either "this is the truth behind the story" or "here is some more information". When I returned from DC I heard on the radio someone mention this site.

Then while I was in Minnesota I spoke with one of their developer/designers (Forbes Robertson – funny guy) and he shared with me this which I guess I could have found from going to google viedo but who would have thought to type in "Trailer Park Boys" in the google video box.

Wither way I find this hilarious.

And lastly, Mike Hyland (from Seton Hall) had this on his forum: (caution this may be a bit tasteless but since this is a serious topic, a funny video turns it around in a new light)
So what I guess I am saying is that even though we live in a world where the Web is connecting us all, we still need some social interaction in order to share our experiences of the Web. That is why I spend most of my time reading blogs (like the ones on the right). It represents a "pulse" on the Internet. What is truly out there from a content perspective and where the web is heading.

Well that's it for now…

Challenges of a CMS implementation

March 15, 2006

Just wanted to give a good ol CommonSpot shout out to the team at Seton Hall. It was a pleasure working with them during the Advanced Developers training. They launched with CommonSpot during the 4th quarter of 2005 and I must say they have a great looking site (and that is not just because they are using CommonSpot). Anyways we had some good conversations that I wanted to share.

One of the biggest struggles with CMS implementations is the multiple number of teams that need to be involved and the differences amongst those teams. In most CMS installs you will have a Web team. These will be comprised of Developers and Designers. The Web team may or may not be a part of the IT department. So if the web team is not a part of the IT department then you have the IT department themselves. Primary role for this group is to manage the Servers. Main struggles for this group is that they most times they will manage the application servers but know little about the applications that sit on top of the application servers. Not having first hand knowledge of the applications causes difficulties because they know little about necessary settings required for performance or stability. The last group which is involved with the publishing process is either the Public Relations/Marketing group or the Communications group. A less technical group by nature, this group is often responsible for the general direction of the web site. However, since in most cases, they don’t Eat, Sleep and Breath the Internet, they have a difficult time understanding what is truly possible for the Web site. In my opinion, the successful web teams out there have an individual that can coordinate all of these groups, understands technology (Not only what is an RSS Feed but uses them on a daily basis) and communicates sound business ideas effectively.

We also had a few beers and talked about some of the new technologies coming out. We all agreed that we are looking forward to the new “Keanu Reeves” movie coming out “Scanner Darkly”. I put his name in quotes because although he was in the movie and did all of the “acting”, the movie is actually a cartoon. There is a really good article about it in the latest Wired magazine if you are interested ( LINK)

I also have permalinks over to Lee and Mike Hyland’s blogs on the right. Go check them out.