November 2008

Twitter and reputation management

The customer is always right. OK well not always but we already knew that.

Earlier today I was looking at a company's Twitter feed and shaking my head. The feed read like an organization that wanted to use Twitter but was failing miserably. I should blog that crossed my mind but there was "work" to be done. Then getting ready to take a break this afternoon I read a case study on Comcast reps on Twitter. Long post made short Comcast has some great customer service people on Twitter.

Back then to the company I was looking at this morning. Well call them X because I don't know that much about them or how good or bad their offerings are (although I am nominally a paying customer I just don't use their product much). What struck me in reading the X tweets is just how blatantly they communicated that the policy handbook, profitability and self-interest come first and the customer is a distant thought.

Using Acquia Drupal as an image processor?

pipeline_in_trench.jpgCatching up on some blog reading today I picked up on a thread Dave Winer's been writing about. He's using ImageMagick to resize images and produce thumbnails. Throughout the thread I kept thinking this sounds a lot like a standalone version of the Drupal imagecache module. Perhaps, I thought, the answer could be setting up a Drupal site to do the conversion. Nah that's too much I said to myself.

Going green, going local

A story called Eco-nomical: Buying Local on Weekend Edition Sunday suggests buying local is the ecological win. The story mentions the benefits that buying from a local store has a greater impact on the local economy than does buying from a big-box national chain. Unfortunately it has some suggestions that just don't add up.

The story suggests that buying from local shops instead of big boxes will mean driving less. Certainly reducing driving is a good thing but does it work this way? With big box stores concentrated in one area it's likely to be that people drive less when they visit the big box stores. A certain number of local stores will be scattered around the big boxes but reaching the number of them necessary to pick up things that one can get in a department store takes quite a bit more driving. Internet shopping is mentioned as a last resort in the story.

When cable modems go bad

One of the in my spare time activities of life as a techie is providing network administration support to the family. Lately the in-laws have had some challenges getting online. When I asked them to visit they would get different results each time. Their TiVo folks had said they had a problem with their IP address and that was why the TiVo wasn't working. Things got more interesting when I started looking up the ip addresses. The IP addresses reported belonged to companies on the other side of the globe. From Cambodia to Poland the information didn't make sense.

Interestingly although Remote Desktop wouldn't provide access (because of the bad IP address) screen sharing in iChat did work. Upon logging in and firing up AirPort Utility I expected to see that the AirPort knew it had a different address. But alas the AirPort resolutely stated the IP address in Poland.

An odd add in gmail

Google's new themes for Gmail are quite fun and have convinced me to spend much time on their site each day trying to get my theme to update. The different mountain views are great though it would be really nice if there was an easier and faster means for getting it to update. Anyway as I was browsing today the following ad popped up...

Now it's not going to make the Tonight Show as one of the odd ads of the week but the "New Text Ad" is kind of funny. While it suggests it might lead to it doesn't really. It instead leads to a broken page link.

Saturday morning in the fall

Osprey in flightAutumn is one of my favorite times of year. Actually truth be told I love most of the seasons, each for their own beauty and grandeur. Mornings that start with a deep chill and transform into crisp days filled with color are hard to beat. Beyond the inherent beauty the promise of winter's coming is inescapable. Skiing, ice skating and building snow forts are just around the corner while the days grow short.

Fall Cleanup

Spring cleaning in my mind gets overbilled. Sure spring days are sometimes warmer than their cousins in the fall, but the days of fall just beg for a good cleanup. Getting the house in order and ready for the longer nights of winter where the family will be inside more of the waking day is but one of the advantages. Fall cleanups, with the holidays and gift-giving around the corner also provide a great opportunity to assess what the family's needs are. With these ideas fresh in mind one is much less likely to run out and get a gift for a family member that isn't needed.

iPhone software gets 2.2 update

Apple rolled out an upgrade to iPhone software today. Version 2.2 includes some great new features like the ability to access public transit maps on the phone.

The update brings a welcome change, the ability to download podcasts directly to the phone. Unfortunately while this functionality is welcome it is also incomplete. The downloaded episodes are added to the iPod but there is no way to subscribe to a podcast from the phone.

Apple has previously denied applications for podcatcher applications based on this now-released functionality being forthcoming. At the time speculation centered on the likely restriction of Apple's app to WiFi only and not the cellular network. That, however, proved to not be a limitation with today's release.

To monitor or not?

Somehow I don't know that today's question will bring up as many great responses as yesterday's Komodo vs Coder discussion. The question of the day relates to home alarm systems. The house we're in has an alarm system built-in and now we're faced with wondering whether to have it monitored or not.

What I think I would rather is to have a fire and carbon monoxide alarm that is monitored, perhaps with a panic feature that is monitored as well, and to have the security alarm send me a message.

In that way I can figure out whether to take action, avoid the false alarms that go along with a family living in a house where the unexpected happens and we don't always use the door that was planned.

To date my main experience with alarms, mainly in businesses, has been with setting them off by accident. Back in the day I set off the alarm at the search and rescue cache, which was a sheriff's department facility. That brought an armed response from the deputies, fortunately we knew them and it wasn't a big deal but it still points to just how useful they might be to us.

Black Friday shaping up to be a mixed bag

The Idaho Statesman reports today that Boise Town Square mall won't open at crazy hours on Black Friday. Last year the largest shopping center in Bosie was among several shopping centers nationally which opened near midnight for sales that were billed as extraordinary. While there were some problems with last year's 1 AM opening it would not take much to imagine that the austere consumer spending reports figure into the decision as well.

Komodo vs. Coda

At the risk of starting the vim vs. emacs sort of flame war I'm curious what folks think about Komodo IDE vs. Coda for general use. I've been using Komodo for about a year and liking it but faced with two pretty equal prices for upgrading vs moving to Coda I'm starting to look at how I really use Komodo.

The main features I use are the dynamic function lookup and SVN integration. To a lesser extent I use the CVS integration but have generally moved away from this with the tendency to have confusion in the GUI over whether CVS or SVN is being used and some accidental commits etc.

It seems as though Coda has some friendlier features for FTP and managing sites on servers that aren't SVN capable. On the other hand Komodo has better debugging features, though I've often resorted to print_r vs the intricacies of making sure a xdebug environment is up and running. Wherever I am print_r and the devel module work, even when cool debugging environments do not.

So with that said I'm considering buying Coda instead of upgrading Komodo... What are folks' thoughts?