Apologies & Retractions


I’ve got just one thing to say: Friends don’t let friends blog under the influence of Nyquil.

This was a rather miserable week for me. I went to visit the family and inlaws last Friday – Christmas and my parents tried to kill me, as they always do, with their AC. I’ve pretty much decided I will never go home again and stay with them. Allow me to explain how it works. First, my parents live in one of those luxury skyrises in downtown Fort Lauderdale where you can see the ocean and the Sawgrass Mills mall – so they have plenty of air flow that can keep the kitchen, dining room and living room relatively cool. By comparison, the rest of the place is an inferno. Meanwhile, the guest bedroom bed has 3 sheets, comforter wrapped in a designer decorative bag and a real life replica of earths layers. Trust me when I tell you that there is magma flowing under those sheets. So here is the trick: they wait for us to go to sleep and drop the temperature to 65. There is no way to avoid getting a cold.

So I got a cold on Saturday and spent Saturday – Wednesday in bed. I went to work once this week and since then just spent my time talking to partners and trying to figure out some outstanding support issues. Over the course of the week, and the Nyquils, I said some stuff that I ought to clear up:

ExchangeDefender Annoyarizermaster 6000

What a popular thing this turned out to be! To be honest, I figured it would just be an annoying little taskbar memory hog like they all are but I’m among the 99% of the ExchangeDefender customer base that just does not look at the SPAM reports. I can’t remember the last time I found a false positive in ExchangeDefender but something had to be done for those people that don’t want SPAM but need to have an easy access to their junk mail at all times. For the longest time our answer was “Just create a desktop shortcut that automatically logs them in” but that seemed to go nowhere because it’s easy to ignore.

Frankly, I am conflicted on the issue of user experience and interface design when it comes to these things. People pay not to be annoyed with SPAM but clicking on an icon is too much of an effort? So we design something (IMHO) annoying and people love it! So we’re trading a big pile of annoying for an hourly annoying and our customers are content. So the lesson here is: anything that blends into the backgrund of the computing experience is going to be ignored, while anything counterproductive to the users productivity that opens up the range of options and reminds them of possibilities.. is a good thing? I dunno, just seems counterintuitive.

Howard Cunningham

Howard is one of our best partners not because he brings us a ton of money but because he, like many others, has reaized that he is our partner, not just a client. This is the basic premise behind Own Web Now that makes so many of our partners very successful and very profitable: we listen to the input and we design our products and services based on the user experience. For example, every Own Web Now customer, partner and tech has direct access to our errata and our bug and feature request forms. They are under Development > Bugs / Features section of our support portal. If you were to take a moment to go through those, you will find many of the issues documented, many of the features we are currently working on first proposed and virtually everything we do is based on that.

The reason OWN has been so successful in SMB is because we have a global network, ton of resources, and our partners told us how to focus because they spotted opportunities for us! So when something goes wrong, when something can be done better, when someone has an idea… they bring it to me, or they note it in the portal and we work on it. The problems they have get addressed, get taken back to the client and our partners can show them how the product works for them. Gotta love it. On the flip side, I have the partner-client hybrid, the people that look at us as a vendor only and think we can read into their support tickets – so they never bring the issue to me, never file it as a bug, never give us a chance to address it – and they eventually just move on. Those are the ultimate “shoppers” that would rather spend a ton of their own time seaking out a solution than advising their partner and giving them time to bring that solution to them.

I can say that opening up our development process in 2007 has been the best thing we’ve ever done because it has encouraged a lot of my partners and even customers to give me a call, email, etc and actually work with us as a partner. Not only does it mean a whole heck of a lot more money for us all, but it makes this job very fulfilling at the same time.

The SPAM Problem

At the height of my Nyquil high this week I sat in my Nyquil chair refreshing my SPAM count page. My work address (vlad@ownwebnow.com) gets about 20-40 messages a second.

Mac Stuff

I didn’t quite spend enough time on my Mac this week but I have to admit that the more I use it, the more I hate it. The concept of only being able to launch a single process from its little dock, and using the same as the running task, is completely foreign to me. I ended up launching multiple Firefox processes from the terminal just so I can have different processes in different screens (because you can’t move individual windows among different spaces and its a pretty frustrating environment for people like me that have 10-30 FF windows open at all time). I’m guessing this is just something I don’t know how to do and that there may be an elegant way of managing it but at this point I find it frustrating enough not to use it. However, I’m pretty impressed with the gadget Dashboard. So it makes for a cute gadget, frustrating work OS.

Lost my iPod this week. 🙁

That’s all thats on my mind, how was your week?

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