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Trouble with My Feed

feedburner.gif

feedburnerI’m experiencing trouble with my Feedburner feed – apologies and I certainly hope to get it fixed soon.

(Oh, and Googlers who read this are most welcome to chip in to helpSmile )

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About that Second “S” in SaaS – Awesome Service

pressharbor ”There is an app for that” – say the Apple commercials.  “There is a plugin for that” – was my conclusion, while lookin for the rigth tools to move the Enterprise Irregulars blog to WordPress a few months ago.  Seriously.  The WordPress ecosystem is simply amazing, things that a few years ago required messing with code are now a click away: – modern themes are no longer just pretty layouts, but perform quite a bit of processing, and whatever they don’t have – well, there is a plugin for that.:-)

Such is the power of Open Source and a thriving ecosystem. But all this openness and richness of choice comes with a price: it takes a lot of digging, testing, and even more luck to find the right ones that actually deliver what they claim without messing up your theme and other plugins.  And even if you find the right ones, they all come out with new releases from time to time, and every single update, be it WordPress itself, the theme, the plugins is a hidden trap. Things can stop mysteriously overnight – as they did over @ Enterprise Irregulars a week ago, when I was alerted that our feed was all blank. The EI blog is based on the powerful but rather complex Hybrid News Theme with 21 active plugins which work in concert to aggregate the writing of 40+ authors.  And sometimes one little wheel gets stuck – what happens next is what separates good hosts from poor ones.  Or should I say, separates simple hosts from service providers. Service, as the second S in SaaS. :-)

Normally the choice is simple: you either use WordPress.com – free, powerful, great platform, with preset choices for themes, widgets..etc – or opt for self-hosting in the Open World – with all the power to install whatever you want, but also out in the wild alone in a complex world.  (Geez, where did I hear that last… ahh, the great  iPhone vs. Android debate, perhaps? :-) )   Now, back to hosts: I’ve been blessed with a smaller, but amazingly good host providing extraordinary, personalized service for five years now. Owner and jack-of-all-trades John Keegan helped my with the old (dying) Blogware platform, then through the migration of my personal blog to WordPress, and ever since – so moving EI to Pressharbor was a no-brainer.

So last Sunday (yes, a SUNDAY) I turned to John again… he dug into the problem, and soon found that a rogue plugin attached custom enclosure fields to some posts, with garbled content that Feedburner choked on, wiping out our RSS feed. John then got on Skype and held my hand step by step removing the erroneous fields, until the feed got cleared up.  Sounds easy enough… in hindsight.   It would have taken me hours / days of research and frustration to restore the lost functionality.   It’s not the first time and likely not the last I received support way beyond what can be expected of a regular web hosting company.  Help with security, performance, database tuning should be standard (is it?)  but detailed plugin-level help?  No way.  How about WordPress upgrades?  I don’t even  know what they are.  In fact I got upgraded to WP 3.0 while writing this post. Not amongst the first .. only after thorough testing did  Pressharbor upgrade all of us, centrally.  I’m lucky enough to have the best of both world – the power of Open Source and great, personalized support.  A big, capital S – the second S in Software as a Service.

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Magic Quadrant. No. Magik Quadrant. No. Magik Kvadrant. From the Creator of the Enterprise Octopus.

Sam Lawrence, formerly of Jive Software and Enterprise Octopus, most recently Blackbox Republic is baaaack.  Big Time.  Sorry.  I mean Go Big Always.  This time (actually a month ago) he is presenting the Magik Quadrant from a customer prospective.  (Should it not be the Magik Kvadrant?)

magik quadrant

There you have it.  But I can’t steal his entire post: for the explanation, Go Big Always. :-)

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Almighty Bloggers Can Fix it All – Fun with Blog Messages

12mm long Apis mellifera, Apis mellifera flyin...

Image via Wikipedia

Reading some of the blog-contact messages makes me wonder who readers think I really am.  One common misconception is when they confuse me for a representative of a company I write about – even when the post is actually quite critical.  How does my ugly experience with HP Technical support prompt a reader to think I have any clout @ HP is beyond me:

my hp deskjet f4185 is not working properly so please send any ingenior (sic) my
contact number is …

Reading my rant on Comcast Digital Enhancement Off to an Analogue Start prompted a reader to send this:

I need the free digital enhancement for my TV

Huh… as if I really had the power to help him….

Sometimes I blog about lighter subjects, like when Carlsberg workers went on strike for their free beer.  But I’d have to drink quite a few beers to understand the following message:

Dear Sir,
I have been looking forward to see how we can Import Carlsberg beer to Africa specificaly Angola-Luanda and we know that there are alot of countries that manufacture and import this beer, but we would like to have the links in the countries we have been doing business like for eg; South Africa, Namibia, China
and Portugal.
However, I would appreciate if you supply these links to us in order to stablish contact and business relactionship with them.
I hope to hear from you very soon.

Perhaps I should hook them up with a Nigerian Banker…

Now, when I complain about the lack of pay-as-you-go Internet fax services, I think it’s pretty clear I am an angry customer, not a service provider.  Well, perhaps clear to all but one reader:

Can you please send me information on signing up for your pay as you go fax service for incoming and outgoing faxes??? The page I can view is only a review page for Zoli and no link to sign up..

I left the best for last – even I don’t know what qualifies me to be the expert on the birds and the bees:

how do you tell the difference between honey bees and killer bees.I just saw some bees going into a small hole on the side of my house.I sprayed some wasp spray on them but it didn’t seem to kill them.

Don’t get me wrong: blog contact messages are great, and I still encourage them… but please, please, a reality check first: I’m just a blogger, can do no wonders :-)

Update:  I just felt compelled to add this “most relevant” offer:

My client in Brasil has a biodiesel and an ethanol plant for sale, ready to operate and with supply in abundance. If you have buyers please write to me at …

:-)

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Woman in High Tech & The New York Times Out of the Loop

Image credit: The New York Times Out of the loop is the original title of a New York Times article discussing how difficult it is for women entrepreneurs to get funded, or generally to get into the management ranks in business.  A title that backfires … but you’ll have to wait to see why.

The first case discussed @ the NYT is Crimson Hexagon, a start-up founded by Candace Fleming, Harvard MBA, former HP Exec and small business President. Yet despite here credentials potential investors called her “Mom”, asked indiscreet questions and one invited her to his yacht by showing her his photo on the yacht – sans clothes.

“I didn’t know things like this still happened,” says Ms. Fleming, 37. “But I know that, especially in risky times like the last couple years, some investors kind of retreat to investing via a template.” A company owned by a woman, she adds, “is just not the standard template.”

Her solution was to find a fund that specifically focuses on investing in start-ups led by women: Golden Seeds.  They and other angels funded Crimson Hexagon to the  tune of $1.8M.

So while the bigger issue is still very much of a problem, at least all is well at Crimson Hexagon.  That is, until you click the link, where you see this headline:

4.5.2010 Crimson Hexagon Fills Out $2M Series A-2 Round; Names Scott Centurino New CEO

A bit more detail (emphasis mine):

Crimson Hexagon, the leading provider of real time market research, today announced that it has filled a $2M Series A-2 funding round. The round, led by Golden Seeds, was completed through a combination of new and existing investors…

In addition, the company announced that Scott Centurino has joined the company as the new CEO, replacing Candace Fleming who left for both personal and professional reasons.

Oops…  not exactly the outcome the NYT projected.  So now you see why the title backfired: just who is out of the loop this time?

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The Benioff Coup. I Almost Got it Right

benioff reporter Watching Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff interview Mike Arrington @ Davos in January, I predicted the Big Marc was after a new job in media.  It all felt confirmed when Benioff launched a series of posts at TechCrunch (although I suspected a fellow XXXXX blogger wrote his posts).

But now it looks the other way around: Benioff stole TechCrunch contributor Steve Gillmor.

Strange.  But I could still be right.  Here’s my conspiracy theory: it’s a job swap.  Gillmor will soon take over as CEO while Big Marc will retire to his Hawaii Mansion to lazily edit TechCrunchIT.

Gartner probability: 0.01

(Yes, I know it’s not April Fool’s Day – that’s how I reacted to the TC post first.)

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My New Favorite Old Blog…

Jonathan Schwartz, President and CEO of Sun Mi...

Image by TechShowNetwork via Flickr

My new favorite old blog is former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, blog.   It’s at the old URL, but has a new title:

What I Couldn’t Say… The “About” section says:

I think I’ve said pretty much everything I could say as CEO of Sun Microsystems. The more interesting stuff was what I couldn’t say.

And that’s what this blog (and maybe a book) is going to be about.

Mostly.

For a taste of his newly found freedom, read Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal.

And that’s all have to say… :-)

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Is Video a Crock? It’s Certainly Not the New Holy Grail. Get Off the Screen, Dudes.

Many of you will recognize the title – borrowed from "Enterprise 2.0 a Crock" Dennis Howlett.

Needless to say I was quite interested in his discussion with David Terrar, who is more of an E20 fan.

Hm…hard to watch.  Dennis is too loud while David is barely audible.  I kept on turning the volume up and down, until I quit after a few minutes.  But it’s not just the technical issues.  It’s a long video for the message it delivers, and I hate to admit but it could not glue me to my chair for 8 minutes. 

His opinions and sometimes abrasive style aside Dennis is a great analytical thinker, but he is (as I suspect all of us are) simply more organized, more concise in writing.  Simply more convincing – or thought provoking – and definitely easier to "consume" in writing, than this video-torture.  So now you see where my title comes from.  If Dennis says E20 is a crock, then I say so is video. It’s simply not the best medium for a lot of messages.

But I am not picking on Dennis.  Here’s a video by Allen Stern of the CenterNetworks fame:

Continue reading

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Good Luck Steering the Titanic

titanic USA Today’s (former) Travel Editor blogs her last day, after getting laid off:

But what bothers me the most is what my firing represented. See, I’ve been learning all the tricks that a modern multi-platform journalist is supposed to know. In the past 22 months, I’ve blogged, tweeted, shot photos and videos, and handled speaking engagements. I edited my section, managed my high-personality staff and then in my spare time, I wrote cover stories – something that very few other editors at USA TODAY do. I hustled and I cajoled and I ended up out on my ass anyway…

…But increasingly, things have become more interesting outside the newsroom bubble. I’d go to conferences and meet people who were making it just fine on their own. Some were creating niche businesses, busting up the paradigm. Others were parlaying old school media talents into fresh ventures, with a moxie that made me wish I had the freedom to emulate them. The air inside USAT’s towers on Jones Branch Drive always seemed a little stale after that.

These freelancers-slash-entrepreneurs are smart. They are nimble. And now they are my role models, as I join their ranks.

So to the managers who made this decision, in less than 140 characters I tell you: Good luck steering the Titanic. And thanks for the head start. Now I’m really going to run.

In unrelated news, a bridge was sold in England for a million pounds ($1.66M).  Which proves there is a market for bridges.  So in true entrepreneurial spirit, I have a bridge to sell you.

brooklyn-bridge

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Scoble is Wrong When He Says He is Wrong:-) Full Feeds Still Rock

Wow, I’m sensing another TechMeme Storm rising (and a certain analyst would call it a circle j***, but that’s another matter). Robert Scoble says he was wrong when he said In 2006 he wouldn’t use any news aggregator or feeds that aren’t full text.

I think the Scobleizer is wrong now that he says he was wrong. :-)

His key argument is that his reading habits changed, he relies a lot more on Twitter, which is short form, uses the iPhone which is not that convenient for lengthy text, and Google Reader has become bloated and slow.

All true. But let the user / reader chose: even sadly slow and bloated Google Reader offers the choice of reading full text or scanning just the headlines.  It’s a simple switch, there is no need to cut off the source.  I don’t read all my feeds A to Z, like Robert, I do a lot of quick scanning.  But I find it extremely frustrating to have to click through to a site, sometimes wait looong (we’re all guilty of having too many widgets and plugins that slow down page load) only to find out it wasn’t worth the wait.  So I tend to skip partial feeds, and guess what happens to less read items?  They get dropped from Google Reader…

From the content author’s point of view, I understand the need to bring traffic to ad-supported sites, and that’s about the only exception when providing partial feed makes sense (but even than, please remember to send enough to entice me to click through).  But for many others, perhaps for the majority of blogs I follow: it’s a distributed world.  If you want your views to matter, you need to be heard  / read via whatever distribution channel you can reach, and that means providing full feed.

3 weeks ago I switched another group aggregation blog that I am editing, the Enterprise Irregulars to WordPress and along with that finally was able to offer full feed.  Our feed subscriber base doubled and on-site page views tripled. Yes, pageviews tripled despite the fact that we are “giving away” content.  Translation: we’ve became more visible, accessible, and it works.