I use:

Friday, December 21, 2007

Coolness under the tree...

Being a Developer and truly appreciating the real-estate of a high-resolution screen which is the only drawback to this particular system. That said, if you have an external LCD this is an excellent choice for this season. If anyone put this under my tree...

HP Pavilion DV9608CA 17" AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core TK-55 1.8GHz Laptop

$799 this week at BestBuy Canada!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Knol. A source of eTextbook Materials?

Google discussed in it's blog this week a new product called Knol. The idea is that a contributor can create, with authority, a detailed and factual unit of knowledge on a particular topic. Now, the product is not available for public consumption as yet, but the example suggests that this may be a good eText foundation.
Official Google Blog: Encouraging people to contribute knowledge: "The web contains an enormous amount of information, and Google has helped to make that information more easily accessible by providing pretty good search facilities. But not everything is written nor is everything well organized to make it easily discoverable. There are millions of people who possess useful knowledge that they would love to share, and there are billions of people who can benefit from it. We believe that many do not share that knowledge today simply because it is not easy enough to do that. The challenge posed to us by Larry, Sergey and Eric was to find a way to help people share their knowledge. This is our main goal."
Consider, if you will, that a course for a particular curriculum could be built featuring authoritative sources rather than pages in a physical text book. In fact the eText, or eCourse, may not even include the articles, but merely references to the information on Google's Knol. Frankly, it could include reference links to Wikipedia but the challenge with Wikipedia, and possibly with Knol over time, is the question of authentic authority.

Hey Google! Suggestion eCourses: Collections of Knols matched or configurable to suit any school system's curriculum?

NCIX.com - ASUS Eee PC 8G Pearl White Intel Mobile 7IN 800X480 WLAN LAN 1GB 8GB LAN Linux Camera Notebook in Canada

NCIX.com - ASUS Eee PC 8G (Pearl White)

How can I say this clearly enough? This is what I consider to be the ultimate PDA. Okay, it's closer to a UMPC without the touch-screen, but the unit is simply wonderful for concept and I absolutely need one of these.

Admittedly the 8G may be a little excessive based on my projected budget for such a device, the 4G being a little more affordable and available in black (preferred) may be cause to pass on the higher model, but the allure to such a device is the size and flexibility.

While there have been sightings of Windows XP and now Vista on this little monster, the native Linux OS is just fine with me. The ASUS site is fairly non-technical in it's presentation of this little wonder, but I know this is on my 2008 buy list. (I'd show you, but their site was unreachable at the time I wrote this)

UPDATE: I've seen one of the 2G Surf models up-close. Perfection. I recommend for anyone why must stay connected to people while mobile or simply to have an enhanced PDA. I may even scale down my intended model to a 4G and upgrade the RAM (you cant upgrade the RAM on the Surf models, but they are capable). I'm waiting until May for my own. Priorities.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Ultimate Gamer Chair...

I need to try one of these, frankly I do need a new chair for my living room, but...


I wonder if I could be so lucky to be given one of these. Doubtful.

Monday, December 10, 2007

VIA's ARTIGO Pico-ITX ultra-compact barebones - Engadget

VIA's ARTIGO Pico-ITX ultra-compact barebones - Engadget: "ARTIGO Pico-ITX builder kit, a complete VIA-based system that you can snap together in the privacy of your own home. The bundle includes a Pico-ITX motherboard with a VIA C7 1GHz CPU, support for up to 1GB of RAM, IDE and eSATA connectors, VGA output, four USB ports, audio line in / out jacks, and 10/100 ethernet. The package includes everything but a hard drive and memory, and is available right now for around $300."
This, I think, may be a very interesting investment for some remote sensing and control ideas I've been bouncing around.

Hmmm...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

OpenDNS | The Gift of Safe

OpenDNS | The Gift of Safe: "Give your friends and family the gift of a safer Internet: OpenDNS. It's free and requires nothing to download or install."

I have experienced this sort of conversation, not with my father, but... just the same, enjoy the video and get OpenDNS.

Go to OpenDNS.com to help yourself (or a family member) have a save Christmas (and future) on the 'Net.

BTW: Chris's Live show can be found here.

Sanity, er, Conspiracy Theories

Michael Bay's format war conspiracy theory: it's a Microsoft fix - Engadget: "'Microsoft wants both formats to fail so they can be heroes and make the world move to digital downloads.' He goes on to claim that Redmond has only been financially backing HD DVD over 'superior Blu-ray' to create 'confusion in the market' until such time as high def digital downloading goes prime time."

You know, I hear about big bad Microsoft and just laugh. It was Big (bad) Blue before that and it seems that any larger than (my) life company seems to be the logical target when assuming the worst. This theory is just that a paranoid theory of conspiracy. C'mon. The reason that Microsoft backs HD DVD is because their competitor is Sony, who makes the Blu Ray DVD format. How smart would it have been for Microsoft to try to license Blu Ray from a competitor?

I haven't bitten the HD/Blu-Ray bullet. I do have an XBOX 360 and I'm anxiously awaiting digital downloads, but Michael Bay's fears are, in my humble option, simply irrational fears (paranoia). Michael, I love your movie (Transformers in particular) but I don't like Sony and while The new Betamax (Blu-Ray) might be better I'll not be settling that argument for a while. If I were given the need to buy a High-Definition DVD Player, I would get the XBOX add-on (HD DVD), but I'm not a videophile.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Kudos for XBOX360 Replacement Process

Aside from my other frustrations with XBOX Technical Support, there is something to be said for the expediance of thier handling of the Red Ring of Death (RRoD) issue I experienced. Their turn-around time was incredible and flawless in execution.

I experienced the RoD on November 20th. I spent the remainder of the evening troubleshooting and called XBOX Support the next morning. They agreed that this was the infamous RoD issue and sent out the shipping box (the so-called coffin). Purolator attempted delivery on November 26th, I picked it up on November 27th at lunch, packed the XBOX up when I got home and returned it to the Purolator depot that evening. I expected a wait of a month or so.

November 28th it was shipped back to me! Yes... The very same day they received it!

It was attempted delivery on November 29th, and I picked it up Friday night!

That is REMARKABLE! They even through in a 1-month card for XBOX Live.

GOOD GOING MICROSOFT! Thank-you.

BTW...

For Sale:
  • 1 XBOX 360, 20Gb HDD,
  • Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (1),
  • 1 wireless controller including batteries and (new) headset.
  • Component/Composite TV/HDTV Cable
  • XBOX Ethernet Cable
(I bought an XBOX360 Elite, I'm waiting on the HDD transfer cable from Microsoft, then the old system is ready to roll to the highest bidder. I wonder when that cable will get here?)

UPDATE: The Transfer Cable/Kit got here Tuesday, December 11th. All went well.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Fighting Fires in Data Centers

Fighting Fires in Data Centers: "Due to the volume of Inergen required to create conditions in which a fire can’t be sustained, pressure in the room increases significantly upon its discharge. To avoid damage to the facility, pressure vents may be required, Amato says."

Hmmm... reflecting on yesterday's events, could this be what was being installed? Inergen has a number of requirements that a drop-ceiling might not be compatible with.

more information...

@#$% Happens...

Sometimes, no matter how welll you plan and how much you've begged for the funds to provide better service and support to your customer base, things happen with such ferocity that you're left dumbfounded and bewildered while trying to find your way back to functional.

Yesterday our systems, located at a datacenter which will remain nameless, were delt a heavy blow, 5 dead drives, 1 dead production SAN, and a very long, slow process to recovery. Staff were not the cause of the failure, recovery was impaired by the presence of Police and fire services (preventing access) and our world came to a grinding halt.

Today, we are waiting... we are preparing for the worst. What is the worst? Well, we restore from backup and implement an alternate SAN (iSCSI) solution we were preparing for use in around Christmas.

What caused this? I dunno. We haven't been informed with any certainty of the cause.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

XBOX [Non-]Technical Support

Aside from the obvious lack of comprehension of the english language and their inability to comprehend the privacy aspects of giving them your Windows Live account password to resolve a problem, these people prove to me, repeatedly that they have no technical abilities, simply scripts they follow to work toward possible resolutions. When they are stumped the help runs cold.

While I'd hoped that e-mail support and offering them alternatives would help, the canned responses flow, bad grammar and all, from their e-mail servers to me, discouraging my faith in the company i once worked for and loved. To the point that I have considered, on an increasingly frequent basis, returning my XBOX Elite and buying a Wii or, remarkably, a Playstation 3!

I am so disappointed in the service and handling of this rather trivial matter that I haven't even fired up Halo 3 in the last 3 days. I have written off getting any video games for myself for Christmas and just really find the presence of my XBOX a stress rather than a relief.

I dropped off my former XBOX (Pro) for repair last night, it should be back in a few weeks, hopefully before Christmas so I can allow someone else to enjoy the system (For Sale, XBOX Pro with some cool stuff and a wireless controller). How do I sell it to someone else knowing that they will need to deal with a host of technical issues and potentially problems dealing with XBOX support over the transfer?

I'm just disgusted.

UPDATE: Over the last couple of days I spoke with Aaron of Microsoft XBOX Support and he found a workaround that worked well and life is good. My kids will again be able to play (and save games for) Ecco the Dolphin. -- Thanks Aaron

Sunday, November 25, 2007

XBOX Technical Support and Privacy

Recently I have encountered a problem with my XBOX Live account, a game has forgotten I paid for it, at least while it's running. Otherwise it's fine. That being the problem, I called Microsoft's XBOX support this morning and we endeavoured to resolve the issue over the phone. 2 hours later the problem remained unresolved and i spent 35-40 minutes with an agent explaining that they could not resolve the issue without my Windows Live password.

The technical approach they wanted to take was to "recover my GamerTag" or an XBOX at their office, to do this I'd need to give them my hotmail.com password. What the ....

After my rant/lecture about privacy and poor system design I was left with an agent feeling utterly hopeless explaining that they would pass the issue on to management [with no expectation of resolution because they can only troubleshoot the issue in this one way].

How many people have had to sacrifice their privacy to troubleshoot an issue? Be careful what you hand to these [non-]technical agents of support. You're e-mail is a store of much personal information, protect it as you would a bank-card number.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Kindle: An e-book reader that just might catch on

globeandmail.com: An e-book reader that just might catch on: "The screen uses the same astonishing E Ink technology that Sony's Reader uses. It looks like black ink on light gray paper: no backlight, no glare, no eyestrain — and no need to turn it off, ever. That's because E Ink draws power only when you turn a page."

Okay, this is cool, albeit restrictive in some manners, but it is definately cool. The idea that I can (could if the price were a little better) give a tool like this to my daughter and send her off to school with her textbooks in hand without the weight of our education tools crushing her tiny spine. That is a great idea.

Amazon's Kindle is dead on for it's desired target, but could this open up a new opportunity for e-Textbooks? The idea that our kids carry 10-20 pounds of books around is insane, especially with the potential in a device such as this.

The OLPC project is a great idea too, I support it and need to look into the manner and method by which I can acquire one for my daughter (It's stupid that I can justify upgrading my XBOX but have trouble justifying this... I'll do it, after a long serious talk about the benefits and whether she will actually use it. We all benefit from the XBOX).

eBooks are the answer to Open Source Textbooks and a step towards reducing the cost of education and making education more accessible. Whether you're in the public school system, a private school, or home-schooled, the idea that a person or group of people can produce a resource that will deliver subject matter to a student at no cost to the student (or parent/school system) is only going to help.

As for the Kindle, it sounds great but hey a Kindle Lite that was featured Wi-Fi, a USB/SD Card Slot, PC connectivity would be a great eduBook. A teacher could hand, er, publish homework for the class, the students would receive it and be able to take it home, with the eTextbooks in one simple, very portable, tool. Though we might need to ruggedize this thing.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Stability...

DevDude: is the XDI Terminal Server gone again?
NetworkAdmin: nope, our connection is very flacky
NetworkAdmin: something is going on..
Okay... so.... that's an answer?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mail-In Rebates**

It seems more than a little odd these days that a software company, hawking its wares on thier own site is a little out-of-line using a mail-in rebate. Sure they use an outsource to perform the actual sale, but they know you bought it and all of your details, why ask me to jump through hoops for $30?

I had been putting up with the mail-in rebate process for a while, I'd buy my Symantec Anti-Virus and wait eagerly for the money they borrowed from me. I did this until Symantec denied my request because the bill (that Best Buy GAVE ME) was rejected because it lacked a store name/address. I've never bought another Symantec product since, though I do get it free through Rogers High-Speed Internet.

Chalk that up to being a lessons learned, but the idea that I need to pay $30 extra, loaning the company $30 against the actual value of the product, is ludacris. If I'm buying a product that is marked $39.95 that's because it is worth that price to me. It is not worth $69.95 and the rebate is not a gift or any other sort of gracious monetary gesture on the part of the datahounds that want your information.

Watch for those asterisks:
** Estimated Retail Price. Actual retail prices may vary. Mail in rebate details
**You may be eligible to receive a rebate by mail. To receive your rebate, you will need to fill out a rebate coupon which is available in the product box or, which will be made available to you, in a downloadable/printable format, after you have completed your download purchase.

Mail-in offer valid with qualifying proofs of purchase only in the 50 U.S., D.C., and US military bases with valid APO/FPO addresses. Rebate must be postmarked within 30 days of purchase. Limit one per household. Not combinable with any other Microsoft offer or rebate. Expires 1/1/09. Only Microsoft Money Plus packages featuring an on box sticker messaging this rebate, or special download purchase pricing, qualify for this offer.
TigerDirect.ca denotes rebate-priced items with a little read asterisk (*) on the price, they're upfront and I applaud that, others do not do this so well, but I've taken to making my decision on the purchase based on the full (pre-rebate) price. If I can afford this price and the value is there, the deal's done, but I'll look for a non-rebate or Instant Rebate (the cost comes off the price in the store, no waiting) as my first choice.

Mail-in rebates are the companies way of generating a customer list. They pay 3rd-party companies to process the rebate requests and mine the data. By not sending in the rebate (using the system to get as much as you can) they make money based on the idea that most (~60%) customers will not pursue the matter. It seems a little underhanded.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Improve your workspace...

Okay, I'm spoiled. The place I work just gave the coders an early Christmas present in the form of a dual arm-display support. It's a WONDER to use!

Now, I know we're lucky enough to have dual-displays, but this made my day (week). I'm not normal in anything, I didn't position the displays together like they show in the pictures, I have my left monitor turned to page-display format (portrait) positioned in front of me, the right monitor is up and angled down for review of what i create(d) on my primary display. My desk, is clean.

For me, for all of us, this is a big win in that we spend so much time staring at the screen this allows for us to task our systems to our personality and work-style.

Yes, these are expensive. If you'd like something more consumer-level, check out your local Tiger Direct for a unit that suits your needs. This unit from Ergotron is very nice and can be adapted to support a laptop. They have others...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The reality of customer experience issues

I recently launched a new feature on one of our business systems and the target end-user was seemingly very happy. Shortly thereafter I received a note:

In the new tool that you programmed for [company], is this still working?

When I put in a Member ID in the open box, it no longer shows any info:



Any advice? Did something change?
Hmmm.

I told him no... (yes, the pixelized area is where he put the MemberID).

Friday, September 28, 2007

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Getting Away... and unplugging.

Year Round Festivals In Muskoka - Events For All

Next year, Muskoka Air Show. This year... saving up for the escape.

Friday, August 31, 2007

For Safer Browsing... try OpenDNS!

What is OpenDNS?
OpenDNS is a safer, faster, smarter and more reliable way to navigate the Internet. Their service is free and requires nothing to download.

OpenDNS!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Anti-Piracy: The arguments are hitting home...

...and the government isn't listening. Or are they?

Micheal Geist has a host of information regarding Canadian Copyright Law amendments and bill C-60 and opposition to it. This video talks about what the lobby groups are suggesting:



For me, Piracy is wrong, but I've been listening to a few friends who have arguments that don't dispute this but seem to justify (based on blank media levies, and legality of downloading) the receipt of what the law can suggest is "stolen goods" in the form of creative works (Music and Movies). Still others are wilful providers of source media from vast collections of movies, music, and books of all sorts because they don't feel any significant responsibility to support the creators of the products they enjoy.

While my perspective one of fair use and the video above talks in broad strokes, Bill C-60 seems to be much more constrictive, and the summary does not shed any light on the teeth our laws require. It goes a long way to eliminate arguments regarding fair use, closing doors on who can make a work available to file-sharing systems from a distribution stand-point. It places the ownership back in the hands of the owner of the work, the artist. The opponents to bill C-60 make a few presumptions, most notably around personal photography suggesting that a tourist who has a picture taken by a local would forfeit rights. This could arguably be called a commissioned work and the rights are retained by the film owner.

While we do need better Intellectual Property (IP) laws to protect copyright owners, the law proposed by C-60 needs to be considered carefully. It does not eliminate personal use clauses, but there's some insistence that the use be, in fact, personal. Also, "Downloading music files for personal, non-commercial use remains legal under Bill C-60, " according to the summary (below). Please note that this specifically states music is allowed.

Feeling particularly brave, have a look at the proposed legislation yourself: PDF, HTML, Legislative Summary (the government's take).

Lobbyists (and opponents) are good at inciting panic and running around like freaks, you need to take everything they yell from their soap box and verify it against the actual written word of the law. If you can examine both sides, the ramblings of the proposed law and those that oppose it and don't like what you see, Sign the petition to stop Bill C-60. No, really, it's a physical piece of paper that you really need to sign and send off by mail. Don't just lie there and copy those DVDs and MP3s, fight back by becoming active in protecting your rights to fair use.

Also, have a look at this site: Canadian Music Creators Coalition

If the musicians aren't on board, who is the CRIA representing? Oh, ya... The Recording Industry, but even that's changing it's tune.

Friday, August 17, 2007

YouTube - Keepon dancing to Spoon's "Don't You Evah"

YouTube - Keepon dancing to Spoon's "Don't You Evah"


When you're a little too helpful once, you're on the hook for everything.
ManagerDude: Hey - Jack
ManagerDude: Do you know anything about our fax server here in SLC?
JackTheProgrammer: Not a thing. [waits for a response, then leaves for the day]
ManagerDude: Thank you!
Now, was that a NICE "Thank-you" of did that exclamation point change the meaning?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Linux are coming! The Linux are coming!

An article in Wired about the wondrous Linux advent of a better, considerably pleasant, desktop experience for those looking at the alternatives to a Windows-based life of slavery caught my eye.

Linux: It's Not Just for Servers Anymore

The article mentions Ubuntu's distribution, I've thrown a number of people at this OS and they've all had a relatively healthy reaction to it, even though some of them are self-proclaimed technical neophytes. Looking for a change, with some understanding that this is not a Windows OS, this is a viable option.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What to do when you call support (humour)

1. When you call us to have your computer moved, be sure to leave it buried under half a ton of postcards, baby pictures, stuffed animals, dried flowers, bowling trophies and children’s art. We don’t have a life, and we find it deeply moving to catch a fleeting glimpse of yours.

2. Don’t write anything down. Ever. We can play back the error messages from here.

3. When an IT person says he’s coming right over, go for coffee. That way you won’t be there when we need your password. It’s nothing for us to remember 700 screen saver passwords.

4. When you call the help desk, state what you want, not what’s keeping you from getting it. We don’t need to know that you can’t get into your mail because your computer won’t power on at all.

5. When IT support sends you an e-mail with high importance, delete it at once. We’re just testing.

6. When an IT person is eating lunch at his desk, walk right in and spill your guts right out. We exist only to serve.

7. Send urgent e-mail all in uppercase. The mail server picks it up and flags it as a rush delivery.

8. When the photocopier doesn’t work, call computer support. There are electronics in it.

9. When something’s wrong with your home PC, dump it on an IT person’s chair with no name, no phone number and no description of the problem. We love a puzzle.

10. When an IT person tells you that computer screens don’t have cartridges in them, argue. We love a good argument.

11. When an IT person tells you that he’ll be there shortly, reply in a scathing tone of voice: “And just how many weeks do you mean by shortly?” That motivates us.

12. When the printer won’t print, re-send the job at least 20 times. Print jobs frequently get sucked into black holes.

13. When the printer still won’t print after 20 tries, send the job to all 68 printers in the company. One of them is bound to work.

14. Don’t learn the proper term for anything technical. We know exactly what you mean by “My thingy blew up.”

15. Don’t use on-line help. On-line help is for wimps.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hours of Operation and Uptime

When quality might be Job 1, but only if it's convenient...

A friend of mine received the following email:

Hi all,

We have scheduled the helpdesk tool update for Thursday June 21st @ 8:30AM. The update it will take approximately 3 hours. I will send another email out when the upgrade has been completed.


I presume performing an upgrade from 5-8AM, or 12-3AM was out of the question.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The PDC is the what?

Apparently there's a "best practice" that needs to be re-thought at this one company. The idea that the Primary Domain Controller (PDC) should serve several roles rather than simply being the backbone it is supposed to be. I mean, after all, there are Backup Domain Controllers all over the place, the PDC isn't that important, it can do more.

Well, This PDC was the main LDAP store, it also seems to have been the key mail server. I'm not sure what other roles it served, but this was apparently enough. The problem came when the DC freaked out, causing mail to stop and hundreds of e-mails went into oblivion.

Hmmm.

Dedicate a few servers... Don't virtualize everything, and use redundancy.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Some advice on Vista and AntiVirus Software

From a colleague who is a firm believer in Grisoft's AVG, this web log endeavours to support why he prefers it. It consumes less horsepower and seems to be as effective as any other.

While the author's web log goes on to elude to being "safe" running no anti-virus software, I can assure you that it can be as beneficial to you as well as others to protect yourself. I will readily promote the use of AVG, though the Rogers/Yahoo partnership of my ISP offers me Symantec's products at no additional charge.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Where's that Keyboard?

This is NOT a good reason for server downtime!

You might think that your network administrator might know enough to have all systems plugged into KVMs or at least ensure they have a BIOS that can be configured to ignore keyboard errors. It becomes troublesome when the responsibility is shifted to the people at the off-site datacentre, but that may have been the case. Frankly, that's the risk of allowing the employees of the datacentre touch your equipment, they don't have the same level of ownership that your own staff do.

Either way, a friend of mine expressed great frustration when a high-priority server rebooted due to a fault and didn't come back because someone had left it detatched from it's keyboard.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Production vs. Non-Production

A friend of mine had a discussion with his server guy this week about a virtual production server that is running on the development VMWare ESX server. While he told me that the server generally performs well on that box, there are procedural, logical, and policy reasons for running a production VM on a production ESX host. It has been in production for over 4 months and it's about time for this to be resolved.

In addition to this issue, the users in Arizona can't see the staging server to test/base approvals upon without being handed a convoluted internal address or IP Address. My friend's desire to simplify this approval testing by introducing a convenient name is hindered by technical issues, and he eventually resigns the fight.

The following is an IM conversation regarding the situations.


Developer: 2 Questions
Developer: When is the AppOne Production server moving?

Server Support: it will move.
Server Support: no rush..

Developer: Is the AppOneStage URL available from Arizona yet?

Server Support: i think, we spoke on this 2nd issue as well. We have work around which is host file.
Server Support: current setup is very weird.
Server Support: they have local work group joined computers.

Developer: Ok... I'd like to be able to have them use stage, easily. Anyone there.

Server Support: they have issues resolving dns names, only work around we have is to use host file, which is not best solution but at this time. nothing we could offter them right away which will solve the issue.
Server Support: regards to moving production AppOne off of Dev LUN, this will happen but as I understand, it's not causing any issues where it's running it from.
Server Support: bigger issue regards to that move is, it can not happen during the day time. last I spoke call center is open till 11pm and I can't keep my self awake till that time.
Server Support: only day we have is Sunday, I will try to juggle some time on Sunday to do this task

Developer: okay I'll stop asking for either of these... but will say that the Production AppOne box SHOULD be on a production server and that's where I'd like to see it as my preference.
Server Support: I totally Understand, but as user and person supporting it, doesn't' really care where it's running it from. Just pretend you never heard it was running on the DEV LUN.
Developer: How does Arizona get it's DNS?

Server Support: unless someone else is keep asking you for status and you are following it with me, then it's fine.
Server Support: but let's face it, there is no real diff.


Wow... There is a difference, in my books.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Service Metrics Are Your IT Report Card

We all know that user surveys can be baked the way we want, picking and choosing the users you include (or invite) in the survey is not uncommon for smaller, less established, helpdesks. What really shows you're worthy of retention is service metrics on the services and resources your department provides to management.

While some technology groups that measure availability can realize over 99% availability for all services, smaller, less responsible groups would be happy to realize 70% if they knew at all how they were doing. Perhaps they don't understand the benefits of high-availability.

Availability is amount of time all critical services are ready to use and functioning properly to the exclusion of planned downtime (within the Change Window). This Change Window can be quite the advantage when considering that while a full week is 7x24, and some services are truly 7x24 services, most applications in a business are NOT 7x24 instead they are 5x12, or 6x10, or perhaps 5x13+1x10. Any of these scenarios provide windows of opportunity for changes and upgrades, if we consider a business running Monday through Friday from 7AM - 10PM, we can safely consider a Change Window of 6 hours a night and 54 hours over a typical 2-day weekend.

Your measure of availability is against the time outside of those windows, in the above example, we have 84 hours of Production Availability for business systems, that shouldn't be too hard to realize on a regular basis, but things do happen. This does not include web servers and Internet-facing systems, and may not include other systems because there are some systems that demand 7x24 functionality. In these scenarios scheduled windows may be permitted and may deserve the use or provisioning for alternate or redundant hardware.

Tracking your availability, the success of your changes, and reliability of the services you provide may be a painful reminder of your challenges, but they also allow you to set goals to improving your services and becoming (proving you are) a world-class technology group.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Friday, January 26, 2007

Interface Design: Bumptop 3D Desktop



This looks like a very intuitive interface. An interesting and fresh idea.

Check it out

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Funny E-Mail of the Year...

In a note to the help desk at one company, the user's note was a simple request:

"All of my passwords were written on my calendar and I threw my calendar out. Can you help me?"

{smirk} "Yes I can."