Sleep isn’t something that comes easily to me lately. This morning’s nocturnal reflection involved the art of the upsell. Part of what I’m trying to help people avoid is getting ripped off by unscrupulous commercial providers.

  • Know what you need
  • Analyze who provides what you need
  • Make the buy

I’m reminded of a fast food chain who took two $0.99 menu items, cut a third off the portion size of each, and put them both into a cup for $2.

Great deal!!1!

Of course, there was a multi-million dollar TV ad campaign driving that message home.

In my professional life, I’ve never been okay with those sorts of tactics.

And that makes me a bad person.

If only there were some letters I could buy after my name to add weight to my opinion.

Write On Top

I’ve been kind of away from writing lately, mainly because I’m still trying to get something to bite work-wise. Eventually, I’ll get into a comfortable routine again. Maybe if I could find some prompts, like what I did for National Journal Writers’ Month the past three years, I’d be more prolific unprompted.

I have been trying to get together with the Hatch Norfolk folks. I see the things they’ve spawned, and am enthused. Some of the discussions I’ve had have made me think more of Bob Zubrin, and his proposed approaches to a Mars trip.

One of the things he really emphasized in The Case for Mars was that going big was a recipe for disaster. He used examples from polar exploration to drive that point home. In IT these days, unfortunately, “go big” seems to be the answer to everything.

I disagree wholeheartedly.

Use native facilities wherever possible. Actually develop through your requirements, and make architectural decisions based on those requirements, not on custom, or sales’ whim. Approaching a problem in that way will eventually get you where you set out to go. It may not be the way you originally whiteboarded it.

That’s okay!

Unfortunately, as I’ve been trying to get my business going, I’ve had to reflect back, and see when I’m about to make the same sorts of unwise decisions I’m trying to help people avoid. Figure out what you need to do, then choose the tool that will meet that need the most efficiently. I was reminded of this pretty quickly trying to figure out Postfix SMTP authentication for the first time in years. Yes, I could have figured it out, eventually. Yes, dovecot provides a mechanism to make it work. Yes, it’s still a royal pain trying to get it to work. Yes, I’d still need to buy certificates so my MUAs wouldn’t bitch.

Or I could just throw a few bucks towards a competent provider, get more reliability than I could ever hope to match, update the MX records, and move onto something else. (Resisting the urge to snark about doing it $whoever way.)

Other stuff from my interactions recently:

  1. I guess Woz is coming to speak, locally. I watched some of his stuff when colleagues were borrowing some of my stuff for the 5th HOPE conference where he was a featured speaker. If tickets aren’t outrageously expensive or hard to get, I’d go. The stuff he did with the Apple ][ was legendary. He didn’t really work on the original Macintosh; if you Google around a bit, you can find numerous quotes from the 80s and 90s where he hated on teh Mac. With the Classic OSes (System * and OS 8/9), I can understand where he was coming from. Apple’s NeXT buy seemed really unwise in 1997, but I think it played out pretty nicely.
  2. For a long time, I was very much against the use of databases. I’ve come around on that, though. For data that is infrequently written, but frequently read, it’s tough to beat a database. Whether that’s MySQLariaDB, or MongoDB, or Oracle, or SQL Server, or whatever, the data is stored, access is provided to it via a predictable API, and it’s not bound up in some proprietary data blob. There’s a reason Microsoft deprecated Access/JET.

So, more, more often, but I have an appointment now.

Guinea Pig

For the past three weeks, I’ve been doing a research study with a Fitbit One. It was offered to MS patients as part of some study.

I connected it up, and wore it most of the time, as instructed.


I dunno. Since I’m not terribly active to begin with, I’m not sure how much my data will help. Did it help me track things like caloric intake? Yep. Did I forget it once in my few public outings? Yep.

Sadly, the one day I did forget it going out, was one of the most active days I had in the period. Naturally, the next few days were full of gluttony, courtesy HR Geeks, and Cogan’s Pizza.

Final verdict? Free, fun gadget to play with. It was something for me to do while I was busy getting ITS757 a big better organized. Finishing weight: Plus 0.5lbs. Max weight gain: Plus 0.5lbs. Minimum weight: -2.5lbs.

I’ll hand it over to my wife to play with for awhile, and may use it again if/when I find myself out in public more often.

As for ITS757, barring one of the Federal jobs I’ve applied for hitting, this is happening. The feedback I’ve gotten from most of the people I’ve pitched it to has been positive. As I’ve thought through things a bit more, I’ve been able to address some of the weaknesses.

Now to get the customers.

Where the threats lie

One of the things that’s been running through my head the past few days is that your data is actually safer “in the cloud.” Charles Johnson over at Little Green Footballs spoke to it when discussing Eddie’s disclosure of protected information to puppetmaster Glenn Greenwald.

I’m reminded of the abject shock and horror one of my former managers had when he found out I could have read any of his emails if I’d wanted to. Aside from the facts that a) I didn’t have time to do that, and b) I didn’t have context for many of them to understand them, I mainly didn’t read them because I really didn’t care to. You are worried about getting a gift for Stacy’s baby shower Thursday? Susan totally botched her sales presentation to Jones and Company?

I. Don’t. Care.

Neither does Google.
Neither does Microsoft.
Neither does Rackspace.
Neither does AT&T.
Neither does Verizon.
Neither does Cox.
Neither does Facebook, even though they might brighten Carol’s newsfeed after Susan totally blew that opportunity. (Here’s a hint, Facebook, Carol really likes videos with cats.  She could use a few extra this week, and maybe some dating prospects, as she’s insanely jealous that Stacy’s getting all the attention just because she got some action.)

Neither, probably, does Jason your Ops Guy. He’s just between modules on that vendor training you paid for, and there’s nothing interesting on Reddit, so time to snoop.

The NSA doesn’t really care about much of it, either. None of what they collected got released until Eddie stole the data from the NSA, and gave it to his buddy Glenn.

Maybe ultimately the weak spots are Jason and Eddie?