Monday, April 30, 2007

Jay: The Obvious Result

Fantastic news! The Supreme Court has ruled that the obviousness test for patents has not been properly applied.  This creates more work for the patent trolls and companies that use lame patents as competetive bludgeons, rather than as deserved protection to encourage advancement of the useful arts.


07:19 PM | BusinessGeekeryNews • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: April 30 CotC at The Integrative Stream

The Integrative Stream presents the April 30 Carnival of the Capitalists.

Next week’s host will be Race in the Workplace.


04:28 PM | Business • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: You Can Get Theah From Heah

What does this map have to do with anything?

Instead of cross-posting the whole thing, I’ll let you find out over at the business blog in ”Where Do I Go From Here?


04:20 PM | Business • (1) CommentsPermalink

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Jay: Invisible Photos

We have a problem.  We keep going places and forgetting the camera, missing all those perfect Kodak Moments.

This weekend it was a huge birthday party and cookout.  Last weekend it was another birthday party.

So pretend this is a post full of pictures of the kids running all over a couple yards, playing with other kids, playing with balls half or more their sizes, and that sort of thing.


06:54 PM | KidsPictures • (2) CommentsPermalink

Jay: Call Center and Tech Support Tools

For further explanation why this post exists, see Intro to Experience Dump.  This is the section for call center and tech support related software.  As usual, I may be forgetting some that would fit here…

Aspect call center monitoring
Microsoft PSS Workbench
Clarify Compass
Wadle
MSDN
Technet
Escalation Assistant
Web Response Tracker
Web Coach
Training Evaluation
V-BeGone
Regclean

The first four items were a part of doing Microsoft support and, later, being a technical supervisor.  MSDN and Technet were tools we also used at times, and sort of indirectly support the use of.

Escalation Assistant was a program I wrote, used in VB support, to gather the appropriate information about a case - ensuring that people did indeed gather as well as include all of it - before escalating to second level support.  It would format the details and put it all on the clipboard to paste into Compass.  The people handling escalations were very appreciative.

I helped pioneer “web response” online support by the VB team.  Initially I volunteered to do web responses between calls, during one of the rare times when we were adequately staffed.  One Monday, the second level contact at Microsoft assigned me all the web responses the weekend guy had summarily escalated because he’d not had time to do them, effectively choosing me to do web responses, rather than phone support, full time.  Since I loved writing responses and hated taking calls, that was fantastic.

We ended up with a team of people doing them, me in the lead.  I supervised the creation of a program for tracking the web responses we did.  In fact, it was Dale’s mother who wrote the program and worked with me on getting it just right.

When I became a supervisor ("technical development lead,” TDL for short) and phased out of doing web responses, one of my jobs was “coaching.” That is, listening to people and giving them feedback on their support calls.  How do you do that with written responses?  How do you randomize it?  I wrote a little program to randomly select a case to read, for a selected support tech, during a specified time period.

Finally, as TDL I ended up in charge of training, which turned out to be one of those things I do best (which really is a specific application of a more general trait).  Not the training, though I’m good at that too, once I get past the terror of speaking to a group, but planning, orchestrating, and changing the details as circumstances dictate.  I did a few parts myself, but for most of it I lined up others with the appropriate strengths.

It had been traditional for the trainees to fill out paper evaluation forms.  I supervised and tested the creation of a program to gather the same data, which put it into a more useful format.

You know, it just occured to me to wonder where one might mention things like making Regedit dance and sing, or using sysinfo, dxdiag, or whatever.  That reminded me of Regclean, which I seem to recall was originated by someone on the VB (or perhaps developer support more generally) team at Microsoft as a way to cleanup obsolete registrations of OCX files and such.  That in turn reminded me of a utility called V-BeGone, written by one of my colleagues.  We used it to have people comprehensively get the OCX and OCA files specific to Visual Basic (as it existed at the time) out of the way without affecting third party controls.

Some of this overlaps with one of the two remaining categories of software I have for entries such as this.  One is stuff I wrote, managed, or was otherwise involved in.  The other, overlapping other categories, is server software.  Then I’m done with the list-centric part and can consider moving to the more task or accomplishment or “what I liked doing” part, which some of the above has also overlapped.  Correction!  Three remaining categories.  How can I mention doing VB support and not have a category for programming and related software and tools?  Silly me.

Experience Posts:

Intro to Experience Dump
Hardware Experience
OS Experience
Word Processing Experience
Spreadsheets and Accounting
Graphics and Presentations
Database and RDBMS
Dictation Software
Communications, Internet, PDA, Blogging
Legal Industry Software
Backup and Compression Software
Miscellaneous Software
Security, Spam, Malware...
Call Center and Tech Support Tools
Languages and Programming Tools
Server Software
Software Creation

Employment and College
Experiences and Accomplishments Scratchpad


06:30 PM | BusinessGeekery • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: Security, Spam, Malware…

For further explanation why this post exists, see Intro to Experience Dump.  This is the section for security, antivirus, anti-malware (adware/spyware), and related software.  As usual, I may be forgetting some that would fit here…

Sybari Antigen & Spam Manager
Norton Antivirus/Internet Security
Norton Antispam
Thunderbyte Antivirus
McAfee
Ad-Aware
Spybot Search & Destroy
Ewido
MS AntiSpyware
CWShredder
Trend Micro Housecall
ZoneAlarm
KEYKatcher

Not a lot to say here.  I’ve done outrageous amounts of malware cleanup, with a lot of it being done or completed manually, above and beyond any of these tools.  I selected and rolled out Sybari Antigen to the big client, after I finally convinced them they needed at least that level of protection, then two years later we renewed to include the integrated Spam Manager feature.  Antigen was never anything but stellar.  Spam Manager worked superlatively until a point roughly coinciding with Microsoft’s purchase of the company (of which they’d been a customer after lab testing showed them to be hands down the best), but that may be coincidence.

KEYKatcher is the odd item here.  I helped the owner of the large client purchase and learn how to use the unit.  It was for seeing what one of his kids was doing online, or so he said.  What made this interesting was the first one I got failed in a fascinating way.  I ended up working with the owner of the company that makes them, trying to figure it out before sending it back so he could study it, because it was unique.  It’s a device (it could have gone in the hardware section that goes between the computer and keyboard to log keystrokes, which can then be dumped into Notepad or any word processor, triggered by typing the right code.

It’s not security-related software, but the most useful thing I ever did, after eliminating e-mail as a virus source, was to roll out Firefox and get as many people as possible to use it unless a crucial site absolutely required Internet Explorer.  The malware cleanups became primarily for those who insisted on using IE or, coincidentally or not, had a third-party nagware screensaver installed.

Experience Posts:

Intro to Experience Dump
Hardware Experience
OS Experience
Word Processing Experience
Spreadsheets and Accounting
Graphics and Presentations
Database and RDBMS
Dictation Software
Communications, Internet, PDA, Blogging
Legal Industry Software
Backup and Compression Software
Miscellaneous Software
Security, Spam, Malware...
Call Center and Tech Support Tools
Languages and Programming Tools
Server Software
Software Creation

Employment and College
Experiences and Accomplishments Scratchpad


02:29 PM | BusinessGeekery • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: Happy Birthday

To blogger David Anderson.


12:26 PM | Birthdays • (0) CommentsPermalink

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Jay: Moose?  Oh Deer!

Last night I did what I will always think of as work for my first customer of the new business.  I thought it would be primarily about troubleshooting the modem, but the main problem was it booting slow and being totally bogged down.  It was fascinating to see how the place they’d taken it to did almost nothing for $200, and “cleaning up” didn’t include deleting accumulated temporary files or some other basics.  I charged too little, but it was also about 60% social visit, and I couldn’t leave without making sure their daughter’s new virtual pony program would run.  The other place installed it and said it was all set.

Anyway, when I got home, I held up a grocery bag and told Deb I felt like an old time doctor (getting in-kind payment).  They sent me home with a bunch of venison, and a smaller amount of moose.  The guy hunts everything from bow on up, through the entire seer season, and he actually bags them with the bow.  Impressive.  The moose was courtesy of their neighbor, who has also supplied them with bear in the past.

I’ve had venison in burgers, spaghetti, and chill.  I’m not sure I’ve had it as steak or a roast, but I went to a wild game supper my uncle organized one time, so I may have had it there.  I had multi-meat stew, but don’t remember what else, except that I didn’t have the roast racoon, which wasn’t done until I was ready to leave, and looked like it was too burned to eat.

I’ve never cooked the stuff.  I know it’s leaner than beef, and more likely to want moist cooking methods or marinades.

Any recipes or thoughts?

The venison is in the form of some burger, some steak, and a roast.  The moose is steak.

When I was a kid and we had venison sprung on us at my late uncle David’s house in Milo, Maine, there was talk of how amazingly good moose was, but it was illegal to hunt at the time.  That must have changed.  No surprise, since I seem to recall their population exploded and their range expanded.  The guy who gave me the stuff isn’t so keen on the moose.

I figure if all else fails I’ll make stew or chili out of a lot of it.  Heck, around here a steak usually ends up in that, or cooked and sliced into little pieces for burritos.  Or I can pass it along to my grandmother and she’ll make something with it.

I was lucky to fit it into our freezer.  We’re at one of those peak times when the house is full of food, so there’s ice cream (which we eat remarkably slowly), two loaves of bread, butter, several bags of veggies, most of a 10 lb bag of chicken breasts, several burgers, a couple pork chops and some pork loin cutlets, and a couple steaks.  And now the wild meat.  The fridge is pretty full too; mangoes (on sale 2 for a buck), oranges, grapefruit (ditto, and the kids adore them), apples, pears, veggies, cheese, two gallons of milk, leftover roast chicken, yogurt, hot dogs, juice, soda…

But I digress.

Any thoughts from the more experienced on cooking the meat?


12:37 PM | BusinessFood & CookingGeekery • (3) CommentsPermalink

Friday, April 27, 2007

Jay: Happy Birthday

To blogger Denis of Cootiehog.


11:37 AM | Birthdays • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: Happy Birthday

To blogger Sgt Hook.


11:36 AM | Birthdays • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: Happy Birthday

To blogger Darren Rowse.


11:34 AM | Birthdays • (0) CommentsPermalink

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Jay: Miscellaneous Software

For further explanation why this post exists, see Intro to Experience Dump.  This is the section for a few odds and ends of industry-specific (other than legal), hard to classify or one of a kind software.  I may be forgetting some that would fit here…

Dental practice software - a couple of them
Restaurant menu creation software (may have been MenuMaker)
UPS Worldship
wINDEX
Grammatik
Lotus Organizer
MS Project
Brother’s Keeper
Family Tree Maker
WavePad
Lyris (music program)
iTunes
Winamp
Nero Wave Editor
Automap Streets
Google Earth
Lantastic
Norton Utilities
PC Tools
Norton Ghost
FMS (Franchisee Management System) for PDA (Property Damage Appraisers)
ADP automotive estimating software
Mitchell’s estimating software

The dental stuff is from free advice to my dentist, and a look at her new system when she got it, and evaluation of dental software for another dentist my partner didn’t quite manage to land as a small client.  I’m not counting the quick showing off of their new (a few years ago) wireless data entry system my doctor showed me, which I also read about.  Very cool, and now they’re going completely paperless as far as patient charts.

The menu software was on a machine I replaced for a restaurant owner, so I installed it on the new one and got to play with it a little.

I’ve encountered UPS Worldship in a couple of places.  While in one I mainly just installed and configured it, in another it was a major troubleshooting exercise in the office in the client’s warehouse when it wouldn’t work properly.

wINDEX was an old DOS program for creating book indexes.  I got to play with that years ago when a friend was contributing to her family’s income by doing indexes, which frequently used to be farmed out to people like her working from home.

I bought Grammatik as part of a package along with WordStar 5.0, and found it a highly entertaining early effort at grammar-checking.  Considering how long ago that was, and that grammar checking still doesn’t work, almost but not quite to the point of uselessness, it was a surprisingly good effort.  Ironically, a grammar checker is most needed by someone who can’t write, but people who can’t write have a harder time knowing when the software is being silly and ought to be ignored.

Lotus Organizer wasn’t, IIRC, also an e-mail program like Outlook, but more of a standalone calendar an PIM.  I liked it a lot, though never used it heavily myself.

If I recall correctly, the main reasons I ever looked at MS Project were curiosity, and because a customer was trying to use OLE (COM) automation of it from a VB program.  Come to think of it, I may also have helped my brother-in-law, who had actual uses for it.

Brother’s Keeper for DOS and Family Tree Maker are my dabbles with genealogy software, mainly the former.  One of my colleagues in VB support was trying to write his own, which I thought was cool, and got some help from me.  I still use Brother’s Keeper, and only recently learned that it still exists as a product and now has a well-regarded Windows version.

Naturally I have used or played with or helped with various music and sound players, creators and editors.  I find that kind of thing especially cool, which makes me eager to see my brother get the computer and gear he needs to do his own basic recording, editing, and music CD creation.

I love maps!  I used to buy and hang wall maps in my room.  I love atlases and globes.  Google Earth has mostly superceded it, but I was a huge fan of Microsoft’s Automap Streets.  I’ve owned a couple different versions, dating back to when I had a discount available.

Lantastic should probably have gone under the online and communications part of things, and may yet fall under a partially duplicative server and networking post.  I knew it inside-out when I did support Tranti POS systems.  On one level it made sense to use an off-the-shelf network solution to link the machines.  It ended up being a problem, as there were just enough issues with it to create bad situations over which they had no control.  If your 50 ohm terminator was bad, we could replace that.  If something funky with Lantastic or the environment made one of your drivethru order station stay in an “off” state when the rest of the system registered an “on” state… that was ugly.

Which also leads me to note that besides legal software, other specialty or oddball software not included here is the above, timeclocks, accounting-related, call center software, and things I wrote or was involved in creating.

Aw heck, I’m going to add a couple of orphans to the list before I’m done.  I’ve used at least a couple of incarnations of Norton Utilities.  I used to swear by PC Tools.  I think I used at least two versions of that, also.  There may have been other such utilities.  Certainly other utilities, anyway, including some things Microsoft eventually incorporated into the OS, or things too obscure to mention, like disk copying software.  Ooh, make that three things.  I’ve also fought with Norton Ghost.  Which should probably have gone in a different section; I just happened to remember it now.  There’s just been too much for me to remember it all.  This is meant to be a “mostly” overview, making clear the scope and range of experience, not an exhaustive list.  I also have no plans to include games anywhere, though getting some of those to work at times has given me some of my best challenges.

Update May 7, 2007 - Added FMS, which I mentioned in passing under databases, then forgot to include here (or under accounting, which would also be valid).  Also added the two automotive estimating software packages I have supported.  Amazing I’d forget them.  There were some other utilities used in the same office, like one for dialing a service with salvage yard pricing and parts availability, but they were less significant and I don’t remember their names.

Experience Posts:

Intro to Experience Dump
Hardware Experience
OS Experience
Word Processing Experience
Spreadsheets and Accounting
Graphics and Presentations
Database and RDBMS
Dictation Software
Communications, Internet, PDA, Blogging
Legal Industry Software
Backup and Compression Software
Miscellaneous Software
Security, Spam, Malware...
Call Center and Tech Support Tools
Languages and Programming Tools
Server Software
Software Creation

Employment and College
Experiences and Accomplishments Scratchpad


03:11 PM | BusinessGeekery • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: E-Mail and Spam Musings

The big client switched to AppRiver SpamLab, and for the first week I made fun of them because the percentage caught ranged from 70 to 90; no better than the alternative.

Since then, they’ve been reliably at or barely missing 100%, day in and day out.  I’m impressed.

Now it’s something else.  Each day they produce a held mail report so you can review what they caught and release anything that wasn’t actually spam.  I thought it was mildly amusing that everyone there was chided about checking their report each day, since I know even dealing with spam to that extent is the last thing some of them want.

After initially coming in the morning after the day they reported on, now the reports often come wildly late.  Strange.

Other than that, though, the service is excellent.

I found it interesting to learn recently that Google offers Gmail-based domain mail service.  I could take one of my domains, have MX records created pointing to Gmail servers, and then it would all flow through them.  It can be accessed through a special Gmail-like web interface, or through POP.  If the server that hosts the domain and web site is down, e-mail still gets through because it’s not going to the same place.  And of course it gets Gmail’s excellent spam scanning.

It’s tempting for the business, where I’m concerned enough about that sort of thing to be setting up a secondary (or possibly even mirror) site on different hosting.


11:56 AM | BusinessGeekery • (1) CommentsPermalink

Jay: Happy Birthday

To blogger Tiger Russell.


11:13 AM | Birthdays • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: Janis Joplin

That is who Kelly Clarkson reminded me of last night.  Anyone else notice that?


11:08 AM | MusicTV • (1) CommentsPermalink
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