The FuzzyStuff Weblog
Being out of work. PHP Consulting. Random geeky stuff. "I Blog Therefore I Am."

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Sunday, April 07, 2002

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Weblogs really are just like Spiderman after all.  Here's why.  When Peter Parker didn't use his power with responsibility, he lost his uncle when he let a crook escape.  That was his "with great power comes great responsibility lesson".  Today I had mine.  Last week, I quite gleefully flamed RackSpace when I felt poorly treated as a customer.  I still like them as a company but I felt wronged and my weblog lets me publicly say so.  Sure, I realize that I'm really writing for an audience of one (Hi Mom!), but it still makes feel good.  Now, here's the responsibility -- today I had not one but two of the single best support experiences of my high tech life.  So, if I'm going to rant when things are bad then I also need to speak up when things are good.  Here's what happened. 

Experience #1.  Last night I was trying to get port forwarding on my firewall going so a colleague in London could have access to some archives on my server.  No matter what I did, I couldn't in -- yes, it was a password conflict.  So what do I do around 11:30ish?  Yup.  Email to  I did hit the website first but their recommended workaround just didn't cut it for me.  I'd recently updated the firmware on my firewall so I thought it might be related to this.  What happens?  Well, I got a 100% solution to my problem sent to me from the same fantastic LinkSys technician (thank you again to Carol Osorio) who helped me the first time.  I bought the product over a year ago, never paid for support and I get a solution over the weekend in a matter of hours!  Just utterly outstanding.  I'd always known that Linksys had fantastic products but not that they had fantastic support as well.  Highly Recommended.  Just about everything on my network is already Linksys but I think I'm a customer for life now.

Experience #2.  Today I thought of a really cool application that I want to build on top of Radio's News Aggregator (the piece that pulls the news feeds you subscribe to into a whole on your desktop).  I wandered around the UserLand site(s) looking for an XML-RPC api spec on Radio.  I couldn't find it and neither could Google.  I remembered the email address had something to do with documentation.  So I popped him a quick email and started writing a regular expression parser for the News page HTML since I could start on that without docs.  Wouldn't you know that in pretty close to real time, I got a reply with a suggestion to look here and then post it on the UserLand discussion board.  I do so and then get a reply from Dave Winer (founder and one of the principal authors of Radio), again close to real time.  Once again, its a Sunday.  Now, I know that I have no life but ...  Seriously, once again just plain outstanding.  Thanks guys.  I really do appreciate.

Weblogs.  They really are just like Spiderman.  Stan Lee would be so proud.

comment [] 10:18:19 PM    

Cool Use of Radio's Outliner

I've found a cool use for Radio's Outliner.  Here it is: Use Radio to organize materials on an existing website.  What I'm doing is taking a rich knowledge base of materials written as a discrete set of resources located all over a large website and using Radio to create a structure that mimics a conventional manual.  Think of it as a "Virtual Manual".  The material I'm using?  UserLand documentation, tech notes, web pages, discussion forums, essays and Radio stories.  What I've discovered in extensively browsing through the UserLand site is a huge collection of materials -- although without lots of organization.  Most of the materials though are excellent.  Difficult to find, but excellent and worth the effort.  The problem is that a lot of people just won't take that time.  Right now Radio is what's called an "early adopter" product and early adopters will take the time.  My guess is that Radio is on the cusp of a mainstream market and those folks just won't take the time.  Perhaps my outline will help.

I should note that I'm not really being very critical here -- I just have very high standards for documentation and my own ideas as to how it should be organized.  I think what happened with the UserLand materials is that it wasn't so much written as it evolved.  I've been there and I understand this.  You start with some documentation, write some tech notes for customer problem X, an FAQ here or there and all of a sudden, it makes sense to you.  Others might have problems with though.  What Radio's Outliner is letting me do is create a structure that works for me.

Given that I'm using the Outliner, you can probably access it by subscribing to my Instant Outline.  If not, email me at

comment [] 9:09:02 PM    

Is Site Server / Commerce Server a Total Failure?

On, they're talking about new versions of Commerce Server, Microsoft's ecommerce platform. Interestingly, they disclose the installed base:

"Microsoft estimates it has about 11,000 customers using either Commerce Server or Site Server. " 

11,000 customers?  This thing has been out since at least 1998!  It seems to me that by Microsoft standards, this product is a complete bust.  Here's the article:

Just as an FYI, the single worst ever installation experience I had was with Site Server.  It's the experience that sent me screaming back to Linux ever since.  It was just plain awful... Picture having to reformat your hard drive and re-install Windows to get it to work at all.  (It is that dependent, or was, on registry entries and totally wants a clean machine).  And then, when you finally get it working, it pukes its own application files requiring a complete rebuild.  I just left Windows for server side stuff from that point on.

comment [] 11:37:07 AM    

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Last update: 4/7/2002; 11:37:10 AM.
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