Wednesday, May 01, 2002
Hey, Verity Talks Back. And they Understand.
In the continually strange world of Instant Messaging and Blogging, I just got an IM from a Spencer Shearer at Verity. He ran across my Verity Rant and wanted to respond. Here's the interesting thing: He's not a VP, He's not in Marketing, He's a Systems Engineer who took it upon himself to represent the company. That's cool. And he owned up to the problem and gave me his info for future contact. That's even more cool. Good job!
Suggestion: Someone at Verity please promote him. This is outstanding business sense.
Here's the IM transcript:
spencershearer: Hi Scott are you in?
spencershearer: I am Spencer Shearer with Verity. I read your message and understand why you are feeling that way.
spencershearer: Please feel free to keep my address for future reference if you have any questions about Verity.
fuzzygroup: Cool. I'll do that. What's an email address?
fuzzygroup: And I'm perfectly happy to publish a clarification on my weblog.
spencershearer: I have been with Verity for over five years now. I pride my self with the customer service that I provide.
spencershearer: My email address is email@example.com
spencershearer: I work as a Systems engineer for Verity in the pre-sales area.
spencershearer: The problem that I have with this situation is the sales representative did not explain the differences between the products. Listen to you and determine what the best product would be for your customer.
fuzzygroup: I understand that. my problem was Vito's whole approach to this.
spencershearer: I agree with you on that point.
spencershearer: Once again please feel free to contact me with any questions that you might have with reference to Verity and I will make sure that you get the help that you need.
fuzzygroup: Cool. I'll write this up for the blog and give you nice kudos. It was smart of you to speak up like this.
fuzzygroup: And you are just a sales engineer? Damn, you're good.
spencershearer: Thanks, Take care, time to go make sure that my sons are doing their home work.
fuzzygroup: No problem.
Ah, I Was Young Once But Am No Longer or How Young Software Engineers View the World
I recently started working with a colleague who's approximately 10 years younger than myself (I'm 34) and it has pointed out either how young he is or how old I am. Here's what I mean:
- Him: A desire to write all the code yourself or "I like good stuff" (approximate quote)
- Me: Use existing stuff where it exists already and focus on the code that really adds value to your application. Replace existing code from third parties where it makes sense but do it gradually over time.
- Him: A willingness to debate editors and authoring environments at 8 am for him (2 am for me)
- Him: A desire for perfection everywhere
- Me: My goal is perfection where economically relevant and other places good enough.
- Him: A desire for well planned, well thought out systems everywhere.
- Me: I've long ago accepted that you screw it up the first time and then iterate until it's right. Hopefully you don't hurt people along the way. I'd much rather get to market sooner and then get feedback from real people and course correct on the fly. He wants to get it right. In an ideal world he's correct. I lost my idealism a long time ago.
I totally understand where he is coming from -- I was like that once myself. The single best lesson that my friend Ed Fischer (currently a senior architect at www.groove.net and a brilliant engineer) ever taught me was the importance of iteration. Start small and build up. There are so many damn examples of centralization failing that this more organic approach just makes more and more sense to me every time I run into it. Certainly the whole approach to XP development is pretty much this but formally accepted (and, interestingly, this colleague hurled bile all over XP).
Why I Still Use FrontPage even with its Warts, Zits and Leprosy
I just spent over an hour on a transatlantic phone call to London going over web authoring tools with a colleague and I still don't know if he "gets" why I use FrontPage. His point was really that it generates bad HTML and that's bad. Perhaps it is. I'm not an XHTML bigot. I''m not a "HTML must comply bigot". If it works in IE and it doesn't work perfectly in other browsers, people will complain and then I'll fix it. I loathe things that totally fail in, say, Opera, but if a tag is incorrect then it just isn't a huge deal for me. Here's what I am: I'm a "get it done" bigot who has spent the bulk of his career in little companies (big companies tend to hate me and I just hate them back).
DISCLAIMER: I'm not a huge designer. Most of my sites are butt ugly until a real designer like WebSkylines gets involved and makes it pretty. My preference is for back end stuff and most of my web stuff is text intensive. This tends to bias me towards FrontPage.
Here's my thesis why FrontPage still rocks even with all its problems (and I have had parts of my web site trashed by FrontPage, etc -- I know why it sucks):
- In a small company environment you are always time shifting between tasks. You write a FAQ item, you get a phone call, you change your home page, you do some customer support, etc. FrontPage excels in this kind of environment. Why? It's powerful enough to get the job done but it doesn't bog you down like a Dreamweaver does.
- The FrontPage extensions let you work remotely as if it was local. I've only FTP'd to a web site may 10 or 20 times since 1996. Think about that for a bit. That's pretty cool. Yes, FTP does work but it is always just a pain (disclaimer: FTP user since 1987, I know this stuff).
- File management is easy. I can move files and directories around rapidly as I move from concept to finished product. I work a lot on the fly so this is key for me.
- The HTML handling is a lot better than it used to be. The HTML mangling that FrontPage has been known for is gone. It does let you make non-compliant HTML but so does everything else including VI and Emacs. No it doesn't have a direct HTML validation facility and it should but I can't change that.
- It does file locking to prevent edit conflicts. Think about that. It's 80% of content management and it is bundled with Office.
- It opens URLs directly. Let's say that you want to steal a design element from a page somewhere on the net. Just open the URL and then save it local. Please direct all flames on this point to firstname.lastname@example.org. The product supports it so, from time to time, it does get used and it's handy particularly when debugging tables.
- It's a real Windows app with pretty good overall compatibility. Anyone who has ever used Office and then Dreamweaver should know what I mean. Dreamweaver is a wonderful Macintosh application that just happens to be compiled as X86 object code.
- The Configure Editors facility is powerful enough to adapt to even non HTML extensions for PHP development (my tool of choice).
- It can open and save HTML pages without Body tags and Head tags so that if you are using templating it doesn't muck them up.
- Cut, Copy and Paste of images is easy. Editing of images is easy. Working with screen captures is easy. Even uploading images for use with Radio is easy with FrontPage.
- It's actually a pretty good word processor. Although I do an increasing amout of writing here in Radio, I do like having a bigger editing window and such from time to time. Writing in FrontPage means that my ISP backs it up, etc. That's nice since backing up the 160+ gigabytes across my 4 odd machines is just awful.
- It's fast. It's fast. It's fast.
Does this make sense to anyone other than me? Am I the last FrontPage user out there?
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5/31/2002; 6:52:31 AM.
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