Chris Hardie

Blog, Tech, Business and Community Building

tech

September 8, 2011

Anatomy of a modern tech support case

Based on a true story:

Them: "Please fill out our online form and we'll get back to you right away!"

You in online form: "Hi.  I'm trying to find the button that does the thing I want, and your documentation says it should be there but it's not - can you tell me how to do the thing I want?"

Them: "Thank you for opening your tech support case - your question is very important to us.  We will get back to you very soon now."

Them: "Hi there, my name is Tech Support Rep#2342 and I'm going to be assisting you with your question."

Them: "It's me, Rep#2342 again, and I wanted to let you know that you can find out everything you'd ever want to know about the button you're looking for on our online knowledgebase, which is at http:....  I hope you enjoy all the information that will be at your fingertips there."

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July 12, 2011

Initial thoughts on Google+

Google PlusI've had a few days to play around with Google's new social network offering, Google+, and I thought I'd share some initial thoughts.

First of all, kudos to Google for "going for it" in the Facebook era.  They're one of few players who actually has the resources and skill to make a serious go at a viable alternative to Facebook, and you've got to admire the effort.  If the success of the movie The Social Network tells us anything, it's that Facebook has become mainstream and popular, and as generations of younger people look for ways to establish their identity in the digital age, they'll be looking for alternatives to the place where their parents and now grandparents also hang out online.  By the same token, people of all ages and professions are trying to figure out just how to effectively and safely use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media tools in a world where we're being encouraged to blend our personal and professional lives together more publicly.

Is Google+ just the right thing at just the right time?

People are already writing about the high bar that Google+ will have to jump in order to see any significant migration of Facebook users, not the least of which is all the time people have invested in curating their lists of "friends" there.  Facebook is going to make it as difficult as possible for its users to do any kind of exporting of account information from their system, and I don't think Google is devious enough to launch an unauthorized workaround.  So people will be left to recreate their online identity on Google+, where the number of people you are connected to still largely drives your user experience.

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December 1, 2010

Notifo vs. Prowl for iPhone push notifications

Notifo : application de notification pour iPhone / iPad gratuite pour le push Twitter et d'autres servicesI asked on Twitter yesterday if anyone would like to compare the "Notifo" service to the "Prowl" application for handling push notifications to iPhone and other mobile devices.  No one answered, and so here's my brief rundown comparing the two.

If you don't already know about push notifications, a brief primer: they're basically just like text messages, except they can be routed/categorized in ways that make them useful to individual applications on your phone.  Instead of getting a generic SMS text message when someone DMs you on Twitter, you can instead use push notifications to have the Twitter app on your phone realize a new DM has come in and alert you according to your personal settings.   When you "view" a push notification, you can be taken to a web page or app that's relevant to its content.  Best part: the messages don't count against any text messaging limit (for now).

I started using Prowl about 9 months ago.  My three main uses were:

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August 16, 2010

My YAPC::NA talk on framing and Perl

In June, a delegation from Summersault attended the YAPC::NA Perl Conference in Columbus, Ohio for a few days.  My second YAPC conference, it was an interesting experience full of inside jokes, engaging discussions, more inside jokes, and good food. I was only scheduled to give one presentation ("How to talk, or not talk, to your […]

August 4, 2010

iPhone iOS4 IMAP mail syncing problems

Market musicianI offer this account of trying to address a known (and I would say, severe) bug in the iPhone 4 mail software, in case it's helpful to others:

Ever since I upgraded my iPhone to IOS4 (the latest version of the phone's operating system), the Mail application has been flaky when it comes to syncing mail messages via IMAP. Duplicate messages, empty/blank messages, messages dated 12/31/1969, messages that are deleted and then re-appear, and so on.

At first I thought it might be my phone hardware, which had been cursed from the beginning (a story for another time), but after that phone died and Apple replaced it with a brand new one with fresh firmware and settings, and it STILL happened, I was convinced it's the software on the phone.  Other people are having the same issue all over the place.  But it can be hard to make Apple believe this - said the Apple Genius Bar worker at the Apple Store in Chicago, "they're probably all just using the phone wrong."  Wha?

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July 8, 2010

Unhelpful responses to cyberwarfare

State of the art blender powerA number of mainstream magazines and newspapers have recently published reports on the increasing threat of "cyberwarfare," the significant resources being devoted to fighting that "war" and what we're doing to protect the critical national asset that is our digital infrastructure.

Unfortunately, most of the responses (and the ones favored by the Obama administration) are focused on paying insanely large amounts of money to private contractors to create and deploy complex technological solutions in hopes of addressing the threat.

What advocates of this approach fail to appreciate is that (A) most of the actual threat comes from uneducated human operators of the technology in question, and (B) deploying homogeneous, technologically complex solutions often makes us more vulnerable, not less.

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October 27, 2009

5 ways to use Twitter without being a Twitter user

Beautiful TreeI have a lot of friends and colleagues who are rightly skeptical of the value that Twitter brings to the world, but who are also aware that there are things "happening" there that might be of interest.  Often the perception is that they either have to break down and sign up for a Twitter account to use it full force, or that they have to miss out on those happenings altogether.  Here I offer those folks (and perhaps you) a list of five ways you can use Twitter without actually being a Twitter user:

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September 21, 2009

Upcoming speaking events

I have a few upcoming speaking events that you might be interested in: Capitalism vs. The Environment: A small business perspective on doing well AND doing good. This coming Thursday September 24th at 4 PM at Indiana University East in Whitewater Hall Room 132 the Community Room, free and open to the public, no registration […]

September 18, 2009

Growing a Geek Culture in Richmond

Surveying the courseA few weeks ago I was asked to talk with some folks at the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce about Summersault's past, present and future, and I enjoyed the conversation and questions very much.  One really good question that came out of the meeting was "how can Richmond better encourage, nurture, cater to technology professionals like the ones working at Summersault?"  I'll simplify that question to be "How can we grow a better geek culture in Richmond?"

It's something that I think about a lot (especially when we're trying to hire someone), but I didn't have a ready answer - partly because there is no simple answer, but partly because I hadn't really ever taken the time to write one down.  Below is a list of ideas and comments, in no particular order, that came out when I put the question to the wider Summersault staff.  I hope that you'll contribute your own thoughts and suggestions, and I'll pass the list back to the Chamber and anyone else I can find who might be in a position to work on some of these things.

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August 10, 2009

Preparing for Blog Indiana 2009

Last summer, two generally swell guys in Indianapolis, Noah Coffey and Shawn Plew, decided to put together a conference for people in the area interested in blogging and social media, and it went quite well for a first-time effort - you can read my full reflections on Blog Indiana 2008 in a previous post.  (I […]

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