Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Twitter experiment using

I've been doing a bit of an experiment with an alternate Twitter account and I am very particular when it comes to Twitter and who I follow. I don't want too much nonsense and I try to follow people and companies of interest. I've gone through many "unfollows" removing junk and people I found over time not to satisfy my interests. Currently, my follows and list are pretty well tuned to exactly what I want, so the books are mostly closed for adding more.

On the other hand, I have an application Twitter account (@twixmit). The original idea for this account never really took off, the hope was that people would authorize their Twitter accounts to be randomly posted to with something someone else said (mixing). But nobody wants to do that. The site has a demo, but I am not even sure people understand the objective, and if it has to be explained, then it isn't designed well in my opinion, so I will spare you the details.

So, I thought I'd use the account for something else, over following and participation to see what fell out. Now the account is used to pull user digests and post the links every few hours. The account also follows the users that is scrapes from (and other junk accounts, more later).

The results? I don't have any hard findings but:
  • Strange people follow the account, so I follow them back, I don't really care who I follow because I don't read the stream. I am more interested in getting the numbers up. I suspect I get follows due to interest in the links I post, other times, I think people just want a reciprocal follow, which I give. 
  • I also think most users follow each other, so there are plenty of duplicate articles across the digests. I'm torn over whether being shared more or less is better, sometimes I really enjoy the obscure article. Maybe I will add a link counter and only post on high and lows, but right now its just everything (I avoid duplicates given a URL, but sometimes the same things are posted twice).
  • The account also makes for good following in the app, basically summarizing the over following on the account and getting the selected articles. With all the random weirdos and the follows, it makes for a good blend. 

How about some code? Sure, its on Github and runs on the Google App Engine: Twixmit has Klout too.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

About Japan

I've been wanting to post about Japan for awhile.

I was there about 2 years ago for work. It was one of the toughest times of my career so far. Away from family. Longest hours worked ever. The most a client was ever disappointed in my career thus far. I hated it.

But, I loved it too. It was heroic. Likely the highlight of my career verses the toughest. How often does a twenty something nobody from Cleveland get sent overseas for a project?

We came in on top from a delivery standpoint. I also got to meet some incredible people and experience an incredible culture. The level of respect the Japanese people have for day to day things is incredible. I ate great food.

I could write a book about my experiences, and I've tried to sum it up in some posts, and them scrapped it, so I will keep it simple. Imagine thinking about writing up a story that can fill a book 100 pages long for 2 years, and in the end leaving at this.

Looking back on the code I wrote, it's been a point of reference for many things I've done after. We raised the bar on the project, and even two years later, I encounter clients trying to achieve what someone else had already done.

I've had some photos up for awhile, you can see them here:

That is it, what more can I say? Questions about traveling to Japan? Just go.

I don't want to hear it

I love strategy sessions.

"We don't have X so we can't do Y", says someone. "X is missing and it causes Y", says another.

I don't want to hear it.

You make the rules. You set the priority. If you don't have something that you want, it is by choice. Don't make noises of disgust during meetings or laugh at how pathetic something is on your site. Get it fixed, make noise to get it done, or shut up.

P.S. I love my job!

Out of the box

I am a big fan of the food network. I like the shows where there are challenges between chefs with time limits. I was watching Chopped the other night, and a chef described their cooking as "out of the box". In this context, the chef was saying that his cooking was different then standards and what everyone else might think. Out of the box means creative, inspired, or other words you'd use when describing an outcome of developing art.

In software, "out of the box" means "off the shelf", "as is", "vanilla", "standard", etc. Everyone that gets this software and uses it as they got it, gets the same thing as everyone else.

What's interesting is that sometimes out of the box is desirable and not desirable, but never have I heard anyone say on the cooking channel that they prefer an "off the shelf" chef making "standard" food.

Out of the box software and maintaining the "out of the box"ness is good for upgrades, maintenance, feature additions, etc.  But being "standard" means someone else out there, or specifically, your competitors, are using the same "box", and then what edge do you have?

If you are asking "what have your other customers done?", I think you are on the wrong track. More time should be spent on "what can we do differently?".

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