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My return to the rat race…

I mentioned on Twitter recently that I’d started a new job, which was greeted with some amusement. Some of my friends in the Oracle community have spent the last 4 years ribbing me about being “unemployed”. For those that don’t know the story, I was never unemployed. I am an employee of my own company, which paid me for the last 4 years. I spent that time representing the Oracle ACE Director program at conferences around the world, doing some teaching for Oracle University, but most of the time was spent at home, on my computers playing with Oracle technology , writing about it and answering questions about it. I had no serious intention of joining the rat race again in the foreseeable future, but at the same time I would never say never…

Job Interview…

I went for a job interview today… (pause while Debra Lilley picks herself off the floor)

It’s probably been about 8 years since I’ve had a formal interview like this. I admit I was a little nervous going in, but it turned out to be pretty good fun.

It started with a 1 hour written exam. It’s been about 20 years since I’ve written more than a signature with a pen, so having to write with a pen for 1 hour was pretty terrifying. I’m not big on remembering syntax (that’s what the manuals are for :) ), but hopefully I showed that I understood what was going on. Some of the questions could have been answered with “Read this:….”. Pity that wasn’t an option. :)

Captain Support : The Newest Avenger?

I have a feeling Captain Support may be the latest addition to the Avengers lineup. Why?

One of Captain Support’s friends was having some problems trying to sign up to a bonsai mailing list because emails from the list were being rejected before they got to him. He used the special signal and Captain Support jumped into action. A little Googling revealed the Plusnet mail servers can be fussy about emails with too many people in the “To:”, “CC:” and “BCC:” lists. They apparently also get a bit cranky if emails contain lots of hyperlinks. Problem solved, so the bonsai world can sleep safe at night, surrounded by potted trees I guess…

You don’t need an app for that… (browser stats)…

I’m getting a bit sick of reading about how not having a mobile presence is a big fail. Once again the marketing people take a one-size-fits-all approach and assume that if you are on the net, then people must want to use your services from mobile devices. This is utter nonsense. In reality, the need for a mobile presence depends very much on what services you are offering and who you are offering them to.

For example, look at the OS breakdown for my website over the last month.

WordPress 3.3.2…

WordPress 3.3.2 is out. It’s a maintenance release, so you can see the changelog for the fixes.

WordPress 3.4 is knocking at the door, so you can expect another upgrade to follow soon when it moves out of beta.



Fasthosts : Good Riddance…

It’s been a couple of weeks since I stopped hosting my website with Fasthosts. It’s too early to start singing the praises of the new hosting company, but so far so good.

As a parting shot, when I asked Fasthosts to cancel my hosting account I asked for a refund on the 8 months of outstanding service I had paid for. I got the answer back today and it was a definite no.

I’m not particularly surprised at this, but I thought as a good will gesture to a customer of 11 years they may do the decent thing and give me my money back. It’s not like I wanted to leave. I was forced to by their complete incompetence.

My advice to anyone considering using Fasthosts would be DONT!



The latest website move…

Yesterdays move of the website went pretty smoothly from a technical perspective. I had done a trial run using a different domain name so I didn’t foresee any problems on that front. During the trial, the DNS propagation took less than an hour, but the real run took a little longer. Typical. :)

Let’s hope this marks the end of me harping on about hosting companies and website outages…



Planned Website Downtime…

The recent server switch within Fasthosts has not solved the availability issues with my website. It was down for 30 minutes again yesterday. Since the initial (accidental) server move in December the availability of the site has been terrible. What’s worse, Fasthosts seem incapable of giving me any information as to why. It’s on a shared hosting platform, so there isn’t much I can do to diagnose the issue myself.

ACED Annual Self Evaluation…

If filled out my ACE Director Annual Self Evaluation today. Between 1st June 2011 and now, which is about 10 months, I did the following:

  • Over 40 new website articles (close to 1 a week). This does not include rewrites of existing articles, some of which I could legitimately claim as new articles, since they bear* little resemblance to the originals.
  • Over 150 new blog posts (every other day, give or take).
  • Over 3500 new forum posts (about 11 a day).
  • 9 conference events.
  • A random assortment of Twitter, G+, Facebook, LinkedIn and email messages.

It’s quite scary when you list it like that. :)



How much does IT cost?

One of my friends used to own a sandwich bar. He knew the exact profit margin on each product. He knew the impact of a price change from one supplier on each of the products he sold, as well as the overall affect on his profits.

So compare that situation with your average IT department, where to be frank, nobody has a bloody clue about costs. Yes, we all know the headline grabbers like licensing cost for Oracle and you can probably find the bit of paper that tells you the yearly hardware maintenance fee, but I’ve not encountered many companies that have a handle on the real cost of projects. If a company can’t say, “Project X cost £Y to complete and costs £Z a year to maintain and this is the breakdown of costs”, with a reasonable level of accuracy then they’ve failed.