A programmers attempt at designing

We all know programmers are not designers, but sometimes a programmer is forced to push out a design. The fact is a web application developer often has to work closely with web designers, and their influence is bound to rub off.

You rub my back I’ll rub yours

Most programmers have friends who design, and it should be possible for designers and programmers to share their skills in an on going way so that programmers never have to think about design, in exchange they offer their programming services to designers. However in theory this simply doesn’t work out.

The fact is most designers simply do not require the full blown efforts of a developer most of the time. Most designers require some server functionality here and there, but typically this functionality can be found somewhere in an easy to implement script found using Google. Yes we’re talking about stuff like contact us forms, etc.

Another thing to consider is that most highly experienced designers are short on time. Every single designer I know, is always busy with some or other freelance project, and typically they get paid for this. Senior designers also have nothing to prove, they don’t need to beg your attentiion and so are not highly motivated unless there are some real incentives on the table. It’s a bit of a catch 22, because a less experienced designer might be willing to assist, but the end result can also end up being questionable.

Design as a framework is less reusable too, in comparison to programming. Sure some elements of the design can be reused, but designs should be distinguishable, and the web is also fashionable, what looked good last year, looks old school by today’s standards. I would say, because of this, each design is a custom piece of work, so the designer is less likely to get any inadvertent kick backs from this, than a programmer for example, writing an open source fully reusable library.

Because of these issues, I have been encouraged lately to help myself, and I decided to knock up a design for a small charting business based in Knysna, South Africa. I managed to complete this design and implementation in 5 hours, while the site is not 100% complete, it at least does give an example of what a programmer is capable of, when he/she commits to the situation at hand.

Now I was not completely in the dark, and I had input from an experienced designer, but I am proud to say most of what you see there is my work. The idea here is not to point you in the direction of a perfect design, but simply something that’s functional as some inspiration to you, if you are a programmer, before you say – I don’t design or I can’t design, have a look : http://www.jjsfishingcharters.com/default.htm

Why do I blog complaints?

Its an honest question and I’ll try give you an honest answer.

Q: Do I blog complaints as a form of tech nerd revenge?

A: The way I see it, I blog as a last , last , last resort, after having tried everything to resolve a situation with any Mega Corp. And I have to say a great deal of the time, my issue is resolved in a timely and expected manner.  But when its not (rare) or when I feel like I am falling prey to some or other cheap and dirty trick, I have no problem blogging about it, not really as a revenge tactic, but this is what I love about Word Press, anyone who is using Google has a chance to land on one of your blog posts. The way I see it , if that person happens to be looking for a public warning about a certain company or consumer product, and I’ve managed to give an unbiased account, and help someone else from making a mistake, then that is the outcome I want to achieve.

Q: How effective is complaints blogging?

A: Very effective, more effective than you would imagine. Michael’s Techbox is a rather small niche market tech site, with only a few dedicated readers, most of the readers of this site are all here for a reason, to find information. Even though its a small site, with a small following (around 100 reads a day) I’ve had some very positive feedback from my complaint related blog posts. Including Microsoft staff taking my suggestions seriously. I’ve had GoDaddy support staff personally contact after reading my blog post and provide me with better than average customer support. I’ve once had a serious complaint about Sony, and someone else in the community read this complaint and assisted me in finding a solution I had long given up on. More importantly I’ve had many people thank me for the warnings.

Ultimately why do I blog my complaints?

1. To create public awareness, but mainly there is a huge gap in our unspoken justice system. Mega corps mass produce, and typically things go well, but when things do not go well, the mega corp typically treats you as a powerless entity and knows very well that if you’re not going to buy this product, there are 100 other consumers who will. I blog complaints for everyone who has ever been in a frustrating situation with a Mega Corp, in the hope that by creating enough public awareness, products get enhanced, service gets better, and word of mouth gets out there, when a complaint is justified.

Recently I read a story about a lady who leased a car, had it stolen, insurance paid the leasing company full value of the car, however now they are demanding an additional full payment of the total value of the vehicle, and because they’re a mega corp, they’re getting away with it legally. In this case how else can the man on the street fight back? How other than blogging! Happy reading.

Warning : O2 Internet Czech Republic

I would like to warn fellow consumers about a new marketing strategy O2 have adopted that quite frankly is borderline daylight robbery.

This is from a recent personal experience in the Czech Republic, but since o2 is globalized, it wouldn’t surprise me if this giant was up to similar tricks in other countries.

The Scam:

Sign an o2 ADSL package and they will give you a free ADSL modem, more info here. Now notice in that link it says activation of this for 1 crown (essentially this is almost free). The information 02 put out in their marketing and sales (via phone support) is that, this 1 crown is the final cost for your modem. However, like I discovered the hard way, 02 will send you a 2nd more formidable bill for the modem the following month after sign up (1260 crowns).

I was a little annoyed by this scam behavior, and it seems I am not the only one. I didn’t realize this but 02 has already tarnished its reputation in the Czech Republic. The internet is flooded with complaints by Expats living in Czech having some or other issue with this company.

The resolution:

02 will accept this modem back if you return it (at your own costs) within 1 month of receiving it. Similar ADSL modem/ wireless routers retail from 1000 crowns, but if you already have a router, you can pick up an ADSL2 modem for around 500 crowns.

02 Internet is also much slower than UPC who are now offering full 100mbps fibre to door connections in cabled zones, but unfortunately for most people who can only get telephone ADSL the quickest you’ll get from 02 is 16mbps, but this is highly unlikely unless you’re living very close to the base station. Typically expect 4mbps – 8mbps.

Still if its at all possible at least attempt to sign with UPC first. Overall customer service is better. For example when UPC discontinued their 2mbps connections, they upgraded all their existing clients for free to 10mbps.

That’s all , you have been warned.

Could twitter be shitter?

Could someone please teach me how to extract truly valuable information from Twitter? The whole system to me seems like a searchable collection of verbal diarrhea.

I’ve really tried searching twitter for topics I find interesting, but in my experience most of the results (well ALL, but I will try to be diplomatic) are not very informative at all.

I can understand that Twitter might be used as an event tracking system or possibly even to quickly give others insight into your product development, but I’ve yet to see this being used effectively. A lot of companies have a link to a twitter feed, but its questionable if this is the inside track you might be looking for.

Just because someone said it, doesn’t mean they’re right, because so few people are really in the know, and so many people like to talk, a lot of the information you find on Twitter is speculative or downright wrong.

Are people who use Twitter bored or lonely?

Here are some typical twitter posts ! If these are yours you need to leave the house, right now!

Racquetball with the guys , it’s been awhile.

up early in the morning, had my breakfast at home, in the class right now. success.

Im sleepy. Never been like this in 6 months or so.

my internet is down yet my spirits are up

Yes they’re all colored pink because these posts couldn’t be more gay.