John Mann

John Mann

Week 7 in Atlanta

Here we are at week 7... preseason football is underway, high school football is underway (for those that don't know, that is HUGE in the South), and of course college ball is starting up. Very little of that truly concerns me, except NFL, but even then, now that the Saints have a superbowl, it just doesn't matter as much. I waited so long for that day... that is the day I got engaged, the Saints won a superbowl, and the rest is history. Now, back to our life here... we are moving closer to closing on a house... It has been a bit of stressful situation considering the new requirements of loans. However, me being me, I have everything they could possibly want and then some. But for those considering buying a house, here are my suggestions... Wait until you have at least two years of history with your current job. What does that mean exactly? The easiest way to put it, you have ONE W2 for the past two years of tax returns. So if you start in February, then you will need almost 3 years of employment history with that company. Just makes the paper trail easier. Also, it is ideal to have at least 10% down, but 20% will save you more than that. It is definitely a good time to buy, but there are some advantages to renting. The main issue with renting is people often consider apartments/townhouses as the only option for renting. There are several houses out there that you can rent, and that potentially could save you a lot of money regarding maintenance, general repairs, and little one offs that are listed in your closing statement. That is my advice for potential home buyers.

Moving on to a new topic, rough week this week. Susie was pretty sick for a couple days and had me worried, but she is back to 80% now and that makes me very happy. Work was relatively uneventful this week. I did a lot of work and got a lot done, but still have more. Not bored, so life is good. Also did some work for a friend of mine regarding prestashop/wordpress concepts. I was really impressed on how prestashop works for setting up a new e-Commerce site. I have dived deep into Wordpress and the potential of what it really can do. Obviously, I'm familiar with the basics, since this blog here is a wordpress blog. But I'm more interested in the potential of skinning it for several other sites. The world of technology is moving very fast, faster than it ever has before, and that exponential velocity will continue as more and more technologies/tools arrive to make development easier. That being said, I feel the need to chime in about Windows 8. Several people have asked me about what I thought of Windows 8. I have read several other opinions, both pro and con. I have installed it twice (Beta preview and RC). Here is what I think. The interface is going to alienate people and push them away from desktop purchases, Dell and HP have their days numbered. Tablet development is the goal of Windows 8 in my mind. They want windows phone, windows tablet, and desktop all to operate the same way. That is NOT the real goal. They saw what Apple was doing with the iPhone/iTouch/iPad. And of course, Microsoft saw the area they were "missing" - They need to have that on a Desktop OS TOO! They could not be MORE WRONG. Why did I buy Lion? Because it made my DESKTOP experience better (well, it said it did, I'm not really sure what I gained from it to be honest with you). I didn't upgrade Lion because I wanted swipes and a screen full of apps to make it more like my iPad. Apple does a lot of things wrong, folder organization, keyboard navigation can be a hassle, finding things on an apple (except for Quicksilver, best Mac APP EVER!)... However, they do one thing, and yes one thing... VERY WELL. They don't give you MORE than you need. I was in traffic the other day and a baby, not a four year old child, but a true baby, was in their car seat, playing with an iPhone. Why? Because it is THAT INTUITIVE. They probably aren't launch apps left and right and taking pictures of checks and depositing it into their college fund, but the color, the touch response is all a baby needs. Now for adults, that same intuition exists. We don't need 100 features to make an app great. Let's review some of the biggest apps of recently - Angry Birds, I drag my finger and let it go... I watch what happens... I correct my trajectory, by dragging my finger back and up or down. I don't have 2 joysticks, 5 buttons, and 15 weapons. I launch birds at blocks to destroy pigs. That is SIMPLE, but brilliant. The next one - Twitter - I write up to a 140 character message with some codes in it (@ or #) and the world knows about me, if anyone is following me or I directed it to someone or used a # tag to create traffic. Simple. You write and post. That's it. Facebook took it a bit further with the social network scene, and if you look at the stock you will notice they aren't doing so hot. What is the most popular windows app of all time? Simple - Notepad. Why? It just works, they haven't touched it since Windows 3.1 because they DON'T HAVE TO! Ok, moving on to the new subscription model for business - so many businesses want recurring revenue, so they setup silver, gold, platinum plans for people to subscribe to. But that forces them to add features to justify the recurring charges... We raised the price this year because we gave you a feature you didn't ask for, you won't use, but we thought it was cool and sales people said they could sell it to new customers who don't know what they need. That is what is killing a lot of companies. Solve a problem that YOU have, and do it perfectly for YOU. Then sell that. Hey, we had this problem and we solved it with this tool. You have the same problem and you can use this tool too. That's it. The biggest issue is the new "client" says, "Wow, that's great, that is exactly what we need, but can you add this one thing too?" And we think, oh, that is easy to add, shouldn't be an issue and we will get a new client... then the next client wants this one thing... and then this one thing... and then you have so many features for so many different clients that your code is no longer maintainable and you want to rewrite the whole app, but you can't because you have existing clients that don't want anything to change now, and you have officially created a recurring revenue on a product that is no longer you product and you wonder what did you do... and it comes back to the first compromise you made for that ONE client. If you are solving a real problem, then the clients exist because you are almost never alone in the problem you encountered. The next big fail in companies is growth... Every company wants to grow, if you aren't growing you are dying. Well, that is not correct. If you aren't LEARNING/INNOVATING, then you are dying. That I agree with, but what about a company that has created the perfect team, you have an amazing database developer, a middle-tier developer, and front-end UI developer. You add a great graphic designer who understands the web and the future of the web. You have a couple of testers that not only automate your tests, but understand the need for usability studies and help in that aspect too. What an amazing team... if we had 3 more of these teams then we can do MUCH more work and take on more clients. That is a true statement, but the issue is this. How difficult is it to hire that amazing team with the perfect dynamic between them. They all share and actually hang out at lunch time and have fun. Hiring talented people is easy. Hiring talented people that work well together is not as easy. So, stop chasing the dollar and realize that you have a great team, and they are all happy and you make great products because of this team. Don't grow any more, invest in your team. Help them learn new things that THEY WANT to learn. It is truly amazing when people invest in people and not products. People are NOT plug-and-play... they have personalities that may or may not clash with others. Some people like silos, some people love collaboration, some people are VERY creative, and some are VERY methodical/logical... some are a combination of that. Stop chasing the wrong thing... figure out what you are trying to solve and solve it. Once it is solved, don't change it every 6 months to squeeze out an extra dollar from a client. Redesigns happen, new technologies come and go, but make your decisions consciously not out of greed or ego. "LOOK, I know a new brilliant technology" Good for you... but we don't need to use it. I remember when the whole world was pushing toward XML for datasets... and I was like, doesn't that increase the payload, slow down performance, and make the SQL Server work 2x as hard? Yes, but it is XML! And? What happened? Clients complained about the performance and were annoyed about the whole situation... then we moved to datasets and had it contain multiple datasets, and tada, the world was happy again. Now that people are moving more and more to AJAX, JSON is the preferred method of data transfer (and I'll agree with that, simple clean and supports hierarchy). But just be careful of embracing a new technology because it is new...

Ok, I'm off my soapbox for now... let's move on to another topic... restaurants...

We have eaten at a lot, and Susie is SUPER-EXCITED that a Zoe's Kitchen just opened up... a relatively healthy place to eat... we didn't realize how healthy we actually eat but generally we really do eat pretty well considering. Doc Greens, Zoe's Kitchen, Watershed, Salt, Ceviche, Chequers, Dreamland BBQ, Shane's BBQ, Fancy Pantry, and more to come. I just realized I've been writing a LOT today... so I think (as I did before) I'll save the restaurants topic for a special post... with more than just a superficial review of each.

Thanks for stopping by and feel free to comment or ask questions. :-)