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Archive for February, 2008

New Application Announcement

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Version 0.1 (pre-release) of my “To do list” is now available at http://www.patternsofchaos.net/todo/. There are a number of issues still to resolve - especially with regard to date handling, but it’s good enough to put out and start testing.

I want to hear your thoughts, so please, share your thoughts - use the comments form on this page to tell me what you think.

Barriers to Entry

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Today, I was trying to get information from a hosting service about certain details of their plan that wasn’t covered on the website. After some looking around, I finally found an email address to “support@whateverhostingservice.com” - Aha! Just what I wanted!

So I send off an email listing my questions. I figure I’ll get an email back in awhile that should answer my questions, and then I can see if they can do what I need.

Sorry - wrong - it doesn’t work that way.

A few minutes later, I did, indeed, get an email back. It seems that if I want to submit an email to “support”, that I need to include my domain - apparently this service is only available to current subscribers.

Well, then, back to the site. It seems that there is no email address for sending such queries, but there is a form. Ok - so I’ll fill out the form - easy enough.

But now they want my First Name, Last Name, Title, Company, Phone Number, State and Country, When To Contact Me, Am I An Existing Customer, How I Heard About Them, My High School GPA, Where I Was at 3:35pm on December 18, 2003, and My Recipe for Chicken Marsala. Best of all - all these fields were required!

(OK - they didn’t ask for my Chicken Marsala Recipe)

So I filled it out with “none” for title and company and “do-not-call” for the phone number, and proceeded to holler at them for putting me through so many hoops just to ask them a question.

Needless to say, I didn’t hear back. Not that I care - I’ve already taken my business elsewhere. I’m just left at a loss trying to figure out why they make it so hard. And really, why do they need all that information anyways? You got my name, my email address, and my question - what more do you really need? (Unless you’re planning on selling my personal info or making harassing phone calls until I finally cave in and sign up for your overpriced, undersupported service against my better judgment.)

I simply don’t understand why some businesses operate this way. In the internet age, more so than ever, it is vital for anyone in business realize that anything making it harder or more annoying for someone to use your service is costing you money. (I’m not the only one saying this - take a look at Jakob Nielsen’s article Usability as Barrier to Entry)

When you do stuff like this, you tell me that my business isn’t really worth much to you. And in the end, I suppose you’re right.

Usability

Monday, February 11th, 2008

I have long been an advocate of usability on the web: basing design on what is easiest for the user. Far too often, we worry too much about what looks good and too little about the ease of use. We forget that without users, nothing else really matters.

I recently found a great article on usability. As I was reading it, I kept thinking “Am I doing that?” I think I will be referring back to this article for some time, as I work out the layout for this site and other projects.

Simple AJAX library

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

So here is my first offering: A really basic, easy to use JavaScript AJAX library. Nothing fancy here - just a quick & simple way to get Ajax working on your site.

Getting Started

Friday, February 8th, 2008

I recently realized that over the past couple years, I have neglected to keep up any sort of online presence. While that’s not a big problem for most people, for someone in the Web Development business, it’s not a very good idea!

So, with that in mind, I have decided to make a concerted effort to actually start putting some content back online. I have, over time, developed various libraries and “mini-apps” that I plug in when I want to accomplish certain tasks. So I thought that, for starters, I would make them available on this site, along with some simple, but full applications that I’m also working on.

As the applications become more full-featured, I will be adding the ability for people to create personal accounts - just in case anyone actually wants to use them. My intention is to have all of my demos available for public use as well (for free), for anyone who wants to use them.

Here’s what I plan to be putting up over the next few weeks:

  • A simple “to do” list with due dates and assignment options
  • Some basic JavaScript libraries (which will be updated regularly, as I expand and refine them)
  • An HTML Rich-text editor that won’t break across different sub-domains
  • Some simple JavaScript and Ajax-driven games
  • A Personal Recipe file
  • A sortable Grocery list tool (that will sort your list based on store sections)

That’s all I have planned for the moment, but I’m sure the list won’t stop there.