A discussion near and dear to my software-developing, services-selling heart: the downward trend of pricing things with hidden complexity.  From the post:

…there is an underserved category of work between direct employment and fixed bids. Between every layperson that has a need and every cookie cutter project, there is a gap. A gap of missing expertise. To fill this gap, we require the foresight to determine what needs to be done, the strategy of the best way to do it, the well-honed ability to execute on an on-going basis, and, certainly, the experience of what constitutes good work.

Check it out: http://www.sidedolla.com/blog/experts-dont-fall-for-the-race-to-the-bottom

 
 

Phatness.com is the personal blog of Mike Wille

I'm a developer with a passion for building products.

Most days, you can find me stirring the cauldron at Brilliant Chemistry.

 
 

I wrote this post over at SideDolla.  It’s some advice for those starting out from my experience over the years.

http://www.sidedolla.com/blog/5-tips-for-surviving-client-work

#4 – Communication is the most important, with a close second, reputation.  The two are linked.

Also, is that photo at the top not the best thing you’ve seen all day?  I LOVE how mad that guy is!

 
 

And, as is the trend, each one later and later, meet: Norah Bliss Wille.

IMG_7818

She is unique in that she has this Little Pink Tractor Beam that works really well on me.

 
 

A new project of mine has launched: SideDolla.

It’s one of those passion projects that come along every once in awhile.  I built this while thinking about specific friends and co-workers.  Some employers out there aren’t great for the creative person.  They aren’t great if you want to feel like you are making a difference in whatever the business sells.

SideDolla is a way to get that creative outlet.  It’s intended for those with experience in any field to be able to offer their services as part time work out side of a full time job.  It’s a hit with everyone we talk to about it.

Check it out: SideDolla

 
 

So one of my projects is called Socialply.  We have almost 2000 runners in the 2013 Detroit Marathon fundraising on it.  That’s not the impressive part.

The impressive part is what these amazing people are doing.  They have collectively raised over three quarters of a million dollars, all for charity!

Incredible.

Check it out: https://www.socialply.com/marathon

 
 
The hard part of rebranding a giant like Yahoo is not how the logo looks. It doesn’t matter so much if some dislike it. A logo is not decorative, it works more like an icon. It needs to be clear. Brands create orientation. The most beautiful toilet sign is useless if men constantly walk into the ladies’ room.
oliver reichenstein
 
 

Remember to change your auto/home insurance every so often.

After 3 years, Allstate hiked my Homeowner’s Insurance by $700 to $1500.  When my auto policy was to renew, they hiked my premium up to $4,500 from $2,760.  Almost $2K more!  That was with no accidents and no tickets.

If I wasn’t in an a hurry, I would have shopped around.  I was on the computer already so I checked Progressive.  Their quoted auto premium for 6 months?  $780.  For 12 months, that’s over $1000 less than what Allstate used to be.

There is no concept of customer retention in insurance.  Buh Bye!

 
 

We are spinning up a new startup. It’s about time to go live. For this startup, we are using Rackspace and their cloud offerings. We do quite a bit of business with them (up to $1K per month) and it was just easy here.

I’m prepping for an internal final review of the first MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Among many tasks, I decide to prune all of our test data and then empty a few history tables we don’t need data for anymore. In the middle of a stack of “delete from X” queries, the database goes offline. Connection lost and I’m unable to reconnect via command line?!

Okay. Let’s log in to the control panel and see what it says:

database-blocked

Database Blocked

Unexpected. Okay, let’s dial up Fanatical Support and see what is up…

It could be rude to post the transcript. To cut a 30 minute chat short, the good word from Rackspace is that the database became blocked because “you are almost out of disk space.”

Notice the screenshot above, it shows 1.9 GB used of 2 GB. Now, a cloud database that has a critical failure mode when disk space is close to, but not completely used up, is un-freakin-believable. Even if disk space was completely used up, it’s an arbitrary limit that was created for pricing. The database shouldn’t go down if we hit it. It’s especially ridiculous when the failure happened as I was deleting records (not inserting!) to clear up disk space. (Likely because MySQL needed to use some additional space for referential integrity checks or something) Finally, this requires manual intervention from support personnel to remedy the situation. My two options given were to increase the disk space of the cloud database, or give support the queries I need to run to finish clearing up disk space. I’d be happy to resize disk space, if it was temporary. However, insanely, you cannot reduce disk space of a cloud server after increasing it.

Even though we are in testing, think forward to golive and beyond. The database disk usage goes to within 5% of the limit and will then go dark. Complete and critical failure of the app. No warning.

Would you trust your 3 AMs to this? Would you trust your business to this? I’m appalled that Rackspace would bring this to market.

We have another startup on Heroku. What happens when you hit a pricing limit with Heroku databases? You get emailed for up to two weeks before they start denying inserts. Even then, the database is still responding to read requests.

Credit where credit is due. The support rep that was talking with me for 30 minutes was great. Even emailed me afterwards when I callously dismissed his last attempt at help. I don’t get that from Heroku.

 
 

Trespassing for education.

 
 

Not a bad spot for a nap.