Getting payment plans right.

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:50 am by Toby

One thing that annoys many of us, is paying for things we dont use. Like a payment plan that gives you a certain number of minutes on your phone, or using a piece of software.

Fogcreek software recently released a piece of software called copilot which allows you to remote control someone elses computer (not much new there, but they provide a service around it that works, and makes it simple to use through firewalls etc). They have a payment plan which allows you to choose a certain number of minutes per month, so if you are a heavy user! you can benefit from cost savings. But Joel (the owner of Fogcreek) is always one to remove barriers to entry, and so has this little bit after his list of payment plans.

“Don’t worry if you’re not sure how many minutes you need: you can change the plan at any time, up until the last day of the month.”

Now you see the great thing here is that he will never loose a customer who is unsure of how many minutes they will need, infact rather than making less money (some traditionalists would say that ever customer who trades down before the end of the month is lost money) he actually gains money because he gets customers he would not necessarily have had otherwise.

I remeber once trying to organise a payment gateway for one of my clients and not going with a particular company because they wanted my client to specify at the begining of each month how many transactions they would be making. Even though the cost is minimal its the perception of wasting money that kills the sale.


A piece of advice from History

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:12 am by Toby

I’ve been using googles desktop homepage for a while now, allows you to have rss feeds and the like on a page, as well as google search. One of the feeds they provide is to the quotations page, and today I saw the following.

Quote of the Day

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.
– Thomas Jefferson

Those in power in Washington would do well at this point to listen to the voice of those older and wiser than them.


If I were…

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:46 am by Toby


is a Giant Man-Eating Plant that breathes Poisonous Gas, has Suckers on its Feet, fears the Military, is in League with Dark Forces, and can Change Shape.

Strength: 5 Agility: 1 Intelligence: 7

To see if your Giant Battle Monster can
defeat IntellectualMollusc, enter your name and choose an attack:

fights IntellectualMollusc using


UI Hall of Shame.

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:43 am by Toby

This guy writes down the things I think.



Dont let your domain run out!!!

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:40 pm by Toby

Here’s a cautionary tale.

We all know how cheap domains are now, you can pick one up for about €15 a year, which in anyones money isn’t a whole lot. But what happens when you couldnt be bothered any more? You let it go, just dont renew it,and if its obscure enough its not like anyone else is going to use it is it?


Someone I knew, used to have as their business domain www.classiccastcollection.com (dont follow the link you can do that later) and let it lapse. I’m not quite sure why he let it lapse, maybe he didn’t think it was worth it, or maybe he was strapped for cash, anyway he didnt renew it. Now in the bad old days, if you didnt renew your domain on time, someone else could immediately renew it and you could claim it was rightfully yours and they had stolen it, bu now when you dont renew your domain, you are given a seriously long (6 month) cooling off period, where you can (at increased cost) renew your domain, so when you dont and someone else does you dont have a leg to stand on.

All very well you say, so what happens a competitor regiters the domain? You wish. Now follow the link to my friends website who does copies of famous plaster work.


Yes a nice adult website, is now at the end of the link, and he still has this domain on his business cards!

I got involved in this, because one of the sites I look after was informed that they had a link to a porn site, I investigated, and to be honest was rather amused, but then again its not my domain.


Dreamweaver interface horror

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:12 am by Toby

Ok, so maybe the title is a bit extreme but it is a bit of a horror. I use Macromedia Dreamweaver MX as my web design tool of choice, it is almost perfect in every way. Except for one.

When you edit a style sheet attached to a document, it opens it up in another tab in the interface – so far so good – and give you a nice little dialog box for visually editing styles – even better – and when you click apply it changes the text in the current html document to match the changes you made to the style – brilliant . And it is except for one small thing – shown in the image with a big arrow pointing to it. The style sheet that is open has been modified and therefore needs to be saved before the rest of the world (outside dreamweaver) can use the changes. Now the problem here is that I close my nice editing dialog, save my open document and go to try out my changes in my browser (because I’m afraid I still cant entirely trust one GUI Source) and nothing happens. It all stays the same, now I start thinking damn its a css incompatibility, so I try it in a different browser, still no change. After a bit of tooing and frooing I finally realise my mistake, I havent saved the css file. This happens me time after time.

This feature must have been designed and implemented by someone who is used to saving all in the interface, which is a bit funny since it doesnt even have a keyboard shortcut (#I’m definitely a ctrl + s man myself). Two ways around this are to not open the css file in the interface when I never asked for ti to be opened, automatically save it when I close the dialogs, or give me a ‘save all ‘ keyboard shortcut that I could get used to. I wonder whether I’ll get it.


A bit of hardware

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:26 am by Toby

In this modern world of cheap computers and free software, its sometimes easy to forget that you get what you pay for.

I’ve recently been working on a intranet project for a client to run a course booking system for them. Once installed it became obvious that the response from the server was just that little bit too slow, and so I looked around for a solution. By changing the way some of the key pages worked, I shaved a couple of milliseconds off the response time, but it was still too much. Then I thought I should build a dedicated webserver for the application, as it was running on the main company fileserver, along with the sql database it used, and a number of other applications.

I was going to use a basic desktop machine but then someone pointed out that there was an old server lying around. It was fairly low spec with a pentium III running at 500 or 6oo mhz, but had scsi disks and raid unlike the new server I was using (the older server had been replace in another department). I was sure it wouldn’t be all that impressive but since it already had Windows 2000 Server running on it, it wasnt going to take me long to throw on php and sqlserver and get it all running.

Wow what a difference. I had expected at best a tiny difference. But no, I had pages that were taking about 4 seconds to load, now taking less that a second. It went from speed being an isssue in usability, to it ceasing to be a problem at all.

So the moral of the tale is if speed is an issue, make sure you have the hardware to match. There is a reason you can buy a dell server for €400 and for €4000.

Webtalk radio

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:43 am by Toby

I’ve found another great online ‘PodCast’ (I dont have an Ipod or a MP3 player so I dunno – listen to the show!). Web talk Radio is just like a normal radio talk show except its on the web, and even better its about IT. Very funny too.


A good conversation

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:26 am by Toby

There is an interesting discussion on itconversations about Google’s new toolbar in beta – about the pro’s and con’s of webpage rewriting which google autolinks now does and which firefox is good at. Well worth a listen. An interesting discussion.



A wonderful new discovery

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:52 am by Toby

Sometimes you realise that some aspect of technology or some little trick that has been around for a long time has just completely passed you by. I discovered this today with Bookmarklets (what!). These for those of you like me who have never heard of them, are little snippits of javascript that you save as a bookmark or favorite and which modify the page you are looking at. What a truly delicious idea.

I came across them while researching writing a firefox extension, and the guy who wrote the tutorial kept mentioning bookmarklets (at first I must admit I thought he had made a typo) so I thought I’d check them out. There’s a list here of all sorts of strange and wonderful things (and a surprising number work in IE).

I thought the whole firefox thing with the web developer extension (if you do web development, and dont have this, its a good enough reason in itself to switch to firefox) allowing you to modify the page you were looking at was unique to firefox, but now I find that its been around for at least 6 years and completley passed me by. Microsoft and IE have more to answer for than I thought.

I’ll report back on any that I find truly useful.

“Aren’t People Clever”

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