As a software development shop, we use a fuck-load of Adobe  Nasdaq: ADBE (and formerly Macromedia) software. (apologies for the language but frustration level is at maximum)

We have had such horrible experiences with their software licencing mechanism that we are starting to look at alternatives.

The most recent – eight hours (multiply that by my salary and the software developer sitting on her thumbs to get the idea) and all is still not fixed.

We purchased another Adobe product (Audition) and the installation blew up. The software would not run at all. Not only was that software dead, it killed many of the other Adobe products (eg. Captivate, Photoshop, Flash, InDesign etc) on the workstation.

The problem with Adobe’s software is that you shell out all that money, but the software still won’t work until you let it ‘phone home’ to Adobe’s servers to activate the licence on that particular workstation.

In order to remove the licence, and reinstall it, you need to start the software and ‘de-activate’ it. The software then phones home to Adobe’s servers and lets the licence be transferred to a new machine.

You can guess, since I could not start the software, I could not deactivate those licences.

The eight hours was with their tech support, the first part trying to get the software working (including their nuclear bomb clean.exe utility which supposedly blows away everything it touches)

Then, one application at a time calling back to use tech support to do what ever it is they have to do to let me re-install the software when the licence cannot be deactivated. (Dear tech support, yes, I know it should be deactivated, yes I know it should be done first, but the damned machine is dead, yes the software is legally purchased,here is the licence, the list goes on)

The SMB Takeaway

Yes, Adobe packs more features in its software than a Swiss Army Knife. Maybe if you are a Global 2000 sized organization, you have methods and licences to bypass this pain.

But since most people use less than 20% of the features in any particular software package, save yourself the cost and look for alternatives.

Footnote: The software that started it all (Audition) is still not working, at this writing, we have tried it on two other machines (A Sony running Windows Vista and a Dell running Windows XP)

The SMB Takeaway Part 2 – For the financial officers

Lets look again;

Direct labour cost, my time for eight hours

Indirect labour cost a software developer who cannot do her job for eight hours

Indirect soft cost, (like many in this recession) we are working on several initiatives to reduce costs, one major one that I am running. The domino effect on that project could be 30 days of excess costs.

Indirect soft cost, The project that developer was working on is now over a week late for its delivery. What cost can you put on that?

And that is a true, rather than rhetorical question.

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What Should I Refuse?

May 28, 2009

I know that may sound strange; after all should IT providers refuse anything?

Should they say No?

If yes, what should be refused?

And yes, I ask that question of myself –

But…

I don’t ask it in the; to improve this can we ….? sense of the term.

I ask it in avoiding exceptions as much as possible.

Exceptions create complexity, and eventually, that complexity will kill your IT infrastructure.

As an example, At my organization, at sometime in the past all corporate departments had been given complete access to the software development teams computer file storage work areas.

The amount of data  ‘accidentally’ deleted … ouch, well, you can just imagine.

Then someone had to tried to partially fix it by creating security permissions on individual files and folders. Which made a complete bowl of spaghetti mess – uggh – still I shudder.

What I did was  implement a sandbox, (in tech terms, a staging area) – testing or review of this stuff by others who are outside of the software development team?

Use the sandbox!

So when someone asks me to give access to another person to that private software development area again?

Should I refuse?

I do! – I say use the sandbox.

And yes, there is often a but, but we need… Yes I know, but the extra minute or two doing it cleanly up front will save hours of headaches later.

I must caution you though – as a general manager in the SMB space, your IT provider should not be refusing to allow those non development staff to do what they need to do. And that is not what I did.

What I did was set it up so that no matter what accidents those non-technical staff could do, it would not be truly painful for the development team.

There is a huge difference between a random ‘no’ that harms business outcomes or productivity, versus a ‘no’ for something that is being used as a shortcut, or without looking at the longer term consequences.

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If you are above a certain age, you probably watched at least a few episodes of the old television show M*A*S*H.

M*A*S*H

M*A*S*H

One episode was before its time. If you saw this episode – I bet you remember it.

In that episode army ‘brass’ wanted to do a documentary style film about life on the front lines in these mobile hospitals.  Well that went nowhere as the charming, witty and contrary cast of M*A*S*H hijacked that film.

In their hijacked version, they started off with a Groucho Marx impersonation and various hi-jinks, then ended on the serious note about the horror of war.

And you do remember it don’t you! Where there is not a hope in hell we will remember the average documentary.

They engaged you, entertained you, then hit you with the call to action.

And it sticks.

With all the talk, questions, and confusion about social media, from Blogs to Youtube. That is what it is all about.

The cast of M*A*S*H could not initiate a two way conversation as we can today.

But the idea? Engage, entertain, call to action.

What are you waiting for?

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Image Credit Wikipedia

When Delegation Fails

May 26, 2009

Let me pull a quote from an excellent post by Gwyn Teatro titled;Taking Charge: When Not to Delegate

But when is it important not to delegate matters to others?

I could not agree more with the concepts in that piece.

In fact I would call that type of mis-delegation nothing but abdication of responsibility.

As a general manager the small business / medium business space it can be too easy to claim lack of IT knowledge as a reason to abdicate this responsibility.

I would argue that as a general manager, whether your functional background was finance, engineering, sales or operations, that you have already acquired the knowledge required to a relevant level of detail in all disciplines within your organization.

Should IT be any different?

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When the snow is measured in feet or meters, and the temperature is measured in double digits below zero Celsius, it is really, really easy to take several hours over a weekend to jot down notes for this blog.

During our (too) short Canadian summer – it gets a little more difficult.

Sunshine and warm temperatures have to be enjoyed while they can (OK, so they are predicting possible frost tonight – hopefully that is just an anomaly!)

I will still be here – but frequency may take a dip.

For all those in the Great White North – I hope you have a warm, safe summer!

Photo Credit BBQ Junkie via flickr

Read this article By Gene Kim at Information Security Resources.

28 hours ago, when we started testing, my team started finding failures left and right.  Which is what we expected, given all the corners that were cut by the developers because of deadlines

That quote is one snippet, one gem in a long line.

There are enough lessons for an entire book. And don’t think that because you are an SME that you are immune.

In fact because you are an SME, you probably don’t even have the segregation of development, quality control and downstream production servers that Mr. Kim describes.

In Short?

If you cut corners, some where, some when, you will pay for it, and next – make sure Plan ‘B’ is ready to go. And yes Plan ‘B’ can be a rollback to the state that existed before you started.

But here is the problem, if you were doing all this first on your production servers and environment – can you even go back to the the way it was?

(hint: My odds would be better than casino odds betting against you!)

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Here it is, David Silversmith at Internet Evolution

The SMB Takeaway

Now is the time to act

Banning social media does not work. Your people go home sometimes – but you need to educate.

Now.

Or it will be too late

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