The key to “True Fans”

Reading the post over The Technium about True Fans and it made me think (and I’m taking a personal approach here):

EVERY business needs fans.

The key to my business is how well we treat our fans.

Then they either become non-fans, or they become true-fans.

In this context, the words fans and clients are inter-changeable.

Kevin talks about artists, and the concept (reality) that each artist can survive with a limited number of fans, different for each artist, but nominally pegged at 1000 true fans per artist. Obviously you need fewer true fans if your making more dollars from each one, more if you make less from each.

Now artists may be creative types, but business people like to eat something other than chicken soup too. It makes me think about the equations used to determine pricing, levels of service and how many clients are needed. As Kevin puts it “The processes you develop to feed your True Fans will also nurture Lesser Fans.

I don’t think there is one right answer, one size fits all approach. But I do believe that this thinking can be applied to more than just artists.

More GRUB editing

Two pages I’ve found useful when playing with GRUB (a Boot loader that allows you to choose between multiple operating systems on boot up) are these:

It is nice to be able to re-order the menu items, change the length of time the menu stays on screen and change the wording of each entry.

Ubuntu & Wireshark sitting in a tree

Did a google for “Ubuntu wireshark install” hoping to get some instructions on how to get Wireshark installed under Ubuntu.

Found the following line: sudo apt-get install ethereal

and knowing that ethereal was the former name for wireshark, I promptly entered sudo apt-get install wireshark

at the command prompt. Lo and Behold, it starts installing Wireshark. I love it when stuff is sensible…

Ohh, oh, oh, it works too. Just like that.

Anyhow, getting back to what I was saying, it is really nice  when playing with a new program (or operating system) and things start falling into place with where to find things, how to do stuff.

One of the things I’m finding with Ubuntu is that while it is harder to install things (not by much tho) I’m finding that i’m actually more producting minute for minute than with Windows (XP or Vista)  – that is when typing a document or actually going to get something done, I’m taking less time with to do the doing. It isn’t that the programs are magically better (I don’t think) but rather that there are fewer distractions. Perhaps that will change with time and knowledge. I don’t know.

Ubuntu VPN goodness

I’m now running Ubuntu 7.10 on my personal laptop (it dual boots with MS Vista Ultimate, but defaults to Ubuntu). Of course I want to do it all, including connecting to MS Windows VPN’s.

The short set of instructions over at tipotheday were spot-on.

My only addition would be to have the Ubuntu 7.10 install CD (or ISO) handy. Personally I used the command line (CLI) version, worked a treat.

What is VDI?

Found this VERY interesting read on the state of VDI:

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is not a product. You can’t call up a company and ask for 5 licenses of VDI. It is concept comprised of multiple solutions or products to achieve a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (though recent announcements have Citrix XenDesktop as a single product that comes very close). The concept of VDI virtualizes desktops operating systems (Vista, XP, Linux, etc) and deliver the remote view of the desktop via a display protocol. In addition, there will be management and control systems to manage the provisioning/deprovisioning of virtual machines and applications.

All in all a comprehensive look at some of the players, the concepts and a comparison. If your looking to understand a little more about remote desktops this is a read for you.

update: Forgot the link! Here it is now:  The Current State of VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (Thanks Stephen)

Beat Adobe Reader black and red

On a Terminal Server today some users were experiencing red and black patches appearing when they opened PDF files.

A Knowledge Base article at Adobe indicates a similar, but evidently not the same, issue having been rectified in Adobe Reader 8.1 – that of the color not being rendered correctly for the first rectangle object in a section of a PDF document. Evidently not the same because it didn’t work for me. What did work however was disabling Text Smoothing.

Here is how to do it:

Open Adobe Reader | Document | Accessibility Setup Assistant | Set all accessibility options | Next

TICK THE BOX to DISABLE TEXT SMOOTHING

Next | Next | Next | Done

And bingo, no more red and black patches appearing.

Downgrade Vista to XP?

Yup, you can.

Microsoft Vista Business & Vista Ultimate come with ‘Downgrade’ rights.

IBM have a page explaining the process, as do a number of other suppliers.

Why would you want to? Well one client I have is about to purchase some new workstations, rather than upgrade all the other workstations to Vista, or have some running Vista and some running XP, it makes sense for all workstations to be on the same OS, with the same apps. By downgrading to XP now, and having the right to revert back to Vista later makes for an easier transition now.

Dynamic Web Hosting changes

Dynamic Web Hosting has been acquired by Dolphin Technology Group, with whom I am also involved.

It means a change of name, it will now be Dolphin Web Hosting. One of those little things that tickles me is that the TLA (Three Letter Acronym) remains the same – DWH.

Importantly it also means a much larger pool of resources for us, engineers, expertise, hardware and infrastructure.

Lee Hopkins has already noted the change, and over the coming months the change will become more evident (for example, we will redo the web site – we might even makeover the Dolphin Technology web site ;-).

What are MX Records?

I was asked to explain MX records today, here it is for others as well:

MX Records, or Mail eXchange Records, is simply a line of text in a file on a DNS Server on the internet.

What it does however is VERY important. It tells other peoples mail servers where to deliver email they are sending to you.

DNS MX RecordThe first MX record (indicated by a lower number, in this example, 10 mail.domain.com.au) is known as the primary MX record. This is where email servers will try to send email first. If it fails, then it will try subsequent MX records (in this example, 20 mail.domain.com.au).

If your email server is hosted onsite on MS Small Business Server 2003 and you change ISP, you will have a new STATIC IP address assigned. Given that your MX record will be pointing to the old IP address, you won’t be getting any email arrive.

To fix this means editing the MX record to reflect the new IP address. That will involve either lodging a job with your hosting provider, or domain name registrar.

Security isn’t virtual

When speaking with some people, it has been evident that they figured virtual servers were more secure than traditional physical servers.

This quote: “I don’t want to be reverse engineering our products to find exploits or figure out signatures, fundamentally, that means we have to partner. Fortunately, there is a bunch that are happy to partner and I encourage that.” by VMware founder and chief scientist Mendel Rosenblum certainly indicates that there are security concerns (found via: VMTN Blog).

My take on it is this: not only do virtual servers have the same set of security issues as a physical server, but because there are now ‘more components in the system’ there are also more ‘points of failure’, that is, there are now more things to consider in order to make things safe.

Update 21st Sept 2007 3:32pm: see this on latest VMware bugs.

Crises conceal opportunities

Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity.” – Joe Sugarman

I was sent this quote Tuesday this week. It is appropriate on many levels, but particularly so with regard to this web site.

You see, my database, which contains all my blog posts since I can’t remember when was miraculously destroyed. Along with it’s backups. That to me is a CRISIS.

Note to self: paranoia is healthy.

I first began blogging shortly after Chris Pirillo recommended using ‘BLOG’, a windows app that would do scheduled ftp uploads to a web site. I became a Textpattern fan, then switched to WordPress. My database contained all my posts from Textpattern and WordPress, and a whole bunch more.

But as the quote (and title) suggest, crises conceal opportunities. The opportunity here is a fresh start. No ties. A new commitment.

So, here begins not a new chapter, but a new book, the old one is no longer in print.