Information Technology

Free Picture Changes?

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caveman pull computer plugA client had a certain e-Commerce website set up a few years ago, and for various personal reasons kept the project on hold. She finally, out of the blue, emailed eight images for free uploading to corresponding products. My boss told me that if the edits won’t take to do them as a favor since the client was a friend, but if it takes too much time, to tell him so he can start charging.

Figuring that the image uploads (there were 8) were to take less than 10 minutes, I was about to upload them until I noticed that the images had no corresponding products associated. In addition, the client wanted to simplify the product categories to 5 (which I assumed the 8 images were for). I asked, simply, how the images that were sent correspond with the products/categories. Here was the response:

“It was a test we wanted to make sure the images were good. We will send you all the images that we want loaded in their respective categories by Monday. Thank-you.”

 I was waiting for my boss to reply, who told me:

“Do not reply to this till I get back on Sunday. I need to see how many products before we move forward.”

So I didn’t reply. Monday morning came with the following thread:

Client: “We have a number of pictures in PDF files. Can you convert these files to work on the website? “

Me: “I need to estimate with my developers and then discuss with my supervisor. Can you please tell me how many pictures there are?”

Client: “There are many. So there. Will be a charge?”

Explaining Technical Things to Non-Technical People

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I often have to explain technical things and technical decisions to my extremely non technical manager and I’m pretty awful at it. What are good ways to essential dumb things down for the rest of the world who don’t have a passion for programming?

Example questions I’ve been asked:

  • Why are you using Django instead of Java (Didn’t accept that it was cheaper either)
  • Asking me to rephrase things in non technical words, my sentence was “Certain HTML tags are not allowed”. How can I possibly dumb that down?
  • Other stuff that makes perfect sense to me, but is just so basic I don’t know how to explain it
  • Why this, why that, why everything!

Also, how do I tell my manager to look the basic stuff up on Google, like “What is Pylons?”

I’m ready to rip my hair out, these questions are driving me insane!!

 

Best answer by Slokun:

“I tend to use analogies. Take whatever the topic is, and think of something completely non-technical that they would understand, and explain it to them that way.

Best example I can think of offhand is if I need to explain object orientation, I’ll explain it using a deck of cards. Or, when I was trying to explain the idea of wireless internet to my great aunt (who’s never used a computer), I used cordless phones to explain it.

I’ve yet to come across any topic I can’t dumb-down this way.”

Content originally found at StackExchange.com.

I have become SNL’s Nick Burns the Computer Guy!!!!!

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Many of the older generation in the IT field remember comedian Jimmy Fallon when he was on Saturday Night Live (SNL). One of the skits he played was as Nick Burns the Computer Guy. Here are some clips:

You’re Welcome

Nick Burns with Jennifer Aniston

Snl – Nick Burns With Jennifer Aniston – Your Companys Computer Guy from Steve on Vimeo.

Nick Burns with Jackie Chan

Snl – Your Company Computer Guy – Nick Burns And Jackie Chan from Steve on Vimeo.

As hilarious as the skit is, sadly, I feel like I have become the very person I’ve dreaded becoming – Nick Burns, for two reasons:

  • I have been put under lots of stress from many different angles, not just IT.
  • Not only that, but when there are tight deadlines, I’ve displayed little patience for people who don’t get it the first 100 times. Some people just don’t get it, and some just like to have their hand held without first searching Google – you become their Google for everything so they don’t have to work so hard. It’s frustrating when projects needed to be done 2 weeks ago, you’re putting in 150% effort, and someone needs help for the 101st time for creating a hyperlink and meta tags after explaining and even diagramming it multiple times.
  • If no tight deadlines needed to be met, I could train with ease, but that’s not the case.

Solutions: Quick and Dirty versus Custom

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Most clients, be they large or small, always seem to want the quick-fix solution to cut costs. This especially bodes well in today’s economy where everything revolves around squeezing the almighty dollar. Whether that’s right or wrong remains to be seen.

Example 1: custom shopping cart

A certain Kosher meat store that sells high-quality products has management that was unclear on how to move forward with a website. They wanted a website to display their information as well as have a standard shopping cart. They wanted recipes integrated into each product. RJH Solutions was approached, and created a custom CMS that displayed content information as well as recipes. The Shopping cart was next. However, since everything was custom, the whole process took a very long time. They then went ahead and chose a cheaper solution which was not custom, and in the end, the designer/coder “dropped the ball,” leaving them with no real website. The tricky part, in the end, was the recipe integration, which most standard shopping carts failed to provide.

It’s still believed that, had they stuck with the original programmer they would have had their website up and running efficiently, if not quickly.

Example 2: custom watch vs. Fossil

I’ve had a Fossil watch since 2001, when I was still just starting out in University. Fossil’s brash statement was that each watch contained an 11 year warranty, since it was supposed to be of very high quality. That watch has lasted me to this day, and I’ve only had to change the battery a few times, which is normal.

Now, there are European watch manufacturers that create custom, jewel encrusted watches. Those can go for hundreds to thousands of dollars. In a heartbeat, most people will go with the cheaper, efficient Fossil.

Example 3: Custom Suits vs. Knockoffs

When choosing suits for occasions, most people will buy a knockoff brand of a suit since it’s cheaper, then get it tailored at a cheap rate rather than pay $1,200 for a custom made, Italian suit.

That’s all there is to it. The western world operates in an instant-pleasure, me-first society. That’s just how it works. Me first, me me me, and cheap now, cheap cheap cheap.

Email Wars and Toxic Partnerships – End Both Now!

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Don’t you just love it when you’re involved in an email war with a BPCW (boss/partner/coworker) and are continuously CC’ing the client? My, the tension it creates!

Those kinds of situations should be an early indicator of a toxic partnership worth dropping like a hot potato. Work with harmony with your BPCW’s and partners and all will go well. The client and everyone else will take notice and appreciate you for it.

Tip: If it’s necessary to email or CC the client on certain issues, only do so when it’s absolutely necessary. The client generally has a million other things on his plate, therefore a quick read of your emails may brand you and your co-workers as complainers, and who needs to pay for that kind of service? The client only cares about results – that’s all he paid for, nothing else. Only contact the client in case of emergencies, and email the BPCW independently when doing the project. While this keeps the client out of the loop for a while, it’s much safer to not clutter up his inbox until the very end.

Drop nasty emails and toxic relationships with BPCW’s ASAP!

Rotsa Ruck Senōr – The evolving role of the CIO

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Kai-Fu Lee, Google's ex-head of China operations

As Dr. Jerry Luftman pointedly mentions in his book, “Managing Information Technology Resources,” (2009 Edition, page 157), in 1985, to be a Chief Information Officer (CEO), you had to be a “hierarchical kingpin, a dictator, a Technology guru, a mainframe bigot, having 20 years prior experience at IBM Laboratories, and possessing a Ph.D. at MIT.” In other words, being a big brain with a nasty attitude, having a high level of education and working at a niche company that’s unrelated to the current business for a certain amount of years, no matter how miserable you may be there. As well, one just having IT knowledge without being able to speak a word of business language to communicate effectively to other organizational members would “put one on top.”

Today, the CIO is a lot more. The CIO today must be a “visionary leader, a relationship manager, a marketer, one that’s open-systems oriented, having 20 years at LOB (line of business) management jobs, possessing just a Masters, and a minority (such as Spanish or Chinese).”

There are some big reasons for this change, which I will explain further.

One reason is that in the past, CIO’s were so ineffective in communicating with other organizational members and providing leadership that they had earned some derogatory nicknames. Names for CIO’s like “Career is Over,” “Career in Overdrive,” “Curious Information Obsession,” “Coding is Overrated,” “Cautiously Inspecting Outsourcers,” “Categorically Impossible Occupation,” “Chief Ignorance Officer,” “Crisis is Outgoing,” “Couch in Office,” “Curtailing Internal Operations,” “Confusing Indecipherable Occupation,” “Cafeteria is Open,” and “Career in Obscurity” (book, page 151) have abounded. Communication is of key importance, as is proper leadership. I can cite countless examples where things went wrong due to improper communication.

Being a visionary leader/relationship manager over a hierarchical kingpin is also important. A CIO who’s a hierarchical kingpin/dictator may mandate that processes are structured in a manner such that to use the washroom, one would need to impersonally fill out a “washroom usage form” (sic) with at least 20 signatures, no matter how badly one has to go. Suffice to say, the company’s progression in technology will go slower than a snail. There’s too much control, too much constriction, and many employees won’t appreciate that, save for not being motivated enough.

Being a minority while possessing just a Masters degree, today, provides one with a major advantage over one who has a Ph.D. while being a majority for one very simple reason. Culture in the US practically demands faster work done at a cheaper price. Being a minority, for better or worse, practically means that one can and will get paid less than someone born in the country where the services are being performed.  Why else do large like Microsoft outsource much of their work to countries like India and China (more so India since they speak British English, due in part to being heavily influenced by British culture throughout the first half of the 20th century)?

As well, naturally, one having a Masters degree will invariably earn less than one with a Ph.D. for the sole reason that earning a Ph.D. takes longer time, is much more difficult to earn, and  therefore warrants more money for the time invested.

So, one who’s a minority with a lower level of education will be cheaper for the employer. Cheap is good. I’m only surprised that Dr. Luftman didn’t mention that in the next 20 years one also will need to be a female since historically, females in a male-dominated society earn less than men do. While there are only 11% of women in CIO roles (source: Week 4 slides, slide 66) thereby making the future CIO requirements list “one who’s a minority, one who’s earned a Bachelors of Science degree, and one who’s a female.”

Is there anybody yet who I have NOT offended?

¿Hay alguien que no he ofendido?

是否有任何人,我没有得罪?

Internet Hell With a Caveman – Long Yet Hilarious

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Warning: Rant Ahead!

It’s usually disheartening to encounter the rare individual today that doesn’t know how to operate with today’s technological necessities. It’s even worse when such a caveman is mean and rude. The “caveman” I’m about to refer to is an owner of a well-known Barbecue and Grill place where he works, therefore I’m not disclosing any incriminating names or places.

Caveman #1: The Grilled Food Store-Owner

A number of years ago, when I had recently graduated from university, my uncle had approached me about a website opportunity for an acquaintance of his. This person was in the grilled/barbecue food industry, and was clueless about the first thing on how to operate a computer. At the time, the business lacked a computer, and for that matter, internet access. Their current business model revolved around two aspects: walk-in, paying customers, and a fax machine. Those that wanted their orders filled out took a form previously taken from the store, filled it out and faxed it to the place. It was indeed a primitive way to operate.

My uncle negotiated with the person, explaining that he needed a website to market to today’s generation. The fact that the owner had no computer, nor did he have the space to store one, wasn’t going to be an issue: the site would have a feature where a user submitted a form, and the form data faxed to his machine by using a custom fax-to-PDF method, which came through a 3rd party service. This site would cost approximately $1,000 for development. This was agreed on based on a handshake with no formal contract detailing what would be done – big mistake. Anyways, I then went to work, initially thinking that this was a lot of money (how wrong I was). Due to my inexperience at the time, I foolishly forgot about domain name and hosting registration costs, which for this person, at 2 years hosting and 10 years to own the domain name, came out to over $200 extra. I decided that, over the phone, I would pocket the costs and talk to him later about it.

I spoke with the owner a few times about it, and initially he agreed to pay the extra costs. Later on, he started to play dumb, repeatedly stating, after repeated reminders, that he “thought this was included in the cost” (which of course it wasn’t). To make matters worse, once the site was completed and ready for testing, he verified that the form-to-fax service indeed worked since he always “needed to find his wallet.” Also, since he didn’t have a computer, I had to print screenshots of how the site looked and fax it. When he complained that he wasn’t getting any online customers, I explained that he needed to market his website. In other words, he was looking for every excuse not to pay me (such manners). I guess that to him, I was a kid that he could withhold payment from as long as possible, and he being computer-illiterate, failed to appreciate the amount of work that it took to create the form and the Fax integration.

After not being able to receive payment from him, I asked my uncle, who initially arranged the partnership, to please pick up the money for me in exchange for a percentage of the pay. I don’t know what happened, but my uncle picked up two checks, one being post-dated for a later date, and mumbled to me that the person’s behavior towards me was just plain disgusting. Anyways, we exchanged monies and we let bygones be bygones.

Fast forward to a year later. I happened to meet a very nice girl, became engaged to be married, and naturally, was under a lot of stress in the process. Family, friends, where the wedding would take place, where we would live, where I would land a new full-time job should we move to location X, etc. Towards the wedding my nerves were shot (as was my bride’s), and naturally I was in no mood to be instigated.

All of a sudden, out of the blue, the owner of the site I built for a year ago calls me up and tells me, “I don’t like what you did! I paid for a service and it doesn’t work. All you know is how to take money.” I was understandably insulted because, in my mind, I provided a service on time that was tested, and payment came much later than it should have. Not only that, I doubted that he even ONCE went to the website. So, I blew up at him, screaming at the top of my lungs to get off my back, that I was getting married and already had enough pressures.

Apparently, the Form to PDF/Fax service failed to work for the online ordering form, but it worked for the main contact form. I decided to call this Form-To-PDF service, and found, to my chagrin, that level 2 support, let alone level 1, was indeed horrible. The people on the other line sounded like underpaid Indians who didn’t understand my question about Form to Fax. Apparently, in their online answer bank, they had tons of questions regarding emails/forms to PDF’s, and even Fax to PDF/email, but they didn’t have anything regarding a PDF that would do the reverse: go to a fax machine. After all, who operated with only a fax machine these days?

I tested the online form a few times, as well as the regular contact form. One worked, and one didn’t. In one of my testings, I submitted a mock email basically saying “Nu, I need more money!” The owner of the store, apparently disenchanted with me as well as having an “internet site,” as he put it, cancelled the form-to-fax service, rendering the form non-workable. When I called him about it, he told me, rightfully so from his end, that the service didn’t perform what his business requirements were. As a service, I disabled the form on the site, only keeping the “home” and “about us” pages intact. I also took on the hosting, using it for my domain names. Once the hosting package expired after the 2 years, I renewed it under my own credit card and as a service, hosted this person’s site for free.

Anyways, with so much on my mind, I didn’t think twice. I married, quit my low-paying job, settled in Toronto, and moved on.

Caveman #2: The Owner’s Wife

3 years later – yes, 3 years – after becoming more comfortably settled in, the owner’s wife, who knew how to operate a computer only a little better than her husband (although that didn’t say much), called me and left me a voice message commanding that I teach her how to use the “internet site.” I tried calling her back twice, leaving voice messages, but she didn’t get back to me. One day, my uncle calls me specifically to request that I speak with the wife, as he wasn’t hearing the end of it. He met the wife and asked her what happened. She explained that there was “phone tag” going on. He asked her when would be an available time for her to speak with me. She said she didn’t know. He asked her if her schedule was THAT hectic, to which she replied “ohhh yeahhh….” like she had a million and one things to do and therefore something that SHE was requesting had to be put on hold.

A few months later, the owner’s wife calls me, demanding that I teach her in a matter of minutes how to operate a website, something that took me, well, a lot longer than 5 minutes to learn. Out of courtesy, I spoke with her over the phone for not 5, 10 minutes, but close to 3 hours! She called me out of the blue, without asking if now was a good time for me, and made life unbearable for me. I failed to mention that I had a 30 page paper due for graduate school the following week, and with work, I valued my time very much. When she had a million things to do, that was important. But when I had a million things to do, everything had to be pushed aside! She mentioned that she was ready to learn how to use the site if it killed her. Never mind if it killed me!

This wasn’t a “how are you” conversation. This was a “how do I move my mouse” conversation, literally. She wanted to know how to enter data into a JPEG (I’m dead serious), edit HTML files graphically by default, and with that amount of knowledge, wanted to know how to upload files and pictures to her internet site. I directed her to FileZilla, gave her the username/password to her husband’s site, and attempted to teach her to upload/download files. Simple tasks like locating her downloads location, her desktop relative to her filesystem in the FileZilla interface, etc. alone was a 1 hour chore.

I could have suggested a CMS (content management system) for her needs, but a) it was doubtful that she and her husband would have paid the extra money for it, and b) training someone who wanted to enter data into a JPEG how to use a CMS, long-distance no less, would have been just as difficult . One of her children, during the phone conversation, came over and was amazed at what the mother was doing, to which she nonchalantly replied, “well I’m speaking with a professional, so he’s guiding me what to do.” Well, to be honest, it was more like pulling a leash on a dog that decided to sit rather than walk!

Needless to say, it was hell. The conversation ended rather unpleasantly from my end, and I just asked her to email me the pictures she wanted uploaded. She was about to email me….. until she realized that she didn’t know where the attachment button was! Apparently, after 10 minutes of deciphering, it was found that she was using iGoogle for Gmail, rather than logging into the main Gmail interface. Her settings therefore didn’t permit her to upload attachments from iGoogle.

Again, it was hell. The next day I received some more emails with “do this for my website” kinds of questions. Again, I wasn’t paid for any of this. I’m telling you, where was this person raised? In a barn? The one thing she and her husband had in common were manners – the each lacked them.

Here are some of those emails (with names and places changed):

  • Thanx a ton for your time and patience.  Please remember to change my (FTP) name to BerkOWitz.
  • Did you get the email yesterday?
  • I want to also send photos thanx
  • Did you get the email yesterday?

I called my uncle and told him “uncle, uncle!” Nah, but close. I asked him what should I do? He replied that, get this monkey off my back, I should offer her the option to pay for my services in time stamps, and that she would have 30 days to decide until I choose to take the website down for inactivity. I sent her the following email:

Mrs. Berkowitz,

Per your requests yesterday, I went ahead and added the menu pictures to the site. On website.com, you would go to “view menu,” then go to “Menu Picture.” Below that will appear a number of links where you would go to choose which menu you would like to see. As well, I’ve added the FTP user “mberkowitz” with the password “Berko123” (case-sensitive).

That said, I feel that now I must clarify that our 2 hour phone conversation yesterday was a courtesy one, as was the time in adding the pictures. Therefore, since there wasn’t agreed on, none of my time yesterday and today was charged. Moving forward, though, please understand that I must bill you for my consulting time. “Consulting” includes any phone conversations longer than 10 minutes, as well as any time uploading files/making changes. My normal hourly rate is at $XX per hour. What I can offer is “time blocks” in hours which you can purchase, and during those blocks my time is dedicated solely to maintaining your website as well as any other computer-related services I can provide over the phone.

If you feel that this rate is in any way shape or form unreasonable, or if you wish to go with somebody more local, then please feel free to try someone else. However please note as well, that for the past year and a half your website hosting package had in fact expired and that during this time I’ve hosted your website under my web host space (which I’m currently renting out, it’s not cheap) for free.

Therefore I am providing you 30 days to decide what to do. After this time period, should you not decide to use my services, the site will no longer be hosted on my server for free like it has until now. I can mail you the website files on a CD, if you’d like, but that’s about it. Otherwise, my offer still stands. If you would like to pay me online, I can accept Paypal. If you don’t have an account already, I can help set you up with one, but keep in mind that the time in doing so will cost extra.

Please understand that I don’t mean anything personal by what’s stated. I feel that my time is valuable, and that this is practically my means of livelihood. Why should I therefore work for free?

Best,

Me

To which she replied:

Again I want to thank you for the time you gave for free. I really appreciate it. I will need to make some inquiries and figure out where I want to go from here. Thanks. Please do come in for a free meal when you are in the area. Thanks again.

Conclusion

That was that. I sent a few reminder emails, to which she didn’t respond. It’s one thing to not understand how to operate a computer, but to be rude, self-imposing, and expect this kind of service for free, is just Chutzpah and caveman-like. Good riddance.

Lessons learned:

  • Don’t ever start work without a contract, if anything one detailing what you will do so that you and the client can reference it at a later time.
  • Learn when to “fire” the client, be mean if you have to. Don’t let the client or his wife ever take advantage of your time or professional experience, which you have worked years to attain.
  • Work with clients that “want” to learn the industry, even though you’re being paid to be the professional and in charge. Some willingness from their end is extremely important.

Quickbooks Mayhem – Theft or Shtick?

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A few years ago I worked for someone that serviced computers for small businesses. One day, my boss had asked me to visit a client/friend of his, who was known to be a bit of a shady character. The instructions were to uninstall Quickbooks from one machine and to install it on another using the existing key (Quickbooks will not allow the same license to be be run on two or more machines simultaneously).

I drove down to the client, and asked him for the Quickbooks key in order to perform the installation on the new machine. Checking his past emails in order to locate it, he told me that he must have misplaced/deleted it, but that I could call Quickbooks in his name in order to get it. He left the building, and I made the call. When the person on the other end asked me to verify my name, I said that my name was the client’s name instead (in order to avoid being told that only the person was allowed to speak). He looked at the account, and told me, “Sir, I don’t understand. In reading these notes, you previously called us to cancel, explaining that our software wasn’t supporting your business needs.” Embarrassed, I thanked him, and hung up the phone.

I then replayed the scenario and put two and two together. The person had likely bought the software with a 1 year license, installed it on one machine, activated the key, and then called to cancel in order to save money (he perhaps received the full refund). In other words, that was his way of getting Quickbooks for free! When I called support, I, representing the client and using the client’s name, was at the business end for his “game-playing.”

This according to most would not technically be considered outright stealing – after all, the client technically did purchase the product, only to cancel later on, lying that it wasn’t supporting his business needs in order to get the product for free. He technically manipulated the system, which speaks of that person’s character as well (but who cares about morals in business, anyways?). If you can find a technicality (notice how I’m using the word technically so many times here), milk it for what it’s worth.

I personally found this behavior “just plain wrong.” What one does in ones personal time is one thing, but to profit in business with “technically-not-stolen-but-cancelled-because-im-a-cheapskate” software, and then expecting to receive support, smells fishy.

Anybody have client/employer horror stories to share? We’re looking for more writers!

Web Designers: NEVER Work for Free, or Less Pay

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For some reason, most clients fail to see the value and effort it takes to make a GOOD website or logo. Depending on the website, one can expect to pay anywhere from a $200 you-get-what-you-pay-for website to a $100,000 fully fledged e-commerce web application. Many clients for some reason expect to pay $1,000 or less and expect the sun, moon, and stars handed to them on a silver platter, when in reality that sun, moon, and stars costs at LEAST 10-15 times more.

Then comes the client that expects work to be done for free. The same person who wouldn’t dare skimp on paying for groceries, clothing, or bills somehow finds ways to short-change the hard-working web designer simply because he FAILS TO SEE THE VALUE. Someone with limited knowledge of the internet naively assumes that a website guarantees instant wealth and power (mwahahahaha!), has them expecting to have the traffic and revenue of a site like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube rolled in one, without any business model whatsoever, and is disappointed when they find out that JUST A LITTLE more work needs to be done to get even a fraction there. ClientsFromHell.net is littered with cases like that, many of them being true stories.

Some classic client lines (borrowed from the ClientsFromHell.net website):

  • “Also, I will pay you when my website becomes popular like Facebook. For now, you can just work on it.”
  • “It’s kinda the same idea as facebook, with functionality more like Twitter, but with the innovation of Microsoft.”
  • “We want Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Twitter and E-Commerce rolled into this one site.”
  • “I want it to be like Facebook… I need to get it done for under $500.”

On a related note, Steve Jobs of Apple and Pixar has already determined for years that the typical client is a complete bozo with limited vision, possessing an IQ in the double-digits or less. He therefore came out with certain technology before others conceptualized it. He came out with a floppy-less iMac during the turn of the century when most people were relying on the Floppy drive. Instead, he had the futuristic-at-the-time USB ports inserted. Jobs saw that people were going to eventually move away from the archaic floppy drive, and he was right. Most people protested against him, but he refused to listen to them. His team of testers historically consisted of one person, himself, and ignoring client requests. The same can be said with Henry Ford when he came out with the Model T automobile during the turn of the 20th century. Mr. Ford once said that “if I had listened to what others said, they would have simply requested faster horses.”

Let’s face it: most clients do not know what they want, period. They rely on us, the experts, to tell them what to do. Otherwise, if they knew what they were doing, they would do it themselves. That said, being that they don’t know what they’re doing, they can’t possibly appreciate why building a website or logo can cost in the thousands of dollars. Not only is the effort that much greater for a harder-to-build website, but the potential ROI (return on investment) is greater as well.

In spite of everything, what is still admittedly amazing is that some clients expect web design work to be done for free. What makes things worse is that, while they rely on the professionals, they often challenge their work. As dumb as a client is, that is still a big insult to ones intelligence. The designer has every right to look at the prospective client with a hint of that mix of nausea and surprise.

Therefore, while the customer may always be right, the designer MUST be able to say “no” from time to time. Which is better, to have a plethora of cheap/free projects where the clients are always hounding you, or to have fewer higher-paying projects where the client is appreciative of your work and understands the value of high-quality work?

What We Can Learn From Chimps

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A while back I was reading a great post by SearchEngineMan on what we can learn from Chimpanzees.

This not only applies to internet tools, but in real life.

Below is the post in it’s unabridged form:

There are two kinds of chimpanzee’s: the ones that live in trees, and the ones that live on the ground.

When the chimpanzee’s in the trees look down, they see a bunch of smiling faces.

When the Chimpanzee’s on the ground look up, they see a bunch of ***holes.

There’s nothing worse when you are knee deep in your day to day tasks, when the HiPPO (Highest Individual Paid Per Organization(http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2006/10/seven-steps-to-creating-a-data-driven-decision-making-culture.html) dumps the latest emergency task on your plate, the one you hate. Never mind that they knew about the deadline weeks ago.

Since you’re such a smart worker you’ve already made allowances for these kinds of interruptions and race to get the task done. Again.

Your reward? Overtime catching up on your regular work.

What is truly annoying is that you will find this same situation repeats itself, but you’re too busy on the next task. “We just need to implement X-Technology to fix the problem!” – Everyone nods, nothing happens. Sound familiar?

Why Technology and the Internet fails in the Workplace?

How many gadgets on your cell phone do you actually use?

Is texting really an efficient use of your time?

Has email made your life less complicated?

This might explain the subconscious hostility arround Wiki’s, Apps, Blackberry’s, Schedulers, Calendar Software or Productivity technology. We roll our eyes when yet another technology enters the workplace.

This hostility by culture and refusal by management to embrace new tools is so ancient that we bump into our friends the chimpanzees.

Chimpanzee’s, Termite Popsicles and Power Tools

Chimpanzee’s developed a really effective method for extracting termites from a nest.

They take a stick, and lick it.

They plunge the stick into the termite nest

The termites get stuck on the stick

Voila! Instant termite Popsicle. Snack Time! (http://www.lpzoo.org/info/media-center)

A study was done to try to change the chimpanzee behavior, using better tools. Imagine what could be done to productivity?

They gave the chimpanzees power drills.

They took the power drill, and licked it.

They plunged the drill into the termite nest

The termites get stuck on the drill bit.

Voila! Instant termite Popsicle. Snack Time! Again!

(OK- we DIDN’T do this… PETA would not be amused. It’s an analogy…go with it…)

The problem is never the tools. Its the energy and investment and cost required to adopt technology and methods. Most HiPPO’s are not even aware of these problems, because they get someone else to clean up the mess (Chimpanzee’s in the trees). Your problem (as a ground dweller) is that you are rewarding bad behavior. It’s easier for the HiPPO to reach for his tool to get the job done…You!

Stop being a Tool!

To stop being a tool you must find a suitable replacement for your HiPPO’s habits. Not all of us have the luxury of saying no. Changing bad behavior means identifying the root of the problem, by gently showing the consequences to the HiPPO’s bottom line in a currency the HiPPO respects (Money, Ego, and Power).

The solution must be actionable by you and Dodo(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodo) simple, technology is your last line of resort.

Managing Client & Customer Expectations and get to the finish line before the HiPPO does.

Get somebody else (with power) to present your solutions to the HiPPO

Pulling a Scotty (Star Trek) -It’ll take 3 weeks (then do it in 1 week)

Swamp your HiPPO with details (They tune out and run away)

Show how the hated competition uses X method, so we should too. (EGO)

Be nice to your HiPPO, fix one of their problems in advance.

Make the HiPPO think it was their idea in the first place.

Say No (nicely)

The bottom line is you are not going to change the behavior with technology. It won’t work with Chimpanzee’s and it won’t work with your HiPPO. He still uses his uber-powerful computer like a type writer / TV crossover…

I’m curious if any of you have managed to get your chimpanzee to use any power tools.

Do you have any HiPPO stories? Feel free to share.