ColdFusion Muse

The Muse Takes Another Crack at Qw...uh... Pest Communications

Mark Kruger August 4, 2009 6:04 PM Humor and Life Comments (2)

I had another cold call from the phone company who's name fittingly rhymes with Pest. I know I know, I should give it a rest already. But these folks are so darn persistent it is hard not to take a poke at them. Here's how it went:

  • Jane [with a noticable Hindi accent]: This is Jane from Pest Communications. I would like a few minutes of your time. This is not a sales call. I just need to ask you about your current voice and data services.
  • Muse [While hating myself for thinking "Jane... really? Not Jalaja?"]: I don't think we are a Pest customer. Are we?
  • Jane [undeterred]: It will only take a few minutes sir, I just need to ask you a few questions about your current voice and data service.
  • Muse: ...and this is not a sales call.
  • Jane: No sir, we just need some information about your current contract.
  • Muse: ... and you know we are not a Pest customer right?
  • Jane [A bit like a bad rap song now... or maybe I should say a bit like a rap song]: Yes sir, we just need some information about your current voice and data services.
  • Muse: ... and Jane (may I call you Jane), why does Pest feel like they need this information?
  • Jane [sounding desperate now]: We just need to ask a few questions about your current contract. It will only take a few minutes.
  • Muse: But I don't think my current contract is any of Pest's business. What is Pests interest in the information?
  • Jane [wailing like Hermione after drinking the Cat's Polyjuice potion]: It will only take a few minutes sir. We just need to ask you a few questions.
  • Muse: No thank you, I don't wish to tell you anything about our current service or contracts. Could you take us off of your list?
  • Jane [calm now]: Thank you for your time.
Now perhaps I was unkind to Jane. I know she was just trying to do her job and she probably doesn't actually work for Qwe... er... Pest either. She's just the contract employee of some big call center somewhere that probably pays her half of an actual living wage. So let me say publicly to Jane that I'm sorry. Don't take my surly truculence too hard. The Muse is a tough nut to crack. In fact it has been years since anyone cold-called the Muse and managed to engage him in an actual conversation - let alone sell him anything.

Lest you think I'm alone, I have noticed that our society is becoming more and more jaded when it comes to marketing. I suppose it is inevitable. As consumers (particularly the under 40 crowd) get more savvy they become inoculated to most run of the mill sales techniques. Speaking for myself I never click on text link ads (nor do any of my readers apparently) or banner ads. I don't read marketing emails. I don't peruse the ads in the paper, or watch TV commercials (except for Geico commercials which I find amusing). And of course, I immediately cut off anyone I don't already know who calls me with a sales pitch.

The way I see it (and perhaps it's just me), the Internet has opened up the whole universe of knowledge, services and products to me as a searcher. I can usually find whatever I need. There is practically nothing I want or need that requires a sales person. I even bought my most recent pair of shoes on line. Indeed, I'd rather be stuffed with celery and onions, and periodically basted with butter in a 400 degree oven until golden brown than have to spend more than thirty seconds talking to someone who is trying to sell me something for which I'm not already looking. Now I'm off to work on my CF Webtools sales campaign for the 4th quarter (expect a phone call).

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Sean Keith at the Sarpy County Fair

Mark Kruger July 31, 2009 1:29 PM Humor and Life Comments (0)

This post is for all you local Omaha folks. My good friend and fellow musician Sean Keith will be playing out at the Sarpy County Fair tonight at 6:00 pm. Sean is an exceptional Christian musician. He's the worship leader at our church and he has a new CD coming in the fall. He's also an all around good guy, my coffee klatch sounding board and sometimes golfing partner. Come on out, grab a corn dog, and listen to one of the best vocal talents I know.

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Good Bye to One of Our Favorite Geeks

Mark Kruger July 24, 2009 10:51 AM Humor and Life Comments (5)

Last week one of my favorite developers walked into my office and gave his 2 week notice. Ryan Stille has taken a position with another company here in Omaha. We are extremely sad to see him go. Not Dumbledore dying in book 6 sad... but still really sad. I first met Ryan Stille years ago when I started the Nebraska ColdFusion User Group ( He and his co-worker drove to the meetings from Sioux City - about an hour and a half away. I had no idea that this chance meeting would turn into such a long and profitable friendship for me.

A little more than 3 years ago I was looking for an addition to my growing staff and Ryan graciously consented to come on board as a ColdFusion programmer. Ryan has been a tremendous asset to our staff in the time he has been here and CF Webtools has grown with his help and expertise. For one thing, we were mostly a Windows shop when Ryan came on board, but by now we are about half Windows and half Linux. It's no small feat to convince a guy (yours truly) who has made his living as an MCSE to move the bulk of his heavy lifting to Linux, but Ryan's quiet confidence made it a piece of cake.

Here are a few things I learned from Ryan over the years we have been associated.

  • Practically everything I know about Linux.
  • There is always a better way to do things.
  • There is probably a cheaper way to do things.
  • What an "unconference" is.
  • Geeks can be NASCAR fans.
  • Some ice is better than others. As a corollary, not all "on-tap" soft drinks are created equal.
  • If you are persistent you can buy a great used car for next to nothing.
  • 3 monitors are better than 2.
  • When it comes to monitors size does matter/
  • A good RC helicopter is expensive and can cause injury.
  • How to successfully manage a user group.

I hope he shines as brightly for his next employer as he has here at CF Webtools. He will be greatly missed. Actually, it's my fondest hope that he really hates his next place and comes crawling asking for his job back (with a substantial raise of course :). Anyway, good luck to you Ryan. We'll keep track of you on your blog and see you at the user group meetings. Here's hoping you continue to increase in knowledge and experience. I know if hard work and intelligence equal success you will undoubtedly rise to the top wherever you go.

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TNT's "Leverage" Infiltrated by Oklahoma Fans?

Mark Kruger July 23, 2009 11:57 AM Humor and Life Comments (13)

One of the shows I like to watch with my wife and teenage kids is Leverage which stars (as TNT is constantly reminding us in promos) "Oscar winning Timothy Hutton". Actually the rest of the cast is pretty good too. This escapist drama is about a team of skilled criminals who have turned into white knights - taking down fat cats and power bosses on behalf of the little guy. The show reminds me of the slick British drama Hustle.

Normally I like Leverage. It is a fun and quirky romp that doesn't take itself too seriously. There is always a "gotcha" moment where you finally figure out how they make the big score. Unfortunately, Last night's episode "The Tap Out Job" was a huge disappointment in what has been an otherwise entertaining group of episodes. Why you ask? Well it became painfully obvious to me (and anyone else who has visited, driven through, read about, seen pictures of, flown over, or watched "The Tonight Show" before 1992) that the writers of Leverage are either too lazy to do any actual research or they are ignorant, prejudice, and snobbish with little experience outside of a the cocoon of Hollywood. If you want my no holds barred reasons why - read on.

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Google Wave - The Next Thing?

Mark Kruger June 3, 2009 1:49 PM Humor and Life Comments (6)

Like most geeks I love technology. I'm always reading about the cutting edge of research. I can become as engrossed in an online white paper about nano-technology as I am in my favorite TV Show - which is a toss up between the gritty AMC Drama Breaking Bad and the light hearted and endearing (although occasionaly gruesome) Pushing Daisies with the irrepresible Kristin Chenoweth as former Jockey-turned-waitress Olive Snook. Who else could make unrequited love seem so appealing and delicious... but I digress. This "forward leaning" interest in technology tends to create a momentum for me and even for my company (CF Webtools) that makes me prone to try new things. So when Google announces a ground breaking new paradigm for collaboration my temptation is to say "count me in". In case you missed the hype I'm talking about Google Wave which was previewed at Google I/O.

Google Wave aims to combine elements of email, chat, blogging, micro-blogging, collaboration, source control, and social networking into a single interface that claims to draw in all the best features of these tools while eliminating some of the annoying drawbacks. The paradigm for Google Wave moves away from "messages" and toward a "conversation". That might seem too abstract to matter, but such idioms are important because they give us an anchor - a point of reference for understanding something new.

Let me say at the outset that I'm positively inclined toward this product (at least, what I've seen of it). I can see how it would benefit my own team in many ways. I'm already thinking of how I might enhance our vast, custom tracking system using the Wave Protocol. One of the best things about Wave isthe protocol layer and integration strategy. So I am not against the product - indeed I'm rooting for it. I would love to get rid of our hodgepodge of tools in favor of one elegant way of collaborating. Still, I see some problems for Wave on the horizon. So if you want the contrarian view read on...

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Fun With Qw...Uh...Acme Communications

Mark Kruger May 15, 2009 1:20 PM Humor and Life Comments (1)

Muse readers and friends who know me well understand that I'd rather have my nether regions bitten by a Laplander than deal with sales people over the phone. However, as a (usually) caring person, I try not to let my personal ire show too forcefully when one of these hard working sales folks call. I know they are just doing their job. Recently however, one phone company has caused me to rethink my "no throttling the sales person" position. I won't say their name but it begins with a Q and ends with est - and in a twist it does not have a U in it. I guess these folks don't know how to spell NO either because they keep calling.

Usually it is pretty typical stuff like "are you happy with your phone service". I'm actually not happy with my phone service but I prefer not to discuss it with strangers over the phone. Still I'm usually pretty nice and say something like "we are not ready to make a change right now." The last 2 times however, the salesman has chosen a new tack. They are now trying to wheedle additional proprietary information out of me. Today things did not go so well....

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The Inquisitive Mind

Mark Kruger April 27, 2009 1:32 PM Project Management, Humor and Life Comments (4)

A misconception about technical folks is that they are fully left-brained and incapable of true creativity. Anyone on the inner circle of geekdome knows this is not the case, but folks on the outside looking in often only see the engineering skills - attention to detail and minutia, obsession with systems and process, and a penchant for pocket protectors. Of course in the last 10 years you can add flip flops, body piercings and a sort of pigeon English consisting of acronyms, techno-babble and quips from Monty Python and the Princess Bride. That should tell you something in itself. There's more to IT folks than numbers and obscure discussions about the best Star Trek Movie (Khaaaan!!!!). That got me thinking.

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The Muse Feigning Brilliance

Mark Kruger April 14, 2009 11:04 AM Humor and Life Comments (4)

Muse note: This is a post in the "humor and life" category. Allthough no CF developer has been harmed in the writing of this post, there are no useful tips on CF here.

I have an annoying reputation of being able to stare at debugging information and code carefully for a few minutes and then come up with a solution that others could not see. If I can say so without seeming immodest (and really, a lack of modesty is my only flaw), I am often right. Being a good debugger and troubleshooter is a function of how I am wired. I tend to outline possibilities in my head, make lists, and test them mentally to figure out which one has the best potential for being a magic bullet. Along with this mental prioritization, I have a talent for seeing the whole system - code, drivers, database, networking, browser etc - instead of narrowly focusing on just one aspect of a given problem. This serves me well in my capacity as a consultant and occasional mentor for the developers who do most of the work here at CF Webtools.

A few days ago a couple of the brightest and most cleverest developers on my staff called me into one of their offices for a consolation. They were receiving a cfquery error that said something like "incorrect syntax at @p8". It was in a query of a query - which as you may know often throws rather obscure and indecipherable errors. In this case they were using cfqueryparam inside of the query of a query. While that is not strictly necessary it shouldn't cause any problems either so no harm no foul right? The developers where convinced this a problem with the quirkiness of Q of a Q and they needed a second opinion. The error did not make sense to them and they had gone over the code pretty carefully. That's when they sent up the bat signal and called me in....

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