Annoying your user base never pays off!

lego-face-angryThis post is heavily inspired by the events of #RIPTwitter and the recent Fine Brothers fiasco, but it could apply to just about any company, product or person. When I say user base, I could easily mean customers or fan base.

There is a tendency for success to breed a certain level of arrogance. I think many of us have fallen victim to that in a small way from time to time. Now magnify the level success you might have encountered by several orders of magnitude and I think you will start to realise how disconnected most successful people and companies can become. As you become more disconnected, the normal feedback mechanisms start to break down. You are surrounded by hangers on who act like everything you say is the word of God. Without those feedback mechanisms holding you in check, it’s easy to spiral out of control. We see it again and again with popstars and actors. Recently we’ve seen examples of this in social media, as mentioned earlier.

In addition, companies are in the difficult position of having to be seen to grow and develop. If a company stands still, everyone, including the shareholders, believe they are dying. Balancing the needs of the shareholders and the user base is not an easy thing. Having said that, annoying your user base never pays off. Even if you think you’ve got away with it, it’s filed away ready to be resurrected the next time you annoy them. Twitter and the Fine Brothers have had the equivalent of an extramarital affair. As a result, some will choose to leave. Some will stay, pretending they can forgive and forget, but in reality it’s all just been stored in the bank for use later.

As I said at the start, this could be a post about any number of products, people or companies. It doesn’t matter who it is targeted at, the message is the same.

You can only kick a dog so many times before it bites back!

Cheers

Tim…

(Not So) Internal Dialogue

internal-dialogueWhen I wrote about rehearsals in my public speaking tips series, I mentioned talking through small sections of the presentations as a means for rehearsals. I do this a lot! I live on my own, so this is not an internal dialogue. I say this stuff out loud.

This morning I was talking through some ideas as I left the house and cleared the ice off the car. I continued during the journey to work, including when I got out of the car to get a coffee from the Costa Express at the garage. Even as I was unlocking the office door.

If you happen see me doing this in the street, I’m not talking to an imaginary friend. It’s an imaginary audience. If you’re gonna do crazy, you might as well do it at scale… :)

Cheers

Tim…

YouTube : 6 Months and 1000 Subscribers!

That’s right, it’s been a touch over 6 months and my YouTube channel has just hit the 1000 subscriber mark. :)

This YouTube experience has been quite odd. My plan was to try and upload a video every weekday for the first 2 months, and I came pretty close to hitting that target. Once I had got a bit of content on the channel, I was inevitably going to kick back a little. After all, there is the website, the blog, life and that annoyance they call work to consider. I think a realistic target is to aim for is 1-2 videos a week.

There will inevitably be periods (like this last 2 weeks) where I don’t hit that, but just like writing, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. It’s the normal ebb and flow of things.

So far the technical videos have almost all been based on command line examples, which is similar to my approach when doing technical presentations. That’s suited me while I’ve been finding my feet, but over time there will be a number of different formats. I’m probably going to avoid having my image in the videos. I don’t like being in front of the camera that much, as I have to suck my gut in for extended periods of time. :) I liked doing the car videos, as I was less self conscious about the camera while I was concentrating on the driving, but the sound quality was really bad, so I’m not sure if I’ll do more of those. We shall see.

The channel content will become more eclectic over time, because the DBA job is quite eclectic. There’s no point trying to bullshit about being a specialist, because I’m not one.

I would quite like to try my hand at some totally non-technical stuff, like a vlog maybe, but if I do that, it will probably end up on another channel, so it doesn’t dilute this channel too much. We’ll see what happens.

Anyway, to everyone who has subscribed so far, thank you. Thanks to all the folks that have done cameos for me so far. I’ve got a whole bunch more coming. If you’ve not already seen my channel, give it a try and see what you think.

Here’s to the next 1000 subscribers!

Cheers

Tim…

 

Happy New Year 2016!

New-Year-Eve-2016Happy New Year to everyone! Yes, even you!

I’m not big on new years resolutions, since I always end up breaking them on the first visit to the 24 hour Tesco store down the street! So in a similar vein to a post I wrote in 2012, here is my mission statement for the year!

Content

  • Keep doing the website and the blog. Hopefully this should be one I actually achieve. :)
  • Try to keep making videos for my YouTube channel. I enjoy doing the videos, but they take so long to produce it’s really not a good use of my time. It would be easier if I quit everything else and just focused on it, but that wouldn’t really make sense, but then again…
  • Diversify. I’m not talking about a full on change of direction, but I shouldn’t be scared to try different things out. If they work, great. If they fail, move on. Sounds so simple, but does always feel that way.

Fitness

  • I’m starting 2016 the heaviest I’ve been in a long time, over 250 pounds or over 115 Kg for you metric types. At my age and with my medical history, it’s really not a great place to be. You gotta eat less if you wanna see 2017 man!
  • Keep going to the gym. I love going to the gym and I like chucking round loads of weight. I’ve probably got to hold back a bit more for the sake of my wrists, elbows and shoulders.
  • Keep stretching, but pay some more attention to back flexibility and general posture. There’s no point having great posture for a few minutes of yoga, then slouching for the rest of the day.
  • More cardio! Swimming is the only cardio I enjoy, but to put it mildly, I dislike other swimmers. I should start walking more.

So really, this year has to be a year of moderation in everything to do with fitness. Especially where food is concerned.

Work

This is weird one for me, because basically I just shouldn’t work. I’m good at the technical side of IT, but I am terrible at the politics and bullshit. What would make me happy is to quit my job and go back to the life I had for the 4 years before I started working at this place. Just sitting at home, playing with tech and writing about it, with the odd conference thrown in for good measure.

The problem is, writing about technical stuff when you are not using it daily in your job is bullshit. You end up in this little bubble of idealism and totally lose touch with the day-to-day grind that most developers and DBAs have to deal with.

I need to work so that I stay connected with reality, which has a beneficial effect on my content.

Personal

Just “do me” and forget about the haters. The more popular you get, the more haters you acquire. The internet is a toxic place and you’ve just got to try and ignore them.

I think that will do for now! :)

Have a good year everyone, and I hope you achieve at least a few of your goals for the year!

Cheers

Tim…

Twitter : Is it a valuable community contribution? (Follow Up)

There was some pretty interesting feedback on yesterday’s post, so I thought I would mention it in a follow up post, so it doesn’t get lost in the wasteland of blog comments. :)

Remember, I wasn’t saying certain types of tweets were necessarily good or bad. I was talking about how *I* rate them as far as content production and how they *might* be rated by an evangelism program…

  • Social Tweets : A few people including Martin, Oyvind, Stew and Hermant, mentioned how social tweets are good for binding the community and helping to meet other like-minded people. I agree and I personally like the more random stuff that people post. The issue was, does this constitute good content that should be considered for your inclusion in an evangelism program? I would say no.
  • Timeline : Baback, Matthew, Noons, Hermant all mentioned things about the timeline issue associated with Twitter. Twitter is a stream of conciousness, so if you tune out for a while (to go to bed) or you live in a different time zone to other people, it is easy for stuff to get lost. You don’t often come across an old tweet, but you will always stumble upon old blog posts and articles, thanks to the wonders of Google. :) The quick “disappearance” of information is one of the reasons I don’t rate Twitter as a good community contribution.
  • Notifications : There was much love for notification posts. These days I quite often find things via Twitter before I notice them sitting in my RSS reader. I always post notifications and like the fact others do too, but as I said yesterday, it is the thing you are pointing too that is adding the most value, not the notification tweet. The tweet is useful to direct people to the content, but it in itself does not seem like valuable community participation to me, just a byproduct of being on Twitter.
  • Content Aggregation : Stew said an important point where content aggregation is concerned. If you tweet a link to someone else’s content, you are effectively endorsing that content. You need to be selective.
  • Audience : Noons mentioned the audience issue. Twitter is a public stream, but being realistic, the only people who will ever notice your tweets are those that follow you, those you tag in the tweet or robots mindlessly retweeting hashtags. Considering the effective lifespan of a tweet, it’s a rather inefficient mechanism unless you have a lot of followers, or some very influential followers.

So I’m still of a mind that Twitter is useful, but shouldn’t be the basis of your community contribution if you are hoping to join an evangelism program. :)

Cheers

Tim…

Update: I’ve tried to emphasize it a number of times, but I think it’s still getting lost in the mix. This is not about Twitter=good/bad. It’s about the value you as an individual are adding by tweeting other people’s content, as opposed to creating good content yourself. All community participation is good, but just tweeting other people’s content is less worthy of attention *in my opinion*, than producing original content.

If someone asked the question, “What do I need to do to become an Oracle ACE?”, would you advise them to tweet like crazy, or produce some original content? I think that is the crux of the argument. :)

Of course, it’s just my opinion. I could be wrong. :)

Owning Your Content

Another thing that came out of my conversation with Zahid Anwar at OOW15, was about owning your content.

If your intention is to make a name for yourself in the community, it’s important you think about your “brand”. Most of us old-timers didn’t have to worry about this, and sometimes get a bit snooty about the idea of it, but we started early, so it was relatively easy to get noticed. For new people on the scene, it’s a much harder proposition.

It’s possible to write content on sites like Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, but I’m not sure that’s the best way to promote “your brand”. In some communities it might be the perfect solution, but in others I think you are in danger of becoming a faceless contributor to their brand.

In my opinion, it would be better to start a blog or website, then post links to your content to the other resources as part of promoting yourself. That way, you remain the owner of the content and it helps promote your brand.

I’ve said similar stuff to this in my Writing Tips series.

Cheers

Tim…

Site Maintenance (20th Sept 2015 22:00 GMT) : Update

DiagnosticsLast night was the big server move. According to my monitoring, the site went down at approximately 23:30 GMT last night and was back again by 01:30 GMT this morning, so the site was offline for about 2 hours.

Everything looks normal to me this morning, so it I guess the move of my server between the racks in their data centre went OK. :)

Cheers

Tim…

My Glamorous Life : Just so you don’t misunderstand…

If you’ve subscribed to my YouTube channel, you will have noticed me posting some videos with the title “My Glamorous Life : …“.

I had several distinct plans for this trip:

  • Do the OTN tour itself. That is of course the real reason we are doing this!
  • Collect some video footage of the conferences so I could produce little montage for each, just to help me remember it. I’ll do that when I get home and can sift through the footage to see if any is usable. Fingers crossed.
  • Film Machu Picchu. I kind-of failed there because I got I’ll, but I do have this little montage of the journey.
  • Document how boring, tedious and stressful the logistics of doing these tours really is.

I started on that last task with the footage of Charles de Gaule airport and Buenos Aires airport, which I think pretty much summed up how dull travelling is. Its not a criticism of the airports themselves. Just that most of your time on these tours is spent sitting in airports, planes, taxies and sleeping in hotels. There is very little time actually in each country.

After those first two videos, I went a bit off the plan and started to film the hotel rooms, which are actually rather glamorous really, at least to me anyway. Added to that, we were rushing around airports so much I kept forgetting to film them. So this series that was meant to convince you how bad travelling can be, now looks more like two weeks in the life of a budget Kim Kardashian.

That makes me a little nervous, as I don’t want people to get the wrong message about what we are doing here. Just to clear things up, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • We use Oracle approved hotels, typically with an Oracle discount, unless we can get it cheaper than the corporate rate. In most cases, this discount makes them a similar price to staying in a Travelodge in London. So despite how cool some of these places look, they are really rather cheap. If you booked them yourself they are crazily expensive, but with the corporate discount, they are a bargain.
  • Several people on the tour travel for work and have airline and hotel status, allowing them to sign mere mortals like me into executive lounges to get freebies, like breakfast and evening meals, which means I’m not having to pay for them myself. Without this, the tour would be even more expensive as we can’t claim those expenses back.
  • All sightseeing discussed is naturally at our own expense. We (Debra really) arranged flight times to maximise the time we spent in cities, so we could fit in the odd tour, but if we had gone for midday flights we would have seen pretty much nothing of any of the cities, as it was conference-fly-conference-fly pretty much all the way through.
  • Since this tour finished in Peru, Debra and I decided to tag on an extra couple of days to go and see Machu Picchu. All flights, transport, hotels etc. during this time came out of our own pockets.
  • During my trip home from Peru I spent the day in a hotel because of a long layover (14 hours) and upgraded my flight home to business class. These costs came out of my own pocket. They are not paid for by the ACE Program.

I guess I’m getting a bit paranoid now, but it does make me nervous to think I might be giving people the wrong impression about these tours. They are bloody hard work. Anything else you can fit in around them is a bonus, but certainly not the main focus.

Anyway, enough of my paranoid wittering. I’m off to eat more food in an airport executive lounge, which I paid for myself. :)

Cheers

Tim…

Lima to Amsterdam

I left the hotel a little late, but the airport was literally across the road, so it was no big deal. Having a business class ticket meant I checked in immediately (+1) and even had time to hit the lounge (+2). High class swanky time, and without needing to be signed in for once. :)

Boarding the flight was pretty straight forward. Once again, the business class ticket gives priority boarding (+3), without me having to tag along with Debra.

The KLM flight from Lima, Peru to Amsterdam, Netherlands was about 12 hours and 30 minutes, but it was a great flight. Upgrading to business class was a great move. I find it really hard to sleep in an upright position, so being able to lie flat is awesome (+4). I was in a seat with nobody either side of me, so I felt really isolated, which made sleeping even easier. These long flights are so much better if you can get some sleep!

Aside from sleeping, I watched:

  • Wild Card : Not too bad. I like quite a few of the films Jason Statham has been in. Even the bad ones. :)
  • Seventh Son : Typically fantasy stuff. Witches, dragons and slayers etc. Quite good, but Jeff Bridges voice annoyed me.
  • The Big Lebowski : Seeing Jeff Bridges in the previous film made me want to re-watch this film, where his voice does not annoy me. :)
  • The Amityville Horror : Slept through a lot of it. I’ve seen it before. It’s an OK remake I guess.
  • The Green Lantern : OK. I know it is a pretty poor film, but I just scanned through to find clips that looked cool. :)

The staff were really pleasant and helpful. All in all a very good experience and well worth the money in my opinion.

On arriving in Amsterdam, I headed over to the lounge to see if I could get in. I’m not sure how other lounges work, but KLM allow you in on arrival as well as departure (+5), which is awesome, because I’m stuck here for about 6 hours in total. If I had spent 14 hours in Lima airport and 12.5 hours in economy, I would be feeling totally psycho by now. As it is, I’m feeling pretty good. Hopefully, by the time I get home I will be tired enough to sleep and I can wake up and go to work as normal tomorrow…

So for me, that was +5 for the flight upgrade. Thanks KLM! I could get addicted to this, and very poor. :)

I’ll write a wrap-up post when I get home… :)

Cheers

Tim…

PS. I’ve also got some quick montage videos of the conferences to edit when I get home, provided the footage I’ve got works OK…

Cusco to Lima

It was a 3:30 start, which after broken sleep and the events of the day before had me a little worried. We got a taxi to the airport in Cusco, which is the coldest airport I have ever experienced. After checking in, we headed to the departure gate, which was also freezing. The departure gate was interesting. The lady brought her own laptop, microphone and speaker to make the announcements. :)

We got on to the coldest plane I’ve ever been on. I don’t remember seeing people on a plane in coats and woolly hats before. :) After a quick flight we got to Lima airport, where I said goodbye to Debra, who is flying back to Northern Ireland, via Miami and London.

Having a 14 hour layover in Lima, I decided to check in to a hotel at the airport and sleep for a while. I also upgraded my flight home to a business class flight. The combination of the Machu Picchu trip, airport hotel and business class flight home have added up to quite a lot of money, but if I get home in a reasonable state, it will be worth it. :)

Cheers

Tim…