ATG Insight Live 2007 – Day 1 Keynotes

April 30, 2007

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I’m in Charleston, South Carolina this week attending ATG’s annual user conference. This morning was dominated by keynote addresses.
ATG President and CEO kicked off the opening day keynotes with a perspective on ATG and their sole focus on eCommerce.
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Kelly Mooney, President and Chief Experience Officer Resource Interactive, gave the main keynote on The Open Brand. Kelly, whose new book also titled The Open Brand, presented some intriguing research into the social aspects of eMarketing to the Millennium generation.

The keynotes were capped by Cliff Conneighton, ATG’s Senior Vice President of Marketing. Cliff highlighted how ATG is focusing on personalization and the social aspect of online shopping.

I’m off to individual sessions now – will post more later.

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A Pirate Looks at, well … a Little More Than 40

April 29, 2007

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Jimmy Buffett was in town last night so we packed up our Margaritas and headed to Frisco, Texas. Jimmy put on a great show and there were plenty of drunks to entertain us.

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Where’s Ed? He was here just a minute ago!

April 17, 2007

In case you haven’t heard, the Democratic US Congress has been trying everything they can think of to pass a bill that stipulates a deadline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. President Bush doesn’t like this idea very much. I’m not sure I do either but W and I are probably not on the same wavelength.

I don’t think we should be in Iraq at all but since W and his cronies have us there it seems to me that it might be irresponsible to pull out and let the puppet Iraqi government collapse. I’m really conflicted about this. Should we try to salvage the mess that Iraq has become at the expense of the lives of more service people? I just don’t know and I’m damn glad it isn’t up to me.

One person it is partially up to is Senator Mark Pryor (D-AK) who has a plan. Senator Pryor feels that the problem Mr. President has with a withdrawal date is that everyone will know about it. Now, if we had a secret withdrawal date, that would be OK, right? W loves secrets!

Senator Pryor’s plan is that Congress pass a bill that contains a withdrawal date but that they make the date a secret. That way all the evil doers in Iraq can’t make any plans and will have to just continue killing Americans as usual.

You see, according to Senator Pryor the only people who would actually know the secret withdrawal date would be:

  • Every one in Congress
  • Every one at the White House
  • Every one in the Iraqi government
  • Michael Moore and his immediate family

Ok, I made that last one up. Still you can see that with only the few thousand people listed involved there would be almost no chance of a leak! Can’t you just see it now, one morning in Baghdad:

Abdul: Mohammad, where did the Americans go?
Mohammad: I do not know, they were here just a minute ago.
Abdul: Who are we going to kill now?
Mohammad: I do not know, let’s go back to bed.

It’s pretty clear that a secret withdrawal would throw the insurgents into a tail spin. It would likely be a week or more before they overthrew the Iraqi government.

I explained this secret withdrawal plan to my parrot Dorian but all he said was, “Stoooopid“. Not sure if he meant Senator Pryor or me. I just couldn’t get Dorian to understand the real issue here: If we withdraw from Iraq, secretly or not, what will happen to Halliburton profits? Probably didn’t think of that, did ya Pryor?


Welcome Kermit!

April 7, 2007

KermitKermit, a Green Pacific Parrolet joined our family yesterday. Kermit journeyed by car from his hatch place in Nebraska all the way down here to sunny Texas. Kermit says he misses the corn-husker state, but not much. He is settling into his new home and will meet his new siblings in a few weeks when he emerges from isolation.

Give Kermit a warm welcome! It’s not easy to be green.


ATG Dynamo – Restricted Access Means Low Sales

April 6, 2007

The current issue of Entertainment Weekly has a nice article by Stephen King (yes, that Stephen King) describing how he has discovered a wonderful new book completely by accident. Stephen’s point is that he believes that the book’s publisher is doing everything possible to discourage people from buying a copy.

Now, it’s hard to believe that is the publishers intent but I understand where Steve (may I call you Steve, Mr. King?) is coming from. It reminded me of what I consider equally stupid moves in the Java application server market.

In particular I’m reminded of ATG who seems for the world to want developers to stay as far away from their products as possible. First a disclaimer, I work for a company that is a huge ATG customer so, presumably, I can have access to all the products, documentation, and support available at ATG. But I don’t want to approach this as an existing customer, I want to be a developer in a large company who would like to learn about ATG Dynamo and possibly recommend it to my management.

So, I start out by trying to learn about ATG products. The main site is just marketing fluff and tells me nothing. But – I notice way down on the bottom of the screen in a teeny tiny font a link named Developers. Yea!

Going in to the developer section requires me to register but it’s free and I don’t mind. Now, as a newly registered user, I’m qualified to request product downloads. I didn’t say I could download products I said I could request the privilege. I do so and, after some time I am given the right to download the product along with a 31 day evaluation license. Now I don’t know how you feel about these types of licenses but I hate them. Why? Because I might not have time in the next 30 days to perform an adequate evaluation of the product. How arrogant of ATG to think I have nothing else to do but look at their offerings!

Still, I’m going to jump on the opportunity to take a look at ATG’s offering. I download the product but where do I go from here? I notice a link named Product Documentation and think, Ah Ha – they must have an installation manual. Clinking the link I am informed that ATG Product Documentation is only available to existing ATG customers with an active support contract. WTF! You read that right you can evaluate an ATG product in exchange for some personal information but you have to buy the product and pay for a support contract before you can get a peek at any documentation. How stupid is this?

So now I have a product that will only work for the next 30 days and absolutely no documentation, installation or otherwise. To me this is ATG screaming, “Don’t buy this product“.

Now, just for grins, let’s compare this scenario with an evaluation of BEA System’s WebLogic. Like ATG, BEA requires a free registration to download products but, at least, I don’t have to tell them what I’d like to try and wait for my request to be approved. After registering I can download any current BEA product and give it a try. But what about the documentation that ATG reserves for paying customers? Well, BEA makes all their technical documentation available to anyone who cares to read it. You can browse it online or download a PDF to take with you.

Finally what about that 30 day license? Well BEA is smart enough to know that making tools available to developers for personal use and/or evaluation is a good way to win mind share. WebLogic may be downloaded by anyone and used for development without a license. That’s right, download, install, and use – no license required.

But wait! What prevents people from running their production web sites on WebLogic without buying a license. Ah! This is where BEA’s cleverness really shines. Without a purchased license WebLogic will only accept http connections from 5 unique IP addresses. Brilliant! This gives a developer all the rope they need but makes an unlicensed version of WebLogic useless for running a public website.

So there you have it – a Tale of Two Companies as it were. BEA who says “Play with our products for as long as you like and learn how to use them” and ATG who says, “If you aren’t a paying customer we really don’t give a crap if you learn about our products or not“.

Who would you prefer to do business with?


Breaking News!

April 6, 2007

200704060804Robert Scoble has discovered that there is life after Microsoft and has entered enlightenment as a Mac user. Welcome Robert, what took you so long?