Archive for the_time('F Y')

Allowing comments on corporate blogs
27 May 2008 in General | Comments (1)

This has been a post I’ve been meaning to make for some time and Rod’s recent blog post mentioning that Xero have finally enabled commenting reminded me to get it out.

As an aside, good move on the shift to WordPress Xero people – your integration appears seamless and the styling on the comments is superb.

I’ve always been confused by company blogs that don’t allow comments – it almost makes me wonder if I should trust them as it seems to me they’re trying to reduce transparency. What are they afraid of? People writing harsh (true?) comments? Spam? Not enough activity?

My thoughts on these points:

Spam
If your excuse is spam then you’re clearly living in a pre-Akismet world. Akismet is the best anti-spam implementation I have ever come across. Developed by the guys behind WordPress it has proved to be invaluable in blocking the flood of spam that blogs attract. It’s blocked more than 330,000 spam comments on this blog alone. The API for Akismet has been ported to nearly every modern programming language so there is absolutely no reason to use spam as the excuse.

Negative comments
If you seriously have to worry about people posting negative comments then change your business and stop sucking. Don’t give people a reason to hate you or your products – leverage the communication medium as you would any other and turn it to your advantage. Occasionally you get trolls, for sure, but they are easy enough to spot and removing those comments is acceptable.

Not enough activity
Sometimes it can be embarrassing to have a long list of blog posts that have a big fat total of zero comments. This is a learning exercise – are you providing content people want to consume? Does it incite questions in the reader or have a call to action? I’ve seen some blogs that I know have a lot of readers but the content is never written in a manner that provokes feedback.

Blogs take effort to keep alive and fresh so why on earth would you invest that effort to then shut down readers opportunities to provide feedback? Some of the best feedback that Mindscape has received has been through our blog – the low barriers to providing feedback as well as the informal medium means people speak more freely about what they think.

Some of the larger examples of corporate blogs that don’t allow comments include web-savvy companies like Google. I’m pleased to see that they’re beginning to change their ways and recently allowed comments on the Adsense blog.

So, if your company has a blog (and it should have one!) and you don’t allow comments ask yourself again if it really is a good idea.

John-Daniel

Massey University XNA presentation
26 May 2008 in Events & Microsoft | Comments (1)

Today I had the opportunity to present on XNA, Game development and “other stuff” to a Massey Wellington class. It was a nice small class of people that I’d seen around Wellington on previous occasions (Summer of Code etc).

I deliberately attempted to stay away from code and focus on some of the things that would have been useful to know while I was at university. This primarily made up the “other stuff” component of the presentation:

  • Do stuff now – take the initiative and just get started
  • Network – there is no reason to avoid people in the industry while studying. Get to know them, they’re not scary and don’t bite
  • Be open with what you’re doing – it’s easy to think what you’re building as a side project should be a secret and could be worth millions. Forget that, at this stage the experience is far more important than the $$ potential. Allowing employers and people interested in your work to discover it online is worth its weight in gold

The game development coverage was focused on details of the game industry – what it’s worth, what roles are in demand, the current and future technical challenges. The coverage of XNA, I hope, showed the value in being able to deliver games written in a managed language that aids in delivering a multi-platform game (important in this age when consoles are making the bulk of game money).

The presentation file below is probably not of too much use to those who didn’t attend as most of what I covered is not in the slides or will make very little sense without knowing what I said.

Some of the links:

The presentation files
Sharky’s Air Legends
XNA racing game (+ source)
Masters of Doom – fun reading for anyone interested in Game Dev
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Thanks goes to Wyatt Page for organising the opportunity to speak – he helped to ensure everything went smoothly.

Also, to those that attended – the coffee offer stands, all it costs is an email :-)

John-Daniel

VB saves lives
24 May 2008 in Microsoft | Comments (2)

Just found this and it cracked me up (I don’t care that it’s old)

It’s made even more comical by the implication that you would need a GUI to actually get an IP address. I’d also recommend reading the comment on the YouTube post itself for more laughs.

John-Daniel