Friday, November 21, 2008

24x7x365 Support

I'm amazed how many times businesses on the web talk about offering 24x7x365 support for their product or service, yet do not follow through with it completely.  I've experienced this several times with web hosting companies, and most recently with a web host for a new client I am dealing with...

To start this off, I would consider myself a fairly seasoned .Net developer, considering that I have several applications running over the years, starting in the 1.1 era of .Net.  Most of my initial works have been in the web applications development, but most recently, have been in the full-on winforms applications.

Anyway, back to the story.

This client calls, and he and I are talking about this wicked new Add-in he wants for one of his clients.  During the consultation on the phone, we get into discussing his site, and he mentions that he wants to change it to work off of this great tool called AspDotNetStoreFront (  I explain that I have set the system up a few times, and if he would like, I could take a look at it for him.  He thanks me for the offer, and accepts it.

About two days later, he forwards the information over to me so that I can gain access to the SQL server, FTP site, etc. and can begin launching his copy of the storefront software.  I take the information, and begin reading over it.  It states his host is Empire Data Technologies, Inc. (site:  The sql server information was xxx, and the development domain is yyyyy.  Being as paranoid as I am with making sure things are working, I try to open the development domain.  No dice.  nothing exists there, not even a "Coming Soon" page, which most web hosts give you...

Ok, so I go back to the host's site, and notice that they have 24x7x365 support for their system.  I call their support number (1-877-xxx-xxxx) to try to speak with a Live support technician.  The phone rings and rings and rings for what seems like 3 minutes, rediculous amount of time, for sure.  Finally, a voice comes on (recording) welcoming me to calling into their tech support number.  I am instructed to leave a message, and someone will return my phone call as soon as possible.  I leave the message, and hang up.  This was on Wednesday evening, almost a complete 48 hours ago.  ACK

I have had enough with companies claiming 24x7x365 support, and wish all of 'em would either own-up and say that we will support you as we can, or hire enough staff so that when I call in at 6:00 PM EST, that I can speak with a "LIVE" support technician to get the information I need to complete a task!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Deal Processor 1.4 Getting close to Alpha

With getting close to an alpha release of 1.4 (not to be confused with the rest of the preview releases that have been used internally, but this is the first one that could potentially be given to an end user to try out), the thought of having an open, available download is still freaking me out.

I know through my own trials of other software products, I appreciated the idea that the author of the package was kind enough to give me this form of access of the software before I handed over my hard-earned cash to them so that I didn't see an ugly watermark, but I just don't yet know about this little project.

Deal Processor has a few pain points in it that need to be rectified at some point (creating a quote or contract template is one of them). When we were first designing the thought of how to print a quote or contract, the immediate first-reaction that I had was to use Microsoft Word, with some code-behind, so that the data could be placed in from the software, and the end-user would have a familiar experience for designing how they wanted the contract to work.

After thinking about the full ramifications of this idea, the thought of releasing an end user to have the ability of editing the Word document AFTER the data was merged sounded less attractive to me, after all, dealprocessor was developed to make the life of a sales rep and shop owner easier, and not harder. Also, if we were to have used Word, we would not have been able to mark the one item that we actually lock down in the software with licensing... the printed document.

Why am I discussing this? it is because we are working on having an available download of dealprocessor 1.4 so that anyone interested in the software can download and install it before they hand over their hard-earned cash. The software will run in its entirety, but will have one fatal flaw, it will put a nasty watermark over the printed document until you purchase licensing.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Editing HTML in Windows Forms...

Building systems where users can submit information for review is a great feature to offer. It affords them the ability, if needed, to express themselves in the best way that they see fit for the need. Many people have built such a control, however, most of these controls are released to the public via the GPL license, or you're paying over $200-$400 for a decently developed version.

What I have decided to do is to take the time and actually build my own, using tidbits of information scattered throughout the Internet, keeping it completely in .Net, without importing any special libraries that do not exist as part of the .Net environment.

I have seen many implementations where the MS HTML control has been brought in, and then COM wrappers have been built around them. I've even taken time to download and experiment with these controls, and know this feat can be accomplished. I'm planning on trying to finish it, and then probably post the code here so that if you indeed need such a control, you can use it.