Lewis' Blog Tales from the trenches of information technology


Navigating Coinbase’s customer support

A company with which I am involved recently reconfigured its Coinbase account. This was precipitated by a change in the Stripe API, where Stripe shifted away from Coinpayments.net to another exchange for handling cryptocurrencies.

So, while this company had a prior arm's length arrangement with Coinbase, it never actually had to deal with the entity directly...until recently.


Why should CPAs care about the cloud? Let’s count the ways

Why should CPAs care about the cloud? Let's count the ways.

Egad... Drinking the Kool-Aid? Who are these people in this blog post, anyway, and what on Earth do they know of data security?


Knowing when to say farewell to a client

I recently had the distasteful experience of having to tell a long-time client to find someone else to handle his IT consulting. We had (I thought) become friends over the years, though recently, tensions surrounding some server trouble over here (I hosted his email) led to difficulties in our relationship.


Group chat showdown: Which instant messaging service is best for your business? | PCWorld

Group chat showdown: Which instant messaging service is best for your business? | PCWorld.

Didn't any of these people ever hear of IRC? What about XMPP (Jabber)?


Egad! Why do people do their own web development?

WordPress 3.3 is now GA. Knowing better than to blindly upgrade without at least having a look at what may be not quite ready for prime time (though WP is quite good about reasonable beta cycles and such), I happened over to the WP fora to see what reports had been made (yes, I should have gone to the bugtracker, but I like to get a view from "on the ground," so to speak).


CRTs vs LCDs in 2011/2012

An interesting thread cropped up on the eComStation Technical mailing list on Yahoo! in the past few days. One of our list members was inquiring about the ability to set refresh rates in the Panorama video driver. Short answer: you can't (well, at least, not yet). This is covered in the VESA FAQ. Apparently, the original poster has a CRT which requires proper tuning of the driver for his monitor's refresh rate. One of the first responses to come back to him (aside from the correct answer, pointing him to the FAQ) was the obvious question: "Why are you still using a CRT?"

I suppose what has amused me the most about this little exchange was the assumption that by now, CRTs have become yester-tech, and that *all* truly modern systems (this was a fresh install of eComStation 2.1) should be outfitted with LCD monitors.

I was going to jump into the post, but instead, I'll just migrate some excerpts here, and include my own commentary at the end.


Working with talented people is always a good thing

I'm sure that somewhere, William Shakespeare wrote of the riches of surrounding oneself with good and talented people, but his words escape me just now (my mother would have known right off the top of her head, so learned and familiar was she with his works, even those lesser known). Still, it's something I'm certain we've all been told at one time or another. Truly, we are known by the company we keep.

Hang around personally or professionally with buffoons, and naturally, people take you for one (water tends to seek its own level, or so we're taught). Maintain good company, and the reflection is bright.

I had occasion recently to enlist the assistance of a colleague, Matt Surico, for a web project I'd been muddling through. The project involved Joomla!, a sports-related component for it (JoomSport), and of course, the requisite server underpinnings of Apache, MySQL, and PHP (the AMP stack, which on Linux, is commonly known as LAMP; on NetWare, NAMP; and - unfortunately, insofar as the pronunciation of acronyms is concerned - on OS/2, OAMP...huh?).


Email replies: How prompt is prompt?

I am prompted (pardon the pun) to post this afternoon following an annoying exchange I had with a third party concerning a client and some information I was to have provided.

Yesterday, at approximately 4:30pm, I received a request for some information which I was to have provided this third party regarding my client's business entity. I was in meetings all afternoon (from at least 2 until 6pm), and had approximately 30 or so emails in queue waiting for my review by the time I left the office.

As is my wont when I'm in my Leesburg, VA office, I took my ThinkPad home to try to catch up on some of the work which I couldn't complete before leaving the office. After dinner with my daughter (just the two of us this week!), I went upstairs to my small home office to dig into some of these emails.

I did see this particular one last evening, probably around 9 or 10pm. At that point, I was indeed winding down (my daily schedule shifts considerably when I'm down here, as I rise early to breakfast with my brother before heading to the office), so I left off before sending even a quick acknowledgment back to the sender.

At noon today, which would be 19½ hours or so from the original timestamp, the sender bumped me (for those unfamiliar with the term "bump" in this context, it means to nudge a conversation thread, typically when the original poster preceives that he or she has been ignored).

I was pretty ticked off at being bumped, as the individual apparently phoned my client first (a definite breach of protocol when there is a professional involved in the discussion, acting on behalf of a client).

Perhaps it is over-sensitivity on my part. My own internal sense of decorum tells me that a 24-hour window should be allotted for a response from anyone involved in an email exchange, particularly when one party is unknown to the other (obviously, if a client emails me, I prioritize such communications).

So, I'll put it to my readers: Is 24 hours too long to wait for a reply from someone after an initial email contact?


The Chronicles of George

If any of you have not yet visited The Chronicles of George, I suggest you do so at your earliest opportunity. Any of us working in IT, particularly in "team" settings, must deal with people like George.


(I know that I am havening a great time with it!)

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Misconfigured Mail Servers

Why is it that when someone else has a broken mail server, it's always - always - the receiving server admin's fault that messages coming from that domain don't get through?

This morning, I reviewed a note sent by a client, forwarding a thread to me of someone who apparently didn't get an invoice for something. My client asked me to review the firewall logs to see if the message ever made it to his domain in the first place.

Sure enough, there was no RDNS pointer entered for the sending server, so the Astaro Security Gateway - rightfully - rejected the incoming message.

Luckily (for me), this client is erudite enough to know that this wasn't my fault. However, I've had some client who would point the finger squarely at me, including one who actually said (sarcastically), "I know; it's never your fault. It's always the other guy." Well, when the DNS is incorrect for someone else's domain, that's surely not my fault!

FYI, a good source to check for broken or missing RDNS records is http://remote.12dt.com/ .

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