Archive for September, 2007

Selling IT Wall of Shame: R Systems

September 14, 2007

Here’s another mail trying to sell me on offshored technology services, with no attempt to personalize – it’s just spam. At least Fidelity entered the company name. These folks have called a few times and left messages – always with the name of my predecessor, despite the name on the voicemail. Here’s the first email – again, formatting preserved, my comments in blue:

From: Gurpreet
To: Gurpreet (yes, I’m bcc’d on this mail – not a good start)
Subject: R Systems intro for partnership in offshore s/w development & onsite consulting
Importance: High (ummm, really? High for who?)

Dear Sir,

Thanks for your time.  

I would like to introduce R Systems for possible partnership, catering to your software needs (Onsite/offshore).
R Systems is a SEI CMMi Level 5 & ISO 9001 certified company with Intel & GE as strategic investor (sic, but this looks to be true) and has
5 State of the Art Development Centers with 400+ Software/Technical Resources in USA and 2000+ Consultants
in India and Singapore and ranked among top 20 companies to offshore with. (by who? BTW, there are actual line breaks in the mail here. And obviously there’s nothing made relevant for me.)

R Systems specializes in

1) Customized Software Development/ Application Development (Java/J2EE, C/C++, .NET technologies etc).

2) Quality Assurance/ Testing Services (Application Integration, Testing Tools, Rational/Mercury/Segue) (ok, #1 and #2 are actual things)

3) Web conferencing solutions/Portal Development. (OK, now I’m getting confused. Are you a telephony provider? And how are these related?)

4) Security software: secure content management, cryptography, Threat management, Biometrics, Smart Cards, Tokens.
Identity and access management, PKI (public key infrastructure, single sign on, TPM(Trusted platform module)

5) Mobility Solutions, IPTV etc (etc indeed)

6) Search Engine Marketing

7) Business Process Outsourcing

8) Financial/Banking (are they a bank, too?)

(font change here) Please feel free to call/email me if you require any information regarding pricing, methodologies, onsite/offshore models etc.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Gurpreet – Sr. Sales Manager
R Systems, Inc
Tel: (916) 939-XXXX(o) | (916) 600-XXXX©
(i think this is supposed to be cell)
SEI CMMi Level 5 Company


(Faithful readers: Life intervened for the last week, will catch up on some writing soon.)


What is community, Alex?

September 9, 2007

This past Saturday concluded Grand Slam, the Game Show Network‘s summer tournament pitting 16 game show contestants over the years and across multiple shows (Jeopardy, Millionaire, Weakest Link, etc.) against each other in a new format to all of the players – short speed rounds covering trivia, math & logic, and words & letters. Ken Jennings – the 74-time winner on Jeopardy, AKA The Stormin’ Mormon or The Shootah from Utah, author and blogger, and now a resident of the Seattle area – won the tournament over heretofore-unknown Ogi Ogas, a Millionaire $500,000 winner.

The gameshow itself was catnip to game show geeks, perfect for bizarreniks like me who remember Thom McKee playing on Tic Tac Dough for nine weeks (and was happy to see him again).

What was most interesting to me, though, was that a huge percentage of the competitors became message board participants across the web: in particular, the Ken Jennings message board has a thread where at least half of the competitors participate, including all four semifinalists, in an almost-entirely-nonsense-free zone – a mix of competitors and fans talking about what was showing up that week and the next. There’s invented language for referring to games not yet played and a huge amount of personality visible for basically every competitor. One competitor who lost badly came online, embarrassed and apologizing (unnecessarily) for her performance. Ogi and others show up on the official Grand Slam message threads as well.

Reading this thread feels strange: I’m used to game show players being remote – not that they aren’t on the same planet, just that they aren’t in the same social sphere. I know they appear in online game show forums occasionally, but it’s rare and it’s never conversational – some of it feels like you’re listening to backstage conversations weeks later. There’s a wall that’s broken down here that I’m just not used to seeing. I also associate game shows with secrecy: everybody knows that contestants are bound by contract to keep the details under wraps until their games are televised, and when my aunt was on Jeopardy in the 1980’s, she kept the results secret from her family.

Game shows are well-documented online – the J! Archive documents every modern Jeopardy! game (clues, players, scores, etc.), for example. (Sadly, it doesn’t cover all games from the 1980’s, so it’s missing my aunt’s match.) I guess it’s no surprise that as online communities have grown up around game shows, the contestants are just as likely to participate as the fans – after all, they’re fans too, and are only on the show once (or 74 times). Nevertheless, I didn’t expect this kind of engagement, and it’s worth a look.

Zero Punctuation

September 6, 2007

Add me to the chorus of fans of The Escapist‘s new video video game reviews, Zero Punctuation. The reviews are obviously written by someone who loves games, requisite snarkiness is directed at hardcore twits rather than poorly-executed bump mapping, and the video production (which shouldn’t be described in text) is the most interesting way of presenting a review I’ve seen online. So even if you don’t care about games, go watch a few of them, starting with the Psychonauts review. (Then go buy Psychonauts, and then remain angry at Microsoft Game Studios for canceling it, especially if you worked there at the time. Which you probably didn’t. But I did.)

Selling IT Wall of Shame: Isilon Systems

September 5, 2007

A few notes – and by the way, I think Isilon is doing interesting things, and am happy for any Seattle company that does well:

  • I’ll let you listen to get the money quote (“clustered storage… future”), but will point out simply that for large search engines depending (or planning to depend) on commodity hardware in a distributed environment, clustered storage isn’t the most obvious choice. Also, when the first page of Google results tells me you have >50% profit margins, my pocketbook screams.
  • I know telling me you’re going to educate me is typical sales-speak, but I still bristle.

(I’m posting even though I think I’m having an issue with the audio. If this doesn’t work, let me know and I’ll find some as-yet-unknown way to fix it.)