Thursday, April 26, 2007

When 4th best is good enough?

I can't believe its so long since I wrote on this blog, I have posted a couple of items on my other blogs, but basically not had time to blog for a couple of weeks or more. Pete and I are reviewing what we are doing. We are running about 220 component projects for various people and having problems maintaining it all. Running Internet servers grows more complex by the day.

Last week one of our partners from Spain flew over and we had a couple of days with him and one day with another partner too thinking through what we do. One phrase struck me that he said, 'Many times I am doing my fourth best option...' More and more we are faced with the least bad option rather than the best. Obviously choosing between a good and a bad option is a no-brainer. Choosing between two equally good options is easy, but we find choosing between two equally bad options very difficult. There is a phrase I remember from when I grew up 'Heads you win, tails I lose'. When its like that it just feels... well... strange.

Because we are so short of staff we are faced with making cuts in some of those 220 component projects. Which ones? Any cut will affect somebody seriously. Some people may not hear the message if we do cut. Another thing this guy from Spain said was that on the questionnaires he has to complete for any project he does within his organization there is a significant question that he has to answer for his bosses: 'What will happen if this project is not done?' I puzzled and puzzled over this.

Something about the question concerned me. Was it because we were faced with a similar one 'What will happen if this project is cut?' or something deeper than that. The more I puzzled the more I could not see it till the Friday evening. On Friday evening a bunch of folk who all follow Jesus come round to our house. We have a meal together, pray for each other and then look at the Bible together.

Anyhow, on that Friday evening we were looking at the book of Acts and about Peter and a Roman Centurian. The question came up "What if Peter had said 'No I'm not going to visit the Centurian'?" The answer we came to is that God would have found another way to communicate His love to the Centurian. Ahh... here's why I was so perturbed. The re is one answer to the question 'What will happen if this project is not done?' and its the same in every case. The answer is 'God will find another way to communicate His love to those He wants to'.

But that doesn't actually make the decision about what to cut any easier. It could mean 'Does anything I do matter if God will find another way to communicate?' Pete and I came back to what we feel God is calling us to. This guy from Spain again... he said we need to come back to our mission statement. We knew and could easily state what our 'unique selling points' [don't you just love marketeer speak?] are, but a mission statement?

Every company and organization has their mission statement today. McDonalds mission statements starts off 'McDonald's vision is to be the world's best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile...' or how about 'Establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow...' Trouble is that reading too many mission statements makes me want to vomit.

Anyhow, we did eventually get a mission statement and core values. We have also created a questionnaire that will help us evaluate all the projects we are involved with. Now all we have to do is persuade our partners to fill in the questionnaire... maybe we should offer a prize. Any suggestions on what the prize should be? Leave a comment...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Email working and spam being killed

At last, we sigh with relief the main parts of the email upgrade are working and spam seems to have been reduced dramatically. A very boring week of testing, checking, compiling programs and configuring.

I was getting about 40-50% spam and now in the last two days [since we switched on the extra spam checking] I have had only one spam email. It seems so strange to me, why people are bothering sending spam, it really is a constant battle and more and more people are killing more and more spam emails... and so they have to send more and more and more and more...

Today I spent most of the day writing a couple of small [but complex] scripts to create all the SPF and Domain Key records for our DNS system. Time was when DNS was simple. Now it grows in complexity and reading the files gets more complicated. And looking at things I can see it getting more complicated by the month. Oh well...

Just looking at part of DNS that we are not using yet: Service calls. Instead of typing your system would ask what http services it supports and sent you to the right machine. Complex but useful for the way the internet will be growing in the future.

Our Egyptian programmer is approximately half way through his time here and the messaging system is working functionally, but with some glitches. Hopefully we will go into testing mode next week. This is the core of a new website which will be about community interaction.

What makes the messaging system different is that it works like a threaded discussion forum, but with the primary key being the person you are interacting with. This is because the focus is on relationship building.

This weekend is Easter and I will take a couple of days off and hopefully go sailing.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Email gets more complicated by the minute

OK, so we have the email upgrade working but... we do a lot of email forwarding and the new SPF and Domain Keys don't handle forwarding well. It appears that I have to violate one RFC [RFC's are the Internet 'rules for how things work'] in order to get other RFCs to work.

Oh well, lets watch it over the next few days and see what happens. It's now past midnight and I kept working to try and get everything sorted so email wasn't breaking.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Blogging from my phone

OK, so its possible to blog from a mobile phone, but does it work for me? If this post is on my blog then it does!