It is that time of year again and my cousins are hosting the 10th Annual golf tournament for their mother Chrstine. This is a great tournament and all proceeds and donations go directly to fighting cancer. You don’t have to play to donate you can simply click on the donation button on the site and give whatever you can afford. I know if every person reading this simply gave a dollar it would help out the cause a lot.
Immortality is impossible to achieve. In the past we built pyramids, art, or did something to be remembered. In the virtual age there is now a new option to keep you alive and with very little effort.
Imagine this, you will always be alive on Twitter, Facebook, Google+,etc. A program that “manages” your accounts forever. It accepts new followers and automatically follows new followers. It re-tweets posts based on key words or your defined interests. It scours the internet for the same interests and even posts those. You could essentially live forever in the virtual world, you just need a computer or server somewhere to always be running.
I call this the RIP Bot. It will keep you alive on all of the social networks forever. Coming to a cloud near you.
After reading this blog post I realized I am very similar in mindset as the author. I pretty much always have a side project, whether it is for my real job or one of my hobby projects I have written about on this blog. I do think the “best” employees in a technical role are the ones who are always playing. Playing with technology, concepts, API’s etc. The idea is the breadth of the individual grows and has ancillary benefit to their primary job. This has certainly been true for me throughout my entire career.
I remember I was in a client meeting and they expressed the desire to use Drupal as a content management. Because of my several side projects with Drupal, going through several versions of the system, and knowing in depth what it can and can’t do I was very prepared to argue both for and against the idea.
My latest project is something that has also had great benefit in my current job – mainly because I knew there was “a better way” to do this when I started creating demos. I started a project called PET (product extractor tool) that can pull products from an existing web site and then import those products, images, prices, etc into a WebSphere Commerce database. This allows us to create proof of concepts for customers using a familiar product set, product attributes, and terminology in scenarios the customer can understand (ie. speak their language). Prior to PET it could take days if not weeks creating products and all of the surrounding data around them – it really depended how detailed your scenarios were. A heavy focus in the commerce space is navigation and specifically faceted navigation (those options on retail sites down the left that let you narrow down your search results). As you can imagine, creating a full product set with many attributes could be daunting. Not to mention price lists and then inventory – if you have to show that.
I have recently modified the tool to export a set of XML files for Sterling Order Management. This means the same PET model can now be used for both WebSphere Commerce and Order Management – essentially making integrated proof of concepts between the two systems seamless (at least that is the current theory). I am still working on it but it is getting there. Because I used object oriented programming I simply use the same object model PET built from the HTML and pipe that model out as XML versus comma delimited files.
I still have a bit to go with this tool but the point of this post is I am now getting extremely familiar with the Sterling Order Management side of the equation. Diving on the underlying data model and the service API’s to get information in and out of the system.
I do a lot of shopping online and many times I use my mobile phone or my laptop to see if a product is available at a store. Best-Buy for instance has Buy Online and Pick-Up in store. To me this plays right into the instant gratification we humans are adopting more and more – yeah that is probably a bad thing but oh well.
I actually used this during Christmas because a present was back-ordered and I got notified about a week before Christmas the item was no longer for sale. I then used the Best-Buy site and found that a store near me in Syracuse actually had the item. I was able to transfer the order to a Pick-Up In store order very quickly.
To me, this is a must have on any site that has traditional brick and mortar stores. This would clearly be a benefit to keeping some stores around for these large retailers.
Now, if only every online store out there had the business to business (B2B) visibility into their brick and mortar stores then this would essentially be a commodity feature.
I was playing around on Fab.com and I found it interesting it had a “Calendar” link at the top of the page. I clicked it and I was put to a calendar like page showing the Daily Sales specials coming up in the next week. I think this is an excellent concept for eCommerce sites. It is sort of like their own news paper of coupons right on the site. Knowing when a sale for an item you are interested in is key in the commerce space. Many companies hold promotions or sales on future dates and advertise product or group sales in advance. This is the first time I have seen a company actually promote individual item sales on their site in a calendar format – very cool indeed.
Fab.com also has a nice little widget that rotates the number of likes products have on their site. Once again, great feature. Nicely placed rotating content that is not obtrusive to the site and may actually lead to sales. The cool fade in and fade out java script gives it an elegant look and feel.
Lastly, I can not tell you enough how much Pinterest is changing the online commerce world. If you have sharp images of your products and allow customers to “Pin It” then you are clearly headed in the right direction. Pinterest is the next “big thing” and the concept is simple, its a virtual pin board.
These guys clearly take pride in the design of their site. I can easily see many commerce related sites using many of these features. Great job Fab.com!
In this video I show the association between files, attachments, content and web activities. I then show how they are all associated in the tooling and explain how you schedule the content for the live store front.
There is word on the internet that Facebook might allow pre-teens to have accounts on Facebook. The reality is many accounts on Facebook are already under the age of 13 and there isn’t much anyone can do about it. As parents you can friend your child and actively monitor their accounts but the child can easily de-friend you and then you have to apply other means of discipline. You also see many other articles about this topic, like “The 5 Facebook Dangers“. The article explains how students, court room consequences, child porn, and jobs can all be subject to online activity.
An idea I had, as I expressed on this site in a comment, is to have the parent involved in the registration process and have Facebook make the parents a permanent friend. This would not allow the child to de-friend their parent until they are 18, or 16 or whatever age is appropriate. Having four older teenagers I constantly see posts or discussions that could eliminate them from college or jobs in the future. The bottom line is kids are kids and they don’t often see the bigger picture and the repercussions of their online activity. I would really like to see this same restriction on all social networks. Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Protecting our children’s future in the online world is getting harder and harder.
I took the advice of my readers and went ahead and attempted to put myself in the introduction of the video. It is amazing how many takes it took to get it right. Trying to keep looking into the camera and moving around was the most difficult part. Not too mention I don’t have a teleprompter so speaking off the cough and getting it right was also a challenge.
In this video I show how a marketing person can use the WebSphere Commerce Business tooling (Management Center) to create a basic product in a store front.