Monthly Archives: November 2005

XBOX 360 at Gamestop

I had a chance this weekend, while out Christmas shopping, to stop by my local Gamestop to check out the new XBOX 360.  I have to say that this thing is incredible.  I have an original XBOX and I think the graphics are really good comparing them to games on my PC but the new XBOX 360 blows both away.

I watch a couple people play Brothers in Arms on the 360 and watching how life-like the graphics are almost made me motion sick.  The geek inside of me would really like to get a new XBOX 360 but since they are back-ordered everywhere I may wait to see what the new Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Revolution look like.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I hope everyone is getting some much needed time off and some quality time with family.

Tomorrow is supposed to be the busiest shopping day of the year.  I think I will avoid the 5:00am lines at the mall and do some shopping from the privacy of my Internet connection.

Great Service Revisited

I posted recently about my experiences with my blog posting service, Typepad, and how I felt they had done exceptionally well with their service by communicating recent problems to their customers so we weren’t left in the dark.  I received an email recently from Six Apart CEO Barak Berkowitz explaining their service issues further and providing options for compensation to customers.

If you run a business or deal with customers in any way, please read the email below.  THIS is how you treat customers, keep them and have them telling others about your outstanding service.

Personal Weblogging Service

Dear Rob,

Two weeks ago I wrote you to explain the problems that some of our users experienced last month and what we were doing to fix them. Today I want to tell you about the work we’ve done and our plans to compensate you for the inconvenience and frustration we may have caused you.

The progress we’ve made

Over the last two weeks we have made great strides. As we recently posted on Mena’s Corner, we have made a number of significant technical changes. We have upgraded hardware throughout the service, we are about to finish installation of a new enterprise-grade data storage device and the move to our new data center is nearly complete. All of this has led to improved performance.

We are not yet perfect. One incident on Tuesday November 8th between approximately 9:00 am and noon Pacific Time caused limited access to the TypePad application. Even with that problem the performance of TypePad, as reported by our customers, our internal systems and the independent Keynote monitoring service, has improved greatly over the last 12 days.

While we are not done with our work, and there is always the chance of outages on any web service, we believe that the worst performance is behind us, and it is now time to focus on how we can make these problems up to you.

Compensation for this less than stellar performance

We are all aware that you pay for TypePad and expect to receive superior service and performance in return. At times last month, we did not provide that type of experience to all our customers and apologies are not good enough.

We also know that some customers have been more heavily impacted than others. If you often use the service on weekdays between 7:00 am and 1:00 pm Pacific Time you may have experienced one or even many periods when you had problems with TypePad’s speed and responsiveness. If you use the service at other times, you may not have experienced any problems at all. After wrestling with these facts and wanting to be fair to all our users we have decided that the only option is to allow you to choose how Six Apart should compensate you.

By default, you will receive a credit for 15 free days of TypePad service. To get this credit you don’t have to do anything; we will just credit your account.

That said, we recognize that customers have had different experiences with the service, so we want to give you the opportunity to choose more, or even less compensation. If you click the link below, you’ll get a screen that offers you the following choices:

  • While the performance issues caused me some inconvenience I mainly found the service acceptable last month.
    Give me 15 free days of TypePad.

  • The performance issues made it very difficult for me to use the service on multiple occasions during the month.
    Give me 30 free days of TypePad.

  • The performance issues affected me greatly, making my experience unacceptable for most of the month.
    Give me 45 free days of TypePad.

  • I really wasn’t affected and feel I got the great service I paid for last month.
    Thank you for the offer, but please don’t credit my account.

If you want to elect for more or less compensation you have until Sunday, November 27th to go to the web address above. By Monday December 5th we will apply either 15 free days or your stated compensation preference to your account. If you are billed monthly, you will notice a gap in charges to your credit card for the number of days you select. If you are billed annually, we will extend your billing cycle by the number of days you select.

The future

I must say that one of the most rewarding aspects of these last three frustrating weeks have been the emails I have received from many of you. A large number of the messages I received were very kind and supportive, and some of you were understandably angry, but you all expressed that you just wanted the service you loved back. Rest assured that we are working night and day to do just that and more.

We are committed to making the service faster and more reliable than it has ever been. With our new data center we now have room to add the capacity we will need to continue our growth while improving performance and adding often requested features.

We will soon roll out a new release of TypePad that will include more controls for comment and TrackBack spam as well more performance improvements. By year end we will do even more to improve TypePad and add the features you have asked for. We are excited to get back to building a great product for you.

Thank you for your patience over the past several weeks and I hope you accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience we may have caused you.

Sincerely,

Barak Berkowitz
Chairman and CEO
Six Apart, Ltd.
barakb@sixapart.com

The makers of of TypePad, LiveJournal and Movable Type.

PS: As always, we appreciate and value your feedback. Feel free to reply to this message, file a support ticket in TypePad, or email me at BarakB@sixapart.com. We will continue to update status.sixapart.com to keep informed of the status of the service and to provide advance notice of scheduled maintenance.

UPDATE: Barak has provided us Typepad users with another update.  Great stuff.

Visual Studio 2005 Released and Miscellaneous Notes

Unless you are living under a rock you are probably aware that Microsoft released Visual Studio 2005 today in conjunction with SQL Server 2005 and Biztalk Server 2006.  This is a release that has been a long time coming and many of us .NET developers have been waiting for.  I have been working with VS 2005 since pre-beta1 and it is huge improvement over VS 2003.

Also annouced today, Microsoft will be giving away the Express Editions of VS 2005 for the period of one year.  These are the editions that will be low cost in the $80-$100 range.

It seems on the heels of this announcement that Microsoft has plans for a service pack for the VS2005 release as well as a much overdue one for VS2003.  The announcement was made by a Microsoft C# product manager, so it seem official.

Yet another release today from Microsoft is the Web Services Enhancements 3.0, which is the much anticipated add-on to VS2005 to help create secure web services under .NET 2.0.

There are probably some tidbits I missed, I will update if I hear about any additional releases of interest.