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July 5, 2012

My New Office

As some of you know, we moved to a new office building this week. It was a big move and we have a lot of polishing still to do to the office but it is all very exciting.

I am lucky enough to get the corner office. It is a big space, but here is my office:

Feel free to play with the image above, it should rotate.

Although I get the corner office, I still take out the garbage.

Note: Comments don't work.

October 15, 2010

I Got A Gift For Boss's Day, Really

One of our newish coders here at RustyBrick came back with ice cream from Friendly's around lunch time.

He gave it to Ronnie and myself and said, Happy National Boss Day. Yes, it is Boss's Day today, I had no idea.

Here is a picture:

Ice Cream for Boss's Day

Wife, I turned it down...

May 31, 2010

I'm An Evil Boss: Working On Memorial Day

I saw a tweet from one of the RB employees, here it is:

RB gets the parking lot to ourselves on memorial day. http://twitpic.com/1sru7zless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

As you can see, I am evil.

What type of employer would make his employees work on Memorial Day?!

Well, honestly, it is their option. They can work today and use it as another day in the future. We have floating holidays, as Jimmy described in his blog post named Why we work on holidays.

But that picture is classic, isn't it?

Memorial Day Office Parking Lot

That is a small portion of the parking lot, the one at the back of the building. Typically, this area fills up first, as it is shaded from the building and uses the back entrance.

Update: Alex majorly kissed up at the RustyBrick blog with his RustyBrick employees don't take holidays because websites don't take holidays! The text and the video he posted is pretty entertaining...

March 2, 2010

My New Velvet Hebrew RustyBrick Kippah

Today I want to the ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood named Geula and purchased some religious wear. One of the things we bought was a new kippah, a brown velvet one . I decided to have them sew on the name RustyBrick, but in Hebrew, on the Kippah.

Here is a picture:

Hebrew RustyBrick Velvet Kippah

Don't I already have a RustyBrick Kippah? Yes, I do, but that one was Suede.

February 16, 2010

The Winning iTunes Song Will Be Next Tuesday

I am making a bold prediction that the winning iTunes song, where you can win a $10,000 iTunes gift card for downloading the 10 billionth song, will take place on February 23rd, Tuesday, in the morning.

Why am I so confident? Well, the geeks at RustyBrick built an algorithm to predict when exactly the 10 billionth iTunes song will be downloaded. In fact, they built a widget countdown that is updated every hour. We are constantly collecting data to make our predication better, every hour.

Our current best guess is on Tuesday, February 23rd at 11:00:10 AM (EST). That means there are 126.8881 songs downloaded from iTunes every second!

Here is the widget:

10 Billionth iTunes Song Countdown!
00 days 00 hours
00 minutes 00 seconds


Powered By RustyBrick.com

Do you think it is about right? I do.

To get the widget on your site, go to the RustyBrick blog and copy the code.

February 4, 2010

Check Out My New Office

I moved, well - kind of. Check out the details at the RustyBrick Blog.

January 27, 2010

RB Coder Initiation

Jimmy posted the details of how the other RB team members initiate new members into the team - somewhat of a hazing. Here is a video of the latest initiation. But make sure to read the full story at the RB Blog named Coder Hazing: Anthony Gets Punk'd...

January 21, 2010

Check Out My RustyBrick Kippah from rushIMPRINT

rushIMPRINT, a promotional product company, sent me a handful of RustyBrick branded Kippahs (also known as yarmulke or כִּפָּה). They came out pretty well and in fact, I honestly might wear them every day.

Here is a picture of the Kippah:

RustyBrick Kippah Yarmulke

Here is Joe and myself wearing them:

RustyBrick Kippah Yarmulke

How cool!

This goes well with my Matzah Kippah and McCippah - I just wish I received the LED Kippah, oh well.

You got to follow this company on Twitter @rushimprint and on Facebook at facebook.com/rushIMPRINT.

Thanks guys!

RB Decals

The other day, we got a shipment of RustyBrick Decals, which can be affixed to computers, laptops, phones, cars and so on.

Here is a picture of some of them:

RustyBrick Decals for Laptops & iPhones

I put two on my iPhone (one on case, one on device):

RustyBrick iPhone Decals

Want them? I wrote about how you can get these at the RustyBrick blog.

December 21, 2009

Pizza Day at RustyBrick

Whenever we hire a new employee at RustyBrick, the day they start, we order pizza pies on the company for the whole office. So since today we hired iMatt, we get to order four pies, with fries and so on, on the company.

I found this funny "Pizza Day" clip on YouTube to show my excitement for the day:

Of course, Jimmy pinged me a minute before I was about to send out my traditional "Pizza" email, asking if there will be pizza.

December 11, 2009

Recruiting iPhone Coders via an iPhone App

We at RustyBrick are looking to hire a few more developers, including iPhone and PHP/MySQL developers. We don't bother posting jobs on job sites anymore, it leads to way too much spam - so we use expensive recruiters. Recruiters, please do not call me - we have one exclusive recruiter we use. We decided to get a bit more creative about hiring and built an iPhone App that helps us do the recruiting.

We named the app RustyBrick Hire Me and it basically takes someone through three questions to qualify them before having them submit their resume and come in for an interview.

First it asks you the type of position you would like to apply for:

RustyBrick Hire Me iPhone App

After that, it asks you a single multiple choice question to qualify that you technically know your stuff.

Then it makes sure you are able to work in our office.

RustyBrick Hire Me iPhone App

Finally, if you pass the three previous steps, it asks you for your email address so we can contact you.

Check it out the RustyBrick Hire Me app or download it iTunes now for free.

December 3, 2009

Check Out the New RustyBrick Bags

Over at the RustyBrick Blog I posted pictures of the RustyBrick Shwag Bags. We got an assortment of bags this year, so if you want to see them all, check them out at the blog.

Sorry for a slow week here on the blog, just really haven't had two minutes to write here - and really, all I need is a spare two minutes to do that (which can happen while I am on a call or in a meeting, believe it or not).

November 24, 2009

Play the RustyBrick Scavenger App Tree Icon Game

This is a cross post with the RustyBrick Blog:
@Gartenberg tweeted a picture of the Apple Store being pretty busy and he snapped a picture of the iPhone App Holiday Trees on display in all the Apple Retail Stores. @BGribin noticed the picture and saw that our iPhone Siddur was one of the 100 icons on display on the tree.

So I ran down to my local store to see if I can take some better pictures. I found the tree in the window, but it took me a while to find the icon. Apple apparently mixes up the icons on the tree and at my store, my icon was deep inside the tree. Here is a picture:

Skip this, show me how I can win free iPhone Apps and RustyBrick Schwag?

Apple Store App Icon Holiday Tree, With RustyBrick Siddur Icon

In comparison to the picture Gartenberg snapped:

Apple Store App Icon Holiday Tree, With RustyBrick Siddur Icon

How Can I Win Stuff?

Let's get to the point, how can you win stuff from RustyBrick?

Simple, go to your local Apple Store and find the App Tree, snap a picture of the tree and then snap a close up of the icon. Then email us at siddur AT rustybrick DOT com with the picture or write a blog post (blog posts are cool). We will give you a free app of your choice from the RustyBrick iPhone app collection.

What else can you win? RustyBrick schwag, either a RustyBrick laptop bag or a travel bag or some other schwag. How can you win that? Either get us the tree or we will hold a vote on the best picture or video of the tree. Winner gets the awesome RustyBrick schwag!

Anyway, here are more pictures from my local store - I doubt I can win with these. :)

Apple Store App Icon Holiday Tree, With RustyBrick Siddur Icon

Apple Store App Icon Holiday Tree, With RustyBrick Siddur Icon

Apple Store App Icon Holiday Tree, With RustyBrick Siddur Icon

Apple Store App Icon Holiday Tree, With RustyBrick Siddur Icon

My wife went to the Apple Store at Tice's Corner and our app is display right in front. She snapped some pics, which I will post here later.

Outside Tice's Corner Store:

Siddur on App Tree at Apple Store Tice's Corner

Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island:

App Tree at Apple store in Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island

November 3, 2009

Cheaper Bags via Woot

Bag on CheapAs you know, we are looking into getting OGIO layover travel bags and embroidering them. The thing is, they are expensive, so I need to find cheaper gifts as well.

On Sellout.Woot today, they have Sharper Image 24" Rolling Duffle bags. I called my guy and he said he can embroider them. These bags are only $20 a piece, even though they retailed for $150. So I purchased a bunch of them and when I get them, I'll send them to be embroidered.

I still plan on buying some of the OGIOs. In fact, the replacement one should be coming today. I hope to bring it to Vegas next week to make sure they are solid bags. If so, I'll buy some of these and also more RustyBrick laptop bags for those new clients that did not get them.

This is not the first time we bought gifts after finding them on discount racks. The RustyBrick mini Fridges were at discount at Staples, major discount/clearance.

October 28, 2009

OGIO Layover Travel Bag: Poor Quality or Glitch?

The OGIO RustyBrick laptop bags are a huge hit. Everyone loves them and we often get requests to send people more. We are actually almost completely out, so may have to reorder one day (they aren't cheap). But the bags are rock solid, comfortable and last a really long time.

So I was looking into getting travel carry-ons for this years gift. Of course, my first stop was OGIO and I decided the Layover would be a good fit. Only issue, it is really expensive. I decided to order a real sample, with our logo on it. I got that bag today but it came broken.

One of the "two-stage Pullman handle" was cracked and the actual bar that went through the bag, was snapped in half. I am not sure if it was a manufactures error or something that happened in transit. Let me show you pictures:

OGIO Travel Bag Broken OGIO Travel Bag Broken

My first instinct was, can I replace this handle bar without having to have the whole bag reordered? I opened the bag and noticed you can unzip the back to see the bars in the back. I then noticed that one of those metal bars was cracked in half!

OGIO Travel Bag Cracked OGIO Travel Bag Cracked

Crazy! Seriously, is this a bad quality bag or a fluke? Should I order these or not?

Here are pictures of the bag itself:

The brown plaid, in my opinion, goes well with the RB logo:

Ogio Layover Bag

Ogio Layover Bag

Ogio Layover Bag

The wheels look solid:

Ogio Layover Bag

Lots of internal space and storage compartments:

Ogio Layover Bag

So what do you think?

October 27, 2009

I've Got Shelves

Yes, for the first time in my life, I have added shelves to my office. Yes, I know - you are jealous! But you too can get shelves. I picked them up in Target on the isle that had discounts.

I was able to declutter my desk and that file cabinet top, by placing my schwag on the shelves.

Here is a picture of my new shelves:

My New Office Shelves

If you want to see a pretty bad video tour of my office, see over here.

So, in summary - I have shelves.

October 9, 2009

Verizon Termination Charge For Plan I Did Not Sign Up For

Verizon Termination ChargeSince December 2008, I have been having this ongoing Verizon phone saga. In short, I signed up with an "authorized" Verizon sales representative who sold me a plan that I was not eligible for. Verizon switched me over, put me on a plan that was the closest thing to what I signed up for and I was being billed twice as much as my previous phone company. I complained month after month about being overcharged and ultimately gave up a few weeks ago, and switched to a new provider to lower my costs.

First, let me say this is not my cell phone - this is my office business lines. I was perfectly happy with my previous provider, but I was told I can save about 8% each month, if I would switch. I switched, and was being billed by Verizon twice as much as my previous provider. I called Verizon after my first bill to cancel, but they put me on a new plan to make up the difference. Ultimately, my bill was still turning out to be about twice as much each month and after months and months of arguing, I switched.

Now my bill is a flat rate, set - and about half of what I was paying Verizon.

I received a bill this week from Verizon for over $200 for a termination charge. I called to explain the situation. I said, this should all be in your account notes, but I explained what the whole situation. Verizon told me, they only keep notes for up to 2 months and then delete them. In short, the rep didn't believe me but gave me a 50% discount on the termination charge.

Clearly, I am not happy. I think I am an honest person. I feel like a stupid Verizon sales rep (not on purpose) switched me to a plan that ended up costing me more. Verizon led me to hang with them just long enough so I can't switch out without paying a termination fee. Now I am stuck paying over a $100 for a service that cost me double, per month, what I was paying, with no added value.

A Verizon rep should be calling me next week to give me the run around again. I'll pay the $100+, simply cause I cannot waste anymore time on this. But I hope you all seriously think twice before switching your landlines to Verizon.

Update: On 10/16/09 a billing specialist called me back. I gave her the short version, she put me on hold for a few seconds after giving me a big sigh. She then came on and said, I have deducted the whole termination fee, please just pay the usage fees. So I mailed out a check for that.

August 28, 2009

The RustyBrick Designs That Didn't Make The Cut

Mabe, the RustyBrick designer behind the new RustyBrick.com site, blogged about her process and challenges when redesigning our site. She shared some screen captures of the designs that didn't make the cut. I wanted to add one more, one from before Mabe was with us.

The first redesign, before Mabe, looked something like this:

1st RB Redesign

Then Mabe came up with this:

2nd RB Redesign

Then this:

3rd RB Redesign

And we finalized on this sweet design, which kept our core colors and look:

New RustyBrick Site

Remember the previous one from a week or two ago:

RustyBrick Live Previous Design

Remember the really old RustyBrick sites?

1999:

99

1998:

98

1997:

97

August 20, 2009

Anti-Semitism Reviews On My Palm Pre App

Our first Palm Pre application was just pushed to the App Catalog. We are very excited about this and you can learn more about the Shabbat Shalom Palm Pre App at our site or download it for free in the App Catalog.

What was interesting was that as soon as Palm announced these apps, the anti-semitism began and a couple (check out the Kosher2Go app) of the Jewish apps already (within an hour) have Anti-Semitic reviews. Here is a picture of the review:

Anti-Semitism On Palm Pre App Reviews

Honestly, I can say I am not surprised. I am a bit surprised how quick it was, because it took some time for our iPhone apps to get hit with these types of reviews. But Palm is actually acting on removing them now, whereas with Apple, they really never removed them - not until they added the policy that people who review apps must buy them. So kudos to Palm!

In any event, you can learn more about our first Palm Pre App at our Shabbat Shalom Palm Pre App page.

RustyBrick Redesign, 9 Years Later

I just announced that we have launched the redesigned for our RustyBrick web site. If you can take a look at comment at my blog post at RustyBrick, I would appreciate it. This also includes a mobile version that looks sweet on the iPhone, Pre and Android.

Here is a sample of the home page, including the mobile site.

New RustyBrick Site

Again, please comment over here.

August 4, 2009

RustyBrick Brews Girls & Girls Only

Girls Girls GirlsAs many of you know, I had my first child, about three months ago, it was a girl.

But did you know that RustyBrickers who have children only have girls? We have a total five RustyBrick kids, all of them are girls. Thing is, we have two more on the way and those two are also girls (at least that was what the sonogram said). So by the end of December, hopefully, we will have a total of seven RustyBrick kids, all girls.

That would make two dads with two girls and three dads with one girl each.

It is pretty statistically surprising that this is the case, but it is very funny as well.

Girls are great, I can attest to that (at least up to three months of age).

The big question is, who will break the trend?

June 18, 2009

Jewish Press Features RustyBrick's Jewish iPhone Apps

RustyBrick iPhone Apps in Jewish PressA couple weeks ago, Yoni Glatt, a writer from the Jewish Press spent about an hour interviewing us about our iPhone apps, specifically about our Jewish iPhone Apps.

That article is now live on both the web and print version. If you do get the Jewish Press or want to pick up a copy (only a $1), you can find the write up on page 27. If you have no way of buying a copy, you can see the web version titled How Apple Made Me A Better Jew. It is an extremely nice and positive article about our apps, as well as some of the other Jewish apps available in the iTunes store.

I personally love the introductory paragraph, which I actually hear often from our customers:

Over the past few weeks, I've become an improved Jew. I learn more, say more brachos, bench more, and didn't have a problem remembering the day in the Omer. I haven't been to Israel recently, didn't have a near death experience that reawakened my spiritual side, nor did I feel empty in my life and decided I needed to search for more meaning. So what caused this recent growth spurt in my Judaism? I got an iPod touch.

Thank you Yoni for the write up!

June 4, 2009

Neater iPhone Ad for Jewish Apps

Our first ad was pretty neat, but we thought we change it up a bit and make a new version. Does this ad format look similar to something you have seen?

iPhone Jewish Apps Ad

Larger version over here.

May 27, 2009

Funny: Client Vendor Relationship Video

Anyone running their own business or deal with vendors, would likely get a kick out of this.

May 12, 2009

Eating Chocolate Grasshoppers

Clearly, I was not the only one to receive these chocolate grass hoppers from grasshopper.com today. I was not able to eat them, because grasshoppers are not kosher, but the RustyBrickers wanted to try them out.

Here is a video of them chowing down on the grasshoppers:

Here are pictures of the grasshopper with the chocolate cracked off:

Eating Chocolate Grasshoppers

Eating Chocolate Grasshoppers

A still image - just before eating them:

Eating Chocolate Grasshoppers

Packaging on the bottom left...

May 5, 2009

RustyBrickDesigns.com - Physical Construction

Matthew Hull - RustyBrick?Tamar asked me if I hired a new guy named Matthew Hull recently. I said no, I have no idea who he is. Tamar then explained this guy came up for a search on rustybrick on Facebook. It showed that the term matched for his "Job" and Tamar wondered if we hired this guy, who was from Edinburgh.

The answer was no and I had no idea who he was. That didn't stop me from immediately asking him to be my Facebook friend. ;-) And Tamar messaged him, asking him if he worked for us.

He replied and said he works at www.rustybrickdesigns.com. Taking a quick look at the site, it does look like this company does real physical home construction. We, the real rustybrick.com, of course, does real construction, i.e. web construction.

I found it pretty funny that a construction company would use the name, RustyBrick. Maybe I can refer him all my leads for physical construction requests we get here, fairly often?

April 27, 2009

Estimated Life Span of RustyBrick Fridge: 18 Months

RustyBrick FridgeThe RustyBrick 2007 holiday gifts were mini RustyBrick Fridges. They were not as big of a hit as our RustyBrick Laptop Bags but they were a nice hit.

In any event, the RustyBrick Fridges were first put into use in early December 2007.

We stored our mounds of RedBull in these Fridges, refilled them daily. And after about 18 months, the fridge stopped working.

For a small cheap fridge like that to last 18 months, I am impressed.

It even has a car adapter to keep things cool while you drive.

So I guess we will swap out this Fridge for a new RB Fridge. But I don't think we should trash this fridge, it should go into the RB museum.

April 2, 2009

Do I Lose Business From Blogging?

GEICO BillboardI am a fairly well connected person - not as well connect as the big names, but for the average person, I am pretty well connected. That comes with pros and cons. I get a lot of prospects interested in talking and eventually some sign up.

What I have been noticing more often these days is that both prospects and clients are asking me things that they learn about me on my personal blog or on Twitter. Two days ago, a client asked me how my cold was going. Today, I spoke with a very nice prospect - who might read this, who had tons to talk to me about in regards to my immediate personal life. He knew I have a cold, he knew I was in Israel last week and he knew more. As we were talking, I was wondering, did I say anything nasty recently? I am not often a nasty person - just not my nature - but I do say things that I regret sometimes.

Like today, I tweeted:

Many SMOs, imo, don't understand the true value of social media --- there, I said it!

If this guy was an SMO, he may have been insulted.

So I wonder, if I ever say things that might hurt my business and earning a living. I know that I am a horrible sales man and it doesn't help me on closing deals or impressing prospects. But do you think my blogging helps or hurts my overall bottom line?

I am honest here. I say things here that I would say in person. In fact, sometimes I am talking to people about something personal and they tell me, "I know, you blogged it." Thing is, I don't often remember blogging it and I thought that instead, I actually told this to a friend not on my blog.

You see my writing style here. Totally fast, quick, tons of spelling mistakes and grammar issues.... I write here like I would talk to a person.

I believe I am a good guy and I believe most people think I am a good guy. So I am thinking that this blog likely helps me earn trust and eventually close more deals. Would you agree?

What is with the picture? I guess most of you get it...

April 1, 2009

US Post Service Feeling Recession

USPSStarting this week, I have been informed by my mail man, that they will no longer deliver the mail to the individual suites in my office building.

From now on, they will deliver the mail to the post boxes on the first floor and we need to go downstairs and receive our mail.

Now, I am not complaining. I can use the exercise or con one of the employees to go down for me.

But it is amazing that they keep raising the price of a postal stamp and keep cutting the services. I guess the postal service's budget was cut in the recent round of budget cuts here? I have no idea.

Does the mailman deliver directly to your office's suite? I am sure you get the mail delivered to your home, but office?

March 9, 2009

Verizon Keeps Over Charging Me!

verizon screwedRemember my Verizon Phone Saga? Probably not. In short, they conned me into switching to them for my landline service in my office and then after three calls, they promised to keep me at the same rate I was paying my other provider.

After they made that promise, I received a bill for almost 4 times what my other provider's bill was. I paid it, figuring there were mid-month charges and switch over fees. But last week, I received a bill that was just under 3 times what my bill should have been.

So I called the Verizon representative who told me she would fix things. No answer. I left her two messages and called four times.

How long do I give her to call me back? Two weeks?

I am pretty upset about all of this and I will be switching back if it is not rectified.

January 13, 2009

Full Wall of Red Bull Cans Now Complete

In September, I showed you how some of the RustyBrickers are working towards a very big goal. The goal was to build a wall of red bull cans and now that goal has finally been achieved.

They filled the whole window with cans. Here is a before shot:

Red Bull Can Wall

Here are the proud developers (excluding some who didn't want to be in the picture) after the wall was completed:

Wall of Red Bull

Here is a close up picture of just the cans:

Wall of Red Bull

Congrats on achieving this tremendous goal. Wait until you see what is next!

Update: Red Bull stopped by in their Red Bull car to deliver Red Bull for free!

December 31, 2008

My Verizon Phone Saga

vonage screwedThis blog post is mostly so I remember what happened when. But it might be some what comical to you.

On 12/11 a guy named John Leveroni convinced me that he would save me money by switching me back to Verizon from my current provider of business telephone service. After having all the paper work and contracts written out, I was confident I would be saving money. The thing is, I wasn't sure if this was Verizon or a Verizon reseller. So I asked him, and he said, he is from Verizon.

Turns out he lied. He is an authorized Verizon reseller but he works at a place called One Source, that resells this stuff for Verizon. But why should I care, I got a signed contract?

Well, it turned out that the plan I was signed up for was not the plan he told me he can put me on. It turned out, it had less features at the same or more expensive price. So I said, fine - I got a contract, Ill tell Verizon.

I call Verizon last week and they tell me, that since it was not a Verizon rep, they cannot honor it. All they can do is put in a complaint and then sign me up for a different plan. I was frustrated but was convinced by a Verizon rep that a different plan would get me everything I wanted at the right price.

So Kim Scott at the 631 Verizon business office switched me to a new plan. She gave me the confirmation number for the new plan and promised to keep me up to date. I haven't heard back, so I called back today to follow up.

Guess, what, the confirmation number is not in the system and no such order was placed. Even worse, the pricing she gave me for this plan is twice as much as she told me. Oh, and it only comes with the DSL package, which I don't need, but this is the first time I am hearing this.

So I was told to speak with her manager, name is Michael at 890-1309. I called, he is on vacation until Monday, after New Years. So I left him a message.

I'll give them until Monday and if I don't hear back, I will try to switch back to my previous provider.

What a waste of time!

Update: It just keeps getting worse. Three months later, Verizon Keeps Over Charging Me!!!

December 19, 2008

RustyBrick Fleece Scarves :: Holiday Gift

This year, we purchased black fleece scarves with the RustyBrick logo embroidered on them. Here is a picture:

RustyBrick Fleece Scarf

These aren't as fun as our past holiday gifts, such as RustyBrick Mini Fridges or the RustyBrick Laptop Bags, or even our usb mug warmers with mugs or our RB Fleeces. But I had to prepare for what is expected to be a big recession in 2009, so cutting a little, I think is warranted.

December 16, 2008

Where The Holiday Gifts?

Gift BoxNormally, at this time of the year, my office would be stacked with gifts from vendors, search companies, friends, colleagues, clients and so on.

But to-date, I only received two packages.

We know Google isn't sending out gifts this year. But what about everyone else? Seems like most companies are cutting back on holiday gifts.

I did get a few cards, which was nice.

My company will be giving out less expensive gifts this year. We will be giving out embroidered fleece scarves. We typically spend 4 times as much on a gift, but we also decided to cut back, based on the 2009 outlook.

It doesn't make me feel good to cut back, I feel like I am part of the problem, as opposed to part of the solution. But I need to be careful, going into 2009, like everyone else.

December 15, 2008

Are Recruiters Ruthless? My Golden Tech Experience

vulturesLet me start off by saying, I spend a ton of money with recruiters - more than I want to, but they add a tremendous value to my company. I primarily work with one recruiter, because I trust him and he does good by me. But let me tell you about my experience with many recruiters.

Last week, one of my employees told me a recruiter called to see if he wanted a new and better job. Most of my employees are happy working here, at least I think so. So this one said, he is not interested. The recruiter then asked if the company was hiring, and transferred him to me. I was on the phone, so I was unable to answer. I believe this guy called back today, to speak with me.

He said a colleague of mine told him I was interested in speaking with him. I said, who? He said, he speaks to tons of people - he doesn't remember, he makes thousands of calls a week. I said, okay. I acted like I was interested and he asked if I was hiring. I said, I use only one recruiter because I trust this recruiter. I said, I am not sure, but I believe you called last week to speak to my employee and try to take him away. I don't want to work with recruiters who try to take my employees away from me. I asked him, if it was him. He said, he doesn't know - he calls lots of people every day - it is part of the business, he told me.

He then said that I don't sound happy with his call. I said, you are right, I am not happy. He then asked if I am hiring any time soon. I said, no - just to get him to hang up. He then said, "good - I'll make sure to call all your employees to try to get them out of your company," or something like that. He hung up right after saying that.

The company that called is named Golden Tech and the phone number they called me from was 212-849-6868.

I called back and spoke with a manager. The manager, first name John, told me this is the nature of the business. He was sorry, but they make their money placing people in new jobs.

But to have the nerve to call the operator line, I answer (the boss), ask to speak with an employee, claim to be a "good friend" (in many cases), and me transfer them over (I always do, knowing they are a recruiter), just for them to take away my employees and make a buck - while hurting my business, it just isn't nice. It is very not nice.

I pay 20% of the first years salary to the recruiter. Some call 3 months later to replace these employees. So if I hire someone at 100k (round number), I pay the recruiter 20k, and then 3 months later, they are fair game again. Besides for the training time, getting up to speed, administrative and operating costs - to pay the 20% for three months!

Not nice and my rant is over (oh, yea, that is a picture of vultures.)

December 10, 2008

RustyBrick, The "Cool Company" in the Building

cool kidsLast night, I was with a group of people, 10+, who work in the building. Either they work for other companies in the building or they own the company.

In any event, one guy said - I wish I could just hang out with you (RustyBrick) for a day. He added something like, "you guys seem like real fun, cool guys and do cool things there."

I laughed, almost saying most of our work is boring web software.

But then I looked around and saw who I am comparing RustyBrick to. The type of businesses in my office building include lawyers, mortgage brokers, doctors, recruiters, and so on.

If I had to say, RustyBrick is probably the coolest company in the building. But that doesn't say much. It is nice to know that people think so, at least.

October 28, 2008

A Good Kind of Know It All Prospect

CavemanI had a meeting today with a prospect that really knew it all. He wanted a custom site but when I showed him things and he showed me things, he really seemed to simply know it.

He actually even came to the meeting with the core components of the site in HTML and CSS. It was for demo purposes, but it showed me everything I need to know. This way I can price it out and know that I am not missing anything.

In addition, when I was going into some technologies that I wouldn't dare mention to a normal prospect, he knew them. I talked about S3, EC2, RackSpace's cloud computing, and even Google Ad Manager as opposed to OpenX - he knew them all and discussed them intelligently with me.

At one point, I even told him:

I feel like I have nothing to add, you basically are saying everything I would say.

In any event, he is not a coder and he needs a team to build out his idea. In any event, this seems to be the dream client. He knows the capabilities, the limitations and the value in what we do - without having to tell him.

Like that picture, don't ya?

October 13, 2008

Set Up Temporary Office at Regus in St. Louis

RegusMost of this week, I will be in St. Louis, by the in laws for the holidays. Yes, I go offline again, tonight through Wednesday night (it hurts but I do it).

In any event, the family flew in yesterday and my brother-in-law and I decided to grab an office so we can work in peace. So I went to AMEX and found a Regus location in St. Louis. Specifically, the CityPlace Location.

This morning, we drove over in a hybrid to the office. We got here about 8:15am, later than we wanted to, and no one was here to greet us. So we waited about 10 minutes until someone came in and acted concerned that we were not helped. It was cool. We got a private office to share, it is pretty big. Has fast internet and we are off to working.

How much? $75 per day - for the whole day. Well worth it! I would do this again!

September 17, 2008

The Red Bull Wall of Cans

Here at RustyBrick, we can't have enough fun in the day. The latest example is our coders love of Red Bull (not Kosher). When they are done with a can, they rip off the tab at the top and then place it on the window. This is about a month-plus of drinking red bull, between 3 coders.

Red Bull Can Wall

RustyBricker, Jimmy Mancusi is the man behind this experiment and he is the guy in the picture.

Their goal is to create two full walls of red bull cans. Use the sugar free cans, the lighter cans, to write an R and B (not for Red Bull, but for RustyBrick). That would be cool. ETA until the RB Red Bull wall is about 2 more months, if I had to guess.

Who knows, maybe when Red Bull sees this, they will stop by in the Red Bull Car to visit us.

September 11, 2008

RustyBrick: Now Coding Your College Projects?

home workThis was weird. A college student walks in and asks to speak to someone about a project. I come out and say hello, how can I help you.

I notice it is a young kid, holding a manila folder with about 4 white papers in the folder.

He asks me if I can help him program a game he designed. He said he designed it for a class project. He said it has to be done in Java or Flash. I immediately said, we do not code games, I am sorry. So he left.

There are a few things wrong with this:

(1) Why come to my office to ask us if we would do a project for you? Why not call first? Gas is expensive!
(2) I look at him and he says he is a college student, I immediately think there is no money involved or little money involved. Don't start off your sales pitch (or reverse sales pitch) with saying your from college.
(3) We do not do people's home work! Although he did not word it that way.

September 8, 2008

RustyBrick 2008 Company Chow Down

This Sunday we had the company BBQ, aka the RustyBrick Chow Down. Here are some pictures from the event. It is too bad not everyone was able to come:

July 30, 2008

Saying Goodbye To My Bank

BankI have been talking about remote check deposit for a while. I told you that I was approved for it and then showed you how remote check deposit works on video.

The only issue was that my bank initially told me that I could only hook up my business accounts to it. That was great, because most of my banking was business related. But I still had some personal banking to do. So last night, I sent my bank representative an email, asking if they could please hook up my personal accounts.

Today, I got an email that they can and have done so. So I tested it out and it worked.

I can officially say, I will rarely ever have to go to the bank again. I am sure there will be times where I need to go, i.e. wire transfers, changing account stuff, etc. But for the most part, I will rarely ever have to walk into my bank again.

I love efficiency and convenience through technology.

Why I Answer Most Operator Calls At My Office

PhonesSo I briefly mentioned that I answer most the calls in my office. Why do I do that?

We have a phone system with extensions. So it automatically answers the call and gives the caller the option to dial an extension, by name or sales/support/operator etc. If a caller is specifically looking for a person here, hopefully they will dial by extension or name. Some clients (very few) are too lazy to press the extension and they will press 0. In that case, it rings everyone's phones and the caller ID will show the client's business name. If the employee sees it is likely for them, they typically answer.

But if the call is operator, sales, support and so on and we don't know if it is a client, I try to answer.

Why? Well, most of the time - I am the one that can answer the person on the other end. Typically, the employees can't make the decision on if we want to buy X or if an ex-employee worked here in the past, and so on. So I would have to get the call anyway.

In addition, I don't want my employees distracted by the phones, unnecessarily. Programming can be very focus oriented and to lose focus over a phone call that doesn't apply to them, can kill 15 minutes - which will cost me and/or my clients money.

Also, I did not hire my employees to be a secretary. I hired them to program, design and so on. Not to answer the phones. Is it below anyone in the office to answer a phone. No way! If I, the "CEO" (I hate titles), can answer the phone, why can't anyone. But I prefer not to make them answer the phone, as I mentioned above.

Why don't I hire a secretary? Like I said above, most calls get routed properly anyway. All of our back office stuff is very automated and a secretary is really not needed here. We seriously streamlined this office like you would not believe. So no paper, no faxes, billing is automated mostly, and so on. So we don't need the cost of a secretary at this point. How big are we? We are about 15 staff members right now.

June 26, 2008

Live in Tel Aviv? Computer Savvy? Want a Job?

I got this great client that has offices both in New York City and Tel Aviv, Israel. They are named American Israel Cultural Foundation, basically they hook up sponsorships for Israel students looking to pursue their culturural talents. If you are into music, art, dance, etc - and you are computer savvy, you might like this job.

The job description is attached as a PDF file. Review it.

If you are interested in this job then email orit AT aicf DOT co DOT il.

Moving ~200 Domains to New Name Servers & Location

DomainsWhooaaa....

In the past 24 hours or so, my brother and I went through a list of about 200 domains and moved all of them, except about 15 - which we are waiting on. We are moving to new managed hosting provider and we need to move the name servers as well.

The past week we moved all the sites, including this blog, to the new servers. We first updated the old name servers to point the sites to the new IP address, or the new servers. Once that was set and everything was tested as working, we imported all of our name server records (about 200) and moved them all. Keep in mind, we don't act as the name server for all our sites, but probably most of them.

I would say about half of those domain names were easy to move, because either the client made the change in their domain registrar or I had access to make those changes for them. The other half required me to obtain the registrar login information from the customer. Most of them have no clue what a domain registrar is anyway, so getting that information - was not fun.

In any event, we are almost done - only have 17 domain names left. Once we move the rest off, then we are freed completely from our old hosting provider. As you can tell, I am looking forward to that day. My realistic goal is to be freed completely no later then this Monday.

June 19, 2008

Great Storage Option: Sterilite 0142 Cabinet

Sterilite 0142We recently hired three new programmers, once about a month ago and two new coders who are starting in within a week or so. The coder who started has a nice desk already, which he enjoys. The two new guys have place, but we wanted to open things up a bit.

In the "client specialists room, i.e. the programmer room, we had a corner where we stacked up food. Literally, tons of food, stacked up in the corner of the room. It is actually a place for a programmer to work, but it was covered in food and papers. So we decided to buy a Sterilite Cabinet to place all that food in. Guess what, it really all fit - we didn't think it would. The Sterilite Cabinet has huge capacity. It is great for solutions like this.

In the picture above, you can see we put the cabinet on the right of the fridge. BTW, yes we have two microwaves - one for kosher and one for non-kosher (maybe ill blog on that later). It fit perfectly. The cabinet's new location was the place of our water cooler (check out that comments on that blog post btw). We moved that water cooler, which is no longer from Sunbeam,to a new location. The office looks much cleaner.

There are still a lot of things we need to do to organize the office but we are getting there.

June 18, 2008

Remote Check Deposit in Action

I have been talking about remote check deposit for a while and I was finally approved to get this service for free with my bank. I received the machine on Monday and it worked. So today, I wanted to demo to you how it works.

Here is a video showing how I go to a web page, enter in some information and click a button. After I click the button, the web site triggers the remote check deposit machine, which is connected via USB to the computer, to scan the check. The check is scanned and it prints a number or two on the back of the check. Then the web site is updated with the scanned check. Here is a video of the process that I made:


Note: If the video doesnt work, refresh this page and try again. YouTube has been having issues...

As you can see, it is pretty fun. If I would have 20 checks, you load them all in, and it will auto-feed all 20 checks. Then it balances your deposits and you submit it to your bank account.

For more on Remote Check Deposit, check out the Federal Reserve's web site, they have an awesome FAQ on it.

June 12, 2008

My Asterisk/Fonality PBX Almost Blows Up

As some of you know, for a PBX system at RustyBrick, I use an open source platform named Asterisk, supported by Fonality.

This morning, most incoming and outgoing calls stopped working. We tried rebooting the server and it had some major disk failures. Here is a picture of the box running Fedora, recovering from the disk failures all on its own:

Asterisk/Fonality Server Mailfunction

Several minutes later, the system appeared to recover. The picture here is a picture of Fonality loaded up on a Dell box - pretty cool, ehh...

Asterisk/Fonality Server Mailfunction

Anyway, it recovered by the phone calls did not work. So I called Fonality support, something I rarely do, and pressed the emergency number. Shortly after, I got someone on the call who took care of the issue. He quickly figured out it was an issue with the caller id handler, it was an unsupported version. So he pushed down a supported version and we were back on track to placing and accepting phone calls.

This is the exact reason I wanted a supported solution. Going with Fonality allows me to support open source and also get support for my system.

I've written about Fonality in the past. I did a Features in 4.0 review as well as a full Fonality review in the past. I am still a happy Fonality user, even after 2.5 years.

Should You Treat Employees As Friends?

flickrAd Age wrote an article a couple weeks back that caught my attention. The article was named Do Bossfriends Create Great Employees? which takes the side that being friends with your employees create great employees. The argument he makes is that the more your employees like you, the more they will do for you. But I find the whole concept of being friends with employees to make them better employees to be, um..., somewhat oxymoronic. How so you ask? Well, if you're friendly to your employees only because you want them to be better employees, then your true intentions seem way off. Not sure if I am getting my point across - but to fake to be friendly in an effort to make for better employees, imo, will back fire.

My take? I don't believe employers should be on a friend relationship level. I have some of the best employees here at RustyBrick, but I make an effort to not cross the line of being their friends. Why? Not because I don't like them - it's the opposite. I really like every one of my staff members. They are all talented, creative, hard-working, honest and most importantly good people. They have the qualities I look for in friends.

But I don't feel an employer should be a friend with their employees. I personally don't think going out for drinks with employees is something I would think is appropriate. I don't think hanging with employees is a good thing. That doesn't mean I don't believe in going to an employees happy or sad occasion - but I feel there should be some sort of line drawn.

Maybe it was the way I was raised. Who knows.

Does this leave for a stale company culture at RustyBrick? No way! The guys often go out for lunch together during the day. I believe some hang on the weekends, go to baseball games, play video games in the office on Friday afternoons and much more.

In the future, I hope to write a blog post giving your more details on the RB staff. It should be fun, but it will take a while for me to start on that.

June 11, 2008

Blogs Are Working & Load Balanced

After a couple more hours of trial and error, I believe the blogs are now configured correctly. In fact, they are set up to be fully load balanced on two web servers and one database server.

We had some issues with comments being over written, but with a new rsync command, we got them working nicely.

Here is the new server architecture for our blogs:

Load Balanced Page and Comment Server Cluster

This is very exciting because if a server blows up, you should still be able to comment and stuff without noticing. Plus, the strain on the servers can be offloaded to each other. Very exciting. :)

June 8, 2008

FYI - This Blog Has Some Issues

So we moved all the blogs to a new server. This one, none of the others, is having issues.

Your comments will time out but eventually appear on the blog posts. So keep that in mind.

I will try to figure out why this particular blog is having issues, while all the others are working fine.

One More Test

This is another test. Feel free to ignore.

Testing New Server

So, I switched over the blogs from our old server configuration to a new one. We are on a new IP, in fact, the servers are load balanced.

Thing is, we need to sync the blog posts, which produces HTML files to one server, and then sync it back to the other server. Not a big deal. But when someone comments, they might comment on one server and at the same time, someone might be commenting on another server. So at some points, it may not show your comment for a specific time period (5 minutes), until everything get's synced up properly.

Anyway, this is just a test post to see if things are being synced properly.

May 29, 2008

Customer Service & Convenience: My Meeting With M&T Bank

M&T Bank LogoThe other week, I finally had the bank agree to give me remote check deposit for free. They asked if they can come in to meet me, so I said okay and we just had the meeting this morning.

I knew two people were coming, but it ended up to be three people. A branch manager, VP of retail regional manager and VP of business and professional banking. The latter was a last minute join, because she happened to be at the branch and decided to tag along. The meeting was about answering my questions about the remote check deposit and then to see if they can sell me on anything else (without looking like they are selling). Honestly, I had no desire to meet with anyone. The first question they asked was did I have questions on how remote check deposit worked and so on. I said, maybe one - but I kind of knew how it worked. I did get one piece of information that was useful. They then offered to send someone in to help me set up the scanner. I said immediately that I could figure out the installation, and I really don't need someone to make a special trip to help with that. Then we went on to talk about credit lines, insurance, mortgages, and a few other banking products that I really don't need - thankfully.

Okay, now to the point....

What I think the bank wanted to do was show some faces and build a relationship with me. Why? Well, when the whole remote check deposit episode took place and they told me the costs, I decided to be frank with them. I said, that other banks offer it for free and I may go to the other banks because it simply is a great service. Honestly, I have been with M&T Bank, my bank, since I was 12. I really like the bank, I never had an issue - they have tons of branches in my area and they treat me very well. But I don't care for the relationship. If they provide good customer service and I don't have problems, I am happy. If they provide similar tools to other banks and I can utilize those tools, then I am happy.

I am a loyal person, sometimes too loyal (might have a post on that in the next month or two). I have been with M&T for almost 20 years. My personal accounts are there, my business accounts are there and I would have placed my mortgage with them if the rates were competitive (who knows, I might switch). But, I am honestly very loyal to them and to my clients and vendors. If you treat me right, I will treat you right - at least I hope you feel that way.

In any event, for me, customer service is not meeting faces. For me, customer service is purely about convenience and honesty. Do what I need to do faster and more accurately and I am a happy camper.

There are a lot of banks pitching a "personal touch." I personally do not find value in that. Do you?

Sorry for the crazy long post. Sorry for typos/grammar, these long posts tend to get interrupted mid-way several times by calls, emails, employees, IMs - and I don't proof-read, making for major mistakes.

Oh, I hope to get my remote check deposit thing soon. Can't wait!

May 27, 2008

Auto-Attended Languages: Si usted habla español

directoryI rarely get a call from a Spanish-only speaking person. Today, I just received a call from someone who asked me if anyone here (RustyBrick) speaks Spanish.

I actually have two people here who speak Spanish fluently. So I transferred the call to one of them. It turned out to be a wrong number, go figure.

But we have lots of languages in this office. We got:

  • English
  • Hebrew
  • Spanish
  • German
  • I think a few others

So I was thinking, maybe we should add a menu when people first call. The menu would read...

If you speak English, press 1. If you speak Spanish press 2 (Si usted habla español). If you speak German, press 3, etc. All in their native toung. But then add the geek factor. If you speak PHP press ?, if you speak C# press #, etc.

Good stuff, no? ;-)

May 8, 2008

Screening Your References: Should You?

ScreenI doubt I am the first to think about this. In fact, I assume this is common practice and something I just didn't know or think about until last night.

The concept of pre-screening references. Most businesses need to give their prospects a list of clients they can call as a reference. Typically, business owners will give the names and numbers of clients who are in love with you. But how do you really know those clients love you? They may be very nice to you in person and over the phone - but when you send them the bill - they may dislike you for it. :)

Do companies pre-screen their references by having friends call to find out what the client might say? This also works with resume references when you are looking for a job. Why not have a friend call your references on your resume to validate that they have good things to say about you? Did any of my former employees do the pre-screening on me? I certainly have not pre-screened any of my client references. But should I?

The process would be simple. In the client references case, just have a friend call and say he is interested in RustyBrick and that I listed you (the client) as a reference. Then have the friend go through a check list of questions and report the answers back to you.

Is that unethical? Is it done in business? Is it smart business practices?

FYI, this might be something that is a no-brainer to some people. I honestly never thought or heard about this concept ever. I was in the shower last night (too much information), thinking about a prospect who recently called my references. I wondered if they had good things to say about me. Then it stuck me, what is to stop me from having a friend find out what they have to say about me.

So what do you think?

May 6, 2008

RustyBrick Is Not a Bricklayer Company

BricklayersI get these calls once in a while...This time is went like this...

Caller: Hi, may I speak with your safety inspector or head of safety.
Me: We don't have a safety inspector.
Caller: Don't you lay bricks? Aren't you a bricklayer company?
Me: We sit behind computers all day.
Caller: Oh, I am sorry.

A bricklayer according to the current Wikipedia page says:

A bricklayer or mason is a tradesman who lays bricks to construct brickwork. The term also refers to personnel who use blocks to construct blockwork walls and other forms of masonry. In British and Australian English, a bricklayer is colloquially known as a "brickie".

On a deeper, more philosophical level, we are a type of bricklayer. We lay the building blocks of your web site and web business. ;-)

May 5, 2008

RustyBrick Helps Launch StoryBids, Product Placement Auction House

storybidsI am very proud to announce that RustyBrick, my company, launched the core back end infrastructure and front-end technology of Storybids.

Storybids is a very unique idea. It basically is a way for video creators to feature product placement ads in their videos and get paid for it. So let's say I do a weekly video cast (which I do weekly) and I wanted to earn some extra cash by inserting products from advertisers in them. Storybids provides an auction house for video producers to hook up with advertisers looking to put their products and/or brands in user-generated videos, serial mini-dramas, videoblogs and webisodes. Awesome idea!

In fact, the co-founders are Joseph Morin and Juan Prado. Yea, you know Joe. He has been on the SEM scene forever, involved with WebmasterWorld, Search Engine Watch and so much more. He is the guy at the conferences being matchmaker. Awesome guy.

He picked us to build out the core technology. And boy was it a fun job.

Confused on how it all works, check out http://www.storybids.com/howitworks.html and it will become crystal clear.

Want to watch Rand's testimonial, check it out at Storybids and see how he praises the new marketplace. In fact, Rand's team wasn't doing any more web development at the time Storybids was looking for a web development team, so Rand recommended us. The rest is history.

April 30, 2008

Finally Paid Off My Electric Bill Overage (48 Month Overage)

Electric MeterAbout a year ago, I wrote about being Slapped With Electric Bill For Past Four Years.

Well, this past month was the month I paid it all off, after paying it out over the past 12 months.

In short, the office building never sent me a bill for electric - ever. I had no idea it was part of my lease, so I had no idea I had to pay it. One day, I received a letter that I owed the office building 48 months of back charges on my electric bill. My high estimates was that I owed over $20,000. It turned out, the deal we worked out, was just about $10,000 was owed, to be paid over 12 months.

This month marks the month of when I was all paid up. The whole story was very weird and shocking, but things typically work out.

The bright side of this story, is that now I feel like I have a few extra bucks in the bank every month now, going forward. :)

April 15, 2008

Where Is My Fiber Already? Renewed My Costly T1

FiberI thought Verizon FiOS would be here by now, in fact, I was convinced Verizon was laying Fiber at my office. But almost a year later, I am still without FiOS as an option for my office.

I really thought I would have FiOS as an option now but I still do not and Verizon's local business office has no ETA on it for my office. My T1 contract expired about a year ago, I didn't renew and stuck paying $65 more per month, so I could drop them without penalty where FiOS comes. But I was wrong, FiOS did not come and I pay almost $800 extra over the course of the year because of it.

Today, I decided to renew my T1 contract, so I can save about $65 per month. So I am now renewed for a new year. It costs $600 to terminate within the year, so if FiOS comes in a couple months, which I doubt it will), I will keep the T1, the Cable and add FiOS. I would likely unplug T1 and replace it with FiOS and let the T1 expire.

FiOS is just so much faster then cable, I have it at home and besides for one outage, it has been super fast and rock solid. Plus, I am sure it will be much cheaper than T1, which is, in turn, slower than Cable.

If renewing the contract would guarantee FiOS availability in my area, I would have done it. So maybe, it will be here soon. I am itching to get it in my office.

April 14, 2008

Taxes In The Mail

TaxesYesterday, my accountant gave me my final tax papers. I didn't even review them, I just stuck a check in the envelopes, signed them and mailed them.

I will review them later, cause I know there are a few amendments I need to have done anyway.

I don't mind the April 15th deadline too much. Why? Cause I pay someone to do them. But also cause I dislike the estimated taxes more. Not only do you have to pay your taxes by April 15th for the prior year (if you owe), but you also have to pay your estimated taxes (if you own a company or self-employed).

But paying the money doesn't bother me that much. My accountant told me, the more taxes you pay, the more money you are making. Now, it doesn't mean you should not take advantage of every tax law that you are entitled to. So, there are a few things I need to go back on and see if I qualify for.

We did file an extension for the business returns, but we did pay the taxes anyway. Government doesn't like it when you pay those things late.

April 8, 2008

Charge For Ideas: Is It Time For That?

I have been contemplating the idea of actually charging for ideas, and not just charging for implementing the ideas. Yes, they are two different things.

For as long as I can remember, my company has been creating business models with our clients from day one. It doesn't matter the type of business, the sector or if it is an old business or a new one. Many, not all, but many, of our clients use us as a think tank for ideas on how to improve their business or develop new products or messages or brands or backend processes for their business.

Our practice for billing for those ideas has been... Okay, we came up with an idea - you like it, now we will charge you for implementing that idea on a software level. But we never really charged for producing the idea, itself, as an idea that goes to market. Tons of companies do it, they are called Marketing Companies, Branding Companies, and so on. Some charge hundreds of thousands for coming up with a brand concept, logo and so on. We, we just charge for the actual dirty work, in terms of putting it together but not for helping conceive the brand or idea.

Why am I blogging this now? Well, yesterday, I brought in four of my RBers into a kick off meeting with a new client. We came out of the meeting designing a whole new marketing pitch, concept and a brand new domain with tons of awesome ideas on how to promote the site and business. Maybe, in a few months, when we launch the new brand, Ill let you know what it was - and reference back to this post. But for now, I can't talk about the specifics of the business.

As we came out of the meeting, we thought to ourselves - once again... Hmm, we just helped them put together an awesome branding strategy. Yes, we are going to implement the whole strategy in a technical sense - by coding it up for them. But, in terms of payment for creating the new brand - we get nothing. This happens all the time and I never feel upset or cheated. I feel happy for them and for us - we just built a long term relationship in one sit down meeting with this client. But, on the other hand, maybe we should charge for it.

In the next few months - it might be something we actually stick a price tag on. But, one thing is for sure, our current message on our rustybrick.com site, really doesn't show that we can and do provide ideas as a service. So maybe we will launch our new site with some content focused on that as a service as well - if we ever launch it.

March 27, 2008

RB Developers Code Their Own Name Plate

Remember I told you I got a name plate for my birthday?

So we hung them up yesterday and our developers saw them. In any event, they thought it would be funny to make their own name plate. So they printed out "Client Specialists" on a piece of paper and stuck it to their door. Of course, they hung it up slanted.

RB Client Specialists

Cute guys. ;-)

March 24, 2008

Laptops: A Distraction or Tool at Meetings?

I got a kick out of Jeremy's The "No Laptop" Meeting Rule.

He said he has seen some Yahoo meetings where they have a "no laptop" rule set in place. Like Jeremy, I am torn.

Why No Laptops:

  • You stop listening to the meeting to work on something else, I have done this myself.
  • It may give the appearance that you are not listening, when you are
  • You just sometimes need a break

Why Yes Laptops:

  • They can be helpful when using it as a tool to add to the meeting
  • I hate paper, I prefer to note take on laptop
  • We are all grown up, trust us to do our work
  • Sometimes emergencies come up

It really depends on the nature of the meeting. When I interview people, I try not to bring in my phone or laptop at the interview. When I am at a prospect, I obviously need my laptop to demo stuff. When I am at a meeting, I honestly don't need to hear everything that is going on at all times, so its good to have the laptop to multi-task. I guess it just depends on your job, responsibilities, what the meeting is about and so on.

But to implement it as a rule across a company, I am not too sure about that.

January 24, 2008

Cleaned My Office

It has been a while since I really cleaned my office. I tend to be a very clean and organized individual. I can blame my mother for that. In any event, I threw away so much stuff just 30 minutes ago. I organized some of my books, files, documents, CDs, etc.

Here is a video of my new clean office:

Trust me, before it was very clean also. But now this is extremely clean. I even used disinfecting wipes!

January 21, 2008

Using RustyBudget on Your iPhone

If you are a blogger and have yet to try RustyBudget out yet, you are missing out. I honestly can't describe how much time I save every day by using it. Of course, it was my idea and RustyBrick built it, so I am biased, but at the same time, I built it around my specific needs. FYI - Danny Sullivan lives and dies by it every day as well, maybe one day he will blog about it.

In any event, I am often on the road and want to be able to add items from Google Reader directly to my various budgets. Based on watching the using delicious on your iphone, I had one of those "Doh!" moments. Just add the bookmarklets I need to my Safari browser, and then sync my iPhone. Presto - I can add items from Google Reader directly to the budget I want.

Here is me showing that off:

Step back!!! What is RustyBudget? Well, I wrote about it over here and over here. I am honestly shocked more people have not gotten on the bandwagon. Only 337 authors? Only 12,500+ topics added. Maybe it is too confusing?

Anyway, give it a shot at RustyBudget.

January 18, 2008

Insert Caffeine Here

Near our fridge in the office, is a line of soda boxes that constantly gets replenished, for our staff. Here is a picture:

Soda Boxes Along The Wall

Yes, the coders love that caffeine and we love to provide it. Sorry, no red bull - I am not sure if it is kosher. :) We got, from left to right, seltzer, arizona ice tea, mountain dew, pepsi, more mountain dew, pepsi zero, diet pepsi, diet pepsi without caffeine. Yes, I guess pepsi was on sale when we picked these boxes up.

I actually got the three boxes on the left myself, when I went to Costsco this past week.

I have an older post related to this, that has more food items, named Stocking The RustyBrick Junk Food Room.

January 15, 2008

Me, A "Clever Salesman" - No Way

Andrew GoodmanI wrote this post named I Am A Horrible Sales Man like one and a half years ago and now Andrew Goodman takes issue with it in his It's All About Sales series. A year and a half later?!

Andrew Goodman is a person I respect, so it caught my attention right away. OKAY, everything catches my attention right away, so no need to mention I respect Andrew- but I do... Back on topic............... (period key got stuck there for a bit)

Andrew said that my post shows to him that I am a clever salesman. He said:

I increasingly realized that this was proof that Barry is, on several levels, actually quite a clever salesman.

But honestly, I really really think I am not a good salesman. But it doesn't stop Andrew from thinking otherwise. He goes through several of my bullet points on why I I Am A Horrible Sales Man and turns them around. Pretty clever yourself.

The dress and "well groomed" comments are fun also. As you can see, Andrew is a well-groomed guy - that is his picture in this post. He admitted to this, "I thought my last haircut just didn't "take," so I went in for another one a good two weeks ahead of my usual schedule." Wow, I go into the haircut place and they ask me how I like it, I say - "quick please." I don't even bother looking to make sure they cut my hair evenly.

Can't wait for Part II. :)

December 27, 2007

December: The Month To Spend All Your Money

moneyNot sure about you, but December, every year, is when I spend the most amount of money at my company. Why? Well, RustyBrick's books close on 12/31 and we like to get all our expenses paid so that we max out our possible deductions.

This turns out to be pretty big sums of money. They include:

  • Charity, lots of charity
  • Estimated taxes (not sure if it even helps if I pay 15 days early but it cleans things up for me)
  • Year end bonuses for full time employees
  • American Express bill
  • Insurance bills
  • Hosting bills
  • Rent
  • Client gifts
  • New computers and hardware
  • Recruiter Fees
  • Any misc bills due up to 1/31
Is your most expensive month December also? How do you handle it?

December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays from RustyBrick

RustyBrick Holiday CardHappy Holidays everyone! Hope you enjoy the upcoming days and weeks with your family and friends.

Personally, I should be blogging and working over these days. The search industry slows but does not stop. Plus this is a great time for me to do the year end stuff for RustyBrick.

RustyBrick did send out our holiday e-cards this Friday. Do you want to see them? If so, go to http://www.rustybrick.com/holiday07/ to load the Flash card. Note, there is a typo in the card...

The fridge? More on that over here...

December 12, 2007

Hate RFPs: Feeding Hungry Dogs

DogsI so hate RFPs, request for proposals. Typically, if I get one, I won't respond or politely deny it. We are privileged to be able to pick our clients.

There is something about RFPs that just seem wrong. Write up a large document, send it out to 15 potential vendors to fight over and pick the last one standing. It reminds me of throwing a piece of steak to a hungry pack of dogs.

I just got a call about an RFP, I decided to ask - how did you hear of us. The person who called did not know. She said, "my boss gave me your number." So she sent me the details via email and I replied politely asked for how her boss got our number. If it comes from a client, I may respond - if not then I will tell them I am not interested.

Do you feel the same way about RFPs?

December 6, 2007

Angry Prospect Calls Me Crazy

I just got off the phone with a prospect calling to find out how much it would cost for a web site. I asked him to describe his business and then offered options for his web site. We ended up with a simple static site with content and pictures, plus a contact form for his site. Typically, we won't do those types of sites because they are too basic.

In any event, I gave him a ballpark price. He then told me, "You are crazy!" I paused and said, "excuse me, did you call me crazy?" I added, "I assume you didn't mean that?" He said, "you are crazy."

He then went into how he found prices listed on web sites for $200 for a site. I said, sure - a template site. Or contract the work out to a freelance person in India. You can get those prices. But these are our prices and I know many companies that charge a lot more than us.

He said again, you are crazy. I said, I am not crazy, I have been in the industry for a long time and I know. He replied, "I am in the industry also and you are crazy." I thought to myself, if he is in the industry, why not just build it yourself? But I did not say that, it wouldn't be nice. He then started yelling at me. At that point, I just hung up the phone - I don't need that.

December 5, 2007

Preview of the RustyBrick Holiday Gift: Mini Fridges

This year at RustyBrick, we will be giving some of our clients mini fridges. They hold about 6 cans of soda and can be plugged into a wall outlet or your car power adapter. Here are pictures:

RustyBrick Fridge

RustyBrick Fridge

RustyBrick Fridge

I guess this may be the first time I can say our gifts totally rock Google's holiday gift.

November 30, 2007

How To Make Your Phone Bill Cheaper Without Switching To VOIP

verizon-logo.gifQuestion: How can one make their phone bill cheaper without actually switching to a VOIP solution?
Answer: Threaten to switch to a VOIP solution!

We use a PBX box from Fonality at RustyBrick. It allows us to use a hybrid of VOIP and analog lines for our phone calls. By default, almost all calls go out over the VOIP lines to save costs while incoming calls go over the analog lines.

My VOIP bills are dollars per month (we pay maybe pennies per minute). My analog bills are over a hundred per month.

I was thinking of swapping out the remaining lines to VOIP lines from a new provider. So I decided to call my phone carrier and tell them the story. I did and then I was convinced I should switch. The next day, I get a call from a manager at the phone carrier telling me they will match the prices of the new VOIP lines I would get.

So I was planning on getting four lines at $25 per month, each line. They matched it. I got my first bill and I am now paying a lot less!

Good deal!!!

November 27, 2007

Health Insurance & Employee Feedback

oxford health plansJust a few hours ago, I made the final decision for our company to switch from GHI to Oxford for our health insurance benefits. Why did we switch, well - this time Oxford had better prices and since Oxford has a larger network than GHI in this area, it was a no brainer.

But this time, we decided to offer our employees two options for health benefits. It gives more flexibility, and can save them money. We no longer cover 100% for our employees, effective December 1.

What was very interesting to me was that all the single males selected the cheapest possible insurance product available to them. Their rational? "I never see doctors" and different flavors of that. While all families selected the most expensive plan available.

If I wasn't married, I also would likely choose the cheapest plan. But now, I clearly don't make all the decisions. But when you start having to worry about others and not just yourself, clearly you want to have the best available coverage for those who depend on you - no matter cost. So that is what most selected.

Every year I go through this process and every year I learn a thing or two.

November 16, 2007

More Server Upgrades: Lacking Sleep

ServersIf last night wasn't late enough due to the event and the fried phone lines, we were adding in a new database server last night, into our cluster.

The addition was scheduled for midnight. I was supposed to be sleeping while it happened. Instead, I was up between 12:15 and 1:30 or later testing to make sure all our sites and applications worked.

There were some small glitches here and there, but now most of our sites and applications are now running off a new database server in our cluster. Failovers should work well also, but who knows.

I honestly hate dealing with hosting, hate it.

November 8, 2007

Be Prepared, Pretty Please

Be PreparedThe other day, I had a few meetings. Let me describe two of them.

(1) The Interview:

We interviewed a new PHP candidate to work at our company. He was extremely prepared. I was very impressed when I asked, "Do you have any questions for us?" And he responded, "I prepared a list of them." That is impressive.

(2) The Prospect:

I had a prospect that wanted to run some ideas by me. Not only did he come 30 minutes late to the meeting... He came in, asked me how do I protect myself from you or someone else stealing my ideas. I said, have me sign an NDA. He then told me his ideas without giving me an NDA to sign. At the end of the meeting, I did a quick Google search for his main idea and found dozens of other companies doing the same thing. Dozens of people stole his idea. ;-)

Hmmm.....

November 7, 2007

RB Task # 15,000

RB Task # 15,000Last night at 7:49 PM (EST), we logged our 15,000th task in our task management system.

Our first task, ever logged in our custom built, RustyBrick® Task Manager, was on June 23, 2002 at about the same time of the day. Back then, Ronnie and I created all the tasks. Actually for a year or so after, we created all the tasks. Let me step back a bit. A task in our Task Manager, is a piece of a project that must get done for a whole project to get done. So if a client wants us to build out a web application, we will break down the web application into specific tasks, could be a handful or could be hundreds. Then programmers work on these tasks until they complete all of them.

So in the early days, Ronnie and I created each of these tasks. But we ultimately wanted our clients to take control and create their own tasks. In addition, we wanted our developers to do that as well. Over the course of the years, clients and our developers began creating tasks on their own. In fact, today, I personally rarely ever create a task. These days, we create tasks by the dozen each day. We probably create several hundred tasks per month. So if I had to chart the number of tasks we create month by month, you would probably see a huge steep line going up.

What is special about task number 15,000 is not only that it is number 15,000, but that a client created the task. We love when clients take the steering wheel and make their own detailed tasks.

We live and die by our RustyBrick Task Manager. It not only keeps our clients apprised of where we are with their projects, it also runs our daily business actives. We bill from it, we project manage front it, we project into the future with it, we interact with clients through it, we give bonuses from it, we power ambient orbs from it and much much more. It is our life line.

Congrats to the RustyBrick team and clients for reaching this awesome milestone!

November 5, 2007

Office Supplies Sales Man Soliciting: No Soliciting

no solicitingEvery now and then an office supplies guy stops by the office trying to solicit business from my company.

Since we are a very digitized company, we don't have the need for much office supplies. I stock up maybe once or twice a year and that is more than enough.

One came in the office today and one of my guys sent him away. I said, hmm. Next time one comes in, I want you to tell him that we want to buy a "No Soliciting" sign for the front door.

All office supplies stores sell them, so they must be able to be able to sell us one. Why rub it in the face of the sales guy? Because there is a no soliciting sign right by the elevators.

November 1, 2007

New Business Rush: Why Always All At Same Time?

sales chartTell me this... Why, why, why do all sales prospects come in the same week? I must of had 10 plus serious sales calls in the past week. Four new clients have signed up this week and I suspect another two will also, by weeks end.

Honestly, I can go weeks without signing up a new client, sometimes even months. But then, when we sign up a new client, bam! A slew of new clients also end up signing up.

This is very common, probably also very common for you guys. Business is sometimes not expected. Some business is seasonal, not mine - so we never know when it is going to hit.

Don't get me wrong, we have the resources, maybe we should add two more coders. Anyone interested? But it provides a happy stress.

I know I am not the reason we get new clients. Why? Because I Am A Horrible Sales Man. And when the client signs up, I am like, "sounds good, let's get started." I don't smile, I don't jump for joy, I don't get all excited.

Anyway, back on topic. Anyone know why new business typically comes in this avenue? All at one time...

October 30, 2007

Wow, Chris Anderson Blocks PR People: Guts

wiredThe Editor in Chief of Wired threatened to block PR pitches from PR people if they blindly email him press releases without tailoring them to him.

Wow!!!

Chris Anderson, got guts. Chris Anderson is widely respected, and has written some awesome books... So for him to say this, people watch, and they have been!

Chris said:

So fair warning: I only want two kinds of email: those from people I know, and those from people who have taken the time to find out what I'm interested in and composed a note meant to appeal to that (I love those emails; indeed, that's why my email address is public).

Everything else gets banned on first abuse.

He has already banned, what appears to be about a hundred email addresses. Bold!

Chris said he gets about 300 emails per day, mostly PR pitches. He doesn't have the time for it. Duh! How could he. He has a staff that deals with it, so send it to the proper email address at Wired and not his personal email at Wired.

I get my share of press releases, not nearly 300 per day, but a fair share. I can't stand most press releases, in fact, I delete 95% of them. When I was just writing at the Search Engine Roundtable, I simply deleted all press releases no matter what. Why? Well, on the submission page at the site, I said we have certain criteria. That criteria includes:

We only accept news and article ideas, if they come from a search marketing forum thread. If the community finds your service / news / product to be important, a discussion should and will most likely be started in one of the top search marketing forums. It is our job at the Search Engine Roundtable to discover these most talked about discussions and summarize them for you in a format that is both useful and timely.

If you have content, news, products or services you want to submit to the Search Engine Roundtable, please first find a forum thread from one of the many Search Engine Marketing Forums. Then submit an email to us and we will evaluate the thread and discussion for inclusion into our story board.

If you have a press release, then great! But don't share it with me if no one else cares about it. AKA, no forum discussion, no press release.

With Search Engine Land, I need to be more open minded. I still prefer to find the news through my channels and not be fed the news, with certain exceptions.

Is Chris worried about missing out on some stories? I doubt it. I commend him!

The bottom line is that we are all human. Throw press releases in our faces, as if we are machines, doesn't do it anymore. Tailor them, make sure we care. With Search Engine Land, there are some writers who prefer local articles while some love to cover new features and others love hard core SEO stuff. Tailor your message and be direct! Save yourself and us time, please.

October 29, 2007

Health Insurance Costs: Wow

Health InsuranceI just got my new statement for how much my new rates will be for health insurance for our employees at RustyBrick.

It just amazes me how much these prices go up so much every year. I do not mind paying more in quantities (i.e. add employees), but the rates have gone up tremendously in the past few years.

Health-Care Premiums Expected To Jump 8.7% in 2008, Study Says from the Wall Street Journal is a recent article on the crazy prices of health insurance. Here is a quote:

Health-care premiums of employers and their workers rose by more than twice the rate of inflation in 2007, and cost increases are expected to accelerate next year, with employees picking up a larger slice of the bill, according to a study released Monday by Hewitt Associates, a global human resources company.

It has been like this for the past several years. Insurance prices just keep going up.

Thing is, RustyBrick currently covers 100% of our employee's health insurance. We also provide a pretty good plan, PPO with a provider that is widely accepted here.

Besides for co-pays increasing, with deductibles, to try to lower the premiums, the WSJ says:

Employees are also likely to shoulder slightly more of the financial burden for their health-care next year. Hewitt predicts that employees on average will contribute $1,859, or 21.4%, toward premiums, compared with $1,690, or a contribution of 21.2%, this year. In 2003, employees paid 17% of the premium.

I have looked into "High Deductible Plans" but they aren't attractive. Yet, insurance is just for that, in case of emergencies. So maybe it is a good option. I still don't like it. This is what the WSJ said:

Hewitt's research also found that more than 20% of employers offer, or plan to offer, a high-deductible health plan with a tax-advantaged health savings account, or HSA, by the end of this year, and almost half are considering offering one at a future date. While just 3% of employees elected these plans last year, most companies anticipate that enrollment will grow to 20% in five years, according to Hewitt.

That just amazes me.

In any event, it is just going to get worse next year. I doubt prices will ever go down.

Who is to blame? I am told people abuse their plans and that is why premiums are so high.

October 19, 2007

Testing ShoppingAds

Just got an invite to ShoppingAds, so I thought I give it a try. If you click on the ads, I get paid. So I thought I test it out. I may use them with Google AdSense on this blog and see how it goes.

Above is an example of a type of ad, it is not targeted to be contextually relevant.

The above ad should have "attitude." No sure what that means just yet. Seems like "attitude" ads the "Hot" icon to the ads.

October 15, 2007

Server Upgrades & Not Sleeping

ServersSome of you remember that we have upgraded some of our servers to Fedora last week.

Since then, I have not been sleeping much. The server we upgraded is having these weird kernel panics, even though we tested it. The server reboots fine, and comes back up after five minutes, but it continues to happen every other day or so. So this weekend, the server folks and us did tons of tests over the middle of the night. We think we found the issue, and we are hoping this server holds up, so that we can upgrade the others using the same method.

But I have not been sleeping. Besides for being up with the server upgrades, I have this sick feeling all the time. The feeling of worry that the server may be down from a kernel panic. It is horrible, especially when you have to go offline for a 24 hour period.

Last night I was up since about 2am. I just hope all goes well with the server today, so maybe I can sleep well tonight, for the conference tomorrow.

All in all, horrible to move servers and homes in the same week.

October 11, 2007

Pitney Bowes Does Not Want me to Cancel my Postage Meter

Pitney Bowes Personal Postage MeterSeveral years ago my Dad got a great offer for a Personal Post Postage Meter by Pitney Bowes, a company he worked at for 30+ years.

My dad was about to cancel his years ago, when I said, hey, Ill take it over. Back then I used to mail a lot of stuff, like checks and more. But now, I rarely mail anything anymore. Taxes, payroll, bills, proposals, marketing, etc are all now done online. So I decided to cancel my meter.

I call Pitney Bowes, I get transfered from three different people to the cancel department. This guy gets on the phone, he is all chipper. He says, hey you have been a customer for several years now. I said, yes I have been. I then tell him the bad news, I want to cancel. He said, are you sure? He then lists all the reasons I shouldn't cancel. I wish I wrote them all down, but here are a few I remember:

  • Holiday season is coming up and mailing will increase
  • Online identity theft is huge, you are risking your life by paying bills online
  • It costs in gas to drive to the post office to mail things
  • Your a busy guy, you don't have time to waste for buying stamps

Those are just some. I actually started to enjoy listening to why I shouldn't cancel. Then when I kept saying no and he ran out of reasons I shouldn't cancel (I am sure he has a 10 point list of reasons sitting in front of him), he lowered the price.

He said, you have been a good customer, Ill charge you $6.95. I then thought to myself, why did you charge me $15.95 for all these years? I said, no thank you. He then gave me two more reasons to stay. I said no. He said, $5.95. I said no thank you.

He then said, maybe you want to give it to a friend to use? I said, nah.

He said, if you cancel you won't get the $5.95 rate again. I said, then I deserve to pay more if I sign up after canceling.

He said OK and finally gave me a cancellation request number.

I then commended him on his efforts and said have a wonderful day.

Wow, what an experience.

October 8, 2007

Note To Self: Don't Move Servers & Home the Same Week

This blog might be a tad slow this week, who knows...

Why? Not only are we moving servers this week (a huge pain when moving hundreds of domains), but I am also physically moving my home address this week.

Just pure madness between those two and an everyday schedule.

October 7, 2007

Fedora Alive at RustyBrick: Test Post

Just a quick test post to make sure this blog software works on our new server OS.

Remember, Picking a new server OS from months ago?

Well, last night starting at midnight, was that night.

More on that at a normal time in the day....

September 25, 2007

What Type of Technology Professional Liability Do You Have?

thehartford.pngI am now in the process of shopping around for new insurance for my business. I need to renew a Technology Professional Liability (E&O) plan. I was hoping to get some advice from other web development/design and SEO companies out there.

Here are some question:
(1) So which policy do you have?
(2) Why did you choose them?
(3) Are there specific exclusions a company like mine should pay attention to?
(4) How much liability and deductible do you recommend?
(5) Who would you recommend?

Thanks!

September 24, 2007

Is RustyBrick a Great Company?

rb-fair-banner[2]Rand asked me if I would answer some that should tell him and the world is RustyBrick is a great company or not. So why not...

Does RustyBrick Have Level 5 Leadership?
Level 5 leadership is a leader(s) that has "humility + will, ambition for the company (rather than themselves as individuals), compelling modesty, strong resolve to confront tough problems and make hard decisions, and, finally, a consistency in praising others for the company's successes and blaming themselves for its failures."

I guess I am one of the leaders of RustyBrick, the other is my brother, Ronnie who is the technology leader. I think I am somewhat humble, and I have an ambition for the company rather for myself (I think), I feel I am modest (you tell me), I don't like making hard decisions but I have to solve some problems and I never blame someone else (outside of the leaders) for company failures.

Do We Have the Right People in the Right Seats?
Tough one. Everyone has so many seats, its hard to say. We do not take the approach of hiring people without having something for them to do. So we probably do not get the grade "Great" for this one.

Do We Confront the Brutal Facts?
Same here, I guess we are too small to consider certain facts to be "brutal." Nothing great for us here, simply good.

What is Our Hedgehog Concept?
It can't just be standard consulting and coding. We need to add more, as we have. But we have way more to go. I think software applications is RB's hedgehog concept.

Have We Created a Culture of Discipline?
RB is so handoff, that I am not sure we have. I do my best to give the employees freedom. They know what they have to get done, they get it done and everyone is happy. Culture, I am not sure we have a strong culture at RB. Is it a bad thing? I don't think it's bad, I just don't think its great either.

Are We Turning the Flywheel?
We are constantly churning things out, but much of it the public won't see. We keep churning, more work leads to more work. So I guess, we kind of have a flywheel, if I understand it.

What does all this mean? See Rand's post.

Grade my company... I just can't.

QuickBooks Efficiency Review Tells Me to Buy Paper Check

quickbooksI live and die by QuickBooks.

So when I get a piece of mail from Intuit about a way to get a "complimentary efficiency review," I take it seriously.

I fill out the questions and then I am told my "efficiency results are below." I scroll down the page and guess how I can be more efficient?

Consider printing checks with QuickBooks

What! Heck, I have checks that I print with QuickBooks. How will this make me more efficient?

QuickBooks Checks: Kidding Me!

Are you kidding me! You promise to save me time with this "QuickBooks Efficiency Review" and all you do is waste my time!

You promise to show me "ways to save valuable time on administrative tasks and help run your business more efficiently." You should be ashamed.

September 16, 2007

Flying, Fasting צום גדליה, Working Later

At the airport again. Will be home later tonight.

Today is also a fast day, it is called Tzom Gedaliah (Fast of Gedaliah or צום גדליה).

Typically you get a bit dehydrated on the plane, but it is a bit worse on a fast day, when you can't drink or eat. The fast is over about 7:45 tonight, I am looking forward to possibly eating some fresh ziti.

But that comes later.

First we board, then we fly, then we land. After we land, I drive home (parked in short term parking for the past few days). When I get home, I need to remember to switch the phone line from my previous provider to the vonage line, it finally switched over.

Then off to work. I have so much to do it is nuts. Seriously nuts. Let's see:

- Payroll
- Payroll taxes
- Estimated taxes
- Insurance stuff
- Bills
- Go through all the office mail
- Mark payments
- Print checks
- Mail checks and other items
- Other misc items

All of this, hopefully in less than an hour. Then I come home with time to spare to pray a bit and then hopefully eat no later than 7:56pm.

That is what I got ahead of me today.

Then tomorrow, I need to get out of the house by 5:14am. Actually, I have to get out of the house at 5:14am Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Friday is later, about 5:44am. Then the following week, we are back to 5:59am.

Hope to get back to a normal schedule tomorrow.

Good day all and go Jets!

September 5, 2007

Buy a Historic Piece of RustyBrick: First Phone System

Want to take a historic piece of RustyBrick home with you? Well, we are selling our old phone system. It is the Bizfon phone system. It worked well for our needs. But for the past couple years it has been sitting in a box, while we used a VOIP/PBX system under Asterisk by Fonality.

I have a huge review of Fonality if you are interested. In any event, we have finally got around to boxing up the old system and listing it on eBay.

You can place your bid over here. Top bid gets it.

Here is a picture of what you will get:
BizFon 680 System

* 1 BizFon 680 System - Support up to 8 extensions and 6 phone lines. Comes with power and manuals.
* 2 BizFon BizTouch3 Phones - Good for the bosses or secretary's. Comes with AC adapters and manuals.
* 4 BizFon BizTouch2 Phones - Good for the rest of the company. Comes with AC adapters and manuals.
* Audio Cable - For hooking up to radio/cd system for on hold music.
* Tons of phone cables. Enough to hook up all the lines and extensions.

A ton more details at the eBay listing.

August 30, 2007

Pre Ordered a Pleo for RustyBrick

PleoWell, I have pre-ordered the Pleo.

No idea when it will come. I am in no rush. But when it gets here, I will be excited.

What the heck is a Pleo? Well, I blogged about it several times in the past. But in short...

Pleo is a robotic dinosaur, made for all ages, designed to emulate the appearance and behavior of a week-old baby Camarasaurus. It was designed by Caleb Chung, the co-creator of the Furby, and manufactured by Ugobe. Chung selected this species of dinosaur because its body shape, stocky head, and relatively large cranium made it ideal for concealing the sensors and motors needed for lifelike animation. According to Ugobe, each Pleo will "learn" from its experiences and environment through artificial intelligence and develop an individual personality.

Maybe we will code it to run after our programmers who have been slacking off. I hear it has an API. :-)

July 27, 2007

My Ambient Orb Feeds Me Employee Data

My Ambient OrbI have this ambient orb sitting on my desk. It changes colors throughout the day. Right now it is blue and looks like the image at the top right of this post.

Back in the early February, I bought an ambient orb and hooked it into our task tracking system.

We configured it to change colors based on what the employees were doing. I honestly always forget what the colors represent, so I figured I make a quick list of what each color represents, so I have somewhere to reference the material quickly.

Color Pulse Speed Status Update
Light Blue Medium Fast New Task Added
Yellow Very Slow Task Assigned
Green Very Slow Task In Process
Orange Medium Fast Task In Testing
Orange Yellow Medium Fast Task To Be Uploaded
Purple Very Slow Task On Hold
Red Medium Fast To Completed
Pink Very Slow Task Cancelled

So those are the meaning behind the colors that come from my ambient orb.

July 26, 2007

New RustyBudget Feature: Duplicate Content Detector

As many of you know, we created a *revolutionary* new software product for bloggers and editors named RustyBudget.

Today, Ronnie added a new feature that helps Danny and I stay off each other's toes.

Sometimes Danny will add something to the budget for headlines and then I will add the same story, not seeing that he added it already. Sometimes it happens where I add something and Danny dups me. We are human.

So we added a duplicate content detector. Basically, if you have added a story to the budget in the past and try adding it again with the bookmarklet, it will warn you.

Here is an example of the warning:

Duplicate Content Checker on RustyBudget

I cannot tell you how excited I am about this feature. It not only tells you that you are stepping on someone's toes. It tells you whose toes and also gives you clarity into when it was added in the past.

Note: This only works if the URL matches, we are not matching on story titles. Also, this only works on a budget to budget level, so if I add something to SEL and the same thing to SER, it won't prompt me - which makes sense.

July 25, 2007

Verisign Sucks - Verisign Rocks

verisignAbout two point five :) weeks ago I got a notice that I had to renew one of my wild card security certificates with Verisign.

Knowing what a hassle it is, I started the renewal process immediately. Now, two point five weeks later, we are still in the process of renewing.

Why is it such a big deal? Well, I have a feeling we are the only one using Verisign for wild card certificates. It seems like whenever we have to renew, no one knows what to do. I have to speak with several different people, who then talk to several different people, before anything can get done.

I am really close now. Our order has gone through and now we just need to go through the four steps of verification. Three of the four steps are done, now my billing guy needs to update the payment step and then we should be issued a revised CSR (certificate signing request).

We are far from out of the woods. I am afraid, like last year, the from CSR is issued and we will have to go through the process again.

This is exactly why I started a month prior to renew the wild card certificate.

There is one really cool step where you have to prove you are from that organization and that you ordered the certificate. They ask you to click on a web site and then that web site asks you to type in your phone number. Then it calls you and you are given a pin to enter in. You enter the pin in and then they call you back with a new pin to enter. If done correctly, the step is done. I wrote more about it last year at the RustyBrick tech blog.

Anyway... Verisign is a pain but that one cool feature is fun.

July 23, 2007

Introducing RustyBudget: Author Management Web Software

rustybudget-logo.pngI like to introduce new software we built here at RustyBrick. It is called RustyBudget, in short it allows bloggers and authors to easily manage the stories they want to write about at their blogs or publishing sites.

Duncan Riley did an excellent write up on it.

RustyBudget is essentially “a writers or editors budget”, where a blog owner and blog writers can manage story leads, including author allocation, story notes and overall task management.

Why did I build it? Because I spend a ton of time blogging and managing the topics that should be covered at the blogs I write at. As many of you know, I write at both the Search Engine Roundtable and Search Engine Land. Both blogs are extremely active in terms of traffic and the number of posts we write each day. On both blogs, I help manage what topics we cover and what we don't cover. We manage which authors writes what and what stories they should bring in with it. As you can imagine, the larger the blog, the more authors the more topics, the more confusing things may get.

This software helps organize these tasks and also helps the task more efficient. And efficiency is something I am all about. So initially we built something internally, and then built it out to make it for anyone.

Some people don't like the colors, which is not a big deal, because you can customize the look and we are planning on adding an API. But the bottom line is, that without this tool, I would be spending a heck of a lot more time managing the blogs as opposed to writing at the blogs.

I made a quick intro video on how it works:

For additional demos, go here.

It is free for anyone to use. We only charge if you invite three authors or more to collaborate with you. And then it only costs $4/user/month.

Please let me know your thoughts. We can add features as you see fit.

July 6, 2007

Meeting with Hanoch Teller Scored me Free Copy of "Comprehending The Imcomprehensible"

Comprehending The ImcomprehensibleYou know I was scheduled to have a meeting with Hanoch Teller about his web site.

First of all, Rabbi Hanoch Teller is a very nice man. So I just wanted to help him as best as I could.

I showed him all the problems with his site and explained to him what I would do if I was him. I spent a good hour plus with Rabbi Teller. We decided not to call Bryan Eisenberg even though he offered because at this stage, there is just so many basics that need to be cleaned up with the technology that I didn't feel it was necessary at this stage yet. But the offer was awesome and we hope to take advantage of it in the future.

Anyway... Rabbi Teller wanted to pay me for the time he was here. Of course, I would not accept money. So he decided to give me a free copy of his 11 CD set named Comprehending The Incomprehensible, which is the "history, heroism and lessons of the holocaust." Looking forward to listening to it, after I convert it into an MP3 file. :)

I have no time left, and I got to jet.

Just a nice experience meeting with Rabbi Teller. But it was even nicer being able to offer advice and help him.

A Programmers Fridge: Things That Grow in our Fridge

RustyBrick FridgeThere is a serious issue when you have an office filled with programmers and not any sales people.

What is the issue?

The office fridge.

No one cares if the fridge starts smelling bad. You let it go and go until the fridge is so full that you are forced to clean it out.

That is exactly what happened with the RustyBrick fridge.

We got a shipment of sodas today and began to try restocking the fridge. But the cans of soda would not fit. So we began removing the old items in the fridge. There was a milk container that had hard chunks of cheese growing inside of it. There were old chinese noodles growing fungus on it. There were old egg rolls, old sandwiches and all sorts of things. We threw pretty much everything out and started from scratch.

We also popped in a new Arm and Hammer box to hopefully stabilize the smell.

What an experience. :)

July 3, 2007

Famous Jewish Book Author, Hanoch Teller, Visiting Me

Hanoch Teller Visiting MeThe phone rings and I pick up and this guy named Hanoch Teller introduces himself. I am thinking, is that the famous Hanoch Teller or some other guy?

He then describes that he has a web site at HanochTeller.com that gets virtually no traffic. I take a quick look and quickly see why.

To make a short story shorter, he is coming to meet with me Friday. He will be in America and can make it to my office this Friday. I feel bad, his site is in bad shape - very bad shape - hopefully we can help him out.

I do see that he has a Wikipedia entry, so that is nice... I told my wife that he is coming and she said, "Get out!!!!"

Here is a bio I found on the web - it may or may not be accurate:

Rabbi Hanoch Teller, renowned story-teller and modern-day maggid, has addressed audiences in 19 countries on five continents. A prolific writer, he is the author of 20 books, including the "Soul Stories" series. Rabbi Teller is also a highly respected instructor in numerous seminaries for women in Jerusalem, and the producer of the newly-released video, Do You Believe in Miracles? Rabbi Teller's talks present a thought-provoking contemporary view of issues relevant to every concerned Jew, featuring heart-warming personal observations on the human condition and Jewish life.

June 21, 2007

How Do You Get a Job as a Web Programmer at RustyBrick

RustyBrick PHP JobsYesterday I wrote about a really bad interview I experienced. So today, I thought I share tips on how to land a job as a PHP or Web programmer at RustyBrick.

There are first some basic requirements we have:
- You must know PHP
- You must know MySQL
- You must have basic knowledge of HTML and CSS
- You must be willing to work in Suffern, NY

If you meet those requirements, then comes the process.

Requesting an Interview:
(1) Let us know you are interested in a job
(2) We review some basic information in your resume and in that form
(3) We ask some to complete our application, which is basically a test on PHP, MySQL, CSS and other key elements we need to test
(4) Then we may ask to have you come in for an interview (most people don't get this far)

The Programmer Job Interview:
(1) Schedule a time to come in and be 5 minutes early, not 30 minutes early.
(2) Ronnie and I chat with the candidate for about 30 - 45 minutes
(3) Ronnie gives you a small task to program onsite, which can take 5 minutes to complete (some people stick around for hours)
(4) We thank the candidate and the interview is over

Some RustyBrick Interview Tips:
- Do not wear a suit
- Do not come too early
- Research the company before coming, there is plenty of information about us out there
- Research those people who will be interviewing you, again, plenty of information
- Don't make these mistakes
- Come ready for an on site test
- Show your personality

How do we decide on who to hire? Well, that is basically a compilation of all these different steps. Yes, we are still looking to hire developers, so if you know any, please send them our way.

June 20, 2007

Bad Job Interviews: Some Fresh Tips on What Not To Do

Job InterviewI probably should not blog this, but I had a few interviews recently and one of them was a disaster.

As many of you know, we are always in the market to hire good PHP programmers. So we interview a lot of people very often. In fact, we have a whole process we follow. I'll do another post for that. But while this interview is fresh in my head....

A list of things not to do at an interview:

  • Don't argue that you like one coding language over another if the coding language isn't something we don't offer
  • Don't say that it doesn't matter to you what you code in, because I (the interviewee) am not paying for it
  • Don't not answer questions because you feel they are too simple or dumb
  • Do not act like you know better than the person you are interviewing with
  • Do not roll your eyes while be interviewed
  • Do not ask how the interview is going mid-way, when you know it is not going well
  • Do not come into the interview not researching the company before hand

Those are just some items on a list, fresh off my head.

I am still a bit in awe.

Just Sent Out the RustyBrick Newsletter

I try to send out a newsletter to clients and prospects every 6 months or so. Today is the day when I sent it out.

I pretty much recap the most important RB news releases, plus give a short update on new things at RustyBrick.

I love the format of our newsletters, here is a sample old one.

RustyBrick Oct 2006 Newsletter

Why didn't I take a snapshot of the new one? Well, there is some news only for clients and prospects to see in that newsletter that I do not want public yet.

If you really want a copy of the newsletter, comment below and I will see. :)

June 19, 2007

RustyBrick's First Video Testimonial

See what happens when you praise your clients? They turn around and give you a sweet testimonial, on film!

I couldn't ask for anything more. I will be placing this on our testimonials page shortly.

Picking A New Server Operating System

100px-Tux.svg.pngWe, at RustyBrick, are in the process of reworking our server environment. The goal is to get a cluster of servers running, so that we can balance the load of our sites on several servers instead of a site being paired to a single server. Several of our larger clients have this already, but we want to move this configuration over to our smaller clients environment.

Let me start off that I don't fully understand these technologies from within. Ronnie is here for that, so he makes the decision with this. I'll explain from a techno-business stance.

285px-FreeBSD-logo_with_text.png
We currently run FreeBSD (FreeBSD.org) on all our machines. But it is out dated and a very old OS. We love that there is no GUI to it, but it doesn't support certain clustering technology that we are wanted to implement. So we have decided to leave FreeBSD and go to a new OS. The question is which one?

There is absolutely no way we would consider Microsoft, so scratch that. We want a flavor of Linux. No, we won't be using Apple Mac - even though we love them. So which Linux flavor?

100px-Glogo-small.png
Gentoo (Gentoo.org) was the most attractive, being one of the newer flavors. Our server management people were most positive about it and it looked great. But there were several problems that forced us to say no to Gentoo. It did not support Urchin, Payflow Pro and some other things that were critical to our business. So that went out the Window (no pun intended Microsoft).

200px-Redhat_Logo.svg.png
Next up was RedHat (RedHat.com), a very powerful linux operating system that really does everything we want. But what upset us was that it was closed when compared to FreeBSD and Gentoo. There is commercial backing to it, there are support contracts and so on. Our managed services company didn't like that (I suppose because it means we are less dependent on them), but Ronnie didn't like it either because it gives you less control.

150px-Fedoralogo.png
This is where Fedora (FedoraProject.org) comes in. Fedora is based on RedHat and backed by them. But Fedora is completely open source and has all the support we need for our applications, I believe.

So at this time, I believe we have selected Fedora to be out next operating system. I'll let you know when it has been implemented. Hopefully, it will be 100% transparent to you.

June 18, 2007

Stop Stapling Your Check to the Paystub!

checkWhat? Do you have an excess of staples? Do you have one of those cool automated staplers? Give me a reason!

I can't stand getting checks in the mail that have a staple through them. I can't stand it.

The annoyance of trying to pry the staple edges open with your finger nails. Errr.

I should get a staple remover (wait, can you believe Wikipedia has a page for that)... No, those tend to rip the checks.

Rant over.

June 15, 2007

The Electric Drum Set at RustyBrick

My brother and partner at RustyBrick, Ronnie, purchased an electric drum set a while back. He bought it because the neighbors did not like the noise from his real drum set.

Well, eventually, he had to move it to RustyBrick, because his kid was kinda getting to it and breaking it.

Ronnie's Drum Set in RustyBrick

He actually hooked it up to his iTunes library on his computer so that he doesn't need to sync his iPod anymore.

June 14, 2007

RustyBrick Bytes Goes Down in Playoffs

rustybrick-bytes-logo.gifRustyBrick Bytes, is the name of a local team we sponsor and play on.

Last night was our playoff game. We lost but it was a really good game.

We had a five to ten point lead most of the game. We played a three-two zone, where we focused on their two main shooters. The other players on the opposite team couldn't score much without their two main shooters.

It worked very well, just until the end of the fourth quarter. Two other players on their team began to hit and we had to open our zone up more. We lost by about a point. It came down to the last second. It actually came down to us missing too many free-throws.

But the game was played well. The refs were solid. The game was played well all around.

Good times, even if we lost.

A Look Back at The Old RustyBrick Web Site

Ever wonder what our old RustyBrick sites look like? We are actually working on a new one. It is done, but we are not ready to launch yet. In any event, here are our old sites. We even made them live for you to see.

The Original RustyBrick site (http://97.rustybrick.com/):
97

Next Phase (http://98.rustybrick.com/):
98

The next one (http://99.rustybrick.com/):
99

The one that is live now, is probably from 2000. Check it out at http://www.rustybrick.com/.

The new one, well, no previews for you on that. I want it to be a nice surprise.

May 31, 2007

Ben Pfeiffer Visits Us at RustyBrick from Texas

Benjamin Pfeiffer of RankSmart.com and the Senior Editor of the Search Engine Roundtable, and co-host of the Search Pulse has come to New York to visit us.

Ben Pfeiffer Visits RustyBrick

That is a picture of us. Yea, I know, I look bad. But I didn't have time to shave in the past three days. Sad, but true.

What are we doing? Well, we do some business on the side, outside of the blog. So we are discussing those things.

May 29, 2007

Google New Street Views Almost Reaches RustyBrick

Google just launched street views for Google Maps. It is pretty pretty cool.

I tried it in NYC, and they mapped all the streets. Here in Suffern, NY, they didn't do all that much yet. But they did get within a thousand feet or so from my office.

This is a video demonstrating how if you go north on Airmont, and hang a left, my office building is right there. But you can't go north enough to see my office, yet.

Using Street View
In certain locations, you can view and navigate within street-level imagery. Here's how:
- Blue outlines show roads where street view is available.
- This icon shows where you are on the map. The green arrow points in the direction you're looking. You can drag the icon to navigate to a different location. You can also just click on a blue outlined road to go there.
- Drag the street view to look around 360°. Use the arrow buttons to navigate down the street. You can also use the arrow keys on the keyboard.

Cool.

May 21, 2007

"Give Tamar A Title" Game

tamar-rustybrick-card.pngTamar Weinberg has been working here for a while now and it due to the nature of her job, she will need some business cards. Thing is, she has a wide range of responsibilities and we can't come up with a title.

Most of our business cards do not have titles on them. But Tamar seems to want a title. We thought about sidekick as a title, but that seemed kinda ridiculous.

I personally do not have a title on my card. We used to give our programmers cards, but they never used them. So we decided to stop printing them. Programmers, if you want cards, let me know.

But Tamar will be going to conferences, networking, doing all the things a social marketer does.

So we can go titleless or we can give her a title. Just need ideas...

What does Tamar do? She helps me with my job. She blogs, she social networks, she helps with client relations, she does research, content writing, offers Ronnie advice on server stuff, makes sure sites are search friendly and more social networking stuff and blogging.

Here is a poll, feel free to add:

Would love to get some comments with title suggestions...

Update: Just want to note, Tamar does have a title for the Search Engine Roundtable as Assistant Editor but that would not be the same title for her RustyBrick work.

May 20, 2007

Review of Past Two RustyBrick Cyber Athlete Match Ups: PlayStation 3 & xBox 360

Finals_wt.gifThe initiation of the RustyBrick Cyber Athlete Match Up was on Friday, May 11th.

We started with the xBox 360, played a war game, and most of us were destroyed but one RustyBricker. It happened to be the one who owned that xBox. So I thought, maybe it was rigged. I brought my PlayStation 3 in this past Friday, May 18th. Biy was I wrong. The same RustyBricker who dominated last week, on his own xbox, beat us all on the PS3.

So now it gets competitive. He had to leave early. We had time to practice. I won some, another bricker one some. Next week, we go after the one who kills us all. Keep in mind, we play shooter games mostly.

We are thinking of doing a real competition with a trophey at the end of the season (whenever that is). I found this fitting trophy for the winner.

fbh-cheer.gif

Want to see us in action? Here it is:

Honestly, I enjoy this stuff. Plus I think it is good for the company. 1 hour break, per week, to end the week, builds company unity - gotta be something to that. Now I just need to get some of the other guys to play.

May 11, 2007

It's Game Time! Weekly RustyBrick Cyber Athlete Match Up

Finals_wt.gifTypically, RustyBrick is seriously all work and no play. We are hoping to change that by starting the RustyBrick the RustyBrick Cyber Athlete Match Up.

It is completely unofficial right now, but watch out, we may make it serious. And if we do, watch out Cyberathlete Professional League, because us brickers will come and get you.

Today, we will be testing the waters with xBox 360. We will set up the conference room at around 4pm today and then beat on each other via game console. We hope to configure the project to work with the game systems, should be fun.

Since we plan on doing this every Friday, at about 4pm, until whenever - we plan on bringing in different game units.

Jimmy, a RBer, has both an xBox 360 and Wii. I have a PlayStation 3. So this week we play xBox and next week we play PlayStation.

Should be fun.

April 18, 2007

Dark Room Filled With Coders

Recently, one of the coder rooms here at RustyBrick went dark, literally. I walked by and noticed they are working with the lights off.

Dark RustyBrick Coder Room

I know lots of coders that prefer to work in the dark. Better on the eyes.

At least they are not sleeping. :)

It is funny, since we basically have no sales people - we are in a very quiet office. All you hear is typing all day. Even in that room which has four people, you don't hear much. They each listen to their music, on their headphones and type away.

They do get phone calls but I suspect the music from their headphones blocks out the noise from that.

Click on the image for more.

April 11, 2007

RustyBrick Bag & SER YoYo Give Away at SES NYC

If, big if, I remember to bring RustyBrick bags and Search Engine Roundtable YoYos tomorrow ---- then.... I will be giving them away.

So if you see me with an extra bag in my hand or YoYos, then ask away. Maybe I will have some trivia to ask you, so you can "earn" it.

Here are the RB bags:

RustyBrick OGIO Back

Here are the YoYos (no trivia needed for these, while supplies last):
Search Engine Roundtable Yo Yos

And here is Todd's kid eating a YoYo on a RB Bag...

Todd's kids with RustyBrick Bag & Search Engine Roundtable Yoyos

March 22, 2007

F/U

fu-shorthand.gifYears ago, I got an email from a long time client that read something like this.

There is a bug with portion X of the system.

F/U!

I scratched my head and thought, what they heck! It is a small bug, why is he so upset!

Plus it is not in his nature to use such language, even when upset.

So I read it like fifteen times and finally figured out F/U stood for "follow up."

So in a sense he wrote, please follow up with me when you look into it.

Just remembered this story, figured I share it with you.

March 12, 2007

Tamar Weinberg Will Be Working For Me & RustyBrick

2006102203152694_avatar.jpgLooks like Chris has spilled the beens and told the world that Tamar Weinberg is the mystery sidekick.

Tamar has been blogging since she has been in college, in fact starting her first blog while at Barnard College. She graduated from Columbia University in the City of New York with a BA, Computer Science / Psychology. Tamar has tons of talents, from being hired to work at 10e20 as a systems administrator to writing on SEO and social media topics at their blog. She also has a wonderful personal blog at Techipedia. Tamar is also a very talented photographer, as you can see by her Pixelopera photo blog.

As Chris said, I have agreed to Tamar helping out at the 10e20 blog for the next two months while Chris finds a replacement for Tamar. In fact, I will be encouraging Tamar to join all the SEM Forums and participating heavily throughout the day.

Tamar will have a ton of roles at RustyBrick:

  • Writing for the Search Engine Roundtable
  • Helping me with research for Search Engine Land
  • Helping with our search conference coverage (see her at SES NYC)
  • Writing content for RustyBrick
  • Doing project management work
  • Helping me on the client management side at RustyBrick
  • Do some video casts with me on search stuff
  • Participating heavily in SEO/SEM forums
  • Participating in social media networks
  • The list really goes on and on...

I hope she knows what she got herself into. ;-)

Like I said before, I am very excited about this.

I want to wish Chris and his soon to be wife, a congrats on their upcoming wedding this Saturday. And if you need anything from me or Tamar, we will be there for you during this exciting time. Enjoy the wedding and your future together!

Sidekick Issued Warning by Blogger & Did Not Even Start Yet

250px-BatmanRobinThis is great, the sidekick I hired has not even started yet and is already being challenged.

Lisa Barone, who I think rocks, has issued a warnings to the, soon to be announced, sidekick.

Sidekick, whoever you are, it’s on!

Lisa is too funny. You have to love her writing style. But should my sidekick be afraid? I am not sure. What is even funnier, to me, is that they both know each other.

And Lisa, don't kid me on giving up warm and sunny California, for dark and cold New York.

It is actually a bit weird for me to keep calling this person a sidekick. Hope no offense is taken, it is meant with sincerity.

In any event, I suspect to announce the name of the mystery sidekick some time this week. The sidekick starts a week from today, if all goes well. Oh, and don't let Lisa scare you. :)

March 9, 2007

Slapped With Electric Bill For Past Four Years

Electric MeterA few weeks ago I get a letter in the mail from the building I lease from. The letter says that since I began leasing the office (four years ago) I have not been billed for the electric I use.

They said they discovered this error while doing an audit of their electricity bill.

I then got my first bill for $436.13 for the month of February.

I had two issues with this.

(1) $436.13 seemed way too high. I asked my neighboring office, who has a bigger space and large copy machines, and they pay about $300 per month.

(2) Paying $436 for the past 48 months adds up to $20,928. I had no idea I was suppose to pay for electric and now to be hit with it, wow!

To resolve issue number one, I called them and told them it seems to high. I showed them my neighbor's bill and we discovered that the difference was in the "demand" fee. So they decided to take the bill back and find out what the issue is.

I got a letter today that there were two reasons the bill was so high.

(1) The demand fee was set to a higher point then we needed because when the meter first went live, the surge from that initial launch, went up to a high point. They then billed me based on a demand requirement that I did not need. So they fixed that.

(2) I was on a "commercial rate" as opposed to a "small user rate."

My new bill for the same time period is now $275.80, so the difference is a savings of 190.33 per month. Of course, each month will differ. But saving about $200 a month is nice.

Now, I need to pay for the four years I supposedly did not. Now, if I owe it, which I understand I do, I will pay it. They were very nice about how much I owe. Instead of $275.80 multiplied by 48 months, which is $13,238.40 - they are offering something less.

They said they will charge me based on a formula and it would come out to just $172.87 per month. So that comes out to $8,297.76. They said I can pay it off over a 12 month period, which is also nice. So instead of $20,928, I am saving $12,630.24. Which is nice.

What do you think I should do? Pay it all? It was on the lease agreement, but you know those things, they are huge! It was their fault for not billing me. I honestly did not know I had to pay this. So what you think?

March 6, 2007

I Hired A Sidekick

250px-BatmanRobinI am pretty excited, I actually hired a person to help me with my day to day stuff at RustyBrick. I guess a sidekick, if you will. Who is this person? Well, I won't say until this he or she starts working at RustyBrick.

There was no real job opening for this position. I received an email last week asking if the person's skills can be of use to me. I said, I am not sure, so we meet on Sunday morning to discuss. After interviewing the applicant, I decided to make an offer yesterday.

The applicant accepted.

What will be the roles of this "sidekick" position? Honestly, I am not a 100% sure yet. I am hoping that this individual will help me with the stuff I do every day and maybe even more. So far, I think the roles will be:

I won't be spilling the name of this new hire. I can say, this person has been recently out there in the industry, blogging and writing articles that you may have read. So the name might not be new to you. But I know this person has tons of potential and can grow tremendously in a short time.

It is funny that I am very excited about this, when less than a week ago, I had no idea a position like this was even open.

February 23, 2007

Win A Diamond Pendant & Help A Client

circle of love diamond pendantMy client is running a contest to win a free diamond circle pendant. All you have to do is submit an idea for a name for a new blog to be hosted at their e-commerce site's domain.

Currently the client has a blog at Diamond Vues, where they talk about new diamond things, industry news and so on. At their new blog, they want to talk more specifically about "loose diamond articles and information."

Thing is, they need a name. So here are the details on how you can win...

This diamond pendant by Excel Diamonds.com features a 3/4 diameter circle pendant, prong set with .25 carats of dazzling G color, SI clarity diamonds in 14kt. white gold. The piece weighs 2.8 grams and includes a 16 inch white gold cable chain. The winner will receive this diamond pendant in a beautiful presentation case.

If there is more than one entry for the winning title, we will choose the earliest entry and to the best of our abilities. You may also feel free to enter your submission in our comments section on the blog posting itself. This will afford you a time/date stamp for your entry(s).

The poll ends on March 23, 2007 at 9:30 EST.

So help them out, they are good guys, and submit an idea or vote for a current idea.

February 9, 2007

RustyBrick Does Not Do Physical Construction

rb-fair-banner[2]Just about 10 minutes ago, some guy walked into our office asking if we did construction. You know, like build homes and buildings. Unfortunately, we had to turn him away. As I do every now and then when we get phones calls about it. No, we do not get our hands dirty - we do not build closets, install elevators or design sky-rise buildings.

We do virtual construction - we build out sites, online software and even some games.

Why do people think we do construction work?

(1) Our slogan is "Web Construction At Its Best"
(2) Our company name is "RustyBrick, Inc."

Take a look at our office signage:

RustyBrick Signage

I guess that is why the individual walked into our office asking. But it does say "Web" in front of the word "Construction." Hmmmm....

December 25, 2006

Preparing For Two Slow Weeks

Typically, the next two weeks are the slowest for me. So I try to keep myself busy with other things. They include:

  • Year End Bonuses
  • Year End Contributions
  • Closing the Books
  • Preparing Tax Documents
  • Setting Up Files for 2007
  • Putting Away Files for 2006
  • Cleaning Misc Items
  • Reviewing RustyBrick Performance
  • Misc. Items

Today I can cross off two items from the list.

Happy Holidays!

December 21, 2006

RustyBrick 2006 Holiday Card

This is a copy of the e-card we sent out to our database for the 2006 holiday season.

RustyBrick Holiday Card 2006

Happy Holidays Everyone!

End Of Year: RustyBrick Bonuses $$$

rustybrick-bonuses-dial.pngI take a lot of pride in how everything we do at RustyBrick is tracked through a custom built workflow manager. Not only does our system provide detailed project management, task management, billing solutions, version control, proposal management and more - it also is used to help guide us for the year end bonuses.

We track so much data through our system that we are able to build out simple reports with cool dials to see how well an employee is producing at any given time. Of course, we do not base the bonus solely on those data points, but they do provide a good guide for us to work off of. And typically, they are pretty representative of our subjective value of each employee throughout the year.

I won't tell you what data values we use in the formula, but I can tell you it takes into account dozens of metrics. Those metrics are categorized into about 15 or so groups. We then normalize those figures on a five point scale.

We base the bonus based on that five point scale, we associate a percentage to each value throughout the five point scale and then multiple the percentage to give our employees a bonus at the end of the year. I provide the check and a print out of the detailed performance review in an envelop and encourage the employees to discuss it with me after they have reviewed it.

One thing that we debated internally here at RustyBrick was the decision to show the data to the employees in real time as they want to see it and if so, how much. We don't want them to freak out by being in the yellow zone, when all it is, is a current snap shot of data that might not be complete at the moment. We opted (I pushed for it) to show one single dial of overall performance, I make it clear to the employees that this number is not finalized until the end of the year. Yes, we do give RustyPoints as part of the end of the year bonus that can increase or decrease the employee's score.

That is a little insight into how RustyBrick's bonus plan works. If you want all the details, you will have to work for us to get it.

My Office Is Clean

Last night I spent some time cleaning up my office, not the whole office, just my personal office. I had stacks of magazines I don't have time to read sitting on the file cabinet behind me, now they are all in the trash. I had dozens of proposals and legal stuff to file away, they are filed away. I had tons of old notes, mail and miscellaneous items laying around - no longer.

My desk is so clean, and my office looks like it should.

I am a neat-freak for a guy, I blame my mother. We had to have clean rooms, seriously, nothing out of order, no clothing on the floor, no papers, etc. Most of that transpires to my office and my home. A dirty office in my standards is probably a clean office to most. Just imagine what a clean office is to my standards.

I just feel more organized and streamlined when things are clean.

December 11, 2006

Pointless Meetings That Could Have Been Avoided

To make the lag worse, I had a meeting today. Well, actually, it was suppose to be with someone named Jake. Let me take you back to the scheduling of the meeting.

About 1.5 weeks ago, I get a phone call from a person who wants me to meet with someone to develop a new web site. It is urgent. Unfortunately, I was unable to meet with the person until I got back from SES Chicago, i.e. today. I ask if he can describe the site so we can discuss scope and quick estimates before we meet. He said it was too complicated of a site to do over the phone. So we scheduled the meeting for 11am this morning.

11am comes and goes, I get a phone call at 11:06 from a woman who said we have a meeting today. I said, we have a meeting now. She said her "son" told her it was for at 12. I said, OK, let's meet at 12.

12:00 comes and goes.

12:15 I hear some talking on their cell phone loudly as they enter the door. It was her, she comes in, I put away the stuff I was doing and begin talking with her. Her cell phone rings once, really loudly. I wait and then ask her to describe the type of site she wants. In short, she describes a 5 page static site about her business.

What? Scroll back up... "He said it was too complicated of a site to do over the phone." 5 page web site?

I then told her we only develop large sites and that this project is too small. I apologized for her wasting her time. I told her I tried to save you your time, but your son told me it was too complicated. I referred her elsewhere.

Oh, during our three minute meeting, her cell phone rang four times. You would think after the first ring, she would silence it.

I thought I learned from past experiences here; When Are Prospects Wasting Your Time?

November 28, 2006

Winner of RB & SER Contest is Chris

The winning comment was by Chris at November 22, 2006 7:22 AM. Chris said;

what about the person who can take as many pictures of different people holding a piece of paper with your url on it over a 24 hour period? That would make a cool page on your site, many different people/ages/nationalities etc.

So the next contest will be just that.

Congrats Chris! Ben P. and Chris B. helped with the decision on the winner of the contest.

November 27, 2006

RB & SER Contest Winner TBA on Search Pulse

Like I said at SER, the contest winner for our most recent contest will be announced tomorrow night.

More details on that here.

Hawaii SEO, I have yet to send your bag out. Sorry for the delay. I will make sure to get to it this week before SES Chicago.

November 18, 2006

Contest: Win a RustyBrick Bag Filled With Search Engine Roundtable YoYos

RustyBrick OGIO BackHawaii SEO came up with a great contest idea, winning himself a RustyBrick bag filled with RustyBrick Bag filled with Search Engine Roundtable YoYos.

Now you can win the same thing... How?

In the comments area below, list out a contest idea to win a bag. The individual that comes up with the best contest idea, wins an RB bag filled with many SER YoYos.

Yes, that means there will be one more chance to win an RB bag filled with SER YoYos. Whatever contest idea I pick, the winner of that contest will also win an RB bag filled with many SER YoYos.

I think I will keep this contest open until Friday the 24th of November. So think of your ideas and submit them. If someone posts the same idea, I will pick the first one that posted it. You can submit as many ideas as you like, so yes, multiple entries for this contest is allowed.

Good luck and congrats to Hawaii SEO for this idea and for winning an RB bag filled with many SER YoYos. Hawaii SEO, email me with your address info...

November 17, 2006

More Search Engine Roundtable YoYos

I ran out of YoYos at this past PubCon, so I ordered 300 more Search Engine Roundtable YoYos. If you haven't seen the YoYos, I wrote about them here and I have a quick video here. Here is a picture of the 300 yoyos, yes, in my conference room.

Search Engine Roundtable Yo Yos

Blue, Green and Red colors. They light up...

I hope to bring a bunch to SES Chicago, see you there!

RustyBrick Laptop Bags Arrive!

We finally got our shipment of RustyBrick messenger bags this week. Yea, we have been thinking and thinking and thinking of getting them. Here is a final product:

RustyBrick OGIO Back

If you are a client, you get one, I just need to hand deliver it or ship it to you guys. If you are a friend, I am sure you will get one, you just need to pick it up. If you are anyone else, I think I will run a few contests... I need some ideas.

Anyway, we ordered a 100 of them. I would never of imagined only 6 came in a box. Check out the wall of our conference room.

Boxes of RustyBrick Bags

Yes, we did get around to cleaning up our junk food. Next project is getting rid of these bags.

November 6, 2006

Knowing More Than The Sales Man - TigerDirect & Systemax Mini-Vault NAS 1000 Case

Systemax-Mini-Vault-NAS-1000.jpgLast week we ordered another backup solution for our office here. We ultimately went with the Systemax Mini-Vault NAS 1000. The main reason we went with this is for (1) price and (2) ease of configuration.

The price seemed really good, so I called to make sure that it came with the "(4x)250GB HDD / 1TB NAS" it had in the title of the product. I gave the sales representative the SKU and he told me that it did not come with the 4 hard drives, that I had to buy those separately. I then hung up and told Ronnie that he has to be wrong.

I then quoted the product description:

The MiniVault NAS can connect to a Gigabit Ethernet network and comes with four 250GB Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) hard disks for a total of 1TB of storage space.

So we decided to order it online, and ignore the sales person's advice, telling us it did not come with the hard drives.

Today we got the product and guess what? Yes, it came with four 250GB Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) hard disks. Each one was clearly labeled for positioning into the Systemax Mini-Vault NAS 1000. We loaded them and ran the installer, selected a RAID 10 configuration and within 15 minutes, we were all set.

Now Ronnie is configuring the nightly scripts to load data onto the drives.

Backing up is something we take very seriously. This just adds one more layer on the numerous layers of backup protection we have here at RustyBrick.

I plan on buying a smaller version of this, to place offsite, and run nightly offsite backups on this type of device. Yes, we do currently have offsite backups, but the more the merrier.

November 1, 2006

RB Ogio Prototype Bag

So we ordered a hundred or so of these Ogio bags that we were looking to buy. We got a sample bag a couple of weeks ago and then recently got an embroidered swatch of our logo. We stuck it on the bag with tape. Ignore the black circle around the logo, the logo should be directly stitched onto the bag.

Here are some pictures:

RB Ogio Prototype Bag RB Ogio Prototype Swatch

Estimated date of arrival for the bags is November 15th, I should be in Vegas at WMW PubCon then.

October 25, 2006

Firefox Has OGIO Bags Also

MZ34014.jpgRonnie told me that he was looking at Firefox's schwag the other day and he noticed that Firefox has bags for sale, the same ones we are going to be getting soon.

Right now we are in the process of getting a sample so that we can order about a 100 of them.

I do not plan on selling them, unless you think people will buy them, in that case, I would order more.

Firefox sells them for $60 a piece, I bet they bought a huge quantity and they make about $20 per bag.

This gadget-friendly backpack features a padded laptop sleeve, and a handy drop-in audio pocket with a headphone exit port. Other features include power supply pockets, file folder and cell phone pockets. For those intrepid travelers, there is a cool airline ticket sleeve built into the back of the bag. Roomy enough to comfortably fit a 17" laptop and still hold all of your documents and bric-a brac. Firefox logo and text embroidered on the front.

But I am much happier buying them now knowing that Firefox decided to go with them.

October 18, 2006

OGIO Hip Hop Messenger Bag RustyBrick Bag?

I was Strongly Considering Getting Timbuk2 Commute RustyBrick Branded Bags but that seems not to be working out since Timbuk2 doesn't have any left in the color and style I want. I had one of my clients who does promo stuff investigate other options for us. They found a bag from OGIO named the Hip Hop messenger bag. It can be personalized in two areas. The two that are in the copper color.

Here is a mock of what it may look like, I did it myself. :)

rustybrick hiphop copper

Now, I got a sample in the office and the bag is very functional. It has a large number of pockets and pockets within pockets. The laptop department is ok, it is not as solid as the Timbuk2 but it isn't bad. The full product description is at OGIO. I am thinking about getting about a 100.

So what you think?

October 13, 2006

Should I Get All My Employees Two Monitors or One Larger Monitor?

IMG_2536.JPGI honestly believe that worker productivity is improved with more screen real estate. A report by Pfeiffer Consulting sponsored by Apple has benchmarks on performance with and without Apple's 30" Cinema display. The PDF of the report is available here.

Computer World looks at the report and say that "other experts say those conclusions are wrong, arguing that the productivity improvement estimates are too high and that using two monitors side by side would likely be a better productivity booster than one larger monitor."

I know Danny lives and dies by his 3-monitor setup.

I personally have one 23" Apple Cinema Display. To be honest, there are actually times where I wish I had more space or a second monitor. I use a MacBook Pro which is on the right hand side of my monitor.

IMG_2537.JPG

I can open the monitor of the MacBook Pro and use a dual screen mode. But I tried it out and I didn't like it. They have to be the same size and side by side to work properly.

Ronnie, brother and partner at RustyBrick, uses two 19" older Apple Cinema displays side by side. He loves it.

Our RustyBrick designer, "Skew," uses two 20" Dell high-def LCD monitors side by side. He lives by it also.

Then the rest of the guys are on LCDs typically 19". One hooked up a CRT and an LCD to his computer.

Oh, when I just use the laptop's screen, while at home or traveling, I am always crunched for space.

September 29, 2006

Work at RustyBrick - CSS & PHP Devs Wanted

rb-logo-job-post.jpgI just posted a new job opening at RustyBrick. We are looking for one HTML / CSS / XHTML Developer at the moment and as many top notch Advanced PHP/MySQL Engineer as possible. :)

One big issue for many is the huge requirement that is must be on site! Yes, in the main RB offices, in Suffern, New York (45 minutes out of Manhattan). Google Maps details here.

So if you are really in to joining the RustyBrick team, then check out the job postings...

  1. Advanced PHP/MySQL Engineer
  2. HTML / CSS / XHTML Developer

Then apply at http://www.rustybrick.com/contact_job.php.

Thanks!

September 28, 2006

Strongly Considering Getting Timbuk2 Commute RustyBrick Branded Bags

timbuk2-rustybrick.jpgA week ago, Ask.com sent me schwag, part of that was a Timbuk2 Commute bag, branded for Ask.com. It is an awesome laptop bag, really is. So much so, I am strongly considering getting about fifty of them branded for RustyBrick.

Timbuk2 has a Corporate Sales Program, so I contacted them. It will basically cost $70 per bag, if I order 50. plus $7.50 per piece for the embroider cost and a one time $150 set up fee.

50 bags
$70/bag
$7.50/bag
$150 one time fee
---------------
$4,025.00

This does not include shipping and tax.

Some of the other powers at the company are not too into the idea. If I can convince them that I can sell the bags to RustyBrick fans, if there are any, for $100 a piece, then maybe they will go for it. If I sell 10 bags, then its $1,000. The rest go to employees, and preferred clients. Oh and maybe a few contests for lucky blog readers.

What are your thoughts? I posted an image of the Mocha/Light Brown/Mocha Wool version, not that I would get it in wool, but the colors go best, I think. I then pasted the RustyBrick logo on the bag, yea, I did my best.

Update 3:30PM (EST):
It looks like I won't be able to get the above Commute in that color above. Custom colors like that are only available for the Messenger Bags, which I really do not want. The closest colors would be the brown/burnt orange/brown combination. I am now thinking of going with a combo of Commute bags and Blogger bags. I am guessing, they will look something like this:

rb-commute.jpg rb-blogger-bag.jpg

Commute on left & Blogger on right.

Updated thoughts?

Update 3: I am told they cannot guarantee the commute will come in that color. They can guarantee it in black, but not the brown/burnt orange/brown combination. I can always order a custom messenger bag. Errr.

rb-commute-black.jpg rb-blogger-bag.jpg

September 27, 2006

Stocking The RustyBrick Junk Food Room

I had a meeting that was cancelled today, so I went with Ronnie to the local Costco to pick up some stuff for the office. Let me tell you, this is the first time I have been in Costco since I was ten or so. This was a bad idea.

What did we buy? Well what didn't we buy?

Keep in mind, Costco pretty much only sells in bulk, so when I say "Kleenex" I mean 20 boxes of family size Kleenex.

RustyBrick Junk Food
(QTY) Product
(2) Kleenex Tissues
(1) Paper Towels
(2) Huge Plastic Cups
(1) Vintage Seltzer
(1) Plastic forks
(1) Plastic knives
(1) Garbage bags
(1) Diet Coke
(1) Coke
(1) Twizzlers
(2) Arizona Ice Tea
(1) Snapple Ice Tea
(1) Plastic Bags Gallon Size
(1) Bags Sandwich Size
(1) QuakChew
(1) Grandmas Cookies
(1) Chex Mix
(1) Hershy Bar Mix

And there is more.

For now we threw it all in the conference room, until we can put everything away in an organized fashion. That is a picture of all the junk we bought, taken on my Treo 700p.

Hope this lasts a while!

September 14, 2006

RustyBrick Bytes Starts New Season

rustybrick-bytes-logo.gifMy company sponsors a local small basketball team, which we named the "RustyBrick Bytes." Yea, we thought it would be a funny name. Bytes, bites, computers, basketball, etc...

We had our first game last night, we won. But I don't think it was a real season game, since the referrers did not show. Some sort of miscommunication.

If you didn't know, I try to play basketball at least twice a week. I hope to play three times per week.

I enjoy the game - I just hope the game enjoys me back. :)

So, what you think of the logo and the name? Pacman look alike? One of the most popular original computer games... Geekfest...

August 28, 2006

All Day Internal SEO Class Today

I will be giving an internal SEO pow-wow today. Ill be covering all the basics and then some of the futuristic stuff. So if I am not quick to reply to your emails, that is where I am.

I start in about 15 minutes, 10am (EST) and won't stop until I am done.

Tons and tons of material to cover.

So I suspect I won't be done until 6pm or so. But I will talk as fast as possible.

Update: Burned through about 200 slides in less than 3 hours. Done and done.

July 20, 2006

Proud of the RustyBrick Team on Launch of TOKYOPOP

I cannot express how proud I am with everyone at my company with the launch of TOKYOPOP today. Honestly, I was a bit concerned starting this project due to the deadline but we got it done on time and done in RustyBrick style.

This site is the first of its kind in the Manga community. It bridges together the books and videos TOKYOPOP sells and at the same time has a huge user generated content drive.

This is like a little MySpace or Yahoo! 360, but focused around the extremely popular Manga topic. In Japan it is huge, in the US it is growing rapidly.

My guys worked incredibly hard on this. It was a great team effort. I am so proud! Great work!

tokyopop-logo.png

If you have some time, check it out, it was just launched a few minutes ago at http://www.tokyopop.com/.