Author Archives: Jeremy Lichtman

About Jeremy Lichtman

CEO of Lichtman Consulting. Formerly CTO of MIT Consulting. Serial entrepreneur, software and web developer.

When GPS Gets You Lost

I’ve been hearing stories for years about excessively literal-minded people getting themselves in terrible trouble by paying too much attention to their GPS units.

I also once worked with somebody who would regularly call into the office with the complaint that their GPS had succeeded in making them lose their way.

The story reported on Yahoo’s tech blog here (http://bit.ly/lEXUH) is a pretty good one though.

Almost as good as the guy that went off the autobahn, across a field, and smashed his 7-series BMW into a porta-potty.

Office Update

Our office is starting to look a little bit more business-like and comfortable. The other day we actually had a water-cooler conversation. The reception desk is courtesy of Erez at MIT Consulting, who didn’t need it any more. Moving it required a bit of “sweat equity”.

[Sorry – due to a server move, the photo gallery is temporarily broken]

Office Pics

A few people have asked me for photos. Below are a couple from the old office, and then snapshots of what the move looked like, and what the office looks like with everything set up. I’ve obscured people’s faces to protect the identity of the innocent…

IMAGE_00001
Our old basement office...
Old office - some of our staff hard at work
Old office - some of our staff hard at work
Another view of the old office
Another view of the old office
Moving into the new office
Moving into the new office
Moving in. Note the drywall dust on the floor from our cable drops.
Moving in. Note the drywall dust on the floor from our cable drops.
Our new "patch bay" for the network
Our new "patch bay" for the network
New office - hard at work again!
New office - hard at work again!

Business Internet

I think there’s a potential business plan in all this.

We moved a few days ago into our new offices, which we are sharing with CO4 Computing. Last week we had an (unnamed) internet DSL company put in a connection. We tested it on Sunday, and it was working perfectly.

By the time we actually moved in, it had stopped working. It turns out that the unnamed internet service provider above actually uses phone lines (in this case something called a dry loop, which is basically a phone line without a phone number attached to it) that they lease from [insert big phone company name here]. Some technician at the [big phone company] had decided that there was something wrong with the dry loop, and had randomly disconnected it (without – I might add – letting the DSL company know).

At the point in writing, we’ve been trying to get the DSL company to fix our internet connection for three days. The problem, of course, is that they are totally reliant on the phone company’s technicians in order to do this. The phone company won’t tell them what they are doing to resolve the problem, and furthermore won’t let them know a timeframe either.

In the meantime, I’m being stonewalled by the DSL company as well.

We also looked into going directly to the phone company (unfortunately they’re the only ones who have lines going into this building) in order to get internet service from them. Apparently there’s a two week delay before they can install it. That’s minimum two weeks, not an absolute timeline.

For home internet, I can get a technician at my door within two to three hours. For business though, getting a new internet connection takes two weeks, and fixing a broken connection can take days. I’m puzzled as to why anybody puts up with this.

New Office

We’re in the process of setting up and moving into our new offices. We should be fully moved in by early next week.

Automating Show Recording

We have a customer who has a radio show, which we’ve been recording and posting up to her website for a while. We were using a Windows box with an ancient version of Replay Radio to do the recording daily, and then every few days we used an audio program to compress the files down in size, and then ftp’ed them up, after which we had to manually go into the database to add them into a list. As you can imagine, a bit time consuming.

I finally got around to automating the process using Linux.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Create a shell script that records the show using mplayer
  2. Create a shell script to stop the recording
  3. Create yet another shell script to upload the file using ftp
  4. Create a php script to check the remote upload folder, and add new files into the database
  5. Create a shell script to run the remote batch checker using curl
  6. Set everything up in cron

Took me a bit of time to get it all right, but that’s going to save a whole bunch of time later on.

I’ll give details in another post if anyone is interested.

QR Tags

QR Tag
QR Tag

The odd looking image here isn’t a Rorschach blot.

Its actually a QR code, something that is old news in Japan, but never quite managed to take off in North America.

In this particular case, assuming you had a QR code reader (in Japan apparently most cell phones do), the image encodes a link back to this website.

If you want one of your own, you can go here to get one: http://www.qrtag.net.

Now I just need to figure out how to get my phone to read them…

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Books You Wish You Hadn’t Read

Ever read a book and then wish you hadn’t? Not because the book is bad, but rather because you realize that somebody has already beaten you to the punch?

What Business Would You Want To Be In?

Quick informal poll:

If you were going to start a business today, what kind of business model would you use?

My personal answer: currently leaning towards some form of software as a service, utilizing some type freemium model. But then so is everybody else, right? I have more to say on this, but want to hear what you think!

40th Anniversary of First Lunar Landing

Forty years ago today, Neil Armstrong landed on the moon for the first time. The last lunar landing took place in 1972, before I was born. Here’s looking forward to a return.