Calgary Repair Café

Want a better world? Me too. That’s why I’m doing what I can by volunteering on the September 6th at the Calgary Repair Café.

A big mistake was made when the recycle slogan was thought up. Here’s my, personal, revised version: Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle.

UPDATE – 20140905: Unfortunately, this event has been cancelled due to the lack of volunteers. I have been in contact with the organizer to discuss their go-forward plans. It doesn’t look good at this point. There are many people wanting help with repairing items, but the project needs steady, solid space, and most importantly, regular, reliable volunteers.

If you would like to be involved or investigate how you can help keep this project going, please contact

On Customer Choices – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

So, I received a call today which related to a client whom I act as a specialist for. They wanted my assistance to implement a solution which their customer was very adamant about. And there’s the first yellow flag – the end customer was adamant about the solution they had personally dreamed up “because it worked”. In this case, the end customer was putting a debian file server as a guest OS on top of a Windows Home Premium system desktop class system. Why did they want it set up like that? “For reliability”. I know, I can hear all the system admins in the audience cringing and gritting their teeth.

“Why, what’s wrong with that?”, you might ask. First things first. You don’t base a system you’re trying to maximize reliability onto a Windows Home operating system – “Premium” or not. The operating system and the hardware it’s generally found on are not conducive to the high loads one would expect from a virtual host, let alone a data storage unit. Yes, that was the second yellow flag. The customer had decided it was reasonable to build their File Storage system as a virtual box. So, now, before we even get into the software which will actually hold the data, we’ve already got 3 full systems to manage and maintain. The Windows OS, the Virtual host application, and the guest OS. Now comes the red flag.

My client talked to the customer and asked them to talk with me, their Linux and business system administration expert. The customer replied indicating roughly, “OK, I’ll talk with them, but if they don’t agree to do what I want in five minutes, I’m going elsewhere.” … I never did actually receive a call from the end customer, and I’m OK with that.

Why is it that a small business owner whom finds themselves incapable of installing and configuring a system the way they want, call for help, then immediately reject the the advice given to them by experienced professionals? Strange, very strange.

Please, business owners large and small, if I tell you something is not a good idea, I probably have a reason or two, maybe more. +15 years of experience as a system administrator for everything from mom and pop to mega multinationals has allowed me to learn a thing or two. If I am offering you a touch of that experience, free of charge, maybe there’s something to it – maybe there’s a reason.

Good luck to the gentleman on the end of the phone. I wish him well because he’ll need it. Even if he gets his task performed by someone else, and it’ll look great to start… He won’t suffer now, nor tomorrow, but experience tells me it’ll come. Sooner or later, cheaping out and ignoring experienced advise starts to show. And worse yet, it may cost the man his business. But, that’s a story for another day.

A Warning Against WIX

A client of mine, whom implemented their site on WIX against my recommendation, has finally run into a blocker. I had indicated they would eventually encounter this sort of situation when they were making a hosting decision, but I was overridden by management whom has now left the organization, and the group is now now stuck with the result.

Recently, they requested that I implement a forum or blog for them. What I found while specing out the changes was that while WIX does offer a form of blog, it is woefully inadequate for the purposes of my client. To remedy this situation, I have been investigating the implementation of a separate blog and forum site hosted on a separate service, and linking to it from WIX. Which brings us to the crux of the issue.

The chosen site design uses a single menu at the top of the page for navigation. That seems reasonable at first, but it turns out that, in WIX, there is no way to link a menu item to an external site or page. Immediately upon searching for a resolution, I found that this has been an ongoing issue with many, many requests for a fix from WIX clients for several years. The only solution offered is to ~ “create a button”. This is not an acceptable answer as for many clients including my own, it would require a complete redesign of the site toward use of buttons instead of a standard menu structure.

As a system administrator with experience in quality assurance, programming in multiple languages, and system design among many other sills, I can categorically state that this really should be simple fix. Because it has dragged on for years, I can only assume that a design or management decision was made which is intended to keep users and those coming to their sites within the WIX environment. Bad form WIX, bad form. This really does speak to the ethics within your company.

This feature is a blocker for my clients, but I have not bothered to file a complaint with WIX; It is obvious from the long history of this issue that they have no intention of offering any sort of resolution to the situation. Again, from experience, screaming into the void of Tier 1 support and intentional misdirection by management will get you nowhere.

So, instead, I have posted this entry as a warning to current and/or future WIX users. Be warned: WIX is proving itself an unethical, substandard company offering unethical, substandard service, and you may well receive no aid from them when you need it.

Goodbye WIX. You have cost us time, lost effort, revenue, frustration, and sleep. With all due respect to your business model and your right to do so, I’ll be taking my clients elsewhere.