Monday, January 18, 2016

What are Tag Management Systems, and why should developers care about them?

Tag Management System, also known as a TMS is a web based tool, that cuts down on implementation time used for analytics/marketing tools.  The amount of time the develop can be saved actually grows based on the number of tools you use.  Each tool has different data requirements and even could have the same data requirements but in different formats.  Meaning that product "A" could require product revenue sent over including the "$", and product "B" could want the same piece of information without the "$".  TMS's allow the creation of a data layer's which then can be utilized to send the revenue using the same reference in the data layer, except product "A" will have the "$" in front of the token.

What is a data layer?

A data layer is the common object you build within the TMS to simplify your life as a developer. As long as the data is accessible via a CSS select, javascript variable or even javascript function then it can be pulled into the data layer using only the TMS to define the rule/rules for getting this data.

How does this save me time?

Making changing to the TMS/Data Layer do not require releases of code. So depending on your organizations time to market on releases this is where some time savings come from, besides the shared data layer.  

What about making sure I don't introduce bugs?

Most TMS tools allow you to enable to changes only in your lower environments before requiring approval to be promoted to production.  This will give you and your analytics team the ability to test all changes/additions and then publish this changes once the appropriate parties sign off.  Typically this can be weeks faster than waiting for code promotions to get into "the wild".

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Brining the back-end to the front-end

The latest trend in web seems to be moving the back-end forward.  JavaScript frameworks like AngularJS and a new Service called Back&  are eliminating the back-end/middleware.  Taking the pieces of code that either interactive with databases or web services and moving them client side.  This of course with the help of templating frameworks such as Mustache and Handlebars to handle page layouts and changing markup.

This movement seems to not only be pushing the evolution of ECMA script but also the tools around building these applications npm, node, grunt, bower.

From my experience though, his trend though did not start within the last 2 or even 3 years, but 8 years ago with the release of Sencha's ExtJS Version 2.0.  ExtJS is a library/framework for building web applications, ExtJS has evolved quite a long way from version 2 to its current version 5 evolving into MVC framework and in its latest incarnation a MVVC framework.  The end result for these client side frameworks are that you work with web services and data (JSON, XML).

Moving the front-end/middleware forward though can be risky, you cant just move all your backend/middleware code to the front-end, there are some security concerns that can play into this.

For example if you never thought to secure your web service because it was only accessible on a private network by your web stack well you don't want to put the security itself into the front-end as it easily discovered by view the source of your javascript files.  This is were OAuth type authentication comes into place.  An authentication request is made to the OAuth server and if successful the response contains a token that is used in your web service requests and valid for a given period of time.

But with any luck this migration to the front-end will continue evolving and reduce the layers needs for creating complex websites, services and or applications.

Friday, October 3, 2014 Ruins Halloween!!

Steer clear of   On July 13, 2014 my mother placed an order for the Anna/Elsa dresses that were on pre-order as she wanted to get the Anna/Elsa dresses for my twin daughters (age 2) so we directed her there as the reviews of the company were great and it pricing was great.  We all understood that this was a pre-order item and would not be receiving it right away.  Some time went by and I wanted to follow up with so I asked my mom to forward me the confirmation email so that I could get the order number and follow up with them. So she did and I sent the following email on 8/25/14 to follow up on the order:

I am trying to follow up on the order status for:  myfancyprincess-xxxxx

I know the order was for pre-order, so I just wanted to follow up on the status for the actual items.

On the same day I received the following response:
According to the date you ordered, you are in our third presale shipment which is not due to arrive here at our location until the end of August/early September.  Once we receive the shipment and check it in, then we will ship in the order received.  If there are no further delays you should see a shipping confirmation somewhere around mid to third week of September. 

Thank you for your business and your continued patience.  We sincerely appreciate it!

Excellent, a quick reply and an approximate date of when to expect the dresses.  So some more time goes by and we hadn't received the dresses yet, so I called my mom and asked her if she had heard anything, and she had not.  So on September 23, 2014 I sent a quick email:

I just wanted to follow up on this order as we still have not received anything and it is now the end of September.

Another 5 days went by without any type of response, so on 9/26/14 I sent another email as their phone system says the way to get the  quick response is to email them:
I have not received my order not a response from you this week, not quite sure what is going on.
On 10/01/14 still no response, so at this point we call and leave a voice message, as well as send another email:
I am sending yet another email to follow up on this order.  Please its getting close to halloween and it was our understanding that we would have these items by now.....

So no response  for most of the day on 10/02/14 so I send the following email, granted its definitely confrontational, but all I am looking for is a status update:
So yet another week has gone by.  Both my wife and I have called and left messages as well as sent email and NOTHING has been responded to.  This is totally UNACCEPTABLE and I will start a social media campaign soon if I don't hear back.

Also being slightly disgruntled at this point, I figured I would try another contact medium, Facebook.  So I posted a message along the same lines as my previous emails. (Which has now been deleted).  That seem to get their attention and I received the following email reply.
Any details regarding the order are released to the purchaser only.  We see we previously responded to an e-mail but that was a mistake.  Thank you.
To which I responded:

Ok please email the purchaser (my mom) with an update and I will contact her to get the details.
And they comment on my Facebook feed also that they have responded to my email as well as forwarded the information along to my Mom, great an update, we are happy.  My mom then tells me that the email states the dresses will not be shipping for another 1-2 weeks and then we'll receive them 5 days after that.  They also explained that this is not their fault and that it is the fault of their manufacturer/distributor.  So hey what are you going to do, so we just have to wait.  Well it seems that they didn't like some of the negative comments that some of my friends/family put in the thread that I had started with them.  So they deleted the post.  And sent the following email to my mom, the original purchaser:

We have gone ahead and canceled this order.  Order delays from our supplier are not our fault and we will not continue to be bashed publicly for something that is not out fault.  we just spoke to our supplier yesterday and they are the ones delaying, NOT us.  We have explained this just this morning to your husband (I think they meant son) who also tried to publicly shame us for this.  We explained it respectfully and nicely.  Yet you felt the need to once again publicly bash us for what we already explained was not our fault.  We are just as upset over this as you are and have on more then one occasion expressed out disappointment that we are the ones taking al the blame for the delays that are not our fault.  We also gave you an option to switch to other in stock dresses (Double the cost) and instead of e-mailing us to work something out you once again went on our page to publicly express your disappointment  (My mom, the actual purchaser, never posted on the page, my wife did when she saw they deleted my post to their page).  You have every right to be disappointed, but please understand that we did not cause this.  You have been refunded in full and the order is now cancelled.

Well that got me really pissed as they could have use the opportunity to shine in a customer service issue, and they chose not to.  So I looked back at some of their Facebook posts to see if anyone else was complaining on their Facebook page and found a recent one within the last day or two and commented on that posting stating to be careful what they post as if they find it "offensive" or that it is "bashing" them they would cancel your order.  Since that comment their Facebook page is now completely locked down, no commenting, no liking and no posting.

Ultimately they should have been sending status updates on these pre-order items, thats the right thing to do.  They also could have used the Facebook posts to shine in customer service but chose to hide everything in email.

I am sorry but if you are on social media you must take the good and the bad with it.  You can't just delete/hide everything that you don't like you have to use it as a tool to show everyone else how you can treat the customer with respect.

In the end who suffers, my 2 year old twin daughters, as we are really close to Halloween and no one else has these costumes in their size.  My wife just told me that she let my daughter Sarah know that she might have to be something else for Halloween and she started to cry.

Shame on you!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Changing Jobs

After working for NetBlazon for 3+ years come Monday I will be starting work with a new employer.  I will be working for Walt Disney Park & Resorts Online as a Web Developer on analytics team.

Leaving NetBlazon was a very hard decision but was something that needed to happen because now that I have a FULL family, it includes twin girls now, I need to think about my future and the future of my family.  This includes a retirement for myself, but more importantly a way to provide for my family if I should be injured or out of work for an extended period of time (Short/Long Term Disability).

I have learned many things the past 3 years at NetBlazon and I am very thankful to Pete & Susan (the owners) for giving me the opportunity to work for their company.  We have built some great solutions (AccurateTax, FeedExact & Click-2-Customer). And I look forward to seeing what they produce in the future.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sencha Conference 2010

WOW!  Thats the only way I can start this off.  Sencha Conference 2010 was in San Francisco at the Fairmont hotel.  The hotel was very nice and was able to accommodate the 500 conference attendees.  It was a little pricey but the quality was there.

The sessions were great and Sencha Team presented were very well rehearsed and looked that like had been giving large presentations for years!! In my opinion the best presenter was Ed Spencer, I think his accent helps him come off as a better presenter. :)

The conference started off with two major announcements from Abe Elias.

  1. Sencha Touch is now free for commercial use.  In a later session it was revealed that there will be a charts package.  Available for purchase separately.
  2. ExtJS 4 Beta will be released in approximately 6 weeks. (Of course no one should help them to exact date, things happen).  If they make a 6 week beta released I will ecstatic.
Amongst the attendees of the conference in my opinion and probably many others were some of the greatest minds in the JavaScript community, of course this also includes the Sencha team.

On the ExtJS 4 front, one of the last session I was able to attend was one that previewed some improvements that are coming in ExtJS 4.  One of these things included Jamie Avins showing a speed test of how long it took ExtJS 2, which is speedier in some aspects to ExtJS 3, to resize a window with 500 textfields, it took aprox 2-3 seconds...after consulting the community and doing some research of their with help from google speed tracer they were able to get the time down to millisecons.  Thats right milliseconds!!!

Theming ExtJS 4 will be sooooo much easier. With the help of compass (  changing the base color of the theme will be a simple single line of code.  Even stylizing buttons will be simple using compass.  I am looking forward to seeing themes that make ExtJS not look like ExtJS.  And I have a feeling with the new system we will all start seeing this.

I am not the greatest of writers so I will stop here.  But will make another blog post once the ExtJS Beta is released.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Brighthouse, yeah no....

Well after my last blog post you'll notice that I had a comment from someone at BrightHouse asking for information to see if they could be of help.  I sent them my information and within a couple of days received a phone call form a customer service supervisor.  She followed up with me a couple times to let me know what was going on but I only spoke with her once on the phone,  and the other times she left a voicemail.

Now the last voicemail I received from her said that they they found the issue and were replacing a hub in the area to fix said issue.  She stated that the replacement would be done by the end of the week and that I would receive a phone call form the area supervisor Bill Harris by sunday when the hub was supposed to be replaced.  I was also told that I would receive a phone call from Bill Harris early on last week but never received a phone call from him.  I was also told that the woman who I was speaking with was going on vacation until this past Sunday and would follow up with me on Sunday.  It is no 6:15 Eastern Time and I have yet top receive a phone call from anyone, and guess what my internet speeds are still not what they should be.

Being that I was told things would be fixed by the end of the week and come saturday they weren't I called BrightHouse and was told there was work done in the area so they cannot confirm that this is an ongoing issue, so they would have to send a service tech out yet AGAIN to check the signal levels.  While on the phone I mentioned I was supposed to get a phone call from Bill Harris to let me know where things were at..they looked at the account and told me that Bill Harris had called me on tuesday and told me he would follow up with me on Sunday......The only person from brighthouse I received a phone call from on tuesday was the customer service supervisor.  So I asked the support person on the phone are they sure it says Bill Harris & they confirmed thats what it said. So not sure whats going on there.

So the service tech comes out  Saturday afternoon and checks the levels and of course they are fine.  While he is here I was commenting how this was an on going issue now for almost 4 months and that every time I call they want to classify it as a separate and new problem, the service tech states "Yeah we;ve been getting alot of calls for this area, and some of them we just ignore".  WOW!  I didnt say anything to him about that because I wasnt about to start any other trouble than I already have.

So once the signal level check was complete and no problems were found the service tech went out to the tab and checked the connections there, which were fine.  Well since he couldnt find any issues and had his next service call one block over in my subdivision he calls someone and they told him it was an ongoing issue in the neighborhood.  So the service tech gets told after and unnecessary documented issue in the area that he really shouldnt have been dispatched out here......WOW 


If anyone reading this has a phone number or an email address of someone other than a customer service supervisor or call center please send it my way.  Myself as well as the other in my subdivision would really appreciate it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bright House FAIL!!

So I am going into month 4 of slow internet speeds.  He is my most recent test.  Granted its not a bright house speed test but they dont allow for a direct image output of the results....I wonder why.  But the speedtest on   show pretty much the same thing.

So yeah month 4 of my neighborhood having slow speeds, numerous tech's  have been made, and they come to the houses in the neighborhood and say none of the tests they run show any issues, so they put in what they are referring to as a "maintenance call"  basically this is a way for them to leave without fixing the problem.  Supposedly a part has been on order now for over 3 weeks.  Yet most of the tech guys that have come out say any part that needs to be replaced should  already be in stock.  so who knows what is going on.