Entries for June, 2011

"There are two ways through life: the way of nature (passion, imperfections, aggression, love), and the way of grace (subtlety, wisdom, peace). You have to choose which one you'll follow."

Wow, this movie looks INSANE. 

Posted by roy on May 31, 2011 at 11:39 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

My newest rykorp blog post is slightly more interesting than the last one: "Turbocharge your application development with MindTouch." Maybe a better title would have been "How I launched a product startup in 8 weeks with less than $10,000!"


Posted by roy on June 2, 2011 at 01:08 AM in rykorp | Add a comment

The Dre beat is sick. 

Posted by roy on June 3, 2011 at 05:13 PM in Music | 3 Comments

Dear Leicester City Council,

Can you please let us know what provisions you have in place in the event of a zombie invasion? Having watched several films it is clear that preparation for such an event is poor and one that councils throughout the kingdom must prepare for.

Please provide any information you may have.

Yours faithfully,

Concerned Citizen

I wonder what San Diego's plan is...


Posted by roy on June 10, 2011 at 09:27 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

I am livid. And it all starts with bad information at the hands of customer service reps. 

This tale starts back in May, when I first started setting up wire transfers to my contractors overseas. I guess I should have realized I'd trigger some fraud alerts when my first wire transfers were to Russia and China (I also wire money to Bosnia). In any case, I initiated the first wire transfer, which went into a pending state until I manually confirmed the amount (that's reaasonable). 

After the first wire transfers... my online access suddenly locked with a message that the account had some sort of security hold on it. An annoyance, sure... but no biggie. Just call the number they provided, right? 

First time I called, the customer service rep (CSR) told  me this was standard, and that I should wait a few days. Nevermind the fact I had already manually resolved the initial security concerns. So I let it go. 

I didn't need to do any wire transfers for the rest of the month, so I forgot about it - believing the CSR knew what he was talking about. 

So June rolls around, and I need to pay off the Russian. Go to the window - still says there's a security hold. 

I call back - THIS time, the CSR claims that it's a bug on the website, and that there's nothing I can do to fix it. Wait, what? I'm a bit astonished that they claim there's a bug that's been around for a month that prevents Small Business bank accounts from doing online transfers (not even wires - normal transfers!). 

The CSR tells me to go into a banking center to do the wire transfers. So I begrudingly go. 

If you've never done an international wire transfer at a bank, let me tell you - it's a LOT of paperwork. Took about 20 minutes to get the paperwork done and to do the transfer. I double-checked all the numbers on the form, then OKed the transfer. The bank manager returns with a receipt of the transfer, and I go on my way. 

Five days later, my dev in China still hasn't received it. I look over the wire transfer document. 

They put in the wrong number. And it's not off by a little - it's off by a LOT. For example, if the account number was:


They put in:


They dropped the zero in the middle and repeated the last digit. Ugh. Human error!

So I bitch and moan about this on Twitter

Now, to the credit of BofA, they have people on Twitter. And they were very responsive (and so far, the only competent people I've interacted with at BofA besides the tellers - they're always great). I DMed back and forth, and they looked into the online wire transfer issue for me. A few hours later, they DMed me a direct number - when I called, I got a guy who picked up immediately and resolved the security hold on my account. (Turns out, there was a security hold - but apparently they don't lift them unless I have to proactively call them... lame)

Now, one issue resolved. 

The second issue still looms: what happens to the money that was wired? I went back into the banking center, where a nice manager (not the one who did the wire transfer) realized the mistake - she sent an addendum to the wire transfer with the correct bank account. She took my number down and said she'd follow up with me. (She never did, but whatever). 

As of Monday, there was still no money received in my Chinese dev's account. So I go into the banking center. The manager (the same guy who did my wire transfer) rather snippingly informs me I need to wake up to 7 business days - but that there was no way to track the issue down. I leave pretty pissed, but whatever. 

Today was the 8th business day after the addendum. I go in again (again, no money). This time, he seems a bit more willing to hep me. He calls up the wire department, and then gives me some excuse about China being a "slow to pay" country and that this could take up to 10 business days. 

Excuse me - it might take 10 business days to resolve the addendum, but don't you know if the initial one failed? Don't bank account numbers have some sort of checksum to prevent this from happening?

So the only info I got today: there's some lady who is the "investigator" on the wire transfer. And the bank manager has my account number. But as far as if I'll hear back? "I don't know - We'll call you." When? "We don't know. That's all the info I have." I paid BofA to do a wire transfer for what reason?

15 days after I initiated a wire transfer, Bank of America has no idea where my money is. Basically I paid $45 for them to lose my money. AWESOME. And my Chinese dev has still yet to be paid. And no offers to credit back to the wire transfer fee or anything!

I decided to transfer an early payment for June to my Chinese dev today (online, of course), which should at least hold HIM over until we track down the other payment. 

Bank of America: What a mess. 

. . .

What I find amusing about this cascade of events: it all started with the CSR giving me bad information - had I known it was a security hold (correctly) and they put up the right phone number on the error page of the website... I would have resolved this, and none of the human error would had been an issue. I would have just used the website. 

But since I had to use the old process, and since the old process was subject to human error, and because the intl wire transfer involves Chinese banks... jeez, what a mess. 

Posted by roy on June 16, 2011 at 12:28 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Somehow I went from relaxing at the beach to working 14-hour+ days. 

This week has been an interesting mix of tasks. Yesterday started off something trivial: continue the integration between the bond book of a client with their website. The technical difficulty? The bond book, which issues the credentials, is a subdomain of the main website. Cookies cannot be set at higher-level domains. I hacked in a quick solution to set another set of cookies on the .ccmfit.com domain upon login - this now allows WordPress's theme engine to know when I'm logged into the site. 

Super thanks to Jennifer for doing a quick design iteration on their homepage, which I rolled out last night. The old look of the homepage:

And now the new one: 

Looks great!

. . .

This morning was a status call with Edgehogs, a very exciting company I'm proud to be working with. This project is also notable in that it's the first one that I brought in a technical project lead. It has been a load off my mind knowing he's coordinating with the development team and thinking deeply about technical specs while I handle overall project management and the design aspects of the site (we're thrashing through logo and design iterations right now).

The company represents the target market for rykorp as well: marketing & sales-driven startups that don't need innovative technical approaches to their technology stacks in the early stages. They are very much a "drive towards a minimally viable product for launch" mentality right now.

I got to meet up with their team last Friday (they exploded from 2 to 19 in two weeks), and it was a refreshing feeling to see the excitement and passion in an early stage start-up. I miss it... 

. . .

After the status call, I went into the songz.co project. There is a new component being built out for this site - this was the first project I had another developer do the coding lift while I focused on design and product management (and in some ways, a ton of lessons learned, which I've learned to not repeat with other clients). 

We're migrating the code from an old development server to the new one - but I couldn't get the installtion done correctly. Compound this with the fact that I was cutting new code against my SVN server, while the dev team was working off their SVN server... ouch. 

This morning was spent trying to get everything set-up, but to no avail. The dev team is currently installing it now, but I need to come together with a strategy for the SVN issue, especially since they are going to be doing bug fixes while I finish up the design aesthetics prior to launch. 

. . .

New Mind Education is finally ready to roll out their new homepage, so the afternoon/evening was spent validating the work my sysadmin had done on their production server, which is based in China. 

Their production server is in China, while the development server was in the US. Of course, after migrating a site from one server and hostname to another is when you realize all the problems with the old site - a bunch of links were hardcoded to the development site. I've fixed up the problems I saw, and sent over instructions. Hopefully we launch soon. 

The NME project was interesting to me because it was the first project I worked *really* in detail with WordPress. NME is basically launching 4 different sites on a single instance of WordPress: their corporate site in Chinese + English, and their primary educational program in Chinese + English. 

The design was done by the incredibly talented Jennifer

Chinese UPP site:

English UPP site:

I am astounded at how far WordPress has come as a CMS. Every element of the UPP site is completely updateable by non-technical people, and it's nearly impossible for them to break the site. Kudos to WordPress! (Now fix all those security bugs...)

. . .

Final task of the day? We've gone through about 3 or 4 rounds of iterations around the logo for Edgehogs, and we still haven't found anything we've liked. I've been doing some research on animal-based logos, and am trying to put together a concept for the logo designer. Been a while since I've had to do anything creative... hellooooo sketchpad!

. . .

Oh wait, nevermind. Final task of the day: switching over DNS providers for Tabulas - looks like I was still paying for DNS Park. Switched it over to GoDaddy... hopefully nothing breaks ;)

. . .

I think the toughest part of the adjustment to rykorp is the lack of rest. Now that 3 or 4 projects seem to be coming to an edge simultaneously, I have real concerns about where my cash flow for the next few months will come from. It's never ending: work hard to finish projects, then work hard to start them. The only time to really break is during the middle of them!

Posted by roy on June 22, 2011 at 12:47 AM in rykorp | 2 Comments
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