Sunday, June 15, 2008


Middleware by Jon Oropeza

A column about San Diego

A eulogy of sorts

Writing Middleware was a lot of fun. It was a blog before blogs became popular, a weekly column written by a guy without a weekly column. I know I entertained a few of you. And if I got even just one of you think about or write about San Diego, then Middleware was a success.

In 2008 I helped Abbie Berry start The Creative Cusp. We teach, coach, promote and publish San Diego writers. If you're a San Diego writer, or you write about San Diego, we want to meet you!

I stopped writing Middleware in 2005 to concentrate full-time on writing a novel (full-time writing time, I still maintain a 50 hour / week job in my other life). You can find out all about A Story About San Diego here.

You can read a sample of A Story About San Diego here.

My blog is Poetry, love for the world, miscellany.

I post photos on Flickr and keep a winelog on Corkd.

I tweet on my twitter.

Read old Middleware columns here.

Friday, March 10, 2006


The Five Mantras of my IT Department.

I presented this at my quarterly staff meeting yesterday. Generally my staff meetings are a fun two hours away from the office, a chance to take a break, blow some steam and come together a bit. This time I challenged myself to have some relevant material to present. The night before I pecked away for an hour or so, codifying five of the mantras that I use to guide my professional career. In totally raw fashion, here they are -

Proactively have an impact on every level.

Each level of our company, from the CEO to the gal answering the phone or the guy pushing the contracts, needs help whether they know it or not. Encourage an environment of unwillingness to accept the big and little hindrances in their world.

Particular attention should be paid to doing whatever we can to support our top sales reps, as well as the FSRs. We need to make sure that the clutter is out of the way so that they can concentrate on selling. This is the easiest way for LifePro and for you to make more money. In football terms, if you throw the brunt of yourself into blocking all the defenders out of the way then when you're laying flat on your back, even though you didn't see the touchdown, you'll know that the roar of the crowd is not just for the ballcarrier busting it into the endzone but for the whole effort it took to get him there.

User first.

This is harder than it sounds because often the rules we have - No you can't store that huge file, no you can't send that email until I proof it, no we can't just change the premium multiplier on that one case - are beneficial to everyone in the long run. It's a balance and we have to always move the pivot so that the user can come out on top without burying the other side. Have you ever seen a teeter totter in that smooth state where one person is higher than the other and is almost rising but not quite yet and for a moment it seems like the thing is defying the laws of physics? If you're really good at balancing, you can maintain that state - it's play, and it's actually a lot of fun. If you just can't do it, that's ok - get it back to balance or let the user rise. No bricks allowed on the rules side.

Be conscious of what we cost.

$300,000 is my estimate, based on salaries, expenses, rent for our space, etc. We have to create value above and beyond that figure. Learn what you do to create value and learn what you do that doesn't add any value. Then figure out what you can do to create even more value, and teach us how to compensate you when you do an extraordinary job at it.

Have fun in your world.

Other people do what you do and blog about it - read them, post comments, get involved in the community. If you're not passionate about what you're doing, find out why. Is it too monotonous? If so, is their a skill you can learn that would allow you to develop automations? Be careful with this. Not every part of your job is fun or can be made fun, and some of that unfun stuff is necessary. Keep track. Most executive types know that when you measure something it improves just because it's being measured, yet few apply this to what's really important - their quality of life. What percentage of your day are you having fun? Is it enough for you? If not, is their something you or anyone can do to change it, or do we need to explore other roles for you?

Be greedy.

Want to make more money. Let us structure your pay plan so that you're properly incentivized such that your hard work will turn into $$$ in your pocket. I want to pay you more because it'll mean that LifePro is making more and that I'm making more. You should be making enough on incentive so that you don't accept slacking from yourself or anyone else in the company. It's easy to go to sleep when you're having a bad day or just don't feel like pushing. I want that to hurt you in the $$$ and you want that to hurt you in the $$$, bad enough that you don't let it happen.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Hey, check this out - we've got flickr on our homepage! I've totally fallen in love with the idea of web services in the workplace, using them not only in my internal pieces (for example creating RSS feeds to spread contact management / production database info into Exchange) but also using things like flickr to capture company photos, and hopefully soon delicious to capture websites that are important and relevant to the company.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Windows Media Center Edition and Domains

This is a great example of how to purposefully engineer your products towards maximum customer dissatisfaction. Rather than fixing anything going from 2004 to 2005, they've gone into their own code and removed the ability to join a domain, cause, well Cause.

Dear Microsoft,

This is why people hate you.


a loyal customer (yeah right! c'mon Linux, just 5 more years and you'll be ready for prime time! :) )

And of course, the community has found its way around the problem. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Customer ID Number?

Dear Symantec,

A wise man once told me that the phone rings at any business for 3 reasons -

- Someone wants to give you money.
- Someone wants to take money away.
- Wrong number.

- and while it's a broad generalization, when I call you for support, what I'm really calling for is to give you money, because if you can't/don't help me, the likliehood of me giving you money in the future will be decreased.

"Sir, what is your customer ID number?" is not helping me.

If your contact management system can't handle lookup by company or last name, you need a new CM. Period. Guess what? Building customized CRM packages is what I do. I may be occupied with a full time day job these days, but I have some good contacts in the industry. We can help you.

By the way, if you're going to assign me a customer ID number, you'd better let me pick it. I don't have room in my head OR my Outlook for nine arbitrary digits from the 200+ companies I work with. I could make room, but...

I am a customer. I have a name. It's Jon. If you don't want to call me Jon, you can't have my money.


Your Customer

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Mmm, new Corante blog...

Corante is one of my in-office guilty pleasures. A paper cup of self-brewed green tea and a flip through the latest posts is my Californian, naughties proxy for the old porcelain cup-o-joe and newspaper brought by the shirt-skirted secretary.

It looks like yet another potentially interesting blog has popped up amongst the rolls - Total Experience, mission statement being : "
to identify, critique, and recommend exceptional experience design that’s happening today." Sounds like my kinda meme! If creativity is the ultimate expression of the human soul, then Lawrence (no, not Lawrence - who then? I can literally see the words on a page, some page) was right - the writer should toss lit and instead read mathematics, physics, and design blogs, instruction manuals, whitepapers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I’m amused by the persistence of spheroid issues in these so-futuristic naughties. We’ve shortened the distances between each other but we’re still dealing with the old problem of her being three hours ahead, him being seven hours behind. I’ve gotten the cold bucket of water to my face these last two Wednesdays due to just a few hours; 10:30 is a perfectly reasonable time to have a project meeting, however if that’s 10:30 Iowa time then it’s 8:30 Pac Time which isn’t too horrible until you consider that the two of us who are leading the logistics and systems ends of the project both have our usual Stacks O Stuff waiting for us in the morning which must be attended to right away, man. This morning I woke up at 7:50 and went Oh No, I’ve gotta be at the office by 8:30! – see we’re still small enough of a company to not do regular conference calls and therefore are expected to gather like family in the same room, even when the host of the meeting is in Cornland.

By the time the meeting wraps up, the jackals are lined up outside my door, thirsty for blood. By the time I get the good-morning needs fulfilled it’s eleven and definitely time for breakfast; One delicious Whole Foods salad later though it’s noon and I haven’t even opened my daily task list.

I’ve got a huige braindump coming about organizational strategy and the cold science of How To Get Things Done, one of these days soon -

Today is day one of Chris’ rule as Czar of Event Logistics, as he refers to it – he’s a good kid full of a lust for good natured idiosyncrasies and we hopefully give him a good environment to play in. I’m worried that he’s going to get bogged down in the details – there’s a difference between managing a project and firefighting a project – a great, experienced leader can do both, but sometimes it’s very hard for one person to stay focused on the former when there are fires erupting everywhere. Heather and I are good enough to know when to let him battle the blaze and when to step in with the tanker drops on the inferno – I hope. Chris says he’ll have a project timeline built by tomorrow at 10AM – I think that’s a bit lofty but what the hell, I’d love to see him do it.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?