Note: This blog post is from 2014. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.Ok, so that's clearly not my sentiment but rather that of a certain "Simon" (no other identifying info offered) in a blog comment in one of the recent CF team blog entries.
After complaining about how poorly he felt CF had responded to his seeking help, he threw in additionally that "the existing private consultants prices are a total joke - they are taking us for a ride!".
Well, I just couldn't let go his comment go unremarked.
I started to write my reply there, but it grew long (as is my wont). So rather than post there (where most comments are brief), I decided to post it here instead and point to it there. Perhaps some of my readers here may appreciate it as well, as I also talk about some thoughts on CF troubleshooting in general.
Just some brief context
In case you've not yet read the blog entry and its comments (over 50 on all kinds of matters related to the recently updated Update 3 for CF11), I'll just note that after I had offered help a few times to folks raising various issues (as I often do in such online resources), someone complained about not being able to get Adobe CF support, even when willing to pay for it.
To that I pointed out that there are many CF troubleshooting consultants, myself included, who could help as needed.
And a few days later (today), Simon chimed in for the first time on the thread and lobbed his comment, along with saying that he and his company were moving away from CF. Of course, we hear that from folks occasionally. Some may have due justification. Some may be overreacting to challenges or giving up too soon if help may resolve things, even thorny challenges.
So I just couldn't stand by and let him lob that grenade against CF troubleshooting consultants. Here's what I wrote (but posting here instead):
My response to Simon
@Simon, to each his own on their opinions of CF and Adobe.
As for the reference to private consultants and their prices being "a joke", I'll assume that refers at least to me and mine, since I'd spoken up here previously mentioning the availability of such consultants.
Apples to apples?
And I'll just say for myself that if my rate seems high, you may be comparing that to developer rates, which is not fair. While you may pay a developer for 10, 20, 40, or 60 hours a week, for weeks, months, or indeed years, you may pay me for 1 hour (or less) to solve a problem, even a thorny one. And you might never need me again, or not until you have some other problem. My clients can tell you I do that with them every day, sometimes going years between their need of help (as happened twice just this week alone).
And assuming your problem is not some clear bug but does have a solution that you may ultimately find on your own, how much was the time worth for you and perhaps colleagues to have spend hours if not days poking around trying to find solutions? I may have the answer and can implement it while showing you the ins and outs, again often in as little as an hour for most problems.
And my clients are getting an education for that "price" at the same time. I don't just come in, wave a magic wand, and leave. Instead I educate them as I go (via a shared desktop session), and no it generally does not take much more time, especially compared to the several hours or days they may have spent trying to fix/find things on their own. (I then often blog about the issue with considerable detail for those who may come looking for the info.)
So the rate is not a "joke", whether you were referring to mine or those of the other CF consultants I pointed to. It's really a small price to pay for a solution, if not also an education.
Now, sure, if the problem is a bug in CF, you have every reason to want to blame Adobe (and to expect free help from them), but I can tell you that many times what people say are bugs end up not being so. Indeed, only maybe 5 out of the few thousand hours I've billed the past few years (for example) have ended up being problems due to bugs in CF (that's not an exaggeration).
Many, many times when people report they have have found a "bug", I help them find out that they just have failed to properly follow the steps given to do a certain thing. For instance, many people in CF10 or 11 do updates, but then miss that they must rebuild the web server connector. That can lead to what seem bugs, but they're fixed as soon as the connector is updated (I got an email from a client just this week thanking me again for helping solve that.) Or they may update the connector but on Windows fail to "run as admin" (like the technote for the updates say), which can leave both their CF and web server configuration in a mess. When I help sort that out for them, seeming bugs just "go away". I do it about every week.
And that's not because "CF is so buggy". Usually it's that the folks I help are just not familiar with managing CF servers. That's understandable, of course. They may be developers even with a decade of CF experience but who just don't focus on server troubleshooting like I do. Or they may be server admins with strong skills, but who are just not savvy about CF (or Tomcat or JRun or Java). Or they may just have been in a hurry (or too casual, or under stress) and missed the steps right on the screen in front of them.
That's where troubleshooting consultants like myself and the others can be so helpful, often quickly. I've even helped solve thorny problems in as little as 5-15 minutes, because I can readily connect the dots since I see certain problems over and over. (And I have no minimum time myself, while others may. I also offer a satisfaction guarantee, listed right next to my rates, on the consulting page at carehart.org. You won't pay for time you don't find valuable. That should also negate a concern over "cost". Either the time is valuable for you and you pay for it, or it's not and you don't. What have you got to lose in trying?)
Faster and more effective than digging around on your own
As for those who do try to go it alone (reasonably so), they often get in trouble by relying on a tweet here or a short blog entry there, from well-meaning folks trying to help each other, but often they end up digging themselves into a deeper hole, trying this and that to see if it may "help". (Again, I have so much experience with these sort of problems I can often easily "untangle the wires" as well.)
Often those who share brief "solutions" fail to give the details needed to understand/resolve a problem, or they don't help understand the implications of available choices (if indeed they know of them). Or if they're complaining also of a bug that they're helping "fix", it may be that they themselves may also not have properly followed the needed/documented steps (and didn't know to warn folks about that).
Or those looking for answers online may end up reading something that really applies to an earlier release, or before a bug was fixed, and so on.
That's why I try to help with the elaborated answers I do, both here on the blog comments (and in forums and mailing lists) as well as for my clients, of course--without adding substantially to the time (and the solution) they're paying for, believe it or not.
So I'm here to help people get their CF servers going well, however I can. If they can do it with the info I share online for free, great. If not and they want help, I can tell you that I have several hundred very happy customers who do appreciate having someone they can turn to when they do run into problems, with confidence that a thorny problem can usually be solved very quickly. (And FWIW, I have to credit/refund perhaps only a dozen hours a year, when perhaps some problem has eluded me completely, or the client didn't value the info I shared.)
Frustration is understandable. Experienced help can ease that
I know CF server problems can frustrate people. Folks are under pressure, their bosses and/or clients are breathing down their neck. Again they may have been plagued for days or weeks, or just minutes or minutes when the server is down. I deal with such folks under stress daily.
Thankfully 99.9% of the time I can not only solve their problem, but leave them happy and more confident not only about their ability to understand and resolve whatever issue they had, but also more confident in CF's ability to serve them. I've often helped forestall expensive hardware upgrades, or platform changes, or a move to clustered servers, etc, because I've helped resolve what was the real root cause of problems.
And nearly always I hear back from clients weeks later saying that all's well, the server's been up ever since, and they're grateful to have had to pay such a relative small "price" for all that. See the references page on my site for just a few such comments.
And Simon, if you really still think rates from CF troubleshooting consultants are a "joke", have you looked at those providing similar services on other platforms? They're really not out of line with each other.
Consider also that we're not generally billable 8-10 hours a day like a developer may. We have to manage our business as well as find ways to market our services (whether blogging, speaking, writing, participating in blogs/forums/mailing lists, etc.), and all that (and the client work) on top of enhancing our own skills (including staying on top of changes in CF, new security challenges, updates to Java, etc.)
Anyway, I do hope you may be able to find equally skilled consultants in whatever platform you do move to. And if you end up sticking with CF, I'll still be happy to help if you if you ever reach out! :-)
Again, sorry if this seems a sales pitch. Since Simon lobbed the grenade, someone had to fall on it on behalf of "the existing private consultants". I for one am never taking my clients "for a ride"--unless you want to use the analogy that they're on a plane that's going down, and I'm like a remote pilot guiding the flight attendant to a safe landing!
Finally, I'll throw out here that judging from my extensive experience working with folks and watching the community in several venues, I think it's important to note that there seem far more folks happily using CF (and resolving issues that affect them as needed), than the relatively few vocal folks who are sometimes suffering so tremendously.
That's not to diminish the pain felt by them, but just to say that sometimes in blogs like this all we hear from is those with problems, and occasionally those saying they're leaving CF out of frustration. It can leave some dejected.
But we don't hear from the folks who either have no problems, or have them but get good help to solve them, and then they get back to their work. Now let's all go do the same.
Comments welcomed, whether here or there as you may choose.
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