Matthew Petro

Coffee is my energy drink of choice.

Get working!

I just learned (from my amazing trivia fact calendar) that Thomas Edison held 1,093 patents, 424 of which were for electric light and power. Seriously. The guy’s electrical patents alone would have amounted to an incredible body of work. But that was less than half of his total patents!

Some of his hundreds of inventions have been forgotten. But he also invented the phonograph and movie camera. In one lifetime, he was able to create the technological foundation upon which much of modern life is based. That’s a lot of work for one guy.

If he was able to crank out that much productivity, what are we all waiting for? Are we afraid of failure? Edison failed to create a successful light bulb hundreds of times before succeeded. Are we afraid of waiting until we get something just right? Edison didn’t patent 1,093 things by waiting until they were perfect.

Edison accomplished what he did by doing something. He worked tirelessly at his craft. If he can accomplish that much in his lifetime, why can’t all of us? Get working!

Filed under: Interesting Thoughts, , , ,

The awesome customer service rolls on!

Last week, the Petro household ran out of our fantastic carpet cleaner. You’re probably thinking, “You guys don’t have kids, why do you need carpet cleaner?” Well, we have cats. Two of them. They’re great cats, but they tend to hack up hairballs at interesting locations which are almost always carpeted.

In order to combat the hairball puke, we have carpet cleaner which we got from A-1 Carpet Service, the most awesome carpet and upholstery cleaning service in the Valley. Whenever they come to clean our carpets, they leave us with some cleaner solution. Unfortunately, we ran out and we don’t have plans for them to come out anytime soon, so I headed over to their office after work on Thursday.

I arrived a little after 5:00pm, which turns out to be when they close up and go home. Luckily, one of the office ladies was standing outside. I told her that I just needed to get some more cleaner. Despite it being past the end of her day, she gladly let me into the office and sold me a full gallon of cleaner.

Not only does A-1 do a fantastic job cleaning carpets, even their office employees really go out of their way to make customers happy. This kind of customer service doesn’t happen by accident. It happens when a leader creates a great organization in which all employees care about the success of the company and feel that their contribution really matters. Even if it means staying a few extra minutes to help out a late customer.

Filed under: Customer Service

Golfing across the generations

This past week, I was golfing as part of my summer golf league. My dad and I are on the same team in the league, so we were golfing together. Rounding out our foursome were a pair of guys from another team.

One of the guys from the other team told us that he’d been golfing a few weeks ago at another course, and he’d played along with a father and son. The son was 74 and the father was 98.

When my dad is 98, I’ll be 71. I sure hope we can still go out and shoot 18 holes then. Heck, I’d even be happy with 9.

Filed under: Life's Adventures

More customer service done awesomely

Apparently I’m on a crusade to highlight good customer service. I didn’t really intend to set out on such an adventure, but I recently was on the receiving end of more awesome customer service, so I had to let it be known.

Larry is our landscaper guy. He was recommended to us by our neighbors and he’s been great. He runs his own one-man operation, so he’s busier than a one-legged guy at…you get the point. Anyway, he recently came over to trim and clean up plants in our front yard. Not only did he charge a reasonable price, he came when he said he would, did a great job trimming the plants and cleaned up so well, our yard looked better than before his visit.

To top off the awesomeness, he called up in the evening to ask if I was satisfied with the job he’d done. He didn’t need to do that…I’d already paid him and I’m sure he knew he’d done a great job. But he did. Why? Because maintaining contact with customers, even happy ones, requires very little effort but goes a long way towards cementing customer loyalty. Obviously, Larry gets that.

Filed under: Customer Service, ,

Customer service done awesomely

Lately, it seems that atrocious customer service is becoming far more commonplace than it should. Tyler Hurst’s Alaska Air phone service debacle (blog post), Tonia M. Bartz’s encounter with new levels of douchebaggery at Biddulph Mazda (blog post and Yelp review) and the terrible start to Michael J. Barber’s vacation, thanks to customer disservice by US Airways (blog post) are all recent examples of customer service agents completely failing in their jobs.

I wanted to counter all of this with a post that highlights not only good customer service, but awesome customer service. The target of my anti-rant: Tony Sibley at Centennial Leasing & Sales. Centennial is an auto buying service and Tony is one of their sales agents. I’ve bought both of my family’s cars through him, as have my parents. I’ve recommended him to every single friend and relative who’s looking to buy a car, and I wouldn’t buy a car from anyone else.

Why am I so devoted to Tony and his skills? Awesome customer service, that’s why. Tony treats every single customer as he would like to be treated. He and his staff do everything they can to make something which most of us consider to be an unpleasant chore into a painless and easy event.

The brilliance with which Tony serves his customers is difficult if not impossible to capture in words, but the results speak for themselves. He’s built a career on providing awesome customer service.

No matter your profession or industry, follow Tony’s example and take care of customers the best you can. They’re the most important part of your job.

Filed under: Customer Service, Interesting Thoughts, , , , ,

Windows 7 RC: good!

I installed Windows 7 RC tonight and my first impressions are very favorable. The installation was the easiest of any OS I’ve done, including some of the “friendly” Linux distros. I even set up a dual boot with my existing XP and the Win 7 installer handled it without missing a beat.

The installation process required as little human input as possible. It asked which language and locale I wanted to use,  which time zone I was in and which partition to install on. After that, it did everything on its own. I was even worried that I’d accidentally overwritten my XP partition, because nothing asked me how I wanted to format the free partition, etc, etc. Once the installation was complete, Win 7 was happily installed on my second partition and it had even set up a boot loader menu which defaulted to Win 7, but had an entry for my previous XP instance.

The initial experience with Win 7 is pretty good. There were no device driver issues…everything just worked. It played nice with SAMBA shares on my network and IE 8 let me browse away. I’ve already installed AVG antivirus and iTunes, and my iPod is syncing as I type this.

So far, Microsoft gets a big thumbs up from me!

Filed under: Life's Adventures, , ,

Why OSS is higher quality software than proprietary

Open source software and proprietary software have been duking it out in the public arena for many years now…observe the competition between Linux and Windows, Firefox and Internet Explorer, OpenOffice and Microsoft Office. Many people consider open source software products to be higher quality than their closed source counterparts. The definition of “higher quality” is certainly broad and can mean many different things (quality of user experience, code quality, software stability, security, performance, etc), but I think that many open source products come out on top in many of these measures. Why?

I believe that the difference is in the intentions and motivation behind the creation of these products. The actual act of creating all software comes down to architects, developers and testers. In a closed source corporate setting, many of these people are doing their job because they’ve been told to, not because they believe in what they’re creating or because they have a personal stake in creating the best software they can. In open source, everyone who’s working on the product are doing so because they want to.

When people want to put the effort into doing something, they will do their best. When they’re told to do something, they won’t. The difference between open source and proprietary software is basic human nature.

Filed under: Interesting Thoughts, , , , ,

Chrome OS=Mac netbook?

Will Chrome OS prompt Apple to create a Mac netbook in order to fend off Google? Maybe. While netbooks have mostly been underpowered little laptops which often have weird design flaws (buttons on the side of the trackpad), Chrome OS seems to be positioned to turn netbooks into highly effective thin clients which efficiently run web apps.

I think it’s obvious that Google’s goal is to make the client side as thin and irrelevant as possible, while pulling more user data and apps into the cloud. If Google can use Chrome OS to make Internet computing the de facto standard 5 to 7 years from now, Apple and Microsoft will find themselves in a corner which is difficult to get out of.

As a developer, I don’t see that many computationally intensive tasks will move to the cloud anytime soon. Apps like Eclipse and Photoshop aren’t going to get away from the desktop, at least not in the foreseeable future. But, the vast majority of users don’t do computationally intensive things. Even today, most things the average user does can be delivered via web apps, especially if the user is on an efficient, lightweight platform which is built to run web apps, instead of desktop apps.

If Apple isn’t thinking about how to get users to access their data and apps via a Mac netbook device, they probably should be.

Filed under: Interesting Thoughts, , , , ,

Solo Cafe thrives, economy be damned!

I visited Solo Cafe in Tempe this morning with my awesome friend Tonia; they’d just completed a redesign of the store and we wanted to check it out. The place looked great and the new furniture layout helped to open up the space. On the back wall they’ve added a large mural, which really adds to the upscale eclectic vibe of the place.

Solo Cafe's snazzy new mural

Solo Cafe's snazzy new mural

We chatted with Chad, one of the owners about the facelift and upcoming plans…they’re adding a kitchen in anticipation of offering a food menu. All of this is happening because business has been great for them.

Solo Cafe has been open since the beginning of 2008. In the time since then, the economy has gone down the drain, people have complained about the damage done to small business when consumers quit spending and the government has spent billions to bail out big companies while doing very little for small independents. Yet Solo has thrived through all of this. Why? Because their product is great and they’ve made smart decisions; two foundations on which all successful businesses are based.

The lesson here is that more people should quit whining about how much things suck right now and start paying attention to the basics. Be smart and do whatever it is you do well.

Filed under: Life's Adventures

Wacko Jacko and the media

I find it funny and incredibly ironic that the same media outlets which used to offer sensational headlines that referred to Michael Jackson as “Wacko Jacko” are now, as Che said in Evita, falling over themselves to get all of the misery right. What does this say about media in America? What does this say about American culture?

Filed under: Interesting Thoughts, ,

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