One *hot* Goldie

Talk about timing. About a year ago, I had put away a “one-of-a-kind” Paul Reed Smith Goldtop McCarty with a Brazilian Rosewood Neck (not just fret board, but the ENTIRE neck). There was a run of 250 of these guitars in 1999. This guitar is *not* part of that run. It’s not numbered, other than the serial number. All of the 250 guitars made for the run were supposed to have opaque stained tops, to see the wood below. This is the only one that has a solid painted top. Ok, enough gushing about my toy…

On with the story…

I finally paid the guitar off a couple of weeks ago. Upon jumping for joy, I posted the fact that I had brought it home on the Birds and Moons forum. (It’s a forum for PRS guitar fans) The owner who sold it to the store sent me an email , congratulating me, and telling a bit more of the ‘back story’ on the guitar. It seems that the guitar had originally been sold on e-Bay by a man named Michael Green. Michael had been selling guitars for a friend of his who worked for Paul Reed Smith Guitars. It turns out that Mr. Green’s friend had been stealing the guitars. A news story in the Baltimore Sun mentioned Mr. Green and the stolen guitars.

Finding this information out horrified me! After seeing the story on the Sun’s web site, I immediately contacted PRS. I know that if someone had stolen one of *my* guitars, I want to get it returned, or at least accounted for. PRS’s customer support back in touch with me, in which I emailed them the e-Bay auction number, photographs and the serial number. It seems that I *do* have one of the stolen guitars. Fortunately, the trial was quick. A follow-up story stated that about half of the guitars were recovered and the thieves were pay for the remainder of the total value. After PRS customer support learned that the matter had been settled, they stated that I now own a *legitimate* guitar.

Thank goodness, because this is one of the best guitars I’ve *EVER* played.

Some companies that have been truly impressive lately

Recently, I’ve run across some companies that have turned me into a Raving Fan. So, in the spirit of Raving Fans, let me tell you who these companies are and why I’m raving… (raving is a good thing!)

First up, Border’s Books. What’s so special about Border’s? First off, they’ve created a nice rewards system called Border’s Rewards. This is a *free* discount system. The discounts are a little bit convoluted, but the card is free, and you can earn discounts fairly quickly. It has a nice website where you can see what you are spending, and your current rewards. But what *really* earns a raving fan is this… Border’s Stores. What makes Border’s Stores interesting is that you can find out which stores have a book you are looking for. Yes, many companies have online store inventories… but Border’s goes as far as allowing you to request that the store hold the book for you, up to 3 days! I just used the Rewards and Stores services recently. I had wanted to buy a book, but I wanted to see it first. Found out that one of the local Border’s had the book in stock. Placed a hold on the book through the internet, got a nice response back, then three days later walked into the store and picked up my book. All without having to wait on the phone.

The second company that I’d like to Rave about is Line 6. Line 6 makes musical equipment, specifically, guitar and bass amps, sound processors, and instruments. What makes these guys stand head and shoulders above the rest of the industry is that they specialize in *only* these items. So, to keep their market share, they have come up with incredible software to interface with their devices. Few other musical instrument companies provide nice editing tools. Line 6’s tools look like the things they model, and react according to the user’s changes on the screen, in real time. Plus, Line 6 updates the software constantly (slowly, yes, but constantly). They listen to what their users are requesting, and have figured out how to put most of the requests in. That’s brought them up to being the 3rd largest amp maker in the country.

Sometimes, you just realize that’s it’s little things that can make or break a company. It’s all about making life easier for the customer. In my previous two examples, both reasons they get a raving fan is because they make my life easier. Border’s doesn’t make me wait on the phone to put aside a book I want, and Line 6 doesn’t make me reach to the floor to adjust my guitar pedals. Little things, but they make a huge difference. I’m willing to spend more at the book store, and can live with a ‘non-tube’ sound for convenience.

Ok, enough product rambling, more technical blogs to come.

I’m staying with my company

I have rarely discussed the company that I work for, other than saying a lot of good things about where I work. A couple of weeks ago, I was being a little bit critical, as the direction of the company has been changing, and I had thought it might be time to move on.

Fortunately, I changed my mind.

I think I am getting to a point where I need to grow a bit (or grow *up* a bit). I love to code, but I have always been critical of my skills and/or productivity. Plus, I’d like to make a little bit more. To meet these goals, it has become time to look at different options. My company is definitely helping me to explore those options, as I’ve become more of a programmer who can analyze a business instead of just a programmer. I hope to move on to being a business architect of some sort, and who knows where that can lead to. My goal of Chief Software Architect has a nice ring to it… <grin>

So, I apologize for being little bit critical of a situation where I didn’t have all of the information. Thanks to everyone who helped me figure some stuff out!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks

Yes, even though Work 2007 allows me to blog easier, I haven’t had a lot of time to put thing into words lately. A *lot* has been going on lately, which has kept me away from writing.

First off, my friend Trish’s mother was in the hospital for a week. The surgery went well, but she had to stay in the ICU at the hospital for almost the entire time. That was very rough on Trish, as she was with her mom constantly. Fortunately, her mom is doing much better, but it still was a very stressful couple of weeks.

Second, I did something that I had promised I would *not* do. I bought another guitar. See my photo gallery for pictures. Why, you ask? Isn’t 1 + 1 on layaway enough? Well, yes and no. When I purchased my blue guitar, I traded *all* of my electric guitars for this one very special guitar. In my haste to bring home the blue one, I sold one guitar that I wasn’t really wanting to get rid of. Unfortunately, I did sell it, and have regretted selling that guitar almost immediately. That was 3 years ago. I soon started watching for a guitar to replace my stupidity. Last Friday, the perfect deal came up. A gentleman had posted one for sale with the *exact* specifications of my old one. He posted it for sale at 7 am. I was very fortunate to be checking up on the ‘For Sale’ items of Birds and Moons (the PRS guitar fan club) at 7:10 am. I quickly shot off an email to the gentleman stating that I would take it, no haggling, nothing. I’m glad I did, because 4 other people responded within an hour to try to buy that guitar. My new guitar arrived on Friday, and I don’t think I’ve put it down since… <grin>

An aside to the new guitar story… The first thing that I had done to the guitar was have a guitar tech do a setup on the guitar. The neck was bowed and the wrong gauge strings were on it. It was $30 well spent, as it went from a difficult playing guitar, to one of the best playing guitars I’ve ever owned.

Third, the company that I work for is still going through changes. My old boss left recently, and the type of work is changing. I’m not sure that I want to move in the new direction, as it is less programming and more using highly specialized programs. I have started testing the waters lately to see what is available. Fortunately, there seems to be quite a few .NET jobs in my area.