A Critic of Marketing Repents

During the late 1980s, I was attending university and living on the beach in San Diego.  My studies required me to spend a considerable amount of time on the beach (ahem!) and I started using a sunscreen product from Neutrogena.  The sunscreen had the requisite SPF 30, but I liked it because 

it had a great texture and felt good for my skin.  To me, it seemed more like a skincare product than the typical sunscreen lotions and oils I used to use.  It sold for around USD7.00 for a 30ml tube.

I remember once going to buy more but was unable to find it in the sunscreen section.  However, I noticed a very similar-looking product in the cosmetic section.  The similar product was being sold as a face cream, which also had SPF 30.  The price was comparable to the other face creams around it, which was about three times as much as the price of the sunscreen product. Continue reading “A Critic of Marketing Repents”

November 2017 Writing Roundup

Each month I summarize my work during the previous month.  It is my hope that by pausing to reflect on my activities and reviewing my progress that I can learn how to do better in the future.

bangkokbeachtelecom.com Monthly Traffic ReportAfter stellar performances in September and October, I pressed pause just a bit in November.  I spent a liitle less time writing, and a bit more time on some housekeeping duties.

Amonth those duties was to begin tweeting Tips for improving your LinkedIn Profile, which I tweet throughout the day.  Follow @telecomvoices on Twitter to see them in your twitter feed.  Click here to see an example. Continue reading “November 2017 Writing Roundup”

5 Myths about Automated Excel Telecom Dashboards

I spend a lot of time talking about Automated Excel Telecom Dashboards.  Why?  Because they have made a tremendous difference for me.  There are 4 main benefits.

Automated Excel Telecom Dashboards
Automated Excel Telecom Dashboards
  1. Save your time by instantly updating periodic charts, graphs, and reports
  2. Declutter your brain to focus only on important business metrics
  3. Maintain laser-focus on the important metrics in your area
  4. Make you the “go to” person for your team and department

But many people don’t believe Automated Excel Telecom Dashboards are even possible.  Like there is something magical about them that puts them beyond the reach of mere mortals.   Here are 5 common myths some people believe about Automated Excel Telecom Dashboards. Continue reading “5 Myths about Automated Excel Telecom Dashboards”

Historical Forecasts for Your BTS Project Tracker

In writing about Historical Forecasts I want to know if you’ve been following this series?  I’ve written in detail about all the steps to put together a project tracker that was easy to update, quick to use, and did most of the work automatically.  It’s my strong belief that any Excel Workbook which you use frequently should conform to my 3-step Mantra: Update, Refresh, Share.

Historical Forecasts in Excel BTS Project TrackerWhat this means is that you have to do a little more work up-front, in designing and building the workbook.  This up-front work gives you automation.  So that when you use the workbook, all you have to do is enter any updates, refresh the pivot tables, and that’s it, you’re ready to share the new data.  No additional or separate steps are required to update any charts or other workbook elements.  It’s all done for you automatically!  Update, Refresh, Share!

The point of this mantra is that Excel can do most of the work for you if you set up the Workbook properly.  I use this approach throughout this series of articles to show you how to do that.  It does take a little extra work at the start.  But the payoff is a fully automated workbook which is very quick to use.

And after you’ve used these techniques a few times, two things will happen. First, it will become much easier for you to implement other Excel trackers and dashboards using these techniques.  It won’t be long before you are implementing these automated workbooks faster than you read my articles about them.  Continue reading “Historical Forecasts for Your BTS Project Tracker”

Single mod_perl Instance Serving Multiple Domains

I manage several low-traffic websites sites.  These sites use the classic 2-server Apache/mod_perl architecture.  The front-end server is a light Apache instance hosting a WordPress blog.  The heavy, back-end server is mod_perl-enabled Apache serving various web applications I’ve created.

To the best of my understanding, mod_perl/Apache can only set-up and cache a single database connection.  Is that right? Only one database connection per mod_perl instance?

But my applications need to access several databases.  All the databases are hosted on a single instance of MySQL.  I’ve set it up to use that single cached database connection, and also distinguish requests from the different front-end domains.  Lastly, I’m experiencing a problem using $r->push_handlers.  Let me tell you about it and ask for your feedback. First, the set up. Continue reading “Single mod_perl Instance Serving Multiple Domains”

Excel BTS Project Tracker – Forecasting

When I first began writing this article, I set out to create a Project Dashboard; a self-updating, all singing, all dancing dashboard that would automatically reveal everything anyone might possibly want to know about this project.  Having such a Dashboard would have fabulous consequences.  Like shortening all the project status meetings because the answer to every question is right there in front of you.  Like having an up-to-date Dashboard about 3 seconds after applying the most recent updates.  Like having a ready-made slide for the monthly or quarterly management presentation.

Having an automatically and instantly updating Project Dashboard is like a superpower.  It’s like X-ray vision.  It’s like bringing a gun to a knife fight.  You’ll crush all the status meetings.   Even if the project is running late, having all the answers is the best way to approach any situation.   People will begin to look at you as an expert. They will start to ask you unrelated questions.  I suggest you have your superhero cape dry-cleaned in advance.

But that will be on a later day.  One of the first things I wanted to add to the Dashboard was a project completion forecast.   But I haven’t made one, yet.  So that’s what I’ll do in this article, give the Project Tracker a forecast.  I’ll show you a couple new Excel functions to implement forecasting, and once again I’ll achieve complete automation in the BTS Project Tracker. Continue reading “Excel BTS Project Tracker – Forecasting”

October 2017 Writing Roundup

Each month I summarize my work during the previous month.  I hope that by pausing to reflect on my activities and reviewing my progress that I can learn how to do better in the future.

bangkokbeachtelecom.com Monthly Traffic ReportOctober traffic increased quite a bit, more than double September!   Makes me happy because it means more of you are reading and sharing what I’m writing.  I hope it also means you are getting more value and useful information from me.  Comment if you agree or if you’d like me to write about something specific.

Getting more of your comments and feedback is the thing I need to work on the most.  Engagement.  Right now, mostly I’m broadcasting.  I write and you read.  This is probably a result of my writing style.  I suspect I’ve too many years of reading and writing dry, technical documentation, having no plot, no hero, no winner and too little interest in feedback from the reader.   I’m trying to change my approach.  Please feel free to offer your suggestions. Continue reading “October 2017 Writing Roundup”

Microsoft Excel for Telecom Managers

An interesting question was posted over on Stack Overflow recently.  The question presented a challenge which I’ll paraphrase thus: Based upon the accompanying billing system data, how would you use Excel to list the Base Station generating the highest revenue by Area, Region, and Product?Excel for Telecom Managers

First, let’s pause for a moment of thanks that this challenge gives us a chance to deal with money, with revenue.  Engineers are far too infrequently exposed to this side of the business.  Sure, we get to dabble in financial assets for budgeting and invoice processing.  But otherwise, the Finance and Accounting departments conspire to keep a wide gap between us and money. I wonder why that is? Continue reading “Microsoft Excel for Telecom Managers”

2G Network Decommissioning, Ready?

The idea of 2G Network decommissioning is hot right now.  Many operators still operate 2G networks.  They’re wondering when is the right time to turn it off.  I want to use this article to share my experience.  I did a 2G Network Decommissioning analysis for an operator awhile back.  It is a complex topic, with a many moving parts.  This might easily be made into a continuing series of articles. 

Zahid Ghadialy from the 3G4G Blog got me thinking about this with his article 2G / 3G Switch Off: A Tale of Two Worlds.  His write-up focused on differences caused by market demographics.  In this article, I’ve confronted that issue indirectly, through the impact on Churn a forced migration can have.  The magnitude of the impact will be different in every market. Continue reading “2G Network Decommissioning, Ready?”

Excel BTS Project Tracker – Dynamic Named Ranges

We’ve never met before. But I already know a lot about you. You probably work in technology, maybe in a Mobile Network RAN. You already use Microsoft Excel, and you’d like to get better at it. You are not a manager and don’t have a team of people to supervise or manage. Lastly, you want to get more out of your career.

How do I know all these things about you? I didn’t sleep at 221B Baker Street last night, but I do read and watch a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories. Seriously, I’ve shared this article to Telecoms and Excel groups, where Telecoms professionals and people trying to improve their Excel skills hang out. So you’re probably one of them.

And what about not being a Manager, was I right about that? That was easy, it’s a trick question: when was the last time you met any manager who thought there was anything they didn’t already know? Hah!

About getting more from your career, what else should I expect from someone scouring technology groups and blogs trying to learn new skills?

This article will cover one of Excel’s most useful and most difficult topics: Dynamic Named Ranges. I’ve talked about Named Ranges before, how they make your formulas easier to read and to update. Dynamic Named Ranges give you a way to automatically re-size ranges as your dataset changes. Two places where this is often done is with Charts and with Print Areas. In this article, I’ll show you have a Dynamic Named Range can automate the data displayed in your charts. The result is one less step whenever you update the Project Tracker. Continue reading “Excel BTS Project Tracker – Dynamic Named Ranges”