Life & Tech

~things that matter~

NYC Blackout!

After a long flight, checked into the room on the 40th floor and then, the power went out. With lights still out after 30 minutes, decided to take the elevator and come down. Unfortunately, that was the last one before the fire department sealed the elevators for the evening.

Ended up spending the next 5 hours or so on the streets with everyone appearing so confused.

Looks like that blackout was far from imaginable.

Back in India and many developing countries, a power outage is something taken for granted. I once found it funny when a colleague from South Africa was explaining to my North American colleagues what “load-shedding” was. And they were pretty curious as well as surprised to hear such a thing existed.

No wonder I found this reflecting in product design where most Wi-Fi smart plugs did not have a concept of retrying connection after a power outage. I found just one brand (Indian) that had taken this into consideration.

Let’s Magento!

Adobe’s acquisition of Magento was of particular interest to me mainly because it was PHP+MySQL (finally!) that I loved to play around with.

Magento is an open-source e-commerce platform written in PHP. In simpler terms, Magento lets you easily build an eCommerce website – just like you would build a general-purpose website using open-source CMSs such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla or – a discussion forum using PHPBB.

We ran hands-on sessions for participants to learn what Magento was and to play around with basic setup and functionalities. The sessions were housefull and the feedbacks were delightful.
One verbal feedback was “you guys ran the session as if you were working with Magento day in and day out”.

Let’s Magento!

Meanwhile, here is what I would suggest for you to get started with Magento.
Magento is FREE to use, as before, and easy to get from However, hold on before you think you would straightaway download and hit ‘install’.

  • If you used a Linux web hosting with cPanel and stuff, look for package installers such as Softaculous or Fantastico. They are easy, auto-installation platforms provided to you for free (almost always). And you can try your hands on a variety of scripts and applications.
    My recommendation is to install Magento there and play around. A local setup might be a bit of a headache, based on what I encountered while setting it up in Windows laptops for the participants.
  • Still, if you want it on your machine, try using a packaged version from Bitnami rather than installing it on an AMP stack (such as XAMPP) on your machine. Do keep in mind the installation may still struggle around the need to run Cron (which is a Linux/Unix thing).
    Keep enough local resources for the installation to work.

If you are serious about using Magento for a project. Do look at the whole lot of businesses running on Magento, and try to relate each feature therein to a module (and feel free to review the PHP code underneath).

Finally, with Adobe in the game, I would expect an enhanced set of features and a relatively smoother, bug-free experience for everyone. We may expect versions with additional bells and whistles for enterprises.

Whether you are going to work with Shopify or Salesforce, a bit more e-commerce hands-on will not hurt. So, let’s Magento!

Will Adobe Launch slow my site down?

Will Adobe Launch (or Dynamic Tag Manager – DTM) slow my site down?

Well, a better question would be how much impact would it have on the page speed?

And the answer is: so much as you want.

Adobe Launch (and most other Tag Managers in the industry) are just containers with bare minimum code/methods to make it work. Code weight can increase as teams keep adding more and more custom functionalities into Launch and execute additional actions.

You want A/B testing or personalization by Target on the page, and you want it to load asap to avoid flickers, you would load Launch synchronously. And then your “preferred” speed test tool will complain of synchronous scripts that should be done away with.

The paranoia can drive you to optimize the wrong things. I have seen customers worrying after a browser debugger said 47% of code in the Adobe Launch library appeared redundant! (it’s the interpretation to blame)

What this means is, the tools do not always know what you want. And you need to decide whom to trust.

There are numerous other things you should optimize to make your site faster.

The above used an example of Adobe Launch or other TMSs like Tealium or Ensighten/GTM. However, apply common sense to every other marketing script you deploy on the digital property. Does it need to load synchronously? Can the number of network calls be minimized? Can we move some of these server-side?

How it “feels like”: If you deliver a great user experience right from the beginning while loading additional content in the background, and even pre-loading the probable next pages, you should not be penalized. Modern search engines understand UX well and the page load factor plays a minuscule role compared to your site’s likeability.

Reduce the number of network calls, the number of SSL handshakes (look at WebSDK in place of standalone libraries from Adobe), and whatnot. It’s not the goal of this post. There are great resources on Google and elsewhere.

A certain large automotive company’s website, on average, took 11 seconds to load in a particular market (with low average internet speed). Care must be taken to reduce those painful calls for resources than just Analytics. In fact, we helped them remove the libraries and have bare-bone custom functions to send data to Adobe Analytics. Something is better than nothing. Unless you have a transaction to make on that site, you would not wait for content that you can easily find elsewhere.

By the way, have you explored Event Forwarding on the Edge from Adobe? Or similar features with your preferred vendor? There are smart ways to send in data in a standard format, and apply a whole lot of logic before sending them to their destinations server-side.

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It could have been Blogsmith

The idea I submitted while at Aol was to make Blogsmith open source. While WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and whatnot are abundant in the market, a PHP-based CMS backed by a company like Aol would have been a game-changer; or at least that was what I hoped for.

Was glad to see upvotes on my idea. I wasn’t the only one then!

Years down the line, it’s WordPress all over (including a lot of Aol brands/acquisitions) and that doesn’t look like changing in the foreseeable future. Who knew WordPress would evolve so fast!

Blogsmith GIF, Courtesy: Greg Shuster @Behance

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The Broken Crystal

Had it not been for a broken trophy in the package, I would probably not have discovered the differences between Glass and Crystal. Do you know?

I was of the assumption crystal was the same as glass. However, as the broken edges of the Crystal Globe Award did not give a cut and neither were they sharp, I wondered if something must be fishy!

That being said, Crystal is a type of Glass with added minerals (mostly Lead) – and that give it distinguishable properties: strong, heavy, and smooth edges when shattered, along with decorative properties.

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Let’s get a Certificate!

Adobe Analytics has always been fun, and thanks to the wide range of complexities in customer implementations, there wasn’t a lot to prepare for the certification exam.

The exam was a piece of cake – and completed in less than half the time.

Feel free to reach out if you need some guidance for writing the exam. I would suggest going through at least one sample implementation (i.e. pick a large organization’s website and use some sort of a browser debugger to understand the code as well as the network calls).

If you have been involved in real implementations, I think you don’t need to prepare. You will appreciate the questions aim to test the skills rather than the memory.

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Deepak Ranjan Kar