Ever since Derrick Hall took over the reigns as president of the Arizona Diamondbacks he has made himself very accessible to the fans. Whether it be approaching him at the ballpark with a question or comment to making his email and phone number available so that anyone could contact him. The results of this openness is that the fan’s feel a stronger connection to the organization and that they have a vested interested in the molding their experience at the game. One of the more unique ways that Mr. Hall has provided for fans to ask questions is through his monthly chat on the Diamondbacks web site. This is always a good place to hang out and get a read on the pulse of the Diamondbacks fans and what is important to them. The chat is scheduled for the first Thursday of every month which according to my calendar is today.
As you can imagine, I am at the Diamondbacks web site quite often. That may be one of the greatest understatements in the history of mankind. I do not remember a day going by that I have not visited the Diamondbacks web site. It’s not that the Diamondbacks web site is my home page, nor even is it that I actually plan to go to the Diamondbacks web site I just happen to land on it at some point during the day. Being a regular visitor to their web page and having developed a few web sites during my career I understand why things are the way they are on the page but that doesn’t mean that I agree with their design or implementation decisions. The interface can be cumbersome and the page is way too busy. I’m also still amazed at how many of the old purple and teal logos I find hidden in the recesses of the web site, mostly in confirmation boxes or thank-you boxes. I am always shocked and a little disappointed since I know how much I worked to eliminate the old logo and colors from my web site and I would have expected the team to do the same.
The monthly chat is somewhat hidden unless you see a link on the front page. It is in the fan forum which I guess makes sense although I would have thought it made more sense to have it in the communications or contact us section since it is a form of communications with the team. The chat solution employed by the Diamondbacks and I would assume all of Major League Baseball’s web sites since the league has brought all the team web sites under one umbrella is based upon a Java application. I have nothing against Java, it is just that it does take quite a large footprint from a code perspective and in many cases this type of application is frowned upon by businesses leading it to be blocked my quite a few firewalls. This is the case at our work meaning it is impossible to launch the application while at the office. Chat is one of those things that is great when you are multi-tasking. You can post a question or two while you continue working on other things or during a long drawn out conference call (I find myself on a lot of those). But because of the Diamondbacks choice of technology I am unable to take advantage of that. Most people probably would shrug their shoulders and give up. I’m not like most people. For the longest time I tried various settings and tunneling effects to try and allow this content to be accepted through the firewall. Each of these resulted in failure. I then tried an alternate proxy server hoping I could set the configuration within that box without jeopardizing any security policies that had been put into place. Again my efforts were futile. You would think at that point I would give up but I didn’t. Instead I rearranged my work schedule so that the first Thursday of every month I would begin much earlier than normal so that I could be off by 2 PM in the afternoon. When people hear my unorthodox schedule for these dates every month the immediately come to the conclusion that I have a family commitment. In a manner of speaking they are correct since Chase Field does feel like my second home and I am part of a rare group of Diamondbacks fans that are closer than many families. I was pretty proud of myself for getting the stars and the planets to all align so that I could attend Derrick Hall’s chat. So just before 2:00 PM I made my way over to the Diamondbacks web site to enter the discussions. To my dismay the chat had been rescheduled for February 14th, next Thursday. This could be a problem. Not only am I going to have to find an excuse to be outside the office firewall boundaries for a second week but it is also Valentine’s Day. I have a sneaking suspicion that Trina is not going to understand when I take a partial day of vacation to be at Diamondbacks chat especially after I told her in no uncertain terms that it would not be possible for me to take that day off for us to spend together to celebrate Valentine’s Day. This is going to take some seriously creative writing to find an answer to this dilemma. I guess it’s a good thing I have a week to come up with something.