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SalvatoreM

I spend thousands for business software and get the same sucky service. Or worse. Its a shame and a crime. And these bastards know that they have us over a barrel, for the most part.

Antonio Maria

Hello Elaine,

Do you know WorPress? It seems a cool place to publish your stuff. I have been using it so far and I'm OK ;-)

http://wordpress.org/

Best,

a

Elaine Meinel Supkis

I know of Wordpress. But first, I must talk to my professional at-home staff. At least, they come home on weekends to visit. Will get a good site going in the next month. Can't wait.

Michael

Wordpress is great once you learn how to use it and modify it. Another advantage is that you can host your blog yourself without worrying about somebody changing things on you.

Michael

Also, the link to your new blog is broken, what's the URL?

WNC Observer

Elaine: Isn't this just symptomatic of something bigger going on? It seems like EVERYTHING is breaking down.

My gas range -- which, except for the electronic ignition is 19th century technology -- should, in my opinion, be so durable as to last a lifetime. Fifteen years on, it needs repairing. They try to sell me a new range instead - NO WAY I said. Two months and several service calls later, we are still waiting on parts, and the total bill is going to end up costing me just about as much as a new range would have.

At work, we have had two incidents of our DSL connection being down for A WEEK at a time. Trying to get the problem diagnosed and repaired was hell.

Nothing seems to be built to last anymore, the quality of products and services at all levels is crap. Fifteen years ago everyone seemed to be into quality improvement - why did that go by the wayside? Oh, I know, it required the fat cat CEOs to actually manage, and to do it in a humble way at that, so they just decided to ship all the manufacturing and call centers to Asia instead - those Asians are a lot better at that quality stuff.

Then we have the collapse of the entire financial system, the entire economy, and all the infrastructure (including, literally, bridges - which one would think might have been built and maintained in a way that would have precluded that from happening).

In the book "Seven Tomorrows", seven different scenarios for the future are described. I think that rather than the future following one of these pathways, our future moves between them as circumstances change. "Mature Calm" was the direction we were heading under Jimmy Carter. If we had continued on that pathway, non-renewable resource depletion would have eventually forced us down to "Living Within our Means" - difficult, but somewhat humane. Instead, with Reagan the attempt was made to force the US back on to the path of "The Official Future". This worked for a while, but there was no possible way it could be sustained. Thus, we recently have been in "The Center Holds" - Dick Cheney's corporatist, soft-authoritarian America. That is unsustainable too, so now we are starting to see what is the paradigm for the present moment: "Chronic Breakdown". In Chronic Breakdown, everything starts falling apart. The center doesn't hold. Nothing seems to work, including trillion dollar economic bailout plans.

This is our immediate future, but that won't last forever. Our longer-term future? "The Beginnings of Sorrow". Not quite a total collapse, but close.

The really sad thing is that if different, better choices had been made twenty or thirty years ago, we could have ended up in "Living Within Our Means". That still would have been a difficult, impoverished future, but one which would have been more liveable and far more desirable than what we are going to get. You see a lot of people posting here and at the other types of websites that many of your readers frequent that seem to be hoping that we can still end up in a "Living Within Our Means" scenario. I'd very much like to be there, too, but I don't see how we can overcome the consequences of choices previously made and head in that direction now. The only way might be for some sort of sudden mass conversion to a totally different way of thinking, along the lines of the one scenario I haven't yet mentioned: "Apocalyptic Transformation". The authors of "Seven Tomorrows" admitted that this was the least likely of all their scenarios. So that's it: we are reduced to hoping against hope for a miracle.

chrisb

Richard Stallman and others have spent a lot of time and energy building a software development model which can support the culture of life. Not surprisingly, the software produced this way tends to introduce changes which do not sacrifice the needs of current users to some goal of the developers or marketing organization.

http://www.fsf.org/

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html

chrisb

Wordpress is released under the GPL, Gnu Public License.

http://codex.wordpress.org/License

It is very likely that wordpress will support the culture of life.


pirate of seven seas

big bro is watching you...

Ed-M

Elaine, I also frequent James Howard kunstler's blog, "Clusterfuck Nation," which is hosted by Typepad. It seems each week there are not a few comment posters who also have complaints about Typepad (Mr. Kunstler himself is mum on the subject). Some of them call it TYPOPAD!!!!!

Amos Satterlee

There does seem to be a link between planned-obsolescence economy and systemic financial mal- and nonfeasance.

With products, nevermind about past mistakes, replace them. It's all a process of "improvement" and only fools and fogeys wouldn't want the latest and best-est. There is a misallocation of accountability. Responsibility for what's been done is replaced by responsibility for what may be coming. It has reached hyper proportions in internet time -- release early and often. In other words, if you move fast enough, the past can't catch up to you.

Sounds like what the financial folks tried to do.

Amos Satterlee

You might want to check with Barry Ritholtz. He just moved from Typepad to Word Press.
www.ritholtz.com

Paul S

"Living within our means". It absolutely amazes me that Repubs can go around telling the taxpayer to do that. Let's see... wasn't it Cheney who said deficits don't matter? Yes it was. Isn't "Dubaya" THE biggest deficit spending President in history? Yes he is. And yet, the Repubs have the chutzpah to preach living within one's means. It shows how divorced from reality those in Washington DC really are. The Dems aren't much better, but WHEN will people figure out that the Repubs are the party of corporate interests? Exxon-Mobil just announced their latest and biggest quarterly profit, yet the oil companies STILL "deserve" government handouts. WTF!?

chorddog

Hi Elaine,
I sympathize. I have come to treat my computer as an organic entity; I don't swear at it, etc.

WNC Observer,
I agree with you about things breaking down. This past summer, T-Storms fried TWO of my DVD players!
I think that, nationally, our power-grid substructure is breaking down. I haven't measured, but I'll bet there are much bigger voltage swings in my household current, and other stuff(I'm don't know a lot about electronics).

The Utility Companies in the U.S. have spent the past 18 years trying to boost shareholder equity in the short term. The industry has a culture of discretion with salaries for execs(they have to tone down the pay because utilities still have to file publicly for rate increases with the individual states, which forces transparency).
So what they do is load up heavy with common stock options for senior management. So, rather than invest in new plant, a capitalized item that weighs down the balance sheet for many years, they buy power from each other and scoop up smaller companies with capital improvement money, emphasizing growth.

That translates into a higher P/E for shares, a higher stock price, and, consequently, much sweeter deferred comp packages NOW for management.

The trade-off is that as the electric power-generating infrastructure in our country becomes obsolete, Management retires, and leaves the aging plant to the next group of CEO's.

Nice.

blues

I was going to send you an email about this and had it half-composed, but then the trouble seemed to subside.... (Let's see if I can find it...)

Hi Elaine,

(from blues)

If you have to pack your cyberbags, I have some free leads (not quite "advice").

You need website software (CMS software). Wordpress and Drupal are the choices. Anyone who knows A LITTLE BIT more than I do about the .ftp communications protocol, etc., can set up a Wordpress site in maybe five minutes. For a Drupal site, which can do lots more, they must know a little about Php programming, MySql, etc. (which I don't). Wordpress can do quite a lot, however, and both CMS packages are free (as in free beer).

Now Wordpress has it's own "mysite.wordpress" server service, but you can easily migrate that to your own internet provider. But to do that, you of course need a domain name (URL). You can get one at any of the ISPs I suggest. The reallyfreespeech ISP currently offers the new ".name" domain names, WHICH WORK GREAT!!! You can use them at ISPs that do not themselves offer them. Get yours now while the supplies last! The reallyfreespeech outfit is super-reliable. But it uses a "membership" billing system, which is great, but seems odd at first glance. Get a "compatible" domain name (URL) RIGHT ******* NOW!!!

All website software (CMS software) has quirks. Obviously TypePad does, but so does SoapBlox. They both do the two worst things are when the software "translates" your code into some exotic dialect of QHTML+++, and when it replaces real links with Php active scripts, which do all kinds of mischief. The technosphere is now crashing now. Just like the "economic" (really pecuniology) world, all kinds of fancy exotic garbage has been added to everything. Good luck voting on those Vista machines! Of course the real tech people are not allowed to interact too much with the public. I know, because I repaired electronic stuff for years.

The reallyfreespeech people seem to be very trustworthy, but it's a small company (like one guy and maybe a couple assistants). And they charge pay-per-gigabyte, and many customers pay $0.25 a month. But I've heard that if you have a ton of readers, it can add up. And there is very little limited support, and there is some tiny thing about WordPress that has to be set properly to use their service. But you can instantly get a lot of domain names (the ".name" ULD has been "untangled" and I use it myself) for $7 a year and use them anywhere! Going by what I read, I might consider going with StartLogic. Beware of GoDaddy!!! A little secret just between you and me (Shhh): There are many service providers that offer a huge amount of bandwidth for very little, but if your site attracts enough readers to even begin to use it, things start to go, um, like wrong, y'know? Having been a techie for many years, I know the games sales plays with customers.

I have free hosting at WordPress dot org but am moving my PhpBB stuff to a WordPress site at WestHost (they had no problem letting me use the URL name from the other company, or running two sites at one account, even). They are out of Provo, Utah. They have reasonably good tech service, actual gas generator power backup, and a no-nonsense, solid, corporate approach. I have been with them for about three years but no one is interested in my blog, since my book is not there yet. (linguistics dot name, for the compulsively curios).

Well good luck! I hope your kid knows what he's doing!

blues

For all you WordPress enthusiasts out there, my (not quite up-to-date) version (WestHost is conservative, only gives out slightly old versions, runs with Red Hat), and apparently all versions, there is one quite mysterious gotcha: Whenever you try to make a double space (or is it two double spaces?), no matter how hard you try, it doesn't show! The code, with multiple { br }s, or whatever, remains, but it doesn't register with the browsers! But I found an even stranger solution - just put in:

{ p }{ font size="1" }{ /font }{ br / }
{ font size="1" }{ /font }{ /p }

Nothing else works! Nothing!!!

Buffalo Ken

"Nothing else works! Nothing!!!

Blues - You can't really know this for sure can you? (Ha Ha). Anyhow, it is interesting how the "derivative-sort-of-crazy-complicated" mindset manages to manifest in so many tangential ways....a coincidence I highly doubt. Regardless, stronger forces are coming into play.

Anyhow, maybe now is a good time to help Elaine out via the "tip jar". I did for the first time today and it was painless. Elaine - I hope you don't mind me saying this, but I appreciate this blog and I'm willing to contribute when I can.

Peace,
Ken

Elaine Meinel Supkis

Yes, spacing is always a problem, blues! I think it is because it is a door to the Outer Darkness. Nothingness! HAHAHA.

Gads.

Anyway, this latest irritation has finally driven me towards changing again. And maybe it is time to make a bigger home.

I am going to start doing videos, etc. So this requires MEGA data base holding systems and big, big changes. I don't want to use one of the free services like You Tube because they are hard to control and they can censor me, also, they all make money off of people using them.

I need total control. I appreciate all the advice here. Will not move my site until my kids advise me what to do. They are pros. They just live a distance away and we need to coordinate ourselves a bit.


Carlos

thought it was “Goodbye PINK pad!”

Carlos

thought it was “Goodbye PINK pad!”

Carlos

thought it was “Goodbye PINK pad!”

ginevra - TypePad Community Manager

hey there - let me know how I can help. I know some of the changes and challenges can be super-frustrating. I'm happy to talk whenever you'd like. You can email me directly at ginevra@sixapart.com.

Zulu

Put on a little Wagner, maybe "Ride of the Valkyrie's", have a few sips of a refreshing beverage, close your eyes, and see yourself riding victoriously over the helpdesk at Typepad, with your banner unfurled shouting "I will not be denied!"

Or perhaps just chill out a little.

Greg

Its that filthy bastard Mohammed Atta he has his filthy terrorist tentacles into typepad spreading fear and despair to all the bloggers!!!!

;)

Jake

Hey Ginerva, while you're here in the comments section maybe you can do something about the comments themselves. Why does TypePad look so terrible? It makes people NOT want to comment. Why have an email address bar? It makes people NOT want to comment. And the "please sign into to Type Key" is the worst, it looks like a requirement when it's allowed as an option. Just another thing that could make TypePad friendlier. The comments area always looks like shit. Elaine's is the friendliest I've seen and I'm sure she spent a lot of time making it look like this.

Elaine Meinel Supkis

Finally after I yelled and yelled in private, Typepad contacts me.

I sent this lady a blistering email. And suggested she hire me to run customer services. HAHAHA. Well, they won't hire me as a consultant for training staff.

I suggested darkly, there are ways of running things so they don't have customers always interfacing with computer programmers. Computer programmers are not good interface people. Indeed, they are often clueless about situations.

I even demanded the computer geeks pass my complaints to the owners of this business. THEY DID NOT DO THIS AT ALL. A direct order was ignored!

Blast it all! This is the fault of the people at the very top: they don't want to be bothered by hearing from customers! So they only hear when customers attack them in public?

What a crappy way to run a business.

Gary W

Yes! You have it right in the end! The support desk is there to protect the top management from irate customers, pacify them if possible, brush them off if not. Absolutely not to pass on complaints! No one wants to hear complaints! The ticket will be closed on specious grounds and the whole sequence of angry emails goes in the bin (been there, done that, still have the scars). They know everything, and if you don't like it, you can GAGF!

It might be a crappy way to run a business, but it is the leading model for most companies in the "information economy". As others have mentioned, they are all like this, and customers' only redress is to move on. And bad mouth them of course, but quite often, they go out of business because of poor customer relations, or other reasons, but the same people pop up in a new company with a new name! And the same scummy business practices.

As with most things that are wrong with computing and allied industries, I blame Bill Gates for crappy software and evil business practices. Esther Dyson made the very perceptive remark, a long time ago now, that Microsoft's greatest achievement was to lower people's expectations: they expect computers to go flaky, crash all the time, lose info, require nickel-and-diming and constant upgrading, not to mention the insulting and coercive business practices.

For the record, I have nearly 40 years experience with computers, and I'm well and truly over Windows. But the Web is a whole new compost heap for incompetents, creeps, and criminals. I oscillate between pining over its future collapse, and anticipating schadenfreude over the fate of the idiots, shonks and con-men who have bastardised the potential of computing. Rather like TV, actually.

But cheer up! Look what samizdat achieved!

Gary W

The only way to have total control is to host your stuff yourself, meaning, we all connect to your computer in your home (not like villains, only as you determine). Otherwise, you are subject to the whims of halfwits and drones whose interest in your service is limited to collecting your monthly payment.

That of course is an order of magnitude more complex (witness the proliferation of companies set up to do just that, on behalf of the less technically inclined), and sadly, you are still subject to the weaknesses and failings of the ISPs and the telcos. Still, that is characteristic of the whole Internet :-)

But it is a useful perspective: review any plans in the light of doing it all yourself, and see if you can find a balance between cost, convenience, and reliability. And the all-important control.

blues

Really the only way to have real control is to build your own server. In fact, you really need to consider making your own chips. :) :) :)

Actually, I am not as far from that point as you might imagine. I've already firmly estimated that there will be insufficient hard and focused energy in the post-economic future to refine semiconductor material. But you could blow glass with concentrated sunlight, and make vacuum tubes with simple triode structures that would effectively be integrated circuits. The old computers used to use tubes, but they were ridiculous, always burning out. The electrons in tubes tear everything apart, even the nickel they used. But that doesn't happen if you just use low voltage, at say 12 Volts. Old auto radios used to have these and THEY NEVER WORE OUT! (A vacuum has a "barrier voltage" below which you cannot go, of maybe 0.5V).

Ages ago I learned Pascal in school, then C on my own, which would have been helpful except my typing is terrible. But from looking at C language, well, I saw the disaster coming. I still use Windows 98. Everybody with XP, or Vista has to worry about viruses. Their computer suddenly gets slow, and they aren't out of disk space. Something's in there! Whenever that happens, I just start up in DOS and run a little program that zaps everything! Then If I run an anti-virus, it probably won't be able to hide. You see, I am already preparing for the post-economic era.

I was in electronics for maybe 30 years. First of all the sales people? They were born with lies in their mouths and they love to pretend they know more than the techs and engineers, by using BUZZWORDS! We would wait for them to leave and then laugh ourselves to death! Unbelievable performances, people who don't have the faintest glimmer of understanding pretending to know everything. It gives politics a whole different look.

The techs and engineers? They DID actually know all about how the old Black Magic worked (the 50% that were competent). So when the damn customers called, it was just sheep to the slaughter. They didn't know any more than the sales people. We are in charge here, and a little obfuscation will do you some good!

True story. One time things got hard, and I had to take a desperately awful job doing absurdly simple stuff. "Nobody knew" that I knew everything about why everything was done as it was, right down to the metallurgy. (After they layed me off, I meet their electrician — I was the only one who didn't know that everybody knew — creepy!!!) So they had this engineer who was way up the ladder, being the distant uncle of the owner. Only I realized that he had absolutely no understanding of what he was doing — like, ZERO! Since this was a basement-bottom crap job, my boss was like this oriental God (they seem to have the scariest ones), and I looked up into his transcendent face, and pronounced the awful words "has no idea what he is doing..." It was like Halloween on steroids!

I bet some think I'm fresh out of stories. Not! I once did tech stuff (I always was dealing with weird experimental stuff, seldom just fixing radios) for "one of the THREE BIG Japanese firms." You never head the name!!! (You can't make this up.) This one was a microwave deal, involving geosynchronous satellites. They had this chip that ran at 300Ghz (mid-80's!!!), and the hottest satellite receiver ever (not to be confused with the ground-com version). We sold complete systems to receive all kinds of stuff from satellites, and we could even hear intercontinental phone conversations with them anytime. So, I wrote the operating manual. Turned out I became suddenly very popular with the customers. They LOVED the manual, and as soon as word got out that I wrote it, they all needed to talk to me, not sales! Cult Hero Status! Plus I was the only techie who ever gave them an even break. What next. I was hauled before Japan's own version of God, and became the first American they ever fired. Years later I'm working at an even much more exotic microwave job, and I run into the Japanese God at a show in Las Vegas. The LOOK, "You monstrous filthy rat! You FAILED to disembowel yourself!!!"

So much for my customer service career. You don't want to know how long it took me to type this. I am just so astonished at this world.

blues

One of the biggest companies on earth, probably much much much bigger than, say, Sony.

http://www.itochu.co.jp/main/coy/coy_3e.html

They have the big ships.

Buffalo Ken

Hey Blues (with a capital "B") - Please keep telling your stories. Thanks.

Peace,
Ken

Buffalo Ken

Incidently - Just for "insurance", I'm also trying to "plan ahead for future contingencies". Amongst many other "things", I have four 1250-Watt Power Inverters that can peak up to 3000 watts or something like that. Enough to run a small freezer if I have the batteries (damn those batteries!).

But hell, I could run a bunch of microwave ovens with these things. "Astonishment" is what makes the world go round I reckon.

Plus, I'm not sure the "engineers" really have any desire to obfuscate - there has been way too much of that lately.

Peace,
Ken

Buffalo Ken

Actually each one of the inverters is enough to run a small freezer. The four of them wired together properly could easily be sufficent for a small home for a family of four.

Something like this --- centralized in a small-scale manner (20 homes or so) --- could be very energy efficient and probably easily setup in a long-term sustainable inexpensive low maintenance way. A "batterybank" might be part of the arrangement. Some "new energy" ideas (such as "sodium") could be critical for success.

Peace,
Ken

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Deflation hits Ireland


Ireland's consumer prices fell 2.6 per cent in March from a year ago, the sharpest rate of deflation since 1933, when the world was struggling through the Great Depression, official figures showed yesterday.

The March rate accelerated from an annual deflation rate of 1.7 per cent in February, the Central Statistics Office said. The report said there was no change in prices from February to March, which are now at August 2007 levels.

Ireland's deflation began in January and reflects the country's sudden fall into a deep recession.

The country last suffered from deflation in 1960.

Although lower prices can help spending and exports, deflation can be damaging for an economy if prices enter a downward spiral - consumers hold off buying items on expectations they will become cheaper, pushing retailers to cut prices to encourage spending, and so on.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, when announcing an emergency budget on Wednesday to trim 3.25 billion ($7.32 billion) from Ireland's ballooning deficit, said the Government expected deflation to average 4 per cent in 2009.

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