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Monthly Archives: August 2010

NB Election September 27, 2010 – Get Out and Vote!

Published August 31, 2010 - 6 Comments

I’m sure that my readers from New Brunswick are already well aware of this, but September 27, 2010 is election day in the province! It’s time to get out and exercise your democratic right by casting your vote. I’m surprised by the general sense of apathy from my generation (and probably younger generations now) when it comes to voting. A good friend of mine is a political science major, and couldn’t be bothered to vote.  “It doesn’t matter who wins. They’ll all screw you.” is his philosophy. I understand the sentiment, but I’m disappointed that he feels that way. And he’s not alone. I won’t pretend to know what the number of non-voters are, but just in speaking to people I know, it can be more than a little disappointing.

I make no secret of the fact that I tend to vote Liberal in both federal and provincial elections. I find that their values are more in line with mine, although that certainly does not make them perfect! Far from it. On the federal side, I consider Michael Ignatieff to be a bit of an arrogant ass, and wildly out of touch with the people. As much as I am no fan of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, I don’t think that the federal Liberal party has any chance of winning an election any time soon with Ignatieff at the helm.

In the case of the provincial Liberal party, Premier Shawn Graham has all but ensured that they will sitting on the sidelines after this election. Of course that is only my opinion, but I will be absolutely shocked if they win a second term under his lackluster leadership.  Opponents of Graham immediately point to the debacle surrounding the proposed sale of NB Power to Hydro Quebec, and I do not disagree one bit.  The entire thing was mishandled right from the beginning, and New Brunswickers were left holding the bag.  Whether you agree with the idea of privatizing NB Power or not, it’s hard to deny that Graham’s poor leadership (and constant flip flopping) cost New Brunswickers dearly.

But for me, I look back even further at this government’s track record.  Remember the proposal to turn UNBSJ into a polytechnic school? I don’t hear anyone talking about that anymore, but I certainly remember it. I was completing the final few courses of my Bachelor of Business Administration at the time, and seriously wondering whether or not I was even going to have the opportunity to finish.  No one had ever heard of a polytechnic prior to that, and Shawn Graham did a poor job of explaining it.  In the end, he reversed the decision, and UNBSJ remains a proper university.  But it is this kind of reckless behaviour that bothers me about the current Liberal government.  Shawn Graham comes out of nowhere with an idea that does not make sense, does a piss poor job of explaining it to New Brunswickers, and then backtracks completely in the face of public opposition.  At the end of the day, we’re no further ahead, but have spent too much time and money on something that should never have been on the agenda to begin with.

Personally, I see my vote as a vote of non-confidence in the current government.  Can I, in good judgement, give Shawn Graham my personal stamp of approval for the last 4 years?  Do I feel that this party is the right choice to guide our province’s direction for the next 4 years?  The answer is no.

Agree? Disagree? What matters most is that you have a voice that deserves to be heard. On September 27, get out and vote for whichever party you feel most deserves it.

What the Hell is a Moshi Monster?

Published August 30, 2010 - 3 Comments

My kids came to me at the start of their summer vacation and asked me if they could get memberships to Moshi Monsters.  I hate to admit that I’m getting old.. I had no idea what Moshi Monsters were.  They patiently explained to me that they were computer monsters that they created and then could do things with.  Basically online pet monsters.  And sure, you could “play” for free, but there were limitations to the free accounts.  But that’s ok.. for $5.95 US/month, you can get a membership, unlocking different rooms and items for the Moshi Monsters to explore.  Of course, when you have 2 kids, then you need to accounts.. and 2 memberships.  I thought about it for a bit.  I’m trying to encourage them to use the netbooks that I gave them for Christmas last year.  They say that they love them, but they’re more likely to turn to the Wii when they’re looking for something to do, than their netbooks.  I totally understand it.  The Wii is fun, and very simple to use.  The netbooks have a steeper learning curve, but it’s one that I want them to tackle.  So anything that gets them using their netbooks is good, even if it is a silly little kids’ game.

Well now the end of the summer is quickly approaching, and I warned them that I would not be renewing their memberships when school started.  They said that they were fine with that, although I’m wondering what happens to the items that their Moshi Monsters accumulated under the membership accounts, when the accounts revert back to “free” status. Hopefully they don’t all disappear, but if they do… well, they were warned.  

So last time the kids were over, they started asking about Club Penguin.  Apparently it’s the same sort of thing.  I don’t know how many of these things exist, but they were asking whether or not they could have a membership to that too!

Yeah… go talk to your mother!  🙂

Balls of Steel: Man Stands in Front of a Line of Tanks

Published August 30, 2010 - 2 Comments

We’ve all seen this before… at least the picture.  It’s the famous “tank man”.  I don’t remember if I had seen the video, though.  I suspect that I had, but it’s certainly worth watching again. Mashable posted a list of 10 Incredibly Inspirational Moments on YouTube recently.  They start by saying YouTube isn’t just for kittens, cute kids, and confabulating celebrities. And it’s true!  Most YouTube clips that get sent around the office are funny stuff… or at least funny to someone.  But YouTube is much more than that.  I recently watched 2 videos on how to replace the broken screen on my iPhone.  It was enough to convince me that it might actually be possible for me to replace myself.  And when the repair kit arrives in the mail, you can be sure that I will sit in front of my computer and follow the instructions of one of those videos step by step.

Even if you don’t watch through the 10 videos (I did not.. not all of them) it’s worth checking them out.  Each one of them is definitely special in its own way, and a reminder of how far we’ve come.

Blog Outages – Lessons Learned

Published August 29, 2010 - 2 Comments

The recent blog outages have certainly driven home a couple of lessons.

  • Stay on top of the financials.  When you pay for a service on a yearly basis, it’s easy to forget to update your financial records if something changes.  In this case there was a change of credit card information that did not get updated with the service provider.  The wrong card was charged, and it all went downhill from there.
  • Verify contact information.  Not only was the wrong credit card on file, but I also noticed that a now-defunct email address was used as the contact information for all my websites.  This wasn’t really an issue this time, because I could quite clearly see that my account was in trouble, but had the service provider attempted to contact me through email, they wouldn’t have been able to.
  • Backup regularly and test the backups!  I used to have a plugin set to send me a weekly copy of my WordPress file that could be used to restore my blog to a previous point in the event of a catastrophic failure… like the one that I just had!  For some reason, I stopped using that plugin… probably because I was tired of getting the constant emails.  That was a mistake.  In theory I could have restored the blog, or have re-created it on another server.  PowWeb does have an automatic backup/restore option, but it does not include SQL databases, which makes it kinda useless for my needs.  Trust me, I tried it.  Twice.
  • Redundancy.  I mentioned this is in an earlier post, but I’ve heard of online marketers who use two separate webhosting services for their sites.  Only one can actively host a site at a time, but in the event of a failure, you can easily log in and redirect the DNS to point to the backup hosting service.  It’s an insurance policy.  I don’t really see myself requiring this until I start to make some money with this stuff… but it’s definitely worth keeping in mind.  Webhosting runs a little over $100 for the year, which is far less than I would have lost during these outages had this been my primary source of income.
  • The message must get through.  This is something that was drilled into my head years ago when I was part of the Communication Reserves.  You do whatever you have to, to make sure the message gets through.  I’m lucky.  In the case of WaS, most loyal readers are friends in real life and I was able to tell them what was going on through txt, email, or voice.  But it really hit home the need for an alternate channel to ensure that readers (and eventually consumers / clients) were informed.  I had been toying with the idea of adding a newsletter subscription service to the growing arsenal of tools.  Now, it’s an absolute high priority.  You can expect to see Aweber newsletter services offered here shortly.

Hopefully these outages are a thing of the past, but all things considered, the lessons learned have been a positive experience.  Better to go through these pains now, when the stakes are much lower.

Well, I Guess They Showed Me!

Published August 29, 2010 - 0 Comments

Right after I wrote that post about my experiences with PowWeb support, I started looking for a new Twitter integration plugin to install… and with one simple click of the button, my website was dead!  My initial instinct was that PowWeb had done something to my account again, but after checking the status of my other blogs, that assumption went out the window.  No, the problem was unique to WaS.

It took 2 days, but I finally received the fix.

After reviewing your site, we found that one of its 59 different plugins is now preventing it from loading as it was intended. As we do not support 3rd party applications such as Word Press beyond their installation via Install Central, we will not be able to correct this for you. We recommend renaming your plugins via the File Manage starting with the latest ones added until you find the one causing this problem and delete it. Alternatively, if you have any backups of this sites database, you can import them using phpMyAdmin. Let us know if you have further questions.

Oh, I knew which plugin it was… Twitter For WordPress… I could see that it was installed at 7:40am on Friday morning.  The exact time that my blog went dead.  I didn’t even bother renaming it.  I just simply deleted it and voila!  Problem solved!  So I wrote them a very nice “thank you”.

Open mouth… insert foot… story of my life.

Another WaS Service Interruption? NOT $%^&*( Happy!!!

Published August 27, 2010 - 0 Comments

So the blog was down for nearly 13 hours since last evening, until a few minutes ago…  First, let me say THANK YOU to everyone who sent me a text or tweet to let me know that it was down.  I’d rather get a few messages from people telling me that there was a problem, than to go about my life thinking that everything was ok.  Certainly I would have picked up on it on my own, but that’s not the point.  It’s good to have people who care enough to let me know that something isn’t right with the blog.  So thank you.

Second, I’m extremely disappointed in PowWeb for 2 things:

  1. My account was suspended due to a mysterious charge back on my credit card, when in fact no such charge back was ever requested.
  2. When I called to have the problem corrected, I encountered incompetence at its finest.  I don’t know if the guy hung up on me or what, but I called back and got someone else who was at least a little better.  But even HE told me that it would be a couple of hours before they could unsuspend my account!  I was sitting in front of a screen showing my online credit card activity, and it clearly showed how I had paid for my yearly subscription… yet it would still take a couple of hours.  When I woke up this morning, it was STILL suspended!  I was just about to call again and suddenly everything came back to life.

I don’t believe that it takes that long to have something like that corrected.  I should know.  I had the same thing corrected earlier in the week!  Over the phone!  That time there HAD been a charge back.  It was unexpected, but it wasn’t PowWeb’s fault.  When I called them and provided them with more details, they were able to unsuspend the account within 15 mins.  So I know damn well that it IS possible, if you get the right person.  Obviously, in this latest instance, I did not.

I’ve heard of some online marketers paying for 2 separate hosting services.  In the event of a problem, they can switch the DNS to point to their backup.  If I get serious about this, it might just be something to look into.  Get all my eggs out of the same basket, so to speak.

Not happy PowWeb… not happy at all…

Like Father, Like Son

Published August 25, 2010 - 4 Comments

Sometimes my little guy surprises me.  Most times, I think of him as a typical 6… er, I guess he’s 7 now… year old boy. He fights with his sister. He wants to play XBox. He doesn’t like girls. (Give him a few years… he’ll grow out of it)

But then sometimes he surprises me. A few weeks ago he asked me if I liked my job. Huh? Where did that come from? When I tried to find a nice way of putting it, he stopped me and asked me again. Then he said “So sometimes you have to do something you don’t want to do, for money?” Then he gave me a big hug, and walked away. The kid was 6 at the time.

Now he’s 7 and last night I was sitting out on the steps, talking on the phone, and admiring the full moon reflecting over the river. My little guy came out and quietly sat down beside me. After my phone conversation was done, I asked him what he was doing. Quiet is not something that he normally does well.

“Looking at the moon… I’m watching the clouds… the gun just went over it.”

Yup, sure enough… there was a break in the clouds that looked very much like a handgun.  It had passed over the moon a short time before.

I was pretty well stunned. This was very much something that I would do. And if either of my children were going to be sitting out there with me, I would have put money on my daughter being the one, not my son. But there he was, admiring the full moon… imagining shapes in the cloud cover. The gun was easy enough. But then he saw a man holding his thumb up… an alligator with his jaws open… neither of these were apparent to my eyes, but I appreciated his imagination at work. It was me… a tiny version of me… No XBox, or Nintendo DS… just a simple full moon with passing clouds…

And there we sat.

Meat Loaf: Literal Video Version (Anything For Love)

Published August 25, 2010 - 3 Comments

I went searching for Meat Loaf’s Anything For Love for, and stumbled onto this little gem!  I didn’t really read the title all that well, and assumed that with over a million views that it was the real version.  Well.. yes and no… after a couple of seconds I was ready to turn it off, but then I realized what they were doing… it’s what the words of the song SHOULD be, based on what the viewer is seeing in the video.  Hence.. the literal version!  It’s actually quite good!  I’m glad that I let it play all the way through.  Trust me.. if you remember this song/video at all, you’re going to enjoy this.  It’s not a parody… it is the video… but the lyrics… well, watch for yourself… I see that there are a whole bunch of other literal videos as well.  Curious to see what they’re going to be like!

I hope that you enjoy, and please don’t be shy… if you watch it and like it.. or if you don’t… let me know!

$300 Business License to Run a Blog? You’ve Got to be Kidding Me!!

Published August 24, 2010 - 2 Comments

I noticed a little tweet from someone I follow today that instantly caught me eye! The city of Philadelphia is requiring its bloggers to pay $300 for a business license, due to the fact that the blog has the opportunity to generate profit from advertising.

WHAT??

Yes, that’s right. Take a look at this article in the Philadelphia City Paper. They cite two examples of what I would call personal blogs, not money making enterprises.

I can certainly understand if you were running a true business from your home. I had to register Write-Click Media, and even THAT hasn’t made a penny. But for all those people who are passionate about something, and want to write  about it in a blog… they have to pay $300 because their blog MIGHT make money someday? That just seems wrong to me.  Insanely wrong.

If you’re interested in the two blogs mentioned in the article…

MsPhillyOrganic

Circle of Fits

I’m on my way there right now to leave a nice comment for the authors.

WaS Service Interruption

Published August 24, 2010 - 4 Comments

Some of you may have noticed a little snafu with the blog today. Just a minor problem with the billing records. Nothing to worry about! Everything has been updated, and should be good to go.

Thanks for your patience.

Stephen

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