Archive for the 'rants' Category

Don’t Feed The Trolls!

I know, I know, but I just had to. Once.

I got one of those emails from an “Internet Marketer”. You know what I’m talking about. How they can help you with SEO/Internet Marketing/Web Design, and they’re cheap too! Well, obviously they are cheap, they’re emailing from a Gmail address.

Here is the email, sent via a contact web form for one of my sites:


From: Deejay Colin [mailto:[deleted]@gmail.com]
Sent: August-10-11 8:38 PM
To: Angela Robson
Subject: SEO| Internet Marketing| Website Designing
From: Deejay Colin
Subject: SEO| Internet Marketing| Website Designing

Hi,

We can fairly quickly promote your website to the top of the search rankings with no long term contracts!

We can place your website on top of the Natural Listings on Google, Yahoo and MSN. Our Search Engine Optimization team delivers more top rankings then anyone else and we can prove it. We do not use “link farms” or “black hat” methods that Google and the other search engines frown upon and can use to de-list or ban your site. The techniques are proprietary, involving some valuable closely held trade secrets. Our prices are less then half of what other companies charge.

We would be happy to send you a proposal using the top search phrases for your area of expertise. Please contact me at your convenience so we can start saving you some money.

In order for us to respond to your request for information, please include your company’s website address (mandatory) and /or phone number.

Sincerely,
Deejay Colin
[deleted]@gmail.com
COMPLETE INTERNET MARKETING SOLUTION
SEO – Link Building – Copyright – Web Designing – PHP

They’re ALL like that. Sent via a contact form, with a Gmail email reply address. I found a very similar “comment” on a completely unrelated website…about mascara. And then I found a whole whackload (very technical term) on a bunch of others sites. [insertfirstname]internetmarketing@gmail.com. I mean really. Come ON.

Here is my reply:


Hi….uh, whatever your name is…

I did a quick Google Search for your name. The first result is http://technical-itch.co.uk/contact-me/, which says absolutely zero about Internet Marketing, SEO, or web design. In fact, at a first gland it looks like nothing but reviews for GPS units. So I do a search (on what I assume is your site) for “internet marketing”, and I’m presented with a weblog entry from April 3, 2007 about a well-known webmaster tool kit.

At this point, I’m already seriously beginning to doubt your professed ability to rank my website in the top “Natural Listings”. Honestly though, it’s the email address that gave it away in the first place. I mean, if you really are a serious web-centric company, wouldn’t you at least email from your own domain? Or maybe you don’t have one? Or even a website? Isn’t it a tad ludicrous that I can’t find it? Do you even have a company name? Unlikely.

Upon further investigation, you claim you don’t use “link farms” or “black hat” methods, which is entirely possible because that would take too much work and thinking, but you do obviously “contact form spam”. As I see an example of here: http://wearingmascara.com/index.php/contact-me/ Oh, and of course it’s how you contacted me too.

Yeah, that’s working out great for you, isn’t it?

So, whateveryourfirstnameis-internetmarketing@gmail.com, Go back to doing whatever it is you were doing before. If someone like me can detect your BS, you’re pretty much screwed.

Angela

That’s all I had the energy for. :) Red Bull started wearing off…

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Bell: How To Alienate the Customer

This is a chat support request with Bell. Bask in the awesomeness.

Vijay (SCI-11624): May I know, do you have BELL business internet account with BELL?
Customer: no, i have a BELL business internet account with ROGERS
Vijay (SCI-11624): I recommend you to contact our BELL business internet department at 1-877-877-SMB (2426)
Customer: SMB = 2426, i guess
Customer: bell, making life better
Vijay (SCI-11624) I recommend you to contact our BELL business internet department at 1-877-877-SMB (2426)
Customer: they don’t have a chat function?
Vijay (SCI-11624) At the moment we don’t have chat support for the same. Customers need to contact them over phone.
Customer: That’s not very helpful.
Vijay (SCI-11624) I do understand. [CustomerName]. We don’t have chat support for business internet department.
Vijay (SCI-11624) So its better you can contact them over phone.
Customer: Not only is it better, it sounds like it’s my only option.

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In-tweet Ads: The downfall of Twitter?

Magpie, Twittad and the like will be the downfall of twitter. At least, if they are widely adopted.

(No I did not sign up.)

Sure, it looks like you can earn lots of money. But what happens when it catches on because all the Cool Kids are doing it? And believe me, the Cool Kids are the only ones that will be able to command any type of monetary value out of it. Your Twitter stream will suddenly be filled with ads. First it will be ads for related social networking sites, then ads for contest for the latest gaming system or game, then onto weight loss and hookup sites.

Jeramiah Yang (@jowyang) said, “Can you imagine Magpie in real life? At coffee with your friends, then all of the sudden they blurt out “BUY PUMPKIN FRAPPAMOCHA NOW!” in a Tweet today. It’s funny…but it has a ring of truth in it, doesn’t it?

Magpie and Twittad want to put words in your mouth. Tweet content for you. Imagine if the majority, or even a large percentage, of the people YOU follow joined their services or others like it.

Boycott Twittad and Magpie. Keep the noise down. #notwitter ads – Please retweet!

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8 Annoying Oversights Arena Designers Make

Normally I detest top X lists, but I started making this one in my head tonight as I parked in an arena for a late game, and I figured it would be a fun post for a Friday. :)

1. The parking lot is 5 miles from the front door. Seriously, hockey players and especially goalies have to carry a lot of crap all the way from the automobile to the door. There’s a reason a ton of hockey bags have wheels now, but that doesn’t make it okay to require us to walk to the arena from Timbuktu. And wheels suck in the snow.

2. The doors are “regular” size. Dude, hockey bags don’t fit through doors very easily. Oversized doors and/or working sliding doors are an amazing invention. Use them!

3. Stairs between the ice and the change room. (OMG, I have become Canadianized, I don’t say “locker room” anymore!) Believe it or not, I’ve seen this on a few occasions. And one arena near Waterloo, Ontario actually super narrow stairs with a turn-around in the middle of the flight of stairs. Try getting through there with goalie equipment on. I’m 5′ tall and it’s a squeeze.

4. No visible board for change room numbers. Even worse is when they make you give your keys for a room key, and it’s a late game, so the attendant is no where to be found when you need to get your keys back.

4. No bar. For Pete’s sake, this should be a requirement!

5. No benches or viewing area. If it’s a super-cold rink, the very basic glass dividing the foyer and the rink is much appreciated by fans.

6. Boards that are ridiculously high — not suitable for jumping over. There’s an arena (in London, Ontario I think) that, I kid you not, the boards come nearly up to my neck. Not only that, but the doors are half the size of normal. Line changes are not swift.

7. Tiny change rooms. You have to have enough to fit 10-15 hockey players and their equipment.

8. I saved the best for last. Only a urinal in the change room. No toilet. I’m not kidding. Almost as bad is when there’s no door!

I’m sure there are more. Feel free to add your own!

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Barack Obama is NOT Muslim

I was sent an email today that seemed to have two purposes. It was a chain email from a Dr. John Tisdale urging Christians to not vote for Barack Obama. It also claims that Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ.

I find the email I was sent horrendously offensive for several reasons but primarily because it’s clearly based on something other than fact. People need to do their OWN research about political candidates and not believe every email that comes in their inbox. And coming from a supposed “Doctor” John Tisdale that purports to be a Christian does not make it credible.

Here is the email:

Subj: REVELATION CHAP. 13

This will make you re-think:

A Trivia question in Sunday School:

How long is the beast allowed to have authority in Revelations?

Revelations Chapter 13 tells us it is 42 months, and you know what that is. Almost a four-year term of a Presidency. All I can say is ” Lord, Have mercy on us!”

According to The Book of Revelations the anti-Christ is:

The anti-Christ will be a man, in his 40’s, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal…the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destroy everything…

Do we recognize this description??

I STRONGLY URGE each one of you to post this as many times as you can! Each opportunity that you have to send it to a friend or media outlet.. do it! I refuse to take a chance on this unknown candidate who came out of nowhere.

From: Dr. John Tisdale

Dear Friends,

As I was listening to a news program last night, I watched in horror as Barack Obama made the statement with pride. “We are no longer a Christian nation; we are now a nation of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists…” As with so many other statements I’ve heard him (and his wife) make, I never thought I’d see the day that I’d hear something like that from a presidential candidate in this nation. To think our forefathers fought and died for the right for our nation to be a Christian nation–and to have this man say with pride that we are no longer that. How far this nation has come from what our founding fathers intended it to be. I hope that each of you will do what I’m doing now–send your concerns, written simply and sincerely, to the Christians on your email list. With God’s help, and He is still in control of this nation and all else, we can show this man and the world in November that we are, indeed, still a Christian nation!

Please pray for our nation!

How offensive!

Obama is not a Muslim. (Source) A quick internet search of “Obama is not Muslim” returns a plethora of articles indicating such and the source link I’ve given provides plenty of support to that fact.

He did not say “we are no longer a Christian nation”. He said we are no longer ‘just’ a Christian nation, but a nation of many other faiths as well. The actual quote is, “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation – at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.” (Video) Thank you Doctor, for twisting it to suit your own purposes.

The claim that Our forefathers did not live and die to make the United States of America a Christian nation. Just the opposite, in fact. They fought for the separation of Church and state!

And the Anti-Christ? Come on. So 42 months is “almost” a four-year term. Does that mean every President is a potential Anti-Christ? And it mentions “massive Christ-like appeal” in the same email that claims he’s Muslim. That’s a little contradictory, isn’t it? “He will promise false hope and world peace” — also a typical Presidential candidate promise, right?

And exactly where in Revelations does it say the Anti-Christ will be of Muslim descent?

Snopes – Is Barack Obama the Anti-Christ?

If the only reason to vote for McCain is because you think Obama is the Anti-Christ…you should do a little of your own research on both candidates from reputable sources.

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3 basic rules for your business website

I am one of those people that loves to research before I buy, particularly if it’s something that is high-priced. Thanks to the wonderful WWW, I can waste many hours in this particular hobby. ;)

I’ve discovered that I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to services and their web presence. There are three things that will guarantee that I will contact someone about a service or product. The absence of one or more decreases the possibility of me even making the first contact.

  1. Have a website — I need to be able to find that you exist, what services or products you provide, and if necessary, if you’re local.
    1. Exist! The hardest part is actually finding quality places to shop or get services. Google Local sucks. Sorry, but they do. I find myself turning to yellowpages.ca more and more, but that’s for another post. At least in yp.ca a place can advertise if they have a website or not. For non-local items, I still tend to want to find someone local, or at least in Canada. (Not such a problem for the US.)
    2. Information. I don’t want a crappy website with no content. That does nothing for me. What do you DO? What products/services do you have? How are they delivered? And nine times out of ten, I check the about page. Seriously.
    3. Where are you? I always look, even if it’s not important to the research. Being in Canada is a bonus. Being in Ontaro is a super bonus. Being local is a warm-fuzzy. The same rule would apply if I were in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
  2. Have a nice website. Not some Frontpage crap design. And not one of those horrible graphic-laden templates. A nice, simple website that is very user friendly. This means you know what your customers need and want, and you’ve thought about how to help them in more than just your area of expertise.
  3. Respond via email. If you have a contact form, or advertise an email address, or any type of e-conversation at all, for the love of God, respond. If I contact someone, and they don’t email or call me back, what’s the use? And if they respond right away, or in a reasonable amount of time (less than 24 hours!), I’m 50% sold already.

Having one of these is good. Having all is the best.

There are exceptions. I’m looking for a local snow-removal service and a house-sitter for while I’m away during the Christmas holidays. For that, I turn to Kijiji.ca. The same principles almost apply: Have an ad. Have a nice ad. Respond via email. Although the latter becomes much more important. The presentation is almost equally important. And well, you have to have an ad. :)

I hope I practice what I preach in my own business (Picobits) . :) (Yes, that was a completely shameless plug.)

What’s important to you when you’re researching something online?

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Everything is gone.

All my posts. Everything from the last 7+ years. Gone.

My host sent an email out in mid-October saying they were rebuilding the server and they were A) advising everyone to create a ticket to have their site temporarily moved to another server while the server was being rebuilt, and B) to back up their data. I did both. I wondered why they would need ME to create a ticket to have them move my site, but I figured, hey, they’re cheap, so you get what you pay for. Their support is responsive, and their features are fantastic, but the reliability is crap.

I’ve been meaning to switch to a new host for a while but haven’t had time. My @goaliegirl email has been intermittently down for months, and inoperable for a few weeks. Thank goodness for gMail and my IT Consulting site (hosted at Pair). So yesterday I sit down to take the plunge. I couldn’t log in to my account. Nothing is working. Huh? I log in to the host’s support ticket system to create a ticket and I notice that my previous ticket is still open. Odd. I open it and realize they updated the ticket after they moved my site saying that I was past due on the invoice (it’s yearly). I never got an email or any other kind of notification saying an invoice was due, nor did I ever get notified that it was past due. I surmise my account has been canceled.

I sent a request to them to reactivate my account due to the fact I was never informed of a payment being due.

I signed up for a new host (Bluehost) and started preparing to transfer my data. I had a backup anyway so it was no big deal. Or so I thought. Apparently my backup was corrupted. Or something. I only have about 8 months of data in my database file.

Long story short, even after paying my invoice and getting my account re-activated, my data isn’t there.

I’m not going to dwell on this. There’s nothing else I can do about it. I’ve tried everything to get it back. Re-download from the old site, look through every single backup I have…

I figure this is a good time for a clean slate. I don’t really give a hoot about any SEO value on this site so all my content that’s missing can just return 404’s. Or I can 301 to this nice post. :)

Moral of the story: You get what you pay for.

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BES and Exchange hosting – Exchangemymail.com vs. LanLogic

After two days of fiddling with my email, I’m finally up and running on both Exchange and BES with all proper connections from my Outlook clients and my Blackberry.

Jake recommended I use LanLogic, but I researched other options and found that LanLogic is a little steep on the storage pricepoint compared to other vendors. Jake insisted that didn’t matter so much since their service is excellent, but I wasn’t so sure. Exchangemymail seemed to come highly recommended according to posts in the Blackberry Forums, plus they offered a small discount. So I went with Exchangemymail.com, not knowing that Jake actually did use them before going to LanLogic. I soon found out why, and went the same route he did.

  1. The signup for Exchangemymail went relatively smoothly, no issues there.
  2. (Problem 1) I logged in to my control panel and attempted to set up a user. The first try didn’t work – I got an error that the account wasn’t created. The second try didn’t either. The error was “Email address can not be created because registrar status of the domain is not ‘Ready’.” I created a support ticket and apparently the issue was on their end. They did some magic and I re-tried, successfully creating the account.
  3. I set up DNS (I’m using my own hosted DNS through DynDNS) according to the welcome email I got.
  4. I set up Outlook (2007) according to their documentation and it connected fine.
  5. I tested sending email from my client to my gMail account. Presto.
  6. (Problem 2) I replied from my gMail account…uh oh. I was getting a bounce-back error saying “544 No relaying allowed – psmtp”.
  7. (Problem 3) I created a BES account in my control panel and attempted to activate my Blackberry. No amount of trying was helping. I wiped it a gazillion times and retried.
  8. (Problem 4) I attempted to log in to the Postini control panel but kept getting the error “Invalid log in or server error. Please try again.”
  9. At this point I contacted support via the ticket system about the newest three problems. Their (pretty quick) response was that they were having problems with Postini which was likely the cause of all of my issues. About 90 minutes later I got an email from them stating they were able to add me to the system and I should try again.
  10. I could now send email to my new account from gMail, but I still couldn’t log in to Postini (no biggie, or so I thought) and my Blackberry wouldn’t activate.
  11. I ended up solving the activation problem myself my getting around the wireless activation by installing Desktop Manager, which really isn’t needed unless your wireless isn’t working, and activating it “wiredly”.
  12. Day two. (Problem 5) I realize that I can’t send mail to Jake. He can send mail to me, but my emails to him go into the Black Hole of Lost Email. I contact support again, explaining that he’s a former customer and it’s likely due to some setting they still have. Sure enough, that’s the case. Although they said it’s “normal” to keep old settings around…which I find odd. They removed the setting and asked me to try again. I tried again and it didn’t work.
  13. (Problem 6) I settle in to setting up my new domain’s website and the PHP form just won’t send mail to my address. Finally, I check the obvious and try sending mail to my gMail account instead of my EMM account and it works. Now, I’m pissed.
  14. (Problem 4 again) I tried logging in to Postini again thinking maybe it’s some sort of spam setting not allowing mail through from my site. No go.
  15. I tried sending mail to Jake again. No go.
  16. I wrote a final email to them:

At this point, I’m extremely dissatisfied with EMM.

1. I’m still not able to send emails to [Jake's domain].
2. Sending emails to my primary email account at EMM from a form on my website doesn’t work, but it does send to any other email address. I suspect this is related to Postini BUT
3. I can’t log in to Postini. Still. I mentioned this in the last ticket.

At this point I have to abandon your service and request a refund. I have wasted nearly two days of effort on your service, and while your response has typically been swift, I can’t afford any more delays.

Once my account is canceled, please remove all instances of Picobits.com from your system.

Angela

I signed up for LanLogic and was set up with my Exchange account immediately. I emailed them and asked for BES to be set up and Ted emailed me before I even had a chance to switch my DNS to the new servers asking me to switch them. I emailed him back and was set up with a BES account right away.

I still had wireless activation issues, the same issues as with EMM, but it wasn’t such a big deal since it was something I could fix myself anyway.

I got my refund, minus the “activation fees” from EMM.

Jake got to say, “I told you so.” And he was right.

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Email vs Voice mail

Which do you prefer?

Generally I prefer emailing someone rather than leaving a voice mail because if/when they reply, I can go back and re-read the message.  It also could serve a purpose if there is a miscommunication.  However, sometimes it’s just easier to pick up the phone and call.  On those rare occasions, I hope that they actually pick up and I don’t have to leave a message.

I hate leaving voice mail messages. I’m very conscious of using “uh” and “um” too many times, so I’m either speaking fast to keep from doing it, or they just come out anyway. :)  This problem is even worse if I’m not well-versed on the topic I’m calling about.  “Hi, Bob.  I’m calling about that thingamajiggy on my car.  I don’t remember what it’s called, but it’s making that noise again.  So, um, if you could give me a call back…”

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What happens when you’re no longer the IT Chickie

You’re in a remote office, your network connectivity is borked, and you can’t do anything about it but call Helpdesk. :(

Technorati Fodder: Technorati Profile

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