Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I Was A 7th Grade Shocker

I spent seventh-grade in parochial school. One day while we were waiting on the Nun to come and teach our science class, a couple of my friends and I came up with the brilliant idea. Over by the wall stood a Van de Graaff generator - a machine that can generate a static electrical charge. We managed to convince the rest of class that we should form a human chain between the generator and the doorknob on the other side of the room. With everyone in place, someone turned on the generator and we waited for a teacher to open the door. Within a few moments, we heard the heavy footsteps come down the hall and stop at our classroom door. The silence seemed to last an eternity until it was finally broken by a scream and a crash of rosaries against the glass of the door. It was one of those moments where we thought we had a good idea and then realized we had not thought it through far enough. Even with her habit on, our teacher's hair stuck from underneath in a frazzled state as she kicked the door in. Did we get punished for it? Let's just say that the school and the church were kept extremely clean for several months. That was partly due to the fact that the paddling left us unable to sit for several months.

New Toy For Us

The weather now has a new Internet toy for you! They have teamed up with Microsoft to bring you interactive maps completely with the satellite imagery and the ability to zoom down to the level of your street. Now you can look your monitor and check it accuracy by using the old fashion method of stepping outside to check the weather.

Monday, February 26, 2007

What A Day!

Mr. John McLaughlin of called me from Ireland to discuss my earlier posts about the legitimacy of his business. Turned out that he is legit and just suffering through a decision to use India for outsourcing. I know what a problem that is! Does anyone have a good story about outsourcing?

The other feat of accomplishment is the establishment of my new blog at my own domain: What's All This Then!. For now, I'm going to move over posts from my free blogs that I think are interesting or funny. Any requests?

Embracing Alexa

Because I spent so much time in the fighting spyware and virus, my immediate reaction to PPP's use of Alexa was tremendously negative. And rightly so. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, Alexa promoted itself as a Internet Explorer addon in the form of a search engine toolbar. What people didn't know what that it was tracking and reporting their every movement about the Internet. Hence it earned the label "spyware". A few years ago, Alexa finally changed and openly let people know its true function, thus stepping outside the definition of spyware. Now you knowingly give up your privacy when you install Alexa onto your browser. Surprisingly many people have done so, enough that Amazon bought Alexa because of it's tracking potential. Imagine having a store in the mall and being able to track every visitor's stop and purchase in that mall - which store, what item, how much.

So then, the rating score simply relates to how many browsers have visited a given site with the Alexa toolbar installed. Nothing to do with representing all the Internet traffic. Fair enough. The Alexa website even carries the disclaim that they are NOT an accurate representation of Internet traffic. Good. With that understand, I can now accept that there is nothing fraudulent about Alexa itself. But what about it usage?

Since I've installed it in my browser, my score has improved (to 806,667 as of today). My surfing habits have NOT changed except to include visits to sites of several new friends. In fact, several of us have 'gone to the dark side' and added Alexa to our browsers. Because of this, there are now posts on PPP forums and blogs accusing us of fraudulent activity - by 'gaming' of the system. Yet, all we have done is make sure Alexa counts our sites now. The first time I pass through the Alexa turnstile for day, I get one count. No matter, how many times I return, it's remains one count. So I can't force the number higher by myself. Nothing fraudulent here.

The ball falls on PayPerPost then. Are they assuming that their advertisers fully understand the nature of Alexa score? Are they simply toting the fact that an advertiser has 'choices' in the way a salesman would go on about features he doesn't understand or want to explain? Or has PPP put an explanation to go with Alexa and other options available to advertisers? How can any advertiser fully utilize PayPerPost if they don't have a complete understand of what PPP offers? Time will tell, I guess.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Two Milestones

Last night, my Alexa dropped by 81,293 to 881,420. Of course, three points do not a trend make ... unless you're in politics. Still, a forth reading will help determine a general direction and perhaps a little predictability. At this point, I hope PPP changes nothing about Alexa. The standards have changed enough to make this pay-for-blogging more frustrating than it should be. Now I need all the help that I can get.

Last night, I also set up an account with to create my own domains. Now that learning curve starts and a three month deadline looms to get my blogs in place. I'll release links to my site(s) when they have a little substance to them, ok?

Ok, I can't resist! Here is an extremely rough forecast for this coming week's score. The green is the more conservative forecast, while the blue line is the closest matching to current scores:

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Share Your Stuff With This Widget

If you don't already know, widgets are small snippets of code that let you
embed objects into your web page. The good thing is that you don't need to be a programmer to have videos, songs, or any other type of file show up in your page, especially if you take advantage of widget. With it, you share your favorite video right in your post. I have been looking for an easy way to share audio files. It looks like has just what I'm looking for - a free drag-and-drop widget and they have up to 1GB of free hosting for my files. I think that this one will be a winner. Let me know what you think. For now, I'll use's widget to share a picture of my winning design for a March-Of-Dimes T-Shirt:

Get your own widget and share anywhere!

Carolina Culinary Foods Recalls Chicken Breast Strips

Not that I'm trying to be a Chicken Little with these warnings posts, but if this little chicken had been processed by Carolina Culinary Foods, I might be in the middle of a recall! According to the USDA web site, Carolina Culinary is recalling their chickens strips due to a fouling from Listeria contamination. So check your package for this:

* 6-ounce packages of "OSCAR MAYER/LOUIS RICH CHICKEN BREAST STRIPS WITH RIB MEAT, GRILLED, FULLY COOKED - READY TO EAT." The front of each package bears the establishment number "P-19676" inside the USDA mark of inspection. On the back of each package appears a "Use by" date of "19 Apr 2007."

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Hurray, Another Drop In My Score

Sometime between 5:30 this evening and 7:30, my Alexa score dropped to 962,713 from 1,001,770 - a drop of 39,057 this time. Does this mean that there is a four day pause between score updates? Hopefully PPP will reflect this change on their site tomorrow. The gaming experiment continues ...

May You Find Me On Some Day

I've had my drum set for a couple of months now. It has been a challenge trying to remember how to bounce two wooden sticks off of a rubber surface. Well, anyone can do that. The challenge lies in doing it in a rhythmic fashion and without appearing to be having a seizure (much like sex). A greater challenge still has been in finding time to practice bouncing those sticks (again, much like ... oh, never mind).

When I do get the chance to play (my drum set), I think back to the times that I was in various bands. One goal was to get good enough to get that record contract that would make us stinky rich. Of course, here I am, so you know how that turned out. While I'm not stinky, no one is call me up to go on a reunion tour either.

It's amazing what the difference of 20 years will make. Now new bands can put their works up on the Internet. To increase their popularity and their chances to recording contract, they can make use of sites focused on helping the bands make a name for themselves, like For myself, breaking into the music scene is more of a fantasy than a goal at this point. But with's diverse music listings (50 genres) and with my eclectic taste in music, some day you might even find me listed under each musical style, even Trance Artists - um, cha, um, cha, um, cha, um, cha - I can handle that. And if it looks like I'm having a seizure, it's because of the lights. Can you dig it, baby? In any case, I have bookmarked as a reference. If nothing else, it has a wide variety of artists to listen to. And, who knows, maybe some day, somebody's going to need a new old drummer (which is better than an old new drummer).

Saturday, February 17, 2007

What Happened to my Alexa Score?

After I had made the changes to my browser, I was excited to see an immediate improvement to my Alexa score. That was Wednesday night. Now it's Saturday, my rating has not changed at all from Wednesday's exhilarating result. Was Wednesday night's improvement a fluke? Does the score update nightly or is it something that refreshes weekly or even monthly? For now, I can only wait and see if my ranking changes next Wednesday.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Scoop On The Peanut Butter Scoop

Before you make that peanut butter and 'nanar** sandwich, STOP! Are you using Peter Pan or Great Value peanut butter? STOP! Look at the product code that is stamped on the lid of the jar. Does it begin with the number "2111" ????? SSTTOOPP!!!! and throw that jar away! The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning that this type of peanut butter may be contaminated with Salmonella Tennessee (a bacterium that causes foodborne illness). They are saying that you should discard your jars if they have been purchased since May 2006. So far no one has died. Yet, there have been 288 cases of foodborne illness in 39 states since August of 2006. Has you or anyone that you know been affected? Leave a comment here... Thanks for reading and I hope that this has helped you!

** my southern-to-english dictionary defines 'nanar thusly: (n.) banana

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Alexa Score Improved Within 24 hours!

On Wednesday night, my Alexa score was 1,025,188. Last night, some time between 9pm and 11pm, it decreased to 1,001,770. All I did refresh my page every so often on three different computers. This is very encouraging! Now if only PPP would update their records according. Thanks to their snafu, I haven't been able to blog for them. This morning, I found that I had been bumped out of the top ten list by a Malaysian woman who has about 50 million blogs. No problem for her to post! In any case, let's see how good I can make my score.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Not Good Business Practices

Today I learned that one of the companies I work for is setting a bad precedent with one of our vendors. A year ago we received parts from this particular supplier that contained bad items. The vendor agreed that we should go through the shipment, find all the bad parts and return them to him. He would then replace the malfunction units with good ones and my employer would then release payment for the entire shipment. That was a year ago. Quality department has yet to go through rest of the shipment and my employer has yet to pay this supplier. I'm thinking that the vendor has a year warranty on those units. And time is pretty much up. I'm hoping that is more to the story than I have discovered so far. I do know that if the vendor was a US company, I don't think things would have proceeded as they have so far.

Long Live SI's SE

Every February 14th, I am reminded of a very eventful eighth grade year. Not because of the romance of Valentines. Rather, because it was the year of the Penguin. I had spent my 7th and 8th grade years in Catholic school under ever watchful eyes of Nuns - women who had given up sex and their sense of humor, or at least the ones that I dealt with. When asked what I would give up for Lent, I replied school. The class laughed. I got a wrap on the knuckles and trip to the Mother Superior's Office. When I was in the seventh grade, she was a kind, gentle, somewhat tolerant person. But in my eighth grade, we received a replacement who was anything but kind. Dressed in her black garb and a walk that had a pronounced waddle, she earned the nickname "Penguin". A cruel name, yes, but not as cruel as she was. When she vowed to rid the school of all unholy influences, she immediately canceled the library's subscription to Sports Illustrated. Mind you, as adolescent males, we lived for the Swimsuit edition. We asked to get it back, only to be punished for our sacrilegious request. It was a dark time. But time and technology have more than made up for this youthful tragedy. Now, I can go to the Sport Illustrated web site, view all my favorite models (for artist reasons, of course), download cell phone wallpaper and even ring tones with video clips. These are almost as good as the time I had dinner with Heidi Klum. It was a wonderful affair until my alarm clock woke me for work.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Alexa Experiment

Ok, I can rant and show that the Alexa rating is just a step above reading a horoscope. But it is believed in enough to be a factor to some online businesses. So let's see if I can 'game' my score, that is, improve it through my direct efforts. At the moment, Alexa rates this blog at 1,025,188. In other words, Alexa thinks there are over a million blogs with better traffic. Possibly. I track the number of visitors and repeat visits. Compared to my other blog, this one has more traffic. Yet, my other site, "Life Under Construction", has a rating of 70.

So to improve this blog's rating, I have done the following:
1) added an Alexa widget to this page,
2) added a search extension to my Firefox browser, at home and at work. As I visit my page once a day, Alexa will register my hit.

Let the *gaming* begin!

Robbed by My Dealer

"Eighteen dollars for ONE plug?!" I asked in shock. The service manager nodded. "I can buy high performance iridium ones for six dollars each." I said. Staring at the bill as its numbers burned into my wallet, I asked, "Isn't this a tad excessive?" She only shrugged and replied curtly, "I'm sorry. That's what we charged."

Unbelievable. My car had died last week. But I managed to revive it long enough to get it to the dealer, Lee Hyundai of Fayetteville, NC. Initially, the service center called and told me that the plugs and wires were shot. Not surprising with 140,000 miles of use. They gave me an estimate of $300 because 'the plugs are in a difficult place and will take some time.' Since my baby was dead, I had no other option. Besides, I had come to trust them for my service and price. But no more.

While they worked to bring my beast of burden back to life, I checked online for prices. My car, a 2001 Tiburon, is not a high maintenance, racing car. Just a 4 banger that's great on gas and has a sleek, sexy, exotic look. Sort of like of me. (Quit laughing, I said "sort of".) Anyway, a set of high performance wires is about $55 and plugs at $6 each. Four plugs would be $24. Cut to the dealership with me getting the bill. Wires, $62 -- Ok, dealer prices are a little higher. Plugs, $18 ... for ONE! The set of four was $72. Add in labor and I was a few pennies shy of $300.

UPDATE: It wasn't the plugs that were the problem. Nor was the throttle control or the air control sensor that they replaced. No, after several returns back to the shop and after an additional $800 in repairs and parts, the crack technicians at the dealership finally determined that it was a hole in the engine gasket. Once that was replaced, all was well with my car.

What have we learned? Avoid dealerships if you can, especially Lee Hyundai in Fayetteville ,NC!

Monday, February 12, 2007

I didn't see any sign

I know that my life is under construction but good grief! This past week on the highway of life has been nothing but monstrous potholes, messy detours and bugs in my teeth as I try to smile through it all.

Frustrating? As bad as driving behind someone who going half the speed limit and you have no way of passing them.

But it's not been so bad that I want to pull to the side of the road and breathe deep on the exhaust fumes from the tailpipe. Tomorrow is another day. Let's hope that this road construction makes things a little smoother before I reach my final destination.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Trouble in PPP Land

Over the years I've had the privilege of working with various companies. Each one had its unique style of management. One was a copier company whose owner considered himself a shrewd businessman. He turned out be nothing more than a shady salesman. He would make promises to the customer about their newly purchased copy machine. I would then have to go in behind him and explain that the machine was not capable of the features promised. I must have done a decent job in satisfying the customer's concerns because we rarely had a machine returned. I worked for another company that must've had a plaque hidden somewhere. If you could have found it, it would have read "Why test? That's why we have customers." In each case, the support people worked to do a good job, the development teams did everything they could to ensure a quality product. In the end, it was upper management's decisions that would sabotage all that good work.

After this week's chaotic adventure with PayPerPost, I'm wondering if something similar hasn't taken place. Right now, PayPerPost support and development teams are doing everything they can to fix the fiasco caused by the software rollout done earlier this week. There is a lot of talk on the forum about the troubles bloggers are having. But no one is really addressing why such issues would be allowed to happen in the first place. Here's my guess: It seems that PayPerPost management has made promises of segmentation features to advertisers. In order to secure the advertiser business as quickly as possible, they released features that had not been properly tested. As a result, many bloggers were unable to post about advertisers' opportunities. It almost seems as if management was thinking along the following lines: we now have a large base of bloggers , some that cover the more demanding requirements of our advertisers (known as segmentation). If we delay rollout of segmentation, we may lose advertisers dollars. If we go ahead and proceed with the rollouts now, many bloggers won't be able to post but we have enough that will be able to. We can fix any problems as we go along and have the advertisers business immediately.

Could this be the case? PayPerPost does have some serious investors behind it now. Perhaps they had to decide between doing everything right with a delay on ROI (return on investment) or to have a quicker ROI by using a system that is somewhat functional. On the one hand, they risk losing advertisers who are their source of income. On the other hand, they risk losing bloggers who are their source of expense. Despite the wailing and gnashing-of-teeth from frustrated bloggers, a couple of things are obvious:
- When PayPerPost makes promises to advertisers, they are committed to those promises regardless.
- PayPerPost now has a sufficiently large base of bloggers that will allow it to weather any disastrous impacts to that base.

I have no idea what went on in Florida. I have no idea why they didn't release one feature at a time to ensure quality. This post is just my pure speculation about a business that I want desperately to succeed. I could be wrong. I often am. Then again, a hundred years from now, who is going to remember this event? Certainly, not me. In a thousand years, I doubt anyone will care. For now, this is definitely an Adapt, Adopt and Improve situation for the bloggers and for PayPerpost. And I selfishly want all of us to survive this.


How To Not Implement Change

If you want to frustrate a lot of people that have a working relation with you, just mess with their money. It's quite easy to do if you are in charge. All you have to do is make several major changes that interfere in the money making process of your people. Resist the urge to release each change separately in an organize, effective process. We're not after efficiency or planning here. Just change as much of their routine as possible. Get everyone's blood pressure high as quickly as you can. Make sure that you keep the interference random -- some can get their money and then they can't. In fact, allow a select few to experience little or no problems. Make sure that them tell everyone else how wonderful their world is. As for you, keep your communication as minimal as possible without eliminating it. You want frustration, not a mob riot or an stampeding exodus from your endeavor with those people. Throw everyone a small bone of information (true or false) every now and then. Tell them that you're working on the problem and should have the solution in a few minutes. See how many days you can keep this going. Time your talks when you sense their frustration is nearing the boiling point of a revolt. A few words and they will go away with a grumble.

We are extremely adaptable creatures. Our survival depends upon it. Look at prisoners of war who lived through the tortures of their camp. Listen to the those who endured the horrors of concentration camps and lived to tell about it. So what you are doing here is nothing. After a time, the frustration will melt into bitter surrender. And you can continue with your haphazard implementation process. Make no allowances for backup plans. It's 'damn the torpedos, full speed ahead'.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Review My Post and Make Some $$?

PayPerPost (PPP has rolled out several features over the past couple of days. Judging from the increase of 'help me' messages on the forums, their development is now putting large scale fires. Yet, when these features are all corrected, they will become just that-- features, helpful and money making. One that I have added to this blog is a button for a reader to click and review my post, any post, and get paid for doing so. One of PPP requirements is that I put the button on every post on my blog. This turned out rather easy to do once I figured out how to modify blogger's template for this blog. As for you, the reader, I believe the catch is you must sign up to PPP first. This would mean you could only review one post. Of course, after that you would have the opportunity to make money from your blog, but that is another issue.

What do you think? Should I keep those buttons on my post or remove them?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Joys Of Afternoon Television

I don't often get to see daytime television. In fact, it's been a few years. How I got along without watching Oprah, I will never know. Yesterday, I happened to turn on my set in time to catch several channels of Soap Operas. Not that I don't get my share of daily drama at work. Sometimes I wish that I was wearing hip high boots at work while I wade through episodes of "As The Stomach Turns." Anyway, I'd forgotten how many daily dramas were on for the viewing pleasure of those not out in the work place. And being the Internet savvy guy that I am, I didn't want to feel ignorant about whose mother had had which baby from that father who was dying from what disease while having another affair with whats-her-name. The only way I could get a handle on these heart-wrenching, mind-numbing episodes was to go to which had every daytime drama listed, well laid out, and clearly explained. Maybe I am being too technical or maybe because I'm easily confused, but I think if needs a flowchart of the character interactions and of the events in the series. Nothing fancy, just a quick timeline so I could get caught up on the latest dirty going-on's of the soaps stars. For now, you'll have to excuse me. I need to go get another box of Kleenex.

A Little R & R

I had planned to spend this past weekend in Tennessee with my girlfriend and with my sister's family. But Thursday night was one of those planning situations where you try to guess with the weather folks as to the extent of icy weather. I'll be glad when weather forecasting becomes a little more accurate than playing a lottery game. For now, we had to decide whether we would be able to make the trip home in time for my girlfriend to make it to work on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the call for snow and ice on Monday through the mountains made risking loss of her job almost a sure thing. It's probably just as well. During the days prior to Thursday, I was feeling more and more tired. I don't know why. By Friday I awoke with this incredible sense of weariness. I tried not to make a big deal about it when we went out for a late breakfast. But when we got back home, I was craving sleep and had returned to bed for a few more hours of shut-eye. What's going on? That's not like me! I feel better now because our weekend was relaxing. There was no rushing around to meet the demands of schedule, job or family. In fact, this is the first time in three years that I have not had to work a Super Bowl weekend. So today I'm ready to get back into the ol' grind. Happy, happy, joy, joy! And to my to-do list, I think that I better add that visit to the doctor that I've been putting off for the past seven years.