Tuesday, August 31, 2004

OATMEAL PARTY? Apparently Ted L. Nancy has discovered Craigslist.

Friday, August 27, 2004

ANYONE FROM THE FTC READING? My e-mail started working again today, after 10 days, though only coincidentally because SiteHosting.net fixed its servers. The more important reason was that my DNS change went through and now I was getting my mail through
Lunarpages, my apparently excellent new provider.

But SiteHosting did close the almighty "ticket" and advised me by e-mail to contact customer service if I wasn't satisfied.

Well, I wasn't satisfied. Working e-mail from now on is nice, but I'd sorta like the e-mail that people tried to send me over the past week-and-a-half. Technical issues precluded this, which I can understand even while I'm bitching and moaning, but then am I not owed some compensation for the loss of service and the destruction of property?

Apparently not. But I could get a refund of 10 days' worth of fees if I switched from Affinity Internet Inc.'s SiteHosting.net subsidiary to Affinity Internet Inc.'s ValueWeb subsidiary! (I was saving the part about canceling altogether until the end of the phone call; they did offer me the refund at that point.)

Now, maybe I'm just overreacting, but does this sound like the way a scrupulous company would solicit business for one of its units? How can I be sure the outage and the destruction of my property weren't business tactics? FTC?

Thursday, August 26, 2004

NOT A GREAT WEEK or so on the computer front.

On Wednesday the 18th I noticed that I wasn't getting any e-mail. On Thursday I called my Web host, Sitehosting.net, and the guy said he'd run some sort of reset script and everything would be fine.

It wasn't fine. I called again. They "opened a ticket."

On Thursday, e-mail started coming through. Nothing from the lost Wednesday, but new stuff.

That didn't last. I called again, and again, and again. Every time I was told there was an open ticket but the administrators hadn't gotten a chance to look at it yet.

The weekend came, and still no e-mail.

I called a couple of times Monday. "Open ticket" seems to be a magic phrase to these people. Somehow the utterance of these words precludes any further questions or concerns. I decided I didn't want to live the rest of my online life with people so cavalier about major outages, and so I started looking around. My friends at the Big Empire and Cheapo Vegas use Lunarpages and like it. The storage space and bandwidth on the $8 plan were many times as much as I was paying $15 for, and so I signed up. Like an idiot, though, I provided my regular e-mail address as the contact address. Lunarpages' confirmation message did slip through in a very brief burp of up-ness.

On Tuesday (the one-week anniversary of the end of e-mail as I know it), in perhaps my half-dozenth call to Sitehosting, I was told that the provider was having a systemwide problem. Somehow that was comforting in that it wasn't a problem specific to me. Still, I was glad I had made the switch. I was pretty sure I missed the official welcome-and-setup message from Lunarpages, though, and so I sent an e-mail to the support address asking that it be re-sent to my Yahoo address. That didn't work, and so I made a phone call. Got it.

Wednesday brought another burp during which new e-mail was coming through for several hours. Still no catch-up from all that down time, though, and again it didn't last. I got home late but stayed up to upload my Web files to Lunarpages and go through the process of changing the DNS settings.

Here I ran into another weirdness: My computer does not like Network Solutions. If I try to go beyond the home page -- to, say, log on -- Internet Explorer just hangs. It does this only with Network Solutions and the America West Airlines frequent-flier program. Every other Web site in the world works just fine, and there's nothing funky or restrictive in my security settings.

I finally got the hint and walked upstairs to use Jacqueline's computer. No problem getting to the log-in screen there, but what's my password? I tried every combination of user names and passwords I've ever used, and nothing.

So I got on the phone. After an ordeal of Social Security numbers and mothers' maiden names and callbacks to confirm I am who I say I am, the lady told me my user name (6034213951345623490591249034123949034039232494 -- why didn't I remember that?) and offered to reset my password. Oh, and I figured out that theslot.com and lapsingintoacomma.com were under separate accounts. We agreed to consolidate them under 6034213951345623490591249034123949034039232494, after a bunch of weird non-sequitur questions (only when I brought up the other domain did she suddenly announce that in order to continue talking with her I had to pick a new security question).

Meanwhile, elephantsofstyle.com is at Register.com. I love Register.com's interface, and my computer actually allows me to use Register.com! So, just for the heck of it, I decided to get Register.com on the phone and ask about the possibility of moving all my domains there, as the company's ads invite me to do. The thing is, I'm paid up at Network Solutions for another year or so. I asked how that works -- do the other registration companies refund your money or what?

"SIR, I CANNOT comment on OTHER companies' financial policies."

"No, no, of course not, but this must come up a lot."

"SIR, I CANNOT comment on OTHER companies' financial policies."

We went back and forth for five minutes or so. You don't get the top people manning the phones at 5 a.m. I finally got an answer that may or may not make sense.

I went back and tried to log in at Network Solutions on Jacqueline's computer with 6034213951345623490591249034123949034039232494 and my new password, it didn't work. I figured that maybe it takes a little while for such a change to take effect, and the sun was starting to come up anyway, so I went to bed.

I got up after four hours of sleep to find that I still wasn't getting e-mail. I decided to download a different browser -- Mozilla Firefox -- and try the Network Solutions site again. Firefox crashed when I was foolish enough to try to import my bookmarks, but when I finally got it up and running, I could indeed get to the Network Solutions log-in screen. But I still couldn't log in.

I called Network Solutions, and it turns out the woman had consolidated the two domains under the other 246-digit numeric user name. So I kept the guy on the phone and tried that user ID. Nope. He insisted that I change the password online and offered to send me an e-mail with the required link. Only I'm not getting e-mail, so I asked him to send it to my Yahoo address.

Yahoo considered it spam, but eventually I found it. And now I can log on, providing I don't use my own computer or my regular browser! The nice NetSol man also offered me a great deal on a five-year renewal. But why would I want to renew with a company whose site is dead to me? The nice NetSol man suggested that I take that up with Microsoft.

"Have you ever tried to talk to Microsoft?" I asked.

"Good point."

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

OK, HOW MANY WAYS can we think of to describe the Olympic "handball" event?

It's soccer with hands. Or basketball with a soccer net. Or lacrosse/field hockey with bigger balls and no sticks. Or water polo on land.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

AN UNLIKELY LINE from a recent dream:

"Danny Kaye is a tap-dancing prick."

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

SO, ALL THREE of the schmoes on "Joe Schmo 2" are D.C. residents? What are the chances?

Tim Walsh, Ingrid, Amanda . . . call me.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I GOT THE XM SATELLITE RADIO installed in my car while I was on vacation. I haven't mentioned it because I have nothing profound to say, other than "This is really cool!"

Today I heard Fountains of Wayne, a group that all the kids are apparently listening to. First impression: not so good. The song was "Bright Future in Sales," and more than anything else it reminded me of my rant on snot-nosed cleverness in writing. (Yeah, I know, I'm one to talk.)

There are loads of exceptions and in-betweens, but in general I like my alternative music tuneful and subtly evocative, not Ritalin-boy wordy and too clever by two-thirds. R.E.M., not Timbuk 3; the Shins, not Barenaked Ladies; the Pernice Brothers, not Fountains of Wayne. I'm not so keen on Weezer either. Those boys' music isn't nearly as hyper as the other "nots" that I've mentioned, but there's nothing catchy in the music; it's all about the words.

It was all I could do to give Fountains of Wayne a chance at all, considering that awful name. But I try to stay open-minded, and sure enough XM convinced me that I've been missing out on something by ignoring Ned's Atomic Dustbin all these years.

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