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Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, August 07, 2009

Winter's a-Settin' In

Thursday morning I awoke in an uncomfortably cool room. Every year at about this same time a cold front blows in a crystal blue sky...and my pollen allergies. The shadows reach some critical length, the quality of sunlight changes, my tomatoes and peppers reach a certain ripeness, and when I put that all together somehow I just know. Fall is bullying summer in the back yard. Pretty soon summer will run home crying and fall can start its annual killing spree.

“Fall blew in last night,” I told my wife. “Winter’s a-settin’ in.”

That last phrase always riles her up. My mom used to say it. She could detect those same subtle cues that I pick up on, and see the same thing. Yes, it’s still August. Yes, several more weeks of summery weather lie ahead. But the fix is in.

Naturally, Anne thinks I’m nuts. And I am nuts. But I’m right about this.

Imagine my righteous delight, then, when I came home to find an order for the LED Peace Sign tree topper waiting for me. And imagine how a subsequent order for the Recycled Motherboard Christmas Tree compounded my smugness. And then, to top it off, I got an unrelated order from somebody whose surname is “Christmas”. I’m not clever enough to make this stuff up.

Winter’s definitely a-settin’ in.

A jolt of anxiety is probably a good thing, because for the fourth year in a row I have no marketing plan or holiday strategy. Maybe lightning will strike like it did last year. I need to zero in on a few good products, erect some lightning rods, and pray to the gods of greed for a miracle. Without one, I won’t match last year’s phenomenal sales and 2009 will go down the toilet.

At least my open-to-buy is in the black and I’m well-stocked on my major lines. By mid-September I’ll have enough cash on hand to bring in a few of the products I’ve been wish-listing since spring. None of them excite me, but neither does life in general.

Something new to hate about Quickbooks: Each day, I match individual transactions in the “make deposits” window to the day’s actual bank deposits. This window used to sort transactions by date, as you’d expect. In QB 2009, it sorts them alphabetically by deposit type (so all cash transactions, then all checks, then all Discover, then all Mastercard, then Paypal, etc). Since the bank doesn’t discriminate between MC and Visa I have to combine and re-combine mixed charges until I reach an amount that matches the deposit – a minor nuisance now, but it’s going to become a real time-sink come December. The standard Windows sort-by column header doesn’t work. Intuit deliberately broke it. Intuit’s customer service/help desk board has dozens of complaints about this bug and one official reply saying (in effect) “We changed this in 2008. It works the way we want it to, so it’s not a bug. Deal with it.” Users accuse Intuit of breaking this so that we will subscribe to their payment processing service. Intuit might just be the most arrogant software developer I’ve ever encountered – and I used to work in the PC games industry, where contempt for customers is legendary.

Something else to hate about Quickbooks: The 2009 desktop has new icons for “Intuit.com Services”, “Accept Credit Cards,” and “Learn About Payroll Options.” These are advertisements, and they cannot be removed. Here’s a clue, Intuit: Do not spam paying customers.

More hatred for Quickbooks: During a routine backup QB waved its scrawny arms around and shouted “Danger Will Robinson! Your data file is damaged! You need to run Rebuild Data! Danger!” Trying to do so triggered more dire warnings – “don’t try this unless instructed by an Intuit technician!” Screw you; that costs money. You know what the repair utility found? A duplicate template. Now, *I* certainly didn’t create a duplicate template…. And of course QB won’t let me delete a template.

A new reason to hate Yahoo: As soon as I paused my campaigns, I started getting daily emails saying: “There is an issue with the analytics tag for account 'Kraken Enterprises, Inc.-US' [xxxxxx]. Data has not been received since xxxxxx. If analytics data is not received for 46 consecutive days, your analytics will be temporarily deactivated. Please verify your analytics settings and check the tags on your web site(s).”

Of course, my tags are unchanged. I re-enabled Yahoo ads for a few top products; I’ll shut them down permanently after I use up my last $70. Data is flowing, but I’m still getting the same email warning every morning, with the date incremented by one day. Of course, Yahoo’s analytics are useless anyway.

Oh well. Microsoft bought Yahoo’s search business. I hope they nuke YSM from orbit.

An even better reason to hate Yahoo: No sooner did I reactivate those keywords than I got a notice that some are being deactivated because the minimum bids have increased. Yup, they’re raising prices again. My account doesn’t tell me which ones, if any, are endangered.

Something new to hate about my Vorlon (and I really hope I won’t need a tag for this!): The headphone/speaker wire jack is in the front of the machine. Grrrrr. Maybe iPod zombies appreciate having easy access to that jack, but for those of us who keep external speakers plugged in it’s just one more thing that’s constantly in the way. The Vorlon is a great machine functionally, but the ergonomics are really screwed. You’d think Dell would know better.

Oh, and when I run a graphics-intense game, the heat output is phenomenal. I wish I’d known that before I bought the video card upgrade.

1 comment:

  1. Nice & very interesting blog. Keep it up..


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