My latest rant

Sometimes I just need to rant. Be afraid, you are my captive audience.

And still no contact …

I submitted a ticket with support at my old hosting company this morning to ask if they could tell me what their Time To Live was set at because my old, somewhat buggered site kept popping up when typing in my domain name. Got the usual automated “we got your message, we’ll get back to you” response but still haven’t had an actual answer.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised:
Lost It

  • September 3: The initial upgrade failure happened. It took 4 days to get any sort of response
  • September 5-15: After that, I seemed to get a response every second day. And apart from not resolving the WordPress issue my other question was ignored. Okay, my site was partially phucked, I get that … what was left was what was left … BUT surely there could have been some sort of answer to the “when I try to log on it’s telling me my username doesn’t exist” problem. Even a “we don’t know” would have been something. Oh well, I spent a bit of time online doing some research and managed to replicate the table in the database required to give me access to my blog.
  • September 15: I received an email from Host Me which used such delightful terms as “irritating”. I wonder if they attended the same “Keep Your Customers Happy” course as Telecom? To top it off, someone changed the status of my eticket support request to “closed”.
  • September 16: Then (drumroll please), the Host Me final solution: “Would you like us to terminate your account”. You bet your arse I would.
  • September 17: I responded to an email from “Pete” at Host Me but got no reply.
  • October 6: After buggering off to the Gold Coast for a week or so, I got back and sadly, wasn’t surprised to find that there was still no reply. And now there was another problem: my disk space usage had gone through the roof while I was away.  I responded via the now re-opened support ticket to ask about that. No reply.
  • October 11: Same as above, used the ticket support system but still got no reply.
  •  October 13: Once again, using Host Me’s own support system I asked the same question. I also asked if the refusal to respond to my emails akin to an impetuous teenager throwing a tantrum and or more along the lines of “if we ignore her she’ll go away”? Guess what? Still no explanation on the web disk issue.
  • October 13, seven hours later: I tried a different question … why, when trying to import my existing WordPress blog on to another site was I getting an error message saying there was a critical file missing? Was there something I could do? Now I wasn’t asking questions because I wanted to stalk these people. Hell, I didn’t really even want to have email conversations with them. However, it’s the only contact method Host Me. I really just wanted to pack up what was left of my blog and get the hell out of Dodge.
  • October 28: That was today’s question and answer session (well, question and ignore I guess).

Things are looking a little different

All righty then, here we are in our new home.

I’ve signed up with the lovely people at Webbase and so far, so good. Of course, because my existing blog had a total meltdown and I STILL haven’t received any further response from my old host I pretty much had to adandon it because there was something screwing up the import process.

However, I have managed to grab what content was still there and will get some (maybe all) of it up online over the coming days.

Interestingly, I got a call yesterday from someone else having unexpected problems with the same host. And he’s also having issues with the contact (or lack of) so has asked me to move his site to Webbase as well.


Safety behind Windows

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

I hope you’re all fit and well after Microsoft’s big security fix on Tuesday.

According to reports it was the company’s biggest-ever fix, with a whopping 16 patches addressing 49 problems in its products.

Yes, I can hear the anti-Microsoft brigade out there doing the boo-hiss thing as they nod smugly and pat themselves on the back for being clever enough to use their more fruity-themed machines.

But really, I don’t care. I’ve used Linux, Mac and Windows during the years and they all have their good and bad points. Sure, there are fewer known vulnerabilities in the other two but that’s probably because there are also fewer users: the morons out there who like to do nasty things to our computers will naturally aim for the biggest target.

I’d have more of a problem if Microsoft weren’t trying to address the problems. The security fixes have been coming thick and fast this year and while you could say that’s because Microsoft is full of holes, I reckon it’s more a case of its full of known holes – maybe the problem with other operating systems is they just haven’t been looked for yet.

Besides, at least they’re doing something proactive about it. And speaking of being proactive, let’s talk about my luggage woes. To the two people who have mentioned my stricken suitcase in recent emails after I wrote about my holiday a couple of weeks ago: I finally got a call from Air New Zealand.

This in itself was something of a shock because a couple of years ago when I returned from Aussie with not only a broken case but also broken jewellery inside that case (and some missing content) I went through the usual feedback channels for the airline but to this day haven’t had a response.

But I digress, back to yesterday’s phone call. Air New Zealand doesn’t cover for damage to things that “protrude” from luggage such as handles and wheels. I can, however, arrange to send my case to Christchurch where they will kindly send it off to the company they use to fix damaged luggage to have it fixed. At my own cost.

Isn’t that kind?

I guess there’s a lesson in all this: don’t use any sort of suitcase with all those unnecessary, ill-advise protruding bits like handles, stands, zips and so on. Next time I fly Air New Zealand I’ll be packing in either a cardboard box or a bin-liner.


I’m still here …

Just goes to show that you never know what’s around the corner. For the past eight or so years I’ve used the same hosting company with just a few minor glitches along the way. In fact I’ve recommended the company to anyone I’ve known was looking for a home for their website.

Sadly, that is no longer the case. What should have been a routine WordPress upgrade on September 3 turned into something of a disaster when it failed to work. I used my host’s contact form to request help but four days later was still waiting.

Eventually, I got part of my site back but am still having major problems with contact from my hosting company. One question I’ve been asking since the upgrade failed is: Why can’t I log on to my blog?

Still waiting for an answer to that one. I managed to hunt around online and find out how to add back the missing bits of the database to allow the creation of an admin login and as of now am back in business. Partly.

You may have noticed the missing content. A lot of it in fact. I’ll be moving on to another host very soon and will attempt to resurrect as much of the missing content as I can but there will still be a lot of it missing.

Oh, but there was one good thing that came out of all this: At the same time this was all happening, I was also setting up a site for work for what will become quite a large site requiring a good chunk of server space. I had asked my current host for some info to take back to the boss but after a week I was still awaiting a response to my question.

Now, I might not be the sharpest tool in the shed but I’m not a fool, either. After the disaster happening here on my own site and a week spent waiting for a simple answer to a question submitted on a totally different ticket as a potential new customer I cut my losses and took to the Trade Me message board to get some recommendations on hosting providers.

I’m pleased to say I found one for work, the same one I’ll likely be moving to at the end of this month. And they replied to my email in less than an hour.

And they have a phone number.



Ladies who lunch

Every Friday afternoon I escape the office with one of my friends for lunch.

This is a bit of a novelty since I work through my lunch break every other day of the week but I figure if I actually do the proper lunch thing once a week I can live with it.

Each week we carefully consider our options for venues for these social gatherings of two and I must say, we’ve become connoisseurs of orange juice: some are definitely better than others and from personal experience, some blend with vodka better than others.

This past Friday we decided to wander along to a certain pub named for a beer that advertises itself as “pride of the south”. There were a few people there but it certainly wasn’t as busy as at the Kiln or Duo on a Friday.

ladies-who-lunchThat didn’t mean we got a table straight away … no, we had to wait for one to be cleared. And just that one, we wouldn’t want to strain our table-wiping hand by overdoing it now, would we? So lucky us, we got to sit there surrounded by the dirty dishes and half-eaten meals of earlier diners. Very appetising.

We looked at the menu and decided to simply have potato wedges. This cunning ploy was to ensure we would be in a fit state to plunder the dessert menu before leaving.

We also ordered our usual orange juices, one au naturale one with a splosh of vodka.

The juice arrived. It didn’t taste much like orange juice, more like an orange cordial: a bit too sweet and lacking any real orange kick.

The wedges, however, were very good.

We then asked for the dessert menu and made our choices. Then we waited for the waitress to return.

And waited.

And then we waited some more.

Of course, she was busy. Well, all three of them were. They were all serving one guy. Must have been a big order. But seriously girlies, if you want to flirt with the guy do it on your own time, not when you have other customers waiting.

Eventually (nearly 15 minutes after asking for the menus in what was now a very nearly empty restaurant) a waitress wandered over and asked “would you like to order dessert?”

Well that was why I asked for a dessert menu.

After telling us the cheesecake of the day (passionfruit, that got my attention) she took our orders and wandered off behind the bar.

My dining companion was getting concerned: she hadn’t taken our order to the kitchen.

But eventually she did, only to return to inform us that oops, the cheesecake of the day was no longer passionfruit (I guess Dee Street must be in a different time zone to the rest of Invercargill).

I’d consider going back to give the place one more chance simply because the food was so good. But if the service was of the same standard we had on Friday, I’d be giving up on the place.

And dammit, get some decent orange juice!

I changed my order and when the food arrived we were more than happy with it. However, while the food was good the service was slack, rough, uncaring and a lot of other things it shouldn’t have been.


My shit list gets a new entry


Congratulations TV3, you have made the grade. Again.

Yes, you suck. Like something really sucky.

I still haven’t forgiven you idiots for the whole Dexter debacle (you know, when they ran Dexter for just a few episodes in a non-primetime slot, decided it wasn’t rating well enough so pulled it). Now, we’ve got the Top Chef debacle. This is where they ran it for a few episodes, decided it wasn’t rating well enough so pulled it.

Um, is there an echo in here?

Three episodes? Three fecking episodes? And now I see they’ve announced on their website that it will be back on our screens from September 4. Will it be repeated from episode one? Will it be picked up from where it left off? Will they even play the whole damn series this time?

Who knows. All I know is they think repeats of Grand Designs will do as a replacement option and that I’m about ready to give up on TV3.

I’m one of those people who will avoid surfing sites that might have spoilers associated with whatever reality programme I’m interested in but this time around I decided to seek out the result on the official Top Chef site because TV3′s  programmers hadn’t decided when Top Chef would be back and I’d seen enough of the series to really want to know what happened. And now that I know, I doubt I’ll bother watching the series when it does return. That’s not a reflection on the winner, it’s a reflection on the stump the brains trust at TV3.

And you know what? Just to add to the “things I hate about TV3″ list, they cocked up tonight with Outrageous Fortune, cutting Pascalle off in mid-sentence before rolling the credits.

Way to go guys. I hope you all get a fungus in your dangly bits.


Credit where credit’s due

This whole ministerial credit card debacle is a bit of a joke, isn’t it?

I mean really, if one of us plebs had used the company credit card to live it up to the extent our elected representatives did, we’d be looking for new jobs and probably a good lawyer, as well.

That Shane Jones can excuse his spending on porn movies with the old “I’m a red-blooded bloke” defence simply as insult to injury for us, the taxpayers footing the bill for their excesses.

As an aside, if the bloke wants to watch a stick movie, that’s his choice, I’m not going to judge. However, when I’ve been sent off to some far flung, exotic location for work (like Christchurch or Wellington) I’ve never charged anything more exciting than a taxi fare.

alg_credit_cardsReally, how stupid and/or naive would you have to be to even consider charging porn and chocolate to the company credit card? More to the point, were they charged at the same time.

And did he wash his hands?

And yes, that’s another issue: what the hell do visiting dignitaries think when they come across (no pun intended) our politicians? “Oh yes, they’re the guys who like to visit foreign countries so they can sit in a hotel room eating chocolates and watching porn … hope he’s washed his hands.”

Then there’s Progressive leader Jim Anderton spending $22,000 on his ministerial credit card during a month-long trip to Europe in 2003. Nice for some, huh? And let’s not forget Tim Groser’s penchant for mini bars.

On, and Parekura Horomia forking out  $750 for a Chinese meal. I’m not even sure how that’s possible … according to my calculations, if I ordered from my local Chinese takeaway, that would be 60 servings of fried rice.

And we get to pay for it, with our taxes.

Oh sure, today’s the brown stuff is meant to be hitting the fan with reports that Phil Goff will be demoting three of his naughty wee Labourites, but is it enough?

And isn’t it a case of too little, too late? Would these demotions be happening if the media hadn’t got hold of the story?

Finally, who the hell was responsible for approving these expenses? I’m pretty damn sure that if I charged an evening of porn movies to my company credit card, the bean-counters would notice.



High-pitched chicks in horned hats v popular TV

I wonder why Dame Kiwi Te Kanawa has got such a bee in her operatic bonnet over reality TV? She’s had a swipe at Susan “I Dreamed a Dream” Boyle and reality TV talent shows in general during an interview about her own talent show plans.

Maybe she’s trying to stir some controversy to boost her own ratings because I really thought she had more class than to get so bitter and twisted about the success of others.


Are national standards a bad thing?

We are reluctant to tell our kids they aren’t as fast/clever/strong as the next kid because we don’t want them feeling a sense of failure (gotta save the fun stuff for when they’re all grown up) but don’t we, as parents, need to know if our offspring are actually doing okay in the world? And don’ t our children need to know that not everyone can be good at everything?

I can understand some of the fears about “labelling” our children but  how well is the system working when our children are getting to high school with bugger all in the way of literacy skills? I regularly see the results of our “education” system: teenagers and beyond who can’t spell, don’t know what an apostrophe is, can’t properly punctuate a sentence to save themselves and have an inability to do much more than basic addition without the aid of a calculator.

I was chatting to a couple of former colleagues the other day when we were approached by a bloke with a clipboard. That always makes me nervous. People with clipboards usually have strong political views and a strong desire to convert you to their way of thinking. In this case, the political view was “down with national standards”.

Clipboard Man also had pamphlets, which he offered us as a group. One of my former colleague dudes took a pamphlet and wiggled an eyebrow in what I suppose could indicate interest. This gave Clipboard Man his chance: “would you like to sign the petition?”

Eyebrow Wiggler said he would (“I’ll sign anything” he muttered jokingly). The moment Eyebrow Wiggler had finished autographing the petition, Clipboard Man grabbed his equipment (the clipboard that is, keep your mind/s out of the gutter) and he was off down the street to ambush another random passerby.

Did he ask if I wanted to sign the petition? No. Did he ask the third person in our group (a non-wiggler of eyebrows but still capable of signing his name)? No.

Perhaps Clipboard Man is a walking example of why we need national standards.


iPad: iDunno, iThink iM iOver iT




Jillian "George" Allison-Aitken

I live in the deep south of New Zealand, where smelly dairy cows are taking over from sheep in the livestock stakes. My hometown is the small but perfectly formed city of Invercargill, which is also the hometown of the original boy racer, Burt Munro. Find out more about me here.


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