Deliver Baby, Fight Cancer, Win Emmy

Patricia Heaton Patricia Heaton won an Emmy tonight for her role as Debra Barone on the CBS comedy Everybody Loves Raymond. It was her second win for this role.

I have never been able to watch Everybody Loves Raymond; it never clicked with me. It’s partly because, well, it’s on CBS, which doesn’t hit my demographic. And partly because the show itself seems like a pale rehashing of Roseanne. Perhaps I’m mising something.

Heaton, though, I’ve always considered a first rate actor. Her seminal role (pardon the pun) was playing Dr. Karen Silverman in the 1980s ABC drama thirtysomething. She debuted in Episode 304, delivering Susannah’s baby, and later returned to deliver Hope and Michael’s son Leo, and as Nancy’s doctor when she went through cancer treatment.

I remember thinking at the time of thirtysomething that she was the kind of OB/GYN I’d like to have around if I ever had kids with someone. As it turned out, Dr. Sproule, our OB/GYN here in Charlottetown last year, came pretty close.

So, congratulations on your Emmy, Ms. Heaton.

Disclaimer: If you think the fact that I am a big thirtysomething fan gives you the right to think less of me, well, think again. I watched every episode. I once bought a TV at Kmart in El Paso, Texas, just so I could watch (I returned the TV the next morning). At the time it was great, groundbreaking TV. And it holds up. So there.

Network Solutions [sic]

Back last year, I revealed here that I’d spent more than $4000 over the years for domain name registration services, all of it to Network Solutions.

Network Solutions used to be a godawful horrible company. When I went to register my first domain name with them back in 1995 — — it took weeks for them to update their files. Their customer service was unusually horrible. They’ve gotten better on the speed front — most domain name changes happen within an hour or so now — but their customer service has slid even further into a hole of unhelpfulness.

Mostly this hasn’t bothered me all that much, and when it does, it’s only at the yearly rewnewal time. But recently they’ve “updated” [sic] their website — perhaps because they’ve been consumed by VeriSign — and it’s now such a non-functional, poorly-designed mess of a tool that I can’t abide being their customer any longer.

So today I started the process of switching all of my .com and .net domain names to a small Edmonton called Trinic that a reader of this site suggested. I used them earlier this year to register and I got a good feeling. Their system is simple and uncluttered: most operations can be performed in a click or two. And when I ran into a small snag — turned out not to be their fault — with my .info registration and emailed them, they actually emailed me back.

My only complaint with their systems is that their credit card payment gateway has a tendency to throw CGI timeout errors, which is disconcerting. Their website explains that this means that your payment has actually ben processed. But I’m always left wondering. I hope they fix this problem soon.

In the meantime, I’m much happier dealing with a small Edmonton company than the Behemoth that Network Solutions has been become.

No patience nor money

CBC reports today: Air Canada losing money, patience.

I have no patience for Air Canada, nor for any of the other ailing airlines looking to be propped up in this inarguably troubling time.

Here’s the thing: shit happens. Granted, recent shit is bigger shit than we’ve seen in a long while. But there are ups and downs in the world. It’s a big, complicated, organic psycho-stew out there, and sometimes people are going to want to travel by air more than other times. This is inevitable. Your airplanes will crash. Other guys’ airplanes will crash. The economy will go sour. Train service will get better. Pilots will go on strike. And terrorists will crash airplanes into buildings. All of this is inevitable; the specifics may be unexpected. But shit happens. It’s the way the world works.

Airlines are a business monoculture. They do one thing: fly from place to place. And they appear to base their business model around the notion that nothing will ever go wrong and that there will be no rainy days. This won’t work over the long term; it’s simply not a sustainable system, especially once the jig is up and millions are no longer available to pour in from our tax dollars.

What happened to the idea of putting money aside for a rainy day? What about diversifying the business so that when travel’s down you’ve got other activities that are up? What about creating a sustainable business ecology where you concentrate on the long view, and where you build in the assumption of disaster, evil, bad economy, etc. into the model?

These are all things that small businesses are expected to do to survive. These are lessons that farmers know well, and have known well for many generations. These are habits that most families know well (or wish they knew well) when it comes to basic home budgeting.

I have no patience for stupid, greedy airlines that don’t think this way. You reap what you sow.

The Way Back Machine

Digital Island website, December 22, 1996 The Way Back Machine is one of the coolest web applications I’ve come across. The site is an archive, at selected points in history, of sites on the web; it claims to contain “over 100 terabytes and 10 billion web pages archived from 1996 to the present.”

Pictured here is a thumbnail of our website from December 22, 1996, back before Digital Island Inc. got reinvented as Reinvented.

You can use their site to read the entire archived page.

One of the things I linked to back in 1996 was this CBC Morningside Log for November 13, 1995. One of the log entries is for a debate that I (credited oddly as “owner of Island Media” — I don’t know where they got that) had with William Burrill, and Scott Goodfellow, moderated by Peter Gzowski, about the future of the CD-ROM.

Although the original audio is now missing from the CBC website, I managed to grab a copy and archived it here [MP3, 3.2MB] for perpetuity. My role, as you will hear if you listen, was the wry techno-sceptic. In other words, I was the jackass.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Notes: Scott Goodfellow is still with Good Media in Ontario; William Burrill is now entertainment columnist for The Toronto Star. Our company is no longer called Digital Island, and the use of the words Digital Island on this page should not be taken to imply any association or endorsement by Digital Island, a Cable & Wireless company.

Apple Store

Me! Well, here I am at the Apple Store in Peabody, MA. That’s a picture of me that I just took with a camera that’s hooked up to this computer.

The coolest thing about this store is that everything is set up for customers to use. You can take pictures, shoot videos, run software. And all of the machines are connected to really fast Internet.

This approach to retail makes all other computer stores look like car dealers who won’t let you take the cars for a test drive (little mac shoppe excepted, of course).

Maybe I’ll go shoot a video now…

Okay, I’m back now. I’ve you’ve got QuickTime then you can watch my first iMovie.

It’s amazing how amazing this all is; it represents the de-geekification of computing, taking their sales from the back alleys and grotty sweat-soaked dork-brothels into the modern age. Computers as towels. Or hammers. Or cartons of milk. Bravo, Apple.

Gotta go check out the iPod and then start the long ride home to Canada.

Down, Up

Our Reinvented server went off the air today for about 5 hours. This fact was made somewhat more difficult by the fact that I am in New Hampshire and Catherine and Oliver (who, admitedly, is too small to be able to reboot a server just yet) are in Stanley Bridge (note to criminal element: alarm system is armed).

I initially thought the problem might be server related, but when I couldn’t ping any of the machines on our network, it appeared then to be a network problem.

Thanks to the good efforts of my friend and colleague Dave, who braved the depths of our underground server vault and reset the Newbridge DSL device, we’re now back on the air.

The 4 or 5 times in two years that my DSL service has gone away, this has been the fix. It’s not a great advertisement for Newbridge equipment, but at least there’s a simple fix.

Note to other DSL customers: after this episode I checked with Island Tel and found that they can, in fact, do a remote reboot from their end. SO next time I can bother them, and not Dave.

Police Blotter

From today’s Monadnock Ledger:

Tuesday, Oct. 16
Animal complaint: A Granite Street man told police he saw a lynx around 4:13 a.m.
Suspicious person: At 9:30 a.m., a Scott-Farrar Home official told police a woman opened the door of the home, looked in, and ran away when she saw home employees. Police did not find a woman matching the description provided.
A snapshot of life in America.

Biodynamic Farming

I had the opportunity to chat today with Judd Hale Sr., Editor in Chief of The Old Farmer’s Almanac. He told me about his family’s connection to the Biodynamic Farming movement, a “method of agriculture which seeks to actively work with the health-giving forces of nature.”

Judd grew up in the small community of Vanceboro, ME — ” We are not quite the end of the earth, but it is visible occasionally.” — which, in Judd’s parents’ day, became a centre of biodynamics in America.

Reading the Biodynamics literature, it becomes obvious that, at least if the “cosmic life force” stuff is stripped away, the centre of the philosophy is the direction in which PEI agriculture must inevitably head.

In other words, everything old is new again.