Search Term Madness

Recent search terms that have led people to this website:

  • stores for belly dancing outfits in california
  • technology: the way we might be
  • martha stewart living archives
  • pepperidge farm goldfish jingle
  • tamara hickey fan
  • big and advanced and email and system
  • guys in bike shorts
  • flowjet water dispenser
There was a temporary big bump in traffic today, largely due to a mention on Doc Searls’ website that percolated around. Welcome new readers.

Tree-based Businesses

At the corner of Grafton and University Streets in downtown Charlottetown, in front of Province House there is a tree with its own phone line.

The Phone Tree

I first noticed this last summer: about halfway up the tree there is an Island Tel box similar to the one on the side of my house. There’s a Big Black Cable running out the top of the box that disappears into the sky, and a regular old beige 4-conductor wire running out the bottom and down the tree.

The Phone Tree

As regular readers will know, I have been, from time to time, mildly critical of Island Tel. On this occasion, however, it would appear as though they are living up to their rhetoric:

Your business has special needs. At Island Tel we understand that you need to grow while keeping costs down, and be accessible to customers without having a large office.
The company’s efforts to be inclusive of small animals and other tree-based businesses is commendable.

Sherwood Volkswagen

Craig Wilson writes (in response to my quest for a car):

Allow me to go out on a limb and suggest you get to know Bob and Nettie Likely at Sherwood Volkswagen. Small dealership, honest people who expect to make a fair margin, a service manager who has been involved with VW for over 20 years and friendly qualified mechanics who welcome you poking your nose into their world and asking questions. I have purchased 4 cars there and am now looking at another. I have colleagues who have purchased 3 cars there. Each of us is satisfied.

I will pay them a visit. My brother Mike has a VW Golf and likes it a lot.

Network Solutions: stop bothering me!

I am a frequent user of Dictionary.com. It’s a good website, that provides useful information.

Of late, however, I’ve noticed that every so often when I visit the site, a “pop-under” ad for Network Solutions (a pop-under ad pops up under the current browser window, and I usually don’t notice it until later).

I find these pop-up ads quite annoying, especially given that I am a longtime Network Solutions customer (last time I checked I have paid them $4015US over the years for domain name registrations).

So I decided, naive guy that I am, to ask Network Solutions to stop sending me annoying advertising. I went to the Network Solutions Chat with Customer Service page, and had an online chat with one of the customer service reps. I would copy and paste the chat transcript, but the Java applet that ran the chat wouldn’t allow me to do this.

After asking me various questions about the ads (are they from our website? are they from your website?), the customer service rep suggested that I contact the offending website (Dictionary.com) and ask them for help. When I pressed further, they suggested that I turn off Java and/or turn off cookies in my browser, and when I suggested this would compromise my experience of other websites, they suggested I look for a program that disables pop-up ads.

In other words, a company of which I’ve been a good customer for 6 years is paying to have another company plaster my house with ads and the only way they can suggest I can make it stop is to find yet another company to try and help me make it stop.

Does this not seem insane? I will be looking for somewhere else to take my domain name registration business.

Car salespeople of earth,

I want to buy a car from you. I will spend up to $15,000. I want a late model (1997 or newer) small car — something like a Honda Civic, Mazda Protege, or Ford Focus will do fine. It needs to have air conditioning. I would prefer an automatic transmission. I want something that can be maintained locally, and where parts aren’t exorbitantly priced. I want something that offers good crash protection. After that, I’m pretty flexible.

You folks who sell cars aren’t making this an easy process for me. Websites for new cars (Honda, Toyota, Ford) are somewhat helpful. Websites for used cars (Capital Honda, Fair Isle Ford) aren’t updated regularly or have incomplete information. None of your websites, in the end, make buying a car that much easier.

More annoyingly, you’re not open to talk to me when I’m open to talk to you: on weeknights. Sure, I can walk the lot and kick the tires. But I’ve got the time to buy a car once I’m done work for the day, and by that time you’ve locked up shop.

I can buy a fridge, television site, even a small family home after 5:00 p.m., but not an automobile.

I know that margins in the car business are razor thin, but despite that (or maybe because of it), you’d think that somebody within 100 km of my house would come up with a sensible way to sell cars.

If you are that someone, please email me at cars@reinvented.net. If you are an idiot, please don’t respond: I’m looking for honest people with a good product to sell who will stand behind what they sell me.

Thank you for your time.

Veering

I have driven the route between Moncton and Charlottetown perhaps 100 times in the 8 years we’ve lived on the Island. As I’ve only taken the Murray Corner back-way a couple of times, that means I’ve driven through the traffic circle at Port Elgin about 98 times. In all those times, I have never let my curiousity let me veer out of the traffic circle in any but the usual ways — to Moncton, Sackville, or to the ferry/bridge as the case may be. Until today.

With said curiousity piqued by mention of a world of German delights in Baie Verte and beyond, Catherine, wee Oliver and I veered right at the turn off for Port Elgin on our way back from Moncton this afternoon. This is our story.
Esser's Bakery

Our first stop was Esser’s European Style Bakery in Baie Verte. Esser’s is easy to find: just drive to Baie Verte, don’t take the turn to Tidnish, drive until you think you’ve gone way, way too far, and at that precise moment when you turn around to go back, you will find yourself turning into Esser’s driveway.

Esser’s isn’t exactly the picture of a modern bakery: it shares its driveway with a cattle operation, and the building that houses it has seen better days. But inside they sell a wonderment of bread, cakes, buns, biscuits and other pasteries, all German-influenced in their ingredients and presentation. We left outfitted with a half-dozen tasty desserts and a couple of loaves of bread. We will be back. Note: Esser’s is a cash-only business; stop at the Trico Credit Union in Port Elgin on your way and get some cash.
Winegarden Estates

Our next stop was Winegarden Estates, a small distillery and winery that’s close by. To get there from Port Elgin, drive to Baie Verte, turn left towards Tidnish, and drive exactly 5km. Winegarden Estates’ store sells a dizzying array of wine, liquers and whisky, most made on the premises, with some additional products from the Gagetown Cider Company.

Like Esser’s, Winegarden isn’t much to look at. But their staff are friendly and helpful, you can sample everything they sell, and from out initial tasting, they make some interesting, quality products. The operational part of the distillery and winery is closed for renovations right now, but they promise that tours will be offered of the newly expanded facility in 2001. We’ll do some more drinking, and report back later on what we discover. Note: Winegarden takes cash or Visa only, not Mastercard nor debit card.

Our last stop for the day was back on the more beaten track: the new visitor centre and nature park at Cape Jourimain. We didn’t have it in us to take the full tour — they have trails out to the lighthouse and through the marsh — but we did get a sense of the place, and a chance to eat in their restaurant.

The entire Cape Jourimain development is designed to sit light on the land: the washrooms use recycling toilets and rainwater powered sinks, for example. When you see this technology in action, you wonder why we’re not using it in all new buildings. It should be the law.

The environmentally friendly theme carries through to the restaurant, where they use brightly colour china and nicely designed silverware instead of the usual disposable dishes, and even have a big dish of butter instead of the usual little garbage-creating plastic tubes (note: there’s a simple snack bar in the frontmost building; go along to the interpretive centre for the restaurant proper; ignore the signs saying you need to purchase a ticket first — you don’t). Again, you wonder why all restaurants don’t work this way.

The restaurant has a simple menu, with 4 or 5 entrees offered at any time. Both Catherine and I had the lobster stew. It was a little pricey ($9.95 for a large soup bowl), but it was worth every penny.

When we’re feeling more spry, we’ll return to drink in all that the Cape Jourimain development has to offer; in the meantime, however, I recommend it to anyone who’s in need of a little rest or snack before heading home across the bridge (speaking of which: you get some of the best views of the Confederation Bridge, period, from the restaurant).

So next time you’re rushing home from Moncton, realize that your rushing is an artifact of the old-time rush for the ferry, take your foot off the accelerator, and veer right. A world of wonders awaits.

www.theguardian.pe.ca — RIP?

Visitors to the website of The Guardian (Charlottetown’s daily newspaper) are now receiving a pop-up notice that says, in part:

Beginning September, you’ll notice significant changes to our web sites. We’ll become bigger and better, with Globaltv.com, tvforbc.com, chektv.com and our Canadian daily newspaper sites all merging to become part of the canada.com national network.
Since they went online a couple of years ago, The Guardian has contributed a reliable local Island news flow to the web. Their website will never win design awards, but it’s functional and, especially after a recent redesign, loads quickly. Their website’s front page does what it’s supposed to do: delivers the top 4 or 5 local stories in a concise, easy to follow format.

I fear that once The Guardian’s content gets reduced to being the “Charlottetown” click off the Big CanWest Site, these qualities will disappear. If the design of the existing CanWest Site is any indication, I don’t hold out great hopes for the future.

Censored Internet at Chapters

I just emailed the following note to Heather Reisman, Chief Executive Officer, Indigo Books & Music Inc. and Chapters Online:

Dear. Ms. Reisman,

I was a customer of yours this morning at your Chapters store in Moncton.

While in the store, I took advantage of your Internet access system and purchased 20 minutes of Internet time to allow me to check my email and keep up to date with the web while away from home.

While the system generally worked well, I was dismayed to find that when I attempted to access Doc Searls’ website (doc.weblogs.com), I was given an error message along the lines of “you are attempting to access a website with content inappropriate for a public access terminal”. I assume that this arbitrary filtering occured because today’s version of Mr. Searls site contained, in part, the sentence “No, I’m shitting on Sony.”

I have several concerns:

1. Surely a national bookstore chain should be concerned with issues of information freedom, and shouldn’t put itself in the role of arbitrary censor. Do you choose to not include books in your inventory based on the fact that they contain the word “shit” or not?

2. There was no notice of the content filtering system given to me when I paid my $2 for 20 minutes of Internet access. I paid for access to the *entire* Internet, not for some Chapters-sanitized version of it.

3. By denying your customers access to Mr. Searls website you are, at least indirectly, doing yourself a disservice, as he is one of the co-authors of the “Cluetrain Manifesto,” a popular book that you sell in your store in Moncton and in your online website (the book is currently ranked #3,988 in the Amazon.com Sales Rank).

I would ask that you please do the following:

(a) Arrange for my $2 Internet access fee to be refunded to me.

(b) Takes steps to immediately remove the arbitrary content filtering in your in-store Internet access terminals.

Otherwise, I will find it very difficult to be your customer in future.

A copy of this note to you has been posted on my website at www.reinvented.net; I would be happy to post your reply there as well.

Regards,
Peter Rukavina
Charlottetown, PEI

Watch this space for news of a response.

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