How much should we trust software companies

Ok, I accept that we are in the technological age. Which supposedly makes all things easy. Software and computers order things in a more rational fashion. Does it?

I subscribe to a couple of Adobe online products. You know, Adobe is probably second only to Microsoft in the consumer software market.

Well, my credit card was expiring, so I get this email from Adobe, telling me to follow a link to update the card.

I thought this would be a two minute thing.

Guess what? The link led me to nowhere land, something that did not recognize me as a customer, whereas I visit the site everyday. Then, I peruse the entire site, to see if there were any links. Nope!

My last option was to chat with a representative. I spent about half an hour, chatting with a couple of folks in the Indian subcontinent, only to be told that I needed to call a toll-free phone number to provide a different card!


In other words, we are supposed to trust that the companies that operate that way will make software that will work 100 % properly.

I don’t think so, sorry.


Wealth and fame, binders full of women, small business support

I am neither a Democrat, nor Republican. I just watched the debate last night to check whether any of the candidates represent me, the American middle class.

One thing I know for sure. Mr Romney does not.

In 2005, Mr. Romney said “When I was a boy I thought being rich and famous would make me happy, was I right” This type of remark would be suitable to the Lady Gagas and Madonnas of this world, not for an American president wannabe. The pursuit of happiness thought of by our founding fathers would thus be an empty one, for the vast majority of the populace will neither achieve wealth or fame in their lifetime. I suppose Mr. Romney’s country club buddies suit his ideal of happiness, though.

However, it is troubling that the man thinks that way, and is supposedly devising ways to make the middle class happy once again! How can that be? He is obviously out of touch with microeconomic reality, meats and potatoes. Talking about supporting small business and doing away with deductions is akin to giving a person a sedative before a lethal injection. Deductions are the only perks the middle class has, if we can call that. Small businesses are not businesses with more than US$10 million in sales or 100 employees, which may be Mr. Romney’s definition of it.  The wealthy class, however, has ~blind trusts~, private foundations, or receive income hidden as loans from companies, things small time operators are not privy too. This helps understand the 14% tax rate mentioned on the debate…

The reality is, we are reversing the economic process. “Mom and pop” stores are increasing in numbers, for jobs in multinational, large companies, have gone, perhaps forever. It is not only in manufacturing, which both candidates try to make us think. In services too. Anytime two large banks merge, thousands of people are made redundant forever, and hundreds of thousands have lost such jobs in the last 15 years, both under Dems and Reps.  These are the people that go on their own selling insurance, real estate, become “coaches” or consultants, because the job market no longer absorbs them. These, the micro businesses, are the ones that need help. Not even the regular mom and pop stores can survive anymore, globbed up by the Walmarts and chain stores of this world.

Then there was the binders full of women remark. I hope the binders were not full of old issues of Playboy. Just joking.

By and large, both candidates keep on going back and forth with the concept of “creating jobs” and “government does not create jobs”. The reality is that in a free market, jobs are mostly created by companies. Very simple. The laws of supply and demand, and availability of income and workers, dictates whether or not jobs are created. However, both candidates avoid the issues, or else, they have to clarify that they are in the hands of the market.

For instance, oil prices. Private oil companies follow international prices. Sure, the USA consumes 25 % of the world oil, but that means the majority is still consumed elsewhere. The supply and demand is as much international as domestic. And guess what happens? Oil companies do export, when the price is really good! Again, it is the markets that dictate this, but as the candidates do not want to seem powerless, they fake they have a power they do not have.

Thus, it is world of make believe.

The Bible says, wisely, that people perish for the lack of knowledge. This does not apply only to spiritual issues, it does to everything. People talk about the economy with almost doctoral authority, yet, have not idea as to the difference between assets and liabilities, currency issue, pork barrel politics, derivatives, foreign trade, and a host of other things that affect their daily living. Most people in this country still believe there is a gold standard and that the popular vote elects presidents! Thus a well-groomed dude can just tell them a whole bunch of things that are, at best, half-truths, and they fall for it. So no wonder the majority remains at the bottom of the food chain.

Over-reaction to the nth degree

Let me start by saying I do like the Beatles. I do fancy John Lennon. He was not my favorite beatle, but I acknowledge his contribution to music. He would probably not be a very good friend to me, as I found celebrities aren’t. At the least the few I met, are not ~good friend~ material. People love to say they are good friends with celebrities, because that supposedly raises their importance in society. So, we get the impression that they are good friend material, after all. You say a lie too often it becomes truth.

This post is not really about that. Is about an overreaction to a news article that was published on the internet. Supposedly, in Britain, somebody has vetoed, rather, prohibited playing Lennon’s “Imagine” in funerals.

People were going bonkers, as if somebody had excluded playing Bach in churches.

Anti-church people went crazy, of course. I suppose playing Marilyn Mason would be suitable to them. Come on, you are in a church, in a service, and the words “imagine there is no religion” does sound a bit off. To me, it is very simple.

Lennon was a man, like me, and you the reader. Sure, a good composer, only a reasonable musician and singer. Had great imagination, but he was no saint.

He is seen as the proponent of peace, he and his bride Yoko. Yet, on the same album in which the “peace anthem” Imagine appears, he slams his old pal Paul McCartney in a song called ‘How do you sleep”. A few years later realizing his faux pas, he kinda hinted the song is not about Paul, but it obviously is. Even if it is not,  JL shows in the song the aggression that people close to him always reported.

How can you have peace in the world, if the man writing the peace anthem cannot keep peace with his buddies?

Sure, I have my issues as well, as JL did. But let us stop imagining JL was somebody he was not. Just because he died a terrible death, that does not make him a saint.  Imagine is a good song, I am positive, imbued with good intentions, but I agree that it might be left out of funerals, especially in churches.

If you want to have your atheist or agnostic world views, fine, but keep it out of churches.

A sad thing about Facebook. Or kids growing up

It is not Facebook’s fault, it is life on its earnest.

A few years ago, I moved far away, and left a lot of people behind. Among them, this family that had a cute, quiet kid, who seemed very groomed, proper and intelligent.

Well, I befriended the kid in Facebook.

After a period in which he seemed to have a future in sports, now the youngster has assumed the gangsta persona.  His posts are so full of the “F” word and s**t, that it sounds like a Hollywood script. He, like millions of others, entertains the silly idea he will be a hip-hop star. Plus he is as white as it comes and his rhymes pretty much suck.

So, while social networks are excellent to keep up with people, and see they are doing well, they also allow us to witness a person’s undeterred descent.

I hope somewhere the kid wakes up from the hip-hop dream.

How reliable are internet statistics

Computers are supposed to be super exact, and current processing capacity is supposed to ensure that. Yet, the more I come to think of it, they are a tad unreliable.

Try matching statistics within a site itself, and you get wonderfully conflicting information. Harmonizing more than one site is breathtaking. You never get figures that add up.

Take the statistics in blogger and wordpress. The number of page views in different areas of admin never add up.

Trying to make sense of visits to your website, to control adwords costs is a joke. The site admin might say 500 people visit your site from google during a month, then adwords says 600 clicks! Or sometimes the other way around. The numbers never harmonize.

More than once I wonder about them clicks…

Getting adsense to make sense with pages visited is also a major mathematical dilemma. Could never do it.

Then, there are the unreliable statistics generated by b2evolution, another blogging software. There are identifiable items in the admin area, and unidentifiable. You never know how much your blog is really being viewed only by robots or by actual people. I suspect most web traffic is generated by search engine robots and spam robots. I get tons of Russian visitors, anywhere I go…And my sites have nothing to do with Russia.

Additionally, something has happened with google searches and b2evolution. A couple of years back, I could get the search term for almost every google search on he admin area, now, it is either a lot of unexplained repetition, or nothing. This certainly does not help matters at all.

Plus spam still rules. Email, in blogging software.

In facebook things are not better. I used to get wildly oscillating number of friends for a while. Sometimes, the variation would be as much as ten during a day. This is quite surprising, for a site that is supposedly run by state of the art equipment and software…

So, next time anybody quotes you web statistics, just laugh on his(her) face, it is all hogwash.

Facebook, friendship redefined

I used to get these notices from facebook, saying that the network did not allow adding people you don’ t know, even threatening removal of the account. I never got the account removed, however, I did manage to add a few thousand people I did not know.

No surprising the rule did not get me removed. Part of FB’s success is not following through on the very rules it creates. Nowadays, a good example is the non-pornography rules. There are tons of soft-porn profiles, some of which are “recommended” as subscriptions by the site itself.

Among my interests is car racing. So, I got to add quite a few drivers, old and new. The young ones are funny.

They will add anybody, whether or not they know you, when they are mostly unknown and beginning their career, I suppose hoping you are a journalist or prospective sponsor, or a real die hard fan. A fan a la Flight of the Concords, which has a single fan, if you know what I mean.

Once they advance a little bit in racing, they simply drop you! It happened to me with an American driver who went as far as GP2 and a French one who is in DTM. I suppose they figure people like me are not all that interesting, no money or rides will come from me, so they start adding pit babes .

I don’t mind. In all honesty, I kinda see Facebook in a pragmatic fashion as well.

Post adolescents are a blast. A lot of them might keep you for a season, as you personally know them and their parents. Then, they start doing funky stuff online, posting semi-lewd photos, wild party stuff, and demonstrating a nasty streak they obviously hide from their parents, and soon drop you, lest their misbehavior be unveiled to surprised mom and dad.

Pragmatically, it means a few less wedding presents to send. If you know what I mean.

Google Adsense — not

This is not google bashing. I do not believe in bashing. It is simply sound advice, I hate to see people wasting their time.

Years ago, all types of webinars, seminars, books, websites appeared, selling the fantsay that one could become wealthy instantaneously with Google Adsense programs. As a result, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of sites, blogs, portals, fake-search engines sprung all over the internet, with the sole purpose of driving traffic and earning the big bucks. People “learned” how to make sites that drove high paying ads, where to best position them, all taught by self styled pundits of the hour.

For all intents and purposes, the Adsense program is not a bad thing, understand me. It might help you break even publishing a site. But that might be the extent of it.

Sure the big guns make tons of money with Adsense. However, the throngs of folk avid for a piece of the action, who spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars buying the secrets of self styled “insiders”, are making ever less.

Here is the reality. Trust me. To be making a reasonable amount of money from adsense, you have to have hundreds of thousands of pages on your site. Meaning, if you have such a site, you might need your own costly servers. Meaning, this is going to cost you a lot of dough. In the best case scenario, you have to work full-time on the site, adding content for more than 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Either that, or add the thousands of man hours, also costly. Except if you run one of those stupid fake-search engines, or content stealing sites driven by robots that I mentioned, which supposedly google does not like, but they seem to linger about for a long time.

For the vast majority, google adsense revenue is dwindling by the hour. Why is that so, I don`t know. When I first started, about 6 years ago,  I used to make more than 300 bucks a month, with about 1/5 of the pages my sites have now. Thus, I expanded my publishable pages base five fold, yet, now I make a little over 100 dollars EVERY THREE MONTHS!

I thought by now I would be making at least 2 grand.

That is a bit odd, for as any advertiser will tell you, the cost of advertising in google HAS NOT come down. Quite the opposite, good keywords cost an arm and a leg, in fact, a lot of them make no commercial sense whatsoever.

However, remember that a lot of the ads that are served through adsense are anything but  interesting to users. Sure, some are right on the subject of the page, others have nothing whatsoever to do with he content, and some of them are served in a different language than the site’s!!! No wonder no one clicks on the ads.

Thus, even if I write about stuff that should bring in high paying keywords, there is no certainty high paying ads will appear. Do not waste your time to find out how much of a commission you receive. Or how come you have hundreds of thousands of visitors to pages with published ads, yet, the number of ad impressions on the adsense admin area never comes close to that number.  Six years down the line, I have yet to discover this, and basically, have given up.

My advice to you is this. If you want to do a blog, a site, a portal whatever, by all means, so so. If you think Adsense revenue will make you wealthy, think again, in spite of what the webinars and pundits they you. Remember, all they want is to sell you a dream. These dream sellers also sold you the dream that you could buy five houses on stated income, and flip them in six months. Same folks, remember them?