Saturday, July 16, 2011

Screw Facebook

I got a notification from Facebook that I have 2 messages, 2 event invitations, several comments, etc. When I tried to log in they notified me that my account information had been "compromised." Whose fault is that? Guess who.

I logged on and after a grueling process of establishing a new password ("No, you can't use that. No, that one doesn't have any numbers. No, that password is in the Nigerian dictionery, etc.") they require me to upload a copy of a government-issued photo id. (That way the hackers will now have my drivers license to use to purchase weapons and drugs and kiddie porn).

Why does Facebook think I need them in my life? This company is an example of pure arrogance coupled with an unlimited sense of entitlement. I'm posting this to let all my friends know that Facebook is out of my life forever, and if they want to get in contact with me, they can just email it to me.

Anything with Facebook in the subject will be deleted before I even see it, unless of course, you attach your government-issued photo id to the email.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Our Summer Job

Happy B'Day to the 1st Mate. She's XX years old today.

And we're into our summer pattern... which includes the four letter word, w-o-r-k.
Each summer for the past 23 years, we've fired up our little publishing business. It's online version is here.This routine has developed into a series of activities that go like this:

I'm in charge of graphic design and promotional material; the internet presence (web page and site design, writing code for special online functions,  uploading changes and corrections, building the eBook version for downloads, etc); creating the annual custom database (rate increase data, carryover of past due balances, updating forms for invoicing, etc.); and designing the cover for the next edition. As advertising comes in, I produce the ads, place them in the book, create a custom detailed map, send the finished page to the database on the 1st Mate's computer for proofing. When proof changes come in, I fix those, resend the page for final proofing if necessary.

I'm  also the sysop of our little network. Which sometimes can be challenging: We're Mac-based, and certain functions, like purchasing postage online for our Dymo Labelmaker requires work-arounds (in this case, a mix of virtual Window programs, Java applets and a virtual printer) because the Mac isn't supported.

I do some calling of potential advertisers and sell some ads, prepare packages for mailing, and do followup calls. And print labels and postage for mailing promotional materials and single copies.
We do the cover design early in the process. Above, the 2012 Edition.

The 1st Mate is the real powerhouse of sales activity in our business, and is constantly on the phone or emailing potential and existing customers, to present our latest idea to generate interest in our book.

Once the book is completed in the fall, we email (or ftp) the pages to our printer in the USA, who generates proofs for us. Once approved and final corrections are sent and incorporated, the press house plates up their web presses and runs off 65-70,000 copies. They box them up and hold them until we send Fedex our shipping list. Fedex drivers deliver the labels to the press house for affixing. Then Fedex sends a semi to pick up and ship the books to our advertisers. This print job results in 25 pallets about 6 feet high of boxes filled with books. Very heavy.

Once the books arrive, we start getting calls about the errors in the book (nobody is perfect). I make the revisions and post the updates on the eBook and the online version of the Guide.

Together, we build free web pages on our website for our advertisers who want one. This is a promotion that has worked well for us over the years and excites interest.

My work on the website then begins in earnest. I go through the book in the design program I use, adding hyperlinks where needed and then export each page individually into a format that retains the hyperlink data. When these files are uploaded to the internet my work for the year is done.

The 1st Mate writes an occasional blog for the website throughout the year, keeping interest alive there, as well as taking calls from potential customers who like our work.

Checks are sent off to Fedex and the press house, and we (and Uncle Sam) get to keep what's left.

It's a good system... it's really too hot to be outside now and we can work in air-conditioned comfort... in Mexico!