Tuesday, August 25, 2009


The following three communications have been a pretty consistent thing between me and my new newspaper here in Vancouver, Washington. It's a constant problem. When you think how twisted up the relationships between software designers, computer manufacturers, ISP providers, website operators and telephone/wifi/cable operators, it's no wonder that one must go to college just to understand what's going on. The whole sheebang needs to be simplified and standardized for those of us who use the internet for small daily personal transactions.

Dear Scott Campbell [Columbian's owner publisher],

> You need to get a new website manager. I spent a good half hour working on a
> comment to the article on Baird in today's paper. I've tried to enter the
> comment three times in a row now and still not getting through. This happens
> regularly, at least once a week if not more. Some people at the Columbian
> like to say that problems always occur on the internet. Well, I've never
> experienced such continuing problems on my blog at Blogger or on any of the
> regular sites that I visit. The Columbian's website is pretty awful,
> specially the comment function. I comment regularly on HuffPo and certainly
> don't experience the troubles that I have with the Columbian website.

> George [me]:
> I wanted to make sure that your issue has been addressed since this original
> email. I am the web editor but we have had issues with our browser-based
> commenting system, especially where people spend significant amounts of time
> composing the comments. We have worked with your vendor to try and diagnose
> this problem but there have been no answers on their part. I would like to
> know if you are still having problems and, if so, what you're seeing.
> I apologize for the problems you have been having and sincerely want to know
> more.
> Thanks,
> jeff bunch
> web editor
> columbian.com
> jeff.bunch@columbian.com
> (360) 735-4699
> We Deliver Clark County | Reaching 64% of all adults
Geoff ,

The problem has been intermittent but pretty steady. Seems like about once or twice every two weeks, but I’m not keeping records.

Yes, this last time it did occur after I spent considerable time composing my comment in the comment box which is what makes the problem really frustrating. Then, of course, if I decide to write the comment on my Office Word for Mac software, and copy and paste it, the comment feature sometimes doesn't work either. I even backspaced to my original comment after several failures of the comment feature and copied the original, then left the Columbian website and returned to it and pasted that in to no avail.

Another email I sent to Lou [Columbian managing editor] listed the many ways I've tried to get around the copy and paste problem from different type faces to different browsers.

Good luck working with my vendors. I used to have a helpful, technically proficient outfit called Icehouse in the Spokane area as my ISP. I clung to them as long as I could, but Qwest made it nearly impossible to use them after we moved from Spokane to here. Now, of course, MSN, my ISP with Qwest, claims not to be able to officially work with my system. They always claim they must get out special books to answer my questions, plus I'm dealing with people in the Philippines. Sometimes, I get someone who can help an old man like me who is not at all computer literate so my experience with the Philippines isn't all bad. You'd think if a company went to the trouble to force me into their system, they'd at least feel responsible to handle my gear proficiently.

I truly believe it's time to standardize the equipment and software like phones are standardized—at least for those of us who want to use our computers to write, bank, watch snatches of news videos, and browse the internet for information. For those who like to make and steal movies, etcetera, let them spend their lives working with computer problems.

As it is right now, for example, I don't have the time to learn everything about my Microsoft Office Word word processor 2008. I'll bet I use about only 20% of its potential as it is. Why do I need the constant upgrades? I think the computer geeks who invented all this stuff have really enslaved us to their profit machine. And they did it by hooking the youth market into it which was less able to make realistic decisions.

Computers and the internet are the only businesses I know of where the business tells the consumer what he must buy and when he must buy it. It's like going into Sears and having a Sears salesmen take you to a refrigerator and telling you you must buy it because your old machine will stop working on December 5, 2009, guaranteed. It's as if they control the electrical system as well as the refrigerator manufacturing business so that they can shut you off at home and force you to come to them to buy the latest model with the latest plug. You've heard it all before, I'm sure, but my analogy is pretty accurate.

When I point these things out to members of the youth market, they don't even seem to care that their free will has been partially hijacked. "Never mind, old man, just leave me alone and let me twitter my brains out." Of course, the latest neuroscience seems to indicate that the human brain is just a fancy collection of mini-computers, and psychologists taught us long ago that it can be conditioned to accept almost anything as long as the conditioning is done correctly. This computerized world we live in makes the human automaton condition ever more evidence to people who see the bigger picture.

Well, I hope you can make contact with those who laughingly supply me with service,
George Thomas
Vancouver, Washington 98684

1 comment:

jeff bunch said...


I hope you'll be glad to know that we signed a contract with a new CMS provider on Friday and will begin the project installation process next week. The new site goes live in November and problems like yours were a big reason we are making the switch. I hope you'll come back to us when the new site launches and am sorry for the technical issues.