Things have been a little erratic around Stately Beat Manor this week, and although there’s no way to write about this without sounding like a whiny ingrate, the Beat is just burnt out from some annoying ongoing problems. But now they look like they are getting partially solved so maybe happy faces are coming soon.
But before I delve into tech-moaning, I wanted to grouse about something else. I have just been going through my emails and putting together some FCBD listings — not comprehensive, but if people bothered to promote their events, they should get some promotion. And I learned some things.
One note to promoters: please include the URL for your store/company webpage somewhere prominently in your email! You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but it’s not. It’s especially puzzling when some email newsblasts you get are coded to the gills with links of all kinds — but still no main website link. Anyway, it’s a smart move to just include your URL in your sig file or whatever….it should be in every email that goes out whether you are a creator, a store, a publisher, or a minotaur riding a unicorn.
OKAY, now on to my main points of frustration. Even further improvements to The Beat 3.1 have been in a state of suspension due to our trying to get all the old Beat posts ported over to the new site. As alluded to earlier, this wasn’t working due to some kind of database problem with the old Beat server, and what with all my traveling around for the last two months, I just didn’t have time to focus on it. This week I finally had the time to call the old Beat host, and transmit the problem as my site designer saw it.
At first this led to a series of bleak, Beckett-like scenarios where first we were told that the host could import and then that no, they meant something else and oops, sorry, it must be WordPress, why don’t you contact them and blah blah blah. I’m sure everyone who has ever run a website has had one of these exchanges, and in 14 states it is legally justification for involuntary manslaughter.
Setting aside my work gloves, rope and billy club, I persevered in calling until I actually talked with a tech person. Suddenly the sun began to shine and robins began to chirp, because this person was actually knowledgeable and helpful. HELPFUL. Can you imagine it? Bryan, where ever you are, you are a good person…may your loins be fertile and your enemies ground into dust to spread on your fields to make them even more bountiful.
Bryan actually talked on the phone at length with my site designer, and together, they SOLVED THE PROBLEM. Or at least figured out that there was a corruption in the database and retrieved what they could. NO one likes to hear the words “corrupted database” but you make the best of what you are given and move on.
The short version of all this is that the Beat migration is back on the menu, and thing are progressing. The moral of the story? Stay on the phone until you find someone who knows his/her ass from asphalt. And if that’s not possible, nuke it from orbit.
Now, along with this Next Stage, this week also had problems because I have been reluctantly shifting over from my beloved blogging client, Ecto 2, to the much feared Ecto 3.
You’d think 3.0 would be better than 2.0 of anything…but no. A blogging client, for those who don’t know, allows you to use all kinds of editing shortcuts and tools instead of the sometimes limited interface supplied by blogging software such as WP and Blogger. Ecto is one of the most versatile pieces of software I have ever used, with dragging and dropping, easy editing, customizable fields and so on.
When Ecto 3 came out a few years ago I was over the moon at first, but after using it a little, I found that it had FEWER features than 2, and inserted all kinds of unnecessary code that I didn’t like to deal with. Like, you couldn’t make a thumbnail in any easy way, whereas in 2 you just clicked on a preset that you had already set up exactly to your liking. WTF???
The story of Ecto is a very sad one. The designer Adriaan Tijsseling did a fantastic job designing software that has control over so many aspects of workflow. However, as many do, he got a little burnt out and decided to sell it a few years ago, to a company named IllumineX. At first I and the other fans of Ecto were hopeful that IllumineX would pick up where Tijsseling left off, but instead they have basically abandoned the software in the two years since they bought it in favor of sporadically working on an overpriced iPhone app which is useless. (I know because I bought it.)
So here you have a “developer” basically going in and spending money just so they could ruin something that was useful and elegant. What a waste.
BUT I reluctantly switched over to Ecto 3 because Ecto 2 just isn’t up to speed with current versions of WordPress, alas. At least in 3 I can set up summaries, edit tags on the fly and lots of other boring things that are essential for making a useful, attractive blog in this day and age.
Unfortunately, it’s buggy and crashy as hell. Many times this week I have written a big post and thought it went up only to find 30 mintues later that it was caught in some limbo of internet nowheresville. Or my entire system has frozen up and I had to sit there for 5 minutes while the beachball stopped spinning. I’ll spare you the rest of the excruciatingly mundane details, but it hasn’t been a very productive week.
Anyway, IllumineX, if this comes to you in your Google alerts, PLEASE GET OFF YOU ASS AND EITHER SELL ECTO TO SOMEONE WHO CARES OR FIX IT. With the blogging boom, there is — I think — a potentially huge market for a decent, reasonably priced fully featured blogging software package, but no one seems interested in making one.
I think some my my own personal problems with Ecto 3 may be solved by upgrading to Snow Leopard, which believe it or not I still haven’t done, because I need to back-up my computer first. And I have a brand new Seagate 1 TB drive sitting on my desk that I need to hook up so I can do just that. But once again, I’ve had to find the time to do it this week and….well you get the picture.
So to wind this up, I hope the techheads out there enjoyed this look at process and those of you who found it boring and self-indulgent didn’t even get this far.
Also, if you go into Google Image and type “annoyed woman at computer stock photos” you get a lot of results.
Oh and PS, it’s a beautiful sunny Spring Friday, tomorrow is May Day and Free Comic Book Day and it’s supposed to be gorgeous out, and everything is going to be just fine.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.