At Larrrrst!

I may be jumping the gun here, but word from the director is that Pirates of the White Sand is finished. What can be fixed, has been fixed. I haven’t seen the result yet, but I’m stoked.

Holy crap. More than five years for a 14-minute-long film. I’m not sure I even want to know how many hours fuego’s put in on the thing, but I suspect it’s a large number. This summer between rounds of croquet in Moravia I got glimpses of progress, and a few more tantalizing looks in Santa Fe this July, and the audio was improving steadily.

For those who don’t know, my brother and I co-wrote a script that won the Fellini Award at a screenplay competition. The seven winners were assembled for a week, given crews of uncertain capability, and after three days of shooting and four of editing the films were judges by a star-studded panel. Ours was easily the best script but was hobbled by technical difficulties. Still, we won the Audience Choice award, and our star took best actor. Several other folks donated time as well; I’ll try to put out a thank-you post when I have time to come up with a list. Everyone loves lists!

For the last several years my brother has used his film expertise and connections to gradually work away at fixing the technical flaws. Now, he says he has run out of things to fix.

If I was smart I’d wait until I talked to him to make this announcement, but I’m just too damn excited. Another step toward world domination complete!


Carts and Horses

We discovered the other night that the battery backup for our digital phone service is not working. I’d fiddled with it, without success, so I resorted to reading the instructions. Crazy, huh?

The last instruction was to unplug the unit while doing all the previous steps. That was followed by: “If you do not have a dial tone, please call us at…”



Three Beginnings Make a Story

When telling a story, it’s important to know where to begin. Do you start at the temporal beginning, the moment when, confronted with an idea so mind-bogglingly awesome, so blindingly obvious in retrospect that it must be the work of genius that you lose the power of speech? Or do you start at the other end, a day later, with the moment of truth when that idea faces reality and your own personal test begins? Or do you approach the story sideways, beginning with the thought that defines what it all means?

Or do you find three sentences, one for each of those moments, and let them tell the entire story — a tiny play in three acts:

“Peanut butter banana bread,” she said.

She set the two slices of banana bread — one chocolate, the other peanut butter — in front of me and said, “I really need you to be objective for a minute.”

I laughed and said, “I didn’t think I could love you more than I already did until you said, ‘peanut butter banana bread.'”


Party Rats

I am typing this with plastic rats on my fingers. They click together now and then, but they do add a certain special something to the night-blogging experience, just like the packaging said they would.

Actually, the package said they would be “perfect for raves and night blogging.” There are few things that can claim to be even tolerable in both those situations, but here we have the Finger Rats. There are five rats, five colors, each beaming a different color of light out its nose.

I don’t know how I ever got by without them.

Party Rats

Party Rats in Action


Jer’s Novel Writer 1.1.10 Released!

It’s a big milestone for me, getting back on track maintaining Jer’s Novel Writer. For those of you who are not familiar with it, JersNW is a word processor with features to help my scattered thoughts fall into some sort of coherent form. It’s based on three principles:

  1. When I get an idea, I want to be able to jot it down without losing my train of thought.
  2. I don’t want to have to remember stuff, and when I need to find something I wrote before I can look it up without getting caught up in the part of the story where it happened.
  3. When I’m stuck on a line or know it could be better, or need to check a fact, or need to track continuity, I can flag it and know I’ll be able to get back to it later.

There are features to help with the mechanics of writing as well (drag-and-drop chapters, flexible database, and so forth), but mainly I just want to keep my momentum when the creative juices are flowing and know that when nitty-gritty time comes I’ll find the places that need attention. Man that’s liberating.

If you’re interested, you can learn more at Jer’s Software Hut. Enjoy!

Oh yeah, it’s Mac-only.


Jer’s Software Hut Returns!

Deep below the Earth’s surface, in a steaming chamber somewhere between the Hayward and San Andreas faults, there is motion in the dancing shadows cast by the guttering torchlight. Dark, twisted creatures stir. They move slowly, their once-lean haunches soft from months of torpor. They shamble from their stony sleeping-nooks into the work chamber, and one by one they take their accustomed positions on the capstans. The great wheels resist at first, then start to turn with a shriek that slowly fades to a rumble.

From the throats of the horde comes a deep ululation punctuated by coarse barks, a sound that reverberates through the chamber until it has no source, merely presence. It is enough to weaken the knees of even the stoutest hero, a sound to chill the most stalwart heart.

The creatures are singing.

Though fearsome in sound, it is joy they express; the sublime joy of one who had no purpose being useful again. Far above them, in a peaceful neighborhood San Jose, those turning capstans once more power the forges and shrieking spark-throwing wheels of Jer’s Software Hut.

On the slab in the middle of the laboratory a figure stirs; what once was dead now breathes again.


Doing a Shoot Tonight!

Here’s a shot of the set (without lights). Can you guess what the theme is?

Pirate Set

Set for tonight's shoot with Harlean Carpenter


A Measurement Rant

You’ve all seen this:

1 in = 2.54cm

The only problem is, that’s wrong*. This may seem nit-picky, but understanding why the above is wrong can uncover some clever ways people deceive others (and themselves).

“But everyone knows an inch is 2.54 centimeters,” I hear you say. Hold on a second there, Sparky! Let’s back up. An inch is a measurement. Let’s say I measure a piece of wood and find that it’s 57 inches long. Now I want to know how many centimeters it is. I multiply by 2.54 and discover that the wood is 144.78 centimeters long. So where’s the problem?

The issue is that I measured my stick to the nearest inch, and now through the magic of conversion I claim that I know how long that wood is down to a tenth of a millimeter. The idea that I could get that sort of precision with my tape measure is silly, yet people do this all the time. On road signs you’ll see “Exit 4 mi (6.4 km)”. Is the sign really accurate to 100 meters? That’s a tough assumption to swallow given the first measure is only accurate to the nearest mile.

A rule to remember: when you do a unit conversion, the result is always less precise than your original measurement. Always.

Here’s what your conversion table should read (although this isn’t quite perfect either):

1.00 in = 2.54cm

What’s the difference? Remember that an inch is a measurement. The number of decimal places indicates how exact the measurement is. If I measure something down to a hundredth of an inch, I can (usually) justify claiming precision to three significant figures after I make the conversion. So, if I measure my stick to be 57.0 inches, I can reasonably represent it as 145 centimeters long. The error of a tenth of an inch in the first measure is smaller than the error of one centimeter in the second, so I’m all right. 57.00 inches = 144.8cm.

The people who put things like “1 inch = 2.54cm” into textbooks will claim, “What we actually mean is that exactly one inch equals 2.54 centimeters.” The only problem is, That’s wrong too. First, with measurements there’s no such thing as exact. Every measurement contains error. Always. 1.0000000 inches is not the same as exactly one inch. Second, for almost every comparison of measurements in different systems, the conversion factor itself is not exact. An ounce is not 29.57 milliliters. It’s not 29.5735 ml.

So why does this matter? Ask yourself, how much product is in that bottle or can of your favorite beverage? 12oz or 355ml? In this case, we hope that the more precise measure is applicable. It would be informative if the bottler used 12.0oz rather than just 12; you know the Coca-Cola bottling company knows to great precision how much less than 12oz they can put in a can and still label it 12oz. Technically (though perhaps not legally), 11.50000001 oz could be labeled as 12, but that would not be anywhere close to 355ml.

This sloppiness with units is frightfully common. Even scientific papers with measurements in them sometimes don’t include the margin of error in the measurements – which makes the number pretty meaningless.

Don’t be fooled by false precision! Often it’s harmless, but even subtly it can give the impression that the peple who made the measurements are far more diligent than they actually were. This can give their arguments extra weight, without you even realizing it.

* It turns out I picked a bad example – in 1959 they redefined the inch to make this true. Go figure — the inch is metric now. See the comments below. So, as a unit, the conversion is correct. This has no effect on how you use the conversion in real life. I may go back and change this episode to use a better example.


Winners Announced

Congratulations to Dries Coomans for taking top honors in this spring’s Cyberspace Open. His piece bent the rules a smidge, but was a powerful bit of writing. Personally I preferred the second-place entry by Lisa Scott, but it was a tough call.

With luck maybe we’ll be seeing those names again, on the big screen!

Sweating in Style

“I will always love you more than anything,” my sweetie said, “but this is close.”

Just what is it that is threatening to usurp my position at the pinnacle of my sweetie’s affection? Another man? A cute dog? Nope. An exercise machine. It all started a while back when we decided that we needed to get more aerobic exercise on days we didn’t get over to the exercise room at my sweetie’s folks’ place.

(“We” in this episode is a slippery concept; while on paper there were two of us involved in the decision, one of us (won’t say which) did pretty much all the thinking and deciding, while the other’s role was agreeing. We all know how onerous that can be.)

My sweetie went online and found what appeared to be an excellent deal on a compact elliptical trainer. It arrived in its great big box and we assembled the thing eagerly. “Wow!” we thought, “for that price, this thing is excellent!”

In fact, we were absolutely right. We started using the machine regularly, and more-or-less wore it out. There was a design flaw where one of the bolts on the pedals should have been left-handed, and the pedal would come loose. Things got bent, and eventually more parts started failing. It just wasn’t sturdy enough for the amount of use it got in our home. We decided it was time to upgrade, and off to the stores we went.

We wound up at Sears, who carries a selection of NordicTrack equipment. We were looking over what the store had to offer, and it turned out that the local repair guy was there at the same time, tuning up the floor models. He was a friendly guy, and he told us about the machines from a repair man’s perspective, with no vested interest in what we bought. (In fact, now that I think of it, he would probably benefit more if we bought a less reliable machine.) He also showed us that some of the machines folded up. We looked at one of the machines he liked in the folded configuration and I said (quite wrongly), “That’s about the same size as the one we have now.”

We bought it.

Our Elliptical Trainer, Fully Deployed

Our Elliptical Trainer, Fully Deployed

It’s pretty large. The first problem was that the box didn’t fit in our car. Not even close. So the friendly Sears guys unpacked the whole thing and loaded the machine piece-by-piece into the car. (“Friendly” in the above is not just a throw-away adjective, they were really nice.) Even so, it was a trick getting one large component into the back of the car. Of course, once home, we had to lug all those parts up the narrow stairs and into our apartment. Getting a good workout already!

I assembled it with only a small amount of cursing (the electronic console is still a little loose), and we beheld our new machine. “It looks a lot bigger than it did in the store,” I said. We rearranged some furniture in the bedroom and wheeled the beast in. It fit just right in its corner. Now came the big test.

Our Trainer, Tucked Away

Our Trainer, Tucked Away

This thing is AWESOME! Smooth and solid and quiet. It doesn’t make my knees sore. It does make me sweat and my heart beat faster. My sweetie will spend an hour on it, some days, and always more than 30 minutes. Me, I’m in for twenty minutes just about every day, cruising along and catching up on my “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” podcasts (I’m up to January of this year). Just exercising and chuckling at the funny radio guys. It’s a nice way to take a break.

Yep, burning calories at an accelerated rate now qualifies as “taking a break”. That’s pretty sweet. We have both been using the machine regularly for a few months now.

One word of advice to those who might consider the NordicTrack E5Vi Elliptical trainer: go ahead and spring for the AC adapter unless you’re absolutely certain you won’t be using the built-in fan (but you will anyway). My one quibble with this device: You have to remove the battery compartment door to plug in the AC adapter. Now there’s a tiny screw and a plastic door to keep track of in a drawer somewhere.


The Windup Girl

A while back I put up an episode called “Something New to be Afraid Of“, in which I wondered out loud about the power that agribusiness is gaining through genetically modified foods. I didn’t realize at the time that Paolo Bacigalupi was way ahead of me, not just in time but also in fear level.

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacagalupi takes place in the future, after fossil fuels have been nearly exhausted. Agriculture is now one of humanity’s main sources of energy as well as how we feed ourselves. The crash from the energy-intensive civilization we enjoy today was swift and brutal. Once-great nations have been nearly depopulated, and hunger is everywhere. Genetic modification is one of the primary tools mankind is using to survive. For instance, we have genetically modified animals that are very efficient at converting vegetable calories into useful work. Many humans are used this way as well, and would not eat otherwise.

Genetic modification is also making things much worse. Where I worried about companies manipulating markets, forcing farmers to buy their seed stock year after year, in The Windup Girl agribusiness has gone the next logical step: unleashing plagues on countries that refuse to do business with them, plagues that only their products are immune to. Whole families of plants are now extinct (there are no peppers, no tomatoes anywhere in the world). Seed banks have been destroyed in the social upheaval and many plants are irrevocably lost. In the words of one “calorie man” in a moment of hubris, “I’ve been inoculated for diseases that haven’t been released yet.”

Man’s tinkering is not limited to plants; there now exists a breed of supercat than can change color and become almost invisible. House cats are now extinct and there are few birds left. Perhaps the lesson of the cats is why modified humans are sterile.

Tucked away in a far corner of the globe, one tiny nation has managed to resist the agricultural conglomerates. Thailand’s independence was hard-won; the people of the country must be prepared to raze villages and quarantine thousands, burn entire crops and even forests, to keep the plagues at bay. Now times are changing. International trade is picking up, and internally the ministry charged with protecting Thailand is suffering for its own success, becoming marginalized.

In Thai street markets, plants long thought lost are starting to reappear. The only possible conclusion: Somewhere they have a seed bank, a treasure of incalculable value (especially to agribusiness).

This story contains a whole bunch of conflicts, between old and new, survival and altruism, pride and duty. The characters are complex and interesting, from the Calorie Man sent from one of the big agricultural companies, to the wily Chinese man just scraping by but always hoping to get back on top, to the cast-aside New Person, a genetically modified woman whose life, well, sucks. Then there’s Kanya with her divided loyalties, who must make a decision that will echo for eternity. Add corrupt politicians, a powerful slum lord, mutating plagues, and a rogue genetic engineer, and you’ve got yourself a fine stew.

Everyone in this story has tragedy in their pasts. Entire families massacred or lost to disease. They are not exceptional; to live in this world is to live with tragedy. Thailand’s past, its history and legends, remain current and meaningful, and inform the actions of the principals in really interesting ways, becoming a template for how once more the Thai must stand against a much more powerful foe.

These are not gentle times, and not gentle people. When things get ugly the author does not pull his punches, including graphic (but heartbreaking) depictions of sexual humiliation visited upon Emiko, the windup girl. The writing is powerful at times, always clear, and the characters change organically, adjusting to circumstances and learning, without needing any sort of epiphany or magic wand to propel them.

I did have a couple of quibbles, in particular: Where are the windmills? It seems like every derelict tower in Bangkok would have a big ‘ol windmill on the top, and the dike keeping the much-higher ocean at bay would be lined with them. Solar panels would be everywhere as well.

In the big picture those things didn’t matter that much; this was a fine read, a real page-turner with language that wasn’t afraid to get down into the gutter with its characters. I really enjoyed it.

Wow – did I just write an entire book episode and talk only about the book? Can this be? Of course not. Let’s talk about sequels.

While I look forward to the next novel Mr. Bacigalupi writes, I hope it’s not a sequel to this one. Well, let me rephrase that. I find the world he’s created to be fascinating and I’d love to visit it again, but a sequel to this story would face problems similar to sequels for The Matrix (should anyone be so foolish as to attempt one). IF there was a sequel to The Matrix (or, God forbid, two of them), the first thing the writer would have to do would be to limit the power Neo had at the end of the first movie. Essentially they would have to rewind the story a little, revoke the payoff of the first movie, and pretend his dramatic little speech never happened. Otherwise the fight between Neo and the Agents would not be compelling – and, let’s face it, Agent Smith makes that movie. Overwriting the end of the first film would be a cheap-ass thing to pull off, so I’m glad no one has tried.

While such a gimmick would not be so immediate in The Windup Girl Goes goes to Omaha, a genie or two have been let out of their bottles, and it would be lame to try to stuff them back in. So, “sequel” as a continuation of this story – I hope not. “Sequel” as an exploration of the changing world set in motion by the events in this book, I wholeheartedly look forward to.

Larger-than-usual disclaimer: I have met the author of this book, and he seemed like a good guy, so I might be a little biased. My bias is expressed in that had I not liked the book, I might not have reviewed it. No worries in this case.
If you use the above link to buy this book (or a Kindle, or a new car), I get a kickback.


CSI: Miami – Live blogging!

10:01 – Hip-hop! inner city. In eight hours a gun will be fired.
10:02 – Hoop-playing cops grab their guns and join a car chase on foot! Crime Scene Investigating cops, no less.
10:03 – Crime Scene Investigation is there for a routine stop in progress. Caruso in sunglasses! Happened to be in the neighborhood.
10:04 – Sunglasses off!
10:04 – Sunglasses back on! Oh, and a body in the trunk. Good thing DC was there.

During the credits, here, I’ll explain. We sometimes watch CSI: Miami. I enjoy mocking it, my sweetie enjoys mocking it and watching David Caruso. Tonight, with my sweetie as my spotter, I will bring you a blow-by-blow of tonight’s gripping episode.

It might be necessary to come up with some shorthand. DCSoff means David Caruso sunglasses off, DCSon means, obviously, on.

10:05 – according to Crestor’s animators, arterial plaque looks like bacon.

10:08 – DCoff tells the tech to document everything. Good advice, since that’s his job.
10:10 – first esophagus shot of the night!
10:11 – Matching humvees! Two people in two huge cars.
10:12 – Mrs. Olsen does not like the police. A suspect who insists on due process? On this show? Must be a fluke.
10:14 – Kicking the fuckin’ door open to take fiberglass samples!
10:15 – Crime scene investigators pawing everything! Even the bad guys’ gloves! (Thought that might give one of them an idea.) Touch each item once and throw it back down. Standard procedure.
10:16 – Talk about timing. The meth lab explodes!

Another commercial break as flames sweep over the heads of our really awful crime scene investigators.
10:18 – my sweetie drinks wine from the bottle for the first time!
I think we will need a shorthand for when DC takes his shades off on camera.

10:20 – house is trashed, so no one will know what bad investigators they were
10:20 – DCoff saves the day! Lifts the beam. Good thing he was in the neighborhood. Again. (Sweetie says they had already called him, so I guess the writers get a pass on this one.)
10:21 – DC without sunglasses – in the day, outdoors!
10:23 – I say Mrs. Olsen is running the meth lab!
10:24 – Hm. might be wrong already.
10:25 – Crime Scene Investigators go on a drug raid! ‘Cause, you know, that’s what they do.
10:26 – Time bombs! It’s a trap!!!!!! – Because they happen to know when the police will be there. Oooohh – elaborate triggered timers that couldn’t possibly go wrong.
10:27 – Nice shootin’ Tex!
10:28 – In the luxury interrogation suite – Crime Scene Investigators grilling a suspect! Because that’s what they do.
10:29 – DCoff emotes!
10:30 – Super-glamorous crime lab scene! Nice that the doc had a full-color printout handy.
10:31 – Second esophagus shot!

Going into the break without anything on fire.
Ah, Local news, how I love you.

10:36 – out of the break with slow motiong explosions, then a lab tech listening to music. Wait – wasn’t that lab tech canvassing a neighborhood earlier?
10:37 – Lab tech in denial after being in a blast. Side drama!
10:38 – “I heard you wanted evidence about the blast in the meth house.” No shit, Sherlock – THAT’S MY JOB!
10:38 – Sure, put the evidence in the clean room – AFTER I tear open the bag and take out the most important item.
10:38 – Back in the luxury crime scene offices.
10:41 – super slo-mo of the maid being beaten for reading her bible. No ambiguity of good and evil there!
10:42 – Crime Scene Investigators (and a helicopter!) going to make an arrest! Because that’s what they do. Oh, yeah, send the coroner, too.
10:43 – DCon->off! “That’s not the whole truth, my friend.”
10:43 – Montage! Work that pipette, baby!
10:44 – A machine beeps. We have an answer.
10:45 – DCoff takes us to commercial: “Natalia, Nothing is impossible.”

CSI: Miami – new night, same shades! (Those are the promo’s words, not mine.)

10:49 – DCoff teaching the forensics lab guys how to do forensics lab work!
10:50 – Suspect slow-motion pacing in the crime lab chicken-wire holding pen.
10:51 – Still pacing. Machines beep and whir.
10:52 – grisly crime reenactment.
10:53 – Full confession! Once again the CSI boys, in their secondary role as interrogators, find a suspect who does not ask for due process of law.
10:54 – Oh, snap!
10:55 – hearing trouble in the super-high-tech designer CSI lab. Flashbacks! Fire! Never mind you look like Lindsey Lohan’s big sister, it’s ok.
10:56 – People go to jail. No lawyers anywhere. The courts are implied, I suppose, but not really.
10:57 – DCoff understands. He’s going to get the illegal immigrant into school. Like this: “You’re going to school.” He puts his sunglasses on. Fade to black.

Switch channel: ANOTHER CSI: Miami! A modest boat ran into a highway bridge and brought it down! Concrete crumbling! A couple (girlfriend: bitchy) plunges into the drink! Whoever built the damn bridge is the one who should be going to jail in this one.

OK, so I’m not going to be giving a blow-by-blow on this one, although it’s starting out to be quite a bit more mockworthy than the previous. I will point out the most ridiculous elements, however.

11:06 – The witnesses say the boat was aiming at the bridge! Oh, wait, the pilot was dead. But seriously – who the hell built that bridge?
11:12 – DCoff knows the wheel base of every car without looking it up!
11:14 – database (that chirps) knows where all recent carp releases have occurred.
11:16 – chemically sensitive evidence goes into a manila envelope. DC’s sunglasses around his neck! What the hell does that signify? We’re going into uncharted waters, here.

11:18 – More wine! On a side note, got some wine cheap at Big Lots called Earth Wise. I have to say, those hippies can make a nice vino!

11:20 – “I’ll process this at CSI and see if I can get any prints.” Translation: “I’m off to do my job, then.”
11:21 – “Murder trumps the bridge”
11:22 – “It looks like over three million in jewelry. I’m going to need two more officers.” Because the warranty for each officer is only good for one mil in stones.
11:24 – a totally needless montage about making diamonds.
11:25 – a laboratory emerald is apparently not as hard as a natural emerald. Huh.
11:25 – “I happen to have the appraisal of the gems sitting here on this table…”

A moment here, during this break after we watched a named character die, to reflect on what makes CSI: Miami so fun to mock. Now is the time because despite the inherent ballsiness of killing a named character, the humor comes from the fundamental laziness of the scripts. Let’s face it, a crime scene investigator was in a place where no CSI wonk would have been in the first place. Caruso is doing a pretty good job of it, not getting too histrionic, but they’re going to make a deal of Speed not being prepared for the situation which is my point exactly.

11:38 – TV computers never cease to amuse me.
11:39 – Will she ask for a lawyer? Will she? Will she? No.
11:40 – she must be innocent; the soulful music started after she spoke.

Another break, more about writer laziness. Suspects confessing to lesser crimes to move the plot along would never, ever happen in real life, but once a week multiple suspects send themselves to prison to make the writer’s life easier.

11:47- “It only happens in Hell’s Bay” – luckily they had a nice graphic in the computer ready to go (with chirping sounds). As usual.

11:50 – DCoff(outdoors) wades into shark-infested water to save a boy in no danger, just to finish as the squad cars arrive. Sharks don’t fuck with David Caruso. And David Caruso can’t wait five friggin’ minutes for support to rescue a boy from sharks who’s not in the water. Another form of laziness, false drama. Unnecessary heroism concluded just as the people who would make the act simple arrive.

The show ended with a police funeral. It was moving, and well done, and I came away feeling, well, manipulated. More lazy writing, filling up the last five minutes of the show with something that couldn’t miss.

How much of this show is filler? Coifed science babes in dramatically-lit labs (with science!) doing science stuff. Sunglasses going on and off. Whats-his-name delivering the big lines. No cleverness. No risk. I came to mock David Caruso but I have to admit that with the material he’s been given he does a pretty good job.

And so we have our unintentional comedy. Lazy writers creating ridiculous situations and then lazily getting out of them by making humans act unnaturally. Then cover it up with slick editing and glitzy montages, and you have yourself a show. Still, good fun.


Things I Learned while Moving to a new Web Host

You probably can’t tell, but this site is now being served by a different host. The reasons I switched were many, but once MMHosting got hacked I decided it was time to move. Then when a particular PHP library was not on their servers (one that allows WordPress to read the date of an uploaded image), I actually did the move.

After quite a bit of looking around in which all the dang hosts started to look the same, I chose iPage. They are not quite the cheapest, but they purchase carbon offsets for wind-generated power. They also had a stronger emphasis on security.

At this writing, I still don’t know if my new host has the needed php library. I’ll be finding out when the dust settles. If not, I can install it in my site myself, I suppose, but let’s keep fingers crossed.

So, I learned a few things, and remembered a few others.

  1. Among sftp clients, RBrowser may have my favorite interface but it’s glacially slow with multiple files.
  2. Without ssh access to my site (none of the big hosting companies allow that on their cheap plans), I had to use phpMyAdmin to copy my databases over. Here’s an interesting bit of trivia: if your data has the phrase ‘drop database’ anywhere in it, phpMyAdmin will stop executing the import right there and then. This is to protect you from SQL injection attacks, where people sneak malicious data into your database that later gets executed as an instruction. ‘Drop database’ can be pretty devastating, so the software simply refuses to complete the import, even if the phrase is safe in the text of a post.

    The way phpMyAdmin is configured at my new host, however, when it stops, it doesn’t say why. It doesn’t even admit that anything went wrong, or indicate in any way that not all the data was imported. This can be inconvenient when you have a bulletin board for a product that has a drag-and-drop database feature. (Now it has a drag-and-drop database.)

  3. You can’t tell Safari not to uncompress zip archives it downloads (that I could find), but the original zip files can be found in the trash.
  4. jerssoft_phpb5 and jerssoft_phpbb5 are not the same thing, no matter how many hours you spend banging your head on them.

So iPage has been great (although their control panel is not completely Safari-friendly when it comes to processing payments). I’ve interacted with them in three different ways now — phone, chat, and a support ticket. Two of the interactions were due to the afore-mentioned payment glitch, and once for technical support trying to get my files copied and the site ready to go before I switched the domain registry. Although I didn’t get the answers I was hoping for, the tech was competent and knew what she was doing.

If I continue to be pleased with iPage, I will provide a link for those looking for a Web host. Because we all need Web hosts these days, don’t we?