Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Vineyard Music Extra

My very first web site started in around 1996 when I was working at The Star newspaper in Joburg. That's where I got involved in all things Internet for the first time.
I realised how effective the worldwide web would be in publishing information about the worship music that I love: Vineyard music. That's why my email address is still "vmusic@". I registered in September 1997 and it has moved hosting companies several times, the last time in 2006 from DataPro to Hetzner.
Now I've had to move it again, this time to WebHost4Life in the USA, because Hetzner no longer supports Active Server Pages. It turned out to be a bit of a mission, but the transfer went through on the weekend with very few glitches. I must say that Hetzner have been helpful and professional, but somewhat inflexible. Still, their pricing is low and their level of service is high, so I'm not complaining. They have never put their prices up. That's amazing.
Around 2000 the Vineyard Music official site was providing almost all the information I was providing, so my interest waned as my life moved on. Nonetheless I kept the existing site going and there have been over 5 million visitors. There is even the original version of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, the song that was changed to become our national anthem.
I have also begun work on, a technology showcase site. There isn't much to see yet, but as my work on the FishWise Pro site progresses, the Mustang site will progress as well.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Apple's Evil Ways

Jason Calacanis is bright, articulate and successful. He has spent over $20,000 on Apple products, and now he's had enough. I know exactly how he feels.
My budget was considerably smaller, but the bad experience still lingers. I only bought two iPod Shuffles, of which one doesn't work and I can't listen to audio books on the other. Instead, I use my trusty Nokia 3120 phone. I got it with my budget phone contract, so it is essentially free.
If I'm listening to a podcast or audio book the phone politely pauses the file while I'm on the phone, and then cleverly rewinds a short way and continues playing, so I don't miss a beat. By contrast the iPod locks up from time to time and often skips 10 minutes AHEAD if I pause the book. HUH?!
Jason's blog post, "The Case Against Apple--in Five Parts" arrived by email, which is good because this blog is grey and almost unreadable. Just subscribe to his mailing list, which is awesome.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Bogus Liberty Life Marketing

Liberty Life is supposedly a reputable financial company. If they were so reputable in the past, they blew it today. They ignored the fact that my wife's number (and mine) is on the DMA's Do Not Call list, and called.
In fairness, their Joeleen from their Customer Relations department (011 408-1987) was horrified to find out about this, and has promised to investigate. What I want to know is why would Liberty Life allow any of its agents to do this kind of marketing? Surely they understand that it makes them look like desperate con artists out to make a quick buck? Do they really want that kind of reputation?
Update 12th August: Liberty has no idea who "Vincent" was, but he doesn't work for them. I believe Mr Motete, the guy who called me, because they didn't have my cell phone number on record, but they did have a policy going back to 1993 when I bought my first home. Somewhere out there some rogue agent is violating Liberty's own marketing policies and running a call centre posing as Liberty Life. I hope they catch the bastard and take away all his clients and take back all his commission. Then they can sue him for damages and violation of the ECT Act and throw his sorry arse in jail.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Only in Africa

Thanks to Guy McLaren for this priceless video. He should have used a Bantam bakkie!

The Webmail Saga Heats Up

I'm pretty sure this is a genuine complaint, but it could also be a publicity stunt gone wrong. Time will tell, but they are getting bad press. I mention it because the complaint was also posted on one of my old blog articles too.
Jason Bagley's article hit home because his opening paragraph reads:
I think we all pretty much know that Webmail and the holding company Interface IT are genuine spammers much the same as Ananzi and Braby’s. I got this email from a reader that got scammed by Webmail to send out 100 000 emails that would generate a 30% – 40% response rate. This “direct mail” package costs her R30 000.
My brother tried advertising his jumping castle business on Ananzi and was bitterly disappointed with the results. Not only were they amateurish but they didn't match up with the marketing claims made by the Ananzi sales team.
As for Webmail, I have no way of knowing how accurate their figures are, but consider this: Webmail offers free email addresses to anyone who wants one, like Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail. UNLIKE the big boys, Webmail has no anti-spam offering, and now it seems they are a pro-spam. Weird.
Then there is the question of who exactly signs up for this kind of service. Webmail divides its customers into the following cheesy categories:
  • Techy Teen - a person at school - a scholar.
  • Super student - a student at college, technicon [sic] or university.
  • Employed/Other - a person in the workplace or not in either of the above.
So this begs the question: who exactly are the people that Webmail can target? Are they consumers flush with cash and a big credit card? Or are they chepskates who can't afford a real email address so they get a free one? Are they school kids who haven't learnt about spam yet and will click on anything that arrives at their inbox, or sophisticated users who know what they want?
Personally, judging by the attack of pop-up ads that float around the screen when you visit their site, I would say that the people who use Webmail do so because they have a high tolerance of spam or they want a mailbox they can use for throw-away emails. And they've never heard of Gmail. Not yet anyway.
My nieces and nephews used to have Webmail addresses. They moved to Gmail and rolled their eyes when I asked them about Webmail. They have learnt about spam from the pro's, and won't get caught again.
Judging by the customer reviews here, Webmail's days are numbered.
They came to see me today and I told the salesman to leave the contract with me so that I can do some research and if happy I would sign it and send it through tomorrow. He promptly told me I am wasting his time, packed up his things, and left. Not very professional.