Inna Demianova is a persistent woman

Inna Demianova is doing her best to overtake Ronak Parker’s persistency record. Looking for a way to migrate WooCommerce data, I ran across her company’s Cart2Cart service, and pinged them in chat to ask if they do what I need. Inna responded, confirming they do, but I got a sense she really didn’t understand what I was asking for, so I didn’t proceed with Cart2Cart.

I must have provided my email address when initiating the chat, which has led to Inna’s persistent queries:

Five follow-ups and counting! We’ll see how long this continues…

Ten follow-ups and counting! We’ll see how long this continues…

Haven’t heard from Inna in a while, but her colleague Oleksandr Yablonskyy has stepped in to take the baton:

2016-08-21 It continues…

2016-09-13

A letter from Pinky

Yesterday, I received a random email from “Emily Johnson”, from “Ranks India”:

Hi esteemed Sir/Ma’am, Could you please outsource some seo business to us? We will work according to you and your clients and for a long term relationship we can start our SEO services in only $99 Per month per website. Please advice: Emily Johnson

I replied:

My suggestion, when approaching companies like mine, is to use your real name. It will come across as much more sincere, and that’s what we’re all looking for.

I didn’t expect a reply, but one did arrive, from Sandeep Kumar Pandey:

Hi esteemed Sir/Ma’am, Could you please outsource some seo business to us? We will work according to you and your clients and for a long term relationship we can start our SEO services in only $99 Per month per website. Please advice: Pinky

Ronak Parekh is a persistant man

Several weeks ago, I posted a job on Upwork looking for an individual who could help me test our new product, ChessDrop. In addition to receiving applications from individuals, I also started getting emails from all the offshore companies who use Upwork as a source of leads.

Many don’t even bother to read the job description. Here, Mr Ronak Parekh seems to believe that I’m looking for developers to build a mobile version of our product. Our mobile product, of course, already exists, and my post didn’t mention any development work, or a single planned enhancement.

As with the others, I didn’t bother replying to Mr Parekh. Unlike the others, as you can see below, that hasn’t dampened his resolve. I’m curious when he’ll finally give up, but in the meantime I’ll keep updating this post with his contacts. We’ll see how long the list gets! 🙂

Refund policies on downloadable software

Cozmoslabs is a Romanian company that sells products, through an intermediary company called Avangate, for building WordPress sites. I purchased a plugin from them, subsequently decided it wasn’t for me and requested a refund. I was eventually granted a refund, but only after some frustration and confusion. Here’s the story.

Continue reading Refund policies on downloadable software

Rantbox is now Dafacto

A while back I created a second personal website at rantbox.io. The idea was that my frequent complaints about things really weren’t content I wanted living here at dafacto.com. Ultimately, however, maintaining a second website didn’t compensate any benefit of that separation of content, and so I’ve consolidated that site back into dafacto, and will just keep my rants separated by category.

Spanish vs German Directions

I just love the cultural differences in Europe. This Christmas, we played two chess tournaments—one in Spain, and the other in Germany. Prior to the events, we emailed both tournament directors, asking how to get to the venue from the local airport. The contrast in replies are hilarious.

German reply:

The train service to and from Stuttgart Airport will work reliably even on holidays like Dec 25 or Dec 31.
ARRIVAL: If your flight arrives on time, you take the S-Bahn (line 2) at 14:08 h from Stuttgart Airport. There are numerous ticket machines on the way down to the S-Bahn station inside the airport. The fare is EUR 2.80 (EUR 1.30 for children) from Airport to Böblingen. The display will guide you through the ticket buying process in English and, I think, also in Spanish, but if you are unsure how to handle the ticket machine, there certainly are other travellers who can help you.
You will have to change trains at Stuttgart-Rohr (4 stops from the airport) and then take the S-Bahn (line 1) headed for Herrenberg. Böblingen is just 2 stops from Stuttgart-Rohr. If the trains are on time, which they usually are except during rush hour, you will arrive in Böblingen at 14:29.The changing of trains in Stuttgart-Rohr is quite convenient: same platform, opposite track, so there’s no need to use elevators or walk up and down stairs.
From Böblingen railway station, it’s about a 15 to 20 minutes walk to the hotel, but depending on weather conditions and/or luggage, you may want to take a taxi to Hotel Mercure Böblingen (less than 10 EUR). From Böblingen railway station, it’s about a 15 to 20 minutes walk to the hotel, but depending on weather conditions and/or luggage, you may want to take a taxi to Hotel Mercure Böblingen (less than 10 EUR).
DEPARTURE: The first S-Bahn on December 31 leaves from Böblingen station at 5:30 a.m. You change trains just as above in Stuttgart-Rohr and take the S-Bahn line 2, which leaves from Stuttgart-Rohr about 5 minutes later (again same platform, opposite track).
You will arrive at the Airport at 5:52, i. e. about one hour before departure of your flight. This should be enough time, particularly if you have the option to use online check-in – most airlines offer this feature 24 hours before flight departure time.
In case you prefer to take a taxi from the hotel straight to Stuttgart Airport on Dec 31 early morning, I suppose it costs about 35 – 40 EUR, but I am sure the hotel reception staff can give you more precise information. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to ask. And just in case, here is my mobile phone number: 123456789. We look forward to welcoming you in Böblingen in December!

Spanish reply:

I think you can take a bus. You’ll have to check.

Sifting through the noise on Upwork

There are certain kinds of tasks for which Upwork is the perfect place to find help. And from personal experience, you can find some absolute gems! For example, there’s a girl in Dublin, Ireland that I discovered on Upwork, with whom I’ve been working for all kinds of administrative assistance for over five years!

But to find those gems, you have to be willing to sift through a lot of noise. Here’s a conversation I had yesterday with a guy about conducting some pre-release testing of ChessDrop:

Me: Hello Dimitry, can you please confirm that you have access to the following four devices for testing: iOS iPhone, iOS iPad, Android Smartphone and Android Tablet?

Dimitry: Yes, I confirm access to iPhone and iPad.

Me: Can you also confirm access to the other two devices I listed?

Dimitry: I confirm access to all required environments.

(At this point, I’m thinking a trial task would be prudent, before jumping into anything semi-permanent.)

Me: Dimitry, rather than jumping into the testing right away, I was thinking it’d be a good idea to organize a quick “get to know each other” task. If you look at this page, you’ll see that I’ve started to document the ChessDrop functionality. This list of functionality, when complete, would later be used as a reference for identifying test cases. How about, as a first task, you explore the product and try to complete that functionality list, for a fixed price?

Dimitry: Good idea, but it’s hard to estimate.

Me: I agree. How about this—Your hourly rate is $6. Why don’t we set a fixed budget of one full day of work, for $48, and see how far you’re able to get in terms of identifying the product’s functionality?

Dimitry: I confirm agreement to work for $48 per day.

Me: Ok, I wasn’t really asking for you to confirm that 6 times 8 is 48, but rather asking if you agree it’d be a good first task, for you to work one day on identifying the product’s functionality—i.e. working towards completing the list I started—so that I can get a feel for how you work, before moving further?

Dimitry: I agree.

Me: Ok, great. Just to make sure we’re on the same page, can you please repeat to me your understanding of the task?

Dimitry: I must test product in all environment.

Me: So, Dimitry, I’m still interviewing other candidates, so I’ll come back to you if I’d like to proceed. Thanks!

Sharing in iOS 9

While viewing an album in iOS Photos, I selected about 50 photos and used the share-sheet service to send them to a new album in Flickr. After confirming the share, I was returned to Photos, and as far as I can tell, there’s no way for me to determine the progress of that share, other than visiting Flickr, and reloading the album page until it reports containing 50 photos.

Furthermore, if I leave the iPad unattended, it appears the share progress will get terminated when the auto-lock timeout triggers, requiring me to start the share again after figuring out which photos made it the first time, and which didn’t. (And that, in itself, is quite a challenge as the upload order is seemingly random!)

Until this is improved, it seems that when initiating such a share, I’d need to sit and continually tap the screen (keeping the device awake) until the share concludes.

Nepal Documentary

We watched this interesting documentary about Nepal the other night on the Apple TV. Back in 1998, my wife and I spent two weeks following the same trekking route as covered in this video, from Lukla to the base camp of Everest. It was a wonderful experience, and from the video, it looks like little has changed since we were there.

In the hopes that Tom Bihn slightly increases the size of the Co-Pilot bag

A bit more than a year ago, I posted a article on the Dafacto blog about switching from a Tom Bihn Ristretto to Co-Pilot, as my daily carry bag. And during the past year, I have come to love the bag even more; its organizational structure and capacity is absolutely perfect for my daily commute to and from the office.

There is one small problem, however, and that is that the Co-Pilot is just barely wide enough to insert an 11“ MacBook Air. As a consequence, as I’ve inserted and removed my MBA twice daily during the past year, the frequent contact and rubbing has caused the main-compartment zipper to become detached from the bag.

This in no way reflects badly on the construction of the bag. Indeed, Tom Bihn is known to have among the best construction in the business. Rather, it’s simply a consequence of me needing to carry a device for which the bag was barely not designed.

So this is written in hopes that Tom Bihn might consider increasing the width of the bag ever so slightly, in order to accommodate the 11” MacBook Air (and even possibly anticipate the dimensions of the forthcoming 12” MacBook Air, which rumors claim won’t be dimensionally much bigger than the 11”.)

So what exactly do you do?

This is just the kind of thing I would have never posted to Dafacto, but is perfect for Rantbox. 🙂

Sitting in my office this morning, a lady walks in and asks, “Is this the insurance company?”

I answered, “Nope, that’s the office next door.” And she left.

A few minutes later, she walks in again, “Sorry, but they’re not open.” I replied, “Yeah, they seem to have an unpredictable timetable.” She says, “But if that’s true, how can Pepe work there?”, to which I replied, “I have no idea who Pepe is. That business changes every few months, so to be honest, we know little about them, nor do we keep up with them.”

She sort of glared at me suspiciously, and then said goodbye.

Finally, a couple minutes later, I see her walking back towards my door again, and entering the office.

She just couldn’t help herself: “Sorry for bothering you again, but what exactly are you doing here?”

I just replied with a smile, “I’m sorry, but that’s none of your business.”

Meeting UFC champion Fabricio Werdum

Fabricio Werdum is currently the interim heavyweight champion of the UFC, and calls California home. Several years ago, though, he lived in Madrid, Spain, where he ran one of Spain’s first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academies.

As a three-time world champion in BJJ, he was as famous in our circles back then, as he is in the Mixed-Martial Arts world today. So it was huge surprise when I walked onto the mats at my first-ever European BJJ Championship, to find that Fabricio himself would be the referee of the match!

Nervous in the moment, and still a novice at the Spanish language, I extended my hand and intended to say, “It’s an honor to meet you!”

But instead, as these things go, I screwed up the Spanish and standing there with my white-belt proclaimed, “Hola Fabricio. Es realmente un honor conocerme!”—which translated means:

Hello Fabricio—It’s truly an honor for you to meet me.

He sort of looked down for a moment, and said, “Yeah, let’s get this thing started.” And that ended my one and only conversation with current UFC heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum.

Keyboard Maestro script for tweeting latest post

My blogging workflow generally involves:

  1. Posting a blog article with MarsEdit
  2. Reviewing the article in Safari
  3. Tweeting the article in Twitter

Step 3 required copying and pasting both the URL and the article title, separated by an em-dash, into the twitter client. I simplified this with the following Keyboard Maestro macro, which, in addition to forming the correct tweet text, also strips out the blog name from the title—for each of my two blogs Dafacto and Rantbox.