Vol. 2 No. 1

September, 2002


Fallout Shelter



Unique Use of News Site



DSL Hell Part Deux




Fallout Shelter

by Paul C. Pinderski

I was driving in the next town over, crawling along with the madness of summer implosion street construction that has been plaguing the summer, when I spied a faded to yellow brick orange Fallout Shelter sign on an old building. The Fallout Shelter was a remnant of the Cold War, when we were taught about the Russian Bear, missiles falling out of the sky, and the 50-50 proposition of the destruction of the planet from a vodka stupor. When the Cold War turned into a luke warm friendship, the shelters were used to combat mother nature, things we could not control, like tornados; shelter from the storms.

A few days later, I was driving to another neighboring town toward the mall. Taking a short cut through the large industrial park, I was shocked to see that every business on both sides of the street was closed. Shuttered. For sale or rent. For three blocks! About 10 light industrial factory-warehouses-corporate headquarters-offices nuked off the payroll tax rolls within a few weeks. The people were gone, and so was their $15 million plus salary base for the community. The buildings survived the economy fallout. It was like dropping a neutron bomb.

There has been no tech rally in the markets. No one has a reason to upgrade to a new windoze machine. No one needs to upgrade their operating system to run a new word processing program. Corporate america is not spending on capital equipment because their accountants are sweating all over their income statements the CEOs can't read the smeared ink to see if they are making any money. The tech wreck is here to stay for awhile. Growth, if any, will be at a snail's pace.

Remember, Y2K was a tech spending monsoon. Billions of dollars were spent upgrading everything, including telephone and mobile communication systems. Then, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on B2B, B2C and other internet based corporate management and sales systems, which have the aura of a garbage barge being towed out to sea.

The Kmart bankruptcy has shed a little light on what it was spending to maintain its web site. It had been paying$17,000-$30,000 a month to improve its content delivery systems. It paid another company $5,000 a month to make high volume email solictations for customers. It paid another company $2,000 a month and periodic payments of $20,000 for evaluation services to see how well the navigation and use of bluelight was for consumers. It paid another company $6,000 a month for data services for catalogue databases. It would seem that this business was spending $30,000 a month for internet services for its consumer website. It told the bankruptcy court that it has changed vendors and outsourced its web site services.

In a troubled economy, if you have not been able to make your web plan work, it is the first tech service to be shut down or slashed. This was the bread and butter sales pitch for the boom; it is now the stale bread of the corporate finance department.


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Unique Use of News Site

by Paul C. Pinderski

The news media is on life-support with their web sites. Generally, the news is stale or directly from the wire services. Some sites are trying to go paid subscription like the Wall Street Journal, not realizing that the WSJ site is value added to a current subscription, giving its readership advanced archive search tools for business research.

The cable news channel sites are mostly used as massive billboards for their current quasi-celebrity news reader's shows. The scant news articles are mere filler for the house ads.

But CNN has been running site-viewer suggestions for the replacement for the World Trade Center. The professional architectual selections for the NY redevelopment got such a lukewarm response, CNN decided to let its viewers email in their drawings and suggestions. It is a form of interactive expression.

Most of the drawings are not architectural blueprint quality, but the message was clear. It is probably the best use of interactive feedback than the lame sports site/local news instant web polls. The short note and drawing together help clearly convey the message of each viewer on his or her vision of what should occur to the 16 acre site. Some of the ideas were very clever, some deeply spiritual, and most very practical-- almost a common sense view of what government leaders should be looking for when the ground breaks on new office buildings: mixed use plaza with a fitting memorial portion.

This small area of the CNN website shows the potential power of publishing interactive ideas on the world wide web.

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DSL Hell Part Deux

by Paul C. Pinderski

Like a shark, it must move forward, keep moving and eating in order to survive. My work DSL is no shark. Maybe at times, shark bait chum.

It went out again a few weeks back. I thought I was prepared for the quick service call from the last outage. I had the actual circuit line number to call tech support so they could easily check the line. I had the account, account number and account password all ready for the service call.

The response was worse than the first outage. The service was down for five days, for no apparent reason.

The first call went to the first repair number in the phone book. I was routed toward the question of who was my internet provider. It was the local phone company that I was calling. But they transferred me twice, and I wound up at the internet call center. I explained the DSL was out, and that I wanted someone to check the circuit line to see if it was disconnected. I gave them the number. Awkward silence at the other end. The explanation was that the network servers were being upgraded in Chicago, and the service would be up in one to two hours. A call back four hours later, on a different repair number, routed me back to the internet call center. “Oh, yeah, DSL has been out, but my screen says it should be up in an hour. If not call back.”

The next day, I pulled the phone bill to find a different customer service number. I did. I called. The DSL was still out. Oh, DSL, the rep said, I will connect you to the right place. It went back to the damn internet call center. I said to the operator that the line was out for the second day, and that I wanted to have the circuit line checked. She said she would give me a ticket number, but the problem was that the company was upgrading its servers, and service should be back on in an hour. She refused to acknowledge my request on the line check.

The third day I called the number given for the trouble ticket. It took the rep five minutes to find it in his system. “Oh, you called yesterday?” He started down his proforma list of questions, but I cut him off. I said I wanted a tech to check the line, because the last time service was out, it was at the telephone switch station. It had nothing to do with my network or my computers. He said that he would write another trouble ticket, but service should be up “an an hour or two.”

Day Four, no DSL. Back to the original repair number, and routed through the telco phone tree back to the internet business side. And still no explanation. Just check the line, I begged, but I could tell from the operator's actions that he had absolutely no clue what I was talking about. He was reading down a script, and this request was not part of it.

Day Five, my partner found a tech support number outside the internet department and called for a service call. The operator told him basically that she would have a tech check the connection on the circuit line. She admitted that the internet reps did not know what they were talking about.

Later in the day, DSL service was restored. Not because of our local network, but because the telephone company had cut the circuit line along its network. The last number is now firmly written down in the rolodex for future use.


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