• Oh, the skills I’ve gained

    I went through seven years of higher education to learn how people work in groups and organizations, and how to do research — to summarize a huge body of knowledge in one phrase. Then I ran Allpar for, let’s see, yes, twenty years. What did I learn from that? Maintaining positive relationships with people on the things we hold in common, ignoring the areas where we would fight like cats and other cats Advertising management, some tax accounting, and freelancer management Bringing the systems approach that was part of my formal education to bear in my writing and understanding of how cars are made and sold Linux server management, through Webmin, CPanel, and the command line Dealing with people who…

  • The lingering shadow

    Most people who have recovered from cancer, strokes, or heart attacks are happy to still be here; and there’s not much we can do, usually, other than shrug and go along with it, taking whatever drugs, doing whatever exercises, diets, or surgery, we are told to take or do. That makes it easy to have a “good attitude,” at least to other people. Still, there are some things you don’t see from the outside, and I doubt I’m alone in this. “Before.” I gave up an adrenal gland, kidney, and spleen, and one other organ, but in the end, I drink more water and less alcohol, and that’s pretty much the impact of the surgeries. There are other problems, though, which…

  • Getting back to normal
    dave with another Valiant

    I’ve now passed the three-year anniversary of my surgery, which means I’m likely to live long enough to die of something else. Why is three years a key milestone? Around 80% of people in my situation die within three years. If it shows up again within six months, doctors advise against even trying to stop it; it’s time to get your affairs in order and, perhaps, get it over with on your own terms while you still can. (Or not; there’s always a chance.) Over the last few months, I’ve had to change my mind-set again, from “I’ve got a definite time limit” to “I might just make it out of this alive.” Well, long enough to die from my…

  • Where’s your extended validation?

    Recently, I went through the trouble and expense of getting allpar.com an “extended validation” secure-server certificate. That means if you’re in one of our pages, and you typed in the address as https://www.allpar.com rather than just http://www.allpar.com (it’s usually that way on the forums), you should see this: It means that when you look at Allpar, it’s through a secure connection, and that the certificate that makes it secure was acquired by Allpar itself, not a pretender. That’s very handy. Suppose I go to Chase bank. I see in the green area, “JP Morgan Chase and Co.” I know it’s them and not a clever phishing site with a similar name or some hidden character trick. Anyone can get a normal lock…

  • Mild to wild: The nuttiness of ’net comments
    moderation

    I started out as a writer in the print days, and have run web sites devoted to cars, computers, business, and statistical software. Like everyone else, I’ve seen a massive range of commentary. The smartest, in general, has been on the highly technical sites, where the “general population” doesn’t go — even if everything is understandable. The dumbest, generally, is on mass-media news sites, and I suspect quite a bit of that is due to “bots” — automatic software that squirts bits of hate on command. For email feedback, I’ve never seen anything beat MacStats, where I’ve had one crank in  twelve years. This is Joel West’s Macintosh statistics software site, which I’ve been maintaining since 2005. Joel himself handed it…

  • Apple’s odd priorities

    The venerable Mac site Macintouch, which also covers the I-universe, is filling with customer complaints about Apple. There are usability problems galore, odd visual choices, hidden controls, capabilities lost, on both Macs and iPhones. So what does OS 10.2 have, as its headline feature? New emojis! Because that’s what everyone cares about most! Has there been a firestorm of controversy over a lack of emojis? Maybe, but if so, I missed it. Also in the news lately are new aerial photos of the huge flying-saucer headquarters building. The company may not have workstation laptops, it may not have 17” laptops, traditional USB ports, a tower computer, or any number of varieties that customers have been demanding for years, but it sure…

  • What and who you know

    When I was first starting out as an organizational development consultant, I went to various career seminars given by experienced professionals. One thing that kept coming up was, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” It’s cynical advice, but it’s largely true. You can set up shop and be the very best in the world at what you do, but unless you can “schmooze,” or network, it doesn’t matter. What’s often not mentioned is that this includes keeping track of the people you work with. Volunteers working together and getting to know each other at an event unrelated to consulting… because I needed a photo for the story. Whether you work with other people as part of a consulting firm, or…

  • Behind every car show…

    On Saturday, Allpar will have its annual car show at Teterboro Chrysler, in Little Ferry. By most standards, it’s a relatively easy event; the field has been chosen, the owners take care of clearing the space, there’s power on-site, and there are volunteers to help.  In advance, there are many decisions and preparations to make. We are fortunate to have a volunteer DJ, but he’s not a professional, and so we have to gather up and test his equipment first. Trophies have to be ordered in the right numbers, with the right plaques. Gifts have to be found or purchased and readied, packing lists made. Oh, and food is a whole ’nother thing. The last two shows were good for over 50 cars…

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