Wednesday, 7 August 2013

15:36 – It seems that a week seldom goes by without some sort of problem at Dreamhost. Maybe I was spoiled by Greg & Brian’s Excellent Hosting Service, but Dreamhost is the pits by comparison. Until an hour or so ago, web, mail, and webmail were all been running very slowly if not completely inaccessible for several hours. I checked the Dreamhost system status page, which had no problems reported. So I started a trouble ticket, only to get a message that this was a known problem and had been reported by other users. I think the real problem is that Dreamhost has some downtime almost every day, which they (correctly) think makes them look bad. So unless the problem is on such a large scale that they can’t hide it, they simply don’t admit publicly that there are any problems. A dishonest system status page is worse than not having one at all.

I originally tried to make a post at around 0800. I tried literally half a dozen times between then and now, and each time the system dropped me. At one point, I thought I might be blaming Dreamhost unfairly because I started having troubles getting to other sites. Of course, the other usual suspect is Time-Warner Cable, which has frequent problems with its DNS servers. So, just to cover all bases, I power reset my cable modem and router. Things are still slow, but not as slow as they had been.

I’m taking my first break of the day from working on science kits. Despite the problems with our websites, we sold four chemistry kits today, which took our remaining inventory to zero. So, after spending this morning finishing up new batches of the two forensic supplement kits, I started on final assembly of a new batch of chemistry kits. I’m doing a quick batch of a dozen first. That should be enough to hold me for at least a couple of days while I get another three dozen built. And at some point I simply have to take some time to generate purchase orders or we’re going to start running out of components.

We watched the first series of Hell on Wheels. It was pretty decent, not as good as, say, Deadwood, but not bad at all. I gave it three stars on Netflix. Series two is another story. I call it Hell on Wheels Coming Off. It’s grossly inferior to series one. The actors are still very good, as are the production values. It’s the writing that has gone downhill fast. I understand there’s a series three in the works, but I don’t think we’ll bother watching it.

I remember reading an article back in the mid-60’s in Popular Photography or Modern Photography. They were talking about a group of young, aspiring documentary photographers at a workshop in New York. The workshop was led by a well-known Eastern European photographer. The students were showing the portfolios to the group. One student was no doubt encouraged when the instructor took a long time looking at one of her images. She was probably crushed at his comment, rendered in his deep Eastern European accent: “Is perhaps a rough sketch of no idea.”

That’s the problem with a lot of TV series that start well. Quite often, the series creator writes all or most of the early episodes, and is very hands-on even with those episodes credited to another writer. But if the show takes off, the production company starts throwing more resources at it, including (unfortunately) more writers. I suspect their thinking is that a group of writers will put out better storylines. The truth, of course, is that with rare exceptions writing collaborations just don’t work. It’s much better to have one writer doing it all.