Thursday, 27 February 2014

09:06 – With two days left in the month, we’re only about $200 short of doubling revenues over last February. This time of year, things are pretty slow and sporadic. We’ll probably sell two or three more kits over the next couple days, but it could be five or eight kits or it could be none. It makes no real difference. Overall, we’re doing twice the business YTD that we did last year. If that holds up all year we’ll have a very good year, assuming we can keep up with demand.

Having finished all three seasons of The Borgias on Netflix streaming, I was looking around for something to replace it in the queue. Years ago, I’d added The Shield to our Netflix DVD wait list. At the time, they didn’t have it on DVD, let alone streaming. They now have it on DVD but still not streaming. Amazon Prime, however, does have all seasons available for free streaming, so we started watching it last night. So far, it seems to be a typical FX series, which is to say top-notch. A lot of the actors and crew associated with it later did series like Justified and Sons of Anarchy. We’re also about halfway through Friday Night Lights, which is similar to but not quite as good as the later One Tree Hill.


13:09 – The USPS Click-and-Ship website is still screwed up. Sometimes, Chrome works but Firefox doesn’t. Other times, it’s the reverse. But this morning I had to use both. Chrome would let me enter the address information and other data, but would not accept payment so that I could generate the postage label. Firefox wouldn’t allow me to enter the address and other information, but it would let me pay for labels already in my cart. So I ended up having to use both browsers just to get a label printed. Then a little while ago I was attempting to do another postage label. Chrome wouldn’t let me enter the address information. I crossed my fingers, fired up Firefox, and used it to enter the address information. When I got to the part where I pay and generate the label I figured Firefox would give me the old “this payment method declined” error message, but it actually accepted payment and let me print the label. This is getting ridiculous.

21 thoughts on “Thursday, 27 February 2014”

  1. Yes, and we have to stop thinking of these as “FX” or “AMC” series. In fact, production companies are responsible for these series. FX and AMC just buy rights to them. That’s changing, with non-broadcast sources like Netflix and Amazon buying rights. The days of aggregator “networks” like FX and AMC, not to mention ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, are numbered.

  2. In Windows, I have now switched from using DVD Styler to author DVD’s to DVD Flick. It is not a new program and development has been abandoned — in fact, the last release was 2009, — but it is wonderfully programmed, with the ability to save the myriad presets so much of your work is done before you start. Flick will manage ImgBurn to burn the DVD automatically after Flick has had its way with the authoring process. It also comes with comprehensive instructions and a tutorial — the best I have ever seen regarding DVD authoring. Some of the terms the author uses are confusing, as the word “Title” and “Source” are used interchangeably, but that is not pointed out in the manual. Occasionally, it will refer to “Source” but when you look at the on-screen dialog, only the word “Title” appears.

    Using Styler, I often got coasters for reasons I could not determine; however, every disk I recently made with Flick was good. The DVD format is not forgiving of errors in video and audio files, but Flick can take many formats and convert the encoding to DVD compliance. I made the switch as a trial for this most recent video project, but I intend to abandon DVD Styler and keep on with DVD Flick.

  3. One of my brothers was on the crew for Friday Night Lights for a couple of seasons. He’s now on the new From Dusk til Dawn series, and has a couple of movies in the can.

  4. Bob,

    Check out the French-German-Czech “Borgia” series also on Netflix streaming. It’s generally more true to history and the period and as entertaining as the Showtime series.

    .mg

  5. I think I said that One Tree Hill was later than Friday Night Lights, when in fact OTH had been running for several years when FNL debuted. At any rate, I see that IMDB has FNL rated at something like 8.9 and OTH at 7.8. I disagree. I think OTH was better done.

    As far as the other Borgia series, I tried to talk Barbara into watching it, but she refuses to watch anything twice and I think she considers watching Borgias after The Borgias as watching something twice.

  6. Dadgum, when is it going to stop? Left Norman yesterday at 22 F and arrived home in the Land of Sugar at 39 F and dropping (450 miles south). We are suppose to be in the upper 60s F by now. My pool is back down to 42 F.

    Took me 11 hours since Dallas was a fricking nightmare to get through. Stopped and talked with the FIL and his girlfriend for a couple of hours during the worst of it so the actual travel time was 9 hours. Just loving the new 75 mph day and night speed limit in the Great State of Texas.

    The days of aggregator “networks” like FX and AMC, not to mention ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, are numbered.

    I just do not know. That is a huge change from “channels”, networks, to individual productions. It means that your tv will need a browser as the front end. Logical but the average IQ seems to drop 20 points while viewing a tv.

    Or do you see NetFlix and Amazon as being the new aggregators?

    The USPS Click-and-Ship website is still screwed up.

    Hey, the one web programmer left at USPS is working eight hours per day. What do you want? Good service costs money and USPS is break, dead broke. The USPS costs are at least 20% over their new rates. Maybe 30%.

    All the new neighborhoods in the Houston metropolitan area are now waiting a year or more before they get their cluster mailboxes provided by USPS. People are torqued about having to go stand in line at their post office to get their mail. USPS is trying to give some lame excuse about the mailbox locks are in short supply since they outsourced them to China.

  7. Netflix, Amazon, and the rest are the new aggregators, but only in the sense that people will use them to watch series that would formerly have been broadcast on dozens of channels. But the real difference is that Netflix, Amazon, et al. are VOD rather than broadcast.

    DVDs, DVRs, and other technology made quaint the idea of everyone in the country sitting down to watch the same programs at the same times. Video streaming will similarly make quaint the idea of having “channels” aggregate for you.

    I’m not sure where you come up with the idea that USPS is broke or that their costs are 20% above their new rates. Neither is true. USPS has been running a significant operating profit for years. The only thing that makes their numbers look bad is that they–unlike any other government agency or private business–are required to fund their employee retirement programs at very high levels.

  8. Have you tried to see if the USPS’ web site is any more cooperative with Opera?

    And given how many governments are in financial trouble because of continually underfunding their pension system, or unrealistic assumptions about the returns generated by those pension funds, I’m not sure that the USPS mandated policy is entirely folly.

  9. I haven’t looked at Opera in years. Anyway, the problem isn’t the browser; it’s on USPS’s end. Basically, when they did their upgrade a month or so ago, they borked their back-end routines, so now sometimes stuff works, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it kind of works and kind of doesn’t. Doesn’t matter what browser or OS you’re using.

    As to the mandated funding of USPS retirement programs, the only real effect is to make USPS’s numbers look bad. That money they’re forced to put into the programs will disappear into the gaping maw just like everything else. USPS retirement isn’t actually funded any more than anyone else’s retirement is.

  10. USPS has reduced their headcount from 650K to 450K over the last several years. That alone tells me that they are in a serious cost crunch. But, Congress has required that they not only fund their pension fund at 100% but that they also fund their retired employee health care as a fund. This is to keep USPS retirees out of the healthcare system (and to give them better retirement benefits). USPS also has a debt of more than $20 billion which is rapidly growing. First class stamps need to be at 65 cents rather than 49 cents. And all other mail services need to be raised considerately.
    http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2013/pr13_087.htm

    I believe that USPS is rapidly approaching the point that they have more retirees then active employees. The dollars to support the retirees is amazing, just ask GM. Congress is scared that these costs may come back on the federal government so they are micromanaging the USPS. And doing it very, very badly.
    http://blog.heritage.org/2013/10/01/postal-service-wont-shut-down-but-will-default-on-its-debt/

  11. Oh my goodness. I just realized that the USPS is using the federal treasury as a savings bank for its future retiree expenses. You are very correct, that money is down the drain.
    http://blog.heritage.org/2013/10/01/postal-service-wont-shut-down-but-will-default-on-its-debt/

    So Congress is actually using the USPS retiree funds for present day spending. Sounds like Social Security and Medicare funding until lately. Congress is a bunch of scumbags!

  12. Congress is a bunch of scumbags!

    What, you didn’t get the flyer that went around? Oh, right, USPS must have misdelivered your copy.

  13. The Fed and the states in general are using peoples’ retirement funds to pay for present-day expenses and have been doing so all along; one probable reason why Obummer came out recently asking us to lend/transfer our retirement money to them, because, of course, it’s such a safe investment. He must have an even lower opinion of the average Murkan’s intelligence than we do.

    As Bob said a while back; the object of the game here is to eventually combine *all* retirement accounts, public and private, with Medicare/Medicaid, ObummerCare, Social Security, etc. into one gigantic superfund they can loot and pillage at will until it’s all gone.

    Scumbags? Congress? The WH? most of SCOTUS? State? etc.? Yes. Criminal scumbags and parasites. Supported by a vast state bureaucracy that remains in position for decade after decade, with zero accountability to anyone.

    It will remain in power until they run out of money and the longer they put off declaring default the more painful it will be for us all. Not them, of course. I am told that there is plenty of fat to batten off here in this country and its riches are beyond belief and it will take many decades, if ever, for the dough to run out. Of course the people telling me this stuff generally support the current regime, and are themselves, accountants, lawyers, banksters, energy corporation flacks, and financial speculators.

    Meanwhile the Feds build ersatz cities to train their SWAT and spec ops people in, stockpile ammo via conex in remote and isolated sites, along with industrial-sized coffins, and have long since set up FEMA regions of control.

    When many more folks start feeling real pain and realize what’s been going on, some of them are bound to become very angry and upset and they are armed. The rulers are afraid of this and will mobilize their troops and cops to put it down. This will work until, as mentioned above, they run out of money. We can get a rough sketch of how it will work by looking at the situations in Ukraine, Venezuela, Greece, etc. and watching as the same stuff develops in the rest of the southern Euro tier. Now picture these events taking place on a much greater scale, in much greater numbers, with an armed population.

    Kiev and Caracas and Athens multiplied by a hundred. And folks won’t just be throwing rocks and bottles.

  14. I can hardly wait until Congress seizes all of our IRA and 401K funds for investment in USA treasuries. Backed by the full faith and credit of the USA!

  15. What? You’re not voluntarily turning yours over to Obummer’s latest “project?” It’s a great investment in Murka’s future!

  16. Have you watched the BBC Borgias series from around 1980? How about Poldark?

  17. “Basically, when they did their upgrade a month or so ago, they borked their back-end routines…”

    Um, why don’t they just back-out the upgrade and restore from a backup?

  18. Um, why don’t they just back-out the upgrade and restore from a backup?

    What makes you think they have any backups?

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