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Bothered by Robo Calls, try YouMail

“Don’t hang up. We have an important announcement about your credit…”

Ever heard that message on your cell phone? Does the caller look like it is coming from your area code and exchange? Are you frustrated, annoyed, and angry at your inability to block all these numbers, because every time you block one, they fake a new one? It is like  being attacked by horseflies.  You swat them away but they keep coming back to take a bite out of your flesh.

Well about eight months ago I found an app for my phone called YouMail. It  is an app that works both on Android phones and iPhones.  It is relatively easy to set up and the best thing about it, it is free for blocking calls of known or suspected spammers. It also is free for up to 10 transcripts of legitimate calls per month. If you are a business user or hearing impaired, there are paid plans that will have unlimited transcriptions.

YouMail works in concert with your telephone company and you must set it up with your permissions to intercept calls  before they reach your phone, but dang is it worth it!! I figure it has blocked at least 10 calls a month.

What happens if a robo-spammer calls you, it may ring once but is immediately disconnected.    I highly recommend this program for anyone who is sick of being harassed by the invisible demons of telemarketing.  And by the way, it works MUCH better than the Do Not Call government list, which only seems to attract the robots. 😦

Click here to go to their website. If you sign up for a plan, it may help underwrite this blog.

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An Alternative to Adobe Business Catalyst: Shopify

Moving From Adobe Business Catalyst: A Solution in Shopify

As I wrote previously, in Adobe Abandons Another Product, those of us who relied upon Business Catalyst for our clients’ e-commerce solutions were jolted out of our complacency by the sudden announcement that Adobe would be dumping the program. While Business Catalyst was hopelessly behind the curve in web development standards (not automatically responsive, and no responsive menu system), it had many features for customer management, marketing, and inventory control which made it effective for many clients’ needs.

Adobe was forced to delay its cancellation of the program by the outrage of customers and developers alike, who needed time to investigate and migrate their stores to other platforms.  This is especially true for clients with large inventories of products. In my research, I found that the best solution for my clients is Shopify. Shopify has most of the features of BC. It integrates with MailChimp, which replaces the BC newsletter feature. It has a way to create a wholesale area for distributors that retail customers cannot access.  It has a well recognized business and shopping cart platform and has been around a while.

There is a way to manually transfer information through CSV export files, but I found that using a third party service called Litextension’s Shopify Migration Tool, I was able to import all 330 inventory pieces, with their photos, for my client Ben-Dannie, Inc. And using an available App called Blogfeeder, I was able to transfer not only their blogs from BC but also from their Facebook page.   It took about 3 weeks to create a new design and complete the transfer, but overall it was relatively painless.

There are a few weaknesses of Shopify. It does not have a native drag and drop feature for page design similar to that of WordPress. You can purchase apps that allow your more control, or code it yourself, but most of the apps in their store require an ongoing subscription.  Its media library feature suffers from a lack of  robust search options and its layout is too restricted for easy scrolling or listing.  And Shopify does not host your emails, even if you transfer the domain to them, so you must find a third party to host your emails.  That is not really a problem if you already use an exchange server, but if you don’t it can present a small hiccup, not the least of which is caused by Adobe’s seeming inability to release email hosting if you have previously chosen it as your mail host.

So, if you are looking for someone to help you move, I’ve been through the learning curve and you can contact me at Peterson Design Studio.  If you prefer to do it yourself or already have a designer, I’d appreciate if you use this referral link to help me underwrite this blog.

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The Search for Utopia… Cleansing History

Idealism is a powerful motivator, especially in the young. The desire for a just, even perfect society, is resident in almost all of us. I was brought up with the ideals of the American experiment: truth, justice and the American way. American, the land of the free and the home of the brave, was dedicated to equality of all humanity from our Declaration. How distressing it was to learn that the United States has a sinful past. The litany of its transgressions is long: betrayal of Native American treaties, the banishment of the mostly Christian Cherokee people by Andrew Jackson when gold was discovered on their lands, slavery, and the treatment of coal miners and labor by corporate powers. As I grew up, the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy; the goalless Viet Nam War; and Richard Nixon’s abuse of power, all cemented my disappointment with America’s failures to fulfill its promises, dreams and ideals.

However, I see a strange and unrealistic movement in the radical left today to somehow fix the country by cleansing its history of all its imperfect past. This strange attempt to erase history, rather than to learn from it, is more than idealism. It is more akin to thought control. In the novel 1984 by George Orwell, the powers that be were constantly changing and rewriting history to fit with their present political objectives. If New World was at war with Oceana, then the powers would rewrite the history books to say that the New World had always been at war with Oceana, even if they had been allies the day before.

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” – 1984

The problem I see with this utopian urge for a perfect, and perfectly cleansed society, is a type of blindness. There is no end to sin and no end to sinfulness. Every person has flaws and all history is compromised by circumstance and inheritance. Yes, Jefferson and Washington had slaves, the South wanted to preserve slavery, Woodrow Wilson instituted segregation in the federal government, and Southern Democrats wanted to preserve segregation in the South in the 1960’s. There has always been a battle in this nation for equality and justice and it has never ended.
Segregation under Woodrow Wilson But the attempt to fix our past by erasing it is confused by a utopian mindset that any nation ever has or ever could be perfect. If we look around the world and at world history, we see that no nation, no civilization, no people have ever been perfect or perfectly just. There has always been use and abuse of power by all peoples of all times. Raping, pillaging, political prisoners, enslavement of people through conquest, impressment, even torture and cruelty, all have been more common than free republics. And even most free republics, like those of Greece and Rome, have relied upon military conquest and slavery.

My point is this: tearing down Confederate monuments and expunging references to, and honor of, the nation’s founders will not make this country a better place. It is destroying our past without a prospect for our future. Acknowledging our past sins and confessing them is a better place to begin to redeem our past in order to construct a better future. Attempts by idealists to create perfect societies have often ended in greater injustices. When Lenin and Stalin took power from the revolutionaries, they ended up murdering hundreds of millions all in the name of ideological purity, including purging the revolution of revolutionaries. Mao murdered 90 million and France instituted a Reign of Terror in an attempt cleanse their history.

What I’m saying is that the hatred of our history and of those with whom we disagree creates a toxic environment prone to totalitarian remedies. It is an intolerant intolerance of opposing views, even to the point of silencing them at any cost rather than to listen to what good ideas they might have or even to find areas where just people might honestly disagree. The inability to accept differences, or allow them, is a recipe for dictatorship. Orwell described this mindset as GroupThink. Everyone must agree or be eliminated.

The practice on many college campuses today is to shut down debate rather than engage it, to forbid people with opposing views from discussing them, and to name call and label as a way of preventing disagreement. And it appears that this tactic is only one sided: the Left declares all conservatives guilty before hearing their case. The Left, not liberal in their manner, are insular and deaf to all but their own echo. This radical approach of self-righteousness is a danger to democracy, freedom and individual liberty. And the greater problem is that their prescription for a new world order has all the earmarks of a tyranny of thought leading to a tyranny of control.

In short, this movement is driven by hate: hate of others, hate of the past, hate of the present. All this without the release valve of forgiveness or repentance. Any new government built on this foundation will end up trying to exterminate anyone who disagrees with them, and because they are so right, they will feel justified in their persecutions. It reminds me of this saying of Jesus, “the time is coming that whoever kills you thinks he is offering a service to God.”

It is so much better to acknowledge one’s sins and confess the sins of the nation, and to seek to live up to one’s ideals, and to recognize that we live in an imperfect and fallen world, with other sinners like ourselves: to realize that perfection in human governments is not possible, and to live with that salted truth of realism. With all our flaws, we are still working towards a more just society, and that unlike other countries, we have freedom to disagree. Any other path will lead to civil war, or tyranny, or both.

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Pair.com Saved My Bacon

In Praise of Pair Hosting

I did something really dumb yesterday. I wiped out 5 years of work on a site I created and maintained.  By mistake, I deleted the WordPress Database upon which the site relied.  All that was left was an empty index page.  My hands started to shake. I had that awful feeling in my stomach. There was no way to rebuild or repair all that work.   In desperation I called tech support at my hosting company, Pair.com. They have always been really helpful, but this one was a doozy.  What they needed was the database name I deleted! :-0    The trouble was, my configure files for WordPress were gone as well.

Fortunately,  I have a premium service for this site with Jetpack and it does offsite backup. But without the proper database to connect to, it cannot reload my backup. However, it has a copy of my wp-config file and I was able to retrieve my database name and host.

Graciously, and patiently, my tech rep at Pair told me he would send a ticket up to restore my database. He said it was more difficult to do for a single database on a shared DB server, so they had to know the name. Normally they backup the entire shared server and would have to pull my single DB out.

The good news is that after about an hour, my site was up and running again with no loss of data.

Thank YOU Pair.com and Thank You  Pair Tech Support.

Great Hosting Services:

Pair Hostiing

pair hosting

pair hosting

 

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Watch Out! Facebook Cloned Fakes of Friend’s Pages!

facebook-account-hacked

This is a warning about a new scam/hack on Facebook: impersonations.

I just got friended by someone who pretended to be my brother-in-law on Facebook. What was weird is that the had my brother’s picture and a list of friends in his friends’ file that I knew or are relatives.  He started a conversation and asked how I was doing, I replied that I was well, and asked how he was doing…. Then he started saying he was doing great, just got money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation… blah blah… I was already suspicious before that because it isn’t usual for my brother to be on FB at all.   Just to confirm, I asked him how is surgery went, and he said fine, but my brother hasn’t had surgery!

Anyway, it is very difficult to report to FB.

I found  this information a bit too late to use:

Impersonation Accounts
How do I report an account for impersonation?
If you have a Facebook account and want to report someone that’s pretending to be you or someone you know:
Go to the profile of the impersonating accountIf you can’t find it, try searching for the name used on the profile or asking your friends if they can send you a link to it.
Click on the cover photo and select Report
Follow the on-screen instructions for impersonation to file a report
If you don’t have a Facebook account and want to report someone that’s pretending to be you or someone you know, please fill out this form.
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How do I report an account or Page that’s pretending to be me or someone else?
Accounts and Pages that impersonate other people aren’t allowed on Facebook. If you see an account that’s pretending to be you, someone you know, or a public figure (example: celebrity, politician), we encourage you to let us know. You can report potentially impersonating accounts to us whether or not you have a Facebook account.
If you want to report an account for impersonation, first determine if you’re reporting a profile or a Page.
If you have a Facebook account and want to report a profile:
Go to the profile of the impersonating accountIf you can’t find it, try searching for the name used on the profile or asking your friends if they can send you a link to it.
Click on the cover photo and select Report
Follow the on-screen instructions for impersonation to file a report

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The Bold Beauty Project of Texas

Through the creative eyes of award-winning photographers, this project celebrates women who define beauty to include their abilities to boldly defy life’s challenges…
challenges which may shape their daily lifestyles, but which can’t override the strength and courage of each project model. That is the real definition of beauty!

6-James_Bonnie_Barbara Ramirez M.jpg
This year, artists and volunteers began shaping the Texas Bold Beauty Project in Wimberley, Texas. The small and scenic Hill Country town had recently been recognized by the Texas Commission On the Arts as a Texas Cultural District. Under sponsorship of the Wimberley Valley Art League, this group began recruiting models, arranging photo shoots, and pursuing exhibition venues. Locations have already been slated, including an opening exhibit and reception at Messina Inn in Wimberley and another at The People’s Gallery in Austin’s City Hall. Invitations to the Governor’s Office and several supportive commissions have been extended. Cecilia Abbott, the First Lady of Texas, committed to attend one of the project’s receptions. Work continues to expand exhibitions across the state, and notice will be posted at this site as they are confirmed. You will not want to miss this important presentation and join in this celebration of bold and beautiful women!

To find out more, to offer support, or to find our schedule of openings, please visit TexasBoldBeauty.com

Website Designed by
Peterson Design Studio

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WARNING: Do not buy from Walmart.com

I just had an eye opening experience with a purchase I made from Walmart online: they don’t accept returns in their stores if (and this is hard to tell from walmart.com) the item is sent or supplied by a third party! Unlike Amazon, which takes total responsibility for purchases through them, Walmart does not.

What happened was I bought a electrical plugin that was supposed to attract and kill mosquitos. It did not work. No insects were attracted. I tried to return it to my local Walmart and the very apologetic service agent said that they can’t take it back. Then he gave me a slip with a phone number of the third party supplier and was told to call them. And also this slip then tells you that return policies for third party suppliers differ from Walmart’s.  I.e., they may not take it back or will expect you to pay for restocking, etc.

On a $13 item, it is not worth it.  I tried to call the third party supplier. Got the answering machine. Left a message with name and phone number, etc.  No one called back after 5 days.   In the end, I went to my credit card company (Citi) and had to file a dispute.

Since my closest Walmart is 25 miles away, this is soured me on using Walmart as a competitor to Amazon, even if the price is lower.

Caveat Emptor!

UPDATE: I just remembered: this is actually the second time I’ve had a problem with Walmart.com in as many orders.  Several months ago I ordered some koi pond algae cleaner for $50.  My name and address were in the shipping receipt.  Inexplicably, the package was sent to somewhere in N. Carolina and I live in Texas!  I tracked the package to the address to which it was sent. I had no relationship to it or any idea who, how, or why it was sent there.  Customer service at Walmart did not know either.  

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