Monday, January 5, 2015

Oh Shit


That’s a generic quick change tool post image I shamelessly stole off the interweb.  The way it works is you stick a cutting tool in one of those little bits with the wedge shaped slot in the back, slide the slot onto the matching wedge on the tool post and turn the lever to lock it all in place.  It turns out they’re pretty important for lathe use and not so much because of the quick change part, although that’s a nice benefit too.

The reason they are so important is because you need to get the cutting edge of whatever tool you are using EXACTLY on the centre line of the lathe.  And I don’t mean within 25 thou of the centre line – I mean EXACTLY on the centre line.  With a conventional tool holder that involves a lot of buggering around with shims and adjusting setscrews.  With a quick change tool post you simply turn the thumbwheel on the top of the tool holder until the tool is on centre and then snub it down with the locking nut.  Q E D as father used to say.  (He’d have really enjoyed the lathe – too bad I didn’t get it 10 years ago)

So I bought one of these gizmos a few weeks ago from some dude in Regina as well as the last two extra tool holders he had with it.  Then I spent a couple of nights adapting it to fit my compound slide.  As an aside, I think selling machine tools is the right racket to be involved with.  I bought the tool post and it didn’t fit on my compound but I never really expected that it would be a simple bolt on item.  So I took everything apart, did some web research and ended up machining a special combination metric/SAE bolt with a very carefully sized knurled head that I used to join everything together.  That’s a good sales program – sell something you know damn well won’t fit on your customer’s machine and the customer just goes ahead and makes it fit with no questions asked. But I digress …..

So – having mounted my tool post and having immediately fallen in love with it, I of course needed more tool holders.  Its really remarkable how quickly they got used up – 1 for my wobbler, 1 for the parting tool, another for a boring bar, left, right and centre cutting tools – and there goes 6 holders just getting started.  No problem – I found a set on eBay and ordered them from Ontario.  I’ve discovered that I can set the eBay search to just find stuff in Canada which allows me to avoid the UPS brokerage scam. 

Today my 5 shiny new tool holders arrived & I almost immediately discovered I had ordered the wrong size.  I was under the obviously mistaken impression that my tool holder was a “B” size but it turns out it is in fact an “A” sized unit.  Oh well, the Chinese guy on the phone was happy to send out a set of A sized holders & I shipped my B sized units back.  I had previously carefully taken all their little boxes apart and flattened them for the recycling pile so I had to first reassemble all the little boxes and then reassemble the shipping box but its all good now.

The other big item for my week was learning to use some open source web editing software called Open Element.  It must have been written by a bunch of frogs because there’s a lot of froggie language inside it but its largely English.  I’m not smart enough to use more than about 5% of what its capable of but it is a huge improvement over the crap that I have been using.  That particular festering turd being Homestead’s “Sitebuilder”. 

I can’t remember how long ago it was that I first started creating a website for Gates Fertilizers but its likely over 12 years now – maybe even over 15.  At the time AOL and Homestead were about the only games in town.  Its too bad I didn’t start out with AOL because they couldn’t have been worse than Homestead and they are now long gone so I’d have had to move somewhere else by now.  Homestead sucks and you don’t have to take my word for it.  This guy says it has the worst customer service in the history of the internet but I think that is unduly generous.  The problem is that – once engaged with the bastards – it is difficult and even frightening to contemplate a divorce.  Every year my renewal would come up and I’d think “Gawd I hate these bastards”.  Then I’d pay the invoice and move on.  Until this year.

Somewhere in the ether there is something called ICANN which stands for something.  They register names on the internet.  They’re the guys that keep Reginald or Romeo McDonald from setting up their own website called McDonalds.  Apparently ICANN periodically “verifies” the email address they have on file.  They do this by sending an email to the address on file.  If somebody receives that email and responds then ICANN knows that the address is still good and life goes on.  On the other hand, if the address is --- oh, something like ---- and is ---- oh, maybe 10 years out of date --- then the email just goes to somewhere west of the planet Pluto.  Then maybe a month or so later, when ICANN realizes that nobody has responded, they turn off your internet address.  Just like that.  Boom.  One Sunday morning you realize that you haven’t received any email for the past 30 hours and then a while later you discover that your e-address has disappeared. 

If you find yourself in that desperate situation and you are unfortunate enough to have your website “hosted” by Homestead you can’t actually contact them to find out what has happened because they are WAY too efficient to allow human to human contact.  So very many hours later you may finally Google your way to a solution and along the way you will no doubt find many other disgruntled former Homestead clients.  That’s exactly what happened here about the middle of September at which time I vowed to turn myself into a former Homestead client by the time my summer renewal rolls around again. 

Just by way of explanation, I don’t have any problem with the concept that ICANN needs to verify e-addresses and I understand that ICANN is not Homestead.  My fury at Homestead is because they claim to be a premium supplier and they certainly charge premium prices.  As I pointed out to the bastards it would cost them exactly nothing to implement a script on their own database that would routinely send out emails the same way ICANN does.  The difference would be that they have other means of contacting clients and that, in the event they found a dead address, they would not have any responsibility to turn the associated website off.  In other words, they could provide some of that “premium” service by ensuring that clients like me didn’t suffer the frustration that I eventually did.

Yesterday I turned the switch on at GoDaddy and, if I have to say so myself, I think it turned out OK.  Its not high tech by any stretch but its too high tech to be called low tech.  BobDigs was previously hosted at Homestead but the domain was registered at GoDaddy.  I spent the balance of yesterday and most of today – when I wasn’t rebuilding little cardboard boxes – getting ready to move but its a little more complex.  For one thing I already had the BobDigs domain hosted at GoDaddy so it was relatively simple to just turn it on.  In the case of the domain & the website are hosted at Homestead but that is about to change.  ICANN is so efficient that it only takes them 7 days to transfer a domain.  The 7 days will be up this Thursday.  At that point I’ll be able to setup the directory structure to house the files and shortly after that I should be able to say goodbye forever to Homestead.  It won’t be a minute too soon.

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