What pissed Jack off this week

A.P. Atkinson
It’s about time Jack wrote a blog, said nobody whatsoever. So, Jack decided to do exactly that. There are several things that are pissing me off lately so I thought I’d just go through them in no particular order, bitching about stuff like a proper English gentleman – which I am not.

Firstly, my right hand has been bitten by a spider. I live in Phnom Penh where things like spiders, snakes and scorpions remain a rare but genuine danger.
At first, I presumed that I’d been bitten by a mosquito, a much less rare but genuine danger, but my entire hand swelled up, looking a little like I was wearing another hand on the outside of my actual hand. This is painful and annoying but the really significant issue is the lack of positive outcomes attached to this.

Did I gain super-powers? I did not.

My nephew by marriage was also bitten by a mosquito but that triggered dengue, which was so poorly managed by the hospital that he now might very well have permanent liver and brain damage. We can only wait to see the extent of it.

It doesn’t seem like anyone is getting any super-powers

An artist’s depiction of the evil monster that bit my hand.

I bought a pack of biscuits for James. I buy in bulk because that’s the way he eats them, although he’s slowed down significantly. He’s been living with me for about six months now and his habits are starting to change. He’s eating slightly healthier and there’s much less pissing on the floor than there used to be.

I don’t have the options that I might have in the West but I found a multi-pack of biscuits in the local super-market and grabbed a pack of ‘Golden 8 Plus’ cookies. Inside the outer wrapping, there is the promise of twelve packets of glorious chocolate-filled goodness, sandwiched between two crispy, baked biscuit shells. It even promises low sugar and a refreshing lack of transfat. Considering they were made in Thailand, this inspired every inch of my suspicion.

Thailand is a place where an assurance that something is not a thing is essentially a guarantee not just that it is that thing, but that it’s that thing to such a significant degree that it’s just barely holding itself back from rampaging through the city, stomping on all the other possible things that it’s not.

But, being the recovering Liberal I am, I took them home and gave these biscuits the chance they deserved, and not just because I didn’t have any choice, although that was the primary motivational factor.

This pissed me off more than it has any right to

I opened the first pack to find a glorious expression of Thai nonsense.

Inside my first packet of ‘Golden 8 Plus’ cookies were only six cookies, and each was the colour of slightly damp cardboard, certainly a long distance removed from the promised colour. Now, to nail this message home, the packaging wasn’t faulty in any way. There were three neat stacks of two arranged in there, nestling together and awaiting the opportunity to pour scornful disappointment on the unwary opener of the packaging. It was very probably like the experience gleaned from being drunk enough to risk taking an unknown girl home in Thailand but being too drunk to tell if she was actually a girl – a not uncommon occurrence if the legends are true. I do accept that a couple fewer things in your pack of biscuits is probably not quite as terrible as unwrapping your date and discovering a couple of extra things that you really don’t want. Still, it annoyed me enough that I was motivated to blog about it.

That will show them!

WordPress has been annoying me over the last few weeks. We set up a gallery where other indie writers could showcase a sample from their books to our audience, a kind of networking solution for them and us to cross over some of our readers.

It all seemed simple enough and I got the elements working pretty quickly. We sat and we waited, and nothing much happened. I tested the form several times, and each time it delivered correctly from one mail box to the other. It seemed like there was nothing wrong, but that we had, perhaps, not connected with our audience correctly.

By the end of the week, we got a report saying that we had lost nearly 100 emails that week alone. I began an epic struggle against utter ridiculousness to get the form working. I had already installed the WP forms plugin, which forwarded all the information from the site to my email address. Even worse, we knew it was partially working, my test mails had sent, as had the reports.

Reading through the support material, it seemed that it didn’t work – and couldn’t work. It needed a second plugin added and needed to be upgraded to a pro-account (by paying rather a lot of money) and then adding a mail forwarding service (which cost even more money).

Two days of fighting with it found me writing code into Google and creating a custom app that did the job of tricking the boxes into talking with each other. Gmail still messed around, dropping most of the forms into the spam folder, no matter how many times we set it to remember that mail from the site wasn’t spam, and was it’s entire reason to exist.

We got a flurry of mail from other authors, ranging from pretty decent to almost incomprehensible.

We have standards, even though the buying public sometimes does not. We don’t believe in censorship but we do believe that some books are the literary equivalent of sacrificing a tree to Tree-Satan.

Seth and I had a long conversation about what we would and wouldn’t allow on the site. We had a minimum standard in mind where a submitted book had to reach a near-professional level. If the author hadn’t taken the time to learn the basics of writing, we certainly wouldn’t include it. We did have one submission that was pretty awful but we agreed to add a disclaimer to remind the audience that putting it in the gallery wasn’t an endorsement of the quality of the work.

I later got a further report saying that another 89 emails had vanished.

WP forms just isn’t going to work!

Oh – and my wife is pregnant.

On reflection, I’m starting to think that being born was a bit of a mistake.

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