Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Some Days It Doesn't Pay to Get Out of Bed

Coffee in the Washington DC skyline mug, "Cloudy This Morning" by George Winston on iTunes. I wonder if George is happy with his life. I see him in concert regularly and he doesn't seem to have changed at all since the first time at the Wilma theater in Missoula Montana over 20 years ago. He seems such a solitary person. I think I'll make it an all-George morning. One last tangent and then glass. Every time I wrote "George", I cringed. Isn't it terrible how one person can completely ruin a name for you? Aren't you glad it's not YOUR name being ruined?

Yesterday was a fun (used quite loosely) day on the computer. I decided to have another go at getting my artist info cards professionally printed and I had a coupon for Image Media so I said, what the heck, why not! The heck turned out to be the stringent format and color types necessary for professional printing. While my little Word docs are great for knocking off on the home printer, I need CMYK color and 300 dpi for a professional printer. It doesn't matter if you know what these things are or not, just know that you don't have them and can't get them in a Word doc. So I either scrap the whole project or I pay them $35 to do the layout for me. The total cost of the card is still $.11 per (Kinko's wanted $2.16 per--for reference) including shipping and the additional $35. I guess I'm dragging because 2500 seems like an awfully big commitment (what if I want to change them in the next decade?), but the difference in cost between 1000 and 2500 was negligible.

I was still ditzing with that project when I got a very nice (and, as it turned out, very necessary) call from Cindy at Hargrove (the exhibitor services people for the Buyer's Market Show (Philadelphia. August.) reminding me to get me order in. I knew the deadline was next Monday (plenty of time!) and I was still trying to find my packet so I could go on-line and order. Turns out that for once it wasn't my fault: the Rosen Group didn't mail a packet this time, they decided to do all materials for this show on-line. Save some trees. I'm all about saving trees. And I'm sure (though I can find no evidence to back up my confidence) that they emailed me my login and password so I could do my order. But nevermind--Cindy gave me my login and password and I decided to get a jump on things and look at my display options. Ho boy, good thing I did. Snarkiness to follow....

I am sure there are good reasons why Hargrove chose the software they use for their on-line processing, a software that requires using Internet Explorer as your browser. Just like there are bound to be good reasons why Microsoft decided to stop making, supporting, distributing or even allowing to be distributed Internet Explorer for the Mac. Certainly neither Hargrove nor Microsoft care that I HAVE A MAC. I DON'T HAVE INTERNET EXPLORER*. I AM REQUIRED TO ORDER ONLINE**.

I called Hargrove back and asked them if they knew about this problem and the snarky woman on the other end of the conversation said Yep. She'd be happy to fax me the forms--well over 20 pages of them. Or I could call the Rosen Group. maybe they could mail me something (that wouldn't get to me by the Monday deadline). I was pretty steamed by the end of my conversation with her and decided I would call the Rosen Group with the phone number she provided me. Their line was busy... for the next hour and a half. I never did get anyone there. Now, me, I find a problem with an administrative decision I made, I pro actively go after it. I don't just wait for people to notice. Sure, Cindy gave me a call and that was great. But, c'mon, you KNOW people have Macs--especially artists. If you find out that your lame vendor is using some lame software that requires the most virus-prone browser in existence to process orders for your show, you IMMEDIATELY send out a big email alert giving an alternative ordering process.

For the record, because I am a bit of an uber geek (and cheap--lots of old Windows software I am not ready to buy again for the Mac), I have Parallels desktop which allows me to run Windows inside my Mac, and *I do have Internet Explorer running under Windows. Also I think (though I was not told this explicitly by the VERY snaky woman I got the first time I called back to Hargrove) **I could fax the forms in if I had hard copies of them. That's what I've always done for this show. Now one last note now that I have been able to get into their Internet-Explorer-requiring software: it's lame, lame, lame! It is buggy (it throws up error messages and then just continues on while you're going "what the hell?"), and very difficult to navigate through all the display options available. As a former software engineer I have to say that it looks like it was designed for a junior high computer science class project in the 90's and never upgraded. C'mon Hargrove: you want to play with the big boys you have got to be better than this! As for the Rosen Group, before deciding to change your process in one swift stroke, make sure it works for everyone. It would have been MUCH better to transition to on-line ordering with incentives for doing it that way for one show (and the regular system as back-up) instead of just hopping to a new train. Yes, ACRE did all-online materials and ordering for their show. And I was nervous and skeptical about it, but it worked. It worked because Champion (the exhibitor services provider) was not two-bit about it.

Enough wrist-slapping. I end with a sincere thank-you to Cindy at Hargrove who certainly saved me from a nasty death on Monday (I would have left ordering till then, you know I would). And I thank the nameless person at the Rosen Group who probably asked Hargrove to get everyone moving on their orders as they knew there were problems. I grind my teeth and get on with it.


Anonymous said...

Breathe, relax it will all work out. Think beautiful thoughts.
Now complete the paperwork and get back to work.

Doug Farrar

Bill Paley said...

You know, I could try to get you to dislike the name "Bill", too...

It sounds almost as though this registering process could be a government arrangement: same lack of caring...