Mumping and Grumping……………………..

I have been advised that in around six months time, an evil goblin will come to me in the night and suck my brains out.   The practical result being that 11.59pm I am fully employable, coherent and quite a nice chap really, but at 12.01, following the visitation of the goblin, I am a drooling idiot fit now only for the Shady Pines Home for the Terminally Bewildered.  The prospect of days of mindless pursuits like staring out of a window, daytime TV, golf and draughts, supper at 4.30pm, beddies and lights out by 7.30 thrills me skinny.   I’m sure the Damaging Director doesn’t want me skulking around the house all day every day like a bad smell around a drain.  She’ll be signing the forms double quick. 

So, as a practical effort to keep the old grey cells functioning, bring in some cash, and generally prove as according to the media, that 65 is the new 45, I started developing an online website to sell stuff.   I have a background in programming, so as Jeremy Clarkson says when presented with a Challenge, “can’t be that difficult can it”, before reaching for a large hammer.

Boy, was I wrong.

The first problem, choose a development platform.  There are many out there promising that you will have a fully functional website out there in minutes, with hordes of eager purchasers ready and willing to shovel money your way.  Unfortunately you now enter configuration hell. 

I started the installation of the most highly recommended website generator just before going to bed, thinking it would be ready for me first thing.  Nine hours later, stuck on 72%.  Great hopes for a speedy and responsive website dashed.   Enthusiasm diminishing.

The second website generator, “You need to upgrade your IIS”.  Upgrade.  Then, “You need to upgrade your PHP”. Upgrade.  Then, “Your current version of Windows does not support your SSL shell.  Please Upgrade”.   Sounds of application flying out of Window.    Enthusiasm diminished. 

The third.  Some hope.  Installs.  After some permissions tweaking on various files and directories.  But – it does not support any currency other than US Dollars.   South African law does not allow you to present a foreign currency invoice to a South Africa resident, and what SA customer will buy stuff from a SA shop priced in dollars anyway.   The banks will have the soul of your first-born to pay the fees for the currency conversion.

No enthusiasm.  Cynicism firmly established.

Eventually, candidate five or six allows me to create a website.  Not quite what I wanted, but getting there.  I upload it to my domain at my service provider.

My better half said the noise following my first attempt to look at the full-on Internet version reminded her of her childhood next door to a pig farm when they were making bacon.   Message from the service provider – “Your version of PHP is incompatible.  Please change to Version squiddly-donk.  Your version of MySQL is not compatible.  Please change to version piddly-tat”.   Both several versions behind the current, and the ones I was using.

I did, and got a website that consisted of lots of lovely pages of pure white.   Still battering away to find an equitable balance between white pages and actual content.  My PHP programming and analysis skills are improving by leaps and bounds. As Blackadder says, “Needs must when the Devil vomits in your teakettle”.

Still, learning a lot about Digital Marketing.  Seems a lot like non-Digital Marketing with added electrons.   Lots of snake-oil salesmen as well.

To summarise, the adverts that say that you will be a squillionaire by Christmas using their website generator are a load of old hows-your-father.  By the time you have a workable website up and running, it will feel like the evil goblin has had a go at your cranium.   And the bailiffs will have carted off all your stuff.

Other observations.

Never let a teccie design a website.  On my rampages around the web looking for the bit of string and box of matches needed to make the ship float,  I saw many examples of the current fad for form over substance.  Great-looking websites using the most up to date whizzy software, but the most irritating to actually use to find stuff.   If it was ever there in the first place.   Fudging SEO to make sure they appear on the Google search results page even if there was no connection with your search requirement seems to be the cornerstone of Digital Marketing. 

Other grump – passwords.  You enter the password into the box, and usually repeat it into the second box.   Back comes some guff about a password needing 12 characters, one number, a capital letter, a special character and proof you know the capital of Mongolia.  Why isn’t that requirement on the password creation screen?  Guaranteed to have me making my own hand-thrown pottery. (The guy that invented reCaptcha should be covered in honey and staked out over an anthill). 

Take forms.  You start banging away at the keyboard, and it’s only when you look up that you find – nothing.  You need to move to the first field and click in it. Why isn’t the cursor put into the first box that needs filled in and entry mode activated?  Especially if there is only one field on the screen.  Bloody teccies again…………………


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