Wade In The Water

Amid the mostly rosy reports of employment numbers since the recovery of the 2008 economy crash, are
persistent reports of people experiencing sudden job loss due to mergers, closures and disasters.
In my opinion, more coverage is also needed for complications the (newly) unemployed face in adjusting
to circumstances.

One of the latest examples involves identity theft wrecking credit histories of job seekers.
As if age wasn't enough of a hurdle...

I'd been thinking about this question for some time. What finally made me write about it was a news
report of restaurants in the Boston area suddenly closing after long and illustrious histories,
and staff with 30 and 40 year careers notified their careers ended in a week.

Then the threatened government shutdown of December 2018/January 2019 happened.

As I listened to the hardship stories and assessments of collateral damage, short and long term economic
impact (including probable recession), difficulties in securing a job after my own long term
professional career (23 years) came to end, surfaced once more from the shallows of consciousness.

About a year into my new life early in 2006, an interview I obtained through a recruitment agency seemed
promising until I was asked if I would give up my current private business (an aspect of my background I
thought might be a plus; demonstrating "entrepreneurial spirit" and the like, as has appeared in a large
number of job descriptions after all).

"No" I replied firmly.

The recruiter later ruefully told me I was not hired. He said it was because of my response to give up
my business.

This was perceived as a refusal to give 100% to the job.

I won't go into my contributions and acknowledgements during my career...let's put it this way:
it had taken almost all of those 23 years to get from a "2" rating to a "1". But I made it. Twice. I'd
say that's a testament to commitment. (I got rated a "high 2" once...)

An almost mythical amount of will is needed to forge a path in the face of the many onslaughts, expected
and unexpected, that "keep on giving" regardless of passage of time. I still remember the contempt on the faces
of those administering a food stamp program I once was on while unemployed.

Even the concept of "job shaming" has entered (or perhaps finally recognized within) social consciousness.

Stories of replacement jobs not replacing lost income are all too common.

I realize there are cases where non-competitive agreements are necessary for employment depending
on industry, but in general, if one is prevented from personal development they alone must bear the

Quote from the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all [...]are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -[...]"

If some are allowed to "pursue happiness" for greater profit, others should be allowed to "pursue happiness" for
greater security.

The Site (Road) Not Taken

For many years I've strongly advocated for having as much control over your website as possible, as evidenced by
several posts in this blog. This perception has grown for the "committed technical novice" with many of the DIY products that have come along since I wrote "What A Website Can Do" in 2010.

But there are still limitations with website builders, not the least of which is the charge for the most basic
requirement, using your own domain; typically about as much as it costs for a hosting package complete with gigs of disk space.

However, let me say at the outset that I'm not as partisan against website builders as I was. They serve a purpose
of getting a presence on the net quickly, and some have a nice selection of templates.

But for a truly scalable and flexible long term solution, to name just a few advantages, there are better platforms.

As usual, knowledge pays.

I was recently contacted by a past client seeking help with their website, currently written in php. My first
contract with them, I implemented a WordPress site, upgrading from a website builder that allowed just 5 pages, addressing one problem of crowded content. A support plan was not negotiated. The WordPress site stayed up for a
while, then I noticed one day that it had switched to a website builder platform.

I don't know why it was decided to go back to a closed platform; I can only assume the WordPress admin dashboard
might have been intimidating (a situation that appears to be common among those who have yet to be convinced otherwise), or were overwhelmed by the nearly daily plugin update emailed notifications (updates which can be managed by -- say it with me -- a plugin).

Some years passed, during which I de-emphasized work for clients who decided to abandon provided solutions, feeling
it might create a negative perception.

Such was the case of the client I mentioned who now needed help updating content. As I said, when I'd last visited
their site it was using a website builder; now it was written in php (a scripting language that can generate html).
(When I learned this my first thought was '...but - but so is WordPress...?')

I agreed to provide an analysis which revealed a few things that went beyond their scope.

For example, I found pages where a tagline was rife with misspellings. I found text obscured by an image.

The template I use for detailing specs and tasks has space to show business rationale/advantages. I think it's important to be as explicit as possible in the hope that what is quoted is agreed to be fair and accurate. At least it helps.

That being said, ultimately the client determines what services they'll receive and the provider must decide if they are the right one to do so. It's not as if disclaimers can appear in mid-air like a holograph when work they may be credited with is viewed by the general public. Cost can be a primary driver, and it is up to all parties concerned what that cost, immediate and future, will be.

My Builderall Experience: Email Marketing

Builderall was eight years old in 2017 according to information I obtained in May of that year. Customer support
also said the size of their user base was > 100,000. I used to be a developer and one of the quickest lessons
I learned was that those who used systems I constructed or enhanced want them to be responsive, intuitive, and

I appreciate the engineering skill that went into making Builderall (although I think some functionality
needs to perform more consistently) but there are "little" things that I think should have been addressed with
the first release. For example, setting a password on the email account. There is a static line of help below
the password prompt that tells you what the length of the password must be, but no more than that.

There's also a bar graph that will indicate the password strength.

So various formats are input, the password strength becomes green (i.e. passes), click a button (improperly labeled
in my opinion) and...nothing.

No error message. No sign that input was even acknowledged. With all of the testing I was doing, I don't recall
if it accepted a special character, but I'm almost certain it did not. Password strength still implies it should
have been accepted.

It only worked when I added a number.

Support confirmed they received the same results (and may have encountered it in other password setting contexts
since they said "they all seem that way").

This "little" thing actually has huge import when considering credibility of a system, particularly when a
subscription fee is being paid. And if someone is my subscriber and perceives this inconvenience...I can expect
a high volume of support tickets.

The email address set in "reply to" (verified according to Builderall criteria) must receive messages and be
accessed for correspondence.

I elected to use the internal mail manager Mailingboss, although other tools are permitted such as Mailchimp.

One anomaly encountered was an embedded link in a subscription confirmation email that didn't get formatted properly
even though it worked in previous tests, leading to a 404 error.

I began to feel as if I'd have to constantly record my activities to convince those occasional respondents who
merely replied "it worked for me."

I saw many complaints that emails were getting delivered to spam folders even though domains were verified.
Support provided extensive guidance on email etiquette and best practices, somewhat countering the admonition in
one of the tutorial videos to ensure domain is verified.

(As an aside, I am extremely impressed with the number of tutorial videos that have been generated. The ones in
the dashboard Knowledge Base have been supplemented by a slew of others independently produced on Youtube. Some
became obsolete needing revision. It became abundantly clear that one needs to consume the entire set of these
short tutorials to get as complete an understanding as possible of a feature.)

There are status indicators for subscribers such as "disabled" which I still have no idea how they aid
automation of administration. I was able to send a subscription invitation to a test account with this status
and able to register it. Similarly this account could register for a free trial. There is a provision for setting
certain types of automation rules, one of which checks custom field values. But associated custom fields did not
get changed from "N" to "Y".

While I was unable to fully conclude that assigning multiple values for a custom field -- while allowed --
render a false test for one or the other value to enforce the rule, the testing I was able to complete seems to
lead to this outcome.

My perception is a significant amount of manual intervention is required.

The mail servers were changed/upgraded some months after I began my membership, evidence that Builderall is
sincere in their mission to be "the greatest marketing platform on the planet." It's only a question of one's
ability to fund that mission.