How not to drum up business

There is a business here in Rochester that needs a lesson how to do business. I’m not going to give them the exposure (or Google rank) of putting their name here, but their name sounds a little like “Cock fire”. The business they are in is something that is actually of interest to me, something I currently use, and something that I recently solicited quotes from numerous companies in the business by going to a site that collects your requirements and sends them to registered providers. It’s also a business that members of a Linux Users Group, such as our own Linux Users Group of Rochester (LUGOR) might be more likely than the general public to want to do business with.

But “Cock fire”, instead of waiting for requests for quotes, or introducing themselves to the LUGOR group as a peer or contributor, instead decided to somehow mine our mailing list for email addresses, and then individually spammed the members of the list. When I got mine, I actually thought it was somehow related to my earlier request for quotes, until I realized that they’d sent it to both of the email addresses I’ve subscribed to the mailing list, not just the one I’d used in the RFQ. And then somebody else on the list mentioned that they’d gotten this spam to an address that they *only* use for the LUGOR list, and several other members piped up that they’d also gotten spammed, so we figured out what they’d done.

So well done, “Cock fire”. In spite of the fact that your product is actually $10 a month cheaper than what I currently pay your competitor, I’m not going to switch my existing use over, and neither am I going to recommend you to my current employer. Reap what you sow, assholes.

Update: I got a response from the email I sent them.

On behalf of [Cock fire] I would like to formally apologize for the e-mail marketing to your group. I was given 2 lists of e-mails from a Rochester Linux guru that said their group would be interested in Rochester based services. From the number of negative responses I have gotten back this was a mistake.

We have deleted all LUGOR e-mails and will not be in future communication. Please convey our apology to the group.

So it wasn’t his fault that they decided to spam, it was the fault of somebody who tempted him into it by giving him a list of email addresses. Oh, then that makes it all ok then? I don’t think so.

Looooong Paddle today

14 Miles on the Genesee River
14 Miles on the Genesee River
Today Mike and I met early at the Genesee Waterway Center. I didn’t have a firm plan in mind, other than to go long and slow. Well, Mike’s plan was similar, except for the slow part. Last time I did a long paddle here (30 May 2009), I went upstream at about 4.5 mph and downstream at about 6.7 mph. Mike is a much faster paddler than me, so he started off at about 6.3 mph and invited me to grab his wake and ride it. I grabbed it and held on as best I could, although I had to ask him to slow down a touch. My heart rate was pretty constant at around 140-145, as opposed to the 126 from that time. Mike asked me to pull for 5 minutes at the 20 minute point, the 40 minute point, the 50 minute point and again at the 60 minute point. That let the speed drop and my heart rate rise, but the good part was that when Mike said he was ready to come to the front again, I could stop paddling and grab my water tube and suck down a couple of gulps.

I was expecting another 10 mile paddle, since that’s how far we go when we go around the bay. So when we went through the 5 mile point on the way up, I figured “ok, I’m good for 12 miles”. Then he went through 6 miles. That’s when I spoke up, and he said he was planning on turning around at the 7 mile point. “Oh oh”, I thought. On that previous paddle, I’d only gone up 4.5 miles, so I got to see some of the river I’d never seen before. But I could feel the fatigue creeping in, and it was getting hard to keep right on his stern.

On the way down, I tried to paddle beside Mike, but once again his speed was too much for me. He was going around 7.0 mph, and I had to grab his wake once again. I noticed that we hit the 9.77 mile mark in 1:36, which is the time it had taken me at the Armond Bassett race to do 9.83 miles. Since my average pulse at the race was much higher, I have to assume that if I’d paced myself better in the race I could have done much better. Nearing the 11 mile point, which is about where the Armond Bassett race turned around (because the race started out by going 2 miles downstream, then 5 miles upstream, then 3 down) I could see two paddlers approaching. I realized pretty soon it was Jim Mallory and Jason Quagliata, two of the best paddlers in the area, if not the country. They turned while we were still a few hundred metres away, and started heading downstream much faster than us. They weren’t working hard, and you could see them pausing frequently to talk to each other, but they were still leaving us in the dust.

The last three miles saw me making a series of deals with myself. “Come on, just keep this pace for another mile, and if I have to, I’ll take a short rest”. “I’ve already gone further than I’ve ever gone before. so there would be no shame if I blew up now, but I’ll just keep going as long as I can”. Actually, some of the deals were pretty similar to the ones I made myself on these same three miles when I came here last August and I’d done 6 miles in 1:27. (Wow, 6 miles in 1:27 versus 14 miles in 2:13 – what a difference a year makes.) My heart rate monitor shows that my heart rate was going steadily up in that last three miles, which is partly due to the heat, but also fatigue. But at the end, I even managed a bit of a sprint – just call me Mark Cavendish.

Afterwards, Mike and I came back to my house and watched the excellent Mt Ventoux stage of the Tour de France. My lovely, talented and far too giving wife Vicki brought us bagels, cream cheese, lox and strawberries just to make it perfect. Man, Lance Armstrong still has it, doesn’t he?

Wednesday Night TT

Wednesday Night TTAnother week, another boring story about my time trial success or lack thereof. But this time there is something different at the end, so hang on.

The bay had a strong wind coming down it, but the waves were quite small for that amount of wind, so I suspect the wind started after the rain, which I’m told drenched the BayCreek Paddle Center a little while before the race. Unfortunately the upshot of that is that I got all the disadvantages of paddling into the wind on the way up the bay, but without much help from waves on the way back. The waves were only going about 5 mph, so I was plowing through them rather than surfing them. I heard my split on the way through, and it sucked. 9.67, which is one of the slowest ones I’ve done this year. Last week I was 9.55, 0.12 minutes faster.

The upstream part of the second half was slow too, with my speed kept below 6 mph most of the time. But once I turned, my speed went up over 6.5, and I started coming back. The recent rain must have put a good bit of current on the creek. My time for the second half was 9.45, which is the fastest I’ve ever done it, and so my overall time was 19.12, which is exactly the same as last week. Paul D was also slower than usual, at 19.05. So the downside was another non-record time, and getting beaten by Paul D again, but the upside was my fastest second half ever.

Here’s the interesting bit, though: I tried out an Epic V10 Sport surf ski. I have been putting off trying one, because I thought I needed to have a change of clothes in the car in case I dumped, but I have a cooler in my car and I stupidly left the tap open, so the car smells like a wet dog now so driving home in soaking wet clothes isn’t going to make anything worse. So today I tried one. I’ve seen a number of people try them and dump out immediately. I’ve seen other people who were so tentative that they could barely take two strokes before they had to brace. But I didn’t feel that way. Ok, the stupid venturi drain meant that the boat filled up with water every time I slowed down, so I ended up with a soaking wet ass almost immediately. But I felt almost “at home” in the boat right away. If not “at home”, at least I felt like this is a boat I could grow into very rapidly. I could get up to a very nice speed – Bill came along for most of it and said I was managing 6.7 mph or so on the down stream on the creek, which is faster than I was doing on my boat. Every now and then the boat would “go”, suddenly just tilt over to one side or the other, but because of the great base of technique I’ve put down this year, I was able to keep my body upright and let the boat go until its great final stability stopped it. One of the things I’ve been learning this year is to separate myself from the boat, and obviously the surf ski both enables that and makes it important to do.

I loved the foot straps – I definitely have to add them to my boat. I also found the cockpit very comfortable, especially after I got the rudder pedals adjusted correctly. The bucket seat really seemed to facilitate good hip rotation. It turned better than my own boat at the buoy turn. And the new graphics on the latest V10 Sport that Baycreek got in (which aren’t even on the Epic Kayaks web site yet, so I can’t link to them) are awesome. I think I’ve got a surf ski in my future – hopefully next spring we’ll have recovered from this extended unemployment, and I’ll be ready to make a major purchase like that again. I just wish Epic had put used a valve on the scupper like the ones on sail boats – I dislike the fact that the boat fills with water every time I slow down. Most people on the team put a strip of duct tape over theirs with a folded edge so they can rip it off if they get into a situation where they need it. I understand the new Epic V12 has a different type of scupper, so maybe they’ll bring it over the whole range.

Another long distance paddle

Today I met up with Mike and Paul D to paddle around the bay. Last time I did this, on June 13th, I faded, had to ride wash for a mile, and then faded even more and had to just drag myself in the last half mile or so. This time, I started out riding wash, but got them to slow down to a more sustainable pace, and ended up paddling without assistance for the last half, and I actually got bored of waiting for the two of them and surged ahead for the last mile or so. Last time, I did 10.65 miles in 1:59. This time I did 10.92 miles in 2:02. Not a huge improvement, but an improvement none the less.

Wednesday Night TT

Wednesday Night TTIt should have been a good night. There was almost no wind and no waves on the Bay (except the inevitable boat wakes) and the creek was still fairly high. But as soon as I got in my boat I felt “off”. I don’t know if I ate too much before hand, didn’t eat enough, or just wasn’t recovered from Saturday, but I almost didn’t feel like racing. I did a good long warm up, mostly slow but with a couple of “pick ups” to raise my heart rate to see if it would make me feel right, but it still wasn’t good.

To try to spur myself to try harder, I lined up behind Paul D. I started 30 seconds or a minute behind him, and I made an ok but not great start. Half way to the first buoy, though, my speed was dropping under the magic 6.0 mph, in spite of the low wind. I could see Paul pulling away from me even by then. After the turn, my speed increased a tiny bit, but it still wasn’t great, and Paul D was pulling away all the time. My spilt was horrible, 9.55 (compared to 9.50 last week and 9.43 the week before), and once we got into the twisty bit I mercifully lost sight of Paul D disappearing into the distance. I also noticed that I was ducking my head down more and more to try to look over the tops of my sun glasses, so I had to stop and take them off, which cost me a few seconds. At the turn, it was obvious just how much I’d lost to him, but the last half mile felt the worst. My speed felt horrible, and I wasn’t able to put on any speed for the finishing straight, and I couldn’t even see Paul D up ahead he was so far beyond me.

At the finish, my time was 19.12, which isn’t the worst I’ve done, but it’s the worst I’ve done in a month, which is a disappointment, especially since it should have been a PR kind of day. My disappointment was both lessened and increased because it turns out that Paul D was having a blistering time, and knocked about 20 seconds off his personal best. I don’t know what he was doing for that week and a half he wasn’t coming to team events, but whatever it was it sure worked for him. So I guess I’m going to have to improve a lot before I can start thinking of him as a rival again.