Philippe Kahn, Prophet

I was on site in 1986, the year Philippe Kahn, CEO of Borland, had the temerity to say in the midst of a crowd of Mac enthusiasts in San Francisco, that the Macintosh was a piece of shit.  That took a lot of gumption; I’m reminded of the scene in The Patriot where Mel Gibson walks into a bar and shouts, “God save the King,” exiting hastily in front of a cloud of knives and axes.

He was wrong then.

128k-macintosh

The 128K Mac was a thing of beauty and innovation (at least for folks who had not been inside the Palo Alto Research Center.) It introduced the world to the concept of a real graphical user interface, and made things possible in the world of graphics, sound, fonts, gaming, design, music, and artwork that would never have been possible in the IBM world – even by adding a dozen cards – more so as the machine morphed into faster and colorized versions. Dark Castle, HyperCard™, designable fonts, MIDI, user-accessible resources… they were all so fun!

The beautiful 1988 Battle Chess game by MacPlay riffed on the biggest disadvantage at the time – the price differential. “Pawn takes King” has the pawn whip out a Macintosh Price List, whereupon the king suffers a fatal coronary.

pawn-takes-king

Flop for flop, the Macintosh machines were about half again as costly as a comparable IBM device, and remain so to this day – but back then the “coolness” factor was enough to overcome that little annoyance. From 1984 until about 1990, I was a devotee.

But Kahn was just 30 years too early.

My wife has an iPod, and years ago one of her kids gave her an iTunes gift card for some music. So we had to set up an AppleID for her to be able to use it. Hold that thought.

Recently she acquired an iPad from her mother, and it was necessary to switch ownership of the pad to her account. Hold that thought.

For about six months last year, I worked for a cloud storage company as a tech support agent, and with remote tools I delved into a lot of Mac systems while I helped customers with their tech issues.

From the experiences I had trying to navigate the Apple environment to resolve what should have been the simplest of problems, I can safely go on record as saying that the Mac world is a place of overpriced, underpowered hardware, combined with a byzantine tangle of AppleIDs, iTunes (an abomination of desolation if ever I saw one, a heavy-handed store thinly disguised as an impossibly cumbersome media management tool), iCloud, Photo Library, and other bits and pieces which form a virtual nightmare to navigate. For Mogg’s sake, they even make you create an account to look at their help forums. And when you try to do that, you hit a brick wall.

applehqiz

My Username is OK. I agreed to the Agreement. “Please check the form for details” shows virtually no additional information. Thanks, Apple.

dongles

Add to this some recent technology decisions that seem difficult to fathom, including a plethora of dongles, the removal of a standard audio jack, and those easily-lost wireless earbuds, and it makes me wonder why anyone would go with Apple hardware any longer. For the longest time a relative imperviousness to viruses and malware was a big draw, but that era has ended, and there’s not much a Mac can do that a PC can’t, and for about 60% of the price. The “coolness” factor is just not there any longer.

a_very_long_flight

It’s been a long time since I’ve been religiously attached to any hardware or operating system. I’ve used so many, it’s basically “whatever gets the job done.” But for a brief period, the Mac was really a wonderful, dazzling, entertaining and useful new thing. Today, I’m pretty convinced that the company has lost its way and its vision when it comes to computers. I don’t hate Apple; I’m really hoping they can turn themselves around. If they don’t, it’s a sure bet that somewhere in the future, another Steve Jobs is waiting.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

IT is an expense. IT doesn’t make money for the company.

I saved this from over at reddit some time ago, and I’m sharing it here because I thought it could use wider exposure. This post is largely for IT professionals, of whom I know a fair community, forgive me if it doesn’t seem relevant.

On the other hand, if you’re a manager or a director responsible for IT¹, you may want to read this with some care.

A question was asked, “Isn’t there a live sandbox environment² you can freely make mistakes in before you jump in the actual live databases or whatever and make changes? If not, why not?”

A comprehensive answer was posted by redditor /u/catherder9000, which I have only bowdlerized a little, and I hope the author is not mortally offended.

It is all about scale.

(Sort of like how this post could have been summed up in 2 sentences, but enjoy it anyway!)

Lets say you work at a company that is a large small business (40-50 million revenue yearly, 100-200 people). Your IT department is a 1-3 man team, because “you’re an expense” …most business people think only sales people make them money. Don’t worry that you can’t make money if things don’t work, only sales makes you money.

Now lets pretend your last major upgrade to the servers was accomplished with a $75,000 budget. Getting that budget with the equipment you demanded was required was hard fought. Some corners were cut on “not absolutely necessary” things, things like a second slightly smaller and slightly slower server to run as a mirror of the first one, a server where you could do all your testing on. That “saved” the company $30,000, right? You just like to spend money, you never make the company any money.

Then, a year later you have something that absolutely has to be done to the server. You are pretty sure it will work, your outside support people are confident it will work, you have no server to test it on because all your other servers are much too small to handle it or are already tasked with other “critical” services. So you go with your best judgement and go live with a big change during the wee hours to cause the least interruption.

1 AM STUFF GOES BAD.

Now you’re scrambling. By 5AM you’re in a frantic attempt to get back online before major business starts, nothing you or your vendor have tried has worked, they’ve called in a half dozen of their T3’s and developers all to no avail. People are rolling in, things aren’t working. Calls are happening. Pages are going out. 6AM, the owner rolls in. His stuff isn’t working. You’re now thinking about reverting to last night’s backup because the changes you were told would work without a hitch were nothing but a giant frozen boot to the face hitch. People are getting really frantic about not being able to do business, nobody can order anything, nobody can sell anything, nobody can maintain inventory, nobody can do anything but sit around with their thumbs in their ears and surf the web. You’re just an expense, you don’t make the company money.

6:30AM, you make the decision to give up attempts at fixing and instead roll back to the last backup. You start the restore telling everyone “this should be resolved by 9:30AM everyone we have is on it and a full restore should take 2 or 3 hours tops.”

9:35 rolls around, 9:40… 10:15 the backup fails at the last point. What the…? How the…? This is impossible! You make some calls, you explain that you have to attempt rolling back to the offsite backup, yes you understand that will lose the half the day’s business and everything will have to be manually entered when the system is back up. You’re given the “Well for pity’s sake get it back up what do we pay you for!?!” (The go ahead. They have utmost confidence in your abilities.) You start the other restore. It works, but was much slower than the onsite one because fiber is only so fast. 3:00PM you’re back online, things seem to be stable again.

3:30, nobody in IT has slept in 32 hours. You’re called into a meeting with management. People want answers. You explain that you were assured everything would go smoothly by the vendor, you tell them that you were confident on your role in the upgrade as well. What should have been a 2 hour downtime during the night turned into a 17 hour ordeal. It was an unforeseeable incident. You mention that, “Had we had a working test environment to try this on first, we would have discovered the problem and avoided it.”

Nobody wants to hear it. Everything is about reentering the previous day’s sales, orders, receivables, inventory adjustments, etc. 4:30 the business day is basically a wipe. The downtime has cost the company a couple of hundred thousand in lost business for the day. You’re just another expense, you don’t make the company any money.

Nobody learns from it other than yourself, a few other people in IT, and the vendor who “has never seen this problem before”.

dt990808shc0

Your request for a new sandbox server is declined. Your request for a 2nd local backup server is seen as “another” frivolous idea.

You’re just another expense, you don’t make the company any money.

Welcome to IT.

The Old Wolf has been there.

¹ IT = Information Technology. You know, the computer or data-processing department that doesn’t make any money. When things are going well, they wonder what they pay you for. When things go to hell, they wonder what they pay you for.

² A sandbox is a separate place, a mirror of your computer systems, where software can be tested without impacting your production machine. If things go bad, no harm no foul.

Winter is Coming, whether HBO likes it or not.

Winter is Coming.jpg

This beautiful painting by a 13-year-old girl, who just happens to have some autism to deal with, was posted at the arts and crafts site, RedBubble. She called it “Winter is Coming.”

Lawyers at HBO, afraid that this image and its appurtenant title would do irreparable harm to their beloved Game of Thrones¹, sent a takedown letter, which RedBubble  – sadly – immediately complied with.

I’m not so charitable. HBO is a douchebag, and these lawyers are douchebags. They can all go sit on a cactus. Sit down hard, on a cactus, and spin.

cactus

You see, lawyers and corporations think they can patent or trademark anything to “protect shareholder value.” Well, winter is coming whether they like it or not. It will arrive on December 21st this year.

What are you going to do, boys and girls: sue the calendar?

Grow up and get a life.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ With respect to George R. R. Martin, whose work has inspired a huge following, I’ve never seen the show, and couldn’t get past Chapter 1 of the first book. It just didn’t resonate with me.

Now it’s the “EU Business Register.”

 

To: redacted
From: EU Business Register <register@eubusinessreg.com>

Subject: Business Register 2016/2017

 Dear Madam/Sir,

In order to have your company inserted in the EU Business Register for 2016/2017, please print, complete and submit the attached form (PDF file) to the following address:

EU BUSINESS REGISTER
P.O. BOX 34
3700 AA ZEIST
THE NETHERLANDS

Fax: +31 205 248 107

You can also scan the completed form and attach it in a reply to this email.

Updating is free of charge.

The scam continues, which I referred to here and here. Making another quick reference to it for additional exposure in case people are searching the web to see if this outfit is legitimate.

It is not. It is a total scam.

Very little has changed. Their spam emails, blasted all over the world, always say “updating is free of charge.” But the small print, ah, the small print:

THE SIGNING OF THIS DOCUMENT REPRESENTS THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS AND THE CONDITIONS STATED IN “THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR INSERTION” ON THE WEB PAGE: WWW.EUBUSINESSREGISTER.EU. THE SIGNING IS LEGALLY BINDING AND GIVES YOU THE RIGHT OF AN INSERTION IN THE ONLINE DATABASE OF THE EU BUSINESS REGISTER, WHICH CAN BE ACCESSED VIA THE INTERNET, ALL IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONTRACT CONDITIONS STATED ON “THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR INSERTION” ON WEB PAGE: WWW.EUBUSINESSREGISTER.EU.THE VALIDATION TIME OF THE CONTRACT IS THREE YEARS AND STARTS ON THE EIGHTH DAY AFTER SIGNING THE CONTRACT. THE INSERTION IS GRANTED AFTER SIGNING AND RECEIVING THIS DOCUMENT BY THE SERVICE PROVIDER I HEREBY ORDER A SUBSCRIPTION WITH THE SERVICE PROVIDER EU BUSINESS SERVICES LTD. “EU BUSINESS REGISTER”. I WILL HAVE AN INSERTION INTO ITS DATABASE FOR THREE YEARS. THE PRICE PER YEAR IS EURO 995. THE SUBSCRIPTION WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY EXTENDED EVERY YEAR FOR ANOTHER YEAR, UNLESS SPECIFIC WRITTEN NOTICE IS RECEIVED BY THE SERVICE PROVIDER OR THE SUBSCRIBER TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE EXPIRATION OF THE SUBSCRIPTION. YOUR DATA WILL BE RECORDED. THE PLACE OF JURISDICTION IN ANY DISPUTE ARISING IS THE SERVICE PROVIDER’S ADDRESS. THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE SERVICE PROVIDER, EU BUSINESS SERVICES LTD AND THE SUBSCRIBER IS GOVERNED BY THE CONDITIONS STATED IN “THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR INSERTION” ON THE WEB PAGE: WWW.EUBUSINESSREGISTER.EU

So if you enter your data and send it in for what you think is a “free listing,” you’re agreeing (at least on paper) to shell out €2985 for a three-year listing, and agreeing to be billed every year forever unless you cancel in writing.

Fear not. If you get stung, just write and tell them that you’re not paying. Quoted from my previous post:

If you happen to fall for this, these things will happen:

  1. The company will ignore any attempts to contact them
  2. If you simply refuse to pay, you will begin to get aggressive and threatening communications from a “global debt collection company,” Waldberg & Hirsch. That firm does not exist – it’s just the same drones trying to frighten you into paying. They will demand payment in full for the agreed-to three years, but will settle for one year’s payment if you’re foolish enough to send it.

The solution:

  1. Just ignore them. They can’t sue you, because they are running a scam, they know it, and they don’t want to attract legal attention to themselves. Never pay these gong-farmers a cent; ultimately they’ll go away.

Again, why the Dutch authorities have not managed or taken the trouble to shut this scummy operation down is incomprehensible.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Microsoft “non-support” – I’m not just blowing smoke here.

In my previous post, I ranted a bit about Microsoft’s efforts to alienate their customers by making competing or foreign programs (like Chrome – horrors!) incompatible or forcing them to ask permission to run, every time. We’re talking Windows 10 here, the latest and greatest.

Here’s an old joke, but one which remains totally valid in the 21st century:

A helicopter was flying around above Seattle when an electrical malfunction disabled all of the aircraft’s electronic navigation and communications equipment. Due to the clouds and haze, the pilot could not determine the helicopter’s position and course to fly to the airport. The pilot saw a tall building, flew toward it, circled, drew a handwritten sign, and held it in the helicopter’s window. The pilot’s sign said “WHERE AM I?” in large letters. People in the tall building quickly responded to the aircraft, drew a large sign and held it in a building window. Their sign read: “YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER.” The pilot smiled, waved, looked at her map, determined the course to steer to SEATAC airport, and landed safely. After they were on the ground, the co-pilot asked the pilot how the “YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER” sign helped determine their position. The pilot responded “I knew that had to be the Microsoft building because, like their technical support, online help and product documentation, the response they gave me was technically correct, but completely useless.”

One would think that after all these years as the 900-lb gorilla in the software space, someone at Microsoft would wake up and realize that this is a critical failing that generates massive ill will toward the company.

No, I’m not blowing smoke. Here’s an example, related to my last post.

I went to the Microsoft support site today, and asked a simple question: “Why does Windows Firewall in Win10 block Google Chrome?”

Here’s the page that comes up – one relevant to Windows Vista, dated 2011.

Someone named “Samuthra G,” tagged as a Microsoft agent, replied:

Hi,As the issue is with Google Chrome I would suggest you to post your query in the Google forum for better assistance:
http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Chrome

And this was designated as the “most helpful” response. Thank you so much, Microsoft and Samuthra G; nothing like blowing an unhappy customer’s problem off by blaming someone else.

Two months later, a user named “Karmana” followed up with the perfect response:

Why is it, over the years, that I have noticed the vast majority of supposed Windows or Microsoft higher-certified helpers cannot seem to actually read the questions asked by the original poster?  Samhrutha, your answer to QW_895 is not only unhelpful, but if you were/are a Microsoft employee, then it is also highly irresponsible to blow off the OP by saying, “It’s not our problem.”  Taking responsibility for one’s own products is a strong first step in positive Public Relations!

To this day, this is my boilerplate experience with Microsoft forums. First of all, the people who answer never give a relevant answer – it probably has to do with the fact that their first language is not English, and that they’re paid pennies per hour to respond to these questions. Second, if they do give a response that’s even on-topic, it’s almost always so technical as to be incomprehensible or un-implementable by the average user.

Today I tried contacting the Microsoft support site, just to see what happens:

support

Having already tried a search without success, I figured I’d take advantage of their offer:

support-2

So I entered my question again: “Why does Win10 firewall block Chrome?” What I got was a list of articles – and once again, the most relevant hit is the worthless exchange I referred to above.

support-3

So I clicked the “Talk to a person” link, and was connected via Chat to a friendly Microsoft agent somewhere on the other side of the world.

“Clarisse” asked me some questions about which version of Windows I was using, provided a case number, and ended up suggesting that I uninstall and reinstall Chrome. So just for the hell of it, I gave that a try – predictably, without success. These agents in India or wherever are minimally trained, minimally paid, and working from scripts without much understanding of what’s happening under the hood.

If I wanted, I could pay $149.00 per year for premium Microsoft support, which would allow me to ask questions at any time and also enable remote desktop support, but I somehow feel that paying for support to solve problems that Microsoft generates is probably not the best allocation of my resources.

The challenge is that Microsoft is so widely accepted as the de-facto standard in the business world that people need it to conduct their daily affairs, and most people would rather muddle along with the best they can do rather than delve down into the guts of an operating system to try to find a fix or a workaround. Microsoft knows this, and based on results, they don’t care to spend any time, effort, or money to improve their byzantine and useless support system.

It’s sad. For myself, I don’t really feel like facing the Linux learning curve, and I’m seriously afraid of something like this:

cautionary

As for Apple, I love the idea of the Macintosh platform, but unless the company brings their prices in line with PC hardware, I won’t be able to justify the expense. From a functionality standpoint, the lines between PC and Mac world have blurred considerably since 1984 when the Mac was introduced as the sexy computer for the rest of us, so the draw has diminished substantially.

Still not a happy camper.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Make a Translator Mad in Four Words

From a recent Facebook post. Having worked as a freelance translator, these responses spoke to my soul. Yes, a few of them are more than four words, but they’re all good – and they’re all real. I have seen many of these myself.

For what it’s worth, I no longer do this sort of work. The reasons will become obvious. I’ve included a bit of commentary here and there.

Cheap bastards

Agencies make money by charging high rates to clients and paying low rates to translators, reviewers, and proofreaders. They’re always jockeying for a better deal. That’s the nature of business, but when you’re an independent contractor, and your standard rate (calculated to earn you a living) is always being undercut, it’s frightfully annoying. The global access of the Internet means that professional, trained, educated translators must now compete with millions of people in India, China, and elsewhere who “speak a little English” and who are willing to work for 1¢ per word or less.

  • Best lowest rate required.
  • What’s your best rate?
  • Make your best rate.
  • Make me (a) good price.
  • Send your best rate.
  • We pay in visibility. (Visibility and $7.95 will get you a coffee at Starbucks.)
  • Our budget is limited. (So I’m supposed to subsidize your profit, right?)
  • Special rates apply to this client. (He’s paying us less, so we’re going to pay you less.)
  • A discount for volume. (We’re paying less because there’s a lot of work).
  • It’s the market rate. (Take it or leave it.)
  • 5¢ is not bad. (5¢ per word is shit.)
  • The others charge less. (Good, feel free to use them.)
  • Someone charges way less.
  • Our budget is only …
  • National Agreement Rate Please.
  • Could you proofread instead? (Read: Your rate is too high).

Cheaper bastards

Machine translation used to be cumbersome, expensive, and not very effective. Now it’s quick, easy, free, and only a bit more effective. While statistical translation models have made some exciting progress, people who don’t understand the intricacies of language assume that online translation is both free and reliable. Similarly, your neighbor may speak a bit of German, but don’t expect your translation to do well in the commercial arena. In the translation world, you still get what you pay for, and if you go cheap, you’re likely to get crap.

  •  Google Translate is cheaper.
  • We will Google translate.
  • I’ll do it myself.
  • I can do it myself.
  • Neighbour can do it.
  • Will it cost anything?
  • Is it for free?
  • That much? No way!
  • The font was wrong. (Followed by “Will you accept 50%?”)
  • I could do it, but…
  • Could do it myself, but…
  • You’re overpaid.

Cheapest bastards

It’s not uncommon for an unethical agency to get a job, break it up into 20 segments, offer the job to 20 translators and have them each do part of the work as a “test,” then award the bid to nobody.

  • Please do this test.
  • Please complete test assignment.
  • We require (a) free test.
  • Test translation without charge.
  • Download the test translation.
  • It’s for a tender. (We need your free translation to make the bid.)

Scheduling headaches

Contractors spend a lot of time juggling their resources against customer needs. Agencies don’t care.

  • We’d like it for tomorrow.
  • Have you begun yet?
  • Great, don’t proceed yet.
  • Client brought deadlines forward.
  • The client sent changes.
  • The client made changes.
  • 6000 words for tomorrow.
  • 20,000 words of light postediting.
  • We need it yesterday.
  • Can you deliver early?
  • Sorry, client cancelled assignment.
  • End client just cancelled.
  • Please send your invoice (then we’re going to have minor changes).
  • File should arrive midnight. (Deadline in 8:00 AM, of course.)
  • We have a glossary (10 minutes before deadline).
  • That didn’t need translating… (After you’ve spent a day and a half on “that.”)
  • Please use US English. (Halfway through a huge project meant to be in UK English!).
  • Please deliver tomorrow morning.
  • Translate in real time! (What does this even mean?)
  • Client isn’t in a hurry (Followed, 2 months later, by “Client needs it ASAP”).
  • The project is cancelled (in the morning of due date!).

Your skills are worthless!

Anyone can translate. It’s just typing in another language.

  • (It doesn’t need to be translated,) just type this in Portuguese
  • Everyone can do it!
  • So you teach English?
  • You’re a translator? Then why don’t you give English courses?
  • What is your work?
  • Please do the shopping.
  • Go get the kids.
  • Don’t think, just translate!
  • What’s your real job?
  • Do you also teach?
  • You have done nothing.

Technical Headaches

“You need to use our tools, yours are garbage.”

  • Trados is a must.
  • TRANSIT is a must.
  • Across is a must.
  • [Insert CAT tool name of choice] is a must.
  • Use our online TM-tool.
  • We only use Excel. (Translating in Excel is a nightmare, if you were wondering.)
  • Please translate into Excel.
  • Your file doesn’t open.

Not only that, in the world of translation, these CAT (Computer-assisted translation tools) are de rigeur. They can be useful in speeding up translation and improving terminological consistency, but agencies routinely take advantage of this and pay less than the full rate for things that the software has translated for you. This ignores the fact that the translator is responsible for the coherence of the entire job and must read and evaluate every bit and piece of the work for accuracy. This alone is the major reason I stepped out of the freelance translation world. My rate per target word is X¢, period. Pay it or go somewhere else. Translators who survive in the industry pretty much have to suck it up, but I wasn’t willing.

  • We don’t pay repetitions.
  • Pro-rated for fuzzy match.
  • 100% matches for free.
  • Discount for fuzzies applied.
  • Fractional Payment for Repetitions.

Payment Headaches

In the US, standard terms are 30 days net. Around the world, it’s not uncommon for translation agencies to expect translators to wait 60, 90, or even up to 180 days for payment of invoices (they usually claim that they’re waiting for their clients to pay them.) This is unethical in the extreme, but not an uncommon strategy in the business world.

dt080613dt080614

There’s one more I can’t find, where the vendor says, “But if you pay us late we’ll go bankrupt, and then you won’t ever have to… pay… I’ve said too much, haven’t I?” The Pointy-Haired Boss just sits there with a sick grin on his face.

  • We forgot your payment.
  • Did you send your invoice? (Yes, I did, 60 days ago.)
  • Net forty-five days.
  • The payment will delay.
  • Thanks for your patience. (After payment was delayed for a month).
  • Check’s in the mail. (Yes, people still use this one.)
  • Our accountant on vacation.

We know better than you.

Never mind your skills, the next person is always smarter.

  • Reviewer says you failed.
  • Is “the” necessary here?
  • Let me correct that.
  • I speak two languages.
  • (S)he knows better.
  • (S)he is a [language] teacher.
  • Proofreader does not agree. (Proofreaders know bupkis about translation.)
  • Changes made by proofreader.
  • My secretary edited it.
  • This translation is bad.
  • But Google translate says…

Creepy Clients

There is always one.

  • What are you wearing?

General Lies

“I have read and agree to the terms of service”

  • It’s a straightforward text.
  • It’s a piece of cake.
  • It’s short and easy.
  • It is not technical.
  • It’s not very technical.
  • Help me, it’s quick.
  • It only needs editing.
  • Just a quick question.

Translation Requirements, and Stupid Questions

Things that don’t fall into easily-defined categories.

  • Do you translate books?
  • Is Brexit affecting business?
  • Source text is JPG. (This means you can’t use your CAT tools for the job.)
  • It’s a PDF – handwritten.
  • Translate in sticky notes.
  • It’s mainly doctors’ handwriting.
  • Please check additional references.
  • (We know you’re busy but) we’re really shorthanded.
  • Here’s an XBench report.
  • It was machine translated.
  • Added to our database. (Don’t call us, we’ll call you.)
  • Read 50 pages of instructions (for a 100-word job)
  • Keep the original format.
  • You have to cook.
  • It’s a doctor’s prescription.
  • Don’t go into details.
  • Thanks for sharing.
  • Are you still translating?
  • Complete our six forms.
  • There’s no source text. (When proofreading a translation, you need to see the original text. If it’s not there, you’re just basically making wild guesses in the dark.)

About 30 years ago, an ad appeared on the bulletin board of the translation software company I was working at. It probably came from one of the trade publications, and showed a boss ripping an employee a new one. The text read, “Because you had your brother-in-law do the translation, our  ad says that our new camera exposes itself automatically!”

I’ve dealt with the risks of translation on the cheap before, and in this one thing has not changed: If you want good translations for your business, use a professional and pay them well – otherwise your product may just bite the wax tadpole.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Coin Prices: Part II

In a recent article, I mentioned a set of coins offered by PCS Stamps and Coins, and showed how much of a markup these people were getting.

Since their ads keep popping up on my mobile phone, I thought I’d add just one more example of how putting lipstick on a pig can bamboozle the ill-informed.

Today’s offering: A complete date set of the Peace Dollar, in protective plastic capsules and a handsome cabinet. Price: $848.00

7a4268ce-4729-4f16-8008-2860380995d8_400_0

Complete 10-coin set, with cabinet

23f2fbbd-b0d2-400b-975d-e89c3af5b7b5_400_0

United States Peace Dollar

No question, the set is very pretty. But:

Per the advertisement, these coins are offered in “gently circulated condition.” This is essentially a meaningless statement for collectors; let’s look at the average dealer asking price for a similar set as presented by the Professional Coin Grading Service:

grading

Note that these are average dealer asking prices for PCGS-graded coins; buyers of this set have no guarantee that these coins have been graded by anyone.

The price for a set of coins in 40-grade (Extra Fine) is $442, and the odds that you’ll get a set of coins in this condition are vanishingly small. So you’re paying at least twice the price of these items for the bonus of a cheap cabinet from China and a few plastic capsules.

If you’re thinking this is a good investment, it’s not. You could assemble the same set for much, much less by visiting different coin stores online or in person, armed with the PCGS grading and pricing information.

Be careful out there, and don’t be taken in by the bells and whistles of slick advertising promotions.

The Old Wolf has spoken.