- June 17, 2000 - Hello, Hello I'm Back Again
As you may have noticed the domain lastbandit.com was gone for most of May and a good part of June. I didn't pack
up and leave or decide to discontinue my Web involvement. There have been technical difficulties and a certain lack of
communication and support by the hosting company, all outside of my control.
As I'm writing this I'm anticipating the activation of a hosting account with a different company. I yet have to
determine the "damage" done by an unreachable Web site and an e-mail address that bounces. I also only have
guest book entries backed up locally here until March 2000. Maybe I can retrieve them from the old server sometime if
it ever comes up again. Most likely I'll just cut my losses.
OK, what happened was that my small and friendly hosting company aztech.net saw its dial-up service
discontinued due to a merger of two ISPs and also decided that Web hosting wasn't really a business priority anymore.
It couldn't have happened at a better time because my wife and I were engulfed in the stresses of buying our first
home and moving. All I could do was hope that aztech.net would find an alternative and implement it quickly. This did
not happen, mostly for reasons not known to me. I finally had it and the time to research another host. I chose
OLM, a large, commercial hosting company promising a pretty cool (albeit
quite standard these days) set of features at a decent price. I yet have to make my experiences with them, of course,
and may need to make some slight technical adjustments to the site before it's fully back up again.
Apologies for the long outage and my slow acting upon it. It's good to be back and good to see you again!
- September 23, 1999 - Alfa Romeo 1992 Spider Veloce to 1991 Spider
Depending on how you look at it, my luck has run out or I was damn lucky again. I completely trashed my 1992 Alfa Romeo
Spider Veloce in August 1999 and both my wife and I walked away with a few scratches and some neck pains. This after I
had just wrecked the Mustang 10 months ago - my first ever accident in 15 years of driving - and owned the Alfa as a
sweet and more than worthy replacement for less than five months. To add to the irony we had just come back from a 3000-mile
road trip and were on our way back from the grocery store, looking forward to drive out to Los Angeles the next day
for the remainder of our vacation. I was in position to turn left on a busy intersection near our place. The light turned
yellow and I watched for oncoming traffic to stop. When it seemed safe I started rolling but a Ford pick-up out of
seemingly nowhere decided to tear through the intersection ramming us front right and spinning us 180 degrees, airbag
going off and shit. I was the obviously suspected party at fault for not yielding to oncoming traffic but due to
controversy about the state of the traffic light (one witness testified the other guy ran the red while he himself claimed
it was still green) no one got cited. My newfound trusty and fine Italian automobile was in shambles though and declared a
total loss. Ugh! Our insurance paid and with the help of the absolute #1 Alfa garage in town I was able to locate a
1991 Spider as a replacement. Though not exactly the same beauty, it will get fixed up with parts from the salvaged wreck
and hopefully remain the official Martin mobile for a long time to come...
- September 14, 1999 - Record Collection Updates Are Back
I finally got around to updating the Record Collection Pages again. I have totally rewritten the SAS program that
generates them as they are now based on extracts from a Paradox For Windows database and no longer on the outgrown and
outdated AmigaBasic one. I've aimed at recreating what I had so the Web page look and layout have not changed radically
but I've spread the list across four parts now and the document names have changed.
The new database isn't fully populated yet but all my records are in it with at least the basic info needed. If available,
the country and catalog number are now listed and artist and title fields are longer. The only drawback is that I now
exceed the 'recommended browser width' for viewing my site. Oh well, scroll to the right or maximize that sucker if ya
The statistics are much more elaborate and I have added more detailed media categories. Artist-related videos and books
are now part of the collection too. I'm still struggling with the assignment of genres and/or categories. That and
entering the remaining catalog numbers will still take a while. In the future I will also have track and personnel
information available. I have some ideas for the cover image page but I might or might not go that far.
Speaking of cover images, I have added several hundreds more and there is additional info displayed on those pages too.
There are now two artist names: The sort/index name and the actual one from the album. Sort/index name is
used in all the listings but the album artist name would show on the cover image page.
I'm excited about the fact that updating these Web pages is now much easier and faster. I can practically run the SAS
program over a new database export and upload the HTML documents without the manual steps required previously. Both
artists and albums now have a permanent ID which means no more renumbering and link changes when the collection grows.
I may still have to iron out some glitches and make some decisions regarding the final format of certain fields (e.g.
if things like 'Australian CD' should really be part of the album title) but the
Record Collection updates are back, expect them frequently!
- May 29, 1999 - Music Boulevard, Record Collection
Some changes are coming thus some updates are on hold. For one, my Music Boulevard Affiliate Account has been
force-merged with CDNow who seems to have gobbled up said merchant. For the transition period I have removed all links
to both Music Boulevard and CDNow. I aim to re-establish the same service on CDNow's turf. Second, my record collection
keeps growing but the Web site hasn't been updated in a while. The reason is that I'm converting from my ancient Amiga
database to a much more elaborate database on the PC using Paradox For Windows. Besides the additional data entry taking
lots of time, all Web page generation processes and programs need to be rethought and changed. I hope to have a prototype
- February 28, 1999 - Fuck Omni Insurance
On November 2, 1998 a motorist named Jason crashed our Mustang while running a left-turn red light. We got a ride home
with the tow truck while Jason was hauled off in handcuffs. After half a week our own insurance company had appraised the
totalled car at $8440 including tax, title and the value of a recent transmission rebuild as well as a set of expensive
tires. We weren't overly thrilled with the amount since blue book and fair market/retail values were at about $10k. Since
the accident wasn't our fault we decided that the adversary insurance company should cover our loss. Thus the nightmare
called Omni Insurance began...
It took over a week to get confirmation that the claim had been received. It took another week to be informed that the
adjuster had changed. It took a total of four weeks including countless "next-day excuses" until the car was
appraised. Meanwhile the adjuster approved a rental car for which they would reimburse us but only "up to the point
where they make a formal offer" with the disclaimer that "there are ways around that". At the time of this
writing we are still waiting for any kind of reimbursement in part or full on a rental car bill of $1051, most of which was
accumulated because of their negligent practice of not following up to letters and phone calls. Near the end of December
1998 we received a letter that roughly three weeks ago they stopped covering the rental. We immediately returned the car.
Thank you very much, you fucking assholes! Back to the appraisal: It was for $7579 (supposedly a base value of $7050 plus
the rest for the transmission rebuild etc. It later turned out that they never took those receipts into account and the
difference was for tax and title) and was presented to us in the form of an answering machine message which we deemed rather
informal. Unable to get a hold
of them for discussion or negotiation, we left a message that a lawyer would contact them. This was followed up by a
message that "they understand we are accepting the offer of our own insurance company". We hired a paralegal
who would formally deal with them and ask for a settlement of $10k to cover the lost vehicle and the annoyances they and
their client has put us through. Again, weeks passed, adjusters changed and responses were few and untimely. They even
tried to make it our responsibility to come up for the wreck's storage which was considered excessive after 10 days. We
received that after seven weeks of waiting for them to get their shit together! Frustrated ("I never had such a hard
time with an insurance company") our paralegal gave up in late January after receiving Omni's last communication
that they would not budge from their initial offer of $7579. Weary and tired of dealing with this shit, we accepted
our own insurance company's offer as well as a lousy $300 for the rental car (we've got coverage up to $600, but there
seem to be "ways around that"). We still feel that Omni should act on their promise of paying the rental bill.
And we hope that they'll wind up paying back the higher offer to our insurance company and get slapped with a 3-month
storage bill for their own fucking negligence. Oh, and it would be nice to get our deductible back some time...
We tried to file a complaint with the Georgia Department of Insurance only
to be referred to the Arizona Department of Insurance who referred us back to Georgia... Man, there you have a well-running,
paid-off, trusty car and some fucking asshole wrecks it for you and because of his goddamn insurance company you just
lose. You lose time and money dealing with the fuckers, you wind up with bills and you lose your dignity giving in and
then you either have car payments again or settle with some beater that is no replacement for what you had.
Meanwhile the justice system moves a mile a month to punish the dickhead who started it all. Restitution through the
court my ass.
Thanks but no thanks. Omni Insurance, you are the lowest fucking liars and shitheads I ever dealt with. May one of the
drunk drivers you insure run a fuel truck straight into your corporate palace and blow up the scum that makes up your
Addendum March 1999: We finally got a check for $250.25 covering 10 days of the rental even though the cost
with tax was more like $29 per day...
Addendum May 1999: We received a check from our own insurance company for the $250 deductible. The text said that they
have recovered 100% of the total damages from the responsible party. Bitter-sweet but sweet none the less.
- July 18, 1998 - Rock Band Mailing Lists
I started fan-based mailing lists for favorite bands "The Angels" and "Beat Angels" using,
after the latest acquisition, the free services of Yahoo! Groups:
Hate the flood of daily paper junk mail for credit cards and the likes?
Tear it up and mail it (and any other garbage) right back in the "postage paid" envelope!
The heavier and grosser the more expensive and annoying for them... ;-)