eFax and Me

I sent this email:

Dear Customer Support-
There seems to be some sort of problem with the sign up page for the eFax free service. I have been trying to sign up for the free service, but I keep getting sent back to the sign up page by the confirmation email that I am receiving.

But the link sends me back to the sign up page, where I am asked to re-enter the exact same information that I have already entered. I enter all the same info again, then I receive a confirmation email, sending me right back to the same page.

Please let me know where I can go to get my eFax phone number, as this is not working.


-patrick ferguson

They responded:

Hello Patrick,

Thank you for contacting eFax.com Support.

Based on the information you provided, it appears that you do not have an active eFax account. If you signed up using a different e-mail address, let us know so we can revise our database search. Otherwise, it is likely that your order was not processed, and we recommend that you sign up again.

To sign up for eFax Free, please visit http://www.efax.com/signup/free/page1.asp. (for those of you watching from home, please note that this link does not function, due to the period at the end of the URL. Cutting the period out takes one back to the by now sickeningly familiar eFax sign up page.)

If you are still unable to sign up online, please email us the following details. We shall sign up for an account and send your the efax number and PIN to you.

1) Full Name to be registered.
2) Email address to be registered for the account.
3) Postal Address with ZIP CODE.
4) Work and home phone number.
5) The Operating System that you use.

Please visit our Help section at http://efax.com/help if you have any additional questions.

Thank you for contacting eFax.com. For any future correspondence regarding this issue, please reference this case ID in your message: 2348142.


-(name deleted for fear of legal action)
eFax.com Customer Service

I responded:

Still having the same loopback problem that I have been having with your signup for free service. I go the sign up page, fill out the form, submit it and I get an email asking me to go the sign up page, fill out the form and submit it. Please try this yourself so you can appreciate how much fun this is. (here is the link, in case you need it- http://www.efax.com/signup/free/page1.asp ) I have done this about seven or so times now.

You’d think I would have stopped about the third time, but I wanted to make sure that the same annoying functionality was consistent from browser to browser, platform to platform. So far, your website fails to allow me to sign up from Internet Explorer 5.5 on Mac OS X, Netscape 6 on Mac OS X, Chimera on OS X, IE 5.0 on Mac OS 9.2, Netscape 4.5 on Windows 98, Internet Explorer 5.5 on Windows 98, and finally, Mozilla on Red Hat 7. If your goal is *not* to allow people to sign up for the free service, then you have done a *truly FANTASTIC* job. I applaud your thoroughness. The sign up page is a complete success (on every platform! and in every browser!) at preventing someone from signing up for eFax. Of course I am tempted to sign up for the premium service if I can expect the same kind of seamless cross-platform functionality that I have seen so far. Please find the info that you requested below:

(personal info deleted for obvious reasons.)

Can’t wait to see how this turns out…..

UPDATE! 30 Dec 2002 17:11 CST

They sent me a fax number. Hell, they sent me five fax numbers, apparently. Here is a snapshot of my inbox. All joking aside, eFax can be a cool service. And now you can fax me at 253.295.4151, or any of four other fax numbers!

not everybody loves the guy-

Recently, I wrote in this space how much I enjoyed recording with Steve Albini and I sang the praises of his work style and his studio. Turns out there are some different opinions of the guy and his operation out there. So, in the interest of full disclosure, I am printing excerpts from an email I received from a friend that recorded with Albini a year or two ago. Here is another perspective:

“…music raises goosebumps on people’s arms because they love it…that is why
we make music…because for some unknown reason, we love it and it gives us
chills and makes us feel good (in some relative sense)…

And this “good” feeling we get from music doesn’t come from a microphone, or
a tuned drum, or an adobe brick, or a piece of magnetic tape. These are
cool elements that are fun to talk about and learn about, but truthfully
lay-people (i.e. listeners) care quite little about these things…and,
surprise, I’m making music in hopes that “listeners” will enjoy it…I’m not
making music for the small minority of studio tech geeks..

which brings me to my point…

the most important thing that goes on in a studio is the artist’s
performance…all that other shit adds up to a fraction of a percent when
you compare it to the importance of the music that’s being made…

I mean who gives a fuck about recording quality…not my friends…they
couldn’t tell tape from digital if somone had a gun to their head.

Which bring me to my point about why Albini isn’t for me…

He’s a stifling figure….he’s snobbish, elitist, bitter, negative, and flat
out up tight…not mellow, not flexible….he’s rigid…and flat in terms of
his dynamics as a person…he’s unrelatable, humorless, and a
little…well…just sort of silly….he’s more like a caricature than a

so in the end…all his intimate knowledge about recording adds up to squat
when the tape starts rolling and the artist feels totally stifled by his
overbearing negativity…

I’m not happy with the way my recordings from his studio sound anyway….I asked something warm, fuzzy and retro….but his drums are all panned and
articulate…the bass is boomy…the whole thing sounds way too clear….but
again I was too stifled by his bitterness at the end of my project to really want to try and work with him on the mix…

so I went and recut the vocals and guitar with another producer and
remixed everything else

all in all…he’s just helped me re-learn a lesson I should have learned a
long time ago…

celebrity is not a euphemism accomplishment…”

Well, folks… Let the flame war begin, I guess. the “comments” sections in open to all.


Recording with Steve Albini

Ended up recording a session yesterday with the infamous producer, Steve Albini. Revered by some, reviled by others, the man and his studio are an interesting realization of a set of DIY ideals.

Interesting things about the Steve Albini recording experience:
1. The studio is fucking amazing. And in there it’s always 1975, technology-wise. There are dozens and dozens of those microphones that engineers like to hold up to people like me and say “Hey, this microphone is just like the one that John Lennon sang into at Abbey Road. And it costs more than your house.” All I know about that is that the mics that look old and expensive always are, and they do sound better. They have no digital gear onsite, except for a few workstations so that they can browse the web do email and bookkeeping. If a client wants to bring in a workstation and use Pro Tools, that’s doable, but then Albini’s staff doesn’t have to support it when it crashes. There are two studios, an A and a B room. The B room is nicer than 90% of the studios I have recorded in. (We were in too much of a hurry to get into the A room and look around, plus there was some other band in there.) The ceiling is an easy 30 ft, all the interior walls are adobe, because adobe sounds completely different than brick. (I had no idea, but when Albini took out a key and tapped one of each in different walls, the adobe was much warmer and flatter sounding. You learn something new every day.)

2. They have several dorm-style rooms there so that bands that are recording there can stay there while they record. I have been in that sort of situation before on the first five-eight record and I would say that can be good and bad, IMHO. If the session is going well, a band can increase its productive time by half again, I think, if they are all onsite. There won’t be any “Well, we were going to start at noon, but the guitar player isn’t here yet.” At Electrical (the name of the studio), it’s “Run upstairs and ROLL THAT WANKER OUT OF BED!” There is a rather large television, with just about every movie you could think of on VHS. There’s a full kitchen that the guys that work there seem to keep pretty stocked and it’s significantly more inviting than any studio kitchen I have ever seen. There is an electrical repair shop onsite and a guy named Rob (I think) that emanates the vibe that he can fix anything. In the short day that I was there, I saw him running electrical conduit, rewiring something, and I am pretty sure that we was making some sort of repair to a piece of tube-amp mayhem of some sort. He has that Mad Scientist vibe. Just give him a soldering iron and some space, y’know, and he’ll put it right, whatever it is. Also onsite are ‹geekspeak› ethernet jacks in every room with dynamically assigned IPs so that all you have to do is plug in your laptop and take an IP from the server and you are hooked into their wireless(!!) T1 connection(!!).‹/geekspeak› This courtesy of another staff mad scientist named Russ- a guy who is going to need an extra head soon because his brain is so damn big. (I am sure that he’ll work out something with firewire and a fan-cooled external enclosure.) Keeping things lively is the bookkeeper, planner, schedule master, and stand-up comedian (no, seriously…) named John. I thought he was kind of a hostile asshole at first, then as the day wore on, I found out that he is actually a quite friendly and personable asshole. There was another guy on staff that was wandering around-I am pretty sure that he is an engineer- cradling this tiny Italian greyhound. I am ashamed to admit that I have forgotten the guy’s name, but his dog was named Eupheetsis. (Spelling is approximate, but it was “Feet” for short.) Interestingly, this engineer and his dog kind of had the same build- they were both illustrations of what zero body fat looks like.
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My Oil Addiction

Odd thing happened last night. I was at a play here in the city, and we got there early. Some people we knew were involved in the production of the play, and we were chatting. We decided to nip out for a hot cup of coffee while we waited for the curtain to rise.

I asked where the nearest cup might be found. Starbucks was proposed, and I politely asked for another suggestion. (I am ambivalent about Starbucks. I think that their policy of extending benefits to part-time employees amounts to a private-sector solution to the problem of masses of artists, musicians, writers, choreographers and other creative persons with no health insurance. On the other hand, I find their coffee a little expensive to be so mediocre and their empire vaguely frightening.)

I was mulling over Kalle Lasn’s reality when someone suggested the Caribou Coffee down the corner. Just as quickly, someone else said “Oh, I don’t know about Caribou. I heard that they support Hamas.” My own personal feelings about the civil war in the West Bank notwithstanding, I thought that was the most sublimely ridiculous thing that I had heard in quite some time. Before I could stop myself, I blurted, “Well, for that matter, so does anyone that drives a car.”

Silence. Lots of it.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and at the time, my mouth was entirely empty, perhaps craving my foot, perhaps not. So I charged ahead and said “I mean, if Iraq’s primary export was broccoli, we’d never know Saddam Hussein’s name.” (This is a paraphrase of a letter to Harper’s Magazine from a Mr. Chris Ronk of Brooklyn, NY.) “You want to know who pays for flight school for Al Quaeda operatives? We did. To be more precise, the money we spent on crude oil did. SO, how many of you took the bus to be here? Anybody ride a bike? Walk?”

Of course everyone had driven their cars there. We’re Americans, ferchrissakes, we drive EVERYWHERE.

But this did not endear me to present company. And I felt foolish for having had the bad taste to indiscreetly turn someone’s pointed finger back on themselves. I don’t think that I am going to be invited to their next cocktail party…

But I stand by my point. I saw someone putting a sticker on the back of someone else’s Hummer the last time I was in NYC, and the sticker said “My Addiction to Oil Funds Middle East Terror.”

The Mechanics of Moving On

Oh man, is it expensive to move OUT of the city. We have been checking into our options as far as trucks are concerned, and we are getting quotes of roughly twice what it cost us to move here. And it’s been just one year. Then there’s the whole issue of getting someone to sublet the apartment. This has been quite a challenge.

We were able to get a really good price on a truck that is roughly two thirds the size that we need. So I think that we are going to leave a bunch of stuff here. (Hello, dumpster divers, come now and pick stuff out….)

Any thoughts on cheap ways to move a lot of stuff are hereby requested…

Moving On

Well, today was the last day at work at medicore job number four hundred and something. Hell, I have lost count. We have decided that, with the impending arrival of thousands of out of work stewardesses and baggage losing persons headed for the jobless lines in the city that we live in, we are heading back down south, where we have a cabin we can stay in for a while and some land we can farm behind it.

It’s not that we haven’t loved living here in many ways, it’s that finding a job, keeping a job and living with any dignity here has been more of a task than we have been up to.

Plus it’s about to get very fucking cold. More on these thoughts later.

Check this out. I couldn’t have said it better myself.


I have a quick question- what happened to work?

There was a time, I think, when a job was a job. Somebody correct me if I am wrong here, but as I have read in texts from the last century, one used to sell one’s labor in exchange for one’s bread. A day’s work for a day’s pay, that sort of thing. Does this ring a bell for anyone?

The last few jobs I have had that weren’t manual labor jobs (and there has been an assortment of those- carpentry, tile work, painting…), I have been repeatedly scolded for not being enough of a team player. I had a confrontation with a short, nasty little man at this one company and these were the words that he said to me: “I get this feeling that this is just a job for you. It’s like this is just the place that you come to earn money.”

I got a nasty bitemark on my tongue trying not to say “Whoa, Mr. Newton… SOMETHING made that apple fall on your head….” What do you say to that? I mean, ferchrissakes, this was a company that builds (mediocre) websites for banks. I didn’t like bankers BEFORE I had to talk to them every day about technology.

This was right in the middle of the dot bomb economy, and no one was making money. Every day at this company, there were emails from the president and discussions about the stock holders and much hand-wringing about the Board of Directors and will the company be profitable in time to outrun the expectations of the stockholders? And if it doesn’t make it, HOO-BOY, the stock price is going to drop like a stone. Maybe if I had been stupid enough to take some of the CASH that they owed me in STOCK, that would have bothered me…

But heretical, black tongued demon that I am, to me, it was just a job.
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