Zemanta Fail


Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...

When I started this post, it didn’t look anything like it does now.

It usually takes me several days to work through a post, from first draft to complete rewrites to editing, editing, and more editing. And when your writing time is carved out of stolen moments (sleeping baby? quick! type!) and fraught with interruptions (“cookie pweeze. COOKIE pweeze. COOKIEEEEE!!!”), it can take a very long time indeed.

Which is why a tool like Zemanta, which promised to take care of some of the niggly details – like finding relevant pictures and links for me while I focus on content – looked so very promising.

It is also why, when I installed it and my next Losing It in Ottawa post suddenly disappeared, it was very, very frustrating. Kick-and-scream-and-cry frustrating.

Days worth of stolen moments, gone. And on a post with a deadline.

As is my wont, from time to time (ok, pretty frequently), I vented on Twitter. I didn’t send my tweet to Zemanta, but they noticed it anyhow. And replied. Impressive, no?


Here is the conversation:

I had to do a double take. Surely I must have mis-read their comment. Surely they were saying something about their next version, not mine.

Seriously Zemanta? A chuck on the shoulder and a “you’ll do better next time”? No mea culpa, no link to where I could report a bug, no placatory freebie? I didn’t expect a freebie. I didn’t expect anything. I sure as hell didn’t expect this.

My first impression of Zemanta was really rather positive. It installed easily. It was free. I could see that it was going to save me time with the finishing touches. But rule number 1 in software development: do not lose the user’s data!

Rule number 2: if you do, don’t try to tell them you did them a favour.

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Mat Leave Misdemeanors: EI Giveth, and EI Taketh Away


For those who don’t know, I’m on mat leave right now, which means I’m also on EI.  I recently got to letters from EI saying I owed them a substantial sum for a “change in insurable earnings”.  I finally got ahold of them today, and it’s a funny story.

First, I spent 30 minutes redialling just to be allowed into the wait-queue. That’s not the funny part.

When I got through I found out that the overpayment was because they paid me for time spent on short-term disability (as declared in my EI application). Also not the funny part.

Then the conversation went like this:

Me: “So I should just write a cheque then for the – ”
Her: “No no no no. Don’t write a cheque”
Me: “But this is a bill, it says to send payment”
Her: “Yes it is a bill. You have a grace period of x days to pay it. But I can tell you what will happen. You will send the cheque. It will go to Quebec (I was talking to Kingston). By the time they cash the cheque and it gets back to our office, the grace period will have expired and we will have deducted it from your payments, and you’ll be on the phone with me again to ask why your payments have suddenly dropped”
Me: “Seriously?”
Her: “Yup.”
Me: “So there’s no penalty if I don’t pay it?”
Her: “Nope”

Ladies and gentlemen, your tax dollars at work.