At the end of April this year, I reluctantly decided to cancel my Tesla 3 reservation. I’m still enthusiastic about the Tesla, but there has been a change in circumstances where it made more sense to buy a different car. Canceling shouldn’t be a big deal I thought, but two and a half months later, I’m still waiting for the refund of my deposit.

Apparently, I’m not alone after doing some research in Tesla’s forums, but people were talking about weeks and not months until they got their refund. So at the beginning of this week, I decided to contact them by email about it, and of course, I didn’t hear back yet.

Tesla really needs to improve here. I’m sure once more details about the car are revealed (and also the final price is out in other currencies), there will be a few more cancellations. If they don’t speed up the refund process and customer service, they are in for quite a few complaints from possible future owners.

===

Update 1: a week after and Tesla also not responding on Twitter, I called their customer support. They couldn’t help but gave me an email address to contact: ServiceHelpNA@tesla.com – not holding my breath to get a reply after the experience so far.

Timo waterskiing on the Mosel river in Germany
(The oldest digital photo I could find of myself. I haven’t waterskied ever since but that’s roughly how old this domain is.)

The golden days of my own website

It all started in 1999 when I registered the domain name reitnauer.com for a whopping $34.99 USD at Network Solutions. My boss back then had to purchase it for me because I didn’t have a credit card, and I remember getting a letter confirming the domain registration–much to my excitement. Little did I know domains would play such an important role in my work life a bit later.

The oldest archived version of my website is from March 2001 which was just a static “coming soon” page with banners (designed by me) linking to my employer at that time. I think the site stayed like this for a while and served as a playground for Photoshop experiments before I set up a little server for email and WordPress later on. On my blog, I wrote mainly about my travel experiences and moving countries from Germany to Australia in 2007, and then finally to New Zealand the year after. That setup served me well from c. 2005 – c. 2010 until social media took over most of my web publishing (to be fair I was still writing quite a bit on the iwantmyname blog).

The fall of my own website

I was never a big social media user but sharing content on Twitter or posting photos to Facebook or Instagram was just so much easier compared to updating a blog. But I didn’t want to give up on having a website on reitnauer.com just yet, so I used a personal profile page from Flavors.me (RIP) and about.me linking to all my online profiles for a bit. That worked fine until I started getting a bit tired of social media in late 2014 which is when I also questioned why I should even publish anything online. As a result, I stopped updating Twitter, deactivated Facebook, and only used my domain for email.

A fresh start

After thinking about what I want from an online presence in the last two years, I decided to go back to where I started and set up WordPress with IndieWeb plugins. It ticked several boxes for me such as being open source, I could run it on my server, and if I ever have any problems, there is a huge community of people who can help. From being very against setting up my own software and managing a server I went the exact opposite because I was tired of not being able to experiment.

I should add that this was my second attempt of relaunching my personal site. I came across the IndieWeb movement a few years ago when doing some research at work, but it wasn’t until last year that I started looking into it more closely in a first attempt to relaunch my website using Known. It looks like they slightly changed their value proposition to a “social learning platform” in the meantime but it should still work quite well for personal sites as well. I somehow wish I stuck to it because they’ve got IndieWeb features built right in whereas it very much feels tacked on to WordPress at the moment.

The biggest problem for me right now is to find a workflow for publishing. I struggle to get into the habit of writing status updates on WordPress and cross-post them to closed networks because it’s not where I read my Twitter timeline. Same goes for reposting, replying and liking which is why I got excited when I heard about woodwind.xyz in AltPlatform’s blog post on feed readers. Just the day before reading it, I signed up for InoReader after making the decision to only follow people on Twitter and use RSS for everything else. I still need to play with woodwind.xyz a bit more, but I think a service like this could be a step in the right direction.

There is hope for the open web

As Richard MacManus wrote today on why he joined the IndieWeb:

The main impetus is my growing dissatisfaction with Walled Garden social networks, like Facebook and Twitter. My spidey sense is picking up similar vibes across the Web. It’s difficult to define at this point, but there’s a feeling that something needs to change. And that something has a lot to do with openness, inclusivity and not letting powerful corporations dictate what we do and think.

I’ve been through this phase myself, and I very much agree about the vibe, but people don’t quite know what they can do to be less dependent on the big social networks. Not every social media user will care of course, but I believe there is an opportunity for previous website owners and bloggers to start fresh.

At the very least, do yourself a favour and get a domain name that you can use throughout your life. There has been an explosion in domain extensions recently, and everyone should be able to find a suitable web address for themselves. Domains are such an underappreciated piece of open web technology, but as you can see in my example, it has been the one constant throughout the years. And if you don’t use it for a website, make the switch from Gmail to using your domain for email, for instance. There are great email hosting providers like FastMail or ProtonMail who don’t break the bank and are not associated with any big corporations.

It’s still early days for IndieWeb publishing, and along with other initiatives, it’s the first time in a while I feel excited and hopeful for the open web. I plan to continue experimenting with my own site and look forward to the first ever Homebrew Website Club in Wellington. If you care about an independent web and want to discuss your website, you should come along!

Also on:

Are you building your own website? Indie reader? Personal publishing web app? Or some other digital magic-cloud proxy?

If so, you might like to come to a gathering of people with like-minded interests. Exchange information, swap ideas, talk shop, help work on a project, whatever…

Homebrew Website Club Wellington
to
at

iwantmyname,
167B Vivian Street,
Wellington,
Wellington,
6011,
NZ

Entrance to the iwantmyname office is in little alley opposite of Z: Street view

I just had a quick look at the list of conflicted .NZ domains that will be released back to the available pool of domain names at 1:00pm on Thursday 30th March 2017 if they have not been registered by this date. Looks like ANZ bank completely dropped the ball registering the shorter version of some of their names:

anzairpointsvisa.nz
anzbarometer.nz
anzbizhub.nz
anzbuildersanddecorators.nz
anzcarloans.nz
anzcourtside.nz
anzcricketworld.nz
anzdirect.nz
anzdistillery.nz
anzeverydayrewards.nz
anzfuturewise.nz
anzinvestmentonline.nz
anzinvestmentsonline.nz
anzkiosk.nz
anzmail.nz
anznationalcareers.nz
anz-national.nz
anznational.nz
anznb.nz
anznetball.nz
anznfg.nz
anzni.nz
anzn.nz
anzonlineinvestments.nz
anzpir.nz
anzplatinum.nz
anzpropertyfocus.nz
anzrad.nz
anzrecharge.nz
anzsecurities.nz
anzshareandbondtrading.nz
anzsurveys.nz
anztravelcard.nz
anzvisadebit.nz
anzworld.nz
anzworldvisa.nz

Some of the .CO.NZ domains such as anzsecurities.co.nz resolve to a site that asks for login information so it should be an easy phishing target. Other banks seem to have done their homework: I couldn’t find any domains from Kiwibank, BNZ, or Westpac for example.

Last week Sunday we finally managed to walk the Paekakriki Escarpment track. It was our first longer walk as parents, and carrying a toddler along all the way in a frontpack wasn’t easy, but we did it in the end (our friends brought their 3 kids along as well). I should probably mention that we walked from Paekakariki to Pukerua Bay which looked much easier than the other way around. So unless you like a good challenge, I recommend starting in Paekakariki.

As you can see in the photos, the weather was just perfect on the day. Blue skies, not too hot, and no wind. The walking time was about 4.5 hours but we were quite slow due to the children. Speaking about bringing children, it is not recommended according to the signs which is understandable because the track is quite steep at times. But as long as you’re cautious and either carry them or hold hands, we didn’t find it much of an issue.

I’ve done a bit of walking in the Wellington region and the Paekakariki Escarpment Track is definitely one of my favourites. See for yourself:

Paekakariki Escarpment Track Sign

Kapiti Island

Kapiti Coast

View towards Pukerua Bay

Kapiti Coast

View towards Pukerua Bay

Swing bridge and train tracks

After relaunching my personal site a few weeks ago, supporting independent quality journalism was another piece in the puzzle to supporting the indie web. As I wrote on the iwantmyname blog earlier this year:

If one thing became apparent to me in 2016, it’s that we should strive for a more independent web. An independent web with individual voices outside the big social networks and less reliant on corporations making people the product by collecting data on them. Hence, we are making it our mission at iwantmyname to help you becoming an indie web user in 2017 and beyond.

There have been several events triggering my desire of helping you to achieve that:

  1. The current political climate with the rise of right-wing populists globally.
  2. How fake news on social networks like Facebook or Twitter can impact popular opinion.
  3. An increasingly more unpleasant climate in social media with people abusing each other.

I’m happy there is now a service in New Zealand that allows you to support independent journalists and smaller news outlets. Found via Richard MacManus:

Bill Bennett explains:

PressPatron is a way for readers like you to support the media you use. It is voluntary and painless. You get to set the amount you contribute. You can make a one-off payment or commit to a series of payments over time.

Most of all, PressPatron is not a pay wall. The stories on this site will stay free. You don’t have to pay a cent. The idea is that you’re supporting a website, not buying anything.

Of course similar things have been tried before, but I think what’s different this time is that more and more people see the value in good journalism.

It took me less than five minutes to start paying for recently launched Newsroom, and I hope others will follow in implementing PressPatron. Their website is already listing a small number of other publishers you can start supporting.

Also on:

Yes, finally (and vice versa)!

In the aftermath of Apple’s announcements earlier today, it released an update to iTunes with a new feature described as rent once, watch anywhere. The release notes for iTunes 12.6, which is available as a free upgrade on the Mac App Store, say:

Now you can enjoy your iTunes movie rentals across your devices with iOS 10.3 or tvOS 10.2.

With this new feature, you should be able to start a movie rental on an iOS device and finish it at home on an Apple TV for example, which is a welcome change to what was an overly inflexible system.

Source: iTunes Adds Rent Once, Watch Anywhere Feature

I was finding myself in the situation of renting a movie on Apple TV and wanted to continue watching on another iOS device (mostly iPad) a few times, and even didn’t rent movies because of that restriction. Or I was browsing on iPhone what movie I could watch when at home and it would’ve been just nice if I was able to rent it straight away. Also useful to add content to a “watch later” list, e.g. for $.99 movies or documentaries that are only available at that price for a short period of time.