SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Every Monday evening a weekly column on the state of chess in Canada is posted , called CHESS IN CANADA! ( or CIC!, pronounced sic) where I discuss those topics that have most interested chess players in Canada during the past week…This is ISSUE no.2
Photo of the week: EKG repairmanship
How much did this solution really cost?
ITEM 1: WEBSITE BLUES
”If it flies, floats or fornicates, always rent it – it’s cheaper in the long run.”
So the cat is out of the bag : the CFC executive has had a bad week. It has to be admitted that the CFC did not correctly handle the bringing back online of the CFC website: IT experts on the message boards pointed out that the problem was much smaller than what the CFC Prez had lead us to believe and there is still some curious odour hanging in the air that had not pressure been put on them then the CFC website would still be offline and waiting (several months?) for Google’s permission! ( ”For those naysayers, Google is that powerful and until they get around to it, their inaction keeps our site from operating.”-Van Dusen, CFC message board)
Prez Van Dusen and VP Stijn make no bones about being totally lost on the subject of computer technology and website design, maintenance and improvement. And they should not be embarrassed: 99% of consumers are equally lost when it comes to what really happens inside the metal container of their PCs, or how the internet really works.
The problem for us members of the CFC , however, is once more the CFC finds itself having to make a major investment decision without having an elected leadership competent enough to understand the problem and make the best decisions.
This problem is compounded by flaws in the basic structure of the CFC leadership: as was pointed out in my blog on June 28 of this year , it is not enough to have sterile and nominal positions like the Prez, VP, Secretary, Treasurer etc for a federation to be effective today:http://kevinspraggett.blogspot.com/search?q=brazil
… we chess players have to realize that the only way things are going to improve in Canada is if we chessplayers take control of our destiny and start doing the right things. Things that will change the way chess is viewed by sponsors.
Where do we Canadians start to change things around? A very important question. The article mentioned above (by Paolucci, who has a long list of university business degrees and has won some prestigious awards for his work ) recommends , among other things, that we improve the administrative structure of the national federation and attract qualified professionals who can:
1) explore ways to improve the marketing potential of the game
2) improve communication with the media so that they become aware of chess
3) use IT to create an online site that is interactive, visually attractive and updated daily (preferably several times daily)”
The current CFC Executive does not have an IT-savvy individual on board. Worse still, we members are being offered opinions from those who don’t know what they are talking about! Van Dusen and Stijn have offered opinions on the nature of the problem that are just (literally word by word) explanations from the EKG contractors. ( ”I will try to explain matters pertaining to the web site as has been explained to me by our contractor, EKG.”-Van Dusen; CFC message board) Despite an abundance of expert opinions on the present problem from CFC members , Van Dusen has decided that EKG must be right because the CFC is paying them! (”I am following the advice of the IT specialists that the CFC pays for. Free advice is always available, but sometimes you get what you pay for regarding the quality of said advice.”-Van Dusen, CFC message board.)
I think it is painfully obvious that Van Dusen should converse less and delegate more: get a second opinion! Consider it a medical diagnosis type of thing: getting second opinions is common!
The other important news this week is that the CFC executive has already decided to build an entirely new site and has asked EKG to submit a bid. How much is it going to cost the CFC to build a new website?
According to Van Dusen, 20,000 dollars is a number that I pulled from a hat last week. He seems to prefer the lower 10,000 dollar number that ex-prez David Lavin pulled from a hat 4 months ago!
While I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, I think it is universally accepted that David Lavin was about as knowledgable on the subject of computer web technology as either Van Dusen or Stijn!
No one doubts that the CFC website has problems. It is surely true that it is old: having been first constructed around 2000 by Troy Vail, using programming techniques and tools that were available then. It is surely true that there is no written documentation on how the CFC website works: Troy designed it on purpose that way so that any idiot would be able to quickly learn how it works. (And he was right! No one has experienced problems yet…until this past week)
No one denies that the CFC needs to improve its web presence. This is an old story: websites need constant maintenance, repair and updating. Websites are subject to attack by hackers and viruses and malware. The TKS proposal of 2008, if you go back and read it today, was filled with plans of modernizing , updating and improving the CFC website.
The problem is how to best deal with this issue today. Whether the CFC forks over 10k,15k or more today for a new website or delays the decision and simply maintains the present site for the time being is moot: sooner or later the CFC is going to have to pay real money for its website! The world is moving forward regardless of what the CFC decides…
It all comes down to this: is today the best time for the CFC to invest in a new website? I haven’t seen either Van Dusen or Stijn answer this to my satisfaction.
Contrary to popular belief, the CFC does not have a surplus. The CFC, despite Lavin’s fiscal restraint, reduced expenses and cutbacks in an effort to balance the budget, is still losing money! What the CFC has done is sell its assets: the socalled surplus is just money in the bank from the sale and is doing nothing ….
Shouldn’t the CFC wait until it is actually making money before making large capital investments? As Executive member Maurice Smith (Treasurer) wrote in the latest GL:
”…this is no time to sit back and relax and not monitor the situation carefully. Unseen circumstances and/or bad management could still put us in a bad situation again. This time we do not have a building to sell!
The key word this year has to be restraint. Any spending must be done wisely with a feeling of necessity and not of luxury…”
So where does the CFC go today? Apparently the site has been hacked again (today). Experts say that this might have been avoided if the EKG team had installed filters (see photo above!).
While Prez Van Dusen’s task is not simple, and I am certainly not criticizing his efforts as much as pointing out the apparent confusion created by his own words and actions, one has to ask whether he has been plain-speaking enough to the CFC members in this crisis. One IT specialist wrote that new CFC executive’s pro-new website campaign has been more of a snow job than a sell-job:
”More like a big snow job than a selling job. When someone starts talking to you about branding, squeeze your wallet in your hand because it is in imminent danger of being emptied. ”
Another poster wrote that maybe the CFC’s website problems are self-inflicted:
”When large sum$ are involved, one has to be cautious. Let us not be naive. Why is the site hacked? When a crime is involved, follow the money. Who stands to benefit? …If the fixers are infecting web sites they stand to profit from people (or groups) willing to pay huge sums to affect repairs. …Am I being paranoid or merely cynical? ”
What ever the truth, and the solution, I hope that the CFC learns something from this crisis.
ITEM 2: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
As the remarkable story of ex-CFC president Peter Stockhausen’s disappearance enters into its 4th month, it gives reason to pause and contemplate the real issues here.
Divorce is always ugly. Often painful. And can be especially devastating to those involved. Psychologists tell us that divorce is the 2nd most stressful event that one can experience in our lifetime (Death of a spouse is number 1 on that list).
What is particularly agonizing in this particular case is that Peter Stockhausen disappeared with the family assets and car. It was the RCMP who notified a very surprised Karen Richards that her husband had infact disappeared without a trace. Before divorce happens, it is necessary to first find Stockhausen! And this is Karen’s burden…
As such, it seems incredible that otherwise intelligent and responsible individuals, such as Roger Patterson, would express surprise and even indignation at the wife’s reaction when he actually callously invades another person’s pain and anguish (Karen Richards and her daughter, Silken) and thoughtlessly makes provocative claims about Peter Stockhausen’s where abouts and state of mind. How is Karen and her daughter supposed to not be infuriated?
Lynn Stringer and Peter Stockhausen , apparently, had been a couple for quite a while, maintaining an amourous relationship behind the wife’s back. At the age of 81 Lynn certainly does not readily fit into the profile of a jealous, conniving, and interfering misstress! But we live and learn…
This past week Karen has shocked the chess community with a powerfully emotional video of her daughter Silken’s message to her disappeared father. This video had a remarkable impact on many of my readers !
I received more than 20 emails commenting on this remarkable story! From as far away as Argentina and Brazil. From Spain and Portugal in Europe. All saying the same thing: just how touched people are by the visual pain that the Stockhausen family is going thru…
Ofcourse, the online chess community in Canada attracts some individuals with emotional and psychological problems, and there were a few emails to both me and to Karen that could barely hide their pleasure in seeing others suffer. I ignore and delete such emails, but we should hardly blame Karen for becoming even angrier by such provocations from the degenerate likes of Kerry Liles, John Coleman, Peter Mckillop, and others over on chesstalk.
This week I expect more revelations from Karen Richards, as she struggles to maintain her family together while she seeks information that will lead to Peter Stockhausen’s apprehension.