A month of crap

This isn’t post about Saabs, so much. But as it concerns stuff that’s happened here on the blog, I guess this is as good a place as any to get it off my chest.

Bundling July and August-so-far together as a month, I’ve gotta say it’s been one of the worst months in memory for me, and a lot of it has come from liars, thieves in suits and well-meaning but flawed individuals.

It started with an assurance about this blog and its template but the real kicker was the Black Turbo.

Crap 1 – The blog

This blog isn’t a business, but it does earn me a supplementary income that I’ve used in the past to improve services to the blog (purchasing a HD video camera, leasing a Mac to make use of it, covering the rest of the Sweden trip etc and a whole bunch more). I spend a bucketload of time preparing it, researching it and writing it. Thankfully, I also recieve a lot of submissions from visitors to the site as well, which makes life a whole lot easier over all.

But given that it does take so much time, you look for ways to either a) cut down on the time taken, or b) increase the return you get on the time you put in. By increased returns I’m referring to a two-fold return that focuses on traffic to the site with a secondary benefit being an increased financial return as a result.

Anyone who wants to do well in any given field should check out experts in that field, which is why one of my regular RSS feeds is a site called Problogger. It’s run by a guy here in Australia named Darren Rowse and is one of the biggest blogging-specialised sites in the world. A few months ago I read a post on the site called “Is your blog template holding you back” and as I read it, it ticked a lot of boxes for me.

I’d contemplated changing this blog over to a WordPress platform for some time and the WP template set covered in that article, Cutline, had received great reviews. It certainly reads in that article like you can change over to it and receive a bump in visitation literally overnight. Words like this from a respected template-builder in Chris Pearson were quite convincing:

it’s certainly a fact that someone could migrate their site to WordPress today, upload an optimized theme, and enjoy the benefits of good SEO almost immediately.

So, I made plans to migrate this site from Movable Type to WordPress, and I chose Chris’ Cutline theme as my theme of choice. In addition to the improved functionality of the WordPress architecture, the theme itself had a lot of great features and with the promised improvements in SEO (search engine optomisation) there was, seemingly, no downside.

The migration happened early in July and the results, from both a traffic and a financial standpoint have been disastrous. It seems that because of the changes Google no longer trusts the site and I’ve been placed in what webmasters commonly refer to as the Google sandbox. Traffic overall is only down by around 40% because many visitors here are regulars and have the site bookmarked. Traffic from search engines, however, is down around 80%. Consequently, income fromthe site has fallen through the floor as well.

I’m now working even harder on the site to try and figure out where things went wrong. So I’m now working even more with an even lower return on my time.

I emailed the Problogger guy, Darren, about the situation and as he does, he got back to me pretty quickly. Darren’s a genuine guy whom I have no beef with at all. The article on his site was a guest posting written by someone else. He offered to put me in touch with the theme’s author, the aforementioned Chris Pearson, as well as another guy specialising in SEO so that we can figure out what went wrong, but so far I haven’t heard from either of them, which is a pity.

Hopefully the sandboxing may work itself out in time and things will work back to how they were pre-July, which was quite brilliant.

Crap 2 – Black Turbo

I can’t tell you how much of a shock and how depressing it was to hear that the Saab Turbo-X was going to be confined to 280hp. It’s going to be a brilliant car – the handling tests they’ve done point that out clearly. But as soon as I heard from several insiders who’d been to presentations on it that it was going to be a sub-300hp car, my heart sunk and for somewhat selfish reasons.

I’d read at various places late last year and early this year that the Turbo-X would be 300hp-plus. It made sense that it’d be 300hp-plus with the XWD system incorporated. So I speculated on this site that that would be the case.

When in Sweden for the Saab Festival I stood there on Sunday just before the cars were unveiled and chatted with a Saab contractor who told me he was about to have the software that would govern the Black Turbo installed in his car. I asked him a few relevant questions and the one thing I took away from that conversation to post on this site is that it would definitely be over 300hp.

And barring a surprise from Saab at Frankfurt next month it turns out that he lied to me. A lie that I published here. A lie that I could only salvage some reputation from by correcting it as soon as I heard the truth from a few people who had had the car presented to them in Gothenburg.

I won’t forget that.

Crap 3 – The prang

The next piece of crap for the month was the accident I had in my Viggen.

I should feel embarassed about what happened, but I don’t for some reason. Maybe if I knew more about car control there’d be a reason to feel embarassed but the car got out of shape so damn quickly that there was literally nothing I could do.

The frustrating thing about it was that the car had been running PERFECTLY all day. It was the fulfilment of the visions I’d had when I bought it and finally I was in a situation where I was able to learn how to better control the car, free from traffic etc.

The whole thing has left a bitter taste in my mouth, to be honest. Right now I feel like a mother rejecting her young and I can’t explain why, but even if the Viggen gets 100% fixed I’m not sure if I’d want it back. It’s as if my thoughts towards it have been tarnished.

I know that doesn’t make any sense and maybe it’ll change, but buying this 900 Aero that I’m picking up on Friday hasn’t been difficult at all.

Crap 4 – The insurers

I won’t write too much about this as it’s ongoing. I expected the insurance company to reject the claim initially, and they have. I still believe quite firmly, though, that the event at which the accident happened should come under my insurance policy so I’m engaging the services of a lawyer here to help me dispute their finding. I figure a letter with his name on the letterhead will carry a lot more weight than mine.

It’s frustrating, though, that these people are all kisses and hugs when you’re looking to purchase insurance. Try to use the service for which you’re paying, though, and it’s strictly business. And what’s more, the decision makers move in the shadows. The guy on the phone when you call them is just a mouthpiece.

Bastards, one and all.

——

So there’s a summary of the month I’m having.

I’ve given up much family time to get this site established and it’s shit itself.

I’ve been lied to by someone I trusted – and I haven’t mentioned the total snubbing I’ve had from Steve Shannon, who owes me nothing but represents this brand in it’s biggest market and who had promised to answer some questions I sent him. If you’re reading this at Saab USA then forget about the questions, they’re probably all irrelevant and out of date by now. It’d be an embarassment to publish them.

I’ve invested in a Viggen that I subsequently stacked and paid money to a company that’s lying to me about my coverage.

To cop all this after such a brilliant June where I got to visit the home of Saab has been a bitter pill.

The one thing I can take with me as I press forward, though, is that things can only get better. Saab have some great stuff coming up in the future and I’ve learned a few lessons in who and how to trust people. I’m picking up a new car next week and will fight on for the Viggen. Hopefully my search-indexing problems will be sorted in the next few weeks or months and the growth of the site can continue.

I’ve had a huge number of emails in the last 8 weeks or so where people have been very kind in their thoughts about the site. If there’s a positive to take away from all this it’s right there. The love of the brand is the reason this site exists. To know that other people are sharing that passion for motoring the Saab way makes a lot of stuff bearable. So thankyou.

Thanks for your support, friendship and interest in the brand.

That’ll be all for today as I have plenty of stuff to catch up with. Comments are closed as there’s nothing that needs to be said. I just needed to get some stuff off my chest.

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