July 22, 2008
Mr. Murphy Comes to Visit
By Jim Babka
Quotes of the Day:
* A failure will not appear till a unit has passed final inspection.
* New systems generate new problems.
* To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.
-- Three corollaries to Murphy's Law ("If anything can go wrong, it will")

Subject: Mr. Murphy Visits

We need your help! Let me explain . . .

In my first full-time management job I learned an important lesson: The first time you do anything there WILL be problems -- it's not optional. All bits of progress contain within them unseen difficulties. Progress is usually two-steps forward, one step back.

That's not particularly insightful on my part -- not new. In 1949, Capt. Edward A. Murphy, an engineer working on an Air Force project, in that fit of frustration we've all experienced when our best laid plans go awry, cursed the technician responsible and said, "If there is any way to do it wrong, he'll find it."

Murphy's Law was born. Murphy's Law stipulates that, "If anything can go wrong, it will."

I've also learned that perfection is the enemy of good enough, that the paralysis of analysis is deadly, and that there's genius in getting started. So last week, we launched our new and improved website. I expected some bumps, and bumpers there are. 

One problem in particular is a big one. It will compel us to tackle now an improvement project we had planned to defer until Thanksgiving.

Some people (not everyone) have been getting white screens when they click on links in our site. Going back and clicking the link again, or hitting refresh gets you through. It's inconvenient, but not serious, unless you've just filled out a form and want your information to transfer. And one place where information is not always transferring is our contribution page.

We don't know how many one-time donations or pledges we've lost as a result of this, but we think it's significant. If YOU attempted to donate and got the white screen, then you're information did NOT transfer. We didn't get it. We're sorry. We have re-installed our old contribution form as a temporary work-around. If the donation process is successful, you'll get a confirmation from us. We would greatly appreciate it if you tried again, right now. 

The good news is that we've identified the most likely culprit. The bad news is that it involves the delicate installation of a software update on the working server.

The ideal, efficient, and long-term way to solve the problem is to acquire an updated server. We needed to do this anyway this Fall, because we've grown, but now we must do it right away. We've been "saving up" for this second server, but there isn't enough in our piggy bank yet. 

The challenge here is that the new server is going to require an investment of $4,500. So, we need to meet budget for July PLUS raise $1,000 extra to add to our savings so we can get the server we need.

But here's the problem: the Summer months are one of our two worst fundraising periods. On top of that, we've lost recent contributions to the white page problem. Right now, we $5,628 total to meet budget and acquire the additional savings to acquire the server, and we've got just 10 days to raise it. Quicker would be better so we can make the white page problem go away sooner rather than later.

If someone would step-up with $1,000 or more, I'm fairly certain we'd make the goal. But every bit would help. There are 23,500 subscribers to this list. If just 500 of them would contribute $10, we'd almost certainly achieve the goal that way too.

Moreover, we don't want to raise that money at the expense of meeting our August and September budgets. That would be self-defeating. Our growth and progress is largely attributable to our wonderful monthly pledgers. Each month we experience normal attrition in pledges, and there have been so few NEW pledges this month, that we'll probably see our pledge level go down next month. New pledgers, starting at the levels of $3, $5, $8, $15 or more are needed to keep the army going. And current pledgers increasing their monthly support would be very helpful too. You can contribute here.
"When Mr. Murphy delivers lemons, make lemonade."

I much prefer to provide you messages about Congress or about the progress of your Downsize DC Army. Indeed, a second server would represent important progress for us. But that progress requires me to write a fundraising message today. But we'll be back tomorrow, with a brand new campaign tackling one of the greatest modern injustices of the federal government.

The Downsize DC Team is very grateful for your support,

Jim Babka
Downsize DC Foundation
&, Inc.
Filed under Downsizer Dispatch
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