7 stories to read this weekend

Saving Nokia, the page view apocalypse, Jonathan Franzen is old and cranky, corn is king, Senegal and the American South, the story of The Climate Company, and the modern genome gold rush — these are some of the stories for your weekend reading pleasure.

Blogging Ike- assessing the damage


The winds are still strong but not as ferocious as they have been since last night so we’ve been able to begin a very preliminary assessment of the damage that Ike inflicted.  I’ve mentioned the uprooted tree in the back yard, it may be salvageable I hope.  Perhaps they can transplant it.  On a more serious note we have determined there is a leak in the roof which means some damage up there.  There is a very slow leak in one of the bedroom closets upstairs.  It’s not leaking much but roof damage is never easy to deal with.  That particular side of the house must have been hit harder as the fence between my house and the one next door is completely down.  It looks like it was simply blown over by the hurricane force winds.  There is also a small leak in the front door around the beveled glass insert.  It didn’t leak a lot but the high force with which the wind blew the rain into the door looks like it forced water through the seal of the glass.

All in all that’s pretty minor and we are lucky if this is the extent of our damage from Hurricane Ike.  We can’t walk around outside yet so we may find some more surprises later.  I hope not but it’s too early to tell.  If we can just get the wind and rain to stop for a while we’ll be OK.  At least it has slowed down enough that we feel like the end is in sight and that’s a nice feeling.  This is far from over though, as it will probably be a while before power can be restored.  With such a large area suffering outages there is no telling how long before they get to our area.  The same will apply to repairmen to get the roof and other things fixed.  There will almost certainly be a huge backlog for qualified repair people so we’ll just have to get in line with everyone else.  It could have been much worse and for that we’re thankful.  I hope everyone in the area came through as swimmingly as we have, no pun intended.

Millions of people like us are now all faced with getting appropriate repairs done and we will all need it at the same time.  This will lead to frustrating delays but just hang in there, it will all get fixed.  A lot of people will be dealing with insurance companies for these repairs and I’m afraid that many will find out what going with a "budget" insurance company will end up costing them in time and money.  Bear with your insurance company employees as they are now over-worked.  Be civil to them, this is not their fault and they will take care of you as soon as they can.  You catch more flies with honey, so they say.  A word of caution based on experience: hordes of unscrupulous con men will come out of the woodwork to take advantage of those who need help.  Whatever you do go with reputable companies to get your repair work done.  It’s not worth the risk to save a few bucks and if they promise to save you a lot more than that it’s probably too good to be true.  And you know what they say if it sounds too good to be true..

Climate Change Insurance: WeatherBill Raises $12.5M

Climate change means we’ll be facing more unpredictable weather — and if you’re in a weather-sensitive business like farming or owning a ski resort, unexpected weather can mean a significant loss of sales. San Francisco startup WeatherBill, founded by former Google (GOOG) exec David Friedberg, offers businesses financial protection against unexpected weather — basically weather insurance. We chatted with Friedberg at an event last night and he said the company has raised $12.5 million in a Series A round. Here’s the release and the company’s widget:

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The Why and How of Firing Clients

“Web Worker” is a big tent. Some of us are building Web 2.0 and beyond, hopping from coffeehouse to meeting room and fueled by VC money. Some are telecommuting full-time for a single employer, working a job that’s traditional but for the fact that we don’t drive in to the office every day. And some are lashing together careers from some mix of freelance and consultant gigs, bouncing around online as we try to fill the needs of multiple clients over the course of a day.

If you’re in the latter group, you’re likely used to the eternal search for the new work needed to keep the cash flowing. But if you’ve spent your career focused only on client acquisition and retention, you’ve missed a very important skill: getting rid of bad clients.

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Introducing DTV: Internet TV

DTV is a new, free and open-source platform for internet television and video. An intuitive interface lets users subscribe to channels, watch video, and build a video library. Our publishing software lets you broadcast full-screen video to thousands of people at virtually no cost. The project is non-profit, free and open source, and built on open standards. A Windows version of DTV and a full website are well underway and will arrive in the next several weeks.