Archive for Commentary

Sep
23

Expectations of Service

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Not too long ago I was on a small shopping spree. I needed to pick up a few items for my new home having recently moved to SoCal such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, the Container Store, and various others. As I was going from one store to the next picking up odds and ends I found myself in desperate need of a bathroom.

Being too far from home, I ordinarily search for a gas station (learning all sorts of new things about me today), however none were in sight. The urgency of my need forced me to look anywhere and everywhere. I came upon a row of stores and went from one to the next. In my yellow haze, I noticed a grocery store and thought to myself perfect; they must have a bathroom.

The sounds of water misting vegetables, customers filling large water bottles, and even seeing a few employees downing cans of coke was becoming too much. At last I found the bathroom. I went for the handle. It wouldn’t open!

Now I am a patient man, and regardless of the pain I was beginning to feel I stood their, trying my best not to do any sort of dancing in place… and given the circumstances I think I did quite well. Figuring there was someone in there, obviously the door was locked, I had no reason to expect something more sinister was afoot.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. Not only was there no one in there but a second glance of the door knob struck me cold. There was a coin deposit attached to the door. For a low installment of two shiny quarters you too can pee in an area deemed socially acceptable. I checked my wallet, my pockets, my car… no change. Now I had thought of many ingenious ways of making my displeasure known. Granted most of them are illegal in 17 states and some 30 odd countries; I decided to refrain. Defeated I climbed back into my car and drove off.

I know a lot of companies are looking to save some cash. Who wouldn’t? But there are levels of service that are expected. There are some features that should not be served a la carte, but come with the solution as a whole. That grocery store is not in the business of selling convenient plumbing or water service. It is in the business of selling food and supporting items. The amount of money they gain from selling bathroom rights is minimal. The amount of money they save from not having to clean the bathroom is also minimal. In fact, I would wager that they are either at the break even point or are losing money.

I was not the only one to leave in a huff. There were a few other customers who saw the cost of doing their business and were equally frustrated. I imagine at least one (other than myself) simply left the store without purchasing anything.

In the Web hosting space, don’t offer me 24/7 support and then tell me I have to pay for additional support tickets after my first 5. Don’t tell me I have unlimited space and then say I can only have 1 database on my account.

Don’t tell me I am a welcomed and valued customer and then in the same breath charge me for nit-picky fees for items that cost you next to nothing to provide, but help to make me feel at home and comfortable.

Coincidentally, the first store where I need to go actually had a free bathroom in it….

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Aug
08

HostingCon 2011 and Duplicate Content

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Being a newly “created” SoCal transplant served me well today as I calmly drove down the 5 to get here…. No really the drive was very peaceful, learned a few new words as well. I am reminded of two things: 1) I love my phone 2) we have come quite a long way in the hosting industry… so why does it feel like last year?

Apps! Clouds! Acquisitions! Growing your business! If you squint at the name and place your right thumb over the date you might think it was 2010 all over again.

The cloud has arrived! Well yeah, it has been hanging out, parked on the couch drinking your beer and stealing your cable. It’s like daddy’s little girl and the redheaded stepchild all rolled into one. Convenience and Security both still seem to be at odds. And standards? Still seemingly years away. Consumers want it, but we need it to live up to its word. That’s all that needs to be said. As an aside, who, cloud providers, can guarantee my data will be stored in my country (not necessarily US) and not be spread globally? If it is global, can you guarantee me data won’t be subject to the jurisdiction of multiple nations? Think about it.

Apps! I love apps; hell I am writing this blog from my phone. Sidebar: anyone else get the impression that session speakers know a lot more than what they are saying? Seriously,  with a handful of exceptions, presenters have a personal stake in not telling you everything. I say tell me and I might just hire you. Food for thought.

Apps: simple and complex, modular, delightful wastes of time or powerful tools to augment everything that is fine and good in the world. We have the delivery. We have the tools. We have the technology. But we lack creativity. Don’t just build an app cause someone told it will help your stickiness. Instead find out what people do the most on your site and make that mobile. Now go and be fruitful. I will expect my royalty check in the mail and its d-u-n-l-A-p not o-p.

Acquisitions, going to listen on Tom Millitzer’s presentation at 1. So howabout we take a break here and come back fresh?

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I see a lot of press releases everyday. On any given day, I end up putting off looking over press releases because the vast majority of them are so dull or uninteresting my only thought is to gauge out my eyes with a 7H pencil. Long time readers will know my disdain for press releases from previous blogs, but suffice to say, press release writing is a fine art, with a few basic principles that very few follow.

I received a PR the other day on an executive position change. There are few definites in life. For those keeping a running tally they generally involve: you will die someday, you will be taxed both alive and dead, and that any executive hire PR your read will be a deep, deep, dark, dark, deep, dark deep pit (reference) of despair.

These three seemed pretty concrete to me until the other day when I read DreamHost’s press release for Simon Anderson. It very well might be the greatest press release I have ever read. Not only is it humorous and makes me want to read the whole thing, they weave facts about Anderson and the company throughout.

Brilliant piece of writing DreamHost, thank you for making my day.

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Jul
05

Can this be the Windows 8 experience?

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Been a little bit of a slow start, hosting wise so I figured I would talk about something else. But first let’s send out a few shouts around the world:

OpenDNS will be 5 years old. Who knew? Doesn’t seem that long ago when I interviewed CEO, Founder, and Visionary David Ulevitch about his shocking DNS system discoveries and how he intended to fix it. If you don’t use OpenDNS I would suggest switching. It is absolutely brilliant. To swap your DNS to OpenDNS follow the link to faster DNS. If you feel more socially inclined, they are going to have a party in San Francisco. July 28th at The Old Mint, meet David, Allison, and company.

Next shout goes to Derek Vaughan who is in France at the moment. Derek writes quite often for this blog and his writing is some of the best in the industry. Hope you are having a blast.

And lastly, umm, lets go with Open-Xchange. For those unfamiliar, Open-Xchange was at the forefront of the SaaS trend so many years ago, and they easily adapted that to a cloud format. Open-Xchange is a mail and collaboration service not unlike Microsoft Exchange. Recently, Open-Xchange picked up STRATO as a new client. STRATO is Europe’s second-largest web host. This deals places about 5 million + more clients into Open-Xchange’s capable hands. Congrats guys.

So one of the things I have been experimenting on is making my life easier. I have outrageous work hours and to bring the leash on that I have been looking for tools to make the mundane stuff more manageable.

First step was I use an egg timer to budget out my time when I have multiple projects going at once. This technique works quite well for me, unfortunately between cooking and working I often misplace the silly timer. So I definitely needed some kind of alarm.

I have an RSS feed that condenses the press releases from several thousand companies, checks… about 100 Google Alerts, and several PR channel streams. I have been using Omea Reader for a while to organize it all, but it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. So I needed some sort of RSS reader that can br in such a place to give me real time results and force me to look at it lol.

The rest of the stuff I use is fairly normal, I wanted some way of checking my email without having to open Outlook or keeping it minimized while I glance at the headlines. I need a to do list I can cross stuff off on, a personal note pad; just your basic office stuff. Only I want it all digital.

I had used Rainmeter a very long time ago. Although I was impressed with it, it seemed more like a curiosity at the time and less like something I could actually use and not get bored. I have a problem with graphicly intense interfaces in that my eyes glaze over as I hunt for a means to reduce the amount of crap on my screen. I gave it another look however because it is one of the few desktop skinners, theme builders, whatever, that can run apps, panels, and the like. To make my life easier I grabbed Omnimo (theme/usability pack) for it and I have to say the sheer amount of stuff you can do with it is crazy. The best part though is how little resources the whole thing uses.

Omnimo comes with a few default themes you can use one being Windows Phone 7 the other being Windows 8. Although both looked alright, and I do thing operating systems in general are heading toward an app driven business model, I prefer just making my own messy layout. Still if you want to preview Windows 8, or at least a version that copies the leaked GUI of Windows 8, well maybe that selection will be your cup of tea.

Not really sure where I was going with this blog other than, Rainmeter + Omnimo UI is like getting hosed down with your favorite adult beverage whilst eating a giant prime rib (or substitute favorite food here), without the cleanup. Granted you may waste a weekend getting everything the way you want it, but you can’t win them all.

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According to a New York Times article, the FBI seized several servers yesterday. Though they were only interested in one particular client of DigitalOne (a Switzerland company hosting servers in Reston, Virginia) they took three enclosures taking several sites offline and also causing major distress on the network as a whole.

In fact the computers were seized so violently that DigitalOne couldn’t even restart their own servers to provide support for those affected. Spokes persons for the various companies hosted at the data center said it was unclear what the FBI was looking for or why.

DigitalOne fully cooperated with the FBI pinpointing the servers in question. Instead of taking only the supposed criminal servers however, the FBI opted to take the whole enclosure.

What disturbs me is not necessarily the FBI’s actions. Well ok it does disturb me, but honestly I have grown to expect it. True, I am outraged hence this blog, but not surprised. What really got me is the comments to the article. I am amazed by the level of justification, the illogical arguments for it, and the general apathy.

The argument, “if you are against it then you are probably breaking the law as well,” never sat right with me. Mainly because its a logical fallacy. It would be the equivalent of saying if you choose apples over oranges than you are obviously an apple yourself. There is a breakdown of connection between the facts and the conclusion that shows an irrational mind. Likewise the arguments,  “if it removes one more spammer I am all for it.”

Yeah? Really? What if we nuked your house to kill a pickpocket would you be for that as well? I think people forget that the FBI is a servant of the people, not a thug. The FBI is there to investigate wrong doing and remove that perpetrator and not by any means necessary. I hate red tape, but the red tape is there to protect the innocent.

Something the FBI failed to do yesterday when they destroyed a ton of virtual real estate to take down one criminal.

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