Aug 292007

I recently had online chats with a host to get to the bottom of 100% up-time guarantee’s and this is what I found. Just as I thought. It is impossible to be 100% up-time. Good networks and points of failures makes for better stability.

“We have actually assisted 100% network up-time in over 7 years.. the way this is done is having no single point of failure on the network. Al routers and switches are redundant. It is impossible to guarantee 100% “server” up-time. However maintenance is not included in the 100% up-time. There are schedule maintenance’s …”

So, what does 99.7%/year/month up-time mean. Well…let’s calculate this for you detailed persons –

8,760 hours in one year

That is .3% per month/year = 26.28 hrs per year or 2.19 hrs per month!!!! Did you know that? I did not think so. How would you feel if your site was down for 2hrs a month or one month for 10hrs??.


Aug 232007

Well, I consider myself a good Virus hunter’s in finding and killing computer virus issues.  In my personal life, sometimes my friends will look to me their virus problems. I do not do it as often and most do not realize that it takes from 2-10 hours to find and fix computers with multiple issues.

The technician’s answer is to “wipe the harddrive and reinstall”. Like me, most do not want to give up a week or two of their time reinstalling all their programs they have had over the years. Sometimes, you do not have any other choice.

Typically, you will find virus and spyware on the Kids computer. There are many sites that in the background, unknown to the user, download Spyware or even worse a Trojan Horse. Now days, you have to be “loaded for bear” when trying to maintain a computer. Frankly, I am getting very tired of the whole thing. Some new threat pops up every day.

Just the other day, I was upgrading from Windows 2000 to XP and we did not unplug the computer when it was done, to install the service pack 2 and we got a real nasty back door hack virus. Hackers have scanning tools out there running 24/7 looking for unsuspecting vulnerabilities.

The scanning for vulnerabilities also applies to your web site and ecommerce servers also, but is not as rampant.
Our company uses a great third-party service by the name of ScanAlert, with another visual tool called HACKERSAFE for our customers Internet and Ecommerce Servers.

It is a trust mark that people have come to rely on and feel better about buying on the web.

There is not just one program fits all for your anti virus-spyware solution for your computer. In recent months, I have had direct experience with Windows Vista. I must say that Windows Vista really sucks. I understand that Dell corporation decided for the first time to roll back and offer XP for those that did not want to be testers for the Vista program.

Two months ago, I purchased a new computer loaded with stuff and well,….let’s just say Vista made it difficult to do anything. It is not ready for the business environment an is ok for home, but a bear if you want to setup a network and wireless components, which is becoming more popular.

Back to the Virus issues. There are Three main programs I have used, Norton, TrendMicro, and SpyBot, and the waining Adware. (might be returning). Individually, they do a terrible job. Collectively, they do a great job.

The combo I like is Norton and Spybot. Yes, Norton is a bloated program that is a resource hog, but it is widely supported and monitored. The next to have installed is Spybot Search and Destroy, in the advanced mode only, in the advanced mode only,(be careful as there are look alike companies that can cause real issues and further infect your computer).

Our Master tech , Jame Chi found a program that he has been using for years and says that it found nasty virus no other computer could find it is called Kaspersky AV . It is fairly inexpensive, like $80 bucks for 5 users. It is not a hog like Trend or Norton.

Also, if you get stuck and you cannot install an AV on your computer, then go to Trend Micro and try the remote scanning tool at called House Call
Good lucking hunting,


Aug 102007

During the past 10 years I have been listening to the pros and cons of “automated” servers vs “manual” (command line maintenance). We are a manually run house. Why? It comes down to faster customer Response times and server solutions flexibility.

Our team has always pushed against automated systems and I understand why. You cannot grow as rapidly in manual world, but you retain longer. An ecomemrce environment requires flexibility. It is very difficult to run automated servers with changing commerce requirements and demand. Remember, this is coming from the high level of a CEO / Management so I look at things differently than the techs do.

Ok so I have been through the pros and cons of it and it really all comes down to customer service. Automated systems are very cool, time saving, and it does cut down on the need for really skilled techs. In a perfect world that would be great, but we live in a world of vulnerabilities and hackers.

Running servers carry with them so many variables involved in building and maintaining a server. With automation coupled with low tech skill levels, your customer is really in for a ride at some time. I am not saying that they cannot go for the same ride in a manual world.

The differences from all I have discussed, seen, read, and experienced, are that automation keeps you in a tight closed system that when it breaks or it hits the fan, you have to call someone. Of course, when does a problem typically occur? Of course, in the middle of the night! I have heard of long hours and days of response times to fix a server and sometimes the answer is to backup and reinstall. So, you may need to call support at the automated interface company, and you better have a 27/7 3rd level tech at your finger tips. With ecommerce, unlike general hosting, everyone calls when your having issues. Yiiikes.

With a manual system and the right tech team, you can attack the problem head-on, with many options that you may not have in an automated world.
Please comment if you have a different take on this.

I am not 100% on this, but it seems like the techs of today, in the general hosting world, do not have to be as informed. No wait, do no get offended, because there are some real amazing ones still out there, they are far and few between.

Automated vs. Manual, really comes down to the ecommerce customer getting hosed. The customer in the shared environment is taking a gamble on up-time for 20 bucks or so a month. Although, the same thing can happen to a 100 dollar month hosting service. Not enough of the dollars and disaster planning goes back into company.

I think that if one makes it morel about the customer, even though they do not see it in the front-end, you will have a great long-lasting relationship. Ok so…stuff happens. The questions is, how fast is it resolved and are all the things in place fix it rapidly.
I know that we have our times aside from our scheduled maintenance windows, people get really stressed out with hosting issues, and the difference is that we grieve and stress along with them, that makes a difference.

ecommerce clients expect more. The frustrating part is that sometimes they forget that they came aboard because they have had their skin torn off them with their previous host. Our occasional or sometimes even a string of issues pale in comparison. We are not perfect or even close, but we care. So, sometimes customers leave…and if we part in a positive way, like assist them in the move, they will be back. Some won’t cause of pride or some other unimportant issue.

As a team and a company, you should fight and die to retain your clients. Sometime they just gotta go. It is like letting your 18 yr old move out. It is time to experience the world of cares and don’t care. We get it.

Aug 092007

As the CEO of the company, I need to fully understand our market and how it relates to the products and services we provide. In doing so, I went to Barnes and Nobels and found Catherine Seda’s book titled How to Win Sales & Influence Spiders.

Seeing that we have a team in our company that does that, I thought it be good to check it out. I just finished and most rang true to me just based on what I have learned in Marketing meeting, and strategy consultations with our team and clients over the past 9 years.

Speaking to our key web SEO consultant, Chris Duffy, he wants to read the book before I let the cat out of the bag, but for now, unaudited, I like it and I like the careful way in which it was written. I expect only positive reviews. I highly respect Chris’s opinion on the market and will keep you posted when her finishes Cathrines’ book.

Aug 082007

I have never been to Chicago. I Grew up a surfer in Play Del Rey California, so we did not travel much. I took my wife to this event…Well it was a tactical move as it was her birthday that weekend. I was invited to speak on Security and Trust Marks by the Hacker Safe Company, ScanAlert.

We were told that we hit some of the best weather Chicago has seen in the summer in a long time. We did all the tourist things. I think the thing that got me the most were the buildings and the architecture, absolutely incredible!!. We learned in depth about the history on the floods and fires and, the Cubs, all very cool. Did not go to a game, The Cubs were not in town

As for my wife of 21 years, Gayle, whom I still love very much, we did lots of fun stuff for her birthday celebration.

One fun thing was dinner on the 95th floor of the Hancock building, the second tallest building, to the Sears building. Crystal clear night, it was almost surreal.

Matt, our tech, said I took photos like a Japanese Tourist..LOL
Check it out >> Here

Anyway, we stayed 4 days. My talk at HostingCon was a success. I tried to win a wee for my son at one of the booths. I was on the boards but did not get to get back in time to move up. We were too busy site seeing.

On the middle of the last day in town we got to see some summertime kids singing groups perform in Millennium park. It was very cool and they were very good.