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Daily News Roundup 02-27-08

Wed, 27th February 2008, 16:08

News roundup from around the web today:

INC.com has an interesting article titled “Traffic's up, Website's down”. It tells the story of Plastic Jungle, a website dedicated to trading gift cards. They redesigned their website in November, received a lot of publicity, and then on December 26th the site couldn't handle the traffic and went down. They are unsure of how much business they lost. The article goes on to look at Media Temple's grid hosting and the concept of
paying as you go for large spikes in traffic. An informed piece and a good read.

INC also has a short but informative write up detailing different hosting plans, titled “A Host of Options”. The article defines shared, grid, virtual private and dedicated servers, listing the major providers and the price. Definitely helpful if you are unfamiliar with the terms.



We've covered green hosting here before. Infoworld has an article “Web host The Planet reaps big savings on small changes”. The Planet spent $50,000 and three months making small improvements to datacenter cooling, using best practices. They estimate the savings to be $1 million in power costs this year. The low tech measures they took, such as adjusting tiles and adjusting airflow, allow them to run at 77 degrees/ 45 percent relative humidity and decreased their cooling costs by 31%. This is great to see, far better that buying carbon credits.



Finally, cPanel announced their 2008 cPanel Conference, happening June 11-13 2008. Priced at a very reasonable $60, the conference will covers such topics as Troubleshooting, cPanel for Admins, Security, FreeBSD related topics, Security and much more. They will also showcase the upcoming cPanel Server Suite for Windows.

Do you have anything to say about these stories? Leave us a comment! Thank you.

 

F1 Overnight Website Challenge Winners Announced

Mon, 18th February 2008, 16:12

Paying a web designer on a non-profit budget can be a difficult thing. Typically the web sites for non-profits are at best outdated looking, at worst usability nightmares. I was glad to read about the F1 Overnight Website Challenge, provided by Sierra Bravo and presented by VISI. What is the Challenge? From the site:

Sierra Bravo has challenged web professionals (nerds like us) from throughout our community to a friendly competition. We will all donate 24 hours to build complete websites for 11 Minnesota non-profit organizations — everyone wins, but we all lose sleep.

One part nerd Olympics, one part community service project and one part race-against-the-clock — Sierra Bravo’s F1 Overnight Website Challenge presented by VISI will partner deserving Minnesota non-profits with teams of talented web developers for 24 hours of fun collaboration culminating in a fully operational website for each participating non-profit.


The winners were announced today, and include:



All worthy causes, to be sure. It is nice to see them add one more team to the initial plan to offer 10 slots. The event takes place March 1-2nd. It will be interesting to see the results. A quick glance at some of the pages shows they are in need of a refresh. Some links aren't working at all currently.

This is a great idea, and an excellent cause. It is clever and smart to limit it to 24 hours. This keeps it from getting bogged down in committee meetings and the like. This challenge is specific to Minnesota. It would be great to see other organizations take up this concept. In addition to the feeling of doing something nice, you get the excellent benefit of free publicity and something great to add to your portfolio. If you are a web designer, consider offering something like this to an organization you like. If you are a firm, this is an excellent idea to copy. It is great to see something positive like this happen.

Do you think this is a good idea? Leave a comment!
Have you used VISI for webhosting? Be the first to write a review, win an iPod!


 

The hidden cost of cheap hosting

Wed, 13th February 2008, 18:16

The web has no shortage of cheap web hosts. A quick search shows plenty of low-cost hosting plans, with wild claims. 24/7 support. Unlimited bandwidth, storage or email accounts. Free domain names. You can be like a kid in the candy store, with everything being thrown at you. As an added benefit, you can have a green host and save the environment while you save green in your wallet. It almost is too good to be true. Is the old adage "You get what you pay for" woefully outdated and "old-economy"? Do we finally live in a world without limits? Is there a Santa Claus?


Wal-Mart World

For better or worse, we are living in a Wal-Mart world. The lowest price is now the expectation. The true costs of the low price aren't looked at. It may be jobs that were once high paying moving to cheap (or child) labor overseas. It might be the creation of the disposable economy, where items that were once investments are now expected to stop working after a year or two. We live with the dichotomy of having simultaneously low and high expectations. We have low expectations of high quality and high expectations of low price.

The web hosting world has generally seized upon this mentality. A lot of hosts promise the world for a price quite lower than you pay for bottled water or your Starbucks. It creates the impression that hosts that charge more are gouging customers. Why would I pay $15 a month for a host with caps on my usage when I can get the same thing for $4 a month and no limits on my usage? Do I look like a sucker?

Marketing-ese

Unfortunately, you do look like a sucker. Marketing is betting on you being uneducated about your choice. Marketing counts on you being flattered by shiny and glossy. Marketing is even seizing on your environmental conscience. Whatever it takes, whatever promises need to be made to make your money their money will be made. Do you wish to lose 100 pounds without diet or exercise? Do you want to become a millionaire by only working one hour a day? Do you want it all from your web host, everything, for only four dollars a month? Marketing is long on promises and short on delivery.

Marketing creates a tricky situation. On one hand you have web hosts who, in addition to doing the job you pay them to do—namely, host your website, are now expected to answer any question you may have. Having DNS problems at home? It is your host's problem, not yours. Unsure why your WordPress plugin borked your entire site? Call your host! On the other hand, you have web hosts who have made a promise to you. They have promised 24/7 support, unlimited everything. Your website has been down for three days, your support tickets are unanswered and you are quickly finding out that this promise means nothing. What did you expect for four dollars a month?

My expectations

What would I expect for four dollars a month, you may ask. I seem to be very opinionated about this issue, since I am writing an opinion piece! I would expect a promise or commitment made to be kept. I know that it is unrealistic to expect the best service at a bargain basement price, but once I have been told I am getting 24/7 support and I have paid what the host deems fair then you had better deliver. I've held my end of the bargain, I've paid you. It is not uncommon to purchase web hosting in year or even multi-year packages. I've paid for a commitment on your end. Imagine the feeling of being stuck for a year or more knowing you have been tricked. I've been there, it doesn't feel good.

I also expect myself to be as educated as I can before entering into an agreement. I can't really complain if I haven't done my homework. Sure, I may have been intoxicated by a shiny website. I'm as responsible as my host for the deal made. It is my job to look at the claims and make a responsible decision. Let's take a look at some of these claims, and what they really mean.

Unlimited

If you do nothing else, before you sign up for any unlimited plan, read the Terms of Service (TOS) or Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). Here you will find the limits. Typically there are limits on RAM usage or CPU usage. This is sensible for shared hosting. If you are on a shared host and one of your neighbors sites is getting hammered, you don't want your site to suffer as a result. Most of the time this becomes a rude awakening right at the moment when you begin to reach success. For me, the first time I was Slashdotted I was hosted by 1and1. The site went down for 2 days and I was potentially facing a much larger bill.


RAM/CPU usage are very real limits and you would be wise to investigate what these limits are before signing up. Overselling is almost a standard in the industry. The bet is that you will go nowhere near what is sold to you, and this is a fair bet. With a properly managed server (this is key) overselling isn't even a problem when addressed honestly. A good rule of thumb might be that if you cannot find any real information of RAM/CPU usage limits then assume the worst. TOS and AUP can be used against you to have your account suspended, terminated or you may face big fees.

24/7 Support

Unfortunately this is an area of outright deception typically. I had signed up, after moving from 1and1, with a host who (in the prettiest graphics imaginable) bragged about their outstanding 24/7 support. I felt I needed it, and was coming from horrible support at 1and1. I thought my times of being on hold for 45 minutes, communication problems with non-native English speakers and contradictory answers were over. I was shocked when it took over 96 hours and my threats of cancellation to even get a response. Then another 72 hours to get a second response. Support is not cheap. Good support is definitely not cheap. Research any host making these claims. You cannot get better support than I do from my host, so it is possible. Just make sure through research that the claims are met.

99.9% Uptime

There are so many ways to measure this that to me, the term is meaningless. If you see it, research the claim by doing a search with the host's name and the word “downtime” or “problems”. You will find many hosts making these claims have clients that were down for hours, days or even weeks. Don't believe the hype until you have researched it. It is far more instructive to find out how hosts have coped with downtime. It will happen. You want to be confident your host communicates clearly and honestly when it does. This guarantee meant nothing when I was down for three days with a previous host.

Free Domain Name

This can save you some money, but also potentially locks you in with your host. It is not uncommon to try and cancel your service only to find your domain tied up. Do some searching for “cancellation” with your potential host/registrar's name to see if people have problems. You might save yourself a big surprise down the road. Your domain name is your brand. My advice is to keep it separate from your hosting. That said, I purchased my domains through my host due to the excellent service I receive. Think long and hard about this decision.

Research, Do It!

There seems to be a direct correlation to the price of hosting and the ratings we see on this website. 2MHost offers hosting for $2.75. This is how they are rated. IPowerWeb is offering a “sweetheart” deal of $4.95 hosting. Here is what their customers say. IX Web Hosting features the word “unlimited” prominently on their page. Here are their ratings. Eleven2 offers 24/7 support and according to their website “we don't sleep”. Recent reviews claim otherwise. Do you notice a pattern here? The point is to make sure to do your research. If something sounds too good to be true, odds are it is. Make sure to view the forums of the hosts and look at how complaints are dealt with. Marketing is betting on you being uneducated. Prove them wrong.

The Flip Side

As I mentioned earlier, the other side to this is unrealistic expectations put on web hosts. We will soon have a calculator available where you can input how much you pay for hosting and other variables and get the number of clients a support person has to cover to pay for himself. The impatient among you can click here to do it manually. The point, to quote the article, is this:

Support for a host isn't supposed to be questions like "Can I do this in html?", "Can you help me configure phpBB (or any other script)", "Can you help me learn to tie my shoes?".

Support is there to:

  1. keep your services online.
  2. keep your servers fast and reliable.
  3. communicate effectively during emergencies.

That is easily forgotten, or misunderstood. I'm not defending hosts that oversell their support. I'm saying we are all getting a very good deal on support without actually realizing it. If you ask a question that falls out of the 3 points above, make sure you take the time to thank your host. Write a review bragging about their outstanding service. Don't expect the world for nothing. Hold yourself to the same standard you hold your host to.

A Call for Clarity

Finally, I would like to say that a lot of these issues would not be issues were it not for the arms race of marketing that you see. If you are offering a fair price, is it that hard to realistically discuss the limits potential customers face? If you are being bogged down by frivolous support questions, offer free 24/7 support for critical issues and premium support for anything else (like scripting issues, etc...). If you are a customer, don't buy a KIA and expect it to perform like a Mercedes. Do you know how much bandwidth and disk space you will actually use? If not, then why are you lulled in by 1 terabyte of storage for $5 a month? We hear a lot about “Overselling” but we hear nothing about “Overbuying”. Positive word of mouth is the engine that will get us out of this. When you have a good experience with web hosting, let the world know. You may help someone just like yourself as they head into the scary world of paid hosting.


Thank you.
Please leave a comment!

Urgent Wordpress security update released

Fri, 8th February 2008, 16:37

Wordpress issued an "urgent security update" on Tuesday, moving to version 2.3.3. Most WP users are probably aware of this through Wordpress' Dashboard. There is a vulnerability with xmlrpc.php. If you haven't done the update, you should jump on it immediately. You can just install the security fix, downloading then overwriting xmlrpc.php on your server. If you are interested in the bug fixes you can just fully upgrade. From Secunia's description:

Description:

A vulnerability has been reported in WordPress, which can be exploited by malicious users to bypass certain security restrictions and to manipulate data.


The xmlrpc.php script does not properly restrict access to the edit functionality. This can be exploited to edit other users' posts.


Successful exploitation requires valid user credentials.


The vulnerability is reported in version 2.3.2. Prior versions may also be affected.


The announcement also mentions there is a serious exploit in the WP-Forum plugin, they recommend removing it until an update is available. This exploit allows malicious users to conduct SQL attacks. From the article:

 

This vulnerability when exploited successfully allows the individual to retrieve usernames, password hashes, and email addresses for all users, including administrators. However, the user has to have knowledge of the proper database table prefix. This vulnerability has been confirmed in version 1.7.4 which is currently the most recent version available for download.


Note they do not say to disable it, they tell you to remove it.


I wish there was a security clearinghouse for Wordpress Plugins. I was completely unaware of the WP-Forum exploit, and it was announced January 21st. It is a very serious exploit, as you can see. I check through the plugin administration page for updates to plugins and install them, it had (sadly) never occurred to me to check for security issues that aren't addressed. This would be something nice to see in Wordpress' Dashboard, a lot more useful to me than “hoodies available!” announcements.


How seriously do you take your site's security? Do you install these updates immediately? Do you check the security status of your plugins? If so, where? Please comment and let us know.


 

Unlimited shared hosting returns

Thu, 7th February 2008, 21:17

Yahoo Small Business announced an unlimited shared hosting plan, with unlimited disk space, data transfer and email storage space, all for $11.95 a month. A free domain name is included. There is a $25 set up fee. The free domain name includes a non-refundable $7.00 charge to register the domain, for free. The offer is only available in three month terms, month-to-month and annual plans are not available.

If you are tired of the limits placed on you by your current webhost you may jump at the chance for a life free from limits! The "unlimited" plan looks good, except for the following, err, limits. To quote this page:

So what does "unlimited" mean, really?

Disk space:

You can now create as large a site as you like (you won't face an upper limit, or "ceiling"), but we will place some constraints on how fast you can grow. In other words, you can add as much content as you want, but maybe not all at once. The vast majority of our customers' sites grow at rates well within our rules, however, and will not be impacted by this constraint.

Data transfer:

In most cases, if you use our service appropriately, visitors to your web site will be able to download and view as much content from your site as they like. However, in certain circumstances, our server processing power, server memory, or anti-abuse controls could limit downloads from your site.

You can also upload as much as content as you like each month, subject only to the rules that control how fast your site can grow (see above).

Email storage:

Unlimited email storage gives normal email account users like yourself an opportunity to not have to worry about hitting a storage limit. You can save your correspondence and never worry about having to delete older messages to make room for more.

However, the purpose of unlimited storage isn't to provide an online storage warehouse. Usage that suggests this approach gets flagged by AT&T Yahoo! Business Email's anti-abuse controls.

As the readers of this site know, there truly is no such thing as “Unlimited Hosting”. It is too bad to see this lame marketing term making a comeback. Yahoo may offer a good service, but to start it off with disingenuous marketing-speak should make you wary. Some questions spring to mind immediately:

  • What are these “constraints” to how fast you can grow? What does this mean?
  • What are the “certain circumstances” that will limit downloads? I suspect getting to the front page of Digg or being Slashdotted, marking a return the the “Geocities” style hosting from years back.
  • What do they consider an “online storage warehouse”? There are no real numbers for any of these things, just vagaries.

I think Yahoo needs to do a better job explaining the real terms of their Unlimited Shared Hosting. It is hard to not view this announcement with a jaundiced eye. You don't see the term as much anymore. Hostmonster uses it, as does IX Web Hosting. The web hosting industry has been through this before. Honesty is the best policy. Using the term is almost saying you view your potential customers as fools. It is better to have a clear idea of what you are facing as far as charges. It would be a shame for your site to run into the limits of unlimited hosting right as you begin to reach success.

What do you think? Is this too harsh a stance to take? Have you had a good experience with an unlimited plan? Leave a comment!

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IPv6 gets a boost from ICANN

Thu, 7th February 2008, 19:26

IPv6 adoption moved forward on Monday when ICANN announced adding IPv6 addresses to six of the world's thirteen root nameservers. What this means, in a nutshell, is that it is no longer necessary to keep Ipv4 addressing systems in order to access DNS. Previously, you had to keep IPv4 running in parallel with v6 since the root servers only accommodated IPv4.

IPv4 addresses are starting to run low, it is estimated there are only 14% left of the 4 billion available, even though a majority of the taken addresses are unused. With IPv6, you have 340 trillion trillion trillion addresses available. That is a lot.

To quote the press release:

“Today’s addition of IPv6 addresses for the root servers enhances the end-to-end connectivity for IPv6 networks, and furthers the growth of the global interoperable Internet,” added David Conrad, ICANN’s Vice President of Research and IANA Strategy. “This is a major step forward for IPv6-only connectivity and the global migration to Ipv6.”

It is still very early, but the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 has begun. This step makes it possible for full Ipv6 adoption. It is nice to see something finally happen.


AISO contractors posting fake hosting reviews

Thu, 7th February 2008, 17:16

Companies & their employees just don't seem to learn. After our exposé on fake hosting reviews from ipowerweb, surpass hosting and a number of others - you would think companies would take the hint and avoid posting fraudulent reviews to Hostjury.

Sadly, they don't take notice and continue to post feverishly. Today we had the opportunity to catch an employee a contractor of AISO (Affordable Internet Services Online) posting a review of their services. Directly from their own network, he even went as far as giving them a less than perfect score to make it seem a bit more legitimate.

After mentioning AISO in an article about green web hosting companies I assumed they took notice of the traffic & decided to get a few folks to post reviews. It's depressing to say the least as something like this won't go unnoticed.

A company that seemingly has such great care for the environment would willingly attempt to defraud potential clients & lie to them in order to get a sign-up or two.

Here's an image of the fake review that an AISO contractor posted:

AISO fake reviews
AFFORDABLE INTERNET SERVICES ONL AFFORDAB52-192 (NET-12-198-192-0-1)
                                  12.198.192.0 - 12.198.195.255


This industry is depressing. The length at which hosting providers seem to go to -- to defraud, scam and lie to potential clients is disgusting.

Just so we're clear, as it states on the add review form:

We do not accept reviews from hosts, employees, families of employees, contractors or anybody else associated with a host - if you're connected with a host in any way you should not under any circumstances be posting reviews.

Web Sites on the Internet

Wed, 6th February 2008, 13:37

A January survey estimates that there were last month 155,583,825 web sites on the internet. This number is really not the reality, as many sites containing thousands of users, may be listed as only one site.  

What I found interesting was that growth had slowed from 5.4 million new sites in December to just 354,000 new sites in January. Only time will tell if all the negative news and econmic uncertainty is effecting web growth Whether this is a fluke or the start of a longer term trend, the web grew by fifty million sites in 2007 which is still a relatively healthy increase by any measure.  


Canadian Web Hosting Provider Cirrus Tech Announces price reductions

Tue, 5th February 2008, 22:51

Canadian Web Hosting Provider Cirrus Tech Ltd. has announced reductions of “up to 30%” on Virtual Private Server (VPS) and dedicated hosting options. The company’s strong relationships with providers such as Dell and SWSoft have resulted in cost savings that the company is passing on to customers.

According to the company, the reductions will benefit its existing shared hosting customers that wish to expand services and can “now make the transition (to VPS or dedicated) at a much lower cost than previous occasions”. In addition, new and potential customers will have the “opportunity to improve their business without having to worry about the high costs” associated with these advanced options.

Cirrus Tech is a family owned and operated business operating out of Toronto. Established in 1999, the company caters from a range of customers (including small businesses and individuals) with plans offering the Plesk control panel. The company has subscribed to a number of “reliable and competitive bandwidth providers” and recently “moved to a well-equipped and secure data center”.

Green web hosting: Gimmick or green?

Tue, 5th February 2008, 17:16

It's not easy being Green. You've decided to do your bit to help the environment by choosing a “green” host. Thanks to marketing and convenience, you are starting to see a lot of hosts calling themselves Green. Say it loud, they're Green and proud!

What does it mean? I hate to break it to you, but generally not much. Part of it is marketing. Purchasing carbon credits. Maybe it is being dishonest. Are there real choices out there? We decided to investigate. We try to stay neutral here, but occasionally an issue presents itself that makes us throw neutrality out the window. We want you to be armed with all facts to make your decisions. That said, this is an opinion piece, and the more I read the stronger my opinion gets.

Investigating the claims, the first thing I found out is that there are no easy answers. Anything listed as a positive step has a detractor somewhere. Wind Power? Dead birds. Hydro-electric power? Flooded forests. Buying carbon credits? Unregulated and "fishy". Each positive has a well thought out negative attached to it.

AISO: Carbon-Free Hosting

Let's begin by looking at someone doing it right. Affordable Internet Services Online (AISO) was chosen as the host of Live Earth, being recognized as the only true “Green” host. They are 100% Solar Powered, not only their datacenter, but servers and office as well. They invested over $100,000 in their 120 solar panels, which bring the energy to the batteries that provide consistent power. A read of their “Commitment to the Environment” page shows a lack of buzzwords and a lot of concrete details. They aren't kidding. The serious thought put into the system shows an absolute commitment to being environmentally friendly. It also serves as a great resource to gather ideas to make your home or office green. They use:

  • Solar Tubes for lighting
  • Steel building materials and environmentally friendly insulation, giving them an R-value equal to R 50. Whut?
  • Propane powered backup generators
  • Water-cooled AC units
  • Virtualization used for both the servers and the office desktops
  • They are designing a “green roof”

The link above dives into much more detail. My point is that they aren't just buying some energy credits and saying they are green. They are setting a very high standard by which other “green hosts” should be judged.

Next up we have Dreamhost and Hostpapa. Both claim to be “Carbon Neutral” and “Green”. AISO is “Carbon-Free” The difference rests on if you buy into the idea of Carbon Offsets. I appreciate the effort to at least try something, but I am just not sold on offsets.

Update: It seems that a decent caring company towards the environment can still lack ethics & brains. AISO posts fake reviews to Hostjury.

Carbon Offsets: Big Business

Carbon Offsets, or Carbon Credits are something you can purchase to offset the carbon footprint you leave. It is a $100 million dollar a year industry. They are not regulated. There are a lack of standards and guidelines out there. They are notoriously difficult to verify. You are purchasing the hope that someone is going to follow through. Some ways carbon offsets work:

Tree Planting

Planting a tree to offset your carbon use sounds great, but there is a debate about the benefit. This route seems to be chosen because it is the cheapest. There are potential problems as well. When non-native trees are introduced (to save money) it can actually have a negative environmental impact. Can you be sure the tree planted by your host for you isn't contributing to monoculture? It is cheaper to plant eucalyptus and pine trees where they don't belong, and the effect can be devastating. East Africa has been hurt by this practice.

Renewable Energy

This type of offset theoretically funds renewable energy sources such as solar, wind or hydro-electric power and biofuel. This is a vague and confusing area and there is much debate as to whether there are tangible benefits to this. If a Renewable Energy Credit (REC) is purchased, the money goes to the owner of the renewable energy project. Your REC purchase has put money in the pocket of an owner, there is no rule as to what this owner has to do with it.

Energy Conservation

Energy Conservation offsets work on lowering the demand for energy. This is done by helping to fund energy efficient builings, fuel efficiency projects and cogeneration plants that generate both energy and heat.

There is a vigorous debate about the benefits of Carbon Offsets. One critic compared it to the purchases of indulgences in the middle ages. Some environmental activists argue that it is actually a negative, since it doesn't work to address reducing energy consumption. These purchases certainly don't reduce the amount of fossil fuels used to create electricity. Wouldn't the money hosts spend on these be better spent as reinvestment in their own business using more energy efficient hardware?

Purchasing something that is an abstract as opposed to changing my behavior seems like a cop out. It reminds me of eating fast food like a pig and paying someone else to diet. I can boast that I've lost 40 pounds, and it may be cheaper to hire an anorexic for the offset, but am I really doing good?

Apparent Dishonesty

I may not agree with Carbon Offsets, but I recognize their purchase as a a well-meaning step in the right direction. I definetely prefer them to unsubstantiated claims of being solar powered, like Iron Mountain claims. Their website brags about them being solar powered, but the evidence is lacking. There is a blog post from September 2007 showing two solar panels and describing how they will be installed, then a second post from a few days ago showing more solar panels on their roof. The September blog post said an update would be made when the panels were installed. Are we to believe that it took over four months to get them up?

There is a lack of information. We see pictures of solar cells. We are told that they break if you step on them. “Governments” are taken to task for not giving “a little extra effort for environmental efficiency.” I see a lot of vaguery and a lack of detail. What percentage of Iron Mountain's energy usage is handled by the solar cells? Does it power the break room, or all of their servers and offices? Are we to just take their word that they are solar powered? Stop pontificating and tell us what you have done, in real terms.

I was disappointed to read a post congratulating AISO for “following in Iron Mountain's footsteps”. Come on!
Edit: Within a few days of this post being made Iron Mountain did post pictures of their solar panels on their blog -- so it seems they're now in place at the very least.

Amusing Claims

I have seen other claims out there, setting the bar low for being considered green:

  • We telecommute, thus saving fossil fuels. If the nature of your work means you telecommute, it is disingenuous to brag about it. I slept last night instead of driving, I helped save the Earth!
  • We use a smaller space, saving on building materials. I will announce, here and now, that I will not build a fifteen million dollar dream home this year. The benefits to the environment will be tremendous, without that pull on resources and energy!
  • We recycle! This might be a big deal if it were 1975.
  • We will plant a tree for you! I find this really annoying. I am perfectly capable of planting my own tree, or donating five bucks to have one planted for me. This would be better worded as: We will spend five dollars (or less) for the marketing benefits!

I applaud the idea of going green, when it is motivated by the idea of doing better. When it is a meaningless marketing gimmick, it is a negative. When much fuss is made by Dreamhost and Hostpapa for making a purchase, or by Iron Mountain for the unsubstantiated “solar powered” claims, it doesn't seem fair to me that they get as much credit as AISO for being green. The move toward being green is welcome, but we need to verify that real steps are being taken.

If you are thinking of switching to a green host, ask some tough questions. Decide if Carbon Offsets make sense to you. If so, I'd be happy to sell you some. We can also look at our lives, where we can make the biggest difference of all. As the saying goes, “Think globally, act locally.”

What are your thoughts?

HostPapa 100% Green Energy Web Hosting

Switching webhosts in eight easy steps

Thu, 31st January 2008, 19:45

Moving your website can be an intimidating process. You may have decided to move from a hosted solution (blogger, wordpress.com, etc...) to the freedom self-hosting brings. You may have outgrown your current hosting provider and see greener pastures elsewhere. Whatever your reason may be, the thought of moving might seem overwhelming. Thankfully it isn't as hard as it may seem. We here at hostjury thought it might be helpful to provide a guide. This can't possibly cover all options, but will at least give you a general idea of what is involved in migrating to a new host.


Step 1: Find a Host

This can be the hardest step. Do your research. This site offers plenty of hosting reviews. Go to the forum sections of the hosts that interest you, if they are available, check out complaints and resolutions. Most hosting companies offer a status blog or section in the forum, use this to check uptime. Do a search with the host's name and the word “problems”. The results might be very interesting. Don't hesitate to mention your concerns to the host you are considering. Be firm, but also be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Everything may look good, but you read one very harsh review. Offer the host the chance to explain the situation. It may be this particular customer was very difficult to deal with. Overall, use your common sense and listen to your instincts.

If you are new to having a site hosted, I cannot stress the importance of this step. Some hosts offer great deals if you sign up for a year. You don't want to buy a year only to deeply regret it later. Put the same amount of care into this decision as you would any other important one in your life. It could have repercussions that last years. If you aren't new to paying for hosting, you already know how critical this step is. One rule of thumb, don't always jump at the cheapest price. Fully investigate everything.

Step 2: Plan

Count on giving yourself at least a week, probably two, for everything to happen. If you are switching hosts and nearing the end of a contract, the sooner you get going the better. You do not want to start three days before your contract expires and face billing issues or an inaccessible account. Go easy on yourself and give the process at least two weeks. Do not inform your current host you are moving.

Review this overview and base your plan on how long it will realistically take you, factoring in worst-case scenarios. Everything should go very smoothly, but you never know. Murphy's law might decide to appear.

Step 3: Backup

You should always have a full backup copy of your site on a local computer. If you don't, do it now. You are probably using an FTP client to upload files to your site, if not Filezilla is an excellent free FTP client (and Open Source!). Back up your entire site so you have it available.

If you use databases like MySQL, back up your database. This can be done through your webhost's control panel. There are a variety of ways to do this, depending on what you use. Wordpress, for example, has a plugin that will take care of it for you. If you use phpMyAdmin, you will want to log into that on the server. Once logged in:

  1. Select “Databases”

  2. Click the name of your database

  3. Click the “Export” tab

  4. Choose “Select All” from the left column

  5. Make sure the “SQL” button is selected; also check: Structure, 'Add DROP TABLE', 'Add AUTO_INCREMENT' and 'Enclose table and field names with backquotes'

  6. Make sure the “Data” box is checked, but leave the checkboxes inside unchecked.

  7. Check “Save file as” and leave the default choice

  8. Check “None” for compression

  9. Click “Go” and save the file to your computer. Then check “zipped” (or gzipped/bzipped if you prefer) and click “Go”again.

  10. You now have two backups.

Step 4: Upload to New Host

Upload your backup copy of your files to the new host. If you have a new domain, make sure all of your internal links are changed to point to the new domain. If you are keeping your domain, your internal links should be fine.

Restore your database to the new host, make sure your links to the database are changed to match the new host. This varies depending on what you are using, check the documentation for the CMS you use. It is possible your new host may handle this step for you. If you are nervous (I was), just ask.

To use phpMyAdmin:

  1. Logon to your new server

  2. Click the “Import” tab

  3. In the following “Location of Text File” screen, choose “Browse” and choose your backup

  4. Double-check that the “SQL” box is checked

  5. Click “Go”. Go get some fresh air, or have a cigarette

  6. After a bit of time, you will see a success screen. You are done.

Be sure to double check your .htaccess file to make sure it is up to date and correct.

Once you feel confident everything is working as it should, move on to the next step.

Step 5: Recreate your Email Accounts at your new host

Set up all existing email accounts at the new host. This is typically done through your webhost's control panel. Any forwarders, aliases or auto-responders you had set up on the old host need to be set up on the new. Set up your “catch-all” account if one isn't pre-set for you. Once your DNS change has gone through you will be all set to receive mail.

Step 6: Update your DNS Records

If your domain name is new or you are keeping the same name, this step is the same. Go to your registrars site, log into the control panel. Look for “Nameserver” or “DNS” and plug in the Primary and Secondary nameserver information you received from your new host. In theory it should take about 48 hours for your DNS records to propagate, in reality it may take a week or two. Aren't you glad you got an early start?

Check the email at both the old server and new server while this change is happening. Don't use your domain name to check the email during this period, use the IP address of both the old and new server. It is possible some mail is going to both, separately.

Step 7: Cancel your Old Account

Once you feel confident the change has taken place, you can cancel your old account. Your site has been available to the non-updated DNS servers, now that they are updated you no longer need two versions of your site out there. Leave on a positive note, even if you were unhappy.

If you had a free hosted site, change your .htaccess there if possible. For each page, do the following:

“Redirect permanent /oldpage.html http://newurl.com/page.html

Removing the quotes and putting the relevant info in. This works much better than a simple redirect page, it allows the search engine benefits you have built up to stay in place until your new domain has been indexed properly.

If your old host is also your registrar, be careful. This situation will be getting its own article very soon. You should have no problems, but you never know. Play it safe.

Step 8: Relax, Celebrate and Enjoy Life

You are done. Hopefully everything went smoothly. Enjoy your life with the new host and review them here!



If you have switched hosts, leave us a comment telling us how it went! Thank you.

 

Latest in domain name news

Thu, 31st January 2008, 14:08

There have been a couple of interesting news items about domain names and registrations lately:

Domain Study Results Released

1and1 released an interesting study last week, titled “U.S. Businesses Rush Their Choice of Web Address”. They found 42% of Small and midsized businesses spend less than one hour on the decision of choosing their web address, the same amount of time they spent deciding on which coffee maker or paper shredder to purchase. 60% sought no second opinion. More than half (57%) did not consider a .biz or .net address. 58% had to modify their choice because the domain they wanted was not available.

I find it interesting that 28% want an improvement in their domain name wording or suffix. 37% felt that their revenue would increase as a result of a domain change, but 23% felt a domain change would involve a lot of work. This looks to be an excellent area for consultants to focus on.

1and1 offers domain registrations, so it is no surprise they have promoted these findings. That said, the statistics paint a telling picture. The domain you choose is far more important and will have a much bigger impact than the paper shredder you decide on.

Netfirms and .ca Registrations

On a related note, Netfirms announced their recommendation that customers secure their .ca (Canada) domain registration. 2007 was a record year for .ca registrations, with 160,727 new .ca domains registered. One quarter of those (45,523 new .ca domains) were registered through Netfirms, making them one of the fastest growing .ca registrars. Their $9.95 registration fee, among the lowest in the industry, certainly helps.

One Millionth .fr Domain Registered

EuroDNS announced the .fr (France) registry reached one million registration with the registry of BlogArtDeco.fr on January 11th, 2008. Registrations by private persons account for 30% of total registations, since the .fr domain was opened to individuals in June 2006. A study reports 72% or respondents feel favorable toward the domain. You can only apply for a .fr domain if you are a French business or a French Resident 18 years old or older.

Have you been happy with your domain name choice? How did you go about deciding on the name? Do you feel there is a benefit to having a country specific domain? Leave a comment to let us know!

Web Hosting Controversies continue

Wed, 30th January 2008, 19:35

It has been a rough year in the Web Hosting industry. There are plenty of excellent web hosts, as this site's reviews will attest. The bad hosts grab the headlines and good hosts have created public relations nightmares for themselves. There have been some new developments in recent controversies. We decided to take a look at them.

 

Dreamhost billing fiasco 

The Dreamhost billing saga continues, as previously reported here. If you are unfamiliar with the story and don't care to click, Dreamhost over billed their clients a whopping 7.5 million dollars. The situation (which was bad enough) was made considerably worse by the cutesy and flippant tone taken about it. If your debit card was overdrawn and you were faced with the prospects of checks bouncing I doubt you found a cartoon of Homer Simpson or an email stating “We’re really really realllly embarassed (sic) about this” very comforting. I like humor and informality as much as anyone, but it was completely inappropriate in this situation. It has been said before, and I'm sure better, this was a public relations disaster of epic proportions.

 

Imagine you had convinced your boss to allow you to have Dreamhost host your companies website. You would look like an idiot giving this boss the provided explanation, like you had turned the website over to teenagers. If your personal site is hosted by them, I imagine you had to lose confidence in your choice. The gravity of the situation seemed completely lost. “Oops! LOL!” just doesn't cut it and is completely unacceptable.

 

The after effects of this continue. The Consumerist reports on a Dreamhost customer that got caught up in the confusion, thought she was overcharged (she wasn't) and had her credit card company reverse the charge. Dreamhost then suspended the account immediately. An argument can be made that this customer may have acted too quickly, but the lack of response reported is troubling. They seem to be capable of a serious tone when it comes to money owed to them. Dreamhost has been reasonably well reviewed, it is unfortunate for them that it looks like the anger and confusion continues and will for some time. They are caught in the uncomfortable position of the court jester now trying to be taken seriously.

 

Not only did Dreamhost harm themselves, they missed out on a tremendous opportunity. I have a background in customer service, specializing in handling difficult situations. Most of my best customers were created during a crisis. People are generally loyal. If you help them get out of a difficult situation, even if it is one you created, they remember that. They know that if you helped them when things were going wrong, they can count on you when things are going right. Crisis equal opportunity, and this was totally overlooked.

 

iPowerweb problems persist 

IPowerweb is a lot more troubling. It is hard to know where to begin. The unaddressed security issues that lead to StopBadware.org to identify them as one of five hosts having the largest number of malware-infected sites on their servers? The email outage and unannounced server migration, as detailed here? The problems the North Country Gazette has had, including the site being taken down as retaliation for negative press, only to have the problem escalate? More Gazette problems here and here. Non-existent customer service? Reducing themselves to posting fraudulent reviews on this site?! The problems are many and deep.

 

As if all of that wasn't bad enough, on Friday the North Country Gazette told the story of an attorney that after going through the typical customer service nightmare of getting FTP installed on her site, she was shocked to log in and discover that it wasn't her site she was logged on to. It was IPowerWeb's site. She had access to all of their files. Horrified, she notified them. It took over two days for the problem to be fixed. The fix involved installing something onto her website, which had the side effect of making her computer crash and forced her to reinstall programs. Nice. Good thing it was an honest person that had access to all of their data, and the data of their customers.

 

The article goes on to mention the newest problem with IPowerWeb's email. I'll quote:

“If you have a website that is unfortunately hosted by IPowerWeb and use their webmail, unless the intended recipient has actually requested the email that you are want to send, it will be considered spam and Ipower will be forced to “suspend or terminate your account”.”

 

That is mind-boggling insanity. If you use webmail, sending an email to someone that hasn't requested it causes your account to be suspended or terminated?! It is obvious that things are out of control there. Stay away at all costs.

 

It is sad to me that the Hosting industry gets affected by stories like these. How many people read horror stories like the ones above and decide to just forgo having their site hosted? How many others just quietly give up and accept the situation? We need to be vocal about the unacceptable behavior when it is exhibited. There is plenty of misleading press out there, when searching for a good webhost we should make sure we have done our part to keep the conversation honest.

 

Your thoughts? 

 


What do you think? Were you caught up in any of this? Do you feel Dreamhost has resolved the issue in a manner you are comfortable with? Are you still using IPowerWeb? Leave a comment! We want to hear what you think.

 

Global Warming Dilemma

Wed, 30th January 2008, 01:10

Global Warming Scenario One

One computer left on 24 hours a day will cost you $115 - 160 in electricity costs a year and dump 1,500 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. A tree absorbs between 3-15 lbs of CO2 each year. That means that 100-500 trees would be needed to offset the yearly emissions of one computer left on all the time!

On a larger scale, if each household in the metro Boston area turned off their computer just one additional hour per day, we could save $3.2 million in electricity costs and prevent 19,000 tons of CO2 from heating the atmosphere. If businesses and universities were included, the savings could be much greater.(TUFTS CLIMATE INITIATIVE) Not Cool

Global Warming ScenarioTwo

Climate Prediction is the largest experiment to try and produce a forecast of the climate in the 21st century. To do this, they need people around the world to give them time on their computers - time when they have their computers switched on, but are not using them to their full capacity. It will run automatically as a background process on your computer whenever you switch your computer on. It should not affect any other tasks you use your computer for. As the model runs, you can watch the weather patterns on your, unique, version of the world evolve. The results are sent back to them via the Internet, and you will be able to see a summary of your results on Climate Prediction dot NET. You can download the program there. Not Cool but you can watch us fry

Death blow dealt to domain tasters

Wed, 30th January 2008, 00:25

If Google's recent stand against against domain tasters wasn't enough to stop domain tasters in their tracks, ICANN just finished the job. The ICANN board just passed the following motion to end Domain Tasting,

“THEREFORE, the Board resolves to encourage ICANN’s budgetary process to include fees for all domains added, including domains added during the AGP, and encourages community discussion involved in developing the ICANN budget, subject to both Board approval and registrar approval of this fee.”

This policy is expected to go into effect when the new budget is approved, and that process typically happens in the summer.

http://www.icann.org/minutes/prelim-report-23jan08.htm

Adieu, domain tasters! 

 

Helpful links for your website's content

Tue, 29th January 2008, 18:15

Creating content for your website can be difficult. Not all of us are English majors (or use English as our primary language, for that matter) and have become accustomed to the relaxed punctuation and grammar requirements having a blog provides. That doesn't mean we are free to discard centuries-old rules. For some people, poor grammar is enough to make them discount what you have to say.

I've assembled some simple links to refer to when writing. I hope you find them helpful.

First up is the gold standard for writing, William Stunk Jr.'s “Elements of Style”. The examples are simple and clearcut. You cannot go wrong to follow these rules. Are you joining independent clauses with a comma, instead of the fancy and dignified semi-colon? You won't be after reading this. It is easy to forget the purpose of proper composition is to help the reader. Why bother writing if people cannot understand what you say? If you use only one resource from this article, make it this one.

If you are like me, and hey—maybe you are, simple things when writing may trip you up. I get confused about using lay or lie correctly. I know there is a rule, but I am never certain whether I am following it or not. Is it who or whom? Who knows! “Common Errors in English” by Paul Brians is an outstanding resource. Click the link and you will see that just about every base is covered, including “cheese quesadilla” and “lol”. I love what is said about lol; “It is no longer considered hip or sophisticated, and you won’t impress or entertain anyone by using it.” That is the truth. You will be able to confidently write “I decided to lay on the bed, unsure for whom it was made.”

Do you plan to write fiction? Kurt Vonnegut provides Eight Rules for Writing Fiction. They are excellent. You will find out how to keep your story from getting pneumonia. Vonnegut also offers “How to write with Style” and the man knew what he was talking about. I like that he tells you to “Pity the readers”. Both links are entertaining and short reads. He also refers you to “Elements of Style”, giving that link more literary street-cred.

“Writerisms and other Sins: A Writer's Shortcut to Stronger Writing” by C.J. Cherryh will get your writing lean and mean. You will stand out from the crowd. Your vocabulary will not be more interesting than what you write. If you follow these twelve rules your writing will improve. I hope to follow them one day!

Having a bunch of rules handy is all well and good, but what if you are staring at the keyboard completely unable to get started on anything?

The effectively titled “7 Can't-Miss Ways to Kick-Start the Writing Habit” offers seven handy tips to, well, kick-start the writing habit. I've used them and they work. “Write crap without feeling guilty” is an excellent tip. Sometimes you really have to give yourself the freedom to just sit and write without worrying about the quality. Things will eventually start flowing. The site is a nice resource, as well.

“10 Killer Post Ideas” is helpful. I refer to this list whenever I am stuck. Tip two, about writing lists, took me from writer's block to the front page of Digg, twice in a row. I agree with Chris Garrett, people do love top ten lists. It is no accident the article itself is a top ten list.

Finally, this is a bit off-topic, but sometimes it is nice to refer to the Dalai Lama's “Instructions for life in the new millennium” to get some perspective on things. They aren't specific to Buddhism, they are written more from a humanitarian perspective. I find them refreshing to look at every now and then. Your mileage may vary.

If these links are of use to you, or you have your own, please leave a comment. We would love to hear what you think. Thank you for reading.

Hosting A Dummy: Register the Domain Name

Tue, 29th January 2008, 18:42

 What's in a domain name. ...This is everything we've existed for. The American dream. Our last chance at fame and fortune. We've spent months, years, maybe the last half hour, deciding its our time to get on line and show them how it's done ....

A cold bead of sweat breaks on my brow as I, one finger type, my new domain name into the box.  zip dot com and I push enter. *%&%&^#$ dot com is not available

  

ok ok Zip is getting ahead of himself again. What is a domain name. A domain name is your piece of Internet heaven and as long as you pay the yearly fee it will continue to be so. Stop paying and it will be covered in those nasty Internet Ad weeds.

It can end in Dot COM or Dot NET.

 

Which type of domain name is right for you?

  • If you are going to be a capitalist then you want Dot Com. (commercial)
  • How about an organization... then you'll want Dot Org. (organizations)
  • Maybe your looking for prestige... then try Dot Net or Dot your name
  • How about you Canadians Eh.... You'd want Dot CA (country code)
  • Dot Mobi is mobile.. dot info is information...you get the picture


If in doubt...buy them all and for about thirty bucks a year you'll own the whole city block. Ok ...you've got your name all picked and it's time to close the deal. Now what


(that was a question...not a statement!)

 

Go DADDY
You can read our Go Daddy Reviews by clicking here.

Click on the link and your an Internet Tycoon. A regular ol' Donald Trump. Just with internet property instead of something tangible!

 

Is your domain taken, they offer suggestions!

 

Go Daddy actually has a cool little feature that allows you to see who stole your name.

After they tell you that choice is taken, click the link for more information. They even offer you some suggestions. So once you got that name registered drop back and Zip will lead you through the tangled web of acquiring a place with the hosting company...

 

Web hosting provider, Hostgator shares revenue with charities

Tue, 29th January 2008, 17:43

January 29, 2008 - Shared, dedicated and reseller web hosting firm, Hostgator, after reporting a successful fiscal year, has given gifts to support cancer fighting initiatives, while promoting education in underdeveloped countries.

The company gave $100,000 to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, and $25,000 to One Laptop per Child. The gifts were decided upon by Hostgator management and staff, including a significant contribution to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

Brent Oxley, President of HostGator noted, ''The gift to Anderson reflected a mix of the wishes of the staff here at HostGator and suggestions from our users. It's pretty hard to find anybody whose life hasn't been touched in some way -- directly or indirectly -- by cancer. We gave to them, partly because we're located in Houston and some of our employees have had family members treated there, but mostly we gave because of their amazing country-wide reputation for treating patients and researching cancer cures.''

In addition. HostGator donated to the international organization, One Laptop Per Child. The Anderson Cancer Center received a gift of $100,000 and One Laptop per Child received $25,000. The goal of One Laptop per Child is spelled out in its name: to improve the educational opportunities for children in underdeveloped regions by giving every child access to an inexpensive, durable, web-capable laptop. At $100 each, the gift from HostGator should provide at least 250 laptops.

The gift to One Laptop per Child was another easy decision, according to Mr. Oxley, ''If it wasn't for the internet and computers we wouldn't be in business. If just one of the kids can further their knowledge in computers and make a career out of it, in some shape or form, it will have been worth every penny.''

At Anderson, one of the country's largest cancer treatment centers, HostGator's gift will go to support a variety of programs -- from research and clinical trials, to education, counseling and treatments. Mr. Oxley says as HostGator continues to grow and earn profits, it will continue increasing the amount of its annual gifts.

Mr. Oxley added, ''As a company, we expect to go on making charitable donations, and letting our people decide each year where our gifts should go. We want the benefits of our success to go beyond our own narrow interests, so that's why we'll keep on doing it. Some other companies may donate for 'political' reasons, not because they really want to help -- but that's still good. Whatever the motives and whatever the amounts given, it all helps. The more corporate giving there is, the better.''

Hostgator is a provider of shared, dedicated and reseller web hosting services focused on the consumer and small business markets. Founded in 2002, Host Gator has become a leader in reseller hosting, assisting over 15,000 businesses become web hosting companies, currently hosting over 700,000 domains. Host Gator has offices in Houston, Texas and its data center operations are co-located out of The Planet's facility in Dallas, Texas, enabling it to access Tier-1 backbone providers such as UUNet, Sprint, Level 3, Global Crossing, Verio and AT and T and AboveNet. HostGator's shared hosting plans are supported by HostGator's 24/7/365 phone support, and comes with a 99.9% uptime and 30-day money-back guarantee.

You can read more Hostgator Reviews here on Hostjury.

Web Hosting Solution Provider, Fusepoint, Experiences Record Financial Growth

Mon, 28th January 2008, 20:42

TORONTO, ON – January 22, 2008 – Fusepoint Managed Services, the leading provider of
outsourced managed IT and infrastructure services to the mid market in Canada, today announced
record financial results for the 2007 fiscal year. Fusepoint ended the year with over $36 million in
revenue and experienced its highest level of newly contracted sales in its history, increasing 50%
over 2006. The company, which has been EBITDA positive since mid 2005, also experienced
record EBITDA in 2007, and achieved Net Income positive in the latter half of the year.

Fusepoint has continued to experience a dramatic increase in demand for its solutions in 2007,
adding over 50 new, managed and colocation customers such as The Canadian Football League,
Bell Canada’s Videoplay, InsurancePay Canada, DeepCove Labs, and Chip Hospitality. In addition,
the company signed several significant renewal contracts with existing customers such as Mountain
Equipment Coop, Colliers, Direct Energy, Qtrade Financial Group and the Royal Canadian Mint.
“Fusepoint has realized a tremendous year both from a financial and operations perspective,” said
George Kerns, President and CEO of Fusepoint. “We have continued to reinvest in the
infrastructure and operations side of the business, ultimately solidifying our leadership position to
meet the strong demand for high-availability managed hosting services.”

Today’s news comes on the heels of announcing significant investments in Opsware data centre
automation software; achieving Tier-1 (the highest level) Payment Card Industry Certification from
Visa; and adding support for VMware virtualization software to its services portfolio. In addition,
Fusepoint has once again successfully completed its annual CICA 5970 and SAS 70 Type II audits
from external parties to ensure its rigorous processes are tested and certified.

Having recently expanded its Vancouver data centre to accommodate new business opportunities,
Fusepoint will be expanding the Vancouver data center again in 2008. In addition, the company is
working on expansion plans for Montreal and Toronto and hopes to make announcements about
both in the first quarter of 2008.

"We believe that managed hosting services have become a vital component of the IT strategy for
mid-tier companies and enterprises alike, and that Fusepoint's excellent financial results reflect
both a strong market demand that will continue to grow and the applied expertise and experience of
its seasoned management team," said John Van Hooser, General Partner at M/C Venture Partners.


About Fusepoint Managed Services

Founded in 1999, Fusepoint is a privately held company with offices and data centres in
Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City. Through our proven record of success we have
built a loyal base of over 400 customers and strong, strategic relationships with Canada’s leading
technology and communication companies.

Fusepoint’s managed IT solutions are SLA-guaranteed, scalable and designed to reduce cost
structures while mitigating risk. Fusepoint is also SAS 70 Type II, CICA 5970, and most recently
PCI compliant, which means our processes are rigorously and continuously audited by an
accredited third party and consistently operate at the highest levels within the industry. For more
information, visit www.fusepoint.com

Google takes a stand against domain tasters

Sun, 27th January 2008, 10:22

 Domain tasting, or domain kiting is the underhanded exploitation of a loophole in domain name registration rules that allows unscrupulous SEO ad jockeys to grab a domain name and make money off of it without paying for it. What this means for legitimate web users is that they often can't get their hands on the domain names they want because the domain names are being wasted on these money making schemes.

One simple 5 day grace period loop hole has been the backdoor for domain tasting scammers, who will "try out" a domain name for the 5 day free grace period, stocking it full of generic ads and other money-making schemes. Google aims to put a stop to this nefarious practice.

From Information Week: Google is planning to introduce a system to detect a form of domain registration abuse known as domain kiting. In so doing, the company stands to lose millions in advertising revenue, though it may gain far more in user trust and goodwill.

The Google machine is planning to fight off the tasters and kiters by creating a new Google algorithm just to track them.

When the new detection system finds evidence that a site is a domain taster site, Google will now pull the AdSense for Domains ads from it. Once the source of revenue is gone for the scammers, the site should start to dry up, in theory.

Kiss your revenue goodbye, scammers! 

The kited domains are spam, and often have issues with malware and other problems. You would think that people would be smart enough not to click on the ads when they get directed to one of these pages that are so obviously devoid of content, but click people do. As long as the pages make money, domain kiters and domain tasters will continue to push the envelope of acceptable internet behavior.

Google and ICANN both hope that better control of domain kiting and domain tasting will help stabilize the domain naming system. Currently the system is under duress from the stress of domain kiting and other money making schemes, and has been battling a loss of consumer trust and reliability.

Hosting for a Dummy

Sun, 27th January 2008, 00:03

 

I'm sure that people like me are a web hosting provider's worst nightmare. I'm the person that  companies foresaw when they placed "is it plugged in" as the first statement in their troubleshooting manual. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me introduce myself.   I'm Zip.

Thought that was a cute name. Techie like a zip file (as if I knew what that was). I've been graciously offered the opportunity to write a blog here at Hostjury about web hosting providers, how-to's and some tutorials on different web hosting terminology.   (I almost wrote a “column”)

 

At first, I was surprised that I was being recognized so quickly for my geek like suave. Then when I first woke with night sweats, it occurred to me that maybe it was more like, "if he's busy blogging about web hosting companies, then he won't be out surfing the web or worse, hogging the support line asking unforgettable questions!"

 

So what am I doing. Really, I haven't got a clue. (which Joey, Tom, Frank, and Mary from Tech Support will attest to). But I'm going to enter the world that has made so many overnight success stories. 

I'm going to enter the web hosting world. Maybe as a client, first. 


Really, why shouldn't I. If a bunch of kids who haven't even finished school can do it, well lets just say “I hope their money is made”.


So I'm hoping you'll follow my adventure into the high speed world. No slowskies here. From signing up a host to retirement.


This is Hosting A “Dummy”

 

Liquid Web Sees 2007 Growth

Sat, 26th January 2008, 20:25

Web hosting provider Liquid Web announced on Thursday that over the past year it has more than doubled its head count and grown its revenues by more than 60 percent, a trend that looks to continue well into 2008, says the company.

For the past 12 months Liquid Web says it has consistently broken its own monthly revenue records and currently employs 107 people, adding approximately 10 to 12 new employees every month.

Liquid Web has specifically hired and trained more than 70 new "Heroic Support Engineers" in 2007 to support its rapidly expanding global and local client base, which includes TechSmith Corporation, Neogen Corporation and Granger Construction.

In September of 2007, Liquid Web has also completed the first of three phases in its second Lansing, Michigan-based data center facility, DataCenter2. It has added over 30 tons of new redundant power equipment to enhance total building resiliency as well as support the second phase of the build out. It has also added an additional Kohler one megawatt generator, Kohler generator paralleling gear, Powerware parallel redundant UPS systems, additional Powerware PDU's and Liebert CRAC units.

Dreamhost Billing Issues!

Tue, 15th January 2008, 14:10

I was surprised to awake this morning to a notice saying my dreamhost accounts were overdue. Concerned, given that each had almost a year of service left I decided to check their status page. It turns out that every Dreamhost client was mistakenly billed ahead of time for service -- some for up to 2-3 years of service totalling at least $7,500,000!

 

Brad Fitzpatrick had this to say...

 

To add fuel to the fire, there's seemingly hundreds of Dreamhost users suspended right now due to this mishap. It's been ongoing since much earlier this morning. There's a great deal of unhappy users spouting off on their status blog about overdrafts, bouncing mortgage cheques and leprauchauns.  Oh thank you, Paypal. It seems that this billing error has affected nearly 100% of their clientbase.

What a headache to wake up to -- but at least it isn't a Monday!
Additional information for anyone affected is on their Dreamhost status page, they're aware of the issue and dealing with it:
Dreamhost Billing Issues - Status
Dreamhost Billing Forum - More information
Dreamhost Blog - Um, whoops

The Dreamhost team seems hard at work resolving the issue so don't fret. (Although I admit I am very glad I use only paypal)

Dreamhost Update

It seems that the issue has been fully dealt with and refunds are being processed for the erroneous transactions. A number of users are still suspended and given the number of accounts that Dreamhost hosts, I suspect this will take at least 24 hours to deal with. 

"Our sincerest apologies! I completely understand that when dealing with money, panic is quick to set in. I definitely understand the frustration. The problem has been found and fixed. Erroneous charges are in the process of being refunded now. I’m very sorry for any and all problems this has caused.

Please check back soon for a full accounting of what happened."

Patrick
Dreamhost

Additional Dreamhost Update Tue Jan 15 07:25:16 PST 2008

"Scripts are still running to correct the original problem. Last night, this guy ran a standard billing cycle to clean up stragglers from 2007. Unfortunately, the biller was ran for 2008 (December 31st, 2008 to be exact). This caused everyone to be billed as if today was 2008-12-31, wreaking the havoc that we are so sorry you had to be put through.

There is currently no ETA on when the “fix it” script will finish, but this post will not be resolved until it is. The script will reverse all erroneous charges and notify you via e-mail of the transaction reversal. If you receive an all clear e-mail, and are still having any problems with your account and/or charges, please contact support immediately.

Once again, we are all *extremely* sorry for the mishap. Thank you for your continued patience while we clean up our mess."

At this time, at least we know it wasn't malicious & was just a result of Josh screwing up again.

Review your host and win!

Mon, 14th January 2008, 21:04

Web hosting reviews for rewards!

Win an ipod!

We'll use any excuse to give stuff away and with 631 889 1,750 3,514 quality hosting reviews from real users in our database - we're greedy though, we want to get more! In a race to be the number one web hosting review site on the web, we've decided to give away an ipod every three months!

Hosting Review Giveaway

Submit a web hosting review of your previous, existing or new hosting provider for your chance to win a beautiful 30 80 gigabyte video ipod. Submit your hosting review today by using the links below.

Add your web hosting review

Giveaway Rules

There's a limit of one winner per househould and if you've submitted a review previously you'll automatically be entered to win the prize.

The first ipod up for giveaway is a beautiful black 30 80 120 gigabyte ipod video. We'll choose a winner for this beautiful little gadget every three months. All users who submit a review starting now will be entered to win!

*Infinity depends on how finite our bank account is. But submit your hosting review anyway.

Recent winners

Tim Brown posted an ipowerweb review and won a 30 gigabyte ipod video.
Want to be next, if so post your own web hosting review!

Network Solutions holding domains hostage

Tue, 8th January 2008, 22:24

Network Solutions, one of the few companies left in the domain registration world that I had retained my trust in has just bit off a bit more than they can chew. Slashdot & a number of other sites are running stories about Network Solutions purchasing domain names immediately after a user checks if they're available.

 DomainNameNews has some additional information on the story:

Domain Registrar Network Solutions Front Running On Whois Searches

"A story is developing regarding domain name registrar Network Solutions front running domains. According to multiple sources on DomainState.com, it appears that domains searched via NSI are being purchased by the registrar thereby preventing a registrant from purchasing it at any other registrar other than NSI. As an example, a random domain which DNN searches such as HowDoesThisDomainTasteTaste.com can be seen in this whois search to now be unavailable to register at other registrars but at NSI it can be purchased"

While purchasing domain names in advance to resell them to clients isn't directly forbidden by the ICANN rules and terms of service, it certainly leaves a bad taste in anyones' mouth who uses Network Solutions to search for available domains.

In the future use sources like Enom or Namecheap to search for available domains. Stay safe!

This isn't the first provider to have done so but it's certainly the most vocal, given Network Solutions' size. A number of providers in the past have been caught redhanded with similar tactics.

More information regarding this story is available at Slashdot and Dotsauce:

Network Solutions Scandal: Hijacking users' domain name searches
Network Solutions Scandal: Registering Every Domain Checked