Switching Webhosting to Steadfast.net

After a short stint with Dreamhost I am moving over to Steadfast Networks for hosting my sites. I really liked the Dreamhost control panel and getting my sites setup and configured was easy but the server I was running on was sooooooooo slow! The billing disaster in January also did not help things! So I headed over to Web Hosting Talk to read some of the reviews and look for a new host. The hosting business is full of “fly by night” kind of folks so it was important to get some objective 3rd party opinions. The wealth of information on WHT is awesome! I decided to go in a different direction and look for a smaller well respected company that does not offer 1 million Terabytes of space for $10 a month. After reading the reviews I settled on a shared hosting plan from Steadfast. So far I have been really impressed.  The sites are much faster and the support tickets I submitted were handled almost instantly with 100% resolution! For a simple blog like this speed is not all that important but when you are playing around with a resource hog like Magento it makes a big difference!

I just switched the DNS so we should be live on the new server shortly!

Victoria’s Secret Drops N2N Commerce

Techcrunch is reporting that Victoria Secret has dropped N2N commerce. Wow! This is big news as N2N had made a huge push in the last year to gain a footing in the competitive ecommerce platform space. I even think they were the lead sponsor at Shop.org or Internet-Retailer this year!

This is really disappointing as I thought they had a good idea with this model. I helped implement Demandware at Gardener’s Supply which was the underlying technology behind N2N. I hope this decision will not have a ripple effect with Demandware as I think they still have a great offering.

Sears and Spyware

This post detailing Sears’ use of tracking software is unbelievable! Sears is one of my top 5 competitors so I follow them pretty closely and this is big news. The VP’s response and the counterpoints are even more amazing.

You might have yourself covered from a legal perspective (page 10 of a 26 page privacy policy) but you are undermining your customers. People take privacy seriously. If you are going to install tracking software that monitors all internet behavior it better be explicit, in 20 point font, with a VERY clear OPT IN. With that said, I would never have approved something like this. I wonder what they were doing with the data and if they were getting any value out of it.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes them to pull this down

Dreamhost Hosting

With my move to working more with php and ruby on rails I decided to ditch my windows hosting and move over to Unix and Apache. Most of the active open source projects run better on Apache and the mod_rewrite module is essential for creating easy search engine friendly links. I took a look at a bunch of different providers but settled on Dreamhost. They offer a ton of features for $11 a month and lit looks like they have a pretty good reputation. So far the migration has gone smoothly and everything is up and running. You can get a $50 discount on new hosting contracts if you use promo code: MYDREAM50

Open Source Software

Before I started working for Home Depot I was an ASP developer for Gardener’s Supply and Burton Snowboards. I drank a lot of Microsoft kool-aid in those days and was an early adopter of asp.net. Since I was using Microsoft tools at work I never paid attention to any of the open source projects going on in PHP and more recently Ruby on Rails. It was not until I installed WordPress for this blog did I realize how far these applications had come! So I have ditched my Microsoft allegiance and have started working with some great open source projects like modX and Magento. I am exited to start learning some of these new tools and to start working with PHP and Ruby. My first project was to convert my basic consulting website template over to PHP 🙂

New Tag: Web Applications

The buzz in 2007 was all about web apps. Taking things that traditional desktop software handled and moving them online and enabling people to access them anywhere. I have created a new tag called web applications and will be posting some reviews that highlight the very best. Here are some links to 2 past reviews I did:

Blogging: WordPress is Awesome

Photo Sharing: Smugmug Photo Sharing

Digital Photography & Smugmug

I got my first digital camera in 1999, it was a Kodak DC290 with 2.1 Megapixels. I don’t even want to remember how much it cost. I think it was close to $800! Yikes! Although it was expensive, that camera got me hooked on photography and Photoshop. Over the years I have upgraded and now use a Canon 10D DSLR. The great thing with digital photos is that you are only limited by storage. The downside is that the more photos you take the harder it is to manage them. This is where Smugmug comes into play.

Smugmug is a photo sharing site that a lot of people still have not heard of. I signed up for Smugmug a few years ago an instantly became a huge fan. For $40 a year you get unlimited storage and bandwidth. That alone makes it a great deal, but throw in LOTS of great tools to manage your photos and share them with friends and it becomes a GREAT application! If you have not seen Smugmug I highly recommend them!

Here is a photo we took at Stone Mountain a few weeks ago:

WordPress is Awesome!

WordPress is the blogging software I am using for this blog. I had dinner last week with Sam Decker at eTail and he told me to go with WordPress or Typepad, WordPress is free so I thought I would try it out first.

All I can say is WOW! These guys know what they are doing. I read through the setup instructions and was VERY skeptical of the 5 minute install claim but I had it up and running in 5 minutes! I think I had never paid attention to WordPress because it is a PHP/MySQL solution. I was a Microsoft ASP developer for 5 years and never played around with PHP so it was never on my radar.

After getting the base install up and running I added on a few other helpful plugins like Google Analytics and Akismet. The neat thing about WordPress is that there is such a great development community to extend and customize the application. I am going to have to break open the code and learn PHP so I can do some customizations. So far I am super impressed!