Last weekend our hosting company moved the physical location of their servers — from San Antonio to Chicago. There were a number of very serious issues that appeared post-migration caused by the hosting company. I will address the issues and the responsiveness from the hosting company in another post once all of the post-mortem details have been provided to me. But what the downtime and issues made me quickly realize is I need to have a current, well-documented disaster plan for both the blogs and for my startup.
With a WordPress blog, there is the website (css, html, images, video, etc.) and then there’s the database. I have backups of both. Luckily there was no downtime passed the migration period for the blogs. As long as we keep current backups of both content and database, it would be relatively easy to create a new server installation, either at the same host or a different host and copy everything to the new location. Then it should be as simple as switching the DNS and waiting for the internet pipes to switch the tracks to the new location.
Obviously every startup and every company will have a different disaster plan. We backup our database several times a day so we can always revert back to a backup should the need arise. And we test the backups on a regular basis using a mirrored database. When my startup was down due to the hosting issues, I knew I needed to quickly be able to communicate to both current customers who would want to login to the system and to potential customers looking to place an order. I updated the affected web pages with a message explaining the situation and offering a way for customers to contact us, both by phone and by email. I also prepared an email blast but since the server was up and down, I decided not to send the email. I did monitor the social networks and responded to any queries or questions from customers.
I’ve covered the worldwide Startup Weekend events over the past couple of years. The concept behind Startup Weekend is to bring the community together in a different city each weekend to create a startup (or multiple startups) during the weekend.
The event is coming back to Austin during the weekend of March 30th, just after SXSW. The weekend of events will be held at Hub Coworking which is a few minutes south of the city center. Pricing runs from $75-$99 and if it is like the last event, meals will be provided. You can register here and there is an early bird registration that runs through February 17.
For those of you that are new to the Startup Weekend concept, here’s the overview, “Startup Weekends are 54-hour events designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs. Beginning with Friday night pitches and continuing through brainstorming, business plan development, and basic prototype creation, Startup Weekends culminate in Sunday night demos and presentations.
Participants create working startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks. All teams hear talks by industry leaders and receive valuable feedback from local entrepreneurials. The weekend is centered around action, innovation, and education. Whether you are looking for feedback on a idea, a co-founder, specific skill sets, or a team to help you execute, Startup Weekends are the perfect environment in which to test your idea and take the first steps towards launching your own startup.”
About two months ago I wanted to print some very simple round stickers for CloudContacts. In the past I’ve used Sticker Robot which produced some absolutely awesome vinyl stickers for CN. This time I just wanted something basic – the CN logo and it didn’t need to be die-cut or on vinyl.
I decided to place orders from both Zazzle and VistaPrint for the stickers. I would have ordered all of the stickers from Zazzle but I had a Living Social voucher for VistaPrint and so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to compare the stickers and the experience from both companies. Zazzle was sending a ton of coupons to their newsletter subscribers although that well has seemed to dry up since the holidays are over.
Since VistaPrint offers a lot of “free” products, it’s important to understand that I paid full price for the stickers. Based on the overall experience, I won’t Vistaprint again and am completely disappointed that they continue to send me printed matter in the mail including an offer for Google advertising today. I never asked to be contacted post-purchase or to be added to their mailing lists. While I could understand that with their free products you are opening yourself up to be spammed with their co-branded marketing offers, I paid for the stickers.
Summary: In every aspect from design tools to after-purchase contact, Zazzle kicks the ass of VistaPrint.
Alternative title: Are Facebook and LinkedIn the largest Twitter aggregators?
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all provide streams of content – the content can either be created on the service or the content can be posted automatically from outside sources – typically either RSS feeds or from one of these services to another. Both Facebook and LinkedIn have content outside of the stream while Twitter is completely based on the content stream.
What I’ve noticed more and more over the past few months is that the stream on both Facebook and LinkedIn is dominated by Twitter updates. And since I follow basically the same set of people on all 3 services, I see the same update over and over again. I understand that everyone is different but I have to assume that for many people, their overlap is somewhat similar.
This overlap of content creates several issues – I’ve discussed a few of them in years past when FriendFeed was still an active service.
The biggest issue I see with the mass sending of content updates to every possible social network is: where to comment to get a reaction from the status creator. As a basic example, if you look below, Anil Dash has posted an update on Twitter which was sucked into Facebook. Three people have commented on Anil’s content. Will Anil respond to these comments? Does he even know that these comments have been posted? And do the people commenting understand that Anil may not even know that these comments exist? While it might not be important for a typical status update, if I ask a question seeking help, then it is important that I see the replies.
There is always talk that some updates belong on Twitter, some on Facebook and some on LI. But the truth is that it seems like people just want to pass along their content to whatever service will take it (most of you know my view is that 99% of updates are not needed). I am hoping that in 2012 both Facebook and LinkedIn will offer the option to turn off third-party aggregation. Such an option would instantly clean up my streams on all three services. The downside from the company perspective is that they would lose the updates that are so important for monetization.
This year I believe we will see a lot of 7″ “tablets” hitting the market from the top manufacturers (i.e. Apple, Samsung, etc.). Amazon has their Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble has their Nook Color and Nook Tablet. Over the past month, Barnes and Noble has offered their products as a “value of the day” on both HSN and QVC. From the discussion that surrounded the sales of these Barnes and Nobles products, I am wondering if there is consumer confusion from normals over which device is the right one to purchase.
Obviously it’s easy to suggests that people should purchase the Nook Tablet which is $50 additional over the Nook Color. These are the same people who probably suggest using Uber to get to Manhattan from JFK. After reviewing the basic comparison between the Nook Color and Nook Tablet on bn.com, it does appear to be somewhat confusing – especially if you aren’t a techy and understand the difference in the specifications. Complicating matters is that both devices look nearly identical and I doubt most people could easily tell the two apart. Engadget has some photos comparing the two devices.
On QVC’s daily value, which offered a bundle of the Nook Color and Nook Simple Touch, the hosts and product salespeople seemed to always stop when they referred to the Nook Color as a tablet. On HSN, the salespeople seem to use the term tablet much more loosely. B&N refers to the Color as a tablet on their website. I believe a number of customers who purchased the devices from both television shopping channels were confused and thought they were going to receive the tablet.
Melissa Perenson at PC World has a good, detailed comparison between both devices and the Kindle Fire from Amazon. B&N also has a comparison of the three devices and naturally the Kindle Fire looks like poop next to the 2 super awesome, most awesome B&N devices.
Using the B&N comparison chart, it appears these are the differences between the Nook Color and Nook Tablet:
- Tablet is 1.7 oz lighter
- Tablet has a dual-core processor, more memory and double the ram
- Tablet has a longer battery life
- Tablet has Netflix pre-loaded
Otherwise the devices appear to be the same. Both use Android but are locked – you can’t install apps from anywhere but B&N.
Lastly, I wonder if this confusion could be costing Barnes and Noble as people go with the less expensive device because they don’t see a real difference between the two.
The market confusion could easily be cleared up by naming both devices the Nook Tablet and adding a LE (limited-edition) or something similar to the former Color device. This would allow for much easier branding by B&N and also make for an easier sales experience because both devices could use the “tablet” term without confusion as to which product the customer will actually receive.
Happy New Job! Check out some of the latest web technology and business jobs posted for January 2, 2012 on the CenterNetworks Job Board. Subscribe to the CN Jobs feed and get all of the latest Web industry jobs delivered directly to you.
- Project Manager, BI Applications at Beachbody
- Senior Web Developer at Saatchi Online
- Web Development Specialist at Columbia College Chicago
For this week only, startups can post their jobs on the CN Job Board for free! Just send your job listing to: contact-at-centernetworks-dot-com and we will post it and email you the link. Make sure to include the method that applicants should use to apply for the position.
During one of the cases on Judge Judy, the plaintiff provided a printout of some messages from Facebook. After the judge went over the messages related to the case, she spent the next 30 seconds providing possibly a great overview of the majority of messages, photos and videos posted as “social media”. Below is the video clip and here is a transcription:
- Judge Judy: can I ask you a question?
- Plaintiff: yes
- Judge Judy: this is your Facebook page?
- Plaintiff: yes
- Judge Judy: and this is you in this bathing suit?
- Plaintiff: yes
- Judge Judy: and i just want to know
- Plaintiff: yes, it is me up there
- Judge Judy: is there any reason you think this is an appropriate picture to send around the Internet?
- Plaintiff: I did modeling and this is a picture that I like and I feel that I wanted to post it
- Judge Judy: (breathes) I need to take deep breaths, I need to take deep breaths
- Bailiff Petri Hawkins-Byrd: It’s only going to get worse
Maybe the next time you post something on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Path, etc., ask yourself this question before clicking the submit button, “Judge Judy is wondering, is there any reason you think this is an appropriate x to send around the Internet?”