Learn From Hollywood MistakesAugust 4th, 2014

hollywood-mistakesQuite often, you see actors, actresses, and singers say foolish things to the media. This causes them to lose jobs, alienate their audience,  and ultimately hurts their careers. They seem to think because they’re famous for the ability to act, look good or sing that what they have to say is so important (when in truth most are poorly educated and not all that bright). So they can’t help but add their voices to so-called causes. This happened recently when Penelope Cruz and her husband Javier Bardem weighed in on Middle East conflict with a misguided and factually erroneous letter. The backlash was substantial and they cost themselves a lot of fans, and a lot of producers will not be looking to use them again despite their considerable talents. It was so bad, that she quickly backtracked and stated that she really wasn’t all that informed. Now most of us  realize this, but still a large percentage of her audience will not be looking to go to her next film.

To me need to keep your personal opinions and your business separate. In the entertainment world you need to be very careful as not to alienate a large part of the populous.  One error can ruin a promising career and we have seen this year after year. Mel Gibson went from one of the most popular actors to a pariah in Hollywood when his drunken statements went public.  (Of course his was not on purpose, unlike Cruz)

So what can the average person or business glean from this mistake? Well I tell people all time when you have business pages on social media whether it’s Facebook or Twitter, do not voice your personal opinions as to politics. No matter where you come down, part of your audience will be against your views. Unless you do not want to get business from certain people, keep your politics out of your business life on the web. Now if you have your own personal Facebook, Or Twitter that’s fine. Just keep business and personal pages separate. Obviously for celebrities this line is blurred and they are better off not commenting on polarizing issues.

Of course things in the news inflame people.  What I advise is before you post something to social media or to you website, step back, take a deep breath, read and then re-read.  Make sure what you are posting will help not hurt your business.  In the log run you will avoid controversy and increase your business whereas a throwaway political statement could do irreparable harm. And lastly remember every tweet is saved. As celebrities find out all the time, people make screen-prints and their words come back to bite them even though they delete posts. In truth it even looks worse when you delete a tweet as that keeps the story going.

Hosting Companies Need 2 Levels of Support ChatJune 16th, 2014

levels-of-supportThis is something I’ve been thinking about a lot. The issue came to a head on Father’s Day. I woke up to an error message that one of our dedicated server was having problems connecting to the database. Now this of course affects all my WordPress sites and other database driven websites.

I immediately jumped on a support chat with HostGator (the company which hosts this server). It took me about 20 minutes to get on a chat as since HostGator has been sold they can’t seem to hire enough technicians, and it can take a while to reach someone. I finally did, and the gentleman who was running the chat was extremely friendly and as helpful as he could be. But the problem is he is the first level support person. They are great for helping you with things like email and other simple settings and issues. But in all honesty, any halfway complicated issue is beyond their knowledge and/or capabilities. Typically they will open a ticket for you or tell you to request a reboot or things like that. So then you have to wait for the next level of support to actually look at the issue and handle it.

So what I am proposing is that web hosting companies have two levels of support chats, one to handle the minor issues and then have another for the more difficult problems. And so you don’t lose a bunch of time when you have a server down or other serious issues, the first level person should pass it along to the next level on the chat, instantly. That person can actually jump in reboot, look into more serious issues, hacking etc.

This would save so much angst for web hosting clients. As with many web development firms, I have several hosting accounts, but I still have to rely on hosting vendors to manage the day to day tasks. They are the experts in the field, and they are the ones we turn to. But in today’s world we have so many more issues affecting us, and the threat of hacking is real and it’s never a question of if you’ll be hacked, it’s a question of when. So we really need help from hosting vendors.

Bottom Line: Having a two level support chat will definitely help. But we also need better handling of major outages. We have seen a few of these in the last few months, lasting as long as 9 hours or more. We are bombarded with calls, and text messages, but can’t get through to webhosting companies as they can’t handle the volume. There has to be a better way. For one thing when a server is down, there should be an immediate email blast detailing the situation so that we can pass the information along to our clients. In that email needs to be an estimate as to when the issue will be resolved as that is what our clients need to know.