Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Monkey Business

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s the Woot Monkey! WOW is this thing FUN / annoying! Three of these lil’ guys came flying through the door today and while we’re not used to “monkeying around” (okay, we promise that was the last cheesy pun) we’re pretty fond of them! Here’s Woot’s fun description of these air-born apes:


Why we haven’t embraced Cloud Computing

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing is one of the most intriguing offerings in enterprise web hosting. Unlike traditional hosting where one or more dedicated servers are used to operate a website, cloud computing is essentially piggybacking off large-scale infrastructures such as Amazon EC2 and The Rackspace Cloud. The advantages of cloud computing are compelling; no longer is it necessary to ramp up servers for anticipated traffic spikes, manage the plethora of server security challenges or hassle with backup solutions. The downside is that cloud computing by and large has proprietary languages and databases which is not adaptable from platform to platform. While companies are scrambling to establish standards and some are creating adapters that make traditional sites compatible with cloud computing, there is still no good way to push an existing website to cloud based without extensive architecture changes.

In truth, the cloud concept is far superior than traditional server  hosting and simply porting websites over doesn’t utilize its true strength. One example is Amazon’s  SQS, a clever system that queues server requests so that if a server is running slow, the request waits until the resources are available. This eliminates many simultaneous processes from bringing down the servers and also solves the problem of interrupted connections, where a query is sent for processing and the connection is dropped before the query is returned. Traditional database queries drop the request if the connection is lost, where is SQS queues the request until the connection returns.

Here at Keylex we’re taking a wait and see approach. With all the advances of cloud computing, the stability is not up to par with our standards. Besides the intermittent downtime that is proving a lot less reliable than dedicated servers, the cloud environment is very restricting. We like to RDS into a server, tweak settings and have the flexibilty to pinpoint issues when they arise. Until such time as cloud computing fully matures, we prefer to keep our perfect record of uptime perfect.

The Lesson of Post-It Notes

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

post-itWhen Post-it notes were invented in the early 70’s by 3M, it was a marketing disaster. By 1977, test-marketing showed that consumers had no interest in the product. Most companies would have killed the product at that point, but not 3M. They launched a massive consumer sampling campaign where they sent free samples to millions of offices. When people had it on their desk day after day, they eventually began using it and the rest is history.

If you have a great product or service that is not catching on, and unbiased research shows that the only flaw is consumer education, take a cue from 3M. Persistence pays off.

Fight the Recession

Friday, March 6th, 2009

The mainstream media loves injecting fear into the already crippling economy. The article below, which appeared in the NY Times Bits blog, is no exception. I simply don’t buy it. Granted the largest e-tailers who have reached market saturation will be affected by a significant decrease in sales,  but the average small to medium online business can grow exponentially – even in these troubled times. Most online business have only a fraction of the market share in their respectve industries. Instead of moping about a drop in sales, what they should be doing is using every method possible to get a bigger piece of the pie. At a time when many online etailers are choosing to join the parade and wait out the recession, smart business owners can use this opportunity to gain traction while the “proverbial rabbit” sits on the sidelines.

Don’t live the recession. Turn off your television, close the newspaper, and imagine a thriving economy. For most businesses, there’s no gloomy forecast for e-commerce sites, there’s a gloomy forecast for those that go with the flow.

Gloomy Forecast for E-Commerce Sites

Annual e-commerce sales will shrink for the first time this year, according to eMarketer. The research firm issued its revised e-commerce forecast Thursday, predicting that shoppers will spend 0.4 percent less online this year than last year.

“We’re seeing a very sober picture — it’s going to be rough this year,” said Jeffrey Grau, a senior analyst at eMarketer. “However, maybe as early as next year, things will begin to pick up where they left off.”

Until last year, e-commerce sales had posted double-digit increases every year since people started buying things online. In 2007, consumers spent $123 billion on Web sites, up 21 percent from 2006 and up from $42 billion in 2002, according to comScore.

The double-digit growth rates continued in the first half of 2008, but by the fourth quarter, sales dipped despite holiday shopping. In 2008, shoppers spent $133.6 billion online, and that will fall to $133.1 billion this year, eMarketer predicted.

Of course, people are not shopping offline either, and in February, the offline retail industry had only a 0.7 percent sales gain, buoyed by strong sales at Wal-Mart.

“The fundamental trend is that consumers are shifting a greater share of their discretionary income from stores to the Internet,” Mr. Grau said. Though people are not spending much discretionary income these days, Web sites will most likely benefit once they start shopping again. “The core Internet shopper is an affluent consumer. They’re being hit now like everybody else, but we think once the economy improves, there will be a lot of pent-up demand and we’ll see more spending,” he said.

Until 2003, most of the growth in e-commerce sales came from new shoppers migrating online. Now, most people who intend to shop online are already doing so, Mr. Grau said, and when growth resumes, it will come from people shifting more of their spending from malls to the Web.

“Consumers are more comfortable now buying big-ticket and bulky items online — a refrigerator or a sofa or jewelry,” he said. That is in part because Web sites have been offering more research materials for online shoppers, such as shopping guides and user product reviews, he said.

EMarketer thinks spending will recover in 2010. “Our forecast is optimistic, because there are some economists saying it could be a lot worse this year,” Mr. Grau said.

Only about 6 percent of consumers’ total spending is now online, he said, and it will probably top out at 15 to 20 percent. Still, the Web will drive retail spending in another way: “The real contribution of the Internet may be people who research online and make store purchases that are influenced by their online research,” he said.

Quote of the Day

Thursday, March 5th, 2009
“Cure the problem, don’t treat the symptoms.” – Unknown

Cheap is Expensive

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

The ad below was recently emailed by Brooks Brothers. While the approach may seem defensive, the message is timeless.


NetSol using Questionable Tactic to Sell More Domain Names

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Network Solutions used to be the only place you could go to buy a .com or other domain name. Years ago they lost their monopoly rights and a flood of low priced competitors entered the market. Today Network Solutions is a distant third in market share behind giants like GoDaddy and eNom. The main reason is price. Network Solutions continues to charge $35/year for a domain name, while others charge as little as $8 per year.Network Solutions continues to make good money on renewals for all the domain names already registered to them (transferring to a new registrar is a pain), but few new customers come their way. Recently, though, they implemented a new “feature” that is designed to force some users to register domains with them.

As of Tuesday, if a user does a search on the site for a domain name, Network Solution immediately registers the domain in their own name. If the user then goes to a discount registrar to register the domain, it shows as unavailable. The user must then either not buy the domain, or go back to Network Solutions and pay their $35/year fee.

So far they’ve registered over 72,000 domain names based on user searches. They are all temporarily assigned a name server of “reserveddomainname” – the number of registrations pointing to this server is public data and can be seen here.

This isn’t costing the company anything, either. Registrars are permitted to register domains for five days without paying any fees to the domain name registry (in this case, Verisign). If they delete the domains after 5 days, which they will almost certainly do, they do not pay for the registration.

The five day grace period is designed to let registrars off the hook for credit card fraud, which is a big problem in the domain name industry. A lot of fraud is discovered very quickly – giving the grace period lets registrars reverse these transactions without getting hit with a fee. The fact that Network Solution is using the grace period to stop users from going to competitors is well outside of the original reasons for the rule. Users are already screaming. Expect competitors to scream next, and of course to copy the behavior.