NinerNet Communications™

Corporate Blog

Client spotlight: The environment

27 May 2011 23:53:54 +0000

BSI Biodegradable Solutions logo.Plastic. Two of NinerNet‘s clients are plastic fantastic fanatics. Well, not really; that just sounded cool. They’re actually quite the opposite, trying to educate the world about the extent to which we rely on plastic, and the harm that the plastic we discard is doing to the environment.

The impetus for this post was a post made yesterday on the BSI Biodegradable Solutions blog about a short (eight minutes) video entitled One Plastic Beach. Watch it. Behind the quirky humour is the unrelenting effect that plastic is having on the environment, particularly the marine environment and the animals that live in and over our man-made “plastic soup”.

"Plastic Soep" cover.Which brings me to our other plastic client: Dutch author Jesse Goossens who has written the books Plastic Soup (English edition, ISBN-10: 9047702069, ISBN-13: 978-9047702061, affiliate link, non-affiliate link) and “Plastic Soep” (Dutch edition). In her own words: “Floating in the Pacific Ocean is a vast amount of plastic waste twice the size of the United States. Marine life and sea birds are dying, and we are also finding plastic in our own foods from the sea … all with dire consequences. Look, read and shudder; it’s time for action!” You can read her blog in English (Plastic Soup) or Nederlands (Plastic Soep).



26 March 2011 21:59:44 +0000

We’re shy here at NinerNet. We don’t like to toot our own horn more than is necessary. This is why we don’t beg our clients to write testimonials for us — either lengthy ones, or short ones loaded with exclamation marks that make the writer sound like he’s on speed, or make us sound like we’re the best thing since sliced bread. (We’re good, but not that good!) We simply do not solicit testimonials. Not only are they easily faked anyway, but … I don’t know … it seems to me to be like going up to the cool kid in the playground and asking if she likes you and if you can be her friend. Not cool.

But you’ll notice that we do have testimonials on our main website, displayed in random order at the foot of every page. They’re usually quite short, some as short as only two words. (“You rock!” comes to mind.) They’re short because we pluck them from actual emails we receive during the course of ordinary business — usually from support emails where we’ve helped a client get something done, and they’re truly appreciative and thankful. (That said, at least one of our testimonials that comes to my mind was received on a handwritten thank-you card, a very nice touch in this day and age.) Sometimes though, we have to censor the occasional over-exuberance. 🙂

Anyway, the point of this post is that we’re going to start posting testimonials on this fledgling blog as they come in, and often add the context behind the testimonial that you don’t get when reading the short quote on our website. I think that adding in the context will show how, every day, we help our clients achieve what they want to achieve using the technology that we provide. It also shows the authenticity of our testimonials.

We’ll start today with our newest testimonial and our oldest. The oldest was received back in our early days, and is the one that we received on a handwritten thank-you card:

Thank-you … for all your kind help. You have made the jump into this unfamiliar territory so much easier.

This was sent to us in the mid-nineties by Avalon Dance Shop of Canada Ltd., who are still a client of ours today. I remember sitting on a bench (or was it a stool?) with the owners of Avalon Dance in the dim light at the back of their shop after hours, explaining the then relatively new technology of the World Wide Web. Evidently they appreciated my help, and hopefully still do today.

Most recently we received the following:

Thanks again for your quick response and willingness to assist as always.

This was from Night Sight Zambia, an outfit that provides IT services to companies in their area. A mutual client was having problems with their in-house mail server (we provide them with a back-up mail server and a relay server), and Night Sight contacted us for some feedback on what might be happening. After checking to make sure that the services that we provide to this client were working, we provided some feedback. That said, the problems had nothing to do with the services we provide, and so any ideas we provided were purely a matter of brainstorming. In the end, the problem with the client’s machine was found and fixed by Night Sight, and we hadn’t really made a concrete contribution to the solution. Nevertheless, as the quote above says, we were willing to help if we could (and we were quick about it), even though the problem had nothing to do with us or our services directly. (Fortunately though, the back-up mail server we provide for this client did its job, storing incoming mail until their in-house mail server was back online.)

If you say something nice in your next support email, you could be featured here too. But please, keep the exclamation marks and sickly sweetness to a minimum, and remember, we don’t solicit. 🙂


How NOT to transfer your hosting

19 March 2011 12:52:28 +0000

More often than not, we’re helping new clients transfer their hosting from their former hosting provider to NinerNet. Over the years we’ve become very good at this, and we have a tried-and-true process we follow to make sure there are no problems and that (most importantly) the new client’s email and website do not go down. There is simply no need (or excuse) for even a second of down time when you’re moving your hosting from one place to another.

Transferring your hosting takes time and planning; not that much time, but it’s not something that’s completed in five minutes while you’re on the phone. When a potential client contacts us about transferring in, we ask a number of questions and then send them a detailed plan laying out our step-by-step transfer process, how long each step takes, setting out what needs to be done and who does what, and the checks and balances that happen at each step. The transfer document is a little lengthy (if you’ll excuse the oxymoron) and potentially intimidating, but it has a bullet point summary and the details are there for the purpose of full transparency.

The point of this post though, is how not to transfer your hosting. We do all of the legwork detailed above because — guess what? — we want this new client and we’re willing to do the legwork up front for years of business from a happy client down the road. Sometimes though, I have to admit, we see the occasional client transfer away from us to one of our competitors. This can sometimes be a painful process for us to watch — not just because we’re losing a client, but because we see the amateurish way in which the transfer is handled. Often this is because of one of two reasons:

  • The client is transferring to a “stack ’em deep and sell ’em cheap” hosting company because … well … they’re cheaper than we are. In this case the client is usually on their own during the transfer.
  • The client is transferring to hosting resold by a web designer or a “search engine optimisation” company that they’re using. In this case, while these companies might be good at web design or SEO, they’re often clueless when it comes to the technical aspects of hosting. Contrary to what some of these companies believe, hosting is about more than just clicking pretty icons in a web-based control panel provided by the aforementioned “stack ’em deep and sell ’em cheap” hosting companies.

So we recently waved goodbye to a long-time client whose ownership had changed hands since they came on board with us seven years ago. (Almost all of our ex-clients left us because of things beyond our control — e.g., business closure, a sales pitch from the aforementioned web designer or SEO “expert”, recommendations of close friends or trusted advisors, etc. — not because they didn’t like the service they were getting from us.) Experience has taught us that, when the client has made up their mind, we have to let go. We do say that we’re sorry to see them go — and we mean it — and we ask if there’s anything we can do to keep their business, but if they’re committed then we back off. At that point they’re in the hands of and following the advice of third parties, and as bad as that advice might turn out to be, we’d be interfering if we tried to point that out. (That’s not always the case. To be fair, most of the clients we’ve lost over the years had no problems when they transferred away from us, but the exceptions stick out in one’s memory.)

And so it was that this client transferred to an SEO company that resells the hosting services of a well-known “stack ’em deep and sell ’em cheap” hosting company. The sad result? The client’s website and email were down for ten days! TEN DAYS! Not ten minutes, but ten days! During those ten days much of the work that the SEO company had done (and been paid to do!) previously was wiped out. Not only that, but in their panic — evident in the dozen or so emails sent rapid-fire in the span of about forty-five minutes — they issued confusing and conflicting instructions which actually resulted in further damage to our ex-client’s reputation in the search engines — not to mention the damage already caused in the eyes of their customers and potential (but probably lost) customers. As I said, it was a painful process to watch.

The bright side to this? We actually have a number of former clients that have transferred away come back to us a year or two later, most recently one about a week ago. Now that’s definitely what I’d call a vote of confidence!

Contacts us if you have any questions about transferring your hosting. We’re here to help.

The Navigation Nightmare

23 February 2011 07:49:42 +0000

There’s a very interesting (if several months old) article over on the website of a company named Sedo, written by the company’s CEO. Sedo, founded in Germany, is a company that brokers the sale of domains that have already been registered.

The article, though, isn’t really about their business. It’s about a variation of one of several — maybe even many — misconceptions about what the Internet is. Ask different people the question, “What is the Internet?” and you’re likely to get almost as many answers as people you ask. These days you might get an answer like, “Facebook is the Internet,” or even the other way around: “The Internet is Facebook.”

However, even if you realise how absurd those statements are, you might still be caught up in all of the hype that are Facebook, Twitter, and various other social networking websites, and technologies du jour. I’m not discounting these services; they exist, and they have proven their worth and reach — the latter especially during these days of unrest in north Africa and the Middle East. But the fundamental difference between these services that are built on the Internet and the Internet itself — clearly illustrated just by that very statement — is that Facebook and Twitter can go away. On the other hand, until the human race evolves the ability to use telepathy and manage it to communicate with dozens or millions of people around the world, the Internet (or some variation of it) is likely here to stay.

Something else that’s a bit ironic about the way people perceive companies like Facebook and Apple, and how those companies perceive themselves, is that this is a classic example of “back to the future”, or maybe “forwards to the past”. Back before the Internet moved out of the science laboratory and into the public realm, there were a couple of online services named AOL and CompuServe, and many smaller services called bulletin board systems (BBS for short). You couldn’t navigate outside of those “walled gardens“, and companies would set up the forerunners of what would later become websites within those walled gardens, accessible by using a “keyword” given out in advertising. The Internet knocked down those walls, but companies like Apple and Facebook are (ironically) building them again — essentially blocking the view and the freedoms created by the Internet.

Unfortunately the archived version of this article on the Sedo website lacks an important table that illustrates what I think is the key to understanding the main point of this article, so I’m providing both a PDF version of this article, and a link to the stripped-down article on the Sedo website:

Enjoy, and if you have any questions about the information in this article, feel free to contact me through the NinerNet website.


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This is the corporate blog of NinerNet Communications. It's where we post announcements, inform and educate our clients, and discuss issues related to the Internet (web and email) hosting business and all it entails. This includes concomitant industries and activities such as domain registration, SSL/TLS certificates, online back-up, virtual private servers (VPS), cloud hosting, etc. Please visit our main website for more information about us.



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