Archive for January, 2009



31
Jan

Google Search Results Completely Broken

This site may harm your computer, is attached to every search result in google’s index. Looks like google thinks everything is Spam even their own websites.

If you look, all of the cached results are also removed. Something is definitely broke at the old Google.

google-serps-broken

29
Jan

Has Amazon has become the Walmart of the Internet?

Amazon.com runs one of the most successful and dominating online businesses in the history of the internet. But, if you’re smart, you wont use them as an ecommerce platform. Here’s why:

  1. Amazon is competing against you!
  2. Amazon will become a better solution than you!
  3. Amazon will eventually kill you for your market!
  4. Amazon is going to hold your hand while they drown you!
  5. Amazon is hurting everyone else!

1.) Amazon is competing against you!

First and foremost, using Amazon stores to launch your own ecommerce venture puts you in direct competition to one of the fiercest online competitors you will ever encounter. It’s unlikely that you can compete with them on price and shipping options and still make a profit. Since you’re at the mercy of their system, customer support and uniqueness are just an afterthought.

Amazon has a number of reasons for customers to shop directly through them and not through an Amazon store. By driving traffic to your Amazon store, you “will” lose sales directly to them. What’s even more ironic, is that you’re paying them to steal your business!

2.) Amazon will become a better solution than you!

Amazon offer the best return policies, the best shipping prices, and the largest selection of products of any place (less eBay) on the entire internet. With a prime account, I get free 2 Day shipping and $3.99 overnight shipping on everything! I can buy servers (~60lbs each), and save over $500 in shipping charges on only a few servers vs buying from you. I can buy kitchenware, clothes, camping gear, and computers, all with free shipping, all at the same time. Why would I buy from your store instead of Amazon.

3.) Amazon will eventually kill you for the market you created!

Amazon uses their customer’s data, information about product conversions, selling prices, user demographics, and everything else they have access to. Once they have enough statistics, they find lower priced wholesalers or take a loss leader, and start selling the same products as yours. If you reach this point, refer to 1 and 2!

4.) Amazon is going to hold your hand while they drown you!

Through this entire process, Amazon is going to act like your best friend, right up until the point where they bury the steak. I recently talked to a number of former online businesses that suffered this exact above scenario. Only one of several I talked to remains in business, although no longer through Amazon. One of the others had a solid foundation built exclusively on Amazon’s platform for several years. Her along with most of those stores went down being under-priced out of business.

5.) Amazon is hurting everyone else!

Now you can always say that Amazon has the right to sell whatever they want. You’re absolutely right. But allowing them to launch their new sales campaigns based on your data, products, categories, the product reviews that you’ve built up, and hours of your own labor, is a good way to put yourself out of business. It’s no wonder that Amazon is just about the only online retailing company in the entire world that’s still growing rapidly. They’re using their customer’s hard work to launch a blitzkrieg campaign, charging them to do so, putting their own products ahead of all others, and leaving a swath of destruction in their wake.

Now is not the time to sacrifice yourself, or even shop, at Amazon (Walmart of the Internet)! Now is the time to shop at local stores, at local businesses, and small niche websites that represent their retail counterparts. It’s time we all look out for each other and not some shareholders.

27
Jan

Newegg.com’s Usability Blunder

I buy a ton of the computers and IT products for my company through newegg.com. They have always had great prices and rock solid policies.

I tried to make a purchase from them this morning, and much to my astonishment, I couldn’t log into my account. I was sent into an infinite loop between their image verification and log-in scripts. After some investigating, I concluded they are now requiring Firefox users to have network.http.sendRefererHeader set to 1. Many Firefox users, myself and every computer in my company included, set this value to zero, which prevents websites from seeing where you came from. To me this is simply a privacy concern, as it’s nobody else’s business but my own to know the last website I visited. Some anti-spyware software automatically set this value as well, so you may not even know if your is set to zero.

7. If you are using Firefox, type “about:config” in the address bar. Set the “network.http.sendRefererHeader” value to 1.

By requiring the value, newegg is completely preventing a huge number of Firefox users from using their site, and subsequently becoming customers. Not only is this unneeded and is most likely due to some corporate idiot that thinks they can add to the bottom line by tracking users better, but this is an unacceptable coding practice. They have currently lost me as a customer (I can honestly say that it is a sizable loss).

If you own an ecommerce site, don’t ever make changes and requirements that force your customers to lower their privacy standards or lower their browser security. I promise that you will lose customers as a result of making changes like this. This is completely fixable, but at the expense of your own privacy. I’m surprised that newegg would do this given that a huge number of their customers, if not the majority, are tech savvy shoppers who are likely to also block referrers.

19
Jan

High-end Web Server for 2009 – Servers on a budget

This is the first guide in a new category called Servers on a budget. The aim of these articles is to help do it yourselfers build / configure servers at a reduced cost over retail.

The first server on a budget is a high performance web server. This server will support a large load and has substantial disk space for shared hosting, or for large disk requirements. There are several additional upgrades that can be used to further increase performance, namely using SCSI or SAS drives. The configuration listed below represents a quality price/performance level that will be sufficient for most hosting requirements.

Hardware

Qty Part Total Cost Cheaper Alternative Better Alternative
1 Tyan Tempest i5100X (S5375) Motherboard $320   Tempest i5400PW (S5397)
2 Intel E5410 Quad Core Processors $500 E5310 Processors E5440+ Processors
1 Areca ARC-1120 8 Port SATA Controller $410 Areca ARC-1110 4 Port SATA Controller Areca ARC-1680 8 Port SAS Controller
8 WD RE3 1TB SATA Hard Drives $1280 4 or 8 Seagate 1Tb or Lower SATA HD’s Seagate 10K or 15K SAS Drives
4 4GB DDR2 667Mhz ECC Registered RAM (16GB Total) $650 8GB DDR2 667Mhz ECC Registered RAM 32GB RAM, 64GB for i5400PW Motherboard
1 4U ATX Server Case w/600w Power Supply $200 – $300   Supermicro or other Hot Swap SATA w/redundant power supply
  Total: ~$3500 w/shipping  
         

If you were to go the SAS route instead of the SATA route which would greatly increase your database performance, you would be looking at about a $1500 to $2500 increase in price. You could easily save $500 or more by using smaller drives and reducing the RAM.

I don’t recommend using any lower performance CPU’s than the E5410’s. The 5405’s are lacking some of the features that 5410’s and up have. The 5410’s come in at a solid price and are very high performance CPU’s.

In the end with this above hardware, you end up with a very fast, and scalable server. It will have a 7.1TB RAID 5 array, or a 4TB RAID 10 array, and up to 32Gb or RAM. This server requires paired RAM and I always recommend getting the largest capacity RAM sticks available – 4GB in this case. 4GB sticks are reasonable priced at about $150 each. The Tempest i5400PW motherboard supports 64Gb of RAM using 4GB sticks. The Tempest i5400PW makes a fantastic dedicated database motherboard because it has 16 RAM slots.

For about $200 – $300 more, you can upgrade to a hot-swap server case. This will definitely make a more professional server and will be easier to manage hard drive failures and replacement. Supermicro and iStarUSA both make some really nice 8 bay SATA hot swap cases starting at about $350.

Green IT:
This is a reasonable Green server. It would be easy to reduce power consumption by using L54** series processors instead of E54** processors. Both motherboards listed above support the lower power L series processors. A very efficient power supply and high-efficiency hard drives would further reduce power consumption.

Comparable prices from mainstream manufacturers:
Dell: ~$6000 – $10000
HP: ~$7000 – $12000
IBM: ~$10000+
SUN: ~$10000+

It would be extremely difficult to find a new server for anywhere near the price of building this. Alternatively ASUS and Supermicro make some comparable motherboards in the same price range. I personally prefer Tyan boards, as they have always been extremely reliable for me.

Finding the parts:
All of the prices quoted above are for new components found by shopping around eBay and by using Google’s product search. You can probably find many of the hardware above refurbished or lightly used. Make sure in any case that you are buying from a reputable seller/company and that you get a valid warranty on everything, especially the hard drives!

Software:
This server is capable of running a variety of operating systems. For a web server, I recommend CentOS 5.x x64. It would also work well with another x64 Linux enterprise build, SUN Solaris x64, or Windows Server 2003 or 2008 x64. Whatever operating system you decide on using, make sure to use a 64 bit system, and make sure it supports the amount of RAM you plan on using. Some Windows Server OS’s restrict the amount of RAM the system will recognize.

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