4 New Hosting Accounts

4 new web hosting accounts just today! Well isn’t that cool? Thanks Rebecca and Shawn.

Hmmm… Drew and Edgar’s free periods end. So it is like 6 new hosting accounts. And John also renewing another year.

More accounts in the Philippines.

I also like web design and development, but I can only do so much. And I am not yet done with the training of my outsource team.

Hosting rocks! Sell a million, it is totally fine. All I need to do is setup the hosting account and make sure the server is running fine.

Blogger™ Byebye… Hello WordPress 2.0

Yes, I made the switch. Yes, I know this Kubrick theme is not unique and there are tons of blogs out there with the same theme since it is the current default theme in WordPress. I’ll improve on that later on, too busy to work on my themes right now. And if I had links to your sites, sorry… I will put them back soon. I just needed to work on other things first.

I have blog post since 2004 using Blogger, and WordPress 2.0 seemed to have no problem importing all my Bloggerâ„¢ postings. I had one problem though… I did a search on Googleâ„¢ for all of my blog pages in their database by searching site:blog.benjarriola.com and if you expand the search to show all pages, there were tons of pages that were giving Error 404’s (page not found).

Since Bloggerâ„¢ and WordPress had different kinds of permalinks. For example… the first error 404 i got was for this URL found in Google:

http://blog.benjarriola.com/2004/07/house-blessing-by-kuya-jef.html

and WordPress was doing it this way:

http://blog.benjarriola.com/2004/07/31/the-house-blessing-by-kuya-jef

In reality, the directories do not really exist since WordPress is doing a mod_rewrite for the URLs and it is simply checking the database for the post name: house-blessing-by-kuya-jef.html and if it cannot be found, then it displays an error 404 which is simply pulling the file 404.php, which is part of the default WordPress files.

So I was thinking all of these links in Google will do no where. So I decided to make the yds404-redirect. This file replaces your 404.php and also has another file 404-redirect.php what will parse the URL and search for the latest best-related title and forward to that page. This is not the best solution since a redirect 301 would be the best, but I did not want to mess with the .htaccess file. It still serves the purpose. And I just signed up for a Googleâ„¢ Sitemap using the WordPress plugin so i can tell Googleâ„¢ to update their database. I know this will take a long time, but at least, while it is not yet in effect, the yds404-redirect will do the trick.

For those that have the same problem in converting from Bloggerâ„¢ to WordPress and search engines have you linked and goes to an error 404 page, feel free to try out my yds404-redirect.

Domain Selling Tactics

Many people buy domain names and many know about Verisign/Network Solutions and also Register.com who sell domains at $35/year who were the pioneers of domain registrations. You can get lesser prices if you register for more number of years. Network Solutions actually powers the technical backend of the .com and .net domain name extension. Many cheaper and still reputable companies like DirectNIC sells domains at $15/year. To destroy the competition in the early years of 2000, 000Domains.com was a bit popular before since it was one of the first companies to offer domains lower than $15/year. Today there are tons of companies, some are just hard to find while others are easier. Included in the many companies is my own company that sells domains at $8.88/year, OmniDomain.net

And of course, I buy domains from myself, haha and what many people do not know, (but many people also know) is that the owner information of domain names can be viewed in a whois search. All domain registration companies should have it. My own whois search is here: www.omnidomain.net/whois and just type in the domain name and type in the code in the box below it, and you can check out the domain information.

Although there are a lot of spammers that use whois databases to update their spam list, many people do not use there personal email addresses for whois information. Some people use the whois information to send the domain owner some proposal to move over to their domain registration.

Which brings me to this company’s different style of selling. I occassionally get snail mail from this company called Domain Registry of America. Yes, not email, it is snail mailed and maybe they believe if they spam, it will just end up in the trash folder or spam filter deleted.

They are actually telling you when your domain will expire (which they just simply checked the whois information) and is telling you to move over to them. For $40 for 2 years, or $25/year. Obviously, they are targetting the NSI (Network Solutions, Inc.) customer. They are proposing to the wrong person. I buy domains from OmniDomain.net for $8.88/year. Actually I get them even at a cheaper price since I own OmniDomain.net hehehe.

Playing around with Ajax

There is always something new that comes out. And sometimes it is so hard to catch up with what’s happening. If you are just starting out making websites and learned HTML, once you learn it… you find out there is more to learn with Javascript, with CSS. To make your website look nice, you still need to know your graphic softwares, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator. Then you find out there is some animation software, there is more to learn. Macromedia Flash, and Flash has it’s own scripting language, Actionscript. And you learn you can’t do databases, you need some server side programming language, some database where you have many options, either PHP, ASP/ASP.net, JSP, Cold Fusion, Perl, Miva Phyton and more with so many database options, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase, Oracle and a lot more. After you learn all of that, it just does not end there. You can learn about SEO, and techniques on special ways to do things. Tableless sites in CSS, CSS rollovers, Spritenavs, Suckerfish Navs, better transparent PNGs, cross-browser techniques, scalable designs and a lot more.

Some people get discouraged with all these things to learn but all I can say is, you do not need to learn it all. And collaborate with others. Or how I do it… just find out what everything can do, and just learn specific parts that are needed on a project. And gradually increase knowledge as more projects come in.

After I first read about Ajax or Asynchronous JavaScript + XML on the article on the Adaptive Path website a few months back when former co-worker Jason Kent sent me the link via an ICQ message at work I took a quick look at read and read through it quickly since I still had a lot of work to do that time. I said to myself, great, now I got something new to learn again, when is this going to stop? Can I still catch up with all the new things coming out? The article sound a bit complicated showing all these diagrams and the only Ajax I knew then was some laundry soap.

Although I already had a good grasp of the concept, I never tried it out until just recently, actually last 2 days ago. I was just working on an email contact form and needed to add an anti-spam code generated on an image that the user must type in a text box to avoid spam bots submitting the form. The code should not be found anywhere and should be save on the server. After discussing this with Mike Lopez via YM, he suggested the Ajax approach and I said, nah, I got a lot of projects to finish, I will just do a page reload and study Ajax some other time. But he told me it is not as hard as you think. It is really simple, it only takes 30 minutes to learn. And through the process of looking for a good tutorial online, he found Sajax made by Modern Method which is an Ajax toolkit. Yes it did make Ajax easier.

With my inferior Javascript skills, it still took me 2 days to get it work (but not working whole day on it, only in the night time). I had problems passing the values of variables from Javascript to PHP and back. And when I found out what was causing the problems, they are super simple dumb reasons. I shared Sajax at work and Mike Hawkins showed my something else. He showed me Xajax and after reading about it, it seems Xajax is offering something better. But I haven’t really tried Xajax out yet. I might try that out on my next Ajax implementation.

Philippine Web Awards

I have been fortunate in the past to be part of the web awards in 1999 and 2000 as a finalist and won in the People’s choice awards. And in 2001, 2002 I was a chosen judge. In 2003 was my first time to go to the awards not as a judge nor competitor. Everyone’s skills just stepped up and getting in the finals is not as easy as it was before. 2004 I felt totally unknown in the web awards and I still went there to watch. 2005, at least they contacted me to be a semi-finals judge again. My company had three entries this year and only one reached the semi-finals.

The Philippine Web Awards posted our profiles and they mentioned my blog. Grabe kakahiya. lolz. Puro problema lang ng buhay ko nilalagay ko sa blog ko. hahaha.

Anyway, I did ask them to take it off the site. Pero hindi na matatanggal sa printed materials. http://www.philippinewebawards.com/judges.asp

Thanksgiving na dito sa US, so Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. A long weekend from now to Sunday. A good time to catch up with pending work.

Pero right now… inaantok na ako. Sleep muna… zzzzzzzz

Pare, walang pera sa hosting…

I still remember these words from a friend of mine. We were partners in an old company before I got tired of the company. I got tired making websites. Designing and even more tiring, a bunch of web development projects. The price tag was high, but the work was hell. I was a Zombie everyday due to lack of sleep. That is why I got tired of working as a web designer/developer that time. I felt the price to amount of work ratio was not proportionate since I just got so tired that the money was a small value that I would give up for getting more sleep.

Those early days… I already proposed to concentrate on hosting alone and not to concentrate on designing and development. And I still remember my partner’s words… “Pare, walang pera sa hosting, ang pera sa na development.” (Man, there is no money in hosting, the money is in development) Well only in web development have I experience closing a P1Million deal, as well as a P600,000 worth deal in a single year. Mysteriously… if you get paid in small chunks for the deal… and expenses always come… you never get to hold that large amount of money. And the projects that were targeted for 3 months often turn out to be 1 year. It was not worth it for me having no sleep for these big one-shot big deals. I was so tired… I gave up on the whole company.

I decided to work in the academe teaching computer subjects. And decided to give business another shot… this time concentrating on hosting and domains alone.

As my partner once said there was no money in hosting… I believed otherwise, it may be small, but it was a regular payment. It was passive income in a way. Like a vending machine, like a pinball machine, like an arcade video game machine, not much to maintain. No need to have an employee at the place of business and people pay money. You just go occassional check ups that everything is running fine.

Last week I had 109 websites on my server. Today I already have 117. And I still have tons more of inquiries or hosting and domains. Most active countries are the Philippines and the US, but clients also exist in Australia, China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Riyadh and Romania. Although good things may be happening… hack attempt happen more often since more websites are exposed, and serve as more known target places. Even if there is no such thing as 100% security, I always try my best to get nearer to the 100% secure with the help of the opensource communities online sharing knowledge. Not an easy task, but for technical people, opensource is still cheaper than commercial software. But for the non-technical people, the time needed to learn opensource softwares or high extra help to manage an opensource server may cost them more and might as well get commercial software with good customer support.

My company is still not earning a significant amount to depend on my company alone, but it is doing better than my company before than concentrated on web design and development deals with a steady amount of income. Not really really big, but still a steady amount. Keep everyone happy, and you keep everyone on the server.

Today, I am still like the way I hated it several years ago, having no sleep. But the no sleep today is more worth it.

I feel bad, I feel good

I feel bad…

…so many projects, so little time.

…some delayed, way delayed.

…so many clients, so many customer support inquiries, so little sleep.

…Philippine Web Awards, still need to do judging, so little time.

…program on registration, database, etc for the San Diego Taekwondo Championship on October 29.

…Pritchon, Martal, JLM, Some work on Mansmith, Waters coming soon…

…so many clients wanting to resell, waiting for my go signals on many matters… Lex’s signup forms, JL’s plans.

…Server administration… *&&@#$%^^&#@!% you hackers. You make life harder.

…YDS Website, forever under construction, PayPlus+ integration, trouble ticket, FAQs, billing system…

…Hosting clients with super delayed payments. Don’t worry I am not going to mention who you are. Your domains are going to get stolen.

…Computer problems, still some important files on my hard disk fried by the Sept 20 San Diego lightning storm.

…two YDS websites out of competition at the Philippine Web Awards.

…zero money, bought plane tickets.

I feel good…

…my family loves me.

…I am going home in the Philippines in December. Vacation approved. Leave at Dec 3. Come back on Dec 27.

…First salary after my increase, (but does not mean i have more money, it means I can pay the bills easier.)

…New Domain and Hosting Client, Gema just paid for her domain transfer.

…One YDS website got into the semifinals of the Philippine Web Awards. www.lana-asanin.com, please vote for her site. Visit www.philippinewebawards.com, register and vote.

…Amor helping out the company

…Wifi at North Olympus home on Monday. #@#$%$&^# that DSL. Never came to us.

…100+ clients, I can’t memorize them anymore, I remember in 1999, I know each and every domain, I even know configuration settings of each one. I can easily login remembering everything. Clients never got more than hmmm… 30 I guess. Today 100+ clients paying on a regular renew, just make them happy so they do not go away.

…I am alive, clean living. God is alive.

…I am starting to learn more about my Dad’s decision making.

Life is Good… Life Sucks… But still good… But still sucks.

Unexpected Growth

I have been running a small business since 1997. First a computer shop, then a web design company that became a web-based application service provider because of the demand. Competition made prices go down, and development time shorter. Companies were killing each other in the market in the Philippines. Concentrated only in Metro Manila, and with so many web design and development companies around, the work was just too much already for the amount of money received. Many people started to concentrate on receiving off-shore outsourced projects trying to compete with India who is known to be the highest ranked in sales of these kinds of IT projects.

I took a different route, with a my company, I decided to go to the US. Working at a company doing the same thing I have always been doing, making websites. And still maintaining the business I run after working hours.

Being in the business world since 1997, I have faced basically all the challenges a business encounters. But since this is a small business, the problems I encountered were at a small scale. I already know the challenges of growing too fast, and not growing at all. Sometimes it is more comfortable growing just at the right rate.

Right now, I am growing at a faster rate than I expected. This is a good problem though since more earnings are coming in, but I still have a little fear of not being able to deliver all the responsibilities I may have. But I have already learned my lessons in the past.

And from these lessons, as a counter measure, I decided to stop selling anything. And I need to streamline all operations, from billing, project management, customer support, sales, everything. But if the clients come to us, we do not turn them down. It is still a manageable amount of clients. But we only do passive selling, only selling to those who come to us and not going and seeking clients. And so far we are still selling based on client referrals alone.

My server was a home to less than 30 websites when I came here to the US in July 2004 and I have been in the business on serious web hosting starting 1999. Today I have more than 90 websites hosted on the server when I started selling in Dec of 2004. It is not even one year yet, and my clients have already tripled. I decided to sell hosting actively when I did a server upgrade last September of 2004. Both sales in the Philippines and US picked up. 2/3 of the earnings are still from the Philippines and 1/3 from the US.

I advised the company to stop selling in August 2005 so we can streamline all operation processes. Right now there is no serious problem. But once 3, 4, 5 or even more clients need customer support all at the same minute and are the impatient type who may have some temper on the phone, this will be a big problem already.

Since last Friday, September 9, 2005, I have been having less sleep just doing some damage control. Fixing everything there is to fix before the real action comes. I am currently fearing the potentiality of events that are not even happening yet, but I have experienced similar situations in the past and I never liked that situation. So I am trying to build up my sand bags before the flood comes. The earlier I start, the better, the faster and harder I do, the more comfort I will get when it becomes hard.

I do back ups more often now than before. Information management is also a must process. I really got a lot of data to manage that look totally unmanageable, but I am slowly getting there. Just a little more time, things will be ready.

Many thanks to my all around office manager, sales manager, assistant web support, customer support, billing, accounting, everything assistant Amor Lopez. She gets many task out of the way.

Thanks to my wife who has been doing good as a presenter of out business. Just like a pro IT professional.

Thanks to my backup people, Mike Lopez, excellent backend skills, good logical thinking. LAMP opensource advocate. John Kelly, who is helping out in a design right now.

Thanks most of all to my clients who believe in my business as I work very hard to give you the best service possible. Thanks for referring even more clients.

Now it is back to work for me. Less sleep again and let’s get all of these things done. And have a good night sleep again a week after.

Philippine Web Awards

I was cleaning up my hard disk deleting tons of documents, useless images, a bunch of junk.

I saw one picture I got from the Philippine Web Awards.


That’s me in the middle, that looks like I’m going to fly like Superman. This was during the awards in 2000. I also won in 1999. I was a pre-finals judge in 2001 and 2002. Then…

2003, I was a spectator only. I had no website that I think qualified to even join. Same in 2004. I was not a chosen judge… I feel my skills have depleted, but was planning for a comeback.

2005, the contacted me again to be a pre-finals judge. As for joining, my company has 3 entries, but the one that I have worked on is only one of them. The other two are by Eric Mangoba. I hope they at least get to reach the final 5.

I may need help from my friends to vote for the people’s choice award if ever they get into the finals.