I’ve struggled with email spam heartily, so I know how much of a pain it can be.
And now, through no fault of my own other than choosing a tier-two co-location provider, I’m suffering at the hands of a well known blacklist provider called SpamHaus.
It turns out that a few servers down from me in the datacenter a box was taken over by a spammer. Spamhaus decided to go and blacklist the entire IP range and now I can’t send email to hotmail, optonline, and countless other domains. Technically they don’t do the blocking, they just put you on the list and all the servers that subscribe to that list will block you.
I emailed them last Thursday, got an automated response that they received my message and SIX DAYS LATER I still have no response.
This is incredibly frustrating and completely out of line. I would have no problem if they had come back to me asking for some sort of proof that I run a legitimate server, I would have provided anything they asked. But to ignore the issue for this long is inexcusable.
For now, I’ve had to set up an SMTP relay at another location and route mail through that, but there are problems with this set up too.
If you are going to run an operation that pretends to be core Internet infrastructure, you must be able to support it.
As a tech startup builder, I’m intensely studying online communities — what makes good ones work, why do others fail.
As a runner, I have insanely detailed questions and some geeky answers to share and I need an online community to fill that need.
Message boards are the standard solution for this type of community and they work pretty well in many cases. I began my search at CoolRunning.com, which is part of active.com, which does a lot of race registrations. The community there is pretty good, but the design of the system suffers from a major flaw:
No subscriptions for thread updates.
As a thread starter, you can get email subscriptions, but not if you reply. The net effect of this is you end up joining discussions, dropping some knowledge and then never coming back.
I gave it a good effort, but I had to look elsewhere and now I go to the forums at Runner’s World instead because they have a good notification options available.
The lesson for site builders and administrators here is: Make notifications and subscriptions (RSS + Email) an option everywhere imaginable and enable it early on.
I’m going to go ahead and declare these things dead.
While I haven’t signed the contract yet, and I can’t vouch first hand for the service, the online backup service Mozy wins over tape in every dimension imaginable.
Helping out my dad’s company take over some IT related tasks today and this seems like such a no-brainer in 2007. MozyPro supports encryption, Exchange Server, SQL Server, open and locked files, automatic/continuous block level incremental backups!
MozyPro (the business version), as of this post, costs $3.95 per server and $.50 per GB/month. Doing the math on what it costs someone to physically get to the computer room, rotate the tapes, take them to a safe location and deal with this and it becomes instantly clear which solution is cheaper.
If I didn’t already have a FolderShare based setup at home, I’d be using the personal version there. And Scott Hanselman uses it, so you know it has to be good.
In other storage news, I’d already own one of these “storage robots” called Drobo if I had the extra cash. I’ve been dealing and struggling with internal, external, hardware RAID, software RAID, systems for so long that having a box that was so automatic would be like waking from a 15 year-long nightmare. Check out the demo video they have on the site, if you’ve ever dealt with this stuff before — it will rock your world.
Open Table powers through a Dip
Open Table is an online reservations service. It’s free to use and the restaurant pays a dollar per diner. The company has raised more than 20 million dollars to date. (original Times story).
During the company’s first three years, they booked a million diners (in total). Now, they book two million every single month. Five years ago, they had 1,000 restaurants to choose from, now they have 7,000.
[via Seth Godin’s “The Dip” blog]
Little known Corey professional trivia: I designed a (the first?) restaurant reservation system before Open Table existed.
It was 1998 or so and I worked for the consultancy ZEFER, the client was Foodline.com (long gone: Ebituaries)
Technically it consisted of mini form factor touch screen PCs* that were running a custom VB app, which was placed at the hostess stand (is that a sexist term? what’s better?). Designing for a touch screen was an interesting challenge and eerily familiar to the debates raging pre-iPhone launch.
There was a server that ran in the back office of the restaurant which ran SQL Server 7.0 and we eschewed the built in replication infrastructure for a custom synchronization app, which talked to the foodline.com database which powered the website. We were aware of the potential to build this using a web services type methodology, but opted for a more straight forward database method as there were really no tools available to enable those type of calls outside of a few very expensive packages like WebMethods at the time.
An entire class of problems existed back then that are just non-issues today. Most restaurants were concerned about wifi security, so cabling was usually run. We had to order DSL circuits and routers for almost all the restaurants because it was considered weird to have broadband at the time. Obviously it took consumers a long time to get used to the idea of making a reservation online, close to ten years according to Open Table’s experience.
If you build something groundbreaking, are you willing to wait ten years to be successful?
*one of the prototype PCs sat under my couch for years serving up coreyh.com web and email.
Just a note to say that the Indianapolis Formula One Grad Prix will be on Fox this Sunday. And unlike years past when F1 has been on CBS, the normal Speed channel announcers will do the race.
You might remember that on April 1st, I was just barely beaten by 56 year old Joe Kvilhaug in the Scotland Run.
Well, I’m here to say that I’ve continued training and I managed to out kick a child* at the finish this time.
Still though, I’m pretty pleased with my race and times. Next up half-marathons on the 24th and August 3rd. And the McMillan running calculator says that my projected marathon time is now just 26 seconds** behind qualifying for Boston.
Distance: 4.0 Miles, 7.7 Kilometers
Date/Time: June 3, 2007, 8:00 am
Location: Central Park, NYC
Weather: 71 Deg. 73% Hum. Wind Calm
*Technically, Liam here is 13, but I did get beaten by an eleven year old named Alberto.
**BQ time is 3:10:00, but they give you a :59 second cushion.