Tuesday 2 February 2010

Changing Infrastructure - and "Mea maxima culpa *thwack*"

(which I remember from a Monty Python sketch but can't find attribution. Oh well; please feel free to comment and enlighten me.)

About a week ago, I switched my domain hosting for my Web/mail domain, seven-sigma.com, from Simplehost Limited of New Zealand to WebFaction, based in the UK. Now, Simplehost are a good bunch of guys; their customer service is very responsive and you get knowledgeable, thoughtful answers to questions. On most things, they're very willing to work with people to help them resolve issues. If you're looking for a host in this general slice of the planet, put them on your list of providers to have a good look at.

The deal-breaker for me, though, after two years or so with them, was that I need to be able to develop and demonstrate Web sites using the latest and greatest variety of tools, in particular PHP 5.3.x, which introduces important new features (in addition to fixing numerous bugs).

WebFaction, on the other hand, offer PHP 5.3 support (as well as numerous other tools, such as Ruby on Rails, have good pricing on their shared-hosting packages (as does Simplehost, honestly), and fantastic self-help and support options - video tutorials, Twitter feeds, and so on. Also, doing the obligatory Googling for dissatisfied-customer reactions mostly brings up hits like this one, talking about how (except for a couple of brief periods), the only hits were from reviews pointing out how few hits there were. Chatting on IM and IRC with a few customers also helped.

So, a process that I'd been poking at for a couple of months, with three weeks of serious effort, is done with, hopefully for several years to come.

However, there was a silly-me postscript to all of this: For several days after I made the switch, I just wasn't able to get email working. I went onto the WebFaction email-support forums, flipped through a few messages that described solutions to problems other users had had, tried them, and no luck. Then, tonight, I came across the answer that had been staring me plain in the face from the very first message telling me that my account had been set up.

You folks who have your own domains can probably imagine what went wrong; suffice it to say that the difference between what I was reading and what I was thinking was sufficient that over 1,300 email messages have downloaded in less time than it took me to write this post. So if you've been emailing me and wondering why I haven't answered, I apologize. It's unlikely to happen again — hopefully for several years.

And to the Simplehost support guys, thanks very much for your help. This was not in any way at all Simplehost's fault.

So why would I write something like this, showing a fairly major screwup? Because... I'd rather deal with people who admit their faults and publicly commit to do better, than with people who are infallible legends in their own mind. This industry has far too many of the latter sort. I'm hoping that enough other people feel the way I do that I can continue to do great work for my clients.

Thanks for reading.

EDIT:Years on, never mind how many, I discovered that I'd mistyped "WebFaction" when I meant "Simplehost" three paragraphs earlier. Heartfelt apologies to both. Mea maxima culpa *thwack!*

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