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Minor Blip in my CLOUD: When "Unlimited" Has Undisclosed Limits (A2 Hosting Pulls My Plug)

Update 4-9-12: I’m still with A2 Hosting, but still having problems. Here’s today’s post on the subject: What Tha CLOUD? Searching for Web Hosting Nirvana – Varied Support, Service, and Pricing

Update 3-22-10: I am still getting responses to my support tickets. But no one from A2 has contacted me regarding my new contract or my questions regarding my 99.99% uptime guarantee. Here’s the one liner: "We have closed ticket RAF-8xxxxx because we haven’t received a response from you in 24 hours."

Obviously A2 all-growed-up Hosting is not monitoring Twitter or searching their own name on Google.


It was a wonderful day, yesterday. The weather was holding Springly, I had coffee with a friend in the morning. And then checking, or attempting to check my mail… I got an error message, asking for my password. Uh oh. I’ve seen this one before.

Quick, check site:

Screen shot 2010 03 19 at 1.17.00 PM Minor Blip in my CLOUD: When Unlimited Has Undisclosed Limits (A2 Hosting Pulls My Plug)

Oh boy. "suspendedpage" I’m not sure I’m familiar with that exact error. Either the Iranian Freedom Internet Marauders have attacked me, or I’ve pissed someone off. Or…

Well, at least MY HOSTING company has 24/7 support. And a Live Chat window where I can txt directly with a tech.

[transcript of my 2nd contact with A2 Hosting tech support any comments are in gray.]

You are now chatting with George M. – A2 Hosting Support (Sales/Support Chat)

George M. – A2 Hosting Support: Hello! How may I help you today?

John McElhenney: hi george

John McElhenney: my entire a2 system is down

John McElhenney: primary website is uber.la

John McElhenney: all of my sites are saying suspended

John McElhenney: but i paid for 3 years

George M. – A2 Hosting Support: One moment please while I have a look at that.

John McElhenney: thanks

[about 3 minutes pass]

John McElhenney: still looking?

George M. – A2 Hosting Support: I see that is suspended for excessive resource usage.

George M. – A2 Hosting Support: I’m sorry if you have not received an email yet.

John McElhenney: please explain

John McElhenney: I have pre-paid for 3 years of an Executive Web Hosting Package

John McElhenney: so my BLOG uber.la that gets in the neighborhood of 100 uniques a day is TOO big? pulling too many resources? that’s insane

John McElhenney: so… are you going to help me, or do I need to call someone?

George M. – A2 Hosting Support: Using 23% of available memory

George M. – A2 Hosting Support: That is for the entire account

John McElhenney: here’s what the "executive" level web hosting Disk Space UNLIMITED, Bandwidth UNLIMITED, Page Hits UNLIMITED " suspended for excessive resource usage"

John McElhenney: so 23% is high?

John McElhenney: seems like less than 1/4 to me

John McElhenney: i’m sure I’m not using any resources at the moment

John McElhenney: Can YOU help me or do I need to call someone? I am completely down, my ecommerce, my email, everythning

George M. – A2 Hosting Support: 23% of the entire server available memory is quite high.

John McElhenney: this is IMPOSSIBLE

George M. – A2 Hosting Support: I can help you.

John McElhenney: it’s a blog

John McElhenney: i’ve had a few big days due to SXSW

John McElhenney: an interactive festival

John McElhenney: it is over

John McElhenney: i was participating and reporting on the industry

George M. – A2 Hosting Support: There are 90+ domains in the account.

John McElhenney: WHERE is your TOS for "executive" plans?

John McElhenney: What is it going to take to get me back ON.

John McElhenney: I am not interested in discussing symantecs with you

George M. – A2 Hosting Support: The suggested upgrade it to a reseller account with the account being moved to our reseller server.

George M. – A2 Hosting Support: You can find the TOS here http://www.a2hosting.com/about/policies/terms-and-conditions

John McElhenney: Is there something HERE that I have violated:

The terms "unlimited" and "unmetered" are defined by our experience with similarly situated customers. This means that your use of our resources may not exceed that of similarly situated customers. In particular, you may not use our services for the primary purpose of:

    • Audio/Video streaming (other than that which is incidental to a site’s operation)
    • Large photo galleries
    • Storage of a large amount of uncompressed or full-size digital images
    • Online backups
    • Online file (FTP) serving
    • Distribution of content such as MP3 files

You may not place excessive burdens on our CPUs, servers or other resources, including our customer support services. You understand that bandwidth, connection speeds and other similar indices of capacity are maximum numbers. Consistently reaching these capacity numbers may result our need to place restrictions on your use of the Services. You agree that we may place restrictions on your use of the Services or customer support services to the extent that they exceed the use of these resources by similarly situated customers.

Shared web hosting accounts are allowed to use a maximum of 300,000 inodes. [I have no idea what an inode is, but I look it up on wikipedia.]

John McElhenney: I don’t believe so

John McElhenney: I am leaving now for a meeting. I guess I will call in when my meeting is over to resolve or disolve my accounts. I just paid for 3 years unlimited, I can say my service has never been worse.

[end of transcript of my 2nd contact with A2 Hosting tech support ]

So after my meeting, around 6pm, I call A2 Hosting using their 1-888-LINUX-HOST number. [Does anyone else HATE it when companies display the easy-to-remember letters and don’t show the numbers anywhere? Cause if your on a Smart Phone that doesn’t mimic the dumb phone you have to figure it out for yourself.]

After about 15 minutes with my tech, he assures me they will have my system back up in about 30 minutes if I agree to be moved to a reseller machine and pay the reseller rate. Since I have just written a check to A2Hosting for over $300 I’m pretty sure I can cover the first month’s payment. "Just get my web business back online please."

So I eat dinner, and look over some other work and when I check back to uber.la at around 9:00 I am getting the same error.

So time to file the 2nd support ticket. The LIVE CHAT option is no longer available on the A2 Hosting Support page.

Screen shot 2010 03 19 at 9.57.02 PM Minor Blip in my CLOUD: When Unlimited Has Undisclosed Limits (A2 Hosting Pulls My Plug)

And I write down the LINUX-HOST 888 number and start calling to talk to a tech as well.

Here’s something funny. Each time I was told, "You are the 2nd caller in line to talk to tech support, we appreciate your patience." And after I made it to "You are the 1st caller" the system would eventually tell me, "We are sorry we cannot take your call at this time, please leave your name and number and we will call you back, or you may prefer to open a support ticket on our website at a2hosting.com/support."

This happened 5 times. That’s 24/7 Support then? Goes hand-in-hand with your idea of "unlimited!

Okay, so today is a different day. The cold harsh light of day might reveal a bit more about what happened. And what the failure was.

Let’s look at A2hosting’s web hosting pricing page. The one I have referred about 30 people to.

Screen shot 2010 03 20 at 4.52.49 PM Minor Blip in my CLOUD: When Unlimited Has Undisclosed Limits (A2 Hosting Pulls My Plug)

Well campers, beware the ambiguous wording in A2Hosting’s Terms of Service. And don’t do any of those bad things. Cause, EVEN IF THEY HAVE YOUR PHONE NUMBER, they might just turn your entire world OFF. How could they send me an email about it? They just shut down all of my servers.

I recovered some of my work during the day by using Gmail. But if I had been hosting several client sites with A2 Hosting, I would’ve been the one with some explaining to do. Not A2 Hosting. No, they’re just infrastructure. Obviously it was something I was doing wrong. Some way that I was overloading my "unlimited" and "executive" account.

The fun began a week ago actually, during the SXSW conference. I started noticing periods where my blog was unreachable.

I put in the trouble ticket back then asking them to look into any possible problems. I figured my popularity was transient.

And yesterday, I guess I hit a limit that A2Hosting could not sustain.

Screen shot 2010 03 19 at 10.05.26 PM Minor Blip in my CLOUD: When Unlimited Has Undisclosed Limits (A2 Hosting Pulls My Plug)

"Don’t you think you guys could’ve called me rather than just shutting me off?"

Well, my final thought on this is A2Hosting still has some growing up to do. And perhaps I should set my sights lower or higher.

I am in the market for a new hosting service. Yes I have about 30 live urls. But seriously, only 3 of them generate any real traffic.

I’m going to look into A2’s 99.99% Uptime Guarantee. I wonder what else I’ll find when I ask them to refund my March payment in full. BUT… I’d better had my next landing pad up and running before giving them notice. Oh, hell… I wonder if they’ll read my blog now? (grin)

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

permalink: https://uber.la/2010/03/blip-in-my-cloud/

Other posts to help you kick ass in social media:

Most people don’t really enjoy being mean; they do it because they can’t help it. (from Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement

[I do NOT nor have I EVER worked for A2Hosting or any other hosting provider. The thoughts and experiences reported here are mine and mine alone.]

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When My Little Cloud Died: The Internet IT Fable of the CloudMaster

Category: about me,cloud computing,just for fun,tech opinionjmacofearth @ 9:18 am

I was well on my way to the best day in my life.

Picture 58 When My Little Cloud Died: The Internet IT Fable of the CloudMaster

Traffic was up. Pages per visitor was a dotted line of fact.

And in the middle of a self-promoting tweet, I must’ve overheated my cloud.

Cause that dip you see, is not from natural causes. It was death by IT.

In the middle of the working day,

My hype out ran my Google Analytics and the gods of DDoS came to play, on me.

Was it too many widgets, one plug-in gone south?

A leak in my computing cycle managment?

What the CloudMaster said, while scratching his head, was…

"We’re working on it."

Picture 61 When My Little Cloud Died: The Internet IT Fable of the CloudMaster


permalink: https://uber.la/2009/08/when-my-cloud-died/ ‎

Note about fables from wikipedia: A fable is a succinct story, in prose or verse, that features animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature which are anthropomorphized (given human qualities), and that illustrates a moral lesson (a "moral"), which may at the end be expressed explicitly in a pithy maxim.

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Cisco Draws a 4 Tier Map of the Clouds and the Future of Cloud Computing

Category: cloud computing,social media marketing,tech reviewsjmacofearth @ 11:04 pm

The Four Tiers of Cloud Computing according to Cisco.

Picture 11 Cisco Draws a 4 Tier Map of the Clouds and the Future of Cloud Computing

[Excerpt: from the Register: Cisco cuddles all clouds but one]

Clouds mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Warrior explained that Cisco sees cloud computing as having four tiers. The lower tier is an IT foundation, including servers, storage, and networking, and that the whole point of UCS was to be a player for infrastructure. In this area, Cisco plans to compete with IBM and Hewlett-Packard as well as partner with EMC, VMware, Microsoft, and others.

The next tier up is what Warrior referred to as infrastructure as a service, which means selling cloud computing capacity like Amazon does with its EC2 compute utility and S3 and EBS storage utilities. Warrior showed a slide that pegged Amazon, AT&T, BT, HP, IBM, Sun Microsystems Oracle, Savvis, Telstra, and Terremark as the key suppliers so far. And Cisco will not be one of them, even though it must be tempting to build a cloud at cost and sell capacity on it.

Now, taking a step up in the abstraction layer of Cisco’s cloud computing model is something Warrior called platform as a service, and this is really providing cloud infrastructure with software development frameworks that allow companies to deploy applications. This is more like Google App Engine, Windows Azure, and certain parts of Amazon Web Services, and in Cisco’s case, the application framework is WebEx Connect, which is evolving from the online Web meeting platform of the early 2000s into a collaboration framework with APIs for integrating other applications into the Web conferencing, chat, and collaboration tools that can be mashed up as IT organizations see fit.

The top and final tier of the cloudy world that Cisco is helping us all build is software as a service, and here, Cisco absolutely has plans to be a player alongside Microsoft, Salesforce.com, and Google. Up here, WebEx will be the brand. WebEx Mail, a mail and calendaring service based upon the PostPath acquisition from last summer, will be added to the WebEx mix and delivered as a service atop Cisco’s own cloud infrastructure. Dennerline said that WebEx is hosting 220,000 meetings per day and over 4 billion meeting minutes per month and that this was supported from nine data centers around the globe. He added that there are over 450 million knowledge workers on the planet and that the collaboration software and services space would comprise about $34bn in sales and that "we certainly don’t have our fair share yet" of that space. As for how Cisco will get its fair share, it’s the same old mantra: build, buy, and partner.

I think that’s a pretty good demarcation of the space.


permalink: https://uber.la/2009/07/map-of-the-clouds/ ‎

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Technorati Fail – The Monster is Out – Another Cloud in Transition

Technorati has fallen far in the rankings of web relevancy since Twitter has bulldozed into the public attention span. What once was the benchmark for authority and all things blog, Technorati has struggled recently to pull up out of the tech-no-rati or tech-literate strata and made it’s presence known in the MSM (mainstream media).

A quick look at the top nav might reveal some of what the problem is.

picture 13 Technorati Fail   The Monster is Out   Another Cloud in Transition

Are banners across the top of navigation systems effective these days? Does anyone click on these? I guess here the add is merely separating the top "Notice" ribbon from the nav, but I find them part of the problem with online advertising. The AD is well targeted at the "tech" savvy, but it’s a virus checking software package from Norton. And the headline is a bit more like a teaser for a racing game. Does anyone associate SPEED with virus checking? I guess if I’m in the market for virus protection this is as good a place as any for me to find out about it, but the call to action (CTA) should be relevant to the purpose of the software and not fronted as a game. [Cause virus elimination is NO GAME. Sorry, I had to put that in.]

Okay, to the nav: What used to go for Technorati’s top navigation points were tabs at the bottom. Channels, Blogs, Photos, Videos, Favorites, Popular, Blogger Central, Support. Add to that the #1 Technorati feature SEARCH. And finally the account login or signout.

And now across the top, the Explore Technorati tabs: Technology, Business, Entertainment, Lifestyle, Politics, Sports, Motorcycles, Gadgets, Celebrity, IT, Film, Music, Advertising. This is where the Technorati value proposition breaks down.

In catering for the mass audience, Technorati has forgotten it’s main purpose.

Technorati #1 Purpose: Provide search and support for people blogging, looking for blogs and wanting to explore the blogosphere. What used to be the nerve center for blogging has become a "media site." One of the many, one of the unfocused, and one of the lost sites now catering to whom ever might wander by and hopefully give them, "everyone," something of interest.

It is possible to make a case for Technology, Business, IT, Gadgets under the umbrella "Tech"norati. But where does "celebrity" or "Motorcycles" add. In fact "motorcycles" is an interesting topic, don’t you think. It doesn’t quite fit in the same strata with the others. "Sports" would probably suffice. BUT, here’s the rub, "motorcycles" IS A TOPIC BECAUSE TECHNORATI HAS AN ADVERTISER PAYING TO ADVERTISE MOTORCYCLE INSURANCE.

So what audience is being served by Technorati’s "Explore" tabs?

I’ll leave that one for your insights in the comments.

So what about the "Monster" Fail of Technorati?

picture 10 Technorati Fail   The Monster is Out   Another Cloud in Transition

The Technorati Monster

It’s cute, it’s failurific. It’s not as cute as the Fail Whale. But for the last two weeks I have attempted to "list" or "claim" several new blogs on Technorati. And this is the message from Technorati, "Doh!"

This is not a screen I have seen a couple of times. It is a repeatable fail. EVERY TIME I click on a request to get a WIDGET for one of the blogs I already have in my Technorati account, this "monster" prevents me from completing my task. This task has gone uncompleted for WEEKS. Do you know what "weeks" are in internet time? FOREVER. Perhaps the monster has slain the entire site.

picture 111 Technorati Fail   The Monster is Out   Another Cloud in Transition

server co-location problems

All I can say for the "Maintenance" idea behind this monstrous problem at Technorati is "I hope you finish the ‘maintenance’ soon."

And a finally a word of patience for myself and Technorati.

"There is no time to slay the dragon, the dragon is your friend." — Rashad Field

So if Technorati can make friends with their monsters and befriend them, rather than try to purge them from the system, perhaps they will come back alive with the vibrancy of their past relevance. Or perhaps motorcycle insurance and Britney Spears sightings will continue to hold court.

I’m still waiting to add a few more blogs to my claims, whenever you get the site fixed. I’ll ping ya a couple of times a week, but at this point I am feeling more and more like I am wasting my time.


permalink: https://uber.la/2009/05/technorati-fail/ ‎

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Cloud Fail – Is The Fail Whale Coming to a Cloud Computing Platform Near You?

More often these days we are putting up with error messages like this one from Facebook.

picture 40 Cloud Fail   Is The Fail Whale Coming to a Cloud Computing Platform Near You?

Come back in a FEW DAYS! ?##$@!

So the Fail Whale has become an Icon for Twitter’s ignorance of performance and keeping the data cloud under control. But as we move, or as the industry tries to tell us we need to move, to the "cloud" how many more "We appreciate your patience" messages will we be seeing in the next year?

Twitter, the poster child of error messages has been developing a few more themes for it’s problems.

So Facebook is not immune to the problems, they just don’t handle it with such humor. I believe the "If it persists please come back in a few days. Thanks!" is a tone that will kill many a cloud computing effort.

Just because it’s a cloud, it’s still web "services" and your customers and their users need to be treated with respect. I am not saying the Fail Whale is a good alternative, but the Facebook message is an EPIC FAIL.

Imagine this scene: Okay let’s check on the inventory for our new widget, CLICK, SEARCH, pause… Wait wait wait. "We’re sorry, there was an ERROR, please check back LATER."

What the heck does that mean. Later? Is it a "few days" like Facebook’s flippant "we don’t really care about FB apps cause they are not really critical path to our business" reply. Or would a cute picture of someone flogging the server, hopefully not your BRAND of server, help ease the tension of the fact that YOU CANNOT GET YOUR JOB DONE.

How about this: "We are sorry the cloud has encountere some minor turbulence. Please wait a few seconds and try again. If you encounter this error again please use the contact method of your choice: emailaddress, twitteraddress, livechatlink, submitaticket, phonenumber."

Now that’s the response I would be looking for. Outside of that, I’m off the cloud for less turbulent options, known as MY HARD DRIVE and MY SERVERS.


permalink: https://uber.la/2009/05/cloud-fail/

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