Welcome to Curious Business

Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, August 22, 2008


Did you miss me these past two weeks? Probably not. A few regular readers have added Curious Business to their RSS readers; presumably they at least see the subject line of new posts. But if it’s become a chore for me to write these entries, it must be a chore to read them, too. My recent posts have only been interesting if you’re following Curio City in obsessive detail. Hell, even my own wife doesn’t read my blog. It’s no wonder the hit counter at the bottom of the page doesn’t move much.

Only a small fraction of the 115+ posts in my archives might entice a curious browser to stick around. So I’m going to finish up the few topics that I still have on the hook, and then break my weekly posting compulsion. I’ll update when I have something compelling to say.

Last week’s vacation killed sales deader than did either of my previous absences. Traffic dropped from 150 visits to 50 per day. LY I enjoyed roughly 65% of normal sales during my vacation week. This year I did barely 30% of normal. More worrisome, sales did not recover along with daily visits when I flipped my ads back on. This week is breathtakingly bad. I’m hoping that technical problems are to blame.

Eric found the time last weekend to upgrade my site from Sunshop 4.1.0 to 4.1.4 (on the same day that Turnkey released 4.1.5, keeping me one step behind). I’ve turned on several new features. The best one is a javascript rollover photo app. To see what I mean, just go here and sweep your cursor over the little thumbnail pics.

There’s also a new cross-selling feature on the shopping cart – “users who bought this product also bought…” And a little currency converter on the main page lets you see prices in a variety of other currencies. Currency conversion is supposedly turned off, so it only shows up because of a bug in my template. But even though I don’t especially want to encourage more non-US sales, I think it’s kind of nifty. I’ll keep it for now. Every sale is precious.

Google Analytics should be using the new Sunshop modules now. That would mean one less customization to maintain going forward. I don’t think Eric has commented out his own code yet, so I’m not positive that Sunshop is doing the heavy lifting. I really ought to verify this, although I’m loathe to perturb something that’s working.

So, what’s the technical problem I mentioned? Twice since the upgrade, I’ve seen this message instead of my website:

Warning: mysql_connect() [function.mysql-connect]: User kraken has already more than 'max_user_connections' active connections in /home/virtual/site152/fst/var/www/html/include/db_mysql.php on line 47

There seems to have been a slight problem with the database. Please contact the server admin to report this problem.

If I have hit it twice in routine checks, how many customers has it driven away? This is one of those frustrating things that I’m powerless to fix myself. I’ve been seeking help from Turnkey, MochaHost, and poor longsuffering Eric. Between the three of them, it will get solved. Eventually. Meanwhile I’ve been paying for ads that direct people to a crippled website. This morning Turnkey posted an easy fix that seems to have worked, so far. We shall see.

If it looks stable, I will try next week to implement flyout menus myself. There are a couple of other minor amateur modifications that I think I can attempt, too. After that, I can finally try again to find a new (permanent?) contract developer.

On a cheery note, I’m still selling some old marked-down merchandise that I won’t replace, liberating long-imprisoned inventory dollars. Unfortunately, my usual bestsellers barely have a pulse. Shoppers must be spending their increasingly scarce dollars on back-to-school necessities right now, while the macro economic news keeps getting worse. Or maybe my website is just broken.

  • Tick…tick…tick
  • Legal extortion
  • The zombie store
  • Wacky ideas

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