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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, May 13, 2011

The Great Migration

The worst-case scenario that I laid out last week came to pass: Curio City got lost in the move. So much for “You should not experience any technical difficulties with your site after the upgrade.”

Curio City Online went offline at midnight on Friday. I didn’t verify that everything was working properly and restart my advertising until Wednesday morning. Today’s blog post started as a day-by-day (almost hour-by-hour, actually) log of my frustration with MochaHost. I had little else to do except rant at my blog and wait. Now that it’s over and my resolve to nuke their offices from orbit is fading, I can abbreviate this entry considerably.

The culprit turned out to be a custom .ini file on my site. I don’t think it should have taken them four days to figure that out. I still have their email from February 2010 stating (in response to an old complaint) “You can create your own php.ini file which you can include in your main xxxxx folder or any folders within your xxxxx. You can specify any necessary settings which you need to alter within this php.ini file.” I won’t take the blame for this file’s existence after they gave us their blessing and it worked fine on the old server. But I’m backing down from savaging their server setup skills.

Sketchy communication made this the worst customer service I’ve experienced in the 54 years that I have stalked this earth. Apparently the techs can only respond by updating the actual trouble ticket, so most of my email inquiries were ignored. The few answers I did get were in a cryptic, staccato style devoid of information. Forty-eight hours into the ordeal they said “Currently the migration is still in process. In a couple of hours it should be done and then your application should be fixed.” A herd of elk could migrate across North America in the time Mocha was moving data from one server to another. Sixty hours after they killed my store they said “Your site is up and running at our end.” Bully for them! The rest of the world only saw an error page, but it was Mission Accomplished as far as they’re concerned. Two more urgent emails got no response at all.
For two of those four days I didn’t even know if anybody was working on my ticket; I still don’t think they did anything at all on Sunday. Not until I used Live Chat on Monday morning did they escalate my complaint for higher-level investigation, and even then I got no feedback all day. A second chat session Tuesday morning brought the reply “Your ticket has already been escalated,” as if that was all I needed to know. I was in the dark, growing more anxious and depressed with every passing hour, for most of those four days. You see, nobody works on Curio City except me, so when something goes horribly awry I have to take it personally.

The consequences of being offline for four days are surprisingly light. I can only speculate about sales I missed, of course. I only did $210 worth of business on the corresponding days LY. I saved roughly $70 on ads I didn’t run and I didn’t generate $42 worth of payroll (which is nice for Curio City but less nice for me). Having no pending deposits was frightening. But three people somehow managed to place orders on Tuesday despite my store winking in and out of existence all day. Wednesday was better than average. Yesterday was a shutout and I’ve had no sales yet today either. Now I’m nervous again even though everything looks normal; one small sale this afternoon would put me at ease. I had originally deemed this the worst disaster to befall Curio City in its 5.5-year life. Yet unless something unknown is causing my current drought I should easily make my plan this week. All of that drama adds up to a minor blip that won’t even register, statistically.

On Tuesday I was desperate to move to a new web host ASAP. But I’m getting cold feet now that Mocha’s stable again. Moving is perilous. A new IP address would destroy my site’s search engine rankings, for starters (if the Mocha move didn’t already do that). It would require more downtime for at least part of a day. And one never knows what one is getting into until the first time one actually needs support from the new host. The host that I’m courting has a free transfer service and gets stellar reviews for support, so I’ll likely engage their services to test their expertise (while avoiding paying my developer to do it). After the ordeal of getting Curio City back up on Mocha, I’m inclined to leave it alone until we go on vacation in July.

BTW, this is my 250th post. There are 249 others like it, but this one is unique.

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