APlus Web Hosting, Dedicated Hosting, Web Design and Fertilizer

Just a while ago, I got a mangled voice-mail message from someone named Jillian at APlus Web Hosting, Dedicated Hosting and Web Design. Well actually, all I got was Jilian at APlus, everything past that was messed-up. Fortunately (I’ll explain why in a minute) I was away from my desk in the test lab, performing some Q/A testing of my CSS on the Mac. Something I tend to do if I when develop a product on a PC-based browser; but I digress.

Anyway, the call is a bit garbled so I return Jillian’s call at 877-527-0877. I get some guy instead. I ask for Jillian but she’s unavailable. So I tell them the phone call was garbled and ask what the call was about – paranoid I had missed the call of a potential client. No such luck.

Instead, he asks me if I recently purchased a domain and proceeds to try and sell me web design, web hosting and dedicated hosting services. So I ask the guy (whose name escapes me) if their web development adheres to industry standards for usability and accessibility? Instead of saying “yes,” “no,” or “let me check,” the guy says “Absolutely, we’ve been doing this for the past seven years and in fact we set the standard.

Amazed at this statement, I ask the guy “are you telling me that APlus established the current w3c standards for web site usability and accessibility?” His answer was “sure did!”

Not seeing APlus listed anywhere on the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Members list, I tell the guy to “please don’t piddle on my leg and tell me its’ rain” followed by “you’re lying, how am I supposed to trust you with my business when, IMHO, you lie to me like this?”

No, I’m not” he assures me, and then goes onto some schpiel that his company has been around for 15 years (whereas before it was 7), blah, blah … yeah right, and there’s are condos in the towers of this bridge in Brooklyn my cousin Athey can sell ya cheap if you’re willing to pay cash.

Speaking of Brooklyn, all this reminds me of when I lived in NYC back in the early 80’s. A co-worker and I went to a personal computer store to check out the new fall line of 80186’s. There we were greeted by a ‘cugine‘ of a sales guy named ‘Tony.’ When we expressed dismay that the computer we were interested didn’t come equipped with an operating system, Tony replied in a very NY accent: “look … you’re a programmer … I’m a programmer … you write your own operating system.

Wonder if the APlus sales rep is related?

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Ultimate Church Webserver : Cray T3E-1200E

Forget everything I’ve ever said about beowulf clusters, I’ve changed my mind and am namin’ and claimin’ this e-Bay offering of a Cray T3E-1200E Supercomputer System as any good word-o-faith disciple would. Sure, my faith is weak for prayin’ for a ‘used‘ system, still this bad-boy was installed in 1999 and used until October 2004, when Cray personnel de-installed the system under contract with the direction that the system would be re-installed.

The Cray T3E-1200E™ system was the first supercomputer to sustain one teraflop (1 trillion calculations per second) on a real-world application, boasts of 30GB of total memory, delivers peak performance of 134 Gflop/s and requires the installation services of a plumber.
the ultimate church web site server

Talk about thinking big – imagine all the church parking lot problems and webistes we could handle with this monster!

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Note to Pastors: #1 – Why Website Maintenance Sucks

Why do the churches rage, why do the webmasters plan in vain, because the maintenance phase of any software system sucks.

Inspired by a number of the comments left here and there to Mike Boyink’s post “Church Webmasters – Stop Working for Free” and supported by my 20+ some years on software development it is increasingly clear as to why, in spite of an era of free and relatively easy to use web-based content management systems it is no wonder we hear of churches ditching systems created in data-driven systems such as MovableType or pMachine in favor of brochure-ware rendered using FrontPage, Flash and/or E-Zekiel.

This is because creating and designing websites is sexy and hi-profile – whereas maintaining code and a consistent stream of compelling content is difficult and is about as glamorous as the janitor who keeps the toilets clean.

Unfortunately, when a church needs to bring in a new webmaster to take over a legacy site they’re more than likely find volunteers of an ‘artists’ mentality than that of a ‘programmer.’ This isn’t to say one is better than the other – but rather this is to say that if this were a football team, the designers would be begging to play quarterback whereas it is more likely that the code-monkey would be satisfied inflicting maximum pain playing the offensive or defensive line.

And this is why we find churches equipped with data-driven content management systems providing pages with excellent search engine rankings ditching their existing systems for the likes of FrontPage.

After all, what benefit is provided to the designer’s personal portfolio by learning how to code and modify someone else’s templates? What accolades can the artist possibly receive for sticking to streaming substantive compelling content when they can garner the ooh-and-ahs at the Wednesday night dinner by offering something stunningly stylish? Besides, FrontPage is almost as fun as Flash!

What is needed to solve this problem is for pastors and church councils to understand that there is an effective website needs both the artistry of a designer – with the intellect of a programmer.

But before this can happen, pastors and church councils need to develop a long term plan and mission for their online presence. Unfortunately this is not likely to happen because it would mean having to understand how web-based technology is employed to extend the real-world ministry. Something that is also unlikely to happen until seminaries begin staffing-up with online media instructors.

Bottom line: those who fail to plan – plan to fail. Usually this happens in the form of schilling out to style over substance. The problem is, substance means maintenance – and we all know that maintenance programming sucks because it’s not sexy, it means learning new things and you generally don’t get to take any curtain calls.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment – oh and by the way, I’ve temporarily disabled trackbacks until I can upgrade to MT 3.1x.

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