Important Yahoo Mail Update

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On Monday, July 15th, Yahoo Mail will be removing all inactive email accounts (specifically, those that haven’t been logged into for the past year) and will be releasing them back into the public domain.

This could potentially affect anyone who currently has a mailing list that includes these unresponsive Yahoo email addresses, because if someone else picks up the released email address and gets an unfamiliar email or newsletter, they may end up marking it as spam.

If you have a mailing list that may include some of these email addresses, you may want to identify and remove them as soon as possible. If someone re-registers one of the released emails, gets your newsletter by mistake, and marks it as spam, it can easily cause ISPs like Google and Gmail to block any further emails you attempt to send.

It’s never pleasant to have to delete subscribers, but it’s better than being marked as spam.

Remember, Yahoo is making this change on Monday, July 15th, so try and contact your Yahoo contacts ASAP.

 

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IX Web Hosting Does the Relay for Life

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IX Webhosting @ Relay 4 Life

Dunking your manager in a large bucket of ice-cold water sounds fun, in theory.  You imagine him or her sitting in their elevated chair, peering down at their teams, smiling – trying to look strong despite the fear that set in the instant their foot touched the icy pool below.

Still trying to keep her composure...

Yes, in theory, this should be fun.  In reality, you simply don’t know how fun it is until you’re pulling out your wallet and bidding higher and higher to be the one whose aim sinks your boss into that tub.

Managers Beware

 

 

 

 

We weren’t just being sadistic meanies that Tuesday, we were also raising money for the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life.

Our in-house carnival was a huge success, raising almost $1000 in two hours by selling raffle tickets for awesome thinkgeek.com prizes, promoting some friendly gaming competition, as well as, of course, putting that dunk tank to noble use.

The next couple of days were spent planning for the big event – our local Relay for Life event [link], a 24-hour walk meant to raise awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society.  Fortunately, the awesome carnival-themed banner our Customer Relations team put together
was still in good shape despite proximity to the dunk tank, and so it found itself atop our Relay for Life tent.  This tent would become the home of a few of our CR members who camped out all night to make sure that walkers from all organizations had pizza, soda and amusing facemasks.

Amusing Cat Face-mask, Donned by Derek (CR)

We had people walking on the track for the whole 24 hours and raised even more funds toward our goal for the ACS.

As we grow as a company, we have more and more members of our team whose lives are touched by cancer and who really want to get involved.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that most of our charitable initiatives come from our Customer Relations department, where compassion is a job requirement.  If you take a look through our pictures here, you might even recognize your own dedicated support representative smiling and making a difference.

As we walked around the track Sunday morning, our always-practical CEO, Fathi Said, approached us and asked: “What does walking around in circles do to fight cancer?” Stumped, we weighed the possible answers…walking is good for your heart, but this isn’t about heart disease.  People are more likely to show up for a charity event if there’s a predefined event, but that explanation seemed too heartless.  When we approached our booth, though, no answer was really needed.  We had a tent filled with sleepy team members who’d walked since dawn laughing together, chatting with and selling water to other walkers from other organizations.  It’s a healthy way to socialize and it’s a great way to feel like a team outside of the office.  It’s also a lot easier to sell cold pizza to hungry college-age walkers than it is to any other demographic (you might want to try selling your cold pizza there, Dominos, and not to my house.  Thanks.).

We had a wonderful time and if you want to get involved, you can donate to the ACS directly, or check out our donation page for the Relay for Life here!

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How Bored Are You?

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How Bored are You?

This may seem like an extremely odd question, but I was thinking (as I sometimes do when the weather is nice), why are you reading this blog?

Is it because you’re secretly hoping that maybe, one day, it will contain information relevant to your account? It will, I promise. As much as I love delving into difficult topics like MC Hammer pants and the curious patterns of squirrels, I am fully aware that customers are interested in things that involve THEM. This is why we’re working on getting a customer forum, our status blog and our Twitter status account up and running for you. We greatly appreciate your patience while we set these things up. We would also love to get your feedback about these ventures. What are you interested in? How would you most like it presented? For example, would you like to see a status blog that churns out facts about system functions daily or would you like something more interactive where you can leave comments or interact with other customers?

Or are you reading because you’re in some way dissatisfied and hoping that we’ll address your concerns here? If you take a look at the comments we received on our first post, you might notice that many of them were cries for help—feedback voiced in our very first medium between customers and staff that isn’t LiveChat, a phone call or our ticketing system. This was a big indicator to us that we were doing something wrong. What was being expressed on our blog could have been voiced on the phone or through any other avenue of support, but obviously, those channels were not satisfying some of you. This too will be changing. Our support is getting better each day because, well, you all know why. We want you to be happy. You employ us. The changes we are making to our customer support will be big, they will be noticeable and they are already happening. If any one of these items proves untrue, I trust that more than a handful of you will let us know and more than two handfuls of our staff will get moving on making them so.

Or is it because you lost your job? OK, this is a stretch, but losing your job frees up several hours in the day for blog-reading, starting a home-business online or scowling at those that insist on constantly flaunting their new stuff.

The economy is so bad, I might actually have to break my 2 dollar bill!

So those are not real tears, but that is a real $2 bill and that is indeed a real used-tissue...

So those are not real tears, but that is a real $2 bill and that certainly is a real used-tissue...

We record the reasons that our customers leave so that we can better tailor our product to prevent cancellations. Well, guess what one of the leading reasons for cancellation is? “I can no longer afford hosting.” Most of you already know that we’re one of the least costly hosts available, so it is thoroughly depressing to hear this as a reason for ceasing to host with us. Still, even more depressing is giving away free hosting to those who cite their inability to afford it only to hear that they “no longer have a need for their account” because they couldn’t get their home business off of the ground. Well, providing detailed information and resources about making your home business work is also on our agenda. We’ll have to count on Obama to take care of the economy.

When I was younger, I genuinely thought that my father was a superhero and that I was placed on the planet to get him fired from his company so he could fulfill his true calling full-time. In that notion, I was not far from the truth. He has several skills that would be impossible to use all at one company (especially with a talent list as diverse as his: wind-harmonica out of a car doing 80 mph, moustache grooming, writing, child-lecturing, JavaScript, SQL, oil painting…). My point is that people with diverse skill sets can be liberated by job loss because they can use the internet to employ themselves in their own business, or even just to secure an even better job by creating a site to strengthen a résumé.

Here’s a good example: Let’s say that you got fired from your job and now need to justify the monthly cost of hosting. Here are a few things you could do:

  1. Set up a site to slander your former employer. This, while obviously a joke, is something people really do! Instead of taking that route, I would actually suggest creating a site or blog that outlines your work experiences—things you have learned, things awry with their current business model (you might want to avoid naming the company specifically if you still want them on your list of good references) and advice you would give other employers. Creating a community out of a site like this is easy as there are several people looking to release steam about being released from employment. That community would be a valuable asset for those that have entrepreneurial/superhero aspirations because more could be done than just commiserating with your visitors. There’s an increasing market for job counseling and HR consulting, and whether you earn revenue from it or not, you’ve contributed something to the global community as well as enhanced your résumé. Imagine what: “Built an online community from zero to four-thousand by providing valuable, original resources and consulting. Please see www.HireMe.com/about for more information.” could do for your résumé…
  2. Create a site to show-off. Set up a site with a forum to discuss hobbies with friends, organize gatherings or anything related to things that you’re good at. Throw videos, pictures, artwork, lessons (if you have a teachable hobby) on your site and then bask in self-satisfaction.
  3. Resell your hosting account. Do you know someone who is constantly talking about his/her ideas but not actually doing anything with them? Sell them a portion of your account to get them started! They can still develop their domain with your hosting and you won’t have to worry about bandwidth or transfer (because it’s unlimited) and you set the price. You can even buy a domain for someone as a gift and host it on your account, free. No more need to read holiday or special-occasion wish-lists. Just give everyone hosting! That includes Mom (Mother’s Day is coming up in the US!), your brother, your 7-year old daughter (she has to learn sometime!) , etc…

I think it’s safe to say that most of you could come up with better ways to use your hosting account. When we get our customer forum ready to go, please feel free to inform fellow customers how to make the most out of their account; if not for us, then for the economy.

Thanks for reading!

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Migration: 1 Year Anniversary in Ohio!

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Migration- noun. Fleeing the coop for bigger, better things.

Migration- noun. Fleeing the coop for bigger, better things.

[Our design team was obviously too busy for this post.]

Moving

When I was a kid, if my mom had sat me down, looked me squarely in the eyes and said: “Son, we’re moving,” I would have been furious.  Firstly, because I’m female and it wouldn’t be the first time she called me “son” and secondly, because I hate moving.  I like getting to know my area, seeking out the best neighbors to spy on and knowing the full story behind why, for example, the squirrel in our backyard is courting a lawn gnome.

lunchables

In essence, moving for a child means being stuck with whatever Mom made.

To a child, moving means exchanging friends that would have willingly traded their superior lunch for your own if it meant 10 minutes on your Nintendo DS for new friends that wouldn’t trust your lunch even if came straight out of a factory-sealed Lunchables ™ box.

Worse, they don’t even know what you own yet, so how can you lunch-leverage?

This is kind of how we felt when we moved our data center from Hopkinsville, Kentucky to Columbus, Ohio almost exactly one year ago.  Except…in our adaptation, we were not planning on filling lawn gnomes with acorns to attract local squirrels and we certainly weren’t playing with anything “Nintendo” as servers and workstations took up most of our time (though our Mom’s were still probably making most of our lunches).

Actually, our move was not very much at all like what I just described, so I’m going to let everyone else describe it for you…I at least contributed the breathtakingly beautiful migration picture up top.

On the Move:

In the words of our CEO, Fathi Said: “This move made it possible for us to focus on what really matters: customer service.  Bandwidth and space restrictions have not been an issue since and we’re able to find highly talented staff in Columbus.  I am very pleased that we’re well in schedule for 2009…a year to bear many fruits of the same kind: service, service, service!”

Our VP of Systems Operations, Rick said the following: “Thankfully, our move brought us to Columbus, which is a very nice place with good people and many opportunities. I’m glad I made the move up along with IX. With a world class data center and lots of bandwidth connectivity available, I look forward to our continued growth and development.”

The always-friendly Chris Testerman (Director of Sales) had a lot more to say: “When I think of the move, the memories that stick out the most are of our team the night of the big move. I was working in the Kentucky office at the time and had signed up to come out in the middle of the night to do the worst thing imaginable. We were going to violate the sacred law. We had to unplug servers. Hand to hand we passed servers filled with family photos and private thoughts. This one probably held someone’s family business and that one could have stored the corporate brands of someone else. It just felt .. …. BIG. A year later, I’m excited about the big changes we’ve made and the bigger improvements we are working on for the future. Things that just wouldn’t have been possible without the move. I’m glad we’ve made the investment in our customers and ourselves. But what really gets me excited, what makes me glad to come into work everyday, is that sense of commitment to each other, and to each customer that I saw the night we all came together to move your servers.”

Tiberiu Ungureanu (affectionately known as “Tibi”) is a customer-favorite for his vast amount of knowledge and complete willingness to go above and beyond for each customer. He said of the move: “I already feel as though I am a pro at moving. Coming from Bucharest (Romania’s capital) to Kentucky was not an easy task. I had become accustomed to noise, insane traffic, plenty of people surrounding you at all times, the Romanian language…but Kentucky was a different kind of place. Just as I was getting used to my new home, we were told of the upcoming move to Columbus, Ohio. Honestly, I was pretty excited. Like any man, I like extremely fast, low-latency, zero packet-loss, totally amazing bandwidth served on a platter of redundant fiber-optic loops. Well, maybe these are not the wishes of “any” man, but they are certainly the wishes of any Senior Network Engineer who cares about his customers…and these were things that Columbus offered us.”

Thanks for reading! Keep the comments coming!

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We Don’t Want to Leave You in the Dark

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…like our night shift system administrators were on March 30th.

I should probably start this post by introducing you to our VP of Systems Operations, Rick. This is a person who is not only passionate about his job, but also highly intelligent and creative.

OK, enough of the positive. He’s a little crazy. His insanity does happen to be almost wholly attached to the safety of the data center (he’s a really cool guy otherwise), but that insanity is there and it is something worth poking fun at.

Super, High-Tech Tea and Coffee Station

Super-High-Tech Tea and Coffee Station

Danger: Tea and Coffee May Cost You More Here Than it Does at Starbucks

For example, when our team decided to create a coffee and tea station in the kitchen (it’s not even as elaborate as I just made it sound…see photo), Rick immediately felt the need to establish regulations. We are not allowed to leave the “station” until whatever process we initiated is complete, and then when it is complete, we must unplug every surrounding appliance. If we use the microwave, we must watch it like a hawk—watch it like that microwave could steal our livelihood at any moment. You know why? Because it can. At least, that’s what Rick thinks. Any of these appliances can start a fire, which could spread if our fire-suppression system doesn’t kick in, which could enable that fire to somehow reach the servers, which could melt our customer data, which could make our customers very angry with us, which would make us very angry with ourselves, which could sink our business.

All for a plate of bland, re-heated Chinese food.

If Rick is this way about appliances that lie hundreds of yards away from the actual servers, imagine how he careful he is about the servers themselves. Our data center is about as redundant as they come—millions of dollars went into making it this way.

Well, in the middle of the night on March the 30th, a power line went down in our corporate park. All buildings in the complex (from one end of Dividend Dr to the other) lost power. No problem, right? We have backup generators, backup batteries…we even have the energy Rick’s undying concern for the data center would provide if we could only find a way to harness it. Unfortunately, one branch of our backup setup failed (namely, a generator) and a good percentage of the machinery we need for operations was left powerless (namely, our network). Fortunately, our network was back up fairly rapidly (within minutes) and it didn’t take long for the servers to catch up.

For those of you that experienced outages, however short, we are unbelievably sorry. We were able to quickly return to status quo, but many of our customers still experienced downtime and we know that this is unacceptable. We are really, really sorry.

The issue that we had with the power loss is being investigated with the utmost priority because we don’t want anything like this happening again… and neither does Rick. I came late onto the scene (at about 2 AM, when the power had been long-restored and the servers were coming back up from their temporary, power-starvation induced sleep), but I knew Rick was still inside because his car was parked parallel to the building, nearly on the sidewalk entryway and I could still hear the echo of his tires screeching against pavement. When I got inside, the root of the problem had been taken care of, but we had another problem. Our main System Administrator/Network Engineer had clearly arrived straight out of bed, wearing MC Hammer pants… and he was doing so without shame.

While this event that took place never should have happened, we are going through great pains to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. (The downtime, that is. We haven’t yet decided what to do about those pants.) We, again, are terribly sorry for any downtime that was caused by this downed line, though we were fortunate that it happened at such an odd hour of the night. If we find out that the line went down because it was hit and knocked over by a clumsy driver, we’ll make sure to find and then glare at them on behalf of all of us.

We’re sorry, we’re sorry, we’re sorry! (I can be redundant too!)

Thanks for reading!

Michelle Schroeder

P.S. If you want to look like one of our very own sysadmins, you can get your own set of updated, metallic MC Hammer pants for one payment of only $19.95 from this website. Oh wait, I’m sorry. I put the decimal where I thought it belonged, not where it actually was… Turns out that the net-a-porter site has nudged the price into the “can’t touch this” range: $1,995.00.

That site will even suggest what to pair with them, though I personally think this other site does a better job in helping you achieve the whole “MC Hammer” package: http://www.ehow.com/how_2058695_dress-like-mc-hammer.html.

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We're Always There When You Need Us The Most!

Your Dedicated Support

At IX, we take care of our customers. And dedicated support is one of the ways we prove to you again and again that we are here to help you every step of the way, regardless of your skill level. With IX dedicated support, you get a support technician personally assigned to assist you. You get their name, number, email, social media connections, and work schedule! It's just one more facet of our service which proves our deeply rooted belief that being a great hosting provider requires more than just cutting-edge technologies, but the best in support and service.