A frustrated and confused TaraFly.

Perhaps I should invest in a brain upgrade...

I am 99.7% sure that I will be using BlueHost.com for my new website home.
I like their Zen-Cart integration, the WordPress plug-in, the ability to host PHP files (for my Zazzle shop-builder!), the survey and mailing list features, even a phpBB style message board …reminiscent of my former life chatting away on Lady Morraine’s Hall of Torque and The Elder Scrolls forums (circa 2003), under the alias of “Pemberley” – or “Pemmie” as I was affectionately nicknamed. My “LadyPem” Hotmail account was a throw-back to those days.

Ahh, I was such a Morrowind geek. Actually, my first real photo-manipulations were gaming related: I attached my head to my character’s body, and I cut-n-pasted Dominic’s father and brother into a screenshot of Balmora at dusk. I wanted to create a shot of Dominic attacking a cliff racer, but I never finished it.
They were reeeeeally baaaad attempts, and fortunately I don’t have the files anymore. 😉 hehe

Anyway, if we turn our attention back to BlueHost:
I’m not a bells-and-whistles person, so many of their claims were actually turn-offs… So they offer 2,500 POP/imap e-mail accounts?! Who needs 2,500 email accounts?
To put that into perspective, our local Wal-Mart – which does over $150 million worth of business annually and was awarded “Supercenter of the Year” twice – staffed a mere 800 associates during their peak holiday season.
So, I repeat, who the hell needs 2,500 email accounts?!
FYI: Pop/imap basically means downloaded-to-your-computer e-mail vs stored-on-their-server email – like Hotmail. Either way, it’s waaay too much e-mail! 😛

Which can only make me wonder: are they using their “unlimited disk storage” and infinite domains as a smoke and mirror effect to disguise a fatal flaw? Hence the .3% of uncertainty.

I checked Google for customer reviews, which are always good for a laugh if nothing else. The majority of the comments were favorable… i.e. you get what you pay for, no serious complaints.
One man, however, trashed BlueHost mercilessly, and although he made a valid point in one instance, I couldn’t help but chuckle at his stupidity throughout the rant. It reminded me of last summer, when I was shopping for my printer, and found that bad review written by someone who obviously hadn’t read the manual first.

First of all, his grammar was terrible! Grammar is a pet-peeve of mine, although I’m by no means an expert. WordPress and I battle constantly over my use of passive voice and complex expressions.
This guy, seriously, was a flake. Immediately, I checked his name and location,
because I give allowances to foreigners who deal with translation issues. He was from the States and had a red-blooded American-sounding name to me. Therefore… a flake, with poor writing skills.
He apparently hosts his e-commerce business on multiple websites, all sharing the same script… what he actually sells isn’t mentioned, but I’m conjuring up an infomercial about striking it rich with real estate investments. Who else would host a business on multiple servers?? He probably used all 2,500 email accounts!
(If he’s smart, he’ll hire a ghost-writer, or he won’t sell much of anything. hehe)

So first he complains that his script isn’t working on BlueHost, although the exact same script runs perfectly on GoDaddy. The techs explained that it was a coding error on his part, and he naturally disagrees.

Then he makes his one valid point… in one instance, his entire site vanished… all his files had disappeared. Now that IS a serious concern for an e-commerce site!

It took me a few minutes to understand what happened exactly, as I initially thought perhaps the server went down. This wasn’t the case. I discovered that BlueHost offers HTML-editing of your site from an online dashboard… similar to a blog dashboard. You make the changes in their editing program, hit some form of “update” button, and your site now sports the new look! Okay, so that is pretty cool… especially for those minor tweaks that I make to my site, whenever I’m hosting a Zazzle sale or auctioning a painting on eBay.  They will also do a periodic back-up of all the site files, so if you screw something up while editing, you can rely on a previously saved version.
Ironically, the site did its back-up AFTER his files were mysteriously erased, and before he caught the problem. So his archived files were also blank. Bwahahaha!

Okay… at this point, I’m laughing my ass off at his stupidity.. as he rants about customer service’s inability to retrieve the old files: they explained to him that their back-up is a “courtesy” and shouldn’t be solely relied upon. Everyone knows to keep copies, except this poor schmuck. (…and he’s been in e-commerce for years…)

Personally, I’m an old-school web-designer, if I can even call myself a designer with my limited HTML skills. I created my first site – titled “The Ghost of the Pot Roast” – in 1998, a mixture of cheesy poetry, pictures, and inside jokes shared with my friend, Carolyn. It was supposed to be a joint effort, but she was too busy advancing her career and getting college degrees, that I wound up running it myself and threatening her (for over a year) with torture just to get an updated Bio from her.
Anyway, I’m from the FTP Class (a proud graduate of FileZilla), and was taught to save all my files offline, simply make edits whenever necessary, and re-upload them. It would never occur to me to keep my entire script saved on my host’s dashboard, without a back-up or four. Well, except for that one time with Blogspot…

Perhaps the techs were right about his scripting errors, and he did something to wipe his own files clean. LOL With my Blogspot disaster, a simple html edit to include the “Stumble” button wiped out the entire posting function! I must’ve deleted one or two essential characters by accident. *oops* But in that one instance, I hadn’t saved their original script first, and I had no way to fix it.

Anyhow… this is the direction I’m planning to take, and anyone with a personal experience working with BlueHost, Zen Cart, etc. is welcome to comment here. If you happen to think another web host is more reliable than BlueHost for my needs, feel free to make a recommendation and I’ll go check them out. 🙂

Note of caution, hehe: If you suffer from gross grammar and an enlarged ego, your comments may become the subject of humor in my next blog. 😉

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So, how do you fix your chibbif? And which is better: butter or margin?

These are questions that I have pondered since leaving work today. Yes, I have returned to my former place of employment on a very part-time basis.
I relinquished my position as grocery manager to a new sucker, and have gladly taken up the glorified mantle of in-stock associate, so that I can bring home my 50¢ every two weeks… my 16-hour per week schedule allows me to play “stay at home mom” and forgo daycare.
I enjoy spending a few hours stocking shelves these days, knowing the weight of the “world” (or at least, the skid of tuna fish) isn’t resting solely on my shoulders anymore… I can now sit back and observe the store’s operations with a detached curiosity, and of course, continue to find new fodder for my warped amusement. 🙂

Such was the case today, with the chibbifs and margins. The answer to those questions can be found at the bottom of this blog. 😉

Now, I will be one of the first people to acknowledge there are some totally clueless associates working retail these days… I’ve worked with a few myself, and I sincerely do feel your pain. However, speaking as one who doesn’t employ a local translator or carry a pocket guide to “foreign” languages in my back pocket… the next time you receive a vacant stare or confused response from an employee trying to help you – take my advice:

Listen to yourself. Evaluate how clearly you are pronouncing your words.
Be specific. Just saying “Where the beans at??” (in your best redneck interpretation) doesn’t cut it these days, when most grocery stores sell a variety of “beans” in different areas: canned beans, dried beans, fresh beans, even candy beans.

For example:

A few months ago, I was approached by a woman who (I could have sworn) asked me,
“What aisle are the chili beans in?”

Although I’m not a chili expert, I do know that a variety of beans can be used to make chili. Kidney beans seem to be the most popular with our customers, with Hanover being the best seller of the canned beans; Hormel is a favorite in the ready-made “chili with beans” group, and still others – the “purists” – purchase dried beans to make chili from scratch.

So, in my effort to be helpful by narrowing the field, I asked:
“would you like canned beans, or dried beans in a bag?”
To which she replied, “in a bag.”
Ah, a purist, I thought – leading her to the Aisle marked “Pasta and Rice” in large signage.

At this point, I should have taken her directly to the beans and placed the bag in her hands, but I guess my customer service skills don’t extend that far, or else the aisle was crowded… I do remember giving her explicit directions:
“Halfway down the aisle, on the left… the dried beans are beside the boxes of Uncle Ben’s white rice.” She nodded with understanding, and made her way through the crowd.
I returned to my aisle, and resumed my boring job, assuming the interaction was over…. however, shortly thereafter (30 seconds? 2 minutes? I couldn’t tell you now…) the woman returns shaking her head.
“I wanted candied chili beans.”

Huh??

Candied chili beans?

What the he–

OH! Okay. *without my pocket translator, I’m clueless*

She wanted JELLY BEANS! … Candy Jelly Beans.

So, of course, as I take her by the hand to the Candy Aisle, I’m kicking my own butt… until it occurs to me,
“Why am I blaming myself for the miscommunication?”
After all, I did ask – “Do you want canned beans or dried beans?”
56% of customers would have stopped me and replied,
“No, you misunderstood me.”
Secondly, I led her to the Pasta aisle, and guided her to a location beside the rice. 43% of customers would have stopped me at THIS point to say,
“No, you misunderstood me.”
Another .9% would’ve stalked off grumbling about my stupidity, and questioning their own intelligence for assuming I would “know anything”.
And that leaves the final .1% of customers like this lady of mine – who actually believe that jelly beans might come in cans, and may possibly be found displayed with pasta and rice.

Answers: I personally don’t “fix chibbif” (cook chipped beef); I prefer my beef “fixed” as huge slabs of steak. And although popular consensus believes that “margin” (margarine) is healthier than butter, doctors recommend using olive or canola oil instead. Personally, give me butter! Arteries be damned.:P