Friday, 3 February 2012

What to Index

After another brainstorm today on search performance we discovered an interesting anomaly on how one of our competitors submit pages to Google. Its quite clever the way Yell submit pages, essentially client pages are not submitted to search engines in the traditional manner, the keyword phrases that link to the clients are; leading to very high keyword density for their chosen phrases. It's actually quite cunning.  I'm going to implement it over the next few weeks as an additional sitemap. If it works I'll document it properly!

We had a little bit of a mess up with one of our suppliers that came to a head this week. Softcat were chosen to supply some tablet PC's and laptops. To be fair I was a picky bastard insisting on a Samsung Tablet PC which we ordered about 3 weeks ago. It was very difficult to source 3 weeks ago, now of course it's on ebuyer with next day delivery and all the accessories included. Needless to say when we received the pc from softcat we checked the contents of the box to find that there was no keyboard or stand, they were optional extras that were not available in this country. Annoying... we could have bought it with everything included and got it a week earlier from Ebuyer... hmmmm time to return it and buy it from someone else!

Contacting softcat we found that as we had opened the box we could not return it. Despite literally not even touching the PC! The sales rep was insistent that we could not return the PC, even though we had actually ordered 2 slate PC's, plus a 17" HP laptop and needed a further 3 laptops and 2 more slate PC's; probably £8K worth of kit. Nope, tough. You open the package, you own it. Guess what we did? sent everything except the opened box back. Sorry, that is shit customer service, I'll go to Ebuyer and use my credit card thank you.

One problem... I managed to upset our assistant Systems Admin in the process (Laura) it wasn't her fault, I did pester her and it all got got pretty confusing and I got pretty annoyed at softcat, I expect it rubbed off. Damn it. So I have some crawing to do. In summary, Softcat you are useless and your customer support is shit. You have cost me £1000 and I've upset Laura which I really didn't want to do :(

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Fanatical Day Out

I went to visit Rackspace at their UK office today, ostensibly to discuss new hosting options and provide due diligence for our current solution. It was a genuinely interesting trip; I thoroughly recommend a visit if you get the opportunity. We discussed at length different virtualisation options with Bruce who is one of their pre sales technical support guys. Again I ended up learning a thing or two about oracle, VM-Ware and SAN utilisation. Its all about the IOPS!

We were shown around the offices by Patrick Williams whom I have dealt with at Rackspace for about 3 years now, we have sparred over pricing every time; some say haggling, some say refinement of solution architecture!

The Rackspace offices themselves are pretty cool. 700 people in one office and every one a smiling face (despite our bad taste in suits!) and Rackspace themselves are not only fanatical about their client service and support, but also about their employee support.

After visiting Rackspace we visited Titan internet (now part of the Iomart group) who have provided hosting for part of our services for a few years now. It was unfortunate that the monitoring system went down during the day, locking itself up whilst still responding to ping requests. No real hassle as during the day a our intensive glassfish consoles give the developers far greater granularity, but annoying none the less as our SMS and email alerts were not online whilst we were away from the office. I spotted it fairly early as we didn't get the normal 7:30 alert as the indexes were rebuilt, but it's a manual process that needs a sysadmin to start it. Somewhat of a highlight that we are awfully dependent on the skill of our internal personnel, something we really need to automate so we can concentrate on innovating rather than managing what we already have!