And Justice For All…

Army Guy I’m not sure whether I’ve ever posted the following analogy, but I’ll say it again anyway: I often feel like I’m a soldier and the internet is my battlefield.

Some days, I’m just trying to survive without getting my head blown off. “What are we fighting for Sarge???”

Other days, like today, I crawl out of my foxhole and say “Today is the day I’m going to accomplish something. Today is the day I strike fear in my enemies.”

If you ever sit near me when I’m code-slinging, with fresh ideas and new ways of doing business pouring out like pure gold, you’ll swear you heard the distant sound of machine guns and heavy artillery. “One” by Metallica on the MP3 player perhaps.

Like any battlefield we have our battles won and battles lost. Suffering some casualties short term is generally accepted if it means winning the war. Nobody has been killed yet on the BOTW job that I know of; though I think one may have lost a leg. But we have excellent medics who can get you patched up lickety split: “Now get back out there soldier and fight the good fight!”

So let’s get into some specifics of what has me particularly stoked today. Our customer account portal, where one signs in to manage one’s listings and sponsorships, definitely has been “shelled” particularly hard. Countless changes and many bandaid solutions have been implemented to keep up with the needs of our paying clientele.

There is one problem that won’t go away with just a bandaid however. Lately, the growing success of our reseller program has led many to realize that each account only gets one credit card tied to it, and if you submit with the same email address, if you use a credit card belonging to a client of yours, that credit card is going to overwrite the one in your account. We had assumed, for anyone submitting with a certain email address, that the credit card being used to submit, must be the latest and most up-to-date for the account. So whatever was there before gets overwritten. You follow? It’s ok if you don’t; we’re going to address it regardless!

Another shortcoming in the customer account is the fact that you only have one address on file, and that might not be the address where you want your reseller commission check to be sent.

We’ve been toiling day and night on these and other issues, stockpiling rations and arming ourselves to the teeth, and we’ve come up with a whole migration plan to allow multiple credit cards per customer account and allow listings and sponsorships to use different credit cards within that account.

We’re also going to allow commission payments to be made via Paypal (barring any last minute non-technical issues with doing so), which I’d wager will come in handy especially for our overseas resellers. Also there are various cosmetic tweaks and retooling of some features to make them easier to use and more intuitive. Pretty exciting times for an area that hasn’t received too much love in the overall scheme of things.

The changeover should happen at some point over the next week or so. But it won’t happen until we’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s. Better to take a few extra days and really get it right. So back to the trenches I go. See you on the other side.

Begin with the End in Mind

Most bibliophiles know that books can transport a person to places they could not go otherwise. When one truly realizes the value of a great book, it is because of the potentially life changing experience some books offer the reader. One of those books, which has been on the business bestsellers list and sold 10 millions copies since 1990, is Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. One of the habits discussed is: “Learn to Begin with the End in Mind”. Have an eye on the goal and let your proactive vision take you there.

Best of the Web is a continual work in progress. One of the most enjoyable aspects of entering sites in the directory is the vision for not only the present, but for the future. Every time a quality site is entered, it is as if some permanent (as long as that site remains) record is put on file for the benefit of all who choose to utilize it.

In recent weeks, I have personally been working on a project which has taken me on an engaging and educational journey to many places in American society. I have been to almost every state and several cities within those states, entering informative sites for the regional section of the directory. It is enjoyable to note the many facets of historical, cultural, creative and entrepreneurial pursuits of people in our society. I run across so many unique sites in totally unexpected places. For instance, tonight I found a restaurant that was actually established in 1743. There are photos showing this restaurant at a time when people parked their horses at a hitching post. There are many resources that demonstrate the creative spirit of people in our society who have carved a niche for themselves doing something that is truly innovative.

So, next time you are browsing the directory, step into regional. Take a journey from the shores of California to the majestic mountains of Colorado or the wild frontier of Montana and then move on to the Heartland or the busy streets of New York City. Discover new places or learn something new about places for which you are already familiar. You never know, you might experience new appreciation for our diversity after this adventurous cyber trek through the many regions of our society.

We’re #3

grabperf.orgThe good news is that a couple of months ago our blog search was added to GrabPERF, a blog performance monitoring site. We are included amongst some industry titans, including Mozilla, WordPress, Google, CNN, Digg, Technorati, and more.

The bad news is that according to their speed metrics, we currently rank as the third slowest of the sites that they monitor. The short term goal is to get any of the BOTW searches out of the red, and into the yellow. If you notice the actual times they aren’t too shabby. The two+ word search is the one that is sending us into the red zone with a 3.5961 second average speed on searches. Compared to a search on Google, who provides an impressive time of less than 1/3 of a second, we are far behind. However, if you compare us to a matching query on Technorati, with a time of 2.5213 seconds, and we are not too far off the mark.

Our one word search shaves more than a second off the total time, clocking in at 2.1754 seconds. This time actually beats the times for the same search set by both Technorati and IceRocket, who time in at 2.1794 and 2.4597 seconds respectively.

So this puts us on the map, and gives us some performance goals to work towards. Quite frankly, I am more concerned with the quality of the results provided. Our search product is only as good as the sites that we have listed in the blog directory. What does a fraction of a second matter if the quality of the product is less than excellent? Going forward we will maintain our focus on adding quality blogs to the BOTW Blog Directory, while continuing to improve on the technology behind the scenes.

I am proud to be included on the list, even bringing up the rear. Props to BOTW CTO, David Frank, and all technology hands involved with the development. I look forward to seeing what we can do in the months to come.

Note: all times and rankings are as of the time of this writing. I know that they are bound to fluctuate, but for this moment in time, all of the above stats are correct.

Win a Mac

Mac Book ProTwo years ago, BOTW launched it’s first monthly promotional offering. We offered the promotion to members as a means of showing our gratitude for their continued support. We understand that without the support of our members, we would not be as successful as we are today. Our members are our strongest evangelists, and as such, we are pleased to offer promotions regularly.

In recognition of the second anniversary of our promotions, we are happy to offer our best promotion ever. For the month of May, we are offering submissions at a 10% discount. For each submission you make using the promotional code, you will instantly save 10% off all submissions. Good deal, right?

Not enough? OK. For each submisison using the promotional code, you will be entered to win an Apple 17″ Mac Book Pro. You read correctly. We are giving away a top-of-the-line Apple laptop to one lucky winner. Don’t like the 17″? Not a problem – you can choose the 15″ or 12″ model if you prefer. We understand that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all, so the choice is yours.

Have a handful of sites that you’d like to submit? No worries. For each submission, you get a separate entry. So, increase your odds of winning by submitting multiple sites. Each submission will increase your odds of winning this fantastic laptop. The offer is good only for the month of May, so start submitting now. The winner will be drawn on Friday, June 2, and notified later that afternoon.

To get started, head on over to BOTW, or go directly to the submit site page. During step 2 of the submission process, enter the following promotional code: WINMAC. Continue through the submission process. By using the code, you will save 10% on submissions, and automatically be entered to win. Don’t delay. Only one person will win – why shouldn’t it be you?

Thanks again for the continued support! Good luck.