06 Aug 2010

Authorize.net Payment Gateway

It is pretty rough having the “Man” constantly in your back pocket as a vendor or merchant of any kind. Yet, the fees increase dramatically for Internet businesses who don’t use terminals and never see the actual plastic. Sure, it is true, the risks are higher, but when I see that debit post on the first of each month in our DBA account flames of fire shoot across my forehead and cheeks.

Depending on the gross volume of transactions you process each month, the payment gateway you choose can cost or save you money. Oh, and the paper statements you receive? Most of them look like some type of hybrid calculus. The big companies purposely do their best to hide what they take. Why? Because it does feel like they are a little dirty, taking a small businesses hard earned cash.

In my ten years of experience as an Internet merchant I have found only a few payment gateways or credit card processing services (out of dozens) who shoot straight. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t exactly like seeing money go the wrong way out of our bank account. But then again, I know it is at a fair rate from a company that I can depend on. Whom, I have called before about an erroneous charge or fraud attempt. At the top of this list is a highly reputable company known as Authorize.net.

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15 Jul 2010

The Google Monopoly

Does it bother anyone else that Google has such a strong choke hold on the Internet? Don’t get me wrong, at the same time I think Google is amazingly progressive, but I earn my living through e-commerce. My mortgage payment depends on a mathematical algorithm. It’s a little scary. Sure, I know the ins and outs of SEO, but there are NO guarantees.

I love my job. I wake up, start the tea pot, walk down to my office, and boom, I am at work – no commute, no fluorescent lights, no annoying co-workers or grind to fight. Is it a dream? Maybe, I seem to have found a loophole in the system, for now. The catch? Faith alone keeps me plugging away on a daily basis. I am NOT a laborer, I don’t produce something you can hold or touch.

Like most big companies Google is unreachable, godlike. Do I practice prayer in order to get a high organic ranking? :} AMEN! There is no public contact information of any kind to communicate with Google directly. Yet like a mouse through a maze I run through Google Webmaster Tools whenever I launch a new site. When I order pizza I use Google Search, etc.

The fear is what Google giveth, Google will taketh away, but for now, I’ll just fly under the radar. After all, I’ve made it this far.

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23 Feb 2010

How To Shoutcast

What is Shoutcast? Shoutcast is a free open source software. As a Shoutcast hosting provider ROCKHOST.COM deploys the D.N.A.S. (Distributed Network Audio Server) to stream data to the masses. Shoutcast server hosting is a necessary evil, cough a’hem, service, because rarely, if ever, can an ISP compensate the average Internet user with a large enough amount of data transfer to serve hundreds or even thousands of listeners simultaneously. The bandwidth pipe to our Shoutcast hosting servers is a full 1 Gbps uplink. Most companies like Comcast, Cox, or AT&T are unable to sustain a single Mpbs of upstream, a one thousandth of our Shoutcast server connectivity.


Free Shoutcast Hosting Trial

Shoutcast Hosting is a platform that connects professional and amateur online broadcasters alike with an audience. Shoutcast servers act as a common hub where listeners tune in to DIY, pirate, and commercial radio stations. The Shoutcast Yellow Pages directory will automatically index a Shoutcast streaming server. A listing on Shoutcast.com is searchable by title, artist, genre, etc. Gain exposure by selecting the public setting in our state of the art Centova Cast control panel.

Bounce between local Shoutcast server side streaming via an Auto DJ, or a remote source through the Winamp DSP plugin or any other similar streaming software: Nicecast, SAM, VLC, whatever. Both options have pros and cons. While the Shoutcast Auto DJ has some function limitations, the chance for buffering or skipping between the remote source and Shoutcast hosting server itself is eliminated. The less distance or number of hops that a signal has to travel negates potential bottlenecks or intermittent networking issues. A mix of the two choices can also be mutually beneficial. For instance, archive on demand content, schedule general rotation, but then go live for a regular show or big event.

The first version of Shoutcast is a proven stable release originally written by Tag Loomis (love the nickname), Tom Pepper and Justin Frankel in the late nineties. After more than a decade version two is the new comer packaging many fresh features including Icecast type mountpoints into the beta release. However, one catch, a small fee is required for mp3 streaming. Also, a free authentication hash key is a necessity for all public listings.

Off and on we hear the argument for or against unlimited Shoutcast hosting. Now, this marketing terminology, as well as the buzz word “cloud”, can have many different meanings. Do the research. Technically though, no, unlimited Shoutcast hosting or web hosting of any kind does not exist. It is literally too good to be true. However, from time to time you may see us pitch promotions introducing unlimited shoutcast listeners. The scalability for unusually high peak times is an important element to consider.

How to Shoutcast? Well, ROCKHOST.COM welcomes you to our Shoutcast hosting family, where, Shoutcast server hosting experts help guide newbies every day.

Shoutcast hosting packages start for as little as just $9.99 per month.




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25 Aug 2009

Flock – The Social Web Browser

Today I thought I’d knock off for lunch a little early so I could blog a little love for my favorite web browser – Flock. Dub’d “The Social Web Browser” this Mozilla monster is soon to be a crowd pleaser. The social networking integration makes my work day fly by. I can see streaming Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr updates and media all from inside my single browser window. Not to mention I’m updating my WordPress blog from Flock right now.

Now let’s get to the gravy. For one, the whiz kids over at Flock openly communicate with the public. This is pretty rare and super cool. Just yesterday Evan, Flock guru, personally replied to my community question and offered to dish out a free Flock T-shirt for my interest. Secondly, Flock has introduced Top Flockstars which works hand in hand with Facebook Connect to track the number of download referrals a Flockstar sends. Once you get enough of your friends “flocking” the rewards tokens turn into sweet sweet victory – a free Flickr Pro account (25 tokens) or $20 Amazon gift card (20 tokens).

Here is the latest from the HowToFlock YouTube feed. Enjoy!

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19 Aug 2009

Internet Explorer Sucks

Where to begin on this topic is a little unsettling because I feel like I could write an entire book on the subject. Every time I design and build a new website I get a sense of accomplishment as I near a finish product. Oh, but wait I tell myself – “don’t get excited yet”, I still have to view my project in multiple browsers to make sure the masses see the same slick layout that I do. Let’s see here…looks good in Firefox, check, Safari, check, Chrome, check, and so forth and so on. Then I get down the list to IE, not just one version, but three – v6, v7, v8. Each with its own unique quirks, hacks, and bugs, how very special for Microsoft.

In my most recent quest, a fresh make over for ROCKHOST.COM, I found a great designer aid – BrowserShots.org. This little peach takes screenshots of any url and spits out .pngs for download. Between the OS and browser checkbox options seeing your website through about 50 different computer eyes is possible in mere minutes.

Anyway back to my point…INTERNET EXPLORER SUCKS! It renders websites in an unflattering manner in most cases, yet it is widely used forcing coding professionals to be its slave. If you are viewing this page right now in IE I strongly encourage you to download Firefox and utilize a modern browser that functions well on multiple platforms.

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18 Aug 2009

After all these years…

After all these years of customizing WordPress themes, upgrading versions for security vulnerabilities, and tons of famous five minute installs for ROCKHOST.COM, Inc. clients I have actually decided to blog for myself. I guess most people would consider that approaching WordPress in reverse, but hey, that’s just how it happened. Now I get to appreciate and enjoy this blogging tool free and easy, just like I like it. :} In fact I am doing so without the leg work by taking full advantage of the Word Press url. This time, for once, somebody is monitoring my website/blog.

In the near future I will giving my insight and opinions towards my past, present, and future experiences in the hosting industry.

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