Author Archives: Shane

Dinosaurs Still Live… in Sales

I was a tad shocked by something I read the other day relating to current salespeople and their clients. The article in question, Consider Retooling Your Sales Team by “eyes on sales” discusses sales methods and how to spot the salespeople on your team who are leftover from the Jurassic age.

Ahh, the old fashioned salesperson.

This article quotes research done by “The Sales Board” and shows that surveyed buyers say “95% of salespeople talk too much” and “82% of salespeople can’t differentiate themselves from their competition“. The article also states that “86% of salespeople ask the wrong questions” and “only 18% of salespeople can close without needing to offer discounts or incentives of some kind“.

At first I was taken aback by the “talk too much” and “can’t differentiate themselves” percentages. I mean, for years we’ve been advised by experts and our clients to ditch the old fast-talking hard sell for a more consultative selling style. Yet looking at these statistics seems to indicate we’re heading in the opposite direction. After the initial shock wore off the pessimist in me piped up to remind me that people and business can be very slow to change. So really, it’s not that surprising.

This brings us to the point of my article. I have some thoughts to throw by you. First off, can we all agree it’s easy to blame the salesperson? They are the front line, the person in your face, and that’s typically where most would direct the blame. But let’s look beyond that.

How often do you see job ads that state something comparable to: “must be able to sell snow to Eskimos”. I see it regularly.  The latest was only a few days ago. This indicates there are businesses out there who are feeding the Dinosaurs and keeping them healthy and strong. You can argue that it’s a cliched way of saying, “we want a great salesperson”, but on a deeper level I feel the company is more concerned about selling a product than their customers’ needs.

It’s very rare that I see an ad stating something like: “Need a sales consultant who cares about our clients, who will listen to them, help them and their businesses to grow and excel. Be the face of our company and show them we care about their success”. What I do see is, ‘Must be results oriented, meet and exceed sales figures, cold call, fast paced, good presentation skills, driven and motivated, great talker, must live and breath sales’. I’m probably being a bit one-sided here but I’m doing it to send a message.

Here’s something to consider, let’s say a salesperson needs to close some deals to hit a monthly target or, worse, needs a commission to pay their bills. What happens to a person in that situation? The natural instinct may be to try to force a deal and convince someone to buy. That could be when the whole fast-talking, hard sell, pushing the product mentality comes out. This could very well be the product of survival instinct.

Company dinosaur surrounded by their sales force sighted in the wild business streets.

I would suggest to companies to look further into their situation. Is the hiring of sales people the same as it’s always been? Is the company sending the wrong signals to their sales staff? Is product knowledge being provided properly? Are goals being set the same old fashioned way? Has the right environment been created for the Dinosaurs to evolve into a consulting salesperson? The change has to come from everywhere not just the salesperson.

I find these statistics very intriguing and would like to delve deeper into the potential reasons behind them. In the meantime, what’s your view and opinion on it?

1 Reason Why Your Company Should be Blogging

Blog Image

Should Your Company Blog?

Do you believe a blog is important for your company? If you said no it wouldn’t be a big surprise. Chances are most businesses wouldn’t think so. For example, according to research by Socialtext released in December of 2009 only 15.8% of the Fortune 500 companies are blogging. If you’re a Fortune 500 company then you probably don’t have to worry about it. If not, you’re likely hungry for more business so you may want to reconsider.

Why, you ask? An interesting study from HubSpot came out in January of 2010. HubSpot looked at 2,300 of their customers and found a trend. Businesses that were actively blogging had 126% more monthly leads than non blogging companies. Yes, 126% more monthly leads. On average the non blogging companies did grow their leads by 73% but the blogging businesses saw their lead growth shoot up 165%. According to HubSpot this statistic is relevant regardless of the blogging platform.

You may argue that this study doesn’t prove blogs are the one and only reason for this. I would argue the same. But, it does hint that companies who are actively marketing themselves through social media avenues seem to be generating more leads and gaining more exposure.

So there you have it. One reason why your company should be blogging: improved lead generation. Now should be a good time to plan and execute your company’s new blogging and social marketing campaign. What do you think?

The Internet’s Completely Over

No more Internet

The Internet's Completely Over!
Potential Safety Hazard!

I’m not one of those types to make bold wide-sweeping predictions and I try my best not to use absolutes in my day to day conversations. To put it plainly the world can be an unpredictable place and you should never say never. But something has come up and I think I’m safe in offering my prediction.

“The Internet’s completely over.” No wait, that’s not my prediction. It’s Prince’s. My prediction is, it’s not! I would go so far as to almost personally guarantee the Internet is not over. I can imagine the scare this has put into most people. So please, rest assured the Internet is not going anywhere anytime soon. You can continue to conduct your personal and business lives through our very active virtual land.

Prince also informs us: “Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.” Again, please don’t panic. I’m almost completely sure Prince somehow confused the Internet with the Matrix. I’m speculating here, but that would definitely explain why he thinks we’re somehow being inundated with numbers.

The quotes come from an interview Prince did with the U.K.’s ‘Daily Mirror’. In his first newspaper interview in 10 years Prince masterfully shows us he’s somehow lost his Sign ‘o the Times.

Are You Being Held Hostage By Your Web Host?

Man with handcuffs

Held Hostage?

Sure, it sounds silly and even feels more so but it has happened to me. How about you? I have no excuses for it. I’ve been around the tech block a few times and have a pretty good understanding of this web stuff but I’m a victim of mistrust. Because of this mistrust in the past I’ve moved hosts manually without the help of the new or old provider. This can be time consuming and frustrating so I don’t recommend it.

The sites that brought the latest need for a move were on a shared hosting plan. On this host I had several sites using databases, a whole whack of email accounts, password protected directories and of course the web stats history. After considering the work and hassles involved in moving it myself I sat back and watched my well known provider go from around four dollars a month to almost ten. The initial introductory price had run out. Being a customer of two years, who wanted to stay, meant I should pay a lot more than a new client. I can only assume the tactic here is to reel someone in and then milk them once they’re committed. Sound familiar? Even so, I would have stuck with them but they were not providing a level of service that fit with the price. Nor did it fit with the plan they boasted.

So, what do I recommend if you find yourself in a similar situation? The first step is finding a new provider that you can trust. This was the hardest step for me. The next step is tell them you want to switch to them and have them deal with the whole thing. It’s that simple. If they won’t do it or want to charge you I recommend you find someone who will.

Some things you’ll need to do or watch for when moving are:

  • If you have the time and space do your own backup of the site(s) before it is moved. Better safe than sorry.
  • DNS Settings – If your domain moves with your hosting then this is probably not an issue and will be dealt with by the new provider. If you have your domain elsewhere be sure to update it after the move.
  • Directory Passwords – The old password file will be moved but the actual path to the directory may change with the new host. So either change them yourself or ask for that to be done.
  • Database Connections – Database names may change based on your new username. If that’s the case you’ll need to update your script settings to the new usernames. This is a fairly simple thing to do and I’d speculate a lot of new hosts wouldn’t mind helping out.
  • Script Directory Settings – Some scripts may have directory paths in the configuration. This is much like the database settings. If you’re on a shared host using a different username they may need to be changed.
  • For safety measures don’t cancel or delete your old account for at least a few days. It can take a while for a DNS change to take full effect – even if it looks like it has from your location.

Do You Charity Click?

I admit I have a serious problem with the overwhelming amount of vacuous and rehashed sites out there in Cyberland.  Unfortunately for me, I can’t complain too loudly as I am one of the offenders.  So in an attempt to make right and balance the karmic negatives from my offenses I like to highlight some of the gems out there.  My previous post was about Wolfram|Alpha which is a great way to gather high quality information.  This time, for the big moral boon I’m pulling out The Hunger Site.  It is likely you already know about them as they’ve been around since June of 1999.  So, if this is old news please consider this a gentle reminder.  If not, welcome to the world of charity clicks.

What is The Hunger Site?  To boil it down, its a means for anyone with an Internet connection and a few minutes a day to make the world a better place.  At The Hunger Site all it takes is one click to help feed the hungry, another click to help sponsor free mammograms and another click to help pay for child health care.  There’s three other clicks you can give with: help provide books for those in need, help protect endangered habitats and help with animal rescue.

6 clicks is all it takes to make a difference.  Well, it is more like 12 considering you’re moving from different pages.  I’ve done it for years and recently have passed the torch on.  My three year old daughter and I take time out every day to “help people”.  She knows the purpose of each page and who or what it is helping.   She likes hearing stories behind the images on the site and quite often she’ll make up her own stories and tell me about them.  We get a lot out of it by knowing we’re helping people and the extra bonus for us is additional quality time together.

So, if you have a few spare minutes and some of your clicks why not drop by and check them out?  I’d really like to hear of any other sites that are similar in nature and legit.  Anyone know of others?

The Search for Quality Information

Is it possible? Is it truly, really real and possible?

In case you haven’t already heard there is a very interesting and exciting ‘computational knowledge engine’ website on the Internet. The site is Wolfram|Alpha which launched May 15th of 2009. They have a lofty goal in mind.  To paraphrase, they mean to deliver any and all computable data and information to the masses.

Although some have touted Wolfram|Alpha as the next big search engine I believe it is exactly what they market it as: a computational knowledge engine. A computational knowledge engine is much different than a search engine.  A search engine grabs reams of existing pages and dumps them to a search result while the other computes specific information for the final result. To better understand in part what the computational knowledge engine does we can see some examples from the current search engines. To name a few, the calculator, mapping, distances, and language definitions.

What excites me about Wolfram|Alpha is the potential for high quality information. Wolfram|Alpha will gather good information from trusted sources, systematically compute it and only then provide you with the results. Our current crop of search engines typically grab mass amounts of pages or data from any and every source that may or may not have valid information.

What excites me is Wolfram|Alpha’s focus on starting with solid data and information. This helps resolve the problems that often occur with the current crop of search engines. The existing lack of quality control by current engines can be summarized perfectly with a term used in the IT world known as GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Wolfram|Alpha’s focus on good information in will translate to less time sorting through garbage results from bad sources. The assurance of quality results will save me a lot of stress, frustration and cut down my Aspirin expenses.

See Wolfram|Alpha computational knowledge engine in action at

Examples of what it can do:

Mihalism Multi Host: Ads or Content in Public Gallery Section

This is a very simple modification for Mihalism Multi Host (MMH) that will allow you to include content interspersed in the public gallery section. Provided is a simple method that includes content on each row in the gallery and in a random position of that row.

This mod does not include content in the user galleries or in the admin section but it would be simple enough to do for them. Further, adding content in an ordered way and at set intervals, could also be done with ease.

This example is based on a four column table (which is standard and hard coded in MMH). Ok, lets get down to it:

Step 1, Create a template file for the content you want to insert:

In the directory source/public_html create the file global_ad.tpl in this file include the following:


<template id=”global_gallery_ad_layout_1″>
<td class=”<# TDCLASS #>” valign=”top” style=”text-align:center;”>
<strong><# FILE_TITLE #></strong>
<br /><br />
Sample Text #1 – Replace with text, markup or javascript

<template id=”global_gallery_ad_layout_2″>
<td class=”<# TDCLASS #>” valign=”top” style=”text-align:center;”>
<strong><# FILE_TITLE #></strong>
<br /><br />
Sample Text #2 – Replace with text, markup or javascript

<template id=”global_gallery_ad_layout_3″>
<td class=”<# TDCLASS #>” valign=”top” style=”text-align:center;”>
<strong><# FILE_TITLE #></strong>
<br /><br />
Sample Text #3 – Replace with text, markup or javascript


The above code allows for three different content items. You can include markup, javascipt or straight text by replacing the text shown in bold: “Sample Text – Replace with text, markup or javascript”. How many content items you want is up to you. Adding another is as simple as copying one of the template sections and changing the end number in template id. To have fewer just remove the template markup for one or more items.

Step 2, Add the code to insert content:

In the root directory you will find the file gallery.php – load this with your favorite editor to get down to hacking.

  1. On or near line 20, just before the while loop: while ($row = $mmhclass->db->fetch_array($sql)) { insert the following: $ad_place_in_row = rand(1,4); // Get random position for ad on first row
  2. Just bellow the while loop there is an if condition with the line: $break_line = true; Right after that add the following: $ad_place_in_row = rand(1,4); // Reset random position for new row
  3. Now, just after the while loop you will see the line: $tdcount++; add the following block of code after that line (now aproximately line 28/29):
  4. /* begin ad placement */
    if ($tdcount == $ad_place_in_row) {

    $mmhclass->templ->templ_vars[] = array(
    “FILE_TITLE” => ‘Title of Content (or empty)‘,
    “TDCLASS” => $tdclass = (($tdclass == “tdrow1”) ? “tdrow2” : “tdrow1”),
    “TABLE_BREAK” => (($break_line == true) ? “</tr><tr>” : NULL),

    $ad_number = rand(1,3);
    $gallery_html .= $mmhclass->templ->parse_template(“global_ad”, “global_gallery_ad_layout_$ad_number”);
    unset($mmhclass->templ->templ_vars, $break_line);

    if ($tdcount >= 4) {
    $tdcount = 0;
    $break_line = true;
    $ad_place_in_row = rand(1,4);

    /* end ad placement */

In the code in section C of step 2 you may notice the assignment for “FILE_TITLE” – here you can add a standard title that will display above your content.  Replace the bolded text with your preferred title.  You may also remove all the bolded text and just leave the two single quotes to have no title. Further, you can remove that whole assignment and replace the <strong><# FILE_TITLE #></strong> in the template file to a title you want.

If you have opted to have more or less items in the template file be sure to update the random ad_number: $ad_number = rand(1,3); to accommodate how many content items you have in your template. If you’ve decided to have just one item you can remove the random code and edit the line right after it: $gallery_html .= $mmhclass->templ->parse_template("global_ad", "global_gallery_ad_layout_$ad_number"); to $gallery_html .= $mmhclass->templ->parse_template("global_ad", "global_gallery_ad_layout_1"); to allow for just one item.

Step 3, Bask in the glory of happiness:

Thats it.  It is as simple as that.

As you most likely noticed the code included in gallery.php is almost exactly the same as the existing code.  This may not be the prettiest or most efficient way to do it but the reasoning behind it was to keep the mod as easy and unintrusive as possible.

If this ends up useful for someone and there is the need I can include a file for download.  I could also provide  further examples such as including the content at a set interval, if desired.  Oh, and please let me know if this made any sense at all.

Have You Let Your Anti-Spyware Guard Down?

The reason I ask is because last week I had my poor little Windows XP laptop running well over 24 hours doing scans, eradicating Spyware, extracting worms, burning Trojan horses and pouring salt on slugs.  It was an excruciating time for everyone involved and what makes it worse is its not an uncommon occurrence around here.

I do have a real time Anti-Virus guard set up with ‘Shaw Secure’ which is re-branded ‘F-Secure Anti-Virus’.  It does provide protection to some degree but the cold hard fact, at least from what I’ve experienced, is one is never enough when it comes to protection from Malware.

At one point there was a strict difference between Anti-Virus and  Anti-Malware or Anti-Spyware applications.  That strict line continues to blur as some companies are stepping over said line and attempting to offer a ‘complete package’.   In this article I am focusing on applications that are known to be good for Malware, which includes trojans, back doors, loggers, et al and not touching on the Anti-Virus type.

As I mentioned, for Malware one application is never enough.  I strongly suggest (and should note the timeless adage: Do as I say, not as I do) running a real time shield for Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware.  The real time shield sits in memory and watches for nasty things playing around with your system.  Although they will take up system resources a good application can keep the overhead fairly low.  One thing to remember is the real time shield is different than real time scanning.  You don’t want to have multiple programs running real time scanning which is much more system intensive than the shield.  Also, take note that not all Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware apps will ‘play’ well together.  I have never had a problem with the programs I’ve used but I’ve stayed away from the well know, very large and popular Anti-Virus and security packages that are very good at taking over your system.

Now, before this turns into something formal and informative I want to get to another point of why I’m writing this – besides of course letting everyone know how dumb I am for not protecting my helpless little laptop.   There are a lot of quality Anti-Spyware applications out ‘there’ but there are also some less reputable ones.  Many people have been fooled by what looked to be a professional application.  There are many ways the distributors of these applications pedal their wares including various advertisements, sites made to look like independent reviews, hijacking your system and more.  Once they have you install the application some of them produce false reports to make it seem like it’s found a load of Malware.  Considering this, I wanted to provide another resource and give a short list of Anti-Spyware apps that I have used and know to be on the up and up. Remember, these have been used and proven to fix an infected system. Hopefully you’re not like me and you can use one of these for prevention as well.

Note: A summary list will follow this text.

A couple of the ‘big boys’ who have been around and proven to get the job done are: Spybot – Search & Destroy (not to be confused with a product called Search and Destroy) and Lavasoft Ad-Aware.  Spybot –  S&D is donation-ware, it is completely free to use which makes it an easy one to recommend.  Lavasoft Ad-Aware has free and paid versions.  Both Adaware and Spybot have worked well for me without causing any hassles or troubles.  Ad-Aware has reportedly fallen a bit behind in the times but I’ve been more than happy with what its done for me.

For my current favorite I will have to re-iterate this is truly a serious and professional application.  When I first found out about it on a credible Anti-Spyware site, Security I still had trouble believing it.  With some trepidation I tried it out and have loved it ever since.  SUPERAntiSpyware.  Yes, the name screams all sorts of warnings but I’ve found it to be one of the easiest to use, it runs fast, hunts and kills Malware very well. For me, one of the most important aspects of SUPERAntiSpyware is that it doesn’t get in my way. It’s a nice, clean, no-nonsense application.

A couple other very good Anti-Spyware applications are PC Tools Spyware Doctor and Webroot Spy Sweeper. You can download them to scan your system but you’ll need to make a purchase to do any removals. Even if you only stick to free applications it doesn’t hurt to try other scans to see where you stand which is usually on shaky ground when it comes to Malware. As with the previous titles I mentioned these are both highly regarded and award winning Anti-Spyware applications.

I have tried other popular Anti-Spyware applications but have opted not to include applications which were not pleasant to use or productive. Finally, I would like to note where applicable, I have signed up as an affiliate for the applications listed and recommended. This was done as an afterthought when the article was mostly written and had no bearing on what was chosen to make the list. The benefit for you is, if you plan to buy, I was able to find a discount coupon for PC Tools Spyware Doctor and I can now offer a deal on SUPERAntiSpyware Professional with lifetime updates (send me a message if you’re interested). I will add any coupons or deals as I come across them.

The List:

Application Link Comment
Lavasoft Ad-Aware Lavasoft Ad-Aware Anniversary Edition Time tested and proven, free version available.  Purchase for $26.95 with 1 year subscription.
Spybot – Search & Destory Spybot – S&D Old faithful and free!  What are you waiting for?
PC Tools Spyware Doctor Spyware Doctor Strong detection and removal, requires a purchase to remove found infections.  $39.95 purchase with 1 year subscription can be used on up to 3 computers.  10% off coupon expires 04/15/09
SUPERAntiSpyware SUPERAntiSpyware Product Page Crazy name, fast, easy to use, doesn’t get in the way, very good detection and removal, free version available.  My #1.  $29.95 purchase with 1 year subscription.  Only an additional $9.95 for lifetime subscription (see main article text if you’re looking for a deal).
Webroot Spy Sweeper Spy Sweeper Very strong detection and removal, requires a purchase to remove found infections.  My #2.  Purchase with 1 year subscription is currently $29.95.

I Introduce to You Some Link Love and Comment Luv.

You’ve got to love how easy it is to add WordPress plugins with the one click installer.  Strangely I still seem to have a lot of problems getting many working.  I’m close to having as many de-activated non-working plugins than working ones.  I’m theorizing that subconsciously I believe leaving them installed and stewing will somehow fix the problem at some point.  So, lets set failures aside as I wanted to make note of the few plugins I did get working this week.

The first is the most exciting for me.  I finally installed a dofollow plugin that seems to work with everything.  I’m only guessing it works as it is Lucia’s Linky Love, which as you may know, will only start dofollow’ing after the 3rd comment from the same commenter.  The drawback to this is when considering the number of comments to date (not counting illegal porn acts spam caught by Askimet)  I project there won’t be a dofollow link for several years.  I am setting a life goal to last long enough to see at least one person get a dofollow.   Previously I had tried DoFollow, WebGuerrilla Version and Do Follow by Dennis de Bernady.  I liked what they offered but neither worked properly for me.

The second plugin is commentluv.  commentluv is supposed to show a link to the last post from the commentors blog… or so they say.  I’ve seen it working elsewhere but, as with the first plugin I’ll have to see it working here to believe it.  Anyone getting the hint yet?

OK, third and last is Domain Portfolio.  It allows you to list the domain names you have and whether they’re for sale or not.  I’ve actually seen it work here which is a mega bonus for me.  It is still a beta plugin and I’d say it needs a little finishing to get all the features in order.  Serious points for it working though and it was the only domain related plugin that I could find.  You’re free to check it out and make a great offer on any of the listed domains.  You can consider it as helping me test it out, would be very neighbourly of you.  To ensure we’re on the same page – I’m not saying do it as a test, I mean actually buy them.   Sound good?

Finally, for a sort of on topic finish.  I came across an interesting opportunity to try out a new WordPress plugin.  It’s not really up my alley but I thought it was a great idea.  It should be quite interesting to domainers and those of you that are into auto content generation.  I’ll see if I’m allowed to post about it after I’ve done some playing around.

Home, Home on the Host Monster.

After being neglected for some time has a new homestead on a different host.  The previous host is not to blame for the neglect – that’s a different story and this is about why we’ve moved.

Over a year ago we (that’s Umgy and me and a few other sites) moved to Host Monster in what was supposed to be a temporary and cheap stop over.  I was looking for a more appropriate and affordable hosting package.  Life being what it is, mostly busy, we’re still with Host Monster (that’s me and the other sites, not Umgy).  Before I digress further, I’ll explain why we’ve moved and are trying a new hosting company.

First reason, with Host Monster being a budget hosting company that has one plan and no room for growth I wasn’t expecting the world.  With no way to grow to a VPS, dedicated server or reseller account I knew it wasn’t a long term relationship.  The response from my inquiry on such services also indicated they didn’t want me long term if I was needing more.  I do admit they offered a lot for the price.  Besides the standard features and almost unlmited everything I wanted PHP 5 which wasn’t on all hosts at the time.  They also support PostgreSQL and Ruby, both of which I was interested in playing with.  The support for telnet access was important to me as well.  They do continue to move with the times and are now offering Python in their plan.

The second and major reason is how they meter their accounts.  Host Monster has a system that meters/monitors server load/system resources.  The general gist of this is that if your website(s) take “too much” system resources they will deactivate your account without warning.  Their support will claim this is due to inefficient scripts that are bogging down the whole server.  In theory this makes sense and seems fair but where the problem occurs is how much is “too much”.

Consider you are their customer.  You have purchased a plan which includes “Unlmited Disk Space” and “Unlimited Gigs of Site Transfer”.  I bet you’re expecting you can run basically any website you want?  Consdiering that you should be able to max out their OC-48 Backbone 24 hours a day with as many visitors that your site software can handle.  Unfortunately, you would be wrong.  Granted my example is a tad extreme and most of us wouldn’t expect that much but how much would you expect?

My one business site would not be considered a busy website.  With under 10,000 visitors a month it’s not a large site.  My business, Umgy and some other very low traffic sites are all I have running.  Even so my account has been suspended in the past due to the load.  The reason for my suspension had to do with MySQL taking too long on the site logging which was basically a shock to me.  I’ve have also come dangerously close to their “too much” load when I first copied over my site and other times when I’ve installed one of their supported applications.  That’s not mentioning how risky it is when you’re being indexed by a search engine and have maybe 1 or 2 users on at the same time.

To state which I hope is obvious by now, their “too much” is next to nothing in my opinion.  If you plan to host a very small site with them then you’ll be fine.  If you’re at the starting stages of your site you’ll be fine.  Just be careful as you may soon find yourself growing out of an unlimited host.  If you won’t take my word for it, you may, like me, have noticed sites you’ve surfed to that come up with a page that shows one line indicating the account has been suspended.  It is very likely a budget hosting company and the site has become too big for them.

In closing, it is my opinion that the best and honest business practice would be to indicate they are a host dedicated to casual and small websites and follow that up with less bandwidth, disk space limits and to mention the system metering.

As a bit of a disclaimer and warning I would like to mention that Host Monster is not the only company that has these limits.  So be careful with what host you choose.  Do a search for reviews on the company you’re interested in.  I basically knew what I was getting into when I joined them but as I said it was supposed to be temporary.  Also, for a bit of trivia, the word on the web is that Host Monster is owned by Blue Host.

Any comments or notes about how Umgy is currently running would be very helpful with evaluating the current host.