WebHostingTalk.com – Where you can break the rules without breaking the rules.

I have been a member at WebHostingTalk.com, or WHT for short, since December of 2007. I can’t say that I haven’t run afoul of their rules on several occasions since then because I most certainly have. Although I have always personally done my best to make sure I understood and followed the rules there have still been situations where I have mistakenly broken the rules.

In the situations where I accidentally broke a rule it was always very helpful to be able to discuss the incident with the moderation staff in order to get a clearer understanding of what I did wrong and how to avoid it in the future. I’m human and by nature fallible – I will make mistakes – I am not perfect. What is important is that I am able to learn from my mistakes to avoid making them again in the future.

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The Small Business Administration – The Disaster during The Covid-19 Disaster

U.S. Small Business Administration Logo

I’ll start by saying that the company I own and operate has been in business since late 2007. In nearly 13 years of being in business we have never applied for funding through the SBA or anywhere else as we didn’t need it. Personally I absolutely hate owing money be it to a person or to an organization.

I have heard from other business owners that working with the Small Business Administration, or the SBA for short, isn’t easy and that even if you qualify you’ve got a 50% chance of approval. I do know a few small businesses that have SBA loans for business property.

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AT&T Business Internet [u-Verse] – Slow to replace lightning-damaged equipment

Dead AT&T DSL ModemAt the office where I work unfortunately there are no fiber optic options.  Before we signed the lease we reached out to the local ISP that provides fiber connections for our area and confirmed that they serviced the location we were looking at leasing.  The ISP told us they did service our building and we didn’t find out until after we signed our lease and arranged to set up service that they do not actually service this location.  Sadly enough the only option we have here is AT&T vDSL [AT&T uVerse Business Internet DSL].

We experienced some pretty intense storms today / this evening and experienced several very close lightning strikes.  At least a couple of strikes were within several hundred feet of our office and one of them managed to take out our AT&T uVerse DSL Modem.  Being that AT&T has numerous corporate stores within a short driving distance I really didn’t imagine getting this damaged equipment replaced would be an issue.

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If you want to show somebody you love them – avoid 1-800-Flowers.com

Depending on how well you know me you may be aware of my aversion to talking on the phone.  It’s not so much that I hate talking on the phone as much as I hate how it totally destroys my ability to multi-task.  When I am working I will be handling a dozen or two different tasks at once on my computer without issue but the second I’m on the phone that all goes out the window.

Generally if I want to look into something or accomplish something I’ll find a way to do it via my computer which I can do without putting everything else I’m working on on complete hold.  Realistically I should have taken the time to find a local florist and called them up to arrange for the delivery of some flowers for my wife.  I instead went to “1-800-Flowers.com” to see if they could deliver today – and they could!

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SPAMMERS – I have a question for you…

While I don’t really expect to get any answers – I am a little curious.

I know that the reason spammers send spam is to make money.  I don’t think anybody sends spam for fun although I am sure some people have ‘spammed’ others to annoy them/etc.

With that said we get a lot of spam to “[email protected]”, “[email protected]”, “[email protected]”, etc…  Do you actually see a return on sending spam to these addresses or are you so readily able to send the spam that it really doesn’t matter?

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If at first they refuse – harass, harass, harass, and threaten! [Updated 07/11/19]

Brick WallIt has been roughly 10 weeks since “The Professor” sent a Cease and Desist letter to the company I work for concerning content on one of our client’s sites. We refused to bow to this individual’s demands and that was the beginning of the harassment.  At this point I count no less than 20 individual messages in my inbox.  The Professor has called the company I worked for numerous times and asked the same questions and received the same answers.

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PayPal – Billing Agreements and Disputes

PayPalLet me start by saying that my organization has been using PayPal since 2007 and in all of this time we’ve generally been very happy with the service provided.  I have, over the years, seen where others were unhappy with PayPal for various reasons from accounts being locked to withdrawals being prohibited or delayed.  I’ve seen some complaints about PayPal disputes but by and large the dispute process has been good to us the few times we have had to use it.  Most disputes we have faced were resolved directly with the client as my organization has a refund policy and a general stance that we won’t hold onto funds for a service you do not need or want.

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Don’t post it to Twitter if you don’t want it used… [Updated 05/12/15]

FacepalmAt the company where I work an individual that claims to be a Professor has sent us a ‘Cease and Desist’ letter.  In the letter the individual claims that one of our customers is using their their Twitter messages without their permission.  They demand we delete the customer’s data immediately and provide them all of the customer’s contact information.  I’m not sure what the laws say over in the UK where this individual is based but we will obviously not violate our Privacy Policy and reveal client information to a third party just because they demand it.

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Final Fantasy XIV – A Realm Reborn: Worst Game Launch?

I’m disappointed in Square Enix.  I participated in Beta 4 to find out if it was a game that I wanted to try out and, to my surprise, I found it entertaining and fun.  There were issues with the Beta 4 and, with it being a beta, I didn’t think a whole lot about them.  I assumed that Square Enix would do what they had to in order to ensure a smooth launch day, or at least as smooth as possible for an MMORPG.  I pre-ordered a copy of the game when Beta 4 ended so that I could get online with ‘Early Access’ on Friday instead of waiting until Tuesday and that’s where the nightmare begins.

I was emailed a ‘serial number’ that I had to enter on their site in order to activate Early Access… I’m unsure why pre-ordering didn’t automatically grant me Early Access – but the site was down/having issues/etc.  I spent days just trying to register my serial number for the game I pre-ordered so that I could play it during the Early Access period.  Worse yet for my friend – he was given a code for the European PS3 when he’s alive and well in California never having even been to Europe.

When I did, finally, get it to accept my code I was happy and simply waited for the Early Access window.  I should have known, based upon the issues even registering my code, that Early Access was going to be a bust.  I was able to log in and play for a couple of hours before Instances ceased to function.  With most MMORPGs this would simply mean that you couldn’t go into dungeons but with Final Fantasy XIV it means that you cannot complete a myriad of quests either as many of them require instanced events that were failing.  This essentially stopped all progress in its tracks – even if you were on, you couldn’t do hardly any quests and no dungeons.

I thought to myself, “They’ll get this sorted out – I’ll just try again later,” and I left the game alone.  Square Enix performed I believe 3 maintenance windows for a total of 9 hours and, after each one, claimed they had resolved the issue which is obvious this was not the case or there would not have been three separate maintenance windows for the same issue.  Eventually Square Enix simply put population caps on the servers to keep from overloading the instance servers – in other words it was all online but you weren’t able to log in or play.  If you did get logged in, more often than not, you got disconnected which meant a few hours of trying to log back in with little to no success.

I’ll be honest – if Square Enix had been straightforward and communicated better as to what the issues were – I wouldn’t be frustrated.  I understand launching an MMORPG is no simple task and that there will be issues.  What I do not understand, however, is poor communication.  Square Enix failed to do proper load testing on their servers and, as a result, have insufficient servers to service their customers properly.  It is my understanding that they brought online their contingency servers during Beta 4 and, even then, the servers were overwhelmed.  Square Enix posted today:

Currently, an extremely high number of players are enjoying the game. Should the number of players continue to increase at the current pace, there is the possibility that our expectations and server capacity will be greatly surpassed. Therefore, in order to maintain a stable gameplay environment, we are implementing login and character creation restrictions.

This makes me wonder if they are simply incompetent and didn’t look at sales figures to estimate how many servers they needed or if they’re just greedy and didn’t want to spend the money to put more servers online.  I suppose, considering they never did proper load testing, that they simply overestimated how many characters each server can handle at a time.  The biggest issue with all of this is the lack of clarity and communication.  I may be the first to say that if Square Enix came out and said, “We grossly overestimated server capacity and, as a result, we are working to bring new servers online as quickly as possible.  This may take up to X days.” I would simply relax and find other things to do with my free time.  The sheer fact that Square Enix’s only statements on the issue are that “too many people are enjoying the game” is depressing.

I’ve boycotted Electronic Arts for many reasons but primarily to their inability to properly launch a game and I will be saddened if that is what it comes to with Square Enix.  I doubt anybody from Square Enix will come across this post but, if they do, my message is simple: “Communicate effectively with your client base concerning any and all issues that affect said client base.  Keeping your clients in the dark will do nothing but cause frustration, irritation, and hate.”


BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee [rant]

A lot has been changing in my life over the last 12 months, and it has been a while since I have written a post.  I have been staying pretty busy with work and family, the business has been growing and I’m about to hire a new full-time employee.  My family is also growing, as I my wife and I will be having our first son come August.  Having a growing family means that health coverage has become a new priority for me, where I have been without health insurance for the last ten years or so.  While I can’t say that I know anybody who loves insurance companies or their practices, I can certainly say that of all I have worked with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is the worst so far.

I’ll have to give a bit of a preface and I’ll start by saying that my wife has had health insurance through BlueCross BlueShield of Arkansas for a couple of years.  We had no issues with them when it came to doctors visits, prescriptions such as Nexium for my wife’s chronic heartburn, Advair for her asthma, or anything else that she needed medically.  My wife does have terrible acid reflux to the point of her aspirating acid into her lungs resulting in damage and regular asthma flareups.  She has been on Nexium for about two years and over those two years her asthma has gone from putting her in the hospital almost every few months to almost non-existent.  That is, until we changed to BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee…

My wife went to refill her Nexium prescription at CVS and was told that BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee was requiring prior authorization for the prescription.  They claim that without a “level 3 esophagus erosion” that Nexium is not necessary and that over the counter Prilosec, which is effectively half the effectiveness and twice the out of pocket price, is all that she needs.  Keep in mind that she already had chronic acid reflux resulting in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD for short, and now she is pregnant which is known to cause acid reflux in those who have never had heartburn in their lives.

Taking this all a step further with my wife being pregnant, having chronic acid reflux, and asthma she now also has gestational diabetes.  Gestational diabetes is essentially, as the doctor explained it to us, where her body cannot quite keep up with the insulin demand of her and the baby and, as such, she is effectively diabetic for the duration of the pregnancy.  The doctor wrote my wife a prescription for a meter, test strips, etc…  When we went to CVS Pharmacy to fill these prescriptions as they are required to monitor her blood sugar to avoid serious complications such as diabetic coma, damage to her and the baby, and a long list of other side effects of diabetes CVS informed us that BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is rejecting the prescriptions and that BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee requires “prior authorization.”

For whatever reason BlueCross BlueShield in what appears to be every attempt they can make to keep every penny they are paid, seems to require prior authorization for every prescription my wife has been written.  I am beginning to wonder what the point of having insurance is, if they are going to reject all claims while continuing to accept payments for the insurance coverage.  We never faced this issue with BlueCross BlueShield of Arkansas, so it’s obvious the administrators in Tennessee are, at the least, greedier.  If a doctor writes a patient a prescription for a blood sugar meter and test strips, what does the insurance company think?   Do they think that we are making this up so that we can get one over on them when it comes to a $110 prescription of blood glucose test strips?

Why is BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee requiring prior authorization from the doctor for a brand new treatment on a brand new medical issue, especially gestational diabetes?  None of this makes any sense at all to me.  I thought it was in the best interest of the insurance provider to make sure issues such as these are taken care of to avoid other, bigger issues down the road that result from lack of treatment.

At the end of the day, if you are looking for a health insurance company and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is on your list, you may want to look at alternative options.

Disclaimer: All information contained within is factual to the best of my knowledge.  Any information that is not purely factual is my opinion.  In the event that information is presented as factual when in reality it is not, there is no malice intent and I will be happy to make an update or correction when it is brought to my attention.

Update 1 – 06/13/2012 2:30 PM

The blood glucose meter that my wife was provided by her OBGYN was a OneTouch Ultra Mini, however, the insurance company is absolutely refusing to pay for the test strips for this meter.  They have informed us that our only option is to choose a testing strip that they will pay for (read: cheap) and then to go buy a matching meter out of pocket although we already have a perfectly functional blood glucose tester.