Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Yahoo Stores Missed Cyber Monday

Well, it wasn't just us. The story has hit the major news services. I've seen estimates that as high as 45,000 websites were down. Yahoo was gracious enough to post the following:

Some merchants are reporting that shoppers are receiving an error message indicating 'system unavailable' during the checkout process. We are aware of this issue and are currently investigating.
Some forum posters have posited that Yahoo put "tweaks" into their production system a mere 2 weeks before the big day. As anyone with a background in software development can tell you, that's insane. Those production systems should have been frozen until after the holidays.

Bill Hartzer points out that Yahoo doesn't have a service level agreement. That may be, but I think it would be hard for Yahoo to convince a jury that the lack of an SLA means that they're excused for being down on the biggest shopping day of the year.

Bill also suggested that Yahoo merchants could have redirected their order form to a different server. That's easier said than done -- the Yahoo TOS specifically forbids sending users to a different checkout system. Testing that would have been rather difficult because Yahoo would have shut the users down. And if you've ever done any programming on the Yahoo store system, you realize that it's not just a simple redirect. This would have been well beyond the technical capabilities of most stores.

Promote My Site suggests that these store owners still made the right choice by outsourcing their store.
Let me just say that maybe Yahoo could have done a better job - we don’t know what happened yet - but I’m sure they were paying attention to the problem, which is certainly more than most businesses could do.
It doesn't sound to me like Yahoo was paying attention. Or maybe they were. Before cyber Monday, Yahoo was predicting that it wasn't going to be such a big day:
But others say it's hardly the busiest online buying day of the year. Internet retailers should expect even bigger days on December 7 and 10, according to the folks at Yahoo! Shopping.
I guess they knew something last week that the rest of us didn't know.

So far today the web site seems to be working again and we're taking orders. But thanks to Yahoo, what should have been a big day was a bust for Carolina Sauce. So support your friends in a small business and place another order.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Yahoo Stores Crashing on Cyber Monday

If you're having trouble placing an order on a yahoo store website (such as Carolina Sauce Company), you can blame Yahoo.

Yes, it's cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year, and Yahoo's stores are displaying an error page when many customers try to place an order. Many retailers go with Yahoo because of their promises of up time and bandwidth. A Yahoo store provides the customer with the assurance that they're dealing with a reputable retailer. This is absolutely devastating to a small business that relies upon cyber Monday for a large portion of its business.

One wonders if Yahoo's largest customers are being hit with these problems. Has Yahoo thrown the little guys out of the life boat?

If you're having trouble placing an order, please call and order by phone. We'll be glad to take your order. 919-765-0143

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hottest Pepper, Part II

The moral to this story: Ask before you chomp down on a new pepper.

"It felt like someone tasered my mouth..."

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Troops Need You

I was listening to a radio show on XM this weekend (sorry, can't remember which one), and the mother of a soldier serving in Afghanistan called in during a segment about the diplomats that are refusing to serve in Iraq. Her comment was along the lines of our troops know what real suffering is. They go out and they're in danger every day. They get shot at, they sleep outside, and all they've got to eat are these terrible tasting MREs. My son has lost 10 pounds in the last two months.

Wow, just like a mother. I heard that story, and then reread some of the comments on the Operation Sauce Drop Feedback page and it warmed my heart that we're able to send over a little taste of heaven to some people that really appreciate it. If you haven't done so, now would be a good time to support Operation Sauce Drop.

Then Gloria told me that donations have basically dried up and while we've sent out over 50 gift boxes, we've got 60 service people in the queue that are in danger of spending Christmas without their sauces. Remember, it takes a long time to send something over to the sandbox, so the time is now if you'd like to do something for the holidays for them. This isn't a box with just a few sample sized bottles in them -- it's the real deal, a holiday gift pack of hot sauces, barbeque sauces, and zesty snacks of their choice.

We've been brainstorming on what we can do to raise some more funds for this effort. Carolina Sauce is already offering a 10% discount coupon to newsletter readers that make a $5 donation -- that's a pretty good deal: on an order of $50 Carolina Sauce made your donation for you. There are not that many businesses that will take a slice of 10% of their revenue off the top during the holiday season to support the troops, but this is really important to her.

Another thought was that we'd donate some meat and my talents and do a fund raiser, selling barbeque sandwiches for a $5 donation. If we could find a busy enough venue that would allow us to set up we could probably bring in the money we'll need in an afternoon. Anybody out there know somebody that would allow us to set up and do that? Those of you that have had my barbeque know what a good deal this would be.

The big thing we need is publicity. We've contacted all the "A" List bloggers we could think of that would be favorable to supporting the troops, and frankly I'm a bit disappointed that most of them just decided to ignore this important project. To those that did write about it, thank you. And to those that didn't, shame on you.

I understand that perhaps people are a little weary of the "Support the Troops" causes. I just finished reading House To House by David Bellavia. If you think you're a little weary, stand in the boots of the guys that were cleaning out that bad guys from Fallujah for a few minutes. I came away from reading that book absolutely humbled that I can do so little for our heroes.

I also understand that there are lots of programs sending over "stuff" for the troops. While those are all good, my feeling is that the military ought to be providing things like baby wipes and drink powder to our troops. The distinguishing thing about Operation Sauce Drop is that it lets them pick out something for themselves rather than getting a random box, and it's something that they wouldn't get even if our government had it together enough to supply them with everything they need. The letters of thanks we're getting really warm our hearts -- they really appreciate this.

I'm open for ideas if anyone can come up with more ways we can raise money to send boxes over to the troops. Please just email me at GrillingGreg at Gmail dot com or leave a comment.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Yes, it's November, when grilling supplies go on massive sale at your local big box store to make room for the Christmas decorations.

Today I happened by the Lowes in Roanoake Rapids looking for lump charcoal. They had Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal for $4.00/bag. If you're a grilling or barbeque guru, you already know that lump charcoal is a key to great results -- if you're using petroleum based briquettes you'll always have a slight petroleum taste, regardless of the marketing budget and commercials of those big companies. The cool kids know to use lump charcoal. It burns longer and hotter and provides real wood smoke taste. You can add additional charcoal to the fire without getting a "foomp" of gas fumes. (In other words, you don't have to start another chimney just to add some coals). If you didn't know that, now you do.

Is $4.00/bag a good deal? In a word, YES. Check the internet -- I've seen it for $19.40/bag plus shipping. Frankly, I'm going to stock up. You've been warned!

They also had chimney starters for $6.00. It's not the great stainless steel one, but for $6.00 you can afford a few.

What I can't figure out is why people don't realize that winter is the perfect time for barbeque. It's easier to keep the fire at lower temps on a 40 degree day than in 90 degrees of summer heat. Barbeque is a year round activity!