Eightball and Thundercloud's RANT

Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
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Islands of Refuge in a Sea of Scum

"....Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink ;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink..."

(Samuel Taylor Coleridge "The Rime of The Ancient Mariner")

When we started our first Web site (which see) it was about this time-of-year in 1998. DaveCentral was our favorite software download site (he's long gone) and freeware that was really free ruled the day: The spirit of sharing was alive and well on the Internet. Then came the DOT COM boom of 1999. Young entrepreneurs with dreams of billions dancing in their heads, somehow convinced the normally stoic Wall Street suits that there was "gold in them thar hills". It wasn't too long before you had 16 year old corporate executives rolling around New York in limousines being coddled by their gray-haired benefactors. AH, yes, the year was 1999 and the boom was on. Cloudeight was born. (These two events have nothing in common, trust us!)

All booms are followed by busts. This one was no different. Things got serious and the Internet became all about money. When Blue Mountain went from free to commercial, we knew, indeed, that an era had passed. DaveCentral was swallowed up by some large company and the race was on to see who could extract the most money from the most people with the least amount of work. This was the beginning of the Spyware Era.

Now we find ourselves floating on a sea of spyware, adware, worms, viruses, Trojans, keyloggers, and other scum. There's hardly a place you can go where you're not tempted by a free this or a free that. Or goaded to "download free Smileys for your email" or "upgrade your email (with spyware?) ". All of us are captains on this sea of scum, and we have to be very wary now, lest we become becalmed in the detritus and swallowed whole by malevolent sharks and giant squids with big, yellow, smiley-face eyes.

There is good and bad in everything and the Web is no exception. It can be a wonderful, sometimes, chimerical place, where you can find anything you want in seconds. You'll find wonderful people doing really good things. And, now, we're going to tell you about some of those people and some of those good things. We're going to tell you about three Internet companies that we do business with who exemplify the good things about the Internet. They are decent, honest companies, who stand out as islands of refuge in a sea of scum. These companies stand as a reminder to us all of what a great place the Internet can be, and set an example for others.

Back in 1998 when we started our Eightball & Thundercloud's Christmas Graphics site, we didn't have much of a feel for the Web hosting industry. We got a real quick education. Experience is a very tough teacher. She gives the tests first and then the lessons. Cloudeight Stationery was born on January 28, 1999 without fanfare and with 10-12 visitors, mostly family members and us of course. But it grew quickly and suddenly we were being tossed out on our ears Web hosting company,at the time, for using too much bandwidth. Tossed out even though we were told we had "unlimited bandwidth" when we signed up with them.  So, we suffered our first growing pains. We went from host to host and getting kicked off one server after another (they all promised "unlimited bandwidth" which we soon learned meant only until you start using any bandwidth). We were growing fast and it seemed no one wanted or was able to help us.

Finally in February 2001 we found Travis and his company "Simplecom Communications". He welcomed us aboard and he helped us pick out and set up our first dedicated server. (A dedicated server means the entire server is dedicated to our domains "Thundercloud Net" etc.). That was over three and a half years ago. Today, we have four dedicated servers and a great Web hosting company that stands behind us 100%, 100% of the time. They never fail to help when we need help. They're honest, hard-working, sincere and trustworthy. They've encouraged us to grow and help us by offering guidance when we aren't sure which way to go. In three and a half years our Web sites have been "up" over 99.9% of the time. Our support requests are answered in minutes or hours and not in days. It's fair to say that without Simplecom we would have never made it this far. And, without them, and their great support, we would have never been able to grow as we have. They represent the very best of the Internet. We'd recommend Simplecom to anyone thinking about starting a Web site for business or just for fun, regardless of size. If that is you, please consider Simplecom. They host all kinds of sites from the smallest to big corporate sites. They will earn your business and, more importantly, they will earn your trust and respect. Visit them at www.simplecom.net .

Two other companies that demonstrate the best of what the Internet can be are:  FreeCDSoftware and SpamBully. We've worked with FreeCD for three years now. Every single customer inquiry we've sent to them has been handled promptly and with courtesy and professionalism. Brett has done a great job for us and our customers. We will continue to offer their products to our newsletter readers with confidence knowing that every customer will be treated with respect and care.

Paul and his company SpamBully, define the meaning of what tech support should be. We swear that Paul sits at his computer 24 hours a day. Whenever a customer writes us with a question about SpamBully, we forward it to him and within minutes he has written us and the customer with a reply. He's always courteous and always fair. So, we tip our hats to Paul and his company. SpamBully represents a small company that has grown quickly and maintained their integrity and commitment to excellence; both in their products and in the way they treat the customer. Great job, Paul!

In what seems to be a vast sea of scum, there are many islands that still shine brightly. And, to Travis and Corey at Simplecom, Brett at FreeCDSoftware, and Paul at SpamBully we offer a big thank you for being islands of fairness, courtesy, and honesty in an increasingly stormy sea of scum.

The Internet is no better or worse than the real world. Indeed, the Internet is, after all, a reflection of the best and the worst in all of us.

"..With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy..." Max Ehrmann "Desiderata"

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