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Spring Cleaning Sale – Starting Now

TRS-80 Model 3

A TRS-80 Model 3 is about the only thing we are not selling.

As most of you know, we are a systems integrator, but working on the software side and not so much on the hardware side. However, we still tend to collect or acquire a lot of hardware for various purposes.

It is time to do some spring cleaning. Seriously, this stuff has to go. So starting today and ending sometime in the next couple of weeks, we will start selling off all the surplus that has accumulated over the past 5 or 6 years. Some of it is old technology, some very new and unused technology.  Here is a sampling of what we will be selling:

  • Graphics cards: AMD R9 series and Radeon HD 7950 series
  • Hard drives (lots and lots)
  • Memory
  • Water cooling components (fittings, cooling blocks, tubing)
  • Power supplies
  • Cables of all kinds
  • Laptops and netbooks
  • Phones (WebOS to be specific)
  • One solitary Bitcoin mining machine
  • …and whatever other crap stuff we have lying around

To keep it simple, we’re going to be selling our stuff over on eBay. I’m not the biggest fan of selling on eBay (fees are way too high), but it should work nicely to unload what we’ve got and make some space in our office.

So here you go: Matrice Consulting Spring Cleaning Sale

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And where have I been? Busy.  I have something cool planned for a couple of months from now.  I’ll give you a clue: it has to do with HRMS and SQL.  If you’re interested, subscribe.

Goodbye Bluehost

Bicycle lane directing riders into a pole

The Bluehost massive networking failure was kind of like this from the customer’s perspective.

Back in April, we decided to move website hosting for this site to Bluehost. We had outgrown our old hosting service and needed a more robust solution. On recommendation from some other Bluehost customers, we moved all of our commercial sites to Bluehost.

Over the past 11 months, we have had intermittent problems with Bluehost. My webmaster indicated that Bluehost would go offline more often that she was comfortable with, which apparently affects our rankings with the major search engines.  There were other times that our site would come to a grind halt, no doubt as a result of too much traffic from our ‘neighbors’ (we had shared hosting).

Not satisfied with the anecdotal downtime data I was receiving, I setup free monitoring on one of our Bluehost sites using Pingdom, so that I could measure Bluehost’s reliability. After all, what gets measured gets managed (or replaced). Pingdom checks every 5 minutes to see if my sites are up and sends me a text message when it is down and again when it comes up again. I set this up Monday, July 29th, 2013.

So 4 am on Friday, August 2nd, I started receiving text messages: site down, site up, site down.  Over the next 13 hours, it must have been hell at Bluehost, and our sites were down for at least 8 hours, and probably closer to 10 hours.  In the end, it appeared to be a network issue that cascaded throughout their data center and affected Bluehost, Host Gator and Just Host, all of which are owned by Endurance International Group (EIG).

Fortunately, we had already been researching options other than Bluehost.  We moved to another hosting company, upgrading to a virtual private server (VPS) along the way, and one not owned by (EIG).

What are the lessons learned?  There are several:

  • Keep your registrar different from your host. If your host goes down, like Bluehost did, and you need to change nameservers (where your host is), you can point traffic to your new host.  I was able to migrate the matricellc.com site within a few hours.
  • Backup often and store the backups somewhere other than your host. Some of our sites are backed up daily, others weekly. Worst case scenario is that we have to restore to an older backup, but it is sufficient if it keeps the sites up.
  • Monitor your hosting company with a third-party tool or service. I have created a spreadsheet for monitoring uptime, based on down/up alerts I receive from Pingdom.
  • Follow Twitter feeds when issues arise. This may seem obvious to some, but some of us are not heavy Twitter users, so this idea only came to us after the issue was nearly resolved.
  • Be ready for disaster.

I am guessing that a lot of people will be moving away from Bluehost, Host Gator and Just Host as a result of this outage. I’m sure the losses for their customers is in the millions of dollars.  The costs that come to my mind are:

  • Lost sales from e-commerce sites;
  • Lost advertising costs for those people who clicked ads on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other advertisers;
  • Lost productivity from those who manage and use the sites that are hosted there;
  • Opportunity costs.

This may appear on the surface to be a knee-jerk reaction, but it was really just the event that pushed us over the edge. We had three live sites (one of which is heavily visited), and one development site that were affected. I find it ironic that their hosting went down in the same week that I started monitoring.  So we migrated this site to a VPS and we hope that you enjoy the speed and reliability. I can tell you that we do.

11 Years and Going Strong

Life Magazine Cover - Roaring Twenties

We’re partying like it’s 1923.

It’s hard to believe, but it has been a year since we celebrated Matrice Consulting’s 10 year anniversary and relaunched this website.  Although it has been difficult to keep up with the blog posts over the past two months due to professional commitments, I can tell you that we are still going strong, quietly going about our work to provide the best service and solutions to our clients.

Here are some of the highlights of our past year:

  • On pace for record year in 2013 for gross sales and net income;
  • Entered into new partnerships;
  • Contract renewals with existing clients;
  • Expansion of management consulting operations, in the area of new business development.

What’s coming up this next year?  This is where it gets interesting.  In February, we announced a ‘calm before the storm’ and that changes were coming.  Although on the surface you cannot see those changes, you can probably feel them if you’ve worked with us.  Without revealing too much, we have worked on some new internal projects that have added revenue streams, including providing new services which we will announce over the coming months.  We, like many other companies in our niche, are preparing for the changes that have come about with Oracle Fusion HCM Applications, which is turning out to be more fun than expected.

The next twelve months will be exciting.  We will celebrate tonight, as is our custom, and then get right back to it in the morning.  I would like to thank our clients, partners, staff, and family for helping to make this possible.  We are already on track for our best year ever and we couldn’t and can’t do it without you.

All the best,
Mark Pescatrice

Founder and CEO, Matrice Consulting, LLC

Why Your Niche Matters More Than Ever

The Headless Ghost Movie Poster

You won’t hear this guy complaining about his niche.

You will hear entrepreneurial leaders and other talking heads (Seth Godin, can you hear me?) telling us to find our niche. As I was watching a Twitter feed during lunch on the day of the manhunt for the (alleged) Boston Marathon bomber, it struck me how unimportant nearly all the voices (tweets) were, at least to me. They were all just a bunch of noise.

Why is finding your niche so important?  It is easy to look out into the world and easily become overwhelmed by the flood of information.  You have a product, a service, or an idea that you want to share with the world, but you will more than likely be drowned out, unless you start with your niche.  Take the case of the Twitter posts I mentioned above: nobody cares about your comments unless you have active followers.  Finding your niche is the best way to be heard through all the noise.

Don’t worry about being listed on the Amazon best seller’s list or getting a call for an interview by Wired, Inc., or Fast Company.  Focus on your niche first.  I have learned this lesson over the years. When I started this company, I had grand hopes and dreams for this company to become a large player in the ERP space, providing implementation services across the full spectrum of Oracle E-Business Suite modules. I never put much effort into that bigger plan for a variety of reasons, and frankly I am glad that I did not. Instead, I focused on being really good and getting better at just one area: Human Capital Management (a/k/a HRMS). Although I read this more than a decade ago and can’t remember who said it, this is the age of the specialist.

The reason the niche matters is because people who care about what you sell or say will be the ones listening. It is much easier get the attention of 200 people than 200,000,000 people. If the message is important or interesting enough, those 200 will make sure it spreads to a larger audience.  The important thing is to find your niche, decide if there is growth, and then get in and build.

The book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World is next on my reading list, which addresses platform creation.  The platform is one of the concepts Seth Godin proposes in his book Linchpin, another book that I consider recommended reading. I will offer my thoughts after I’ve read it.

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As a general rule, I spend no time on Twitter. I will usually visit when I want to see how a big new event trends, especially from people on the ground.  Aside from that, I am only there when I post updates to this blog.

Matrice Consulting Launches Incredible Business Library

Books, eyeglasses, watch, penI am very excited to announce the launch of the Matrice Consulting’s Incredible Library. I have compiled some of our favorite books in the following categories:

  • Effectiveness
  • Entrepreneurship
  • General Business
  • Marketing
  • Leadership
  • Life Hacking and Lifestyle Design
  • Motivation
  • Personal Development

All of the books that we will feature have been hand-selected as our favorite books. These books have been vital to our continued success and we highly recommend them.  No fluff, no filler, just good books.

In the library you will find free e-books and audio books for download, as well as books and e-books available for sale through our partner Amazon.  The selection of books is incredibly small, but we will add more books in the coming weeks, as well as begin featuring more book reviews here on the blog.  Visit our incredible library today by clicking here or the Library tab just above my head.

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Note: All books orders are fulfilled by Amazon.com.