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An unusual flyover

A few minutes ago the space shuttle flew directly over our offices here in Pasadena.

Well, that’s not something you see every day.

Better pictures to come, but here are some phone pics in the meantime.

(Updated pic:)


Stare into the sun

Here in Los Angeles there will be an annular solar eclipse visible on Sunday, with the moon covering 86% of the sun at its peak. Since it’s not necessarily wise to look directly at the sun, we made some ultra-high-tech eclipse viewers available to everyone here in the office.

The first 20 or so were snatched up pretty quickly, but there are still a few available if you find yourself in my office between now and Sunday.

And if you are in my office on Saturday or Sunday – get out of there! Jeez, there’s no privacy anymore.

If you look through the eclipse viewer and you aren’t looking in the direction of the sun, here’s what you see:

It’s actually pretty cool to look at the sun through these things, but also a little weird. Your brain seems to know you shouldn’t be doing it, but it’s safe, and the sun doesn’t look so tough when you filter out all that light.

On June 5th we also get to watch Venus pass in front of the sun. which is just as cool as a solar eclipse, but much more rare. It will probably look less impressive too—a little dot crawling across the sun—but I’ll still be out there looking at it.

The last time we could see that was 1882, and if you miss it on June 5th you’ll have to wait until 2117 for the next one.

At which point we’ll all be way too old to look at the sun.

A scholarly study on the popularity of Huckleberry popcorn, Volume 1


It’s that time of the year when gift baskets start to show up at the office. We appreciate the gesture, and many of us appreciate the stuff inside the baskets.

With some exceptions. There has been one particular basket that has been in the break room for a week or so, and it is completely empty. Except for the half bag of Huckleberry popcorn.


You may ask, “Hey, what is Huckleberry popcorn?” To which I’d have to answer, “I don’t know,” because I’m not putting that stuff in my mouth. Apparently someone has eaten some of it. But the fact that it’s still there after a week tells me it is not currently the most popular thing in the room.

If anyone wants to try Huckleberry popcorn I’ll send it to you. But I can’t be responsible for what happens to you if you eat it. You’ll have to sign a waiver of some sort. At the very least.

When coming in fourth really means you won


You might remember that back in September we asked you to vote for us in the DevProConnections Community Choice Awards. A lot of you must have responded, because we placed 4th!

You might think 4th place is nothing to brag about, and usually that’s true. But look at who we placed 4th behind:

  1. DiscountASP.NET – An established industry leader that wins this award every year
  2. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) – Maybe the biggest cloud service provider on earth
  3. Go Daddy – One of the biggest shared hosts in the world with millions of users

When you look at those kind of heavy hitters, the fact that Winhost, as a relatively young upstart, managed to rank anywhere near them is kind of amazing.

We work hard to provide the best hosting service anywhere, and it’s great to have the .NET hosting community tell us that we’re doing a good job.

And most of all, we thank all of you who voted for us. You are the reason we get out of bed every morning (or every afternoon, for those guys on the night shifts) and look forward to coming in to work.

So yeah, maybe we’re the only people who are goofy enough to announce losing, but to us, it’s a major win.

I think there’s a message here somewhere…

Like a lot of companies, we have a lot of whiteboards in the Winhost offices. Dozens of them. Most are full of important technical schematics, notes and other sorts of everyday tech company things.

But outside of the break room there is a whiteboard for suggestions. Meaning ways to improve the service, provide more value, bring more users to the fold. A few days ago someone decided to add “Company softball team” as a suggestion. You can see what happened after that:

The yellow text says, “MURDERBALL,” and I’m not sure I want to know what that is.

To push or not to push

There is a button in the elevator here at the office, high on the wall, that is unmarked.

Every time I get on the elevator I wonder what it’s for and feel a great urge to push it, but so far I have not. I fear that it may silently call the police or fire department, or, you know, release the elevator car from the cable or something, and who needs that, right?

Still. I might need to push it…

If you never hear from me again, you can assume that pushing the button was a bad idea.

Tell the world my story!


(I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for the preceding blog article which was not at all interesting, timely, funny or enlightening. Refunds are available at the door.)


Truck stop for food geeks

They’re a relatively new sight in a lot of cities, but here in Los Angeles we have thousands of food trucks. The gourmet food truck is a pretty recent phenomenon, but we also have a history of lunch and taco trucks that goes back for decades. Taco trucks can be found every few blocks in many parts of the city, every night of the week.

Half a block from our office is the Chef’s Center of California, and every Friday they have a food fair which draws anywhere from five to seven gourmet food (and ice cream!) trucks to our back yard. The lineup changes almost every week and the event draws a lot of high-profile trucks like Nom Nom, the Banh Mi sandwich truck featured in last season’s Great Food Truck Race on the food network (they were there last Friday, as you can see in the picture below).

If you’re in the area, or are just curious, hungry or jealous, here are the trucks scheduled for this coming Friday:

Slammin’ Sliders
India Jones
Temaki Sushi Truck
Boba Truck
Paradise Cookies

See you there?


Open sesame


We have a lot of discussions and meetings about security. Not only back-end network security, but security of the customer interface, and security policies as far as communicating with customers.

If you have ever locked yourself out of an online account because you forgot a username or password, you know what a frustrating experience it can be to try to get that access back. At Winhost we have a system in place that is email and temporary password based, so you can usually regain access to your account without even contacting us. In the event that fails, you can always contact the billing department and provide the answer to your security question to regain access.


We are working on extending the authentication system even further to include a second security question. The meeting about that was interesting because there were as many different opinions on security as there were people in the room, and a common question becomes how much security is too much?

And like everyone in that meeting, every one of our customers also has a different idea of “perfect” security. The thing is, you cannot design and build a system that accommodates everyone’s idea of perfect security. It would have so many barriers to entry that it would be unusable. So we have to design systems that meet most people’s needs. Which means some people will find flaws with it…

“Why don’t you require a password change every thirty days for Control Panel?”

“Why can’t I enter a 255 character password?”

“Send me my login information, but do NOT send my username via email!”

“Can I register my retina scan with you, and then you don’t allow access to my account unless it is accompanied by a live retina scan that matches the retina scan that you have registered? Oh, and I’ll register a new retina scan with you every seven days. Please? Why not?!”

Okay, I made the last one up. But we’ve heard all the others. Some more than once.

We take security very seriously, but there is a line somewhere between ultra-strict security and usability, and we have to straddle that line to provide a usable service to a large number of people. That isn’t to say our security isn’t strict – I won’t bore you with our multitude of internal security policies regarding customer data and information – but we hope we provide a secure, yet user-friendly, experience.

And whatever you do, don’t make your account password, “password.” Okay? Really, just don’t do it.