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Can you recommend a good Web Hosting Company?

Actually, yes. I recently found a really great web hosting service. It used to be the case that I would recommend all my clients use the same web hosting service as I have been using since 1998: FutureQuestClick Here To Get Your Site Hosted With FutureQuest. Now, Future Quest is a very good web hosting company, and as of the time of writing you could obtain an FQ site account with 1 MySQL database (all you really need) for less than $10/month. But the fact is they *are* a little tight-fisted with their disk space and bandwidth allocation. That's why I now recommend my clients go with the following alternative web hosting solution.   Click Here To Get Your Site Hosted With FutureQuest


Click Here To Get Your Site Hosted With BlueHost   Wow. Talk about excellence in web hosting. The guys at BlueHost have done a fantastic job setting up their system. BlueHost offers everything you need for less than $7/month, including Perl, PHP, MySQL, and SSH access (always get a site with SSH access if you are serious about running a decent website, as no access to the command line on your server can really restrict your options). BlueHost also offers unlimited domain hosting, 1,500 GB of disk space, and 15,000 GB of monthly data transfer, which is excellent. But my recommendation is that you go with the $10/month package. Page load times are fantastic, even when Review Foundry is operated in dynamic mode. BlueHost also does NOT restrict the total file size of any one of your MySQL databases the way some hosts do. So if you need to build large tables (a requirement of Canadian proximity searches, for example), this is one way to get the job done. Hands down my top web hosting recommendation! For more information on why BlueHost makes a great platform, see this Squidoo lens on affordable web hosting


Click Here To Get Your Site Hosted With LunarPages   Just in case you think you got the hard sell on BlueHost, I checked around for alternate web hosting solutions and came up with another excellent platform at LunarPages. Like BlueHost, these guys use CPanel for their web site control panel. Cpanel is a fantastic tool that enables you to manage lots of server tasks, including MySQL database management, e-mail accounts, forums, password protected directories, cron jobs, sub-domains, and so on. File management is made especially easy with Cpanel. Lunarpages will host your domain for $6.95 per month, and also gives you a phenomenal 1500 GB of disk space, and 15,000 GB/month bandwidth. The one drawback to Lunarpages is that SSH access is only available for the Virtual Private Server and Dedicated Server packages, which are a lot more expensive than their Basic Hosting package.

Satisfaction 100% Guaranteed? What does that mean?

It means you are never going to wish you had not purchased from Random Mouse Software because you (a) figured out the software cannot do what it suggests it can, or (b) got frustrated because you found a bug and could not get it fixed promptly, or (c) could not find adequate documentation on the application.

How can Random Mouse Software guarantee this? Well, mostly it's just a matter of integrity. I like to be able to sleep well at night, and that's just not going to happen if I have customers who think they have misspent their money. So I do everything in my power to ensure that this does not happen. First up, I really try hard to deliver a quality product. I invest an unbelievable amount of time trying to get it right (for example, something north of 5000 hours development time was invested before version 1.0 of Review Foundry ever saw the light of day). That's not to say I don't screw up on occasion. It happens. Fortunately, not too often. But when it does, I jump on it--which is what I expect from any business of which I am a customer.

The second thing I do is listen to my customers, because in a very real sense, every customer is all customers. If someone says they found a bug I investigate it right away. Usually I can offer a solution, or patch, within a day, if not a matter of hours. As a side note, I used to think that with extreme care, bugs could be virtually eliminated from my applications. But experience has taught me that this is just simple-minded. Without going into the Zen of Software bugs, let me just say that the only bug-free application is the one that is no longer being developed. Dealing with bugs promptly is the most essential thing. There is no living with them for any extended duration.

The final thing I do to increase customer satisfaction is write lots of detailed documentation. This, of course, is much harder than writing code, and agonizingly unrewarding--which is why most developers really suck at it. My tip to you: If you want a good idea about the quality of software before you download or purchase it, then check out the user manual it comes with first. A-Grade documentation generally reflects the nature of the software itself. Sparse documentation? Then beware.

So the gist of what I am saying is, I care. I care to get it right, and I care to make you a satisfied customer. This I can guarantee 100 percent.

What software is required to run scripts from Random Mouse?

In addition to any supplied Software Package, you will need access to the Perl5 interpreter. That is, you will need to be able to run Perl programs using version 5.004 or higher. A good web hosting company will not only provide Perl5 for their clients, but also allow the installation of custom CGI scripts written in Perl.

The flagship product of Random Mouse Software, Review Foundry, makes use of two essential Perl5 modules: the CGI module, used for processing the hyperlinks and form inputs on which the component scripts act, and the DBI database module (plus the corresponding DBD module for MySQL couplings). Note: Review Foundry currently requires MySQL version 3.23.2+

Random Mouse programs are developed on a WINDOWS machine running ActiveState Perl. Scripts are then tested again within a LINUX environment, so they should be compatible with UNIX and NT systems (for the most part). If any other Perl CGI script runs on your site, so should any downloaded from this site.

Is a trial version of your software available?

Most likely. The Random Mouse philosophy is that you ought to be able to try out software before committing to a purchase. It may not always be possible, but in general, providing a trial version of a program is the model followed by Random Mouse. By registering as a Random Mouse Member you become eligible to receive such trial period software.

What are these "Keys" mentioned elsewhere?

Key on this site refers to a product key. This is a single encrypted string (supplied in ascii) which each Random Mouse program needs to run correctly. Instead of requiring you to purchase software outright, Random Mouse will provide you with a "trial period key" that allows you to test the software first (generally for a month).

If, after that time, you are satisfied that the software is compatible with your web-hosting environment and you wish to use the software beyond the trial period, you can purchase a key with no expiration date.

What is your refund policy?

Fortunately, a refund policy isn't really required, as there is no need to purchase software from Random Mouse Software until you have downloaded it, tried it out, and convinced yourself that it is something you definitely want to continue using. You are certainly not obligated to purchase a new key after the trial keys expire. You may even request a second trial key if 30 days is not long enough to sufficiently evaluate the software. If for some strange reason you do purchase a key and have a good reason for requesting a refund within 30 days of the purchase, Random Mouse Software will issue a full refund.

What is your policy regarding using a script on multiple sites?

With the exception of hosting companies (see below) Random Mouse policy currently is to grant licenses on a per domain basis. This means that a licensee, be it an individual or an entity, has the right to implement a Random Mouse Software program as many times as desired on a single web site. This means that if you have two sites, each with its own domain name, you must license the second copy of the program (generally by purchasing a key) to run it on both sites.

Web hosting companies may not provide multiple users with access to any Random Mouse program unless a site license has been arranged beforehand. For questions about site licenses, please e-mail stephen@randommouse.com.

Is your code Open Source?

The source code is accessible (i.e. open for inspection) but you cannot modify and redistribute any part of it. It should also be noted that Random Mouse Software is only able to provide trial period software because it deliberately "obfuscates" the Perl source code which manages the product key. Only by doing this can an expiry date be programmed into the software in such a way that it becomes a relatively difficult task to disengage the expiry mechanism. Any attempt to disengage the expiry mechanism is, of course, expressly forbidden under the terms of the program license.

What about upgrades?

You can upgrade your software to the latest version at any time, and at no extra cost. If a significant upgrade is released you will be alerted by e-mail. You can then return here at your leisure and grab the new version.

The place to look for information about recent product upgrades (or any newly-discovered bugs/problems) is in the associated Change Log found in the Products area.

Can I remove the "Powered By" attribution from your scripts?

No and Yes. Each Random Mouse license generally requires you to maintain any Powered By or Copyright notices that appear on publicly displayed pages generated by an RM program. These notices help generate new customers, who in turn support development of the software. In other words, the powered by notices make upgrades possible for you, at no extra cost. If you feel you MUST have the notices removed, you may purchase a special key that automatically removes them for you.

Can I distribute your scripts?

No. Each Random Mouse program represents proprietary software owned by Random Mouse Software. Under the terms of use outlined in the licenses you are granted the right to use RM products (in conjunction with any associated product keys) on your web site only. Only you are authorized to use the software/keys you receive from Random Mouse Software. Other interested parties should request the software/keys directly from this site.

Can you install my script?

If you really need to have the software installed for you it can be done. Usually I charge US $60 (payable via PayPal or a private payment page that I will direct you to). Note, however, that you can probably install the software yourself. Just follow the directions in the README and INSTALL files that come with the distribution. Even the most complex RM program can usually be installed by someone with no prior experience handling CGI scripts.

Does Random Mouse Software do custom work?

If you require a non labor-intensive feature to be added to a program (a feature not presently on the todo list), and provided you do not mind that it will be built into all future versions of the software, you may enquire about contracting Random Mouse Software to add this feature. Billing will be at the custom programming rate (currently US $60/hr). Random Mouse reserves the right to decide whether or not a requested feature would make a suitable addition to any available product.


Random Mouse - The Company

Launched in July of 2000, Random Mouse Software is located in Pasadena, California and run by Stephen Carter, the owner. The flagship product, known as Review Foundry, is a combined Link Manager, Review Studio, and Social Networking application.

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