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Happy 10th Birthday, Snappy!

Written by Sean Valant

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

HostGator.com was registered on October 22nd, 2002; Ten years ago today.  A lot has happened in that time, but we have remained true to the initial vision for the company throughout. It is with great pride and a strong sense of achievement that we acknowledge this anniversary.

Customer Service remains king here at HostGator.  It is the foundation upon which the entire company has been built.  We have had our growing pains, and learned the inherent lessons therein, but we have never wavered from that initial desire to provide outstanding Customer Service.

As we leave our single-digit years behind and walk confidently into our double-digits, we are stronger and more ready to take on the future than ever before.  We thank every single one of you who have allowed us to serve you over the years, and we welcome everyone to continue walking with us on this amazing journey.

Do you follow us on Twitter and Facebook? If so, you could win free hosting or even one of our infamous and coveted plush Snappys!  We will be doing random give-aways all day today in celebration of our anniversary.  Like us on FaceBook and follow us on Twitter for your chance to win!  In fact, leaving a comment on this very blog post could potentially be worthwhile as well, but be sure to use a valid email address.

And without further ado: Happy Birthday, Snappy!

cPanel Conference 2012

Written by Sean Valant

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

This year’s annual cPanel conference was held October 8-10 in Houston, Texas. Being that Houston is home base for HostGator, there were many Gators prowling about the conference.  An excellent time was had by all, from the exhibitor floor and the myriad of speakers to the daily meals and nightly outings and events.  You will be hard pressed to find a conference that can top cPanel’s; they do it right!

 

The festivities kicked off with a dueling piano show at local nightspot Howl at the Moon.  Howl at the Moon is quite an experience on any given night, and the cPanel party was no exception.  Songs and drinks flowed freely, the open bar may have had something to do with that, and the dueling pianists did an excellent job of taking requests from the crowd and otherwise playing hit after hit:

 

Keeping in mind that all of this happened before the doors had actually opened on the conference, one of the highlights of the evening would have to be the spontaneous on-stage “Gangnam Style” group dance.  This pic simply doesn’t do the actual event justice, but shall nonetheless be shared here for posterity’s sake:

 

The first day of the actual conference found Snappy wandering around the exhibition floor and posing for pictures with conference revellers, including Bluehost founder / BetterLinux CEO / all-around ping pong champion Matt Heaton:

 

Matt actually had a standing offer at the BetterLinux booth; anyone who beat him at ping pong won a laptop. It can pretty much go without saying that no one was able to win that laptop. Here’s Matt taking on one of our very own Admin Supervisors:

 

Snappy somehow snuck away long enough to play some Guitar Hero in the conference arcade, conveniently located right next to the HostGator booth.

 

Speaking of the HostGator booth, here’s Brian and Joe holding down the fort:

 

Those white squares you see on the big Snappy there aren’t bandaids.  They’re actually QR code stickers that were related to a convention activity. Have no fear, Snappy didn’t cut himself shaving or get into a fight with any other mascots or anything like that; he was simply participating in the festivities.

We had a great time meeting everyone, talking and handing out HostGator items like the adorable and somewhat infamous plushie Snappys as well as the smaller, squishy stress-ball Snappys.  Regarding those stress-ball Snappys, we happened to come across a rather interesting one. Now, we aren’t trying to alarm anyone with talk of an impending zombie apocalypse, however we did find this one Snappy that was, well, slightly different than all the other Snappys:

 

As day one of the conference wound down, we all prepared for the second night out with our fellow conference attendees.  The venue for night number two was a club called Roak.  Once again an excellent time was had by all.  Roak is an indoor-outdoor club; inside featured a live band, the Spazmatics:

 

The outdoor section of Roak has a swimming pool, which you can see there in the middle of the picture below. At one point, a couple of conference attendees did go ahead and take the plunge, actually jumping into the pool.

 

Towards the end of the night, quite a few folks found their way onto the stage, joining the band for their final encore:

 

The next morning found us back on the conference floor, bright and early. Snappy, being an ever-popular Gator, wound up hanging out at various other booths on day two. It seemed anywhere we went in the exhibit hall, there was a Snappy in view. Here’s Snappy at the BetterLinux booth:

 

And here’s Snappy sitting pretty at the ServerHub booth, who were our very kind neighbors for the duration of the conference:

 

Before it was all said and done, Snappy even found time to get in a game of ping pong. And no, he didn’t win the laptop:

 

As the conference began winding down, we couldn’t help but to reflect on the entire experience and what exactly it all meant.  Yes, cPanel throws an excellent conference and we’re already looking forward to next year’s in New Orleans.  Yes, Houston is a great party town with a vivid nightlife.  Yes, our industry is exciting and any time we come together will undoubtedly be good times.  But how exactly to sum all of that up?  Well, I think this picture essentially does exactly that:

 

We simply cannot conclude this blog post without sending an enormous thank you in particular to cPanel, but also to every single person we interacted with at the conference. We hope you all had as good of time as we did. See you next year!

To see even more pictures from the conference and the nightly parties, check out our official Flickr photostream.

Memoirs of a Gator, part I

Written by Sean Valant

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Please gather ’round as I tell a tale to rival the greatest tales ever told!  Think of it as Lord of the Rings and Lord of the Flies mixed with Don Quixote with a hint of Robinson Crusoe and a splash of Gulliver’s Travels.  Pretty much exactly like that, anyway.  More or less.

Our story begins, not unlike The Canterbury Tales, with a job interview in early February of 2010.  Was that The Canterbury Tales with the job interview thing?  I forget.  At any rate, I have a discussion about websites I had previously built, the related technologies, and how I might handle different interactions with different types of Customers… things of that nature.  I pass the interview and am informed that I would begin training the following Monday.

So on that sunny Monday morning in February of 2010, I began my career at HostGator as a front-line Technical Support Representative; officially referred to as a ChatTech at the time.  ChatTechs no longer exist, they have gone extinct and evolution has provided us with Jr. Admins to fill that role.  Granted, this may just be semantics, but I was hired and spent my first seven months at HostGator as a ChatTech.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will state that I had virtually no real webhosting experience at that point; I’d never heard of cPanel, WHM or WordPress.  I have now grown to become a huge fan of all three of these fantastic tools; a process which began on that fateful first day of training.

Training was very educational; it’s a ton of information in a relatively short amount of time and serves the dual purpose of ideally teaching you, if not everything you need to know then at least a solid foundation, while also conditioning you to most effectively find answers to the questions that you don’t know.  As an aside, our training program is constantly being refined and improved upon and remains very dynamic in terms of staying abreast of the constant change that is fundamental to this industry.  Our trainers are like highly skilled knowledge ninjas who judo chop knowledge into all those who would join their fellow Gators here in the swamp.

Or maybe they’re more like Jedis… though Jedis are kind of like just fancy, space ninjas.  Please don’t barrage me with emails about how I misrepresented Jedis, I know how territorial you Star Wars fans can be.  I digress.

I remember a distinct feeling of needing to absorb all this new information as quickly and thoroughly as possible.  We are not only taught general troubleshooting for a myriad of technical issues, but also the ins and outs of HostGator policies, procedures and Terms of Service.  Truth be told, I did a fair amount of studying over the weekend between the two full weeks of training.  Ultimately I completed training and found myself on the chat floor taking real live calls and chats from real live Customers.

When next we speak on this subject, I’ll talk more about my early days at HostGator and some of the more interesting Customer interactions I had at the time.  Also, the path I’ve followed since those early days and hopefully share a lot of what the actual experience of being a Gator is all about.  Perhaps, along the way, I can talk some genuine brand new Hatchlings and some other veteran Gators into sharing their thoughts about their first few days as well.

I’m happy to answer any questions in the comments section about our Jr. Admins or the hiring/training process, really anything at all related to what we’ve addressed thus far.  Also, if there is any aspect of HostGator that you would like for me to expound upon as I tell this tale throughout additional posts, please leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to oblige.

Tour Du Rouge 2012

Written by Sean Valant

Monday, June 11th, 2012

HostGator is proud to have presented the 2012 Tour Du Rouge, benefiting the Gulf Coast chapters of The American Red Cross.  The ride traversed five hundred and twenty-six miles, beginning in Houston on May 6th and ending in New Orleans on May 11th, at an average of 88 miles each day.  HostGator designed the awesome jerseys visible in the images below, as well as t-shirts and lots of other event graphics.  Allan, one of our Admins who participated in the ride this year, was kind enough to share some of his experiences with us.

 

The morning of the ride began with a performance of The Star-Spangled Banner, followed by a group prayer.  After the ceremonies, a police escort (complete with horse-mounted officers) accompanied the riders from the starting point in Northeast Houston through to the first major freeway, about five miles away.  Beaumont would be the destination for day one.  Allan completed this 88 mile trek in just under 5 hours, despite some rough patches of road along the way.  The image below is from the starting line, with Allan front and center, notice those stylish HostGator jerseys!

 

Day two would take the riders from Beaumont through Port Arthur and ultimately over the bridge, across the state border into Louisiana. The group stopped for lunch on Holly Beach before hitting the road again and enjoying the scenic Gulf Coast view; finally bedding down in the city of Sulpher, Louisiana.  Allan would traverse these 93 miles once again in just under 5 hours.

 

Day three held the longest single stretch of the tour; just over 100 miles, from Sulphur to Abbeville.  The day began around 6:30a, in order to get a head start of the inevitably blaring sun.  Unfortunately, Allan experienced a flat tire around mile 3 on a particularly bad patch of road.  This day would turn out to be his most difficult, as he also suffered a knee injury fairly early in the day.  Things began to turn around during the lunch stop in Mermentau, though and Allan was able to finish the day strong.  He made it to Abbeville in about 6 1/2 hours; 30 minutes before the pouring rain.  The weather would prove to be more of an adversary as the tour continued, though.

 

Day four would deliver the riders into Morgan City, Louisiana.  Breakfast at a local café that morning included an a capella performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by the café owner’s son.  Later in the day, the riders paid a visit to Avery Island for a tour of the famous Tabasco factory and it’s attached store, which reportedly had some rarely-seen, but absolutely amazing Tabasco chipotle raspberry ice cream.  Allan spent just over 4 hours on this 78 mile trek; by this point, the riders had now covered a total of over 360 miles.

 

Day five took the riders across the Mississippi River and into Gonzales, Louisiana.  All told, this would be the least eventful day for the tour.  The highlight was the lunch stop at St. Joseph Plantation that included some log cabin style, old-timey school houses.  In hindsight, it would be the calm before the (quite literal) storm that would rain down upon the riders on the final leg of their journey.

 

The final day of the ride would prove to be a fitting end of a long journey.  Destination: New Orleans, Louisiana! Following a slightly confusing (and last minute) re-routing of the riders’ path, Allan and the others would battle fierce wind and sudden downpours as the weather finally decided to let loose on the riders after many threats earlier in the week.  Allan would cross the finish line having spent just over 4 1/2 hours on the final 84 miles of the tour.

 

With the ride now behind them, and the riders now in dry clothes (at least temporarily), the group gathered at the New Orleans Police Department for an escort into downtown ‘Nawlins.  Despite the continuing wind and rain, the riders were warmly greeted by not only a cheering crowd, but also an impressive live band.

 

Clearly at this point, the only reasonable thing left to do was spend the evening on Bourbon Street in celebration of a ride well ridden.  We’d like to share a picture from Bourbon Street, but to be honest, they’re all a little bit blurry for some reason or another… All told, Allan’s GPS reports a total of 532.7 miles covered, with a total ride time of 29hrs 43mins 30secs over the course of six days.  The 2012 Tour du Rouge was now in the history books.

Our sincere appreciation to The American Red Cross and all those who took part in the 2012 Tour du Rouge, especially the riders themselves and our very own fearless Admin Allan who was kind enough to not only share his experience with us, but also the following pictures:

 

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