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Quick update on Site Monitor and Google App Engine D-Day

I’ve made a few changes to the way the monitor works in the hope that it will reduce the load on the app and thus the cost based on the new App Engine pricing. There are three implications you should be aware of if you use the monitor.

1) ‘Up’ emails are not sent anymore.
You’ll just have to trust the site is being checked, without the email confirmation.

2) Checking will be 24 times per day, roughly one hour apart
I’ve changed the way the monitoring queue works, so that the sites will be not be dequeued concurrently, and so checked more slowly. However they should all get checked every hour, approximately one hour apart. Failed sites get checked 2 further times to make sure they’re really down, these rechecks will happen almost straight away.

3) If your site is down for 96 consecutive checks (about 4 days) it will no longer be checked.
This is to stop sending endless emails for weeks when a site is taken offline.

Hopefully these changes will keep the monitor running for free from here on out.

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Google App Engine billing changes and my website monitoring service

A long long time ago I wrote a simple little monitoring service on Google App Engine. It’s been happily ticking over for the last couple of years but with the recent changes to Google’s App Engine pricing, I’m going to have to make some changes.

This is a blog post for those who do use the service (there’s over 100 of you!) and may care about whether it is still monitoring your site. I sent this email to you all (sorry for the spam!) and will make any further updates on this site to save your inbox tears.

Hi, All

I’m Ashley, I made the website monitoring service you signed up for
here: – if you no longer use it, or
don’t care, please delete this email – I won’t be sending any more.

If you’re still with us so far, firstly sorry to spam all of you, but
there’s been some important changes by Google in the way they price
the App Engine platform, and apps like this monitor service, are not
free any more.

I’ll do my best to do a quick rewrite of the monitor in a way that can
keep the running costs at zero, but if I can’t, I’m going to have to
shut it down. If that does happen, I’ll gladly open source the code,
so that you can all run your own version of it, on your own app engine

As promised I won’t email any of you about this again, I know how
annoying emails like this are. If you use and care about the service
working, subscribe at for updates on the
future of the monitor, and the code if/when it is open-sourced.

Any questions, please just ask me.

Kind regards,

So either there’ll be an update about what the new service does and does not do, or there’ll be some code so you can run it yourself. D-Day is Nov 7.

I will just say, I’m still a big fan of App Engine, despite the changes – it’ll remain my platform of choice for future projects until something better comes along.

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Free Magento Hosting Competition

Yes that’s right, I am offering two 12 month shared hosting plans as prizes for a Free Magento Hosting Competition – no strings attached, totally free. Why? Well, constantly doing Magento installations for other people gives me a great deal of insight into the operations of hosting companies. I thought it was time I started sharing those insights by doing a series of reviews for web-host companies that offer Magento hosting.

I reached out to several prominent host companies asking for a trial access period to test installations for my hosting reviews. Not only have the handful of initial companies been very helpful and co-operative, two of them have actually gone one step further and offered a prize for my readers!

Just to give those two companies a quick and well deserved shout-out for their generosity, a big thank you to A2 Hosting and Nexcess Hosting. To sweeten the deal even more I have decided to also offer free Magento installations to the winners of those two 12 month packages. So you’ll not only get a free year of Magento hosting, you’ll get a professional Magento installation done for free too!

I haven’t started writing up the Magento installation hosting reviews yet, but they will be trickling in over the next week to 10 days. I just thought I’d let you all know I have the hosting prizes available and will be starting to accept entries to the competition. What’s the competition, you ask?

I’m going to compile a list of top do’s and dont’s for hosting companies, based on my readers experiences. So I want you to tell me about your positive and/or negative experiences with web hosting companies. I’ll compile them and create the lists. All entries will go in the draw to win one of the two 12 month hosting packages. If your entry makes me laugh, I’ll make it a blog post, so be funny and get a free link!

So please go to my competition page and enter the draw, I’m really looking forward to hearing about other people’s experiences with web hosting. I bet you are looking forward to a chance to win some super sweet prizes.

If you are a Magento hosting company interested in being reviewed, please contact me to make arrangements.

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How to Bulk Enable Products when Google Checkout is Disabled in Magento

Magento allows you to disable Google checkout functionality for each product. Under certain situations though (when upgrading from 1.2 to 1.3 for example), the state of your products eligibility for sale through Google Checkout changes.

If you find yourself unable to sell products through Google checkout you can easily enable Google Checkout for your products through the Magento admin interface. However if you have many hundreds or thousands of products going through each one is not an option.

Here is a solution that will allow you to set the state of all your products to enabled for Google Checkout, quickly and easily. Testing has been limited to my own development installation, so as always backup your data before running anything.

Continue reading How to Bulk Enable Products when Google Checkout is Disabled in Magento

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Another Magento install success, Only 2 Free installations left!

Well I have finished another of my free Magento installations and have some more excellent feedback to share. I helped Alan Bold with his Magento installation and here is what he had to say about my work:

“Building a Magento E-commerce site for the first time is tricky! No doubt about it. My biggest worry was web-server and web-hosting performance. Fortunately I came across Ashley’s services and took up his offer of a free Magento installation. If I had to sum up the experience in one word that word would be professional, others could be: fast, efficient and cost effective. Ashley took time to answer all my initial questions and reviewed my chosen web-hosting package. His install was quick (much faster than my test server install) and worked great. I was left with peace of mind that everything was configured correctly and secure, for this alone I will be using Ashley’s service for future Magento sites. $99 is a bargain, cheaper than Magento and well worth it. Thanks Ashley and keep up the good work”

Thanks for the kind words Alan, I look forward to working with you in the future. For any readers interested in help with a professional Magento installation, please do not hesitate to contact me.