“Tip Stilgherrian” page operational, with few glitches

Stripe logoNow that I’ve run two successful crowdfunding campaigns through Pozible, I’m starting to set up systems to accept direct payments for my various projects. The first, a page to accept one-off donations was mostly straightforward.

I chose to use Stripe as the card payment service because I already had a Stripe account for my second Pozible project, The 9pm Resurrection.

While Stripe is still in beta in Australia, Pozible already uses it to handle recurring subscription payments, and I’d already received an invitation into the beta program. I figured it made sense to keep all my payments in one place.

Plus I’ll eventually be using Memberful to process subscriptions, and that also uses Stripe.

To integrate Stripe into this WordPress site, I used the free plugin WP Stripe from Human Made Limited. This provided me with one payment form per website, which is all I needed for this task. I also installed the WP Stripe Email Receipts plugin by Philip Newcomer.

All that went smoothly. I installed the plugins, activated them, entered my Stripe account keys and a template for the email receipts — and they just worked.

The only difficulties came with configuring Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) on the web server, and that was down to a bug I encountered in the WHM/cPanel hosting management software while I was installing the SSL certificate. That’s nothing to do with Stripe or WordPress or the plugins, of course, just my dodgy web server.

I’ll document that bug over the fold. Meanwhile, why not try out the system and give me a tip? Was that too blatant?

Continue reading ““Tip Stilgherrian” page operational, with few glitches”

cPanel reconsiders EULA acceptance process

Earlier this month I was less than impressed with cPanel, who sprung a new end user license agreement (EULA) on me and expected me to agree on the spot. I’m pleased with their response.

The other day I received a formal reply from their vice president of operations, Aaron Phillips, which I’m only posting today because I’ve been distracted:

I have been in discussions with our admin and legal teams today about your concerns. Currently, we are considering changes to the deployment procedures that should allow clients and owners of cPanel licenses more time to review updated agreements prior to their releases. The technical details have not been worked out, however, we are discussing solutions that will increase the amount of notice that will be given without a significant increase in administrative overhead for our customers.

We apologize if you have incurred any problems from cPanel’s procedures. While we do not have any immediate solutions to your particular situation, your comments and suggestions are taken very seriously and a new protocol will be developed to make the process easier for everyone in the future.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions or comments.

And my response to Mr Phillips is simple. Thank you very much. I completely understand that procedures and the software that implements them can’t be changed overnight, and it’s pleasing to see that the matter was taken seriously — rather than an angry rant from a crank.

If only more software vendors took the same attitude, rather than dictating terms to their users…

cPanel’s new EULA: more software industry arrogance?

[Update 16 April 2012: Early communications with cPanel indicated that their EULA may in fact have been unchanged, just presented again as part of the license activation — which would put a very different perspective on things. I added a question mark at the end of the headline at that time. Either way, their eventual official response indicates that this process might well be changed. That’s a win for us all.]

What is it with software companies that shove a multi-page contract in your face and expect you to click “I Agree” on the spot? Seriously, what level of ignorant arrogance does that require? cPanel Inc, creators of a popular web hosting management system, are just the latest in this conga line of suckholes.

(Note to fragile American readers: that’s a literary reference. Grow up and deal with it.)

This morning the shared web server I provide for clients had updated its cPanel/WHM software overnight. As it should. But I had to agree to a new end user license agreement (EULA) before I could even start to address an urgent maintenance matter.

I was far from impressed. If you want to change the rules, cPanel, you’ll bloody well give me the chance to consider those changes and decide whether I agree.

I just fired off this email. I await their reply.

Dear cPanel Inc,

I take serious issue with the way you have just handled the change to your end user license agreement (EULA) that came with the new version of cPanel/WHM installed automatically overnight.

There is no warning of an impending change to the EULA that I can immediately see in either the news or blog sections of your website, nor was there any notice that I saw in the cPanel/WHM interface. You simply popped up the new EULA in front of people once the new software had been installed, giving them no choice but to agree or be unable to maintain their servers.

Forcing people to agree to a new contract on the spot?

This is appalling!

cPanel/WHM is not consumer entertainment software. This is operational internet-facing software used by businesses. The EULA sets out all manner of terms and conditions with operational, risk and security implications — not only for your direct customers but for their customers in turn.

To pick just two examples, you grant yourself the right to “access to any facilities in which the Software is used or stored, including without limitation the facilities which house the Licensed Server”, and to “copy, access, store, disclose and use cPanel Data indefinitely in its sole discretion”.

While there are phrases limiting those rights in some cases, you have not given your users a reasonable time in which to assess the changes, decide whether they will accept them and, if they are unhappy with them, to make other arrangements — let alone discuss them with their customers.

Maybe the changes are minimal. Maybe not. Did you provide us with a clear list of changes, explaining the implications? No, you did not.

Your customers face a true dilemma today. Do they roll back to the previous version of the software, knowing that it doubtless contains security flaws that have been patched in the new version? Or do they blindly accept your new EULA without being able to think through the implications for their business and their customers?

Your new EULA will not have been written overnight. Your lawyers will have taken time to consider it, and it will have gone through an approval process within your own company. Why did you not have the simple, basic courtesy to extend the same opportunity to your customers?

Not impressed.

I have pressed “I Agree” because I needed to perform an urgent maintenance task on my server. However I wish to make it clear that I have not, in fact, agreed to your new EULA because I have not been given a reasonable opportunity to consider it.

Your once-happy but now extremely unhappy customer,


Of course cPanel are far from the only example of this arsehattery. Who have you had to deal with lately?

Requiring the “www” sub-domain in 2011? Really?

I’m currently researching some websites for a story I’m writing, and I’m amazed that one of the sites requires you to specify the “www” sub-domain or it just won’t work. “WTF? It’s 2011,” I thought. But am I wrong?

I decided to ask on Twitter. “How would you describe a business whose website demands that you use the ‘www’ sub-domain or it won’t work?” Here’s the first responses I got.

Ignorant. Fucking idiots. Sub Standard? Lame. Misconfigured. My work place *sigh* Partying like it was 1999. In need of some DNS sysadmining? Antiquated. One that doesn’t know how to configure their services properly. Pedantic. Woefully Witless Website? DNS-illiterate? Paying for poor advice, choosing inadequate consultants. One that needs help addressing user behaviour.

Well that seems fairly clear…

I had to stop looking after that, my question generated far more responses that I’d expected and the consensus was obvious pretty damn fast.

One person described it as a cPanel-based business, but I disagree. I use the cPanel web hosting control panel at Prussia.Net, and by default it sets up websites to work both with and without the “www”.

Another said he was about to go on a rant about bom.gov.au but they’ve finally fixed it. As has Australia Post at austpost.com.au.

Are there any particularly annoying examples of this phenomenon?