Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Weekly Chatter For June 23, 2014

The Longest Day

There is nothing quite as disappointing to a child as being told to go to bed on a summer night when it is still light outside. Yet the childhood memories linger of lying there wide awake as the final moments of the day decay -- squandered playtime lost forever at the request of unreasonable parents. With a window ajar, the taunting song of birds still foraging the day's last meal combined with the playful yelps of cool parents' children ride on the evening breeze. Who could possibly sleep under those conditions! But the rebuttal always seemed to fall on deaf ears. The fight was won on most of those summer nights as children around the world remained defiantly awake in bed until darkness prevailed just to prove they could have used that time more wisely. It is not until later in life we discover that those long summer days encroached on parental free time if bedtime lingered until pitch darkness. The call to bed was less about a child's health, wealth and wisdom then it was about a mom and dad's good night's play.

For what seems like the entirety of human history, there has been a mystical appeal of the summer solstice, a celebration of Earth's annual cycle. It continues even today. Midsummer is a festival of the summer solstice celebrated in Northern Europe, among other places. Festivals vary from culture to culture, carrying traditions and history forward from generation to generation. Celebrations include singing, dancing, collecting special herbs and flowers, raising of maypoles, and burning bonfires. Specific plants that flowered around the solstice were thought to have medicinal benefits, and were harvested while Midsummer accentuated their healing powers. Fires were burned to drive away evil spirits and witches that were no longer kept in check as the sun changed direction. Perhaps the most infamous marker of humankind's intrigue with the longest day is Stonehenge, near Salisbury, England. Thought to be constructed 4000 to 5000 years ago, tens of thousands of revelers still gather today at the summer solstice to witness the sun rise in alignment with the Heelstone. As no written record was left by those who constructed it, it's specific importance for them remains open to debate.

We also mark the beginning of summer at ParaChat as each of our ancestors did, but in a different way than burning fires, or picking flowers. It is not the same as relishing school's final bell of the year, or the nostalgia of an Alice Cooper song. Our customers and users represent a truly worldwide base, and our traffic ebbs and flows with customary summer holidays. For most of the year, and as one would expect, our business-oriented traffic is highest during the week, and our entertainment-oriented traffic is highest during the weekend. But once school lets out around the world, our traffic essentially surges to become a 3-month weekend. As working families take summer holidays, business-related sales and support inquiries tend to take holidays with them. We see fewer orders for business web sites, and more orders for personal web sites. We receive less sales inquiries related to how ParaChat can generate and retain revenue for a business, and more sales inquiries about how ParaChat can generate and retain traffic for a site. It's a fascinating time of year for our business. Although we anticipate these changes, our core operation does not really change at all. We remain fully staffed for sales, support and development regardless of what the longest day means to the rest of the world. Have a great summer, and we're here to serve you all season long!

ParaChat Feature In Focus: Gag By IP Address 

For many years, ParaChat software has included a Gag feature, which is synonymous with silencing a user in other chat applications. When a gag is applied by an admin on a user, it allows the user to remain logged into the chat room, but blocks their chat messages from displaying publicly to users other than themselves. If an administrator does not want to expel or ban an unruly user from the chat room, the Gag option is an ideal tool to have at their disposal. Many argue that the Gag feature is an even better administrative tool than expel or banning. It could be considered a better tool for many reasons. A gagged user does not see any difference in their own view, so they are unaware that their chat messages are no longer displaying. They think everything is normal since everything appears normal to them. There is consequently no attempt by the gagged user at any sort of reprisal or workaround that may further consume an administrator's time and effort. Gag is a non-combative way to negate an unwanted user's comments from the room. Eventually, a gagged user simply becomes bored and goes away.

For the Gag feature to be most effective, it is important for an admin user not to disclose the fact that they're going to gag a user. There is no reason for an admin user to show any of their cards. It may also be useful to configure your ParaChat service to allow only one connection per IP address so that the user is less apt to log in twice using two different user names to see if their messages are visible. In cases where a user becomes aware that their messages are no longer displaying, ParaChat includes the option to gag a user not only by user name but also by IP address. In more severe cases, a cookie gag can be applied so the user is no longer able to post messages from their computer regardless of their number of connections, user names or IP addresses. In any event, it is always best to have the deck stacked in the admin user's favor. The Gag feature, with the option to also Gag by IP and/or Cookie Gag, certainly adds aces to an admin user's deck.

Upgrade Deals

We love to offer deals on service upgrades. Not hidden deals, but deals in plain sight. If you're interested in upgrading your ParaChat service level from one service to another to take advantage of exclusive features, or if you're just looking to increase your user limit or add a fee-based option, don't strain yourself! Just click the handy Upgrades tab in your ParaChat service administration area. Click through the upgrade opportunities to see special pricing for existing customers. Take advantage of us; no dinner or movie required!

Keep chatting, and see you next week!

The ParaChat Team

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