Best Web Hosting

best web hostingI am lucky to be using what I consider the best web hosting company in the internet industry. Product Review Ratings is now in it’s fourth year of service and it makes sense to give credit to the tools of the web business trade that have supported me throughout the ups and downs of a web-based product reviewer. Also, you can take advantage of HostGator Coupons that show up from time to time.

My mission for Product Review Ratings has been and continues to be to review any and all products or services I’ve ever experienced or used. The possibilities for reviews and sharing my experiences are so broad and endless that I occasionally forget to see what’s right under my nose and talk about it. We don’t really appreciate things like web hosting companies until we have a problem and need their help. I didn’t have to do extensive research to find the best hosting company in the business. I’ve been using HostGator for about 3 years. To be honest, before I signed up with HostGator, I wasn’t looking for the best web hosting company in the world – I was looking for the best price. What I didn’t realize is how many times I would end up putting the quality of HostGator’s customer service to the test many times. Last night, was another prime opportunity:

In my never-ending fascination with new, WordPress plug-ins and the desire to make things work better, I sometimes end up breaking something. Yesterday afternoon, I broke one of my more successful websites. I could no longer get to my home page and as luck would have it, I didn’t make a backup before I started making risky changes to the site. I was comforted knowing that I could go to HostGator and have them do a restore of my website because they keep everything automatically backed up. Now, having automatic backups is not what makes HostGator the best web hosting company – that is something any web hosting company should do. What separates HostGator from the rest is what they ended up actually doing and how they did it:

The Best Hosting Company has the Best Service

Contacting HostGator has always been very fast and simple. I use their online LiveChat whenever I need something and they are always very responsive and helpful. To my delight, when I logged into the HostGator LiveChat, I was greeted with a message that there were no customers ahead of me and 147 technicians available to assist me. How’s that for service?! A few seconds later, a technician was right there to help me. He understood my problem and request instantly. When I mentioned to the HostGator technician that I’d like to pay the small, $15.00 fee and have my website restored, he said he would like to try and fix the problem before resorting to that. I gave him my information and a few minutes later the problem was solved. To me, that is a web hosting company going above and beyond the call of duty to help its customers. Understand that web hosting really has nothing to do with supporting website design software. It just so happens that my technician was more knowledgeable than me with WordPress and was able to fix the problem. I really didn’t expect that kind of service when I signed up with HostGator – what sold me was their cost and what I considered the best web hosting plans in the business. Let me mention what they offer:

  • Hatchling Plan: If you’ve only got one website and you need it hosted, you can do it for just $3.96 a month. With this plan, you also get unlimited band-width and Disk Space.
  • Baby Plan: This is by far the Best web hosting plan for those who have multiple website domains: The discounted price is only $6.36 per month for unlimited bandwidth, disk space – PLUS unlimited Domains.
  • Business Plan: If you’re truly running a business on your websites, then this one is the best web hosting plan for you: In addition to the unlimited bandwidth, domains and disk space, HostGator gives you your own private IP Address, SSL and Toll Free phone number. Only $10.36 with the current discount.

So, that’s HostGator in a nutshell. You may be wondering how I can call it the best of the bunch when I haven’t even tried all the others; Let’s just say that it is without doubt the best company for me to host my websites out of the 2 or 3 that I have tried.  Furthermore, compared to other web based fees and services, HostGator has proven to be the best company I have used in any capacity.

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Plantronics S12 Review

plantronics s12 reviewIt was such a great relief when my employer sent me a Plantronics S12 headset to replace the broken one that I had been using for the last 7 years. If you’re in sales, I’m sure you can relate to the importance of being hands-free. In fact, if you’ve got any kind of job where you spend most of your time on a phone and typing on a computer, you know how important it is to have a good head-set. The S12 headset replaced my previous S10 model that I’ve used at work for the last 7 years.

plantronics s10aI get a kick out of the sitcom show, The Office, but I can’t believe the sales reps on the show are talking on the phone without a headset. Doesn’t this make the show seem a little bit behind the times? We’ve been using headsets in our offices for at least 25-30 years. I think headset technology has improved immensely, even since the previous Plantronics one I was using. I’ve been in sales for 25 years and for the last 8 have been using a Plantronics headset. I realize that Plantronics is considered the consummate headset brand, but I cursed at my older headset more than I actually used it. My old headset was a Wired Plantronics S10A. Mechanically and functionally, the S10A looks almost identical to the new S12 that I’m using now. The difference is that the S12 actually works all the time and works well. Perhaps this is because the S10A is equipped with a couple of buttons that really are ambiguous. The Plantronics S12 lacks the Speak-Volume, Tone Dial and TxLevel switch of the S10A. I never liked the speak volume or tone button. Shouldn’t the headset just work like a regular handset? Do we ever have to set the volume and tone when talking into a regular phone receiver? Obviously, not. This new headset does exactly what it is supposed to do: It worked on the very first try and continues to work consistently on every telephone call. Maybe my old S10A was a lemon; or maybe it had too many unnecessary buttons, but I suffered with that headset for 7 years.

The S12 headset is like a breath of fresh air. I don’t even think about this headset. It just works seemingly like I would expect a phone to work. Like the S10A, there are 6 channels on the left hand side. I kept this setting on channel 1 from the very beginning and it has worked flawlessly. In addition to the channel setting, there is a volume button, mute-toggle button and headset/handset toggle button – that’s it. The buttons on the S12 are nice and big with a green LED light above the handset toggle and a button that lights up red when the mute button is depressed. Warning: When you’re using the handset, the mute button doesn’t work – so don’t be throwing f-bombs and profanities at your boss during sales meetings with the headset. One feature the Plantronics S12 has that my old, S10A didn’t: The mouthpiece on the S12 has a red, flashing LED when you’re on the phone, letting your co-workers know when it is not a good time to start a conversation about their long weekend or how they drank too much the night before. Features aside, I’ve been told what really sets Plantronics headsets apart from the competition is conversation quality. Based on my experience with the S12, I’m inclined to believe this claim. The clarity of the voice on the other end is crystal clear and I have not had one complaint about what the listener hears either. S12 headsets are identical to the S10. They can be used in one of two ways: with the ear hook that glides over your listening ear or with the head-band. I much prefer using the head band. It is both more stable and more comfortable. It would drive me crazy trying to get the single ear piece adjusted just right every time I pick up the head set. The band that fits over your head is not even noticeable. It’s just right. I would give the Plantronics S12 almost a perfect rating if it was wireless. I’m sure you can’t get a decent wireless headset anywhere close to to the kind of money my employer paid for my Plantronics S12. I’m satisfied with the unit in every way imaginable. If you’re looking for an affordable, wired headset, I highly recommend the S12 for your next headset.

Plantronics S12 Manual

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Seattles Best Coffee

seattles best coffee

I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I love Starbucks coffee and anything short of that has seemingly become a cheap comparison. I haven’t quite found a match for Starbucks whether it is whole bean for drip coffee makers or the Keurig K-Cups and/or Tassimo T-Discs Brewing machines. I’ve reviewed quote a few different coffees, but obviously there are quite a few brands I’ve never had the opportunity to try. Seattles Best Coffee isn’t one of them. I’ve tried it and I like it, but can it replace my standby, Costco, Roasted-by-Starbucks brand in the 2lb whole-bean bags? In reality, I believe the Seattle brand is a cheaper subsidiary of Starbucks.

Seattles Best vs Starbucks

If I love Starbucks so much you might be asking why I would even consider their Seattle brand. I’ll give you the answer in two words: Price and convenience. The Costco roasted-by-Starbucks brand comes in whole bean which are very inconvenient to take home and grind every night. Also, I think the quality and flavor of the Costco brand isn’t quite what it used to be. I’ve gotten tired of it. Unfortunately, though, the 1lb bags of Starbucks averages out to be $2.00 to $5.00 more expensive than the other, pre-ground gourmet brands of coffee beans. There has to be a compromise and that’s where Seattle’s Best Coffee has promise.  I’ve had Seattles Best before and liked it – just not as much as Starbucks. The reason is its darkness. Every blend of Seattles Best Coffee that I’ve tried is very bold to the point where it tastes like a French or Italian Roast. There is more smoke than actual coffee flavor. On the other hand, Seattles Best coffee is very smooth and low in acidity which makes it more tolerable for me than most non-Starbucks brands of Coffee. When I found the ground, Seattles Best Coffee at my local, King Sooper Supermarket for $6.00 a pound, I thought it would be worth giving this coffee another try.  I found four different varieties of Seattles Best Coffee:  Level-1, Level-2, Level-3 and Level-4: Okay, what do all these levels mean. I forced myself into a new level of comfort-zone and decided to read the explanation on the label. The level ratings our the Seattles Best Coffee roasters way of telling us how dark the roast. Level 1 is the lightest and Level 5 is the darkest. My grocer didn’t have the level-5 and being that Seattles Best always seemed a little too dark for me, I figured Level-3 would be the perfect compromise.

Seattles Level-3 roast did not disappoint me. On the other hand, like all the others that I’ve tried, it’s a tad darker and smokier than I prefer. Still, for the money, this is a decent and more convenient coffee than the degraded, whole bean roasted-by-Starbucks brand I’ve been buying for years at Costco. The most encouraging news however is that if the level-3 is too dark, I still have 2, lower, levels of lightness to look forward to trying.  If the level-2 is still too dark, I’ll try the level-1. My guess is that either of those will be an improvement, because their coffee is consistently darker than any others that I’ve tried. On my next trip to the supermarket, I’ll pick up a 1lb bag of both the Level-1 and Level-2 Seattles Best Coffee. Can either of these Seattles Best  blends become my new, household, every-day favorite? <

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Bourbon Barrel Stout




bourbon barrel stoutIf you love a rich, dark, full-bodied, complex beer, you’ll love Bourbon Barrel Stout by Odell Brewing. When I toured the Odell Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado, I had absolutely no idea that I would leave the place craving a rich and creamy bourbon barrel stout. Having never even tried it, I knew I would love it just by the tour guide’s taste description:

Tasting Notes: Sweet milk chocolate, smooth vanilla and coffee beans; aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels for that extra taste of oak and caramel. Does that not sound delicious? It sure does to me, but that is only one of the reasons I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

10.5% Alcohol

I love a beer that is not only stout in taste and thickness, but alcohol as well. I tend to get filled up too quickly on beer. With bourbon barrel stout you don’t need to drink as much to enjoy a good buzz along with its exceptional taste.  I was very impressed with the Odell Brewing company. Odell is a great company; with a small-company feel of a micro brewery, but the production of very big, hearty beers. I’m not a big fan of a lot of the Odell classic beers like 90 Schilling, 5 Barrel Pale Ale, etc.. Don’t get me wrong these are very good beers, but I’m not a fan of the perfume-citrus type flavors of these beers. The Odell Brewing tour gives you a very good chance to sample what they have: For $4.00 you can sample their classics: 90 Schilling, 5 Barrel Pale Ale, Levity Amber Ale, Easy Street Wheat Beer,  IPA and Cutthroat Porter. I love a dark beer, so the Porter is one of my favorites. For $8.00, the Odell Tour will give you a sampling of their more complex, seasonal beers such as St. Lupulin,  Isolation Ale, Red, Myrcenary and Double Pilsner. The Double Pilsner, at 8.1% alcohol is very good! There are some real good ones in the batch at the Odell tour, but sadly all I could think about was the Bourbon Stout Barrel which the tour guide announced would not be available until Middle of September. Well, here it is third week of September and I still have not found a liquor store with stock on the highly anticipated bourbon barrel stout. When I finally find it, I’m sure that it won’t be cheap, but well worth the wait. I will be sure to report back with a full review on this fabulous sounding beer. Meanwhile, if you’ve been fortunate enough to try it, please leave us your taste impressions below.

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Best Bagels in Denver

Throw Out Your Brueggers Bagels

best bagels in denverThe best bagels in Denver are made by the Rocky Mtn Bagel factory in Indiana.  If that makes as much sense to you as it does me, join the bagel club of confusion. Actually, I’ve got nothing against Brueggers Bagels. What makes Rocky Mtn Bagels special is that that they come in a bag from the grocery store and they really are delicious. So, if you don’t reside near a great bagel shop, you can still get really bagels without having to take a long drive somewhere. And no, you don’t even have to drive all the way to Indiana where they’re made; they sell them at our local King Soopers (Kroger) Grocery story. My wife bought a baker’s dozen bag of 13. I was skeptical when I first saw them. Rarely, do I care for store-bought bagels. In fact, even most of Denver’s Bagel shops don’t make them right. Good bagels have a firm texture on the outside with fresh chewiness on the inside. Store bought bagels are usually more like bread in texture; they are either too flaky and dry or too soft. Even Einstein’s and Brueggers Bagels don’t quite get it right; though they fool everyone with their size and dazzling number of flavors and varieties. Unfortunately, the privately owned shops that use to make the best bagels in Denver have been run out of business by the big chains like Einsteins and Brueggers Bagels. Hint: A good bagel never leaves crumbs.

Rocky Mountain Bagels

When I looked inside the large bag of bagels I was encouraged by their shiny color which usually indicates they have a good firm crust. There is nothing fancy here – just plain bagels, but they looked delicious and they really were firm as I found out when I opened the bag and pulled the first one out. They are sliced just right so they don’t fall apart and there is absolutely no danger of tearing the bagel when you open them up because they are very firm and robust. Without tasting my first bite, I already knew I was going to like Rocky Mtn Bagels. These bagels are firm, lively and springy. I opened up a couple of the bagels; spread on some butter and lightly toasted them. They are even better toasted.  My wife and covered the inside of the toasted bagels with cream cheese. We both thought they were delicious.  We both agreed; These are the best in Denver.

Where to Buy the Best Bagels in Denver

There’s good news if you don’t live in Denver. Since Rocky Mtn Bagels are made in Indiana and available at our local King Soopers, you can expect to find them in your own Kroger grocery chains throughout much of the country. So, don’t think that you have to go to Denver to eat the best bagels.

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