With a little help from our friends

Berkeleyside exists because of the community we’re in: its flow of news, its fascinating characters, its contentious issues. But we’re constantly discovering — to our delight — that the community gives us back as much as we put into it. That’s been made clear in the last couple of months by some wonderful acts of community generosity.

As any small business owner knows, there are dozens of skills that need to be mastered. On Berkeleyside, the three founders have decades of journalism experience. But we’ve had to learn about accounting, corporate taxation, marketing, and on and on. We’ve also had to become amateur webmasters. The technical skills we’ve developed are fine on a day-to-day basis, but every once in a while the Internet throws us a loop that demands far greater expertise.

On Berkeleyside this first happened when we were plagued by a virus on our site. It’s likely that we were the victim of a random hacker attack, the kind of thing where someone trawls sites for vulnerabilities, and, when found, infiltrates some malicious code. However it happened, it was baffling, frustrating and, admittedly, slightly terrifying. The first alert that something was wrong came from our Berkeley news competitors, Berkeley Daily Planet. Becky and Mike O’Malley, computer mavens as well as publishers, offered helpful pointers. Then Berkeleyside reader Steve Sekiguchi popped up and offered to help us figure out what was wrong, and clean our site. It was an act of pure voluntary spirit, despite our entreaties to take some payment or at least get a free meal.

The virus was one thing, but Berkeleyside was also plagued by problems with Dreamhost, a large web hosting company based in Southern California. As any webmaster will tell you, there is no such thing as foolproof hosting. Even giants like Google and Facebook have had occasional outages of parts of their services. But we were having some downtime on a near-weekly basis. It was driving us — and we suspect some of our readers — around the bend.


Enter another Berkeleyside reader, Robert Mathews of Tiger Technologies. At the moment we were in the absolute depths of despond last month, Robert got in touch. He’s a Berkeleyan, a reader of Berkeleyside, and Tiger Technologies is a local company. The perfect combination for us. He offered hosting and technical help for us to move the site. We’ve now been with Tiger Tech for a month without a moment of downtime and with numerous instances where help has been swift and friendly. If you’re looking for hosting, we couldn’t recommend anyone more highly.

Moral: we’re proud to be a local, independent business. We’re finding consistently that our best experiences are with other local, independent businesses. We’re all in this together.