For most users who need "point and click" managed hosting, I recommend our affiliate Site5.
As for hosts to stay away from, I generally steer people away from GoDaddy, Hostgator, and FatCow.
I've heard of linode but I am not experienced enough to learn and manage Linux, thanks for the advice on that!
I was considering site5 - the only reason I hesitate is that the graphics with checkmarks showing their sites all up is just that, a graphic, not live. It's a bit misleading. You can go in and look at performance for individual cities, though.
I just wonder if a host provider who specializes in WP hosting and nothing else would be, as they claim, optimized for WP installations, versus the generic host providers.
I was also considering cloud providers, until you fixed that redirect loop for me, it was really throwing me for a loop.
I have worked with DOS command line years ago (started working with computers in the late 70s although no formal training) so I am not afraid to give it a shot.
I'm just new to WP.