Moving Hosts

I’ve hosted my websites via DreamHost for years. Good price, excellent uptime and ok performance. Recently though I’d been starting to see the shared hosting plan I was on creak at the seams. My needs were pretty minimal but it looked like I would need to move to one of their VPS plans. It’s at this point all the podcast adverts rang in my head…so I tried Linode.

Linode’s front page says ‘hosting for developers’ which as Shak keeps saying isn’t me! However the plans looked appealing and I took advantage of an offer to try it for a month for free and so far it’s been really good.

Linode is a bit different to the hosting I’m used to. You pick a Linux distribution, tell Linode where in the world you want it deployed and boom – you have a Linux server that’s all yours. That means root access and ability to install whatever you like…but also means you are responsible for security and keeping the server updated.

Linode supports many distributions and also has an excellent set of tutorials and guides. Within a day I’d migrated a domain and WordPress website over to Linode from DreamHost. Performance was superb compared to what I was used to. I actually enjoyed controlling Apache directly, setting up redirects and getting to grips with installing security certificates.

Last weekend I migrated this blog. I’ve stuck with WordPress for now but starting to look at static site options so I’m more in control and rely less on plugins. Again the performance of WordPress on Linode is excellent and the website migration was pretty trivial. Next up is the podcast which will be a little more involved but hopefully not too bad.

If you are using shared hosting and thinking of moving to something more beefy then consider Linode. Requires more effort but being this in control of my sites is something I wish I’d done years ago.

Now

I stumbled on an idea from Derek Sivers – the Now page. It’s simply a page that describes what you are thinking/doing/focussing on right now. I liked the idea so I’m giving it a try on the site at iand.net/now. For me it’s an extra on top of todo’s and almost a light weight sprint in that it’s the areas I want to focus on in the coming weeks but doesn’t necessarily have a deliverable that can be ticked off in Todoist.

Will it work? We’ll see if it’s still on the site in a couple of months.

It also made me chuckle that Derek was behind one of my favourite TED talks on how to start a movement and he’s now kicked off the now page movement with a little help of course.

Blocked

As happens every so often with the blog I’ve been quiet for a while. Busy at work, busy with other things but also 4 or 5 posts in draft that I will never finish and are stopping me from publishing more. So it’s time for some quick updates and a mass deletion of drafts.

  • I picked up an iPhone 6 and have been enjoying it so far. It is bigger but not as ridiculous as the iPhone 6+. The sculpted edges that meld with the glass are a constant joy, the plastic bits on the back to allow signals through not so much. I’m enjoying the extra battery life, the screen is gorgeous and the camera as always has improved nicely. The power button moving to the side rather than the top is more troublesome than I thought. Muscle memory always takes me to the top to switch it off but I also can’t change the volume without hitting the power button. So fecking annoying. A great phone overall.
  • iOS8 is a bit of a clusterfuck. Buggiest iOS release so far including the 8.0.1 release that removed cellular from the iPhone 6 and had to be pulled. Took a couple of days for Apple to fix but a very poor start. I had loads of wifi problems with the iPad that were finally fixed with the 8.1.1 release. HealthKit still looks to be flaky, HomeKit has delivered virtually nothing and there are still many app’s that haven’t been updated for the iPhone 6 or 6+ new screen resolutions. Only plus point is the many updated app’s now supporting widgets, extensions and touch ID. Lovely. Seen some significant changes to app’s I use daily and maybe 2015 will see some HomeKit movement…and maybe a return to AirPlay working smoothly?
  • Yosemite brought a new look and feel to the Mac alongside some nice integration with iOS devices. I went for a clean start on the iMac which thanks to Dropbox was far smoother than expected. I’ve only installed app’s I need and it has been quick and smooth in day to day operation. Annoying the iMac doesn’t support much of the handoff features but the Macbook Air does and has been quite handy. Best new feature is receiving calls and texts on any device. Really easy and convenient…but is it not beyond the wit of man (ok, Apple) that they couldn’t know which device I’m on and only ring/text that one? One change I have made is the switch to Safari and the dropping of Chrome. Better battery life on the laptop and I love the new favourites view in Safari across all my devices.
  • Plex on the Xbox One was a nice surprise and is now client of choice for my Plex library. Before the year ends I want to complete ripping all DVD’s and pack them off to the attic like I did with my cd’s a few years back. This also means I’m in the market for some external storage. No USB3 on any of my devices and firewire no longer on any new devices I may purchase pushes me to NAS or Thunderbolt. Been burnt with NAS before so edging towards a Thunderbolt drive possibly from OWC. Decisions, decisions.
  • Next year (early March) will see me switching from the Honda Civic to an Audi A3. Tested an A3 and a Mini and while both were nice the A3 was that little bit more comfortable to drive.
  • One of the teams I was working with this year saw some success in the company awards scheme, so much so I was in London at the start of November for an awards ceremony and at the start of December I’ve a few days in Washington DC for another awards ceremony. This will be my third trip to the USA and my first to Washington and while short I’m looking forward to making the most of it.
  • Haven’t been the healthiest of late which I’m putting down to work. Letting things get to me, not taking breaks like I should have seen a couple of issues snowball together. I stop for the Christmas break on December 16th and I’m looking forward to switching off. Time to think about what I’m doing and what changes I must make.
  • Final rant – why are so many game releases broken on day one. Paying £45-£55 for a game is bad enough but multi gigabyte day one patches and constant online issues sometimes weeks after launch are unacceptable. DriveClub and Halo Master Chief Collection – guilty as charged.

Splurge over, hopefully a more regular service will now resume.

New Digs

Consolidation. It’s a wonderful thing. After much postponing it was time to not only move from current host A Small Orange but also move my domain from 34SP. No real problem with either service provider – I’d just rather host everything at the one place which is Dreamhost. Since setting up with them last year for the podcast, I’ve had a couple of issues when they went through a network upgrade and then suffered a pretty big attack in May. The service for me is good value for money for the features and speed that I get.

So last Monday I kicked off the domain transfer (still not complete) and managed to quickly lose access to my e-mail, website etc. One day I’ll learn! However it didn’t take long to get back up and running. Exporting/importing in WordPress worked extremely well and it didn’t take long to get plugin’s and the theme installed.

Scarily, it’s almost seven years since I bought iand.net and stared the blog and it was the year before (16th Jan, 2002) that I first blogged at shweepa.net. Time flies.

New Clothes

The change in season’s has prompted me to give the blog a fresh look. Nothing fancy and quite simple like most of the other blog templates I’ve picked up. I plumped for Modicus Remix which I’ve been tweaking today. Quite pleased with the look although I do want to edit the CSS slightly as some things look a bit iffy.

I also took the opportunity to remove Intense Debate and switch to Disqus. We use Disqus on DigitalOutbox and I’ve been impressed with the better options and faster performance than I saw here with Intense Debate. One big advantage of Intense Debate was the plugin support but they haven’t really taken off yet, certainly not to the level I expected.

I also tweaked the Google advert locations. I finally put on some ad’s back around April/May and they’ve earned enough to pay for the blog hosting so that’s not too shabby. The theme change also allows for a nice DigitalOutbox link in the sidebar. Nothing like a bit of self promotion from time to time. So that’s the theme change for another year although I do have some thoughts around adding a more colourful theme next time that I want to hand crank myself. Just need a bit more time and motivation.

What's Occurring?

Quick updates….

  • Picked up an iPhone 3GS on Friday. Expensive but fast and I really like the new camera. I’ll put my thoughts down later in the week not here though but on DigitalOutbox.
  • Speaking of DigitalOutbox, we put up Episode 2 yesterday. Tried to keep it shorter this time. An iPhone special will be up mid-week. Me and Shak are actually enjoying doing it (so far) and we’ve got some idea’s on what we want to do next but we need to walk before we run. We also had a nice surprise seeing our podcast in the iTunes chart. No idea how it’s calculated or what it’s mean but it was a nice ego boost.
  • Another hill walk today. Ben Lomond – weather was a bit sucky but worse was the migraine once I got back. Yuck. Feeling better but dulled much like the clouds.
  • Wimbledon tomorrow. Looking forward to it and also seeing Andy Murray – just how far can he go? Not in the tennis but in the Andy Murrayometer. You couldn’t make this shit up.
  • While in the Apple store on Friday I got to play with the new Macbook pro’s. Gorgeous design. Current plan is to sell my Macbook Pro and iMac and replace with a new Macbook pro and a Mac Mini to act as a media server/always on machine. Need funds for that though. Help.
  • Starting to use FriendFeed a bit more. Impressive site but can be a bt overwhelming at times following ‘noisy’ posts.

With that I’ll end. Getting tired and it’s a school night. Later.

Plinky

Yet another site that I signed up to on day one…and promptly found no use for. It’s premise was to give you topics to blog about and I never used it once. However it was only today that I removed myself from the service and it’s weekly e-mails. In celebration, here’s my answers to this weeks suggested topics.

Recommend a place to get a good cheap bite to eat.
Cleveden Deli – they are very cheap and make a mean roll and sausage with brown sauce of course.

How did you get here? (this stage of life that is)
Not quite sure but I must have been a right nasty bastard in a previous life to earn this one.

What’s the most useless thing in your house right now?
Box of condoms.

You have the opportunity to talk 5 minutes worth of sense into a wayward celebrity. Who do you choose?
So many to choose from but it would have to be Kerry Katona. I’d tell her that carrying on just isn’t worth it and that she’d become loved if she ended it all now. Look what it did for Jade!

What’s the most on fire you’ve ever been?
I don’t do fire. However, this performance in Halo was pretty good.

Killionaire from Ian D on Vimeo.

OH NO, IT’S A RUMBLE! Quick, put together your ideal gang of street toughs!
Oh for fuck’s sake. Get a grip. Anyway, I’d have Edward Woodward but only if The Equalizer music was playing in the background, George Peppard aka Hannibal and Roy Keane. Sorted.

What’s the least fun you’ve ever had at a place specifically tailored for fun?
Plinky’s web site. Boring.

Scrapbook

Tidying up the blog recently has meant my Tumblr site for pulling all my feeds together was redundant. To be honest I never really used it anyway but I really like Tumblr and also it’s new free iPhone app. So what to do with the site?

I’ve seen quite a few good examples of using Tumblr as a scrapbook. Interesting. I’ve wiped my Tumblr account and set it up again as a scrapbook. A place where I can throw ‘the stuff’ that I stumble across online and want to collect but doesn’t fit in the blog, Google Reader or even LittleSnapper.

Time will tell whether it will fit into my work cycle and I find it useful over the long term but I can see it being quite useful.

Tidying Up

I was supposed to be away this weekend but a migraine on Friday soon put paid to that. Instead I spent the weekend tidying up Mac drives, moving data away from MobileMe and getting Dropbox properly set-up. All working well now. Been using Dropbox off and on for the last few months before committing and one thing I like over MobileMe is that the content is held locally on each drive and syncing seems to be quicker and more resilient than with MobileMe. There’s also a change log on who edited a file and when and it’s easy to share folders with other Dropbox users – very handy.

The blog also got a clean-up this weekend. Gone is the sidebar to leave just the post filling the page. Expect to be linking to HD video over time and the wider format will help. This also leaves a cleaner front page. The sidebar which used to list a lifestream has been moved to it’s own page – the Stream. Also finished off updating the About page and added some links at the top of the page. Nothing ground breaking but more to my liking. I did try messing around with some colour but I’ll keep that for another site.

Yes, there will soon be another site but that’s for another day.

More on Search

So the week with Viewzi on the blog has ended pretty mixed. While I like the styling of it there were some issues with searches not returning accurate (or any) results so I’ve replaced it with Lijit. This has support for more search sources and some nice extra features but I’ve also got a couple of issues.

Firstly none of my Flickr content seems to be indexed but I’ve raised this with the support team. I’m also not overly keen on the styling of the search window and performance seems a bit iffy.

Still, I prefer this to the standard WordPress search so I’ll keep this on for a couple of weeks and see how it goes.

This post has been sitting in draft for a couple of weeks now. Lijit is still enabled and the Flickr images are now correctly indexed. All of the content I want to be returned is returning but the overall performance is a bit slow. I’ll keep it enabled for now but the search for a better WordPress search goes on.