A couple of days ago, I upgraded the server that runs this site. It was running an older version of PHP, and some other components could use some update love too. I’m using a SecureDragon Virtual Private Server (VPS), which allows me to create a snapshot of the server before doing stuff like this. In case anything went wrong, this would allow me to go back to the way things were that morning.
More Backup bingo
WordPress is often accused of being slow, and you can definitely get it to grind to a halt if you try. But in true WordPress fashion, it also comes with interesting building blocks that helps speed it up to all the way to ludicrous speed. WordPress is like Lego, and I’ve been playing with a couple of interesting new bricks that promise to seriously improve performance.
More Experimenting with Memcached and Batcache
When I launched my Flickr Widget a couple of years ago, I decided I would host the tiny little Flash file that is the heart of the widget. I didn’t want to bother end users with downloads and installs and such. I put the file on Amazon’s S3 service, and offered an embed code generator form on this site. This worked well for a while, but more and more people started using the widget. Soon, Amazon started sending me hefty monthly bills.
I experimented for a while with hosting the file on the same server that runs this blog, but my host did not like that idea. Their terms of service don’t allow me to host non website-related files. So I moved the file to a friends VPS (Virtual Private Server). By then, the 5 KB Flash file was being served millions of times a month, causing around 30 GB of monthly traffic. I needed a more permanent solution.
More New adventures in hosting a single file
There’s been a lot of debate among web professionals about whether or not it makes sense to server “retina” images to website visitors who’s devices support high pixel densities. In order to take full advantage of the sharpness of the new iPad’s screen, website owners would need to prepare their images at four times the number of pixels of normal (“72dpi”) web images.
I ran a few quick tests to see how much all those extra pixels affected overall file size. I used 130 randomly chosen jpeg images (all straight from my DSLR camera), and ran Photoshop and Irfanview batches to crop and scale them to a couple of often-used sizes. I used the same JPEG settings each time, and made sure the only difference between the images would be that the retina ones were four times sharper.
More Quick test: Retina images vs. regular ones
It’s been a while since I wrote about HostMonk. In a world of paid-for and affiliate marketing driven hosting review websites, HostMonk was a breath of fresh air. I wrote that “If HostMonk would add a good rating system (…) it might just be the website we’ve been waiting for”. Well they have. So now it is?
What’s really clever is that HostMonk uses other factors, like uptime, to rate hosts as well. Even the number of Twitter followers is factored in to give you the best possible indication of a host’s popularity. Clever stuff. And they’ve added cloud and shared hosting packages too. Now all we need to do is fill HostMonk’s review database. The web needed a good independent service like this, so let’s use it.
I’ve blogged in the past about how hard it is to find decent hosting. Many of the companies that friends have recommended have failed miserably for me, and to make things worse, 99% of web hosting review websites can’t be trusted. HostMonk seemed like a good initiative when it was launched, but it still doesn’t have a quality metric. In comes whoishostingthis.com’s hosting review feature.
More Another legit hosting comparison website
Ever since this blog started picking up momentum, I get a lot of email from companies launching new products or features. Most of them aren’t very interesting to me (like iPhone apps when I don’t have an iPhone), solve problems I don’t have or are simply hoping to be the next Twitter. I discard most of them. But sometimes one of these projects actually looks like it’s going to fix an important issue, like with HostMonk.
More HostMonk: hosting reviews without the monkey business
When I first heard about Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3) in 2006, I wasn’t sure what anyone was ever going to use it for. It was not quite a web hosting service, because there were no extra services like PHP or MySQL. Or even FTP access. This was clearly aimed at developers, but most of those would probably have their own dedicated server boxes with tons of storage, right? Until I stumbled across a ‘use case’ for it this week. I signed up and found it to be a very flexible and useful service.
More Amazon S3 – pay-per-view online file storage
I changed themes mid December, and according to googlebot’s stats, pages have been taking twice as long to load since then. This got me thinking. What was it I added that caused this? Surely I didn’t make the pages twice as heavy?
More What’s slowing down my blog?
I’ve written before about how hard it is to find a good hosting provider, and how Ipowerweb and Hosting Zoom didn’t quite work for me. It’s hard to get good advice with all the lucrative referral programs, which seem to have spawned a whole genre of fake hosting review websites. That’s why I thought I’d share my experiences with Pair Networks. If you’re looking for a good, reliable host and are willing to spend a bit more, I suggest you read on.
More Pair Networks experiences