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
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.
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
If you like, you can now try the Flickr widget I blogged about a little while ago. This is the first time I’ve released something like this, but I’m pretty confident it’ll work. I’ve set up a page on this blog where you can enter your Flickr feed, along with some other details, and create your personalized version of the widget. It’s generates an HTML code snippet that you can copy-paste into your website. In fact I just used it to create the widget embedded on the left.
One thing I was concerned about was where I should put the Flash file. If this thing should become popular, it could cause lots of traffic. That’s why I chose to host it at Amazon’s S3 service. I’ll blog some more about this soon because it’s is an interesting service, but what it comes down to is that S3 is an extremely reliable way of hosting files. Even if there’s a little hick-up here at roytanck.com, the widget will still be served. That means no big empty hole in your blog, unless Flickr is down. Or S3. Both highly unlikely.
Let me know if you run into anything. I’m pretty sure the widget code will remain the same for the foreseeable future. All URLs are final, so if you successfully generate the widget, it will continue to function, even if I need to make little adjustments to the form or the Flash movie later on.
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
This is the personal blog of Roy Tanck, freelance WordPress consultant, designer, geek, and amateur photographer. It's also the home of projects like WP-Cumulus (a 3D tag cloud for WordPress). More about me here, or you can follow me on Twitter.