Personal Technology – Series Introduction

 Software, Technology  Comments Off on Personal Technology – Series Introduction
Apr 052007
 

Over the past year or so, I’ve made a concerted attempt to get all my technology integrated to the extent that is reasonable, and actually helping me manage my life…rather than getting in the way. I think I’ve had a small level of success, so I’m going to write an irregular series on the “technology” I personally use day-to-day.

In some cases, this may be the software I use, other times I’ll write about gadgets I’ve incorporated into my life. I may also use the series to periodically rant and rave about how I or others abuse technology sometimes, and allow it to take over our lives.

I would classify myself as a bit of a gadget head. I like trying new gadgets, but I’m not afraid to return them if they don’t make my life better. However, I make no claim to have “automated” every aspect of my life…nor do I want to. I use desktop and mobile technology myself, and I may, from time to time discuss technology I might use out in the world.

I guess I should start with the pieces of the technology that make this blog possible. First, the site is hosted on my personal web hosting account at Bluehost.com. I started out using a hosting service that was purchased by a larger company. They more than quadrupled the annual cost, and reduced the services. Not until I canceled the account did they contact me to offer to “grandfather” me in. I hate companies that play games like that. From there I moved to a company called No Monthly Fees.com. I won’t even provide a link to them, as they were pretty poor service providers. I frequently had problems with their e-mail, and there support was fairly arrogant and unresponsive. I moved to Bluehost about six months ago, and have been pleased so far.

This site is driven by an open-source freeware software called WordPress. WordPress is weblog (aka blog) software. I employ a number of plug-ins written by other software authors. I won’t elaborate too much here about the technology behind the site, as I have a more lengthy explanation already posted on the Deep Technology page here on the site.

The site is integrated with my Flickr account. The photo galleries are hosted there, but you can view them from within this site because of plug-in I use. This is one of the ways I’ve tried to use the best product/service/software for each thing I want to do, but still have everything as integrated as possible. I’ll write more about Flickr and that integration in another article.

Whew! Digital Move Completed

 General, Technology  Comments Off on Whew! Digital Move Completed
Aug 252006
 

Well, due to continuing performance issues with the web hosting service I used (No Monthly Fees), and an arrogant and uncooperative customer service attitude, I decided to move as many of my website hosting accounts as possible. I think I’ve completed that move today.

I did some investigating, and a company called Bluehost seemed to get good reviews with the blogging community. I contacted them prior to their selection, and was able to get a live person. He seemed cooperative and intelligent. Another appealing aspect of the hosting package at Bluehost was that I could host my three personal domains on a single account, and that single account cost the same as each of the domains with the other service.

Two of the accounts, including Flamingo Services were no trouble at all. One was net new anyway, and moving the Flamingo site just involved reloading the static HTML files at the new location, and re-creating the email accounts. I did that week before last.

I was hesitant about moving Deep Sand however. I really didn’t have any experience using phpMyAdmin to import database file backups, but it was definitely time to get off the servers at NoMonthlyFees. The?performance over the past two weeks was terrible.

I found two great resources written by people who moved their blogs. Paul Burd at One Digital Life had a very complete article describing the steps he followed for the move. There was information about it on the WordPress Codex, and I came across a great WordPress resource at Tamba2, with tutorials on many aspects of blogging technology. I’ll be visiting there often.

So, last night I created the database backups and downloaded the site files. I collected the information I thought I might need, and did a test restore of the database. This morning I reset the Name Servers, added the domain and sub-domain to the new host, created the email accounts, and started the migration.

It went extremely smoothly I think. I only encountered two “hiccups.” One was that the SQL import would not load the email addresses?for the email notification system. However, because I had done a test restore of the database last night, I knew this could be a problem. I had exported that file as a text file. So, I did have to reinstall the email notification plug-in to recreate the tables, and then just imported the text file.

There was only one unexpected error. The random quotes did not import. They were certainly in the backup file, so in a worst case, I could have done an individual cut and paste, but with 256 quotes, that would have been quite a task. So, again, based on reading my two resources, I extracted just that part of the backup and ran it as an SQL query, which dropped the quotes right in. It took about two minutes to solve this issue.

The only thing not working right now are email addresses, but I’m betting that is just a matter of the DNS record not yet being fully propagated. I’m hoping to see emails starting to flood in here sometime later today.

All-in-all, and thanks to a couple of great articles, the move went very well. I hope you will see much better performance.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, just like with email, people create bots to spam blog comments with links to poker sites, and on-line pharmacy’s. (I’m kind of like a guy I work for, if all this stuff was true, we’d all look 21, have the sex drive of a 17 year old, and 14 inch dicks.) As a result, there are a couple of tools running on the site that prevent those items from every even being published. They work extremely well. One of the most mature and widely used is Spam Karma 2. I was doing some further testing today, and discovered that the associated database tables did not load from the backup, so I had to run those as separate SQL queries. This solved that problem. The only step I didn’t do in Burd’s article was load each table separately. Based on his description, I didn’t think my database was of sufficient size to make that necessary. If I ever do this again, however, I’ll load each table individually.