Back in the Saddle

Well, our roving donkey, who has bravely gone where all kinds of folks have been before seeking cheap webhosts, is now back in Pittsburgh. And I transfered the database without breaking (!). All that means is that you are now reading content courtesy of Pair Networks, and not a weird page saying, “Fatal Error! SQL call to somethingerother.php failed! Syntax error line 684 of somethingelse.php! Contact your network administrator.” (uh, that’s me) Basically, a Dead Donkey in the Middle of the Web until I could cajole a little help from the “Good PhotoDoctor”:

But that nightmare didn’t happen. Either I’m getting smarter or the software has improved.

So….the mind spins along. The “Boss” would like it if our $49/mo hosting bill went down to $29. I can do that easily by getting rid of SSL on our account. Which would cause two (non-producing) web stores to stop working. I could convert them to third party shopping carts: “Mals”: (free and fairly configurable) or “Americart”: (costs $, but insanely configurable). They certainly have their merits over database driven shopping carts where you add products over a web admin interface. Say you’ve got a belt that comes in 30 colors and 16 different sizes, and the real long sizes cost a little more or there’s quantity discounts. Whoa, try entering all those different combinations in osCommerce! Then say, you like your pre-existing html coding and don’t really want to learn how to make a database driven site look anywhere near as good by spending 150 hours searching through forums.

But we seem to be on a tangent of some sort. Some of us who are a little crazy kind of like fooling with that crap and the extra $20/mo gives us a cheap playpen to do it in. Which gets down to I might sign up for one-a-them grid hosts, just to fool around, and pay for it myself. Then the Boss is happy, and I’m only short about two good six-packs/month.

In the meantime, I have a prepaid year over at Dreamhost with a gazillian gigabytes of storage and bandwidth and unlimited mysql databases sitting empty.

“Been Down so Long….

……”it looks up to me?”:

No, not even close, not even when I lived on “Eddy St.”:

“Grandma?” She was never “Grandma”. She was always Sarah to me. And she sold me quite a few quarts of Pabst over the years….

I bought my six-packs of Molson’s from her competitor, Gus the Greek. Every time I went into his store it was (imagine a thick Greek accent)

“Hey blondie, can you get me any `puff, puff’ ?” (while making joint-smoking motions and laughing)

“I could, Gus, but then you’d call the cops and I’d have to borrow my bail from you at 30%.”

“Haha, can’t fool you, blondie. How long before all you guys need ‘shoot-em-ups’? I need to stock up, gimme some help here…”

But I’m digressing to the point of insanity. Insanity, oh, there’s a direction….

But, but…..the totally unrelated point of this bastard is DOWNTIME, and I’m thinking the Donkey needs to move back to Pittsburgh. This site has been down once a day over the past few days, and a week before that and a week before that.

My sites on Pair Networks have been down exactly once, in the wee hours of the morning, Central Time. And prior to that they emailed me a warning that my server was being upgraded to FreeBSD 6.2 and would be down for a half hour or so. Since then, nada. No downtime.

It may not even be downtime at my new DonkeyHut at Dreamhost; it could just be a clogged network, unrelated to them. But when there’s a clogged network on the way to my site at Pair, there are about 6 other backbones one can use to get to my stuff.

So, if it was just a low-traffic blog, Dreamhost is okay. I wouldn’t want to move my business there, though.

But more importantly, somehow, wherever I move, there really need to be stores on the block run by characters like Gus the Greek and Sarah. Anything less doesn’t even come close.

Okay, like I’ve just moved, eh?

No, not to my “last vacation spot”: but like this site, eh? The Donkey has been sucked into LA somewhere.

It all started with my boss. Huh? “my boss”? I don’t have no stinkin’ boss, dude. I’m like, self-employed. But as it turns out, in real life, there always seem to be bosses, no matter what you do.

It was last week some time:

“Hey, did you ever look at these hosting bills? $65/mo. Are you crazy?”

“Well, yeah, it’s a little high, but we get a lot of extras ‘n’ stuff. You wouldn’t want our site going down when a customer’s on it would you?”

“Well, Robin’s on Godaddy paying $4/mo and her site’s NEVER down.”

(A little aside here. I know Robin’s on Godaddy, because I built her site. It was excruciating. Not because of Robin – oh, okay, it was a little because of Robin – not because of the Godaddy network and her site constantly crashing – that was fine. It was trying to build a site on Godaddy with all their weird security configs. And it wasn’t that I minded their ftp timing out after 30 seconds, because there were too many other NIGHTMARE config problems to overcome that normal web hosts do, well, normally. Just google Godaddy hosting reviews and you’ll get a bunch of them. And it’s rarely about their network, which seems to be fine. It’s always something like, “jobs that should take 5 minutes take at least an hour, if you’re lucky”. That sums it up perfectly. Anyway, enough aside on that one.)

So, after about a week of searching, reading reviews and hanging out in forums, I found a cheap web host that seemed to have everything I needed. Longevity (since ’97), a shell account (I can’t function without a shell account), a lot of mysql databases (unlimited *but see below), healthy, fast, well-configed database, mail and web servers (actually, I don’t know any of that yet), redundant peering connections to several backbones (don’t know that either). But, suffice it to say, I decided to gamble on “Dreamhost”:

So far though, I’ve only moved the Donkey there (with no database corruption during the migration!! Yip-a-ky-yay, mofo). I’m monitoring the uptime at this point, and slowness (if anyone notices showness, I’d appreciate a yell). And I’m attempting to learn more about their network. I’ve got an incredibly cheap year to fiddle with all this before moving my main sites over. As I was poking through the Dreamhost forums, I noticed a lot of posters had little $97 off new hosting years codes in their .sigs. Turns out, if you use their code, they get 10% of whatever you spend at Dreamhost forever, and 5% of anybody that the new signee gets to sign up.

So, a prepaid year there was like, $119 and I got $97 off, so I got a year for $22. Plenty of time to see if it’s a decent host or a cesspool.
If it turns out decent, The Boss will be happy. If it turns out to be a “I told you so”, then I’m more than vindicated in pretty much any of my decisions for probably 4 months or so. So it’s win-win, eh?

Oh, the * on the “unlimited” MySQL databases. Let’s throw in the 500 gigs of “storage space” and the terrabyte per month of bandwidth too. We all know that nobody ever needs that much “unlimited” crap. And if you *do* happen to be using that on a shared server, you won’t be on that shared server too long. Trust me.

Anyway, enough for now. I’ve already got a title for my next post, “Adventures with pine on the new host”. Ta da.