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Using Cloud Hosting with Mosso

Filed Under Geek | 2008-11-21, 18:12


I’m quite familiar with the topic of webhosting, having hosted websites for well over a decade now. Most of my friends and colleagues come to me to ask my opinion on what they should use to host their website. My general answer is Dreamhost for most people since it’s quick, cheap, and easy to run small sites on. If you need something more powerful than that I usually start asking questions to help pick out a good virtual server or dedicated server. But it wasn’t until recently that I had any experience with cloud hosting.

Cloud hosting is the latest and greatest thing in the world of webhosting for large sites, and it seems to be quite popular. For years I used shared servers, but finally had to graduate to a couple of my own dedicated servers when some sites really took off in traffic. Now, as I’m working on a project that (*fingers crossed*) is really going to take off, I started looking at something that would scale better than constantly upgrading servers. It was time for me to graduate to cloudhosting.

What is cloudhosting (aka cloud computing) you ask? In simple terms, it uses the power of multiple servers to serve your content. Your site starts getting busy? More servers are thrown behind it to keep up with the demand. You’re not stuck on one machine that becomes unreachable as things slow to a crawl when your site gets overloaded. Basically it’s meant for people who have a web application or site that they need to scale.

I ended up signing up for Mosso, because it was relatively inexpensive ($100/month to start), had no setup fees, and was backed by Rackspace who has an awesome customer service record. So far I’ve been happy with Mosso, although the site hasn’t launched yet. It’s been relatively easy to learn how to do things via their custom control panel, and my only complaint is the lack of SSH access and SVN access, but they’re well aware of that and are looking at things. I’m really happy that I have a webhost that will scale with my site. I don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars when the site isn’t even going to be ready to launch for another couple weeks/months. And when it does launch, I feel more comfortable knowing we’ll be able to handle any amount of traffic (as long as my code is good!).

If you’re looking for cloud hosting, check out Mosso. If you use my referral code (REF-FREEFORALL) you’ll get your second month free!


Posting to WordPress from the Desktop

Filed Under Tools | 2008-11-21, 16:55

I’ve caved and finally started seriously looking at a desktop level application to manage all my blog posting. When you have as many sites as I do, it’s much easier (and faster) to keep them all in one interface. Having a web interface is nice for flexibility, but it is definitely slower.

Right now I’m playing with MarsEdit, which seems to do just about everything I want. There are a few things I’d change if I were the developer (I don’t like having to go to the menu to set the post date on a post I want to go live in the future), but overall I’m happy so far. Hopefully this will help me write even more each day across the different sites. I’ve already pumped out 3-4 blog posts for Geeky Tattoos in no time. So far the only major issues I’ve found are:

Resized Images
I like to upload full sized images to wordpress and then used the automatically generated thumbnail in my post. MarsEdit uploads the full image and then includes the full version in your post. It’d be nice to have this full functionality from the desktop, rather than having to login and tweak the post later.

Twitter Tools
It doesn’t seem to play well with the Twitter Tools plugin for WordPress. Posts are not getting saved with the checkbox that says “Notify Twitter about this post?” I’m guessing I’ll have to either edit the Twitter Tools plugin and figure out how to fix that, or just modify the database so that the default for this option in new posts is set to true. Luckily it fails in the right direction (i.e. not tweeting as opposed to constant tweeting).

Anyone else have any other tools they recommend for blog publishing? I’m primarily using WordPress blogs, so that’s a requirement. OS X is also kind of a requirement since I’m still using the Macbook Pro, but Windows based suggestions might be useful to others.


Top 10 Ways to Stop a Ceiling Fan With Your Head

Filed Under Funny, Video | 2008-11-20, 18:31

I’m not sure how I stumbled across this, but I’ve discovered a trove of “ceiling fan meets head” videos on YouTube. I’m not sure what it means, but the very fact that these are not isolated clips implies something is going on across the world. It’s not just one country, or one age group. Although it does seem to be primarily male participants. Can anyone explain this? I guess the more times you do it, the more it seems like a good idea?

You know that time that you were going to use to go and do something productive? Prepare to waste it:

1. “Put yer ‘ead in it!”
Why is he still smiling?
3. “Go go power rangers!!”
4. Born to be wild
5. “Bah bah bah bah”
6. “Doitagaindoitagain”
7. You’re doing it wrong
8. A Coca-Cola fan?!
9. Gotta love shields
10. Steve-O shows how it’s done

Click for embedded videos


USB Hub for a Macbook Pro, My Wish

Filed Under Apple | 2008-11-10, 17:27

Dear Laptop Accessory Manufacturers,

Please make a USB hub that I can use on my Macbook Pro so I can have more than two things plugged in at once. I have been unable to find an acceptable USB hub that preserves the mobility of my Macbook Pro as well as protects the USB port from damage when USB appendages are sticking out.

We’ve searched everywhere, including all the USB Hubs on Amazon, and the closest we were able to find is this one. As you can see it’s ugly and doesn’t sit quite flush. There’s a great spot on the right hand side where a very thin USB hub for the Macbook Pro would fit perfectly. Making it flush against the body and only slightly wider than a USB plug would give it extra support and make it look nice. If you want to get fancy, make it swivel so that when it accidentally hits something it doesn’t get wrenched out of the USB port.

I have included a highly polished product mock-up of how this would integrate with my Macbook Pro. Oh, and one more thing; please make it match the sexy aluminum on my Macbook Pro so as to not attract embarrassing attention to the lack of USB ports on my pricey piece of equipment.

Thank you,

In all seriousness, if anyone has ever seen a USB Hub like this that would work on a Macbook Pro, please let me know!


Real Life Fail Whale

Filed Under Funny, Twitter | 2008-11-10, 14:35

I threw together this image even though we see less and less of the Fail Whale these days. (Thanks @netik and crew!) Hopefully our friend will some day be as rare as the chance of seeing the above.

Seagulls from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pkeleher/1363971024/
Whale from: http://pats0n.livejournal.com/


6 Things I’ve Learned from Weewar

Filed Under Geek | 2008-11-06, 11:19

Weewar is a turn based strategy game where you battle against your friends and strangers with cute little troops and vehicles. It’s strangely addictive, especially because you only need a browser to play it from anywhere. I signed up last month and now I’m hopelessly addicted to it. However it’s not completely wasted time, as it does have some parallels and strategies that are applicable to trying to make it in the online world. Here is “6 Things I’ve Learned from Weewar”, or as I like to call it: Justification for all those hours playing.

1. Pick a strategy and stick to it
In Weewar: My easiest won battles were where I picked a strategy and stuck to it regardless of what my opponent was doing. I knew the board well enough to know what works, I designed a strategy from the beginning and I followed it through. It’s a little hard to keep to a strategy when your opponent starts doing things you didn’t expect. But if you stray from your plan, then you may find yourself without a plan and scrambling to just survive. If you stick to your plan and follow it through and still lose, at least you’ll be able to know where there were weaknesses in your plan.

In the Real World: Things are going to be kind of rough for most people over the next few months/years with the US economy in the sad state it’s in. Figure out your business plan on how you’re going to make it through and be in the best position when the economy rebounds. Stick to this plan through the ups and downs. Some of the most successful companies today were started during the dotcom bust back in the early 2000s.

2. Learn from others
In Weewar: I was beaten so many times before I actually started to win games. Whenever you get beat, study how you failed, and use that next time to help prevent the same failures. Was it that heavy tank you had no defenses against? Or maybe the onslaught of several dozen troops at once? Figure out what you could have done to win. Also look at how the other person was successful in beating you and try to adopt some of their strategies.

In the Real World: Take a look at what others are doing in your online arena. What kind of sites work better than others? Maybe you should be making a blog instead of a forum, or perhaps a custom built web-app is more appropriate than a CMS. Look closely at what advertisers established sites are using. Chances are they’ve picked through multiple advertisers and have settled on the ones that work best in that realm. Read blogs and ask people how they do the things they do. Find out what software they use and see if it works for you. Learn from their mistakes and failures without having to suffer. Experienced advice from people that have “been there” is invaluable.

3. Don’t get stuck in a defensive mindset
In Weewar: Always playing in reaction to your opponent gives them the upper hand. If you’re constantly on the defensive, it’s hard to break new ground and catch people off guard. The element of surprise is deadly.

In the Real World: While the online realm is generally a friendly place, there is still an element of competition. If you’re just reacting to others and following in their footsteps, you’ll always be 2nd place. It’s the people that come out with new and innovative approaches and things that really make it big. Be the one that puts something out that everyone tries to copy. Challenge an existing mindset, fill an empty void, and look towards how you’re going to make it big, not how you’re going to just survive.

4. Use your tools and resources
In Weewar: It’s hard to remember which units are good against which opponents and what effects the terrain has on each battle, amongst a number of other battle-changing factors. Read through the Weewar wiki to learn as much as you can before jumping into battle. Use the information panel on the left hand side when you hover over a unit to see what you should use to attack and where your unit’s weaknesses are. There’s also a great tool I’ve used to help me decide when and where I should attack. It’s a battle simulator that will help give you the predicted outcome of battles. It’s saved me from doing a number of dumb moves.

In the Real World: The is an infinite amount of useful documentation out there. Read blogs, newsletters, websites, etc. If you’re interested in tricks of the trade, read blogs like John Chow’s and Jeremy Schoemaker’s and the ones they link to in order to spark ideas. Take control of your knowledge and educate yourself rather than waiting for someone to give you all the answers. Don’t be afraid to try new tools to get the upper hand on things too. Tools like Remember The Milk and Coda have been invaluable to me for keeping on track and managing multiple sites.

5. Don’t be intimidated
In Weewar: It’s easy to get scared when you see your opponent rolling out the heavy equipment. D.F.A.s (Death From Above) are big, deadly, and expensive (1200 credits!) but they can easily be taken out by a hovercraft or several troopers walking right up to them.

In the Real World: There are already a number of big players in the online world. Some of them are good, some are lucky. What you have to do is to find their weakness. What are they lacking? What do people want that they aren’t getting. Find your niche, start small, and build on it over time. Before long you may find yourself one of the big guys.

6. Learn to multi-task
In Weewar: You can play up to 4 games with the free Weewar account. If you buy a pro account ($4/month) you can have up to 10 games running at once. It’s a great exercise for your brain to try to keep up with this many battles. It also helps you quickly learn multiple things in the same amount of time.

In the Real World: Life doesn’t come at you one thing at a time. You have to be on top of many different things constantly. Learn how to manage your life and your business and it will be a hundred times easier. Come up with systems of organization, to-do lists and reminders to make sure you get things done on time, and don’t forget to schedule in some fun (perhaps playing a few rounds of Weewar?).