Site upgraded to Drupal 5.1

This morning I finally got around to upgrading the website from Drupal 4.7 to 5.1. The upgrade was relatively smooth and hopefully nothing is fundamentally broken. The update took a while to happen because many of the modules used to provide specific site functionality had not been upgraded to be 5.0 compatible.

Over the next few months I plan to make some aesthetic changes to increase usability and the general aesthetic. If you experience any issues with the site please contact me.

Two happy months with Media Temple

It has been just over two months since I signed up for a Media Temple Grid Server Web hosting account. All in all this time has been almost painless and (touch wood) all is going really well. So far I have consolidated three independent servers worth of websites and data around the hosted account. This has significantly reduced my administration worries and freed up hardware for other duties (or the scrap heap). Currently the grid server is hosting 14 different websites ranging from static html right through to complex Web applications, the StressFree email and Subversion repositories. Currently this amounts to 43GB of data and about 10GB of bandwidth per month so I feel like I am getting my money's worth out of the service.

Performance-wise the Grid Server could be a little faster but it is pretty stable and the troubles they are experiencing are well publicised. Worth every penny is the SSH access which makes site management so much faster and trouble-free for someone like myself who is used to having the server at arms reach. The Media Temple blog is also a good read even if you are not a customer. It provides insight into the difficulties and frustrations of running a truly massive hosting operation with the 'Anatomy of MySQL on the Grid' post being a particularly interesting and honest read.

So the short of it is I highly recommend Media Temple's Grid Server plan to anyone looking for a stable and feature-packed hosting solution. If you only have one website you need hosting then they probably aren't for you. However if you can get a few friends together who also need hosting Media Temple's plan suddenly becomes very attractive when compared to more conventional, single site hosting.

Snap Preview Anywhere: Bling up your blog

Ever see a link on a page and wonder whether it is worth actually clicking on it? Chances are you have zero interest or have been there already and a little visual clue would help you make up your mind. Snap Preview Anywhere provides this visual prompt by way of a nice looking Javascript pop-up window. Snap is an Internet search engine that creates an image preview of all the sites it indexes. The Snap Preview Anywhere plug-in for your website leverages this database of preview images to give you a quick glimpse of where you could potentially go in the future, kind of like a Web travel brochure. Installation is straightforward especially if you run a template driven website as all it requires is a couple of lines of code in the <head> section of the HTML. Okay so it is not 100% practical but it gives your website a bit of bling and does save needless clicking to websites you have already visited but haven't recognised from the hyperlink.

The move to Media Temple

Over the weekend I went away for a few days and halfway through the mini-holiday the web server decided to stop working, resulting in a couple of days downtime until I returned to Wellington. After this little incident I decided it was best to bite the bullet, pay the extra money and rent a hosted server. I had heard of Media Temple's GS product from a TechCrunch posting and it sounded very interesting. Rather than purchasing space on a server or operating a dedicated box your money bought you processing cycles on a grid-based server farm. This means that if things start to get busy the website does not stop, which can happen on a shared host environment if one site gets Dugg or Slashdotted.

The GS Administration interface (click to enlarge)

Site migrated to Media Temple GS Server

Today the website was migrated to a Media Temple GS hosting account. For the next day or two things maybe a little unstable as the DNS changes get propagated.

StressFree website migrated to Drupal

Drupal logo

Over the weekend I have migrated the StressFree website across to the Drupal content management system. The move was spurred on by the shortcomings I kept finding in Joomla, the desire to be able to tag content and the knowledge that the next upgrade to Joomla 1.5 would require almost starting from scratch.

I have tried my best to maintain all the legacy links so hopefully the old Joomla and static file links should resolve okay. Overall it went really smoothly, Drupal is a little bit more difficult to get your head around compared to Joomla but now that I've made the switch I am very glad. There has been limited loss of functionality in the switch but a tonne of new features are now available:

TelstraClear problems solved

After yet more outages and phone calls to helpdesks I finally have my Internet issues sorted out. The helpdesk guy was pretty stumped on what was causing my outages but I managed to convince him that it was due to another computer on their network somewhere competing for my static IP address. Once he had come around to the idea (and talked to his supervisor) I soon had a fresh static IP and a working Internet connection. Throughout this time I was quite thankful I had recently moved my email hosting onto Google's hosted services. I

Weird TelstraClear Internet outages

I've been having weird Internet outages today. The Internet will suddenly just drop off for twenty minutes and then mysteriously come back. I called in the morning to report the fault but they had a 40 minute wait for service (probably because others were experiencing similar issues) so I gave up. However after the fourth such outage this afternoon I rang TelstraClear and this time someone answered straight away.

I told them that my Internet was down and that it was not an issue with my internal network because I had checked it all. The guy replied that it was probably spyware and that I should get my computer seen to. His hopes were dashed when I told him it was not spyware because a) it is effecting all my computers, b) none of my desktop computers run Windows and c) the device that 'talks' to the Internet on my network's behalf is a NetScreen and even this can't communicate with the outside world.

Server upgrade to OpenSUSE 10

With Emma away on holiday I took the opportunity to update my server to OpenSUSE 10 (from SUSE 9.2). I did a fresh install rather than an upgrade and it all went relatively smoothly. In the process I have moved from a software RAID setup to LVM as it provides a lot more flexibility and the option later to play around with Xen if I want.
In the future I am planning on migrating from Hula to Scalix or Zimbra (at this point I am hovering towards Scalix).

Here's a rundown of what is running on the server:

Linux software RAID housekeeping

I performed some operating system maintanence this morning with the resizing and recreation of a few software RAID disks. It did result in some downtime whilst the mirrors were rebuilt but it was only for 30 minutes which is not bad. Overall the operation went pretty smoothly and I found the following two references very useful: