Archive for February, 2007

Webhosting saga

28Feb07

Paul Kafasis over at Rogue Amoeba gives his thoughts on web hosting, and the experience he gained over the years with “cheap hosting”. He mentions 4 “rules” of web hosting, and the path Rogue Amoeba has chosen as time went by. The first rule is: You get what you pay for. And I couldn’t agree more. I’ve had my fair share of hosts (4 for this blog alone, not counting the space provided by my ISP waaay back in the days), and I’ll update you all with the contestants and thoughts right below. While we both stay with DreamHost at the moment, Paul does indeed recommend you find another host if you want your sites to be up 24/7. What do I think? Read on for the full story.

Way back when computers were beige
Moved around like a bum. Free hosts. My ISP. Friend let me stay on his server with FeaturePrice. OSX was new, and Carracho was the way to get it. Good times.

May 2003
Moved from FeaturePrice to GetMeHosted. GMH was a great host, it really was. It was pretty costly (given the low bandwidth and space allowances), but they were reliable and had good support. Then one day, something went terribly wrong. Their entire data center went down, and stayed that way for quite a few days. They moved to a new one, which I guess sorted things out. However, I was in dire need of more space (and upgrading my plan with them would cost too much), and this was the drop for me… They are still around, but their website (which was rumored to be getting an overhaul at that time) doesn’t look to have been updated, and their plans are still the same…

April 2004
Moved from GetMeHosted to ReadySetConnect. This was a huge upgrade in terms of space and bandwidth. Had it recommended by a friend. And again: in the beginning, all was good. Support was fast and good. Servers were speedy enough. Then they outsourced the support to India, which resulted in endless loops of emails back and forth before a problem was solved. They eventually brought support back to the US, but then they started overselling… servers got slower and slower… and then came downtime. Lucky for me, by that time, I had been with DreamHost for many a month, and some of my sites were already moved over…

February 2007
Moved from ReadySetConnect to DreamHost. This is were I’m at right now. So far I’m happy, but it remains to see for how long…

 

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I guess now is the time I should simply say “Picture says it all”, but I feel like I wanna add some more meat to the bone, as we say in Norway.

I was getting so sick and tired of Safaris sluggishness. So I finally ditched it in favor of Firefox!

And what a difference! I can scroll without lag, and when I click a link, it opens. Immediately.

The 3 big reasons for switching: Firefox is a whole lot faster (for me anyway). Firefox is more compatible. My biggest annoyances have been that Safari doesn’t work with my online banking solution, and it doesn’t work with the comment system on Blogger 2.0. The third reason for switching is quite simply because of the Add-ons.

So it’s better than Safari. Are there things I miss? Sure there are! The first thing is that while Safari will use your history and bookmarks for the location bar auto complete, Firefox will only use your history. This sucks. Lucky for me there is an add-on to fix it, called myurlbar. It even allows you to type the names of sites, and any part of the url, not just the start.

Other add-ons I can’t be without are Adblock Plus and DownThemAll!. I’m still looking for a way to always remember login info when submitting a login form, so I don’t have to hit “remember” every time. Let me know if you know of one 🙂

 

Let it snow!

23Feb07

So the weather has been pretty rough here the last couple of days. Yesterday we couldn’t even get out. School was closed. The highway was closed. Many stores were closed. Today was a tiny bit better, and we were able to fill up on food supplies again. Hooray!


This is the view from our kitchen window today. Doesn’t look too bad…


This however might explain the difficulties of getting outside. Lucky for us, we are able to get out through the floor above us. Cos this door ain’t moving for sure.


The living room is even worse. Gets pretty dark…


And this is why. The windows are below those wood panels.


Not to mention getting the car loose is a lot of work…

 

I always believed that computers would be the future, and that “when I grew up”, books and paper would be redundant. I realize now however, that I was wrong. Paper is definitely here to stay.

The older I get, the more money I get. And surprisingly, the more money I get, the more magazines I buy. I’m not a big book guy, but I guess I get more books than I did before too.

I currently subscribe to two street car magazines. The Norwegian edition of Max Power, and another one called Gatebil. Apart from those, I don’t really get any specific ones. Might pick up FHM or T3 every now and then. I have to say: T3 really is a terrific magazine. They did to magazines what Top Gear did to tv. Praise be the brits.

I also read the Norwegian comic Nemi quite often. Some translated comics here.

Mac magazines however… they used to be all the rage, and I still have a giant stack of MacFormat laying around somewhere. It’s just I spend so much time on the internet nowadays, I don’t have time for yet more Mac reading. Plus, none of it will really be news by the time it hits the presses anyway. And who needs the cover disk?

There is just something about getting comfortable on the couch. Pick up a mag, make a cup of coffee or hot cocoa. Sure I can sit down with my laptop too, but it won’t be the same.

It’s almost the same with the Nintendo DS. It’s small and easy to pick up. And many games are made just for that “story reading” experience. Two of my favorites, Another Code / Trace Memory and Hotel Dusk, are both interactive novels so to speak. Lots and lots of dialog, and basically just playing through a story. A book. And I feel comfortable taking it to the living room or even playing it on the bed. Because in the end, that is the whole reason for books: its cozy.

 

Thoughts on DRM

19Feb07

I guess this might be considered a bit late to give my thoughts on Steves “thoughts on music“, but it wasn’t until a couple days ago that I really felt the urge. And the company behind my decision? Swedish operated CDON.com

First let’s go back in time a bit however… about a week ago, I asked a friend if he thought DRM would be around in a years time. “Yes”, he said. And I have no doubt he is right. Will DRM stay with us forever though? Gizmodo thinks so, but I doubt it!

eMusic have been selling DRM-free music for quite some time, and are by far the largest legal distributor of such. The only problem is, it’s all just indie. Unknown bands that no one ever heard of. Crap music? Perhaps not, but I rarely go browsing for music without knowing what I get. Yes I know there (probably) are free previews, but you won’t see me previewing music I don’t know either!

Norway have had quite it’s share of digital music vendors over the past few years, in addition to the iTunes Store. MSN Music, Prefueled and CDON, to name a few.

The problem with them all have been that they rely on Microsofts WMA format and its DRM scheme. Not only is this a problem in the sense that DRM will stop you from getting this song onto your iPod, or in other ways do what you want with it – it will also make the file incompatible with any Mac or Linux computer.

The point with this post however, is to point you in the direction that DRM might not be the future for much longer. Already we know that other large corporations have joined Apple in the “fight” against DRM. Rumors have been abound that Amazon, among others, are pressuring labels to sell DRM-free music. Fact is: some already are.

CDON started out selling digital music in the WMA format, with Microsofts DRM. They recently expanded their selection to also include DRM-free music however. MP3 format. 192kbps. Same pricing. I decided to give it a whirl…

First off: the selection isn’t the best. And after some research, it appears they only have indie labels on board. Some of them however, are fairly big. Like Bonnier Music. With artists like Scooter, Mira Craig and Katie Melua.

Browsing around is as easy as a website can be. Previews are the same 30 second thing you find in iTunes. At CDON though, they are in wma format. Purchasing requires you to go through the same routine as you would at any webshop. Entering credit card details for each transaction. No one-click shopping here. When the order has been confirmed, you are taken to a page for download. Download was fast and painless. And it played right away on my Mac! I was less impressed with the album artwork however. First off it was a separate download (right from the order page), but it was a measly 127×128 pixels! Useless.

An area in which CDON excels, is the ability to RE-DOWNLOAD a song or album. In fact, you can download your purchases up to 3 times. Not shabby!

Do I see myself downloading more music from CDON in the future? Maybe. Maybe. It sure is more attractive than crippled music. iTunes has a lead in that it’s super easy to use, and integrated in my jukebox software. Allofmp3 has the advantage of low prices. But next on the list I would definitely put CDON.

Yes please, more DRM-free music. Don’t make me a pirate more than I have to.

 

Haven’t blogged too much about my car lately I guess. Probably because I usually keep that discussion to the forums. Which in turn could be because most of my readers are geeks. Well it’s time for some new pictures nevertheless. My latest “big” project has been painting the roof and panels on the inside. I’m pretty happy with the results if I may say so 🙂 Even more has changed since these pictures were taken, but it’s not ideal to shoot new ones with the current weather situation – aka snow.

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Welcome back!

06Feb07

As I hope you notice, quite a lot has changed here. The first thing, which you probably DIDN’T notice, is that the site is moved to a new server. I’m now hosting with DreamHost. Everything should be a bit snappier, and hopefully more stable.

Second I moved the blog from MovableType to WordPress. Migrating an outdated version of MovableType and its DBs was too much of a hassle, not to mention keeping it up-to-date. Spam protection was sub-par too.

Dreamhost offers WordPress as a one-click installation, and the same goes for updating. Great!

So naturally with the new CMS came new looks. My initial plan was to stick with the default template for a short term while creating a new template from scratch. Doing so is a ton of work however, and I found a template already installed that really captured 99% of what I had already planned. Only a lot better than what I ever could have done myself, with lots and lots of web2.0 goodness. My template is “based on” Unsleepable by Ben Gray which in turn is based on K2.

I’m not even sure if it’s fair of me to say it’s based on Sleepless, because it really IS Sleepless. I swapped the logo for my own (which looks a bit more 2.0ish), removed a few boxes here and there, and added the little “about”-thingie you see in the sidebar.

Who knows, maybe I’ll give it a proper rewamp at a later point, but for now what you see is what you get. And if you ask me, that isn’t a bad thing. All props to Ben though!

So, what else is different?
Well the entire site is a whole lot simpler for starters. Originally it had a menu at the top, linking to “About”, “Photo” and “Video” just like my old blog. I decided to scrap it all together though. I really just had to ask myself: how simple can I make this site? For every piece I added, I needed to think if it could be done in some other way, or dropped altogether.

So, gone is the “Music” page, because in all the years my old layout was serving, I never got a single composition up there. “Video” is gone, because really all the clips were old, crappy, and if I ever made something new, I could just post it right on the blog. The same applies to “Photo”, altough the single photo gallery I ever put up (from Iceland) is stilll available. You just won’t find a dedicated link to it any more 🙂 New photos will ALL be posted to flickr – which you can also find in the sidebar. And finally, the “About” page is also moved to the sidebar. Because really: there isn’t a whole lot to say about me that you would be interested in knowing, and that isn’t already reflected through my postings in one way or another.

I also added a new 404-page, hopefully won’t scare off people who bookmarked one of my old pages, or followed a link somewhere. I can also tell you that my previous category pages for my “car worklog” and “mac geniuses web comic” will be returning soon. As for lyrics.xgrape.net, well it’s all there. But only as static pages from MovableType. No DB atm. I’ll import the entries into a new WordPress blog at some point. Whatever else you can’t see here anymore, is likely gone 🙂

Feel free to add a comment about what you would like to see (more of), if there is anything you miss, or in general what you think about the makeover.

 

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