Behind the Scenes at super-structure

I know that it looks like almost noth­ing has been hap­pen­ing on this site for the past month. But, actu­al­ly there have been some changes behind the scenes. Okay, I’ve also been kind of lazy and not post­ing as much as I’d meant to. But let’s focus on the pos­i­tives.

Even since I moved my site’s con­tent into Word­Press about four (!) years ago, it had been host­ed by my good friend Jason J. He had plen­ty of band­width, host­ing space, Word­Press knowl­edge, and — most impor­tant­ly — was will­ing to share all of that. I’d been pay­ing him a small amount month­ly in exchange for this. How­ev­er, if one were to add up all the time he spent via phone, e‑mail, Skype chat, etc.; I was get­ting some real­ly cheap tech sup­port from a guy who isn’t known for hav­ing any free time.

Add to my sense of guilt the fact that the host­ing account which all this was on was one that JJ was­n’t plan­ning on keep­ing (he’s got some more advanced needs and found anoth­er host­ing provider to bet­ter suit them). So, I need­ed to get my own host­ing plan for our house­hold full of domains. After look­ing around at var­i­ous plans, I decid­ed that stay­ing with Dreamhost would be best. It basi­cal­ly came down to these:

  • Famil­iar­i­ty: Basi­cal­ly no learn­ing curve as I’d been already using them for the past few years.
  • Green: Dreamhost off­sets their car­bon emis­sions.
  • Soft­ware: They have real­ly great one-click instal­la­tion for the serv­er-side soft­ware (that is: Word­Press & Medi­aWi­ki) that I use. Fur­ther, they keep their soft­ware cur­rent with new releas­es.
  • Price: The month­ly price break down was rea­son­able. Fur­ther, they also don’t charge extra for mak­ing my domain who-is infor­ma­tion pri­vate. They also allow me to have as many MySQL data­bas­es as I want (each WP or Medi­aWi­ki install needs its own).
  • Class: They don’t con­stant­ly bar­rage me with attempts to up-sell me on new ser­vices. Some­times I need to do work instead of see a price list, you know?

So, after pick­ing JJ’s brain some more on how to back up and restore MySQL data­bas­es last month, I began mov­ing my files over to a new serv­er at Dreamhost via my own account. This also gave me the oppor­tu­ni­ty to clean up some of the data­base orga­ni­za­tion. I’m also using the oppor­tu­ni­ty to clean out a lot of un-used files on the serv­er as well, which should all mak­ing back-ups faster.

I final­ly got around to pulling the switch last night. It is very un-nerv­ing click­ing “delete” on almost five years worth of writ­ing. It cer­tain­ly brings out the pro­cras­ti­na­tor in me. Thus, there has­n’t been any action around here in the past month; so I would­n’t have to con­stant­ly back-up and replace the data­base over and over. Once I did get around to doing so, though, the DNS TTL gods showed some sort of favor upon me. Despite hav­ing to delete the old sites entire­ly first and then re-instat­ing the domain name to point to the new serv­er, the sites were down for no more than for a cou­ple of min­utes each. I’m still scratch­ing my head over how that hap­pened (nor­mal­ly, this takes more like an hour or more).

In oth­er behind-the-scenes news, the lat­est ver­sion of Word­Press is a breeze to upgrade. It is lit­er­al­ly as sim­ple as click­ing a link with­in the soft­ware. No more need­ing to log in via com­mand line and using SVN com­mands. The plug-ins have had auto­mat­ic upgrades for the past few updates, and this is very wel­come to some­one who main­tains sev­er­al Word­Press instal­la­tions.

So, all of this is (or at least should be) absolute­ly trans­par­ent to any­one who is just vis­it­ing this site. That being said, I do have some plans for chang­ing the style and orga­ni­za­tion of this site in the next few months. I’ve been kick­ing around ideas for some time and hope­ful­ly that will hap­pen soon­er rather than lat­er.