Jan 042011

I have been using AN Hosting since November 2010 to host this Drupal site. Finding a responsible shared hosting provider was certainly not an easy task. There are a staggering number of hosts available, along with a huge number of rather questionable “review” websites. I was forced to come up with a list of hosting providers that seemed decent and then individually research them one-by-one. I’m hoping that my experience and real-world performance/uptime report will be useful to others.

This post was last updated 2011-11-20

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Oct 152010

Yesterday, I decided to take the plunge and switch 6by9.net to Google Apps. I’d been mulling it over for a while, mostly because I was worried about the hassle and headaches associated with transferring all my settings and data. Just a day later, it’s almost completely done and I’m very pleased.

The biggest change is that now all my mail is handled by Google’s GMail. But it also means that I have almost all of Google’s services associated with 6by9.net, including Analytics, Calendar, Docs, Google Voice, Reader, etc. I made the decision that it would be more efficient to stop running my own mail server and spam filters when there was a much more efficient service available for free. Additionally, I no longer have to worry about multiple accounts – one for 6by9.net and one for Google’s services.

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Sep 042010

I’ve now been using Drupal on 6by9.net for a year. The flexibility and variety of add-on modules has been great, but there is a definite learning curve. I would not expect casual users to have any fun at all, and the management interface is fairly daunting. Once you dive below the user interface, adding/modifying/updating modules or Drupal itself, the headaches can really begin.

So, even though I’m a highly technical user/administrator, I’m quite ambivalent. Using Drupal has been great. Administering Drupal has been demanding.

Updating modules is a painless process. You unpack the new tar and run an update script. I haven’t had any serious bugs, although the last update did raise a couple errors I had to double check (just to make sure they weren’t critical).

Updating to new versions of Drupal is serious work. You have to replace the entire site directory with the new version and then pull in the changes you have made (modules, themes, files, settings file, etc). I haven’t found a great way to automate this, yet, although I certainly would if my site were larger.

One trick I’ve found very useful regards module settings. All the non-core modules must be disabled before the update. You then have to go back through all the modules (often several pages long) after the update. Instead of manually keeping track of which modules were previously enabled, try this:

  • Pull up a new window in your browser and point it to the page of module settings (usually example.com/admin/build/modules).
  • Don’t make any changes – just put the window aside until you’re done with the updates.
  • After your Drupal directory has been updated and you’ve put all your site files back where they belong, go back to your browser window with module settings. Scroll to the bottom and hit save.
  • Depending on what modules you had enabled, Drupal may prompt you to confirm that certain dependency modules also be enabled.
  • Done! Now run through the myriad module updates that are probably needed.
Apr 052010

Data is an extremely valuable resource. That’s a little vague, but it’s probably the most profitable asset of our era. Businesses such as Google and Facebook live or die based on the data at their disposal – and they carefully guard this data. There have been lawsuits filed over unauthorized use of these data sets, even just for using publicly available data.

That being said, Google does make their search data available. It’s not provided in a convenient format, but you can learn very interesting/humorous/scary things. And it provides a window into what your neighbors have on their minds.

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