‘ Hosting Operations ’ category archive

Inserting Images via a Content Mangement System

March 29, 06 by kenrich

One of the trickiest tasks of building a for windows is trying to add images to content. In my case, I need to provide a method to insert an image or series of images into an article. This needs to be done through a web (browser) interface. It seems like a relatively simple task, but making it seamless and intuitive are another matter.

One of the simplest methods of doing this is by just providing a separate interface for uploading the images you want to use. Then, when you go to create or edit an article, the operator can just choose the image you uploaded from drop-down list. This is very easy to do and will get the job done, but I’m not really sure if this is flexible enough.

I think what needs to be done is that a way to upload and insert the image in the article needs to be done in one step. This would allow users to insert the images “as they are needed” and not have to worry about remembering the image names. This would eliminate the need to sort through a long list of images trying to find the correct one.

One of the drawbacks of our new web hosting provider, is that we don’t have the luxury of installing custom components to use for image manipulation. It would be nice if I could create a thumbnail of each image. Thumbnails could be used for browsing an archive of images and allowing the operator to pick the image they want to insert into the content. Sure, I could use the full-size images and scale them to look like thumbnails, but the bandwidth used would be unacceptable.

Update Service Under Development

March 24, 06 by kenrich

One thing I’ve been working on recently is an for the Websites I’ve built. This would allow you to pull up a page on our Intranet similar to the “Windows Update Service”. The page would perform a check on our main server to see if there’s any bug-fixes, feature improvements or new modules that can be downloaded and installed.

Although it wouldn’t really by downloading since the file would be transferred from one Website to another. Modified files, data or database schemas would be moved from the update server to the new Website. The operator of the Website would immediately benefit from getting the latest updates from our company.

The way we currently do it, is that we manually move the files from one server to another. This is very tedious and time-consuming and not all that reliable either. If there’s anyway we can improve our service, this would probably be it.

I have already started working on the code for this. I’ve alread got a web service built that will deliver the database schema. I need to build the page that compares the schema on the update server with the locat (Website’s) database schema and see where the differences lie. Then, with the operators approval, the system can automatically update the database schema.

There is a lot of work involved in this. We have to be careful that we differentiate between upgraded code and incompatible modules. When we write specialized code for a client, we have to be careful that the update service doesn’t just overwrite the customized code with a more generic script. This would cause us to lose a lot of work. We have methods to get around this problem, but there is a lot more coding to do until this is complete.

Hosting Transition Complete!

March 03, 06 by kenrich

I’d sure like to get rid of this cold that I currently have. It has been nearly two weeks now since I first got sick. It’s one of the nastiest colds I have ever experienced. Normally, I would think it’s the flu, but I took a flu shot this year so I suppose that I’m immune. This week, I’ve done a lot of work for Orvado in migrating clients to the new servers. We are pretty much all moved over now which is a big relief.

We are hoping that the new servers will provide better uptime and support response times than our previous setup. The performance is definitely adequate – it’s just a matter of seeing if the quality of service is there. We would hate to have to move our clients to another hosting solution. With the hosting migration done, we can once again focus on our core business.

For those of you that don’t know, our core business is delivering cutting-edge dynamic web sites which are custom-built to order. We develop custom databases, offer a proprietary intranet/CMS management solution, and also develop professional graphic design. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our business and provide a better service to our customers.

Reseller Hosting Problems

January 27, 06 by kenrich

My hosting company signed up for a reseller account to handle all of our Unix-based hosting. I have spent numerous hours setting up 40 or so hosts under one account. All the time, I was wondering how we could give each of those accounts their own login to the control panel. It seems I wasn’t crazy after all, there really is a way to do this.

The only problem is that the hosting company didn’t setup our account properly and the options to create and manage new accounts just didn’t exist. Instead, when I logged into what they term the “Web Hosting Manager”, I saw only a few, trivial functions. Under a menu item called “Account Management” and “Multi-Account Management”, there were no options available at all.

So for most of today, I’ve been going back with technical support trying to get our account straightened out. It still hasn’t been fixed yet, but should be sometime tonight. Later, I will have the fun task of splitting out all those domains into separate accounts. That explains why they sent me an e-mail notifying me that our account was almost out of disk space when I was only using 200MB of space!

Hosting Switchover

November 12, 05 by kenrich

My company is well on the way to getting out of the hosting business. We are going to be transitioning a lot of our clients to a shared hosting environment. We were managing our own hosting environment, but we recently found that it was taking up too much of our time that we would rather spend developing web applications and client web sites.

Our Unix Hosting was setup a month ago and we have already moved a good number of sites over to that setup and we are very pleased with the performance. It should serve us well for many many years to come. I just hope that the Windows hosting we just signed up for offers a similar performance.

One major part of the windows transition will be porting all of the web applications to a MySQL database server. Right now we have all of our windows hosting using Microsoft SQL Server. I’ve done the majority of the work by converting our most recent intranet software over to MySQL. So it just becomes a simple matter of porting all of the specialized code that we’ve written for each individual client. The good news is that we have about two and a half months to do this conversion so hopefully we won’t be too pressed on time.

Converting Sites to New Apache Version

April 06, 05 by kenrich

Tonight I have been working feverishly converting a lot of our UNIX sites to run on apache 2.0 from apache 1.3. Not only that, I have also updated PHP and mysql, so I have to go through and test every single site to make sure it is working.

This post itself is a test of the new server. So far, everything is going pretty smoothly. This site seems to be running just a little bit faster than normal. I applaud the guys at Six Apart for creating such good blogging software, but on slower servers, it leaves a little bit to be desired.

I think the update to a recent version of fedora core has also helped to improve performance. Well, I guess it’s time for me to get back to work. I promise more blogging entries in the near future.

Tracking Spam IP Addresses

March 09, 05 by kenrich

I’ve been using the GeoBytes IP Address Locator service to track the source of spam that our servers receive. Just today I noticed they have disabled the free lookup service on their site. Now, you get a login page which comes up. I guess too many people were abusing this service or else they just decided they needed to make money.

Not to fear, however, I have found an equally good alternative. The “American Registry of Internet Numbers” lookup page provides me with an excellent IP address lookup that will tell me exactly where the address is registered or point me to the registry that can tell me the information.

This can be used to locate addresses in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. I typically ban spammers who use IP addresses out of these countries. At the top of my list of spam abuse is Korea, China and Spain. The more spam they send, the easier it is for me to ban their entire country. Some spam comes out of the United States too, but it is a lot less than other foreign countries.

New UNIX Server Setup Part 1

February 08, 05 by kenrich

Last night I was really busy setting up a new server for my hosting company. I was configuring a new raid array and also updating the bios and RAID firmware in preparation for a new operating system install. We are adding a new server at our co-location facility in order to provide better hosting for our UNIX hosting and also to provide additional services. With any luck, I will have this installed sometime this week.

It’s been a while since I posted a blog entry. The reason is that I came down with another minor cold this past weekend and I wasn’t feeling too good. On Sunday night I watched the movie Ray on DVD. I was pretty impressed with the movie and I’d have to say that it’s the best movie that I’ve seen in the past year. Of course, I haven’t really seen too many movies this past year.

Tonight is the season finally of the Amazing Race. We’ll have to see if that “loser team” of Adam and Rebecca can manage to win. Odds are, they probably will. It usually happens that the team you want to win the least always ends up winning. This is what happened on the last series of the Amazing Race. It is also what happend at this year’s Superbowl!

Internet Marketing – Fierce Competition

January 31, 05 by kenrich

It appears that I have a lot to learn about Internet marketing. With my first month of marketing training under my belt, I’ve learned quite a bit. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and it is hard to market something that is so commonly available. Everyone is trying to market to the same target audience and because of this, the competition is fierce.

We are practically giving our services away and we have not garnered much interest. It’s hard to get your foot in the door (so to speak) when consumers rely so much on branding and name recognition as well as friends recommendation when making a decision about a hosting provider.

We are far from giving up however. This year marks the first year where we are starting some intensive marketing plans in order to drum up some new business. If anyone has any ideas or would like to discuss web site ideas, feel free to drop me a line. We often go above and beyond the call of duty which is why our customers are so loyal to us.

Linux Mail Server Issues

January 06, 05 by kenrich

Today I spent a good amount of time checking out the Linux server used by our company. We have just configured the server to host about 30 different e-mail accounts and found that some users are having trouble receiving and sending mail.

After perusing the logs for a while, I noticed that users weren’t using the correct username when logging in. This explained why they weren’t able to receive mail. As far as sending, I saw a mysterious error in the logs that read “CNAME_lookup_failed_temporarily.”.

This turns out to be a deficiency in QMail which attempts to do a DNS lookup on the recipient address to make sure that the address being sent to is valid. Only problem is, it queries the entire DNS record, not just the CNAME record to workaround a bug in CNAME lookups. I found that installing “dnscache” should fix this problem so I installed it and hope this will do the trick. I see you have all fallen asleep after reading this mindless drivel… sorry about that.