somewhere to talk about random ideas and projects like everyone else



New Host Bitcable 30 September 2012

I haven’t been particularly raving about Hostmonster for the near two years I’ve been a customer of their’s, and it’s time for a change. In the past week, I moved to a new web host. As of this moment, I’m using Bitcable, specifically the cheapest shared plan plus another discount. I’ve had my share of gripes about the service, but speed and reliability so far have not been among them. I discovered Bitcable through a friend who knew a friend who operated a web host, well, primarily a VPS service. Over a fair amount of begging for a VPS discount, I decided to try out their (I always find it awkward when referring to companies or services as a plural in spite of knowledge that it’s pretty much a one-man-show, but that makes it all the more impressive) shared plan, since that was analogous whatever I was paying for with Hostmonster. And anyway, for $2/mo, how bad can it get?

That question was a tad misleading, so far, Bitcable’s pretty awesome. Part of the thing about using a service from a friend-of-a-friend (FOAF, if I ever need to use an acronym later on in this post, but I’ll keep it here just because it’s a fun thing to say) is that you can get some pretty good support over some random communication channels. It’s small enough that he doesn’t oversell, and the performance really shows through.

I did, however have some issues with the configuration of the server. The first issue is that by default, shared customers don’t get SFTP access. That’s pretty annoying because I’ve recently fallen in love with passwordless login using public keys. I sent an angry support ticket and it was enabled soon enough. But a much more pressing issue was that soon after my migration, there was some long server outage due to some power supply failure (which thankfully, since it took over a month to write this post which is more indicative of the bad state that my blog is in than the host, hasn’t happened again, I haven’t noticed a minute of downtime since then and I’ve set uptime monitors to ensure that).

So yeah, I’ll be on this host for the foreseeable future.

Upcoming Changes 18 August 2012

This post has been hinted at by the past few blog posts, but I guess eventually it has to be written. But the basic gist is that rather than making this the home of random announcements of mostly finished projects, it’ll be the home of mostly daily (or weekly, whenever significant progress is made) and probably shorter updates on the progress certain projects. That is, the blog is transitioning back into something more like the olden days (circa 2008-ish) but without falling into the trap of using this as an alternative to having commit messages and still supporting the fact I’m now working on quite a bit more than one project at a time.

The problem is that I can’t exactly stay true to that because I actually have quite a bit of backlog in terms of stuff I have to write about, stuff which is for the most part done (so it’s not particularly viable for me to make up progress updates retroactively, and I’ll probably have to stick with writing a big blog post about it).

This should be the culmination of tons of factors and trends building up for the past year or so. I’ve always felt that the blog needed to be overhauled eventually (or end up rotting as nothing more than a backup kept in the eternal resting spot which is the Internet Archive, leaching fluids into the soil as bacterium leave the corpse punctured by holes and missing vital organs, a sure sign that I’m probably going too far into this metaphor, but in the end that’s the way many of the forums I used to visit have become). But the real spark came in the form of a migration to a new web host, something which I still alas have yet to blog about despite it happening over a week ago.

Those changes are hardly precipitous (however much anyone wants to unveil something in one flash of an instant in order to feign the appearance that everything happened suddenly and approached new heights of grandeur, that never actually happens, and it’s simply harder to work in that sort of manner - slow and steady doesn’t always lose the race). The first part was the change of the web host itself which was actually not exactly planned (I was testing out it, and unexpectedly on a whim cancelled my old web host and migrated over over the course of an afternoon and left the site down for a few hours). The second front at which this evolution occurred was a slight redesign, changing the color scheme a bit, upgrading the theme, reorganizing the categories and menus (this is meant to be chronicled in detail in some other blog post which I have yet to written). And the third and last one (which was meant to be the topic of this blog post) is a change in content.

In summary, three inevitable changes on three different fronts. Content, Frontend, and Backend. All in a not-so-grand gesture to save this blog from decaying into a moldy blob of feces on the internet’s great sidewalk. forum mirror 16 February 2012

I first registered an account on on December 11th, 2006. I was 11 years old at the time. It was this time when the Ajax Animator began. I’m not sure of that, because 5 years past certainly constitutes ancient history for a teenager. It was a huge influence on the development of the Ajax Animator, and it was there that I first encountered some of the future contributors to the project. In fact, the community was kind enough to create an entire subsection of the forum intended to nurture discussion of my pet project, which paralleled their eternal vaporware attempt at resurrecting their namesake program.

Over the next few years, the community decayed and the site became desolate and spam-ridden. There was a period in late 2008 when every indication was that the site would come to an abrupt demise when the domain registration was to expire. The still active community created a backup community on some other forum hosting site and prepared for the worst. I did my part by running WinHTTrack and mirroring the site on my hard disk. It turned out the domain was renewed, and the panic was for nought.

But, when the website finally became a desolate and abandoned wasteland a few years later, the domain lapsed and all the content was lost.

In a nostalgic fit earlier today, I dug up that archive and uploaded it to Google Code. Here you can browse the near entirety of the liveswifers forum as it was, frozen in carbonite those three years ago. I can’t place that date, December, 2006 quite in context, but I would expect that to be approximately the date that the seeds of inspiration were planted. And so maybe not for anyone else, but this site and all its content holds a special place in my mind, and deserves a final resting place shielded from the harsh internet.

It's host switching time. 29 June 2010

Every year at about this time, I switch hosts, now I’m switching to Host Monster. This site may probably be down for the next day or so.

New Site! 14 July 2009

You may notice that the site is now using my actual domain! and that it’s also like twice as fast and 20 times more reliable! Also, the URLs are now insanely awesome rather than the ?p=314159 or something random like that. That’s because I have a new host and this is a new site with WordPress 2.8.1 and stuff. One thing I momentarily have forgotten is Ads (don’t you love them?). So they’ll be back soon. I also have a new theme, based on the SimpleX and Carrington Blog themes. I went back hundred or so posts and added catagories and tags to them for ease of navigation. I created new pages for Wikify, vXJS, ShinyTouch and MirrorTouch and I have a few new posts. So I’d like to see your feedback on the new site.

Redirect referred users to new site's respective page 14 July 2009

So as you may know, I have moved to a new host and I need to move all things over so I made this awesome script that I hacked together to redirect all users visiting the old site to the new site and the respective page as long as they are being referred from a third party.

It’s pretty short and goes at the top of index.php. Probably won’t be useful to anyone but whatever :)

if(isset($_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER']) && strpos($_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER'],"antimatter15") === FALSE){
  header( "HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently" ); 
  header("Location: ?".$_SERVER['QUERY_STRING']);

Dreamhost 13 July 2009

Dreamhost is pretty good. Maybe my expectations are low?

So now I have a cool new web host: Dreamhost. I’ll be using it for at least the next year. So far it’s really great. It has everything I really wanted which isn’t much (aside from SSH access). Sure, it’s a massive overseller which has quite sky-high pricing for the purpose of bailing out really insanely cheap promotions, but I haven’t yet faced any problems with it. And may I mention that I’m largely a member because of one of their insanely cheap promotions? Don’t get me wrong, I did do tons of research prior and it seemed good to begin with, but the whole July Fourth $10 for hosting a whole year is pretty irrefutably awesome. decently fast. It actually supports URLs without a WWW (which was the reason this blog never used GoDaddy). So what issues have I faced so far? Well, not many. And since setting up is usually the most troublesome and hard part, it’s setting a good precedent in my mind. Issues ive has aren’t really hosting related. The control panel is actually really good. I don’t know why, but I really can’t stand using CPanel. I haven’t had a very good experience with it. They try far too much to make everything as if it’s intended to be something like your Netvibes or iGoogle homepage. And CPanel is remarkably unhelpful with issues (that I’ve had with SSH) and it wastes a lot of screen estate on listing basic server info that rarely changes or is useful in any way. The Dreamhost panel by comparison is menu based and intuitive. No big icons that make you feel stupid after looking for a long time and realizing it’s a huge icon in the center of the screen involving outdated and vague old desktop metaphors. Just simple menus. Sometimes it’s not very good at explaining why it switches PHP to CGI mode when you use the automatic installer. I wouldn’t reccomend it’s automated installer though. While I’ve had very few problems with using it to install the latest version of Wordpress, the configuration is a bit lacking. Also, the generated wp_config.php from the automated installer is old and actually missing a few security features that makes it harder (just add the missing lines in) to install BBPress later on. Beside that, installing Trac+SVN may be only a dew clicks to do, but getting Trac to behave as expected (logging in) requires tedious amounts of command-line-fu. The installation options are seriously quite mediocre and they use big icons too. There are only like 9 available scripts with only a few CMSes a gallery or two and some eCommerce. I can’t really do a summary, but it’s pretty good as of now. Oh and another cool thing is that this entire post was written on my iPhone. Yes. On a touchscreen device with a virtual keyboard. And that’s not bad either. I’m typing quite fast on this device and not making too many mistakes either. The reason the first post from my iPhone came so latenis because Wordpress for iPhone didn’t work on my old web host, but it works on my new one.

Good Web Host? 12 May 2009

I think it’s probably better for me to move to a new web host, so I’m taking suggestions for good ones. It should be close to the $6 price range.