Archive for the 'Geek' Category

Server outages

May 10, 2009 in Geek

My apologies to regular visitors for the servers outages, recently. Unstable servers is a constant pain in the neck for webmasters and has been for me for many years. I thought I had solved it by hiring a relatively expensive “virtual private server”, but a month ago my webhost moved my account to a new server, which was crooked, but because I was the only one complaining (because I was the only one on the server), they refused to take me seriously.
Now I’m going for a different approach: instead of one high quality hosting account I’m going for multiple low cost accounts and configure my “DNS” (no matter what that means) such that another server will take over when one fails. Also, I will be better protected againsts network congestions and some other problems.
To accomplish this is more complicated that I thought, it requires indepth knowledge of DNS, which I don’t have, but my DNS host has been very helpful so far. Even if I get the DNS sorted out I will still have to synchronize my family of servers, which means that I don’t have to upload every file to each server, but that this will be automated. Many thanks to blueroomhosting‘s Jim Bailey for his suggestions on this.
Because of my incapacity to understand the subtleties of DNS I’m still having problems keeping my site online. My site’s recent problems even caused it to drop on search engines.
All problems aside, a project like this arouses the geek in me, resulting in long days and loss of sleep. I will now end this rant and write a post on art. Thanks for your patience.

Geek roll

Apr 20, 2009 in Geek

A new painting was added at http://paintings.name/image-files/alto.php. It’s bigger than usual and somehow it looks bigger too, although it’s image dimensions are the same. Speaking of which, the web is becoming ever more complicated. My web statistics reveal that this site’s visitors use 81 different screen resolutions, from very small screens to very big, which means I have to produce a different page for each screen size. I used to do this manually for 3 different sizes, but I’m working on a script that will automate this for a larger and variable number of screen sizes.

In the mobile sphere it’s even more complicated, because of the thousands (or more?) different models, many of which have different screen sizes, memory limits, etc. Nokia has developed software that can detect the device’s brand and model,  connect to a database and retrieve the model’s properties (such as screen size), which enables you to serve different site formats depending on the mobile device.

Speaking of mobile (I’m on a geek roll, here), I recently created the site http://abstractart.tel, which is visible on a computer, but which is primarily intended for mobile devices. Dot-Tel domains serve to store people’s personal information, but can also serve as directories, to which people or sites that want to be found under a certain keyphrase (such as abstract art) can submit their contact details and so all Dot-Tel  sites together will serve as the Internet’s Yellow Pages.

There comes a time that you will realize that all Dot-Tel sites look the same. This is why:

When you enter a URL (say http://paintings.name) in your browser’s address bar and hit return, then your computer will contact your ISP and say:  “Give me Paintings.name, fast!”.

“Take it easy will ya, I have to contact the Dot-Name registry”, your ISP replies. It has a list of the URLs of all registries (organizations that manage domain names) and so your ISP says to Dot-Name: “Give me Paintings”.

Dot-Name is not a great conversation maker and replies with: “208.109.117.112”, which is my site’s “IP number”. Your ISP uses that number to navigate the web in order to find the computer that has my website. When found, my webhost will send Paintings.name’s homepage to your ISP, which will pass it on to you.

Dot-Tel is all different because it won’t send an IP number to your ISP, it will send a website! That’s right, the Dot-Tel registry serves as a webhost too, in the sense that it enables you to enter data into it’s database, which it inserts into it’s web template (the lay-out and graphics you see at http://abstractart.tel). It doesn’t look like much, but Dot-Tel sites are utility websites, intended to be handy.