Archive for March, 2008

Slow-down should be fixed

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Over the weekend, I migrated my sites to a new hosting company.  On the advice of a couple friends, I went with Dreamhost, which offers a good mix of features for a pretty reasonable price.  In fact, this service generally seems more feature rich and an overall better value than iPowerWeb was, even when it worked well.

I went with Dreamhost despite the fact that they had suffered a pretty serious billing problem that got a fair amount of attention back in January.  While researching them, I found that it did cause a fair amount of consternation and that they made a few mistakes in dealing with it (most notably, trying to be too lighthearted in their initial apology), but they did pretty quickly make good on the problem and never attempted to deny or excuse it away.  My overall view on this kind of thing is that any company can make mistakes and what I really care about is whether they are resolved quickly and satisfactorily.

That pretty much sums up my frustration with iPowerWeb.  Even as I sent in the request for them to formally transfer my domain to Dreamhost, they included a note in their response promising that fixing the MySQL issue was a top priority and that they expected to have it resolved soon.  They still didn’t really define "soon", although this morning’s email claimed that they have already added the additional space to the server.

Even if the problem is fixed tomorrow, I’m still glad to have changed over as I no longer trust iPowerWeb.  The only information that I have received from them was through direct responses to my inquiries and I’ve had to often ask multiple times.  Since this was a known issue, why weren’t they keeping all affected customers informed?  Also, this problem has lingered way too long.  Since this blog is just a hobby, I let the problem go for a few weeks before taking action.  If I were running a business or otherwise making much revenue from this site, I certainly would have jumped ship weeks ago.

Hopefully, Dreamhost will now truly earn my trust and I won’t end up regretting the change.  For now, I’m just glad that my site finally loads in a reasonable amount of time again.

Slow Site Loading

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Visitors to this blog may have noticed that it has been very slow loading recently.  At best, it seems to take about 15-20 seconds for a page to load and during really busy times for my hosting company, the delay can be quite a bit longer (even a minute or more).

My sites are all hosted by iPowerWeb and after a bunch of back and forth exchanges with their support department, they have confirmed that it is a capacity issue with their MySQL database servers.  The WordPress blogging software that run my blogs uses MySQL, thus resulting in the slowness.

While iPowerWeb support keeps telling me that they are working on adding additional MySQL servers to take up some of the load, they also are refusing to give me even a rough estimate for how soon this will actually happen.  As a result, I’m researching other hosting companies and, hopefully, I’ll get this site migrated in the next few days.  With any luck, that means that the site should start loading at normal speeds again soon.

For anyone reading this, thanks for looking in on the site, even if it does require a bit of a wait!

Arthur C. Clarke: My Tribute

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

I was saddened to learn of the death of author Arthur C. Clarke at the age of 90.  Clarke was my favorite author and so I very much feel the need to write a few words about his work and what it has meant to me.  He is well-known as one of the true grand masters of the science fiction genre and I’m certain that a great deal will be written about his life and work over the next few days, so I am going to focus on my own general feelings and reactions to his work.  This may come off as a bit rambling as I’m writing it largely off-the-cuff and it honestly has been quite some time since I have read most of Clarke’s books. 

I first discovered Clarke’s writing when I was in junior high school back in the early 1980s.  Like many people, I first became aware of him after seeing the film version of "2001: A Space Odyssey".  I was fascinated (and, admittedly, more than a bit confused) by the movie and became interested in reading the book.  Clarke’s collaboration with Stanley Kubrick on 2001 was rather unusual, with the two initially working out the basic story together and then Kubrick going off to write the screenplay (and make the film) while Clarke went off to write the novel.  This resulted in a book and movie that had the same basic plot line and characters, but also some substantial differences in approach.   

While Kubrick kept the events rather mysterious, at times to the point of obliqueness, Clarke’s writing was much clearer.  Reading the book, I was immediately struck by Clarke’s ability to tell a story that was dense in scientific and technical details and filled with speculative elements both about a plausible future and an alien encounter, but still present it in a manner that was very readable and basically understandable.    Keep in mind that I was junior high school age at the time as well.  Even though I was always a somewhat advanced reader, it still says a lot about Clarke’s writing that he was able to write stories that were so dense in content and unquestionably non-juvenile, but which were still within the grasp of fairly young readers.  I don’t know if our school librarian was aware of this or if they simply ordered science fiction somewhat blindly (I suspect the latter), but they had quite a few Clarke books in their collection and I quickly started going through them all, eventually extending that to the collection in the public library and even a few paperbacks purchased.

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Work/Life Balance and "Loving Your Work"

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Over the last few days, several of the technology-oriented blogs that I read have included some spirited debates about the work/life balance and whether or not loving your work essentially equates to a workaholic devotion to it.  This is an issue that I have spent a lot of time thinking about and working out for myself during my career and that has even contributed to something of a career change several years ago.

The online discussion was prompted by a recent blog post by Jason Calacanis, the founder of "human-edited" search engine Mahalo.com.  The post focused on various cost-savings tips for people running technology start-ups.  Most of the items in the post were pretty innocuous suggestions about things like office furniture and equipment, but there were a couple entries that could easily be interpreted as saying that a start-up should have no use for anyone that would in any way prioritize their personal life over their work life.

The most controversial item was the following:

“Fire people who are not workaholics…. come on folks, this is startup life, it’s not a game. go work at the post office or stabucks if you want balance in your life. For realz.”

He later attempted to soften it a bit by changing "are not workaholics" to "don’t love their work" and then crossing out "it’s not a game" and "if you want balance in your life. For realz."  He also wrote a pretty lengthy follow-up post that did help to clarify his view a bit and also shared his own general approach to his work.  Particularly in that follow-up post, he seems to be basically suggesting that unless you let your work largely dominate your life, then you must be working only out of necessity rather than actually loving what you do.

Even though my experience with working at start-ups is limited to a short stint at a tiny game developer that ended up folding pretty dramatically about 4 months after I started,   I believe that Calacanis is almost certainly correct that a pretty intense career focus is probably necessary to survive during the very early years at most start-ups.  Where I take exception is his apparent view that pretty much total devotion to work is a requirement to be able to say that you "love" your work.  I don’t believe that having a life balance and actually loving what you do are mutually-exclusive.

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