Peekaboo

Ah, my posting frequency is rather, shall we say, unreliable? Since we last spoke I’ve almost finished building a new server for this site, been at the movies, ordered tickets to a concert and spent quite a lot more time than usual on MSN and Skype.

Let’s start with the new server. I realized that the server that is currently running this site and two other doesn’t pack enough punch to handle the odd requests peaks I’m seeing. Every now and then, the one-liners are being picked up by some site, sending quite a lot of people this way. The last time this happened, about a week ago, the server got totally clogged when it ran out of memory. The reason? Only half of the 1GB chip in the box is discovered by the motherboard. The result? Swapping madness and total break down. The solution is to build a new and better box that will handle the peaks and then some. This will cost me a hell of a lot more than paying someone to host the site, but where’s the fun in that!? Now I’ve almost got all the parts I need (all I’m missing are some cables and the ones I received in the mail today were all useless – I have to learn to read the specifications properly before ordering), and I’m working on a small How To so that other people can also build their own home server. More to come.

The movie I went to see was the Norwegian “Tomme Tønner“. It’s heavily influenced by the style that Guy Ritchie uses in his movies, and it has its moments. They are brief, but they are still moments. Onc scene in particular actually made me laugh until I cried and that’s not something that happens often to me at the movies. Don’t get your expectations go through the roof, though, but you should still go see it. Maybe just to support Norwegian movies.

Worries

This is one of the hardest entries I’ve ever written. Not because I took a deep dive into the darkest hollow of my consciousness and roamed around in the dirt. I didn’t. Nor is it much dirt down there, thank you very much. No, writing this entry was hard because I had a lot of thoughts in my head I believed was rather clever and I had some serious problems getting them all out of there in a somewhat comprehensible manner that didn’t make me sound like an a) total asshole, b) total moron or c) both. It was particularly hard to do it in English. I considered writing the entry in Norwegian for a while, but then I decided I was up for the challenge.

Did I succeed? We’ll see.

As a kid I used to worry about a lot of things. I can’t really remember exactly what I used to worry about, but I do remember that it was a lot. Because of this, my stomach hurt most of the time. I was a shy, timid kid, a bit afraid of most stuff that was not familiar to me. Why I was like this, I don’t know. It might have been because I was also a short and skinny kid, mostly hanging out with people who was a couple of years older than me. Not the alpha male of the pack, to put it that way.

One event I remember1 in particular was when me and my mother was visiting someone at the local hospital. I asked her for some candy, a box of the good old Stupedama to be precise. Sure, I could get a box, on one condition: That I went over and bought it myself. But there was no way in hell I could get myself to do that. I wanted the candy, but I was just afraid to buy it myself. I can’t remember if I eventually bought the box or if I got any candy in the end, but I remember the feeling when my mother asked me to buy it myself.

Downtime

It seems I don’t need the help of others to take my site offline. When I got to work today, I discovered that I was unable to read my private e-mail. Yes, I read private e-mail at work. Nor was I able to access this site, or the server it’s hosted on via SSH. I was able to ping the ISP gateway in my living room, so the network connection was OK.

So, after work, I got home, restarted the box and everything was online again in a matter of seconds; the Ubuntu Server startup time is very, very low. Unfortunately, I was not able to find anything about the incident in the logs, the last thing that happened was that the Amazon S3 backup started. That might of course be the problem, but it has been running for a while without any problems.

My best guess is that the VIA CPU on the motherboard and the Linux kernel isn’t the best of friends. I’ve had problems with the same CPU model before when using Debian, so I’m guessing that’s the most likely cause. A few weeks ago I ordered a new Mini-ITX motherboard with an embedded Intel Atom based CPU, and that CPU should be 100% compatible with the kernel and it’ll arrive in about two weeks time.

Until then, if the site is offline, there’s no need to panic! It’ll surface again shortly. Also, if you sent me any e-mail from 07:00 to 17:15 CET today, it’s probably a good idea to send it again. Your SMTP server should retry for at least 48 hours if the recipient server is unavailable, but you never know.

Now I’m getting some dinner and then it’s off to the gym, meaning I have to take the bus back to work to go to the gym there. Being a web host provider sure is hard work!

Redesign: Layout and Eye Candy

Now that I have settled with colors and fonts, one last thing is left before I can start with the implementation of the design: How should the site look in terms of layout and various eye candy? Rounded corners come to mind. I got to have rounded corners, right?

The best place to find inspiration is on the internet, because there are a lot of very nice site designs out there. Another source of inspiration might even be my own previous designs. While looking for some old pictures today, I stumbled across this one:

An old site design

It’s taken at work in May 2007. Why I took the picture, I don’t know, I’m guessing it wasn’t long after another redesign of the site. Please don’t mind the mess on the desk, the incoherent ramblings on the post-it notes and the fact that I have Steam installed on my work computer. Have a look at the design. The first thing that hit me was “that’s a nice design, I like it. It’s clean and pleasant to look at”. However, since I made it myself, it’s probably not too surprising that I like it. One of the elements I really miss in the current design is the calendar widget on the sidebar. The one on the picture was one I made myself for my own, homegrown CMS, but I’m sure someone has made a similar, and most likely better, widget for WordPress.