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Welcome to the New Site

By Shamus
on Wednesday Jul 25, 2018
Filed under:
Rants

 
 

If you’re reading this, you’re seeing the site on my brand-new webhost. We knew this had to happen sooner or later. Six months ago I migrated to 1 & 1 Hosting, and their service was so spectacularly bad that I concluded I would need to move before my one-year term was up. The only thing that differentiated their service from sabotage was the fact that they billed me for it. And then two months later my site went down again.

I know you’re probably sick of hearing me whine about hosting problems. For those of you backing my Patreon, I know this isn’t the kind of content you’re hoping to see. I promise I’m trying to return this place to normalcy as quickly as possible.

Usually I pay for services a month at a time, and when I do I always feel a little guilty because I know I could save a lot of money if I went with yearly billing. It would figure that the ONE time I decide to roll the dice and pay for a year in advance, it would blow up in my face. Still, I can’t let sunk costs keep me at 1 & 1 any longer.

For the curious, here is the straw that broke the camel’s back:

I woke up this morning at 2amI keep strange hours sometimes. to discover my website was down. Just like last time, the database that drives this site had been locked without warning or notification. Like I said in my original rant on these jokers, they don’t offer email or any other text-based support. You have to call. So I did.

After running the obstacle course that is their phone treeYou must type in your 9-digit customer ID AND your 4-digit PIN before you’re allowed to wait in line for a representative, who will then ask you for the 9-digit number again. and getting a human being on the phone, they explained that the database was taken down due to some unexplained problem and that to have it re-enabled I’d have to talk to the security team.

“Okay fine,” I said like Bruce Banner trying to not Hulk out.

“They’re available from 9am to 5pm during business days,” the guy told me matter-of-factly.

So these shitwizards TOOK DOWN MY SITE, without warning, and without even sending me an email, and then they went home for the night!?!?

I did manage to get off the phone without cussing the guy out. I know this isn’t his fault that he works for the drooling stooges at 1 & 1 Hosting.

While I waited for the saboteurs to show up for work, I found a new web host, created an account, transferred my database, created the new database, set up a fresh install of WordPress, and uploaded the massive /images directory that the blog draws from. Technically I was up and running and was free to drop 1 & 1 Hosting at this point. The problem is, I’d set up the database from my most recent backup, which was two days old. I’d have lost the two most recent posts, along with their comments.

That’s an acceptable price to pay for escaping the destructive “service” of 1 & 1 Hosting, but I thought it would be nice if we could get out of this one without any casualties. But to do that I’d need a fresh copy of my database, and to get that I’d need to get it unblocked.

I've never seen the infrastructure at 1 & 1 Hosting, but I imagine it would look like this if they managed to clean the place up a bit.

I've never seen the infrastructure at 1 & 1 Hosting, but I imagine it would look like this if they managed to clean the place up a bit.

So when 9am rolled around I called them and asked what was up. The guy on the phone said that I was having trouble with spammers doing something to my database. I’ve got four layers of spam protectionAkismet anti-spam, Bad Behavior, the “I am not a robot” checkbox, and various blocked IPs and keywords. and I’m not sure what else I could do, but whatever. I don’t actually care what he has to say. Even if this was my fault, their handling of this has been completely unacceptable and all I want is out. I just need this guy to unlock my database so I can get a fresh snapshot for the new site.

He tells me he’s going to write up a description of what I need to do and email it to me. So then I have to sit there on the phone while he writes me an email and all I can think is WHY DON’T YOU GUYS OFFER EMAIL SUPPORT THIS IS MADNESS! but I’m trying to stay calm and not shout random insults into the phone while I wait.

So then he tells me we’re done and before he hangs up on me I tell him to unblock my database. He promises to do that. Call over.

Half an hour later and my database is still blocked. Moreover, I never got the email he promised.

I start worrying that maybe I mis-typed my email when I signed up, and that’s why they never contact me. But then I remember they’ve sent me a bunch of spammy advertisements encouraging me to “invite a friend” to 1 & 1 Hosting. No thanks. I’m having trouble picturing a situation where I could hate anyone intensely enough to inflict this madness on them. The point is, they have contacted me in the past. I check my spam filter and the trash just to make sure. Nothing. No email. This is a gmail account, so forgive me if I’m a little suspicious of the idea that the problem might be on my end.

I call them back, run the rat-maze again, get another guy on the phone, and then I get him to unblock my database. He tells me it will take 10 minutes for the change to “take effect”, because I guess their webhosting hardware is based on gears and pulleys and we have to wait for someone to turn the giant crank to make the thing go.

This is the Morton Grand Saline in Texas:

Bah. Those texture maps look fake No way a REAL mine could look this cool.

Bah. Those texture maps look fake No way a REAL mine could look this cool.

It’s the largest salt mine in the United States. It’s a wonder of engineering and nature. Discovered in 1888, it’s the centerpiece of the Morton Salt company and the backbone of the town of Saline Texas. The mine reaches 213 feet below the surface and produces 450,000 pounds of salt every year. And yet, it’s not nearly as salty as I am right now.

I have a lot of work left ahead of me. The forums are broken. A bunch of files still need to be transferred. Hopefully I can get this sorted quickly and we can get back to the interesting content.

Footnotes:

[1] I keep strange hours sometimes.

[2] You must type in your 9-digit customer ID AND your 4-digit PIN before you’re allowed to wait in line for a representative, who will then ask you for the 9-digit number again.

[3] Akismet anti-spam, Bad Behavior, the “I am not a robot” checkbox, and various blocked IPs and keywords.


 
 
Comments (86)

  1. Cordance says:

    Not sure if other comments havent shown up yet but figured I would post something to the empty comment field just to let you know its working out in the world. Sounds like the website is back free from Tyranny of stupid people between your masses and yourself at least for now …

  2. Viktor says:

    I would say this is much more like the Diamond Crystal Salt Company salt mine under Lake Peigneur. A catastrophic error causing utter collapse and a permanent increase in saltiness to the entire area.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Peigneur

  3. <blockquote?This is the Morton Grand Saline in Texas:

    Where is he going with this…?

    It’s the largest salt mine in the United States.

    I know exactly where he’s going with this.

  4. Lino says:

    I know it’s an awful thing to say (and I feel awful for saying it), but I LOVE Salty Shamus! I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing more from him…

  5. Tuck says:

    I love how fast the site is now. Thanks Shamus!

  6. Droid says:

    So who did you switch TO, now?

    • MichaelG says:

      I see it’s “A2 Hosting”. Wonder what made him pick them? Never heard of them before.

      • Shamus says:

        I hit PC Magazine reviews for managed hosting and looked for deals that had:

        * Managed LAMP
        * Shell access (My dB is so big it’s literally impossible to import it through PHP. MUST be done from console.) I don’t need shell often, but when I do need it, I REALLY need it.
        * Free / cheap SSL
        * Control panel that lets me see how many resources I’m using.
        * In my price range.
        * Decent reviews / good reputation.
        * 24 hour text / email support.
        * No tricky fees. (A LOT of places offer the first month for CHEAP instead of free, trying to trick you into thinking that first month is the normal price and then they can auto-bill you for five times as much after that.) I’m generally distrustful of any outfit that behaves this way, even if their overall prices aren’t that bad.
        * No tricky usage caps that looks like they’re looking to soak you with overage charges.
        * Standard Cpanel controls are preferred. (The custom 1 & 1 control panel was a nightmare that was constantly trying to sell me shit.)

        A2 hosting was really the only option that I could find that had everything I needed. I don’t want to get too excited, but everything has gone well so far. Just had to talk to support about my SSL and they were polite and fast.

        Fingers crossed.

  7. MichaelG says:

    Site is up for me too. Also curious who you moved to. Does AWS support WordPress? Join the Borg…

  8. Raion says:

    Hey Shamus;
    I guess this is as good a time as ever to bring this up. Or maybe not.
    I was wondering if you’d consider collating some of your series into some e-book format or other, for my own personal convenience. I spend the week at work with only a feeble and fleeting mobile connection available, and I’d rather not revisit your considerable body of work on the phone, one web page at a time, waiting forever for the screenshots to load… if ever.
    Forgive me if this has already been addressed and I missed the memo.

    I imagine you’d rather people consume your content on your site (duh), but maybe if we can conjure up enough demand for it, we can strong arm you into it (as we know, pestering is the best form of persuasion).

    Affectionately,
    a parasite.

    • Shamus says:

      This is something my wife and I have discussed several times. My long-form retrospectives are a natural fit for some sort of compilation. Once my Andromeda series is over (about half a year from now) it would be good to put all the Mass Effect stuff into a single volume.

      Maybe all the others (FFX, Batman, GTA) would make a good collection too.

      Also, we’re talking about an updated edition of How I Learned, with the later chapters added in chronological order: Crash Dot Com, Twelve Year Mistake, Something in the Water.

      I don’t know. It’s in the list of possible future projects.

      • methermeneus says:

        I’ve been working on some scripts to turn HTML into ebook and printable book formats. I currently use a lot of sed and AWK (and one Perl script to turn straight quotes into fancy quotes, because that looks a lot better for book formats, and it was easier to use that script I found online than roll my own), but I’ve been meaning to do a Python version so I can move from my Linux desktop to my Windows laptop. If you think you might like to use something like that, that might be enough motivation for me to finish fixing the bugs and migrate it.

        (Although, migrating the printable formats part might take a while longer; formatting for imposition is pretty difficult, and though I’ve managed to cobble together some scripts that work with PDFLaTeX to do it, I’m not sure how well that’d work on Windows, and I can’t afford professional software with that capability, like MS Publisher. On-demand publishers like Lulu have special setups that can basically take a PDF or Word document and print it out properly for binding, but I originally did this so I could make hardcovers of some of my favorite amateur fiction. Speaking of which, how would I get to Free Radical these days? https://www.shamusyoung.com/shocked is 404, but I’m not sure whether that’s normal now or part of the database shenanigans.)

        • Sadly, Shamus’ site uses all kinds of custom short codes and other shenanigans that require pulling and reformatting because pictures. So basically, I have to grab the original code, track down and import pictures and captions separately due to weird formatting issues, and then I can actually format them for e-book and for print (which is different formatting altogether). I have part of the mass effect series pulled and formatted, but am in the midst of finally putting together the unschooling book we have been working on off and on for ages and apparently have a new project after that if my writer friend’s noises are to be believed. But working on it. (I will check on Free Radical if Shamus doesn’t get around to it. It IS free on Lulu here: http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/shamus-young/free-radical/ebook/product-17418745.html

          • methermeneus says:

            Oh, that’s awesome; I remembered the Lulu version being a paperback. I’m pretty sure I can turn an ebook into a hardcover without too much trouble if it’s not encrypted.

        • Erik says:

          A quick note:

          I currently use a lot of sed and AWK…I’ve been meaning to do a Python version so I can move from my Linux desktop to my Windows laptop.

          Rather than give up your sed/AWK workflow, I recommend installing Cygwin on your Windows environment. It gives you a bash command line and most of the *nix utilities pretty well integrated into Windows.

          I’ve used it as a development environment in the last couple of places I’ve worked. It’s a pretty solid solution for when you want *nix scripting/Posix/other capability, but you’re forced to use Windows either by IT or because some essential tool to your workflow is only available on Windows. (In my case, the compiler for our embedded target microprocessor.)

      • kikito says:

        I’m just going to point out that itch.io has a “books” section and it makes it possible to download them for free but at the same time the interface nudges you (gently) in the direction of paying for them anyway. Or, you can set a minimum price as well.

  9. Ravens Cry says:

    I gotta admit, your salty blurb at the end made me laugh. I’m sorry you had to go through all this las tonterà­as, but you definitely got inspiration to write some entertaining words out of it, though I do empathize with your situation.

  10. Simplex says:

    I think RSS is broken. Also, condolences on the shitty host and congratulations you dumped his shitty ass.

  11. Dreadjaws says:

    Man, at this point whomever recommended 1 & 1 hosting to you must be so sunk in their chair that they’ve become permanent part of it. Assuming, of course, you didn’t have them killed.

  12. Nick Powell says:

    And the favicon changed colour too! It’s like a whole new website

    Edit: Wait, now it’s blue again. Does it change randomly?

    • Shamus says:

      Hmm. I’m not sure. The orange is SUPPOSED to be used on my local server and the blue on the public, so I can tell them apart by looking at browser tabs. But then in the chaos I uploaded the orange. I’m sometimes seeing blue and sometimes no icon at all.

      So… that’s another interesting mystery to ponder.

  13. Mechaninja (@mechakisc) says:

    1 and 1 was pretty good 20 years ago.

    Sounds like they haven’t upgraded a single thing since then.

    I’m not kidding, and I’m not exaggerating.

    • default_ex says:

      20 years ago websites were primarily HTML, Javascript and PHP. A few like myself opted to use XML and XSLT to generate HTML and Javascript dynamically on page load. Handling that is dead simple, was pretty rare to find people using databases outside of forum packages.

    • TMC_Sherpa says:

      20 years ago you could charge people 100 monies a month and pay for competent staff. Now everyone is running the scripts those folks made before they were fired with no clue how they work.

      I may or may not have automated myself out of a job in the late 90’s so…

  14. Dude Guyman says:

    This isn’t really relevant to your hosting troubles but since you don’t seem to have an email to contact (or at least I can’t find it) and I don’t use twitter so I can’t ask it there, I’ll throw my question up here. Seems like a good post to do it, I shouldn’t be interrupting any urgent discussions.

    What happened to Rutskarn? Is he still planning to post? It has been awhile since the Overhaulout series abruptly stopped and since then, no sign of him.

  15. Drathnoxis says:

    I don’t know about your Patreon donors, but this is exactly the kind of content I come here to see.

    I’m curious what the spambots were doing to your database and what the guy’s email actually said though.

    • Mephane says:

      I don’t know about your Patreon donors, but this is exactly the kind of content I come here to see.

      Can confirm, this is exactly the kind of content I love seeing here. :)

      P.S.: Don’t sweat the it but you get the time, could you please look into comment cookies? I have to fill out name/email/website for every comment, it doesn’t seem to remember these any more.

  16. Scerro says:

    The forums haven’t been up for me since you moved to 1&1 hosting. Just thought it was a casualty and you didn’t like the forums that much to get them back up and running after the move.

    • The Rocketeer says:

      Are you using the same url it had before the move? The url changed from “forums.[site]” to “[site]/forums”. I’m not sure this was ever pointed out. There is a link in the top row of links, but the forum link, together with the other last three or four links, doesn’t display on my screen unless I zoom far out due to width issues. This was also pointed out on the forums and seemed to get no response.

      A handful of people never showed back up after that move, including some good ones like you and Ringwraith. Sucks.

  17. ElementalAlchemist says:

    I still maintain you should ditch managed hosting altogether, but at least you’re finally shot of 1and1. Let’s hope this new host doesn’t turn out similar.

  18. lurkey says:

    And this right here is why, kids, ranting >>>> gushing. Ever saw a gushy post this delightfully creative?

  19. Daemian Lucifer says:

    While I waited for the saboteurs to show up for work, I found a new web host, created an account, transferred my database, created the new database, set up a fresh install of WordPress, and uploaded the massive /images directory that the blog draws from.

    This is both funny and sad at the same time.

  20. BigMoss says:

    Something is weird Shamus. I can see this post on my mobile phone but not in a Desktop web browser, even with cache disabled. On my Desktop, the latest post is the one about Red Shell.

    • Phill says:

      Seems to be intermittent. On my phone this morning I had the “welcome to the new site” post. Ten minutes ago at lunch I saw the older site. Now I’ve got the new one back again.

      Possibly something to do with switching between WiFi neurosis / phone 4g as I move around and browse in direct places. Or maybe 1and 1 are fighting to keep control of the hosting dns

    • Shamus says:

      I’m sure the DNS is still shaking out. This sort of nonsense can last for as long as 24 hours. I did the switchover around mid-day on Wednesday, so we should hit that threshold pretty soon. If this is still going on tomorrow (Friday) I’ll start to worry.

  21. Karma The Alligator says:

    For those of you backing my Patreon, I know this isn’t the kind of content you’re hoping to see.

    No, no, this is fine, too. It lets us know what’s going on and entertains at the same time. Win-win (except maybe for you, since you had to suffer the incompetence of those guys).

    Anyhoo, good to hear you’ve found a hopefully better host.

    • Asdasd says:

      Agreed. As long as Shamus is bringing his usual level of effort to a post, it could be about him doing his tax returns and I’d still be perfectly happy. I listen to whole podcasts (Cortex for example) where I care nothing whatever about the subject; I just enjoy listening to the conversation.

    • djw says:

      Honestly, the funniest posts are the rants like this one. It can’t be healthy for Shamus, so I don’t really hope stuff like this will happen, but when it does the rant is always a masterpiece.

    • Erik says:

      Absolutely agreed – your analyses of technical bakabakashi are just as entertaining when aimed at the failed support of your website provider as they are when aimed at your latest programming project or the latest failed gaming franchise. Don’t worry about whether the subject can keep us entertained, because it’s the writing far more than the subject.

    • Philadelphus says:

      Indeed! I don’t really come here (or give monthly) for the subject matter, per se; I’ve never played and likely never will something like 98% of the games written about here as my tastes in games are pretty much orthogonal. I come for that unique Shamus style of what’s written, and as Asdasd says above it could be about anything and I’d likely still enjoy it.

  22. default_ex says:

    It occurred to me that it would probably be a good idea to file a review of your service with that janky host to the BBB. They wont do anything from one negative review but if they get enough the BBB will follow through with trying to get something done about it. Depending on if they screwed up legally you might even get a full or partial refund if they do go against them and win. Not as powerful as they once were but still a major deciding factor in what businesses will be allowed to last.

  23. Scerro says:

    If you do ever need to move hosts again, give Google Cloud a shot. You can get something like $300 of credit for free for prototyping and figuring out if it’ll work with you. It’s mostly straightforward too, and in my time of playing around with it it’s been great. It’s upfront with costs, has limits you can build in, and lots of general features. Sure you may not want that, but it’d probably be a decent hosting solution, plus you might get 3-5 months worth free off that $300 you start with.

    Only caveat is that you have to do a lot of the network stuff yourself, and you have to make the VMs and install everything. But it’d give you a couple of blog posts…?

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