Back to Dedicated

It was only last month I posted about how I used shared hosting for my personal sites now. Then comes the end of March and shared hosting failed me.

My time on A2 Hosting’s shared platform was fantastic and I can’t fault it for running a simple WordPress site. The let down came with a large scale custom web application I am working on that needs to communicate in real time with a new of API’s some that have very specific requirements – this is were the walled garden of shared hosting became a problem. Don’t get me wrong the shared server at A2 Hosting has more then enough power to handle the traffic levels I expected it just couldn’t do a number of features I had to have.

After a lot of research and digging around I decided to setup a server at Digital Ocean that could run all my sites on 1 box. Its not massive (1 core, 1GB RAM and 30GB SSD) and I don’t need a lot of power. I need root access to be able to set it up how I want.

I had always used Digital Ocean for development servers and testing but never production until last week. I have found their reliably second to none and bandwidth is always there when I need it.

Because Digital Ocean is aimed at developers for hosting complex applications they have a lot of powerful features including Block Storage (think second hard drives in your server), private networking and load balancers to build clusters and floating IP addresses so even if you shut down a server you can maintain its IP address for use on your next server.

Digital Ocean is VPS hosting levelled up.

Give it a try yourself and get $10 credit on new accounts on me.

Shared Hosting vs VPS Hosting

For my day job as web developer and digital marketing specialist it is important I have good quality servers that can handle traffic spikes as well as maintain a high level of traffic on a day to day basis. For this we have a number of VPS servers and spread out sites out across them – yet I run my personal websites on shared hosting.

OK so as a company we are effectively a shared hosting provider, renting a large VPS and dividing it up in the same way the likes of HostGator and A2 do. We do this because we want to maximise the revenue our hosting service generates while ensuring we provide better quality service to our customers than your typical shared hosting company.

The is nothing wrong with A2 Hosting and I love them however my company hosts upwards of 200 websites all of various sizes and requirements. Something A2’s shared platform could handle if we paid for 100 shared accounts and ensured each account was allocated on a different server – sounds expensive right? When you are dealing with numbers in the 100’s it becomes much more efficient and cost effective to rent a large dedicated server or VPS and run a shared hosting platform your self.

So why do I use A2 Hosting’s shared servers for my personal site and not run it on the company servers. Simple I want to keep a clear divide between personal and work. A2 Hosting have some of the best shared hosting I have ever used with fixed CPU and RAM allocations this stops 1 person on your server running away with all the resources and ensures your site is fast and online when it needs to be.

Not to mention the stellar support the guys at A2 provide.

I will write a full review of A2 Hosting’s shared platform in the future as well as a number of other hosts I have had experience we lately.

Twenty Seventeen: A Beautiful Theme

I have long been looking for a nice, clean and simple WordPress theme and until recently it never occurred to me to try the default theme that ships with WordPress.

After a short 30 mins having a look at the theme and setting things up on my staging site I realised this was the theme I had been looking for on my personal site.

At the moment not a lot has been customised from the default out of the box theme. It is visually stunning, easy to read and beautiful in its simplicity – exactly what I wanted. Something I never noticed at first is how lightweight this theme is, on my server with WP Super Cache enabled this theme flies and even when logged in as admin (no caching) there is no noticeable difference in page load speeds.

There are a few things I want to change, I am not a fan of the chunky sidebar and will be pulling that in a little as well as huge space on the left of a page taken up by the page title. Apart from them little gripes I am liking this theme and look forward to what Automattic bring us for 2018.

IA Writer: Back Again

I’ve always been one for switching my writing application. Every time there is a new update I just have to give it a try and once again I am back to IA Writer.

I don’t know why I keep switching away, every time I come back I am just in awe of how beautiful this application is. I love writing in it and what more I look forward to the next piece of content I can create.

IA Writer is the only application I use in place of Microsoft Word when it comes down to writing business documents because its PDF exports are simply beautiful and are something I am proud to send a client.

IA Writer creates plain text files saved in iCloud with no need to worry or even think about them. Plain text can be opened on any computer or device in a myriad of applications. This openness is what allows me to switch apps so very often but why. This look at it – beauty.

The most recent update takes things a step further. You can now add images to your documents and these are synced to iCloud with your text files so you can finally work across devices without any issues.

You can add CSV files and a beautiful table will be presented in your preview an export.

IA Writer truly has stepped up the game for writing apps and is an all time great.

Things for Mac: Productivity Heaven

I’ve been a long time fan of David Allan’s Getting Things Done and I have tried to manage this with almost every app out there.

For the longest time I was using Todoist and loved it however as I got busier in 2017 for what I decided was going to be my big push on a number of projects Todoist just couldn’t keep up with the rate of change in my day. I started looking for new applications again.

I landed back with an old favourite – Things. I still have my licences (Mac, iPhone and iPad) so the cost of getting started was no longer an issue.

As with all new productivity apps I spent half a day adding all my tasks manually to ensure I had a clean start and wasn’t transferring clutter. In my case this took me around half a day but was worth it in the long run. I am now in love with Things.

There are few features Things has that just work with my way of getting stuff done.

  1. Projects can have due dates
    This is huge. I like to have small projects in GTD style any task that has more then 1 step is a project. Been about to assign the project a due date and have the project show in my Today view instead of its tasks is simple but powerful.
  2. Logging Daily
    Almost every todo app I have used hides completed tasks the moment they are completed – I don’t like this. Been able to see my Today list and everything I have completed is immensely motivating to get the rest of the tasks complete.
  3. Area’s of Responsibility
    Again something that is great for organising. I have 2 companies plus my home life inside this app. When planning a weekend’s jobs I don’t want to see anything related to work and Area’s of Responsibility does this
  4. No sharing
    Yes, even though I have to collaborate with my partners and team I don’t want them to mess with my task list. Things allows me to assign a task to a contact so I know they are responsible for it. And I can follow up on that task to check its completed when I do my daily mini reviews.
  5. Next
    A small overview showing the next 3 tasks in every project and area of responsibility I have allows me to quickly decide what I am going to do today and what can wait until tomorrow.
  6. Scheduled & Someday
    Both related but different. Both of these hide tasks and projects until you are ready to work on them. At the date specified they will re-appear in your today view for you to work on. This keeps my huge database under control and leaves me feeling in control and not overwhelmed every day when I do my mini review to decide on what needs completing today.