Sunday, November 28, 2010

Godaddy Hosting

When I transitioned from the web server running in my house, I moved to a Virtual Private Server.  When that server had problems with connectivity, I moved to a Virtual Private Server with Godaddy.  This server worked very well for several years, but it started to need more maintenance that I want to do now.

Since I was really just using the VPS for a few WordPress installations and small web site, I decided to move it to a Godaddy Deluxe WordPress hosting plan.  The transfer of the sites went smoothly, but recently the server started returning 500 errors, when accessing simple web pages.  Since the hosting plan doesn't give you as much visibility into the processes that are running or access to the logs, as the VPS did, it hard to track down the problem.

I decided to move to more managed hosting.  I moved the blogs to WordPress.com.  Since the static sites are pretty simple, I decided to move them to Google Sites.

Amahi Home Server

Amahi is a project that looks like it could be a good home server solution for me. Amahi is a set of packages that installs on Red Hat Linux, and a service that allows cloud configuration of your server.

Many of the features that are available make Amahi a great solution for a home server:

  • Firefly media sever for streaming to iTunes

  • Built-in VPN server

  • File server

  • Folder replication with greyhole

  • Backup, both full disk (with PBA) and incremental backups (with client software)

  • Ability to install other applications.  I am interested in this for:

    • UPnP server, for streaming to Xbox

    • Squeezebox Server for playing audio to our Squeezeboxes




Friday, November 26, 2010

New storage solution

Our Windows Home Server machine has had some problems.  It seems that the drives in the external ESATA enclosure become inaccessible.  After a reboot everything works fine, and when I validate the drives, the results are fine.  I am thinking that the various interfaces are all potential points of failures.  We have 4 drives in the ex475 enclosure, 4 drives in the external ESATA enclosure, 2 drives in an external USB enclosure, and one more USB drive.  Each of those pieces of hardware may fail, and can cause the problems that I am having.

I was thinking about getting a server enclosure, that can support all the drives internally, when the Vail version of Windows Home Server is released.  I would take that as an opportunity to upgrade both the hardware and software, and not attempt to upgrade my existing server, and potentially have the upgrade fail.

But this week, Microsoft announced that the new version of Windows Home Server would not include Drive Extender.  There has been a large community reaction about this, and Microsoft has responded that they are looking into it, but I am not sure what their response would be.

I would install linux on a computer, and use RAID, but there are some downsides to it:

  1. Maintenance is not as easy with a consumer server product.  I don't want to manage software upgrades or package dependencies.

  2. RAID requires more drive management than I want to do.  With RAID, generally the drives in the pool to be the same size, and to be upgraded together.  Drive Extender allows any size drives to be used, and then added later if necessary.


If Drive Extender is not part of the next version of Windows Home Server, I want to find a different NAS solution.  Maybe a ReadyNAS or a Drobo will work for me.  I just need to find one that has enough storage space for me.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Moved to WordPress.com

In March, I moved my blog from a self-managed WordPress.org installation to a WordPress.org hosting managed by Godaddy.  I haven't been happy with performance of that installation, so I decided to find a different hosting solution.

I decided to move my blogs to WordPress.com.  With this hosting, I wont need to manage any upgrades to the software, but I can let WordPress.com manage the bandwidth and server load.  The transfer to WordPress.com went smoothly, and I paid the $12 to allow a custom domain to be used.

When transitioning from WordPress.org, there are some differences that I met:

  • You can't install arbitrary templates or plugins

  • If you have multiple blogs associated with your WordPress.com account, you can't have different display names for your posts on each accounts.  (You could probably create multiple WordPress.com accounts.)

  • It seems like WordPress.com strips the html that can be used in the text widget.

Interesting Kinect features/behaviors

We got a Kinect a few weeks ago, and have really been enjoying it.  There are some interesting features/behavior of the implementation:

  • You can sign into your Xbox Live account with facial recognition, but if you have a PIN on your profile, you will only be logged into your local profile, but not logged in online.

  • While some games let use your avatar while playing, and some will use facial recognition to log into your account, I haven't seen any game that will correctly choose a show more than one avatar, when two people are playing.

  • You are not able to use voice or hand controls to do everything in the dashboard.  For example:

    • You can't use voice or use your body to control Netflix playback

    • You can't open the DVD tray with your voice.



  • You should definitely plan on redoing the KinectID calibration multiple times, to make the facial recognition work well.