Malfunctioning site is malfunctioning

Posted in: Christmas

Merry Christmas everybody!

Most of the country of New Zealand has been lucky enough to not be working today or for the next 2 weeks, unfortunately 'most of NZ' does not include me.

It felt like I was the only person going to work this morning: the streets were empty of people and there were only a handful of cars driving around what are normally packed-to-the-breaking-point / we-should-fire-our-city-planner roads.

Now I'm at work and I'm the only one on this floor. Every time I hear somebody's desk phone going off, I say to myself 'They're not here, stop trying...', and at one point I even said that out loud. I'm playing music from my work laptop without headphones so it's coming out of the disgustingly tinny built-in speakers, and there isn't a single soul around to tell me to turn it off :D

Oh it's great: the only ambient noise is the howling wind outside and the whole emptiness of the city makes me feel selfishly like the entire place, all the bricks and steel and glass, were put together just for me.

Empty city
*insert your own tumbleweed sounds here*

It'll be like this for the next week or 2 as my work has a mandatory closure period between now and early Jan, and most people have decided to add their own leave on top of it to extend their holidays. 'Why aren't I away with them?' I hear myself wondering. Well, without any Christmas / New Year's plans this time, the chances of me drawing the short straw to watch over one of our systems during the break shot through the roof, ie: I was the only choice.

But it's Christmas, and in a few hours my own relatively short Christmas break will begin.

I spent much of December trying to find or come up with things that would work well as presents for some friends and family that I actually forgot about what I'd like for myself until earlier this week. When I did start to give that some thought, one idea quickly came to mind: to fix my malfunctioning website.

I don't know if you've seen it, but ever since I had this site migrated to a more up-to-date plan with my current host (interAdvantage) in October, the stability of the site has been... a bit shit. Every couple of days I would get a message from someone that my site is throwing them the error page: e-mails from parents, Facebook comments from friends, and at one time a browser screenshot from my brother. I tried various things to fix it, but all I've managed to do is delay the problem from happening.

With my current web hosting plan, I don't have access to the logs or anything to really find-out what's going on, so I can't effectively diagnose why my site enjoys puking its internals out every couple of days. I mean, I never have had access to the logs, even with the older plan; I've just been flicking switches here and there in my site code to see what works within the constraints of the web hosting package.

So, finally fed-up with this situation, I decided to buy my own slice of cloud/internet real estate and got a Virtual Private Server (VPS) from OpenHost (these are the guys who I actually register and maintain this domain with, but I didn't do hosting with them because it was expensive at the time). That all got sorted yesterday, and I created a temporary sub-domain to start work on the migration: http://new.ultraq.net.nz/ (UPDATE: site is now migrated - you're looking at it - and the temp URL is gone)

So a big thanks to interAdvantage for the last several years - you guys have been nothing but good to me and I picked you out from all the other hosts because you had a good price on basic Java web hosting. But now that I've started doing some more complicated things with this site (which is probably why it's breaking in the first place), it's time for me to move on and to be in full control for the first time since... forever.

VPS = all of the power, but all of the responsibility. If this place continues to break when the migration is completed, then I'll only have myself to blame, but at least I'll have the things I need to be able to figure it out.