Server Naming Conventions?

I’m in the process of provisioning a new server, so I decided to confront a challenging issue of: what do you name the computers?

Interestingly enough, I’m not the only one who has wrestled with this problem.  There is even a service which tracks naming schemes (

What did I choose?  Football teams and towns?  Mythological deities?  Planets?   Cartoon characters?  Presidential pets?  Star Trek characters?  Famous Monopolists?  Classical Composers?  Sound effects?  Beer names?  Simpson characters?  Names of narcotic pain killers?  James Bond movie villains?

No, I’ve decided to use elements in the periodic table.  Servers are noble gasses.  Development and test machines are unstable elements.

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BanCorp Kills Intuit GoPayment Card

Tonight, I received a notice that Bancorp is killing the Intuit GoPayment Prepaid Visa debit card, effective February 13, 2013.  It informs debit card users that they must charge their card down to $0.00 or face a $14.95 penalty fee for issuing a paper check.

I signed up for the Intuit GoPayment system to process some business transactions this year. 

However, after I received the card reader device, but before I could even do a test transaction, I received an unsolicited GoPayment debit card.  The default option on my account was to deposit any transactions directly onto the debit card.

I read the account terms, as well as the fees associated with the card.  They, like most pre-paid debit cards, are horrible.

I never used the service, not once.  I immediately deleted the app on my phone and put the card reader on the shelf.

I simply refuse to be nickeled and dimed with the horrendous fees. 

I say good riddance.

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Should You Self-Host Your Blog or Website?

Two years ago, I started an experiment to see if self-hosting would be better than shared hosting for some of my websites.  I promptly split my websites between self-hosted, shared hosting, and a managed WordPress service.  I also tested out Amazon’s EC2 service.


Self-hosting is by far the cheapest way to go.  You are probably already paying for an internet connection, so why not use it?

I setup a mac mini as the web server and served up several static websites over my DSL line.  I can’t express how much I like having full control, and the ability to fiddle with the system to improve performance.  I could also see automated hacking attempts flood in all over the world (but mostly from China).

However, when Qwest was bought out by CenturyLink, I started having problems.  I had a few DSL outages, then the billing issues started.  They stopped sending me billing notices and terminated my automatic debit for my naked DSL connection. 

By far the worst DSL outage I had was a day and a half, where the fix was to reset my DSL modem to factory settings and setup the DSL modem from scratch.  Second worst outage I had was the result of a power outage while I was on vacation in Florida (the mac mini won’t automatically restart after a power failure).

Shared Hosting

I had one website hosted at  The website was originally written in ASP, but I’ve since rewritten the site in an html/css/JavaScript site generated by Perl templates.

My experience with them mirrors my experiences with other low cost shared hosting providers — you are put on an overtaxed server with very little memory and disk space and reliability is an issue.  For the first year, the site would go down about once a month. 

On a side note, shared hosting does NOT affect your google search ranking, but response time will.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Next, I setup an instance on Amazon Web Services.  Since I am an existing customer, I couldn’t get the one year free tier.  After setting up an instance, my first month’s bill was roughly $60, then $102.  Experiment over.

RackSpace Cloud Hosting

Finally, I tried RackSpace Cloud Hosting (formerly SliceHost).  RackSpace offers a service similar to Amazon’s EC2 service, complete with on demand provisioning of systems.  Refreeshingly, they offer Gentoo.

So far, the virtual image has only gone down when I rebooted the image.  I can highly recommend RackSpace.


If you are building an SAS application and don’t have any customers or traffic, I would recommend shared hosting.  Most likely, the hosting provider will have a bigger pipe to the internet and power backup.   It will also be cheaper than a dedicated setup or even a virtual machine.

There is no reason to spend a lot of money until you start getting some traction.

Thereafter, I’d step up to a virtual host and finally, if I was making money I’d opt for a dedicated server.

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Don’t Put Your Resume Ahead of the Requirements

I’ve got to talk about something that has been bothering me for some time.  As a consultant, I pride myself on giving honest advice then doing whatever the client wants, regardless if it is the best solution.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of developers choosing technologies which are best for their resume, not necessarily the client.

I’m currently on a project where the original architects made astoundingly poor choices, and when the project ultimately foundered, they found better jobs elsewhere within the company and outside the company. 

In essence, they dropped their architectural hand grenades and then left screaming victory, leaving everyone else to clean up the mess.

The customers dislike the product so much that they are now rewriting it from scratch…  with an entirely new set of technologies…

Posted in The Joys of Consulting | Leave a comment

RIM Announces Kills off the 16BG BlackBerry PlayBook

blackberry-playbookYesterday, RIM officially announced that it has killed off the 16GB model of its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.  It will be available until the inventory of 16GB devices run out.

Right now the PlayBook and BlackBerry 10 are the main hardware platforms on which developers can test their BlackBerry 10 apps.

The upside is that RIM isn’t dropping the business entirely, simply scaling back on the hardware. 

Posted in Mobile | 1 Comment

iOS Confirmed for WWDC, Starting Monday

CNet confirmed that a banner has gone up at the Moscone West conventions center.  This confirms that Apple will unveil iOS 6 at Monday’s keynote address.  Although iOS 6 has been the assumed major topic of discussion at the event, Apple has only publically mentioned that it will discuss the “future of iOS” a the event.

Also rumored are announcements of a new refresh of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and finally, the Mac Pro.

Credit: CNET.

Posted in Mac, Mobile | 1 Comment

How to Add a User from the OS X command line, works with Lion

Yes, you can add a user easily with the built in GUI tool that ships with OS X, but that will setup the account to be able to share music, login, and even modify the dock.  If you want to setup a captive account, you will need to be able to setup an account from scratch.

However, most blog postings are so old and outdated, they are simply wrong.  This is the updated procedure, wherein I setup a captive git account:

sudo dscl . -create /Users/git UserShell /usr/bin/git-shell

sudo dscl . –passwd /Users/git PASSWORD

sudo dscl . -create /Users/git UniqueID 503

sudo dscl . -create /Users/git PrimaryGroupID 1000

sudo dscl . -create /Users/git NFSHomeDirectory /Users/git

cd /Users

sudo mkdir git

sudo chown git git

That should be enough to get you started.

Posted in Mac | 6 Comments