Blog Migration H-Eeeee-Double-Toothpicks And Why I Left #AWS


Due to (technical) knowledge constraints I thought I overcame, I recently gave up hosting my blog with AWS. According to the conspiracy theorist inside my third-eye, I think the problem I had hosting at AWS was due to the fact that they couldn’t up-sell me and my lolly blog from being free-tier to being (insert $-amount) per month. Yeah, “free-tier” at AWS is only worth it if:

  • You don’t get many hits at your blog
  • You’re a webserver expert.

The only way AWS would help me with any problems was if I paid them for the help. In other words:

  • Free-tier web hosting at AWS is cool until you need even the slightest amount of help.

Now ain’t that suspicious? It’s especially suspicious when it’s obvious that a problem occurs not because of what I did but becuae of what AWS did which amounts to things being:

  • Suspicious.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m only blowing off some steam here. The problem I had with hosting my Worpress blog at AWS was solvable. I just didn’t know how to solve it–and something was telling me that if I’m gonna have to pay to have that amount of limited service, AWS isn’t for me.

The pseudo dream has always been to actually set up my own server at home and run my compulsive writing blog there. It’s really a rather simple thing to do. That’s what makes it extra frustrating that I couldn’t solve the problem at AWS. All one has to do is connect a home webserver to the outside world. For this you need the proper bandwidth. It’s no coincidence that we all can get high downloads speeds with our home Interent connections but only measely upload speeds. In Germania, as well endowed with phone lines and cable lines as the country is, I’m sure that the powers-that-be don’t want people to start hosting their corners of the internet at home. Indeed. And so. I constantly had the following error while hosting my blog on a Linux server at AWS:

  • “Error establishing a database connection”

As best I can tell this “error” is due to a mix-up between WordPress, which is my blog content management system, and AWS’s management of its server iterations. The mix-up or “error” occurs when one or all of the following happens while hosting a WordPress blog:

  • Free-tier blog gets too much traffic
  • AWS fiddles around with its systems and thereby forces changes to WordPress configuration files.

The thing is, I don’t feel like going that deep into all this technology krapp. It was actually a fun project a few years back when I went from 1und1 hosting to AWS. Installing Worpress on AWS was cool. But it’s now clear that free-tier doesn’t mean what you think it means. And that’s fine. I can deal with that. And I can even pay a couple of bucks a month to WordPress in the hope that all those database error messages are over.

We’ll see.

Rant on.


When It Rains It Goes Kaputt – #AWS Letter And Power Outages From Hell

AWS instance retirement email redacted pic

A post about how sh*t happens when you move to another world.

First. The power goes out in India–a lot. And I don’t mean it goes out during a storm or something. The friggin power goes out all the time. At our new place it goes out ten friggin’ times day. It’s not like we’re living in an old dilapidated house, either. We’re the first residents in a house that was built about three years ago. Obviously the place has been empty for a few years but it’s still brand friggin’ new. Of course, in India, there are supposed to be failsafe solutions to the third-world infrastructure e.g. power. The diesel aggregate for electric support is on the other side of our direct neighbours. Obviously I’m glad they get all the diesel noise and smells when it kicks in. And there’s the problem. When India can’t deliver electricity these generators are supposed to kick-in within seconds. Ours, I think, not unlike the aggregate in me, drinks a bit too much and, well, can’t really kick-in when it’s supposed to. Which wouldn’t be worth complaining about if we weren’t paying extra for power support. And so. The power goes out while I’m working on the Interwebnets and I scream “F*ck the world!” and it takes at least two or three more power surges for things to get going again in our house. Yeah, that sucks.

Second. I got an email the other night from AWS (pic above). AWS is the system I run my blog on. As you may or may not know, dear worst-reader, AWS is, other than Kindle, probably the most profitable part of Jeff Bezos’ Amazon. When I moved my (this) blog to AWS before our move to India, the idear wasn’t about getting a blog host for as little money as possible–which is this service is. Instead I wanted to move as close as possible to being able to host my own web presence someday. You know, have my own web server, my own IP address, my own my own. After getting through all the BS of setting up an instance (their fancy word for a “server”) on AWS I was kinda proud of myself. Wow, I thought. I actually pulled that off. I set up a Linux server. I installed Apache, MySQL and PHP. And then I installed #Wordpress. There were a few burps that didn’t totally turn me off and in the end, well, has been running ever since. Ok. Almost ever since. At least three times a month I have to reboot my servers to keep my blog running. I realise that there is a configuration problem with the AWS instance and the webserver and wordpress, but, to be honest, I don’t give a sh*t. As cheap as AWS is, this is starting to be NOT WORTH IT. I moved to AWS because I thought that this part of the digital world had its shit together. Obviously it doesn’t. This part of the world still requires the mindset of the morons and automatons that gave the world the likes of Microsoft. These people, just like me, can’t set themselves free. Which means: why should anybody else be able to set themselves free?

With that in mind, all I can say is: Oh well. At least no one reads this blog that could actually be insulted by being called an automaton and delivering sh*t products.

Looks like I’ll have to start paying for my web presence again. Probably will go with wordpress.

Rant on.


Arduous Feet Amongst The Intrepid Or Peace Pumpkin Cake While Changing Hosts


Note: an update and follow-up to this post is here.

It began on Thursday. It ended the following Monday in the wee hours. What is ‘it’? Well, I finally got around to changing my Internet host. Appropriate (or not) since I’ll also be changing countries soon. (But that’s another post.) It’s not that I was, am disappointed with my previous host. In fact, I moved to a much more complicated hosting service. Complicated in the sense that there was more person to person tech support at my old host. On the other hand, my old host was boring, it was connected to an archaic landline telephone system that I don’t use anymore and every year, usually around this time of year, the host’s Internet, aka also my ISP, goes down for a week. (I think it has to do with the Cebit and Germany not allocating enough bandwidth to private users during the huge trade-fair so they scrape bandwidth away form paying customers. But at least I got a “data stick” from them last year–which I have never even used. But I digress.) Wait. Let me put things another way.

I did receive tech support from my new hosting service but it was only in the form of email. The guy that helped me was named Evgeny. Can’t tell you how curious I was to ask him where he was from. But when I would write something off-subject in my email response, his response was always on subject. No fraternising there, eh. Until, of course, it came down to the WP install and setup. Evgeny helped me with all the Apache, MySQL and PHP and Linux stuff. He even helped me understand the difference between “Istance” and “Server”. (There is no difference, btw.) Which brings me to a question I tweeted while pulling the hair out of my chest for two days after I screwed up one basic setting during the WP install.

Why can’t the install process of WordPress, my all-time favourite writing software/tool, be a little less hacker-fied? (Is that a word?)

I mean, I don’t mind all the Linux commands I had to cut & paste from the install documentation provided by my new host. It’s just that, eventually, there is a sy of relief when you finally encounter a GUI again. Linux command lines be damned! On the other hand, I got through the CLI with flying colours. Not one misplaced single-quote (‘) or semi-colon (for PHP code) or one misuse of the most feared asterisks (*) when using the command “mv” with files or directories.  Which means you go from this (example):

[ec2-user ~]$ chkconfig --list httpd httpd 0:off 1:off 2:on 3:on 4:on 5:on 6:off

To this:

wp general settings screw up
WP general settings screen where life can be good or…

Indeed. Get through all the Linux coding and then finally get a GUI to work with but then make the stupid mistake of inputting the wrong web addresses in the right place because you’re kinda blinded by all the CLI interaction after five or so hours. That’s all I did. I made one little, stupid mistake. After that, no more access to wp-admin or your domain. No more access to a setup screen or even restore or backup file. I tried everything. After googling the problem and reading various forums and blog posts, there was nothing to be done. Manipulate this .php file or that .php file. Nothing worked, nothing got me back into my website once I screwed the pooch during the WP setup. Talk about über frustrating.

After trying for two days to fix my error I finally gave in and terminated the Instance and started anew. I know. I know. Real hackers would find a way to solve the problem. But I’m just a lonely wannabe hacker. I only like the idea of coding and networking and unpacking, unzipping, tarball file manipulation. Plus, all this meddling around only took away from worstwriting. Yeah, blood was boiling. Anywho. Long story short. After about four days I was finally able to migrate my website from one host to the other–including the migration and transfer of my domain names. The only thing I lost in the process was a bit of sanity. What I gained? The reassurance that tech-geeks the world over deserve their big bucks.

Oh, one last thing. As good as the email tech support was with Evgeny, nothing can replace having a neighbour that is a professional network manager. So. If you ever undertake such a task as this one and you have absolutely no training in webservers, Linux and wordpress installations, make sure you at least have the neighbour(s) to call on when you’re pinched. Yeah. They come in handy. The best part is, after he’s helped you get your site back up and running, you can offer him his favourite cake–which I found out from his wife after she complained about me stealing her husband for so many hours over the weekend.

Here’s a great recipe for pumpkin cake.

Rant on. -Tommi