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Zippy New dual-Westmere VPS for Xmas

» Notice anything different? I bet the site is loading snappily for you. More responsively. Zippier. That's cuz we're sitting on a new server. Our VPS has been transferred to a new (and improved) "parent node". Nice way to start the new year. Merry Christmas to us.

Ferrari horse logo - rear grilleRadified is still hosting with the same provider » WiredTree .. since Feb. 2008. (Four years ago, our old server was new.)

A month ago, WiredTree upgraded their servers to the latest version of Virtuozzo, the virtualization software made by a company named Parallels (.. as in » parallel universe).

Virtuozzo makes it appear (virtually speaking) as tho Radified is/were sitting on its own private "dedicated" server [ "Mine! All mine!" ] ..

.. with all the freedom-of-configuration and power that is associated with low-level control (.. the kind that is normally hidden from users of Shared web hosting).

In other words, a VPS provides you with the advantages of a Dedicated server [ "Mine! All mine!" ] without the cost (« ~$150-to-300/month).

More complicated, sure, but after you ascend the learning curve, you wonder how you ever lived without it.

Virtualization is a very cool technology. It represents the 'V' in VPS. And it's what provides the VPS with its 'Privacy' (.. or, at least, makes it appear Private).

Note - tho totally unrelated, you may find it intersting (as do I) that the FILE SIZE of the black-n-crome stallion just above is much larger (35-KB) than all other graphics used on this page. These cars are so beautiful it seems a crime to heavily encode the photos. Arent they gorgeous?

Notice all the small HOLES in the photo above. That is what makes it so difficult to encode as a jpeg. I cropped this from a photo somebody took of the rear-grille of a Ferrari parked on the street. This way I didnt have to scale. Max quality.

The huge size is why I dont use this image on the home page, which I constantly struggle to keep light.

» Frustration after Virtuozzo Upgrade Problems

Anyway, something went awry with the Virtuozzo upgrade and it seems like we had one problem after another .. interspersed with dreadful periods of laggy performance. Perhaps the upgrade itself was problematic.

Realize that I am sensitive to site latency, so I tend to exaggerate any problem.

Not surprising tho. To have problems upgrading something as complex as Virtuozzo. I'm sure it's much easier to load onto a clean, virgin server.

'57 Ferrari 250 Testa Rosa BlackBut once you start loading accounts (containers). An upgrade, especially a major one, seems .. fraught. I applaud them for trying, and having the confidence to pull it off.

I like the techs at WiredTree (some more than others) and have much respect for their skills. Some of them are laser-impressive.

Most of all I like how they dont feed you crap about problems. I never feel like they're trying to blow sunshine up my butt .. like all my other hosting providers used to do.

But after a month, I started to get frustrated. When you pay $10 a month for hosting, you dont expect much. But when you pay $50 .. well, you expect more.

So I finally said, "This has been going on a while. If you cant fix the problem, maybe you should move me to another server."

» Moving Suks (Generally Speaking)

Which they did. "Would now be a good time?"

Black Ferrari F30 on roadAs everybody knows » moving suks.

And moving your site is never a pleasant experience. I put it right up there with a root canal.

There are always problems and unexpected glitches to work thru. Always staying up late. Long past tired.

But when THEY do it for you .. well, that's much nicer .. cuz they have the servers right there (downtown Chicago), and they have access to the server mojo .. cuz they know the mojo.

Sure, we still had some problems (like always), but nothing major. Mostly problems with upgrading cPanel/WHM, but I dont spend much time there.

[ They currently have a ticket open with the cPanel-folks .. to see why the upgrade wont take (even when "forced").

Cpanel update failure during updatenow file sync

cPanel/WHM is a server-configuration utility/program that makes it easy for you to host other web sites yourself (via Web Host Mgr) and administrate the server (via cPanel) without knowing the Shell (« powerful but dangerous low-level text-only command-line interface).

But I only have Radified on this account, so WHM is not a big deal to me. And the server is already configured just how I want.

The single installed version of cPanel/WHM is shared by all Containers on the node. Same goes for Virtuozzo and the Operating system (RedHat-ish CentOS). Unlike Apache, MySQL, PHP, Perl, etc, you cannot control the version of cPanel. I just learned that today.

The reason is because » "They require different versions of certain system libraries, which would cause all sorts of conflicts."

Update 15.Jan - they have cPanel techs working on it now. Copying me on the exchange between/with WiredTree techs (.. cuz it's my ticket). Very cool. Interesting to see how they approach the problem. ]

So! We are now sitting on a new dual-Westmere Xeon beast. Each Westmere comes with 4 processors. Dual Westmere's = 8 CPU's per server. (I am drooling all over my keyboard.)

» Friends have been looking for a new laptop to replace their ancient Dell. Told them I saw a Core i5 15.6-inch Gateway on sale at Fry's for ~$400. Price sounds too good to be true, no? 4-gigs of RAM.

Lenovo IdePad g770 laptopThey drove to the store, but while there, fell in love with the Lenovos, and ended up buying a 17-inch G770.

Beautiful machine. All black. 1600x900 default resolution. Wide-screen format. (Makes my home page design look sharp.)

2nd generation Intel Core i5-2410 processor. 32-nanometer lithography. Supports 8-GB memory (max). $700.

Still lots of 1st generation i5's out there. Not much of a price drop, either. So you might as well look for a second-gen puppy. Tho there's not a huge performance difference between 1st & 2nd generation CPUs, so if you can find a deal, grab it. Here's a cool Core i5 video.

With consumer confidence at a 2-year low, I'd expect more sales forthcoming. (My buddy Apex is a wizard at finding bargains.)

All Intel 2nd-gen Core i5's sport a 4-number model/label that starts with the number 2. E.g. » i5-2410 = 2nd gen, while i5-480 = 1st.

Regarding Intel chipsets, the HM55 supports the 1st-gen CPUs, while the HM65 supports 2nd-gen. That's another way you can distinguish.

Anyway, I offered to set it up for them. =) The #1 biggest problem I had (by far) .. was a tiny switch on the front .. that enables/disables Wireless.

Never saw one of those before. Very small. Easy to over-look. The suker absolutely would NOT see the wireless router (.. sitting 10 feet away, in the same room).

A troubleshooting wizard finally suggested checking the "wireless switch position". "Say what? What switch?" To the right enables the switch. Unfortunately, the default position seems to be left.

New Lenovo Laptop - IdeaPad Z560 i3

» There I was .. minding my own business .. sitting in the coffee shop this weekend. When up walks Big Al (.. a Cuban transplant who can usually be found poring over something with a curious title). Next thing ya now we're on the subject of laptops.

Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 Laptop"I'll go with you," I said, when he mentioned dropping by the store to eyeball the last day of a 4-day sale.

On the way over he *blasted* The Thrill is Gone (you know, BB King & Lucille). Sounded really good. Remarkably clear. (Hope Al didnt mind my singing.)

I was good-n-amped on some tasty Ethiopian. Heck, we almost solved the question of the meaning-of-life on that 10-min jaunt to the store.

Before I knew what was happenin' » boom! Out comes the plastic. Big Al bought himself a new laptop. Then (best of all) he gave it to me .. to set up & configure for him. (I'm good at that .. cuz I've done it so many times.)

So sitting here I have new laptop. Lenovo = IBM. They still make the ThinkPad, which were usually too expen$ive for my blood. But I always admired their stylish black design. Still do.

BB King - The Thrill is GoneLenovos are priced reasonably. He got the IdeaPad Z560. Review. It's not a powerhouse, but it *is* new .. for only $450. And it's not even a Celeron.

» The Thrill Aint Gone

Stayed up to 2AM last night. I really enjoy setting up a nice, new machine. Yeah, the thrill is still there. =)

It has an Intel i3 core (2.53 GHz) processor with 4 gigs of memory & a 320-gig hard drive + 15.6-inch screen. Very nice.

Regarding the latest crop of Intel processors, the Core i7 is good as it get$. There is also a Core i5.

The Laptop, The Road & Long John Silver

 Been having more trouble with my laptop. Now it's blue-screening midway thru start-up (at different points) .. followed by an automatic hard-reset. Sukus maximus. Only option is Safe-Mode (with Networking), which is where I am now (nasty 640x480 rez).

Palm treeThe problem is intermittent, tho a normal restart is becoming increasingly rare. This machine, I suspect, may be on its last leg. Lots of hard Rad miles.

I hate safe-mode. Torture for techies. Like nails on a chalkboard.

Speaking of torture, I saw The Road last night. (The movie.) Left me feeling .. weird.

Probably should've waited. Obviously wasn't ready. In retrospect. Felt yucky afterwards. Disturbed. Took a shower before bed .. to try to wash off the ickiness.

While reading the novel, I was able to put down the book if the story started getting to me. (Never read very many pages in any single sitting.) Not so however, with the DVD. (One-day rental.)

I thought the boy did a great job, acting. He wasn't just along for the ride (.. so to speak). Viggo, I expected to do a good job. Same with Charlize. But not the boy. Speaking of which, I really like the way the lady reached out and touched his face at the end.

The problems started when I began having trouble staying connected to the internet .. via my laptop's onboard wireless adapter (Broadcom 4318). After 'repairing' connection several times, I inspected the device mgr, where I found a yellow-! hovering over my wireless adapter. Shortly thereafter the hard-locks began.

Disabling the Wireless adapter (in Windows device manager) and switching to a wired connection seemed to solve the problem (no more hard-locks) .. long as I stayed in Windows.

Resource conflict - PCI on motherboardBut reboots still gave me fits. Many times, the hard drive & CD-ROM lights would remain lit for ~30 secs, then go out.

That's it. Nothing. No boot. Couldn't even boot to a Bootable CD. Couldn't even get into the BIOS (F2). The display screen showed absolutely nothing. Sukage maximus.

Subsequent troubleshooting revealed that using a fan to blow cold air on the bottom of the (warm) laptop for 5 or 10 minutes solved the problem. (Every time.) By that I mean, I am able to boot, I get a display. I can enter the BIOS.

BUT .. I *always* get the following ERROR (BIOS) » Resource Conflict - PCI on Motherboard, Bus:06, Device:09, Function:04. <F1> to resume. <F2> to Setup.

[ If you happen to know what Device:09 or Function:04 are, let me know. I searched but can't find anything definitive. Bus:06 I'm guessing is the PCI bus. ]

The good news » hitting <F1> lets me boot to Windows. Once in Windows, everything is cool .. ever since I disabled the Wireless adapter. Runs great. In my device manager, I now have a yellow question mark hovering over 'PCI Device.' (Listed under 'Other devices'.)

Today I learned that my laptop's 'onboard' wireless adapter (toast) is not really onboard. (Thanks, Will.) Rather it's a MiniPCI card -- half the size of a credit card -- that's easily replaced, just like system memory (.. remove screw + cover-plate, pop-out old, pop-in new). Cool.

I was able to order a replacement for $5.48 (free shipping) from Hong Kong. Hard to believe, no? Especially when I saw the exact same part at other places selling for $40 (+ shipping). I'm starting to like Hong Kong.

It'll probably take a few weeks to get here, but I'm in no hurry, seeing that a reader sent me a USB wireless adapter to use. (Thanks, Dirk.)

Laptop's Onboard Wireless Adapter Toast

Wireless adapter on my laptop died today. Laptop is 5-years old. (Gateway disposable.) Started having trouble yesterday staying connected to the internet. Had to keep 'repair'ing my wireless connection. Thought it was due to my ISP or their router.

Asoka PlugLink 9650Then the laptop started locking-up. Hard. No blue screen of death. No error message to indicate where the problem might lie. Display screen never changed. Ctrl-Alt-Del had no effect.

Only way to clear hard-lock was by holding down the power button for 4 secs. I did this many times (major reboot fatigue), trying to troubleshoot the problem.

As you know, hard-locks are often due to a hardware conflcit. So I inspected the device manager. There I found a pretty yellow exclamation point hovering over my Broadcom Wireless 802.11g Network Adapter. Not a good sign.

Downloaded & re-installed wireless drivers. Didn't help. Eventually the wireless adapter disappeared altogether from the device mgr. Replaced by a generic 'PCI device' (complete with decorative yellow-!).

I switched to a WIRED connection .. using a PlugLink (made by Asoka), which plugs into your house electrical wiring. Cool technology. Can't believe it works so well. Fast. Kinda surprised I don't get electrocuted downloading a file. =)

Long as the wireless adapter is gone (unseen by Windows), everything runs good. If it comes back (which it does from time to time on reboots), I'll need to disable. Pattern I'm seeing » works fine after reboot » later, needs wireless connection 'repair'ed » finallly, hard-lock. (major sukage.)

Noticed my CPU-fan doesn't run as much with the wireless adapter disabled. CPU usage likewise dropped noticably. On the downside, I've had some problems coming out of standby, after the laptop has been dormant for long periods (several hours).

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