Tag Archives: Web Development

All website related creations go in here. Often, projects have their own sub category.

Turning my iOS Dev Diary into a Membership Site

iOS-Podcast-Icon-2014I find it extremely important to document the things I learn on my coding journey. It has saved my (coding) life many times before. I do such documentations in form of websites which allows me to refer to my notes from any device in the world.

One of those sites is my iOS Dev Diary.

It’s on a spare domain I had lying around that wasn’t doing anything, and when I started adding notes to to the site in 2011 I hadn’t intended it to be a public facing project: I would usually add links to my other sites, add social widgets and make sure the site looks nice so that it makes for a pleasant reading experience.

I dispensed with all that for my iOS notes. I didn’t event pay attention to the traffic it was getting – because seriously: who would read scattered notes and ultra geeky code snippets without a context?

Turns out I was in for a surprise.

The site really isn't anything special to look at - but it's functional, human readable, and people seem to like it.
The site really isn’t anything special to look at – but it’s functional, human readable, and people seem to like it.

One day I tried some CSS tweaks and installed Jetpack so that I could easily apply additional CSS styles without the need for a Child Theme. Jetpack also counts the daily visitor traffic which was about 20 users per day when I installed it in March 2013, not including my own visits.

You can imagine my surprise when I saw that the traffic was steadily increasing to a point that impacted the server the site was hosted on. Today I’m getting nearly 700 hits per day on that site (!), a little less less at weekends, accounting for a whopping 15k visitors per month.

Stats at the end of March 2014

 

Luckily I’m in charge of the server that’s hosting my iOS Dev Diary, so I could use it as a test case for high traffic, and to see how different servers would cope with the load: I tried moving the site to a small Amazon AWS instance running Plesk on CentOS – which promptly crumbled under the load. I increased the power of that instance gradually and found that only a C3 Extra Large instance would hold out – not really an option considering its $300 per month price tag.

Other dedicated servers are more cost efficient, and currently the site is hosted on a dedicated machine at Strato which copes very well. The test provided me with valuable insights on many levels, but at the same time it poses a problem: I still need a place for my notes, and I’m happy for others to use them too. But without locking the site down to “private” I’m still stuck with a lot of traffic and therefore quite a bit of hungry infrastructure overhead.

Unless I find a way to subsidise the cost – which leads me to another exciting adventure: turning my iOS Dev Diary into a paid Membership Site.

Thanks to a couple of WordPress plugins I can partially protect content and ask visitors to join the site for a small fee.

Access is granted instantly after the system processes the payment. The membership protection is live since the beginning of the month and meant quite a bit of work and restructuring for Julia and me. Let me tell you more about the project.

Continue reading Turning my iOS Dev Diary into a Membership Site

Play From Your F***ing Heart

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 15.58.44I’ve finished a new website last week for my friend Jerry Hyde. We go back at least 15 years, and I’m excited to tell you that Jerry has written a new book that will be released on July 25th.

I’m not swearing when I tell you it’s title: Play From Your Fucking Heart.

It’s a self-help book with a spin: the author acknowledges that there is no “new wisdom” to be told – instead every piece of philosophy is recycled and indeed old news.

Jerry doesn’t say that this makes it invalid or untrue – quite the opposite: fact is that we as readers already know all these wisdoms, and merely recognise them as significant when we see them presented in yet another package.

It’s Genius! You can find out more about the book here – and don’t forget to put your pre-order in on Amazon!

 

The Website

I’m extremely pleased to have been involved with this project, and I’m very happy with the way it turned out. It makes such a difference when you work on something that you believe in – something I have the luxury to do exclusively these days. Let’s face it: it’s the number one reason that I live where I live today.

Naturally the site is build on WordPress and went live just as version 3.9 came out.

Jerry wanted something “dark” and likes unusual designs. Because the calendar says it’s 2014 we also needed a template that looks equally nice on a phone, a tablet and a laptop. After looking through several options I showed him AppifyWP Single – a theme that’s meant to be used as an App Website.

Not many changes were necessary, however I do make it a habit of creating child themes for my projects in case the original codebase ever gets updated.

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 16.11.33

The few things I did change were references to the fact that we’re selling an app: Jerry didn’t want like his book cover hovering on an iPhone so I’ve replaced it with a grubby old book cover – courtesy of Graphicstock.com. I also removed the “Download on the App Store” logo and replaced it with the release date.

One thing I did not want to change about the theme was its App Icon – but because books don’t have App Icons I had a look at the cover image and got creative with the blanked out swearing bit. In case we ever write an App with “Jerry’s Wisdoms” we’re covered already. Imagine a Magic Eight-Ball type app.

 

Site Functionality

The theme is special in that all “tabs” on the left are WordPress pages, but all of them are presented as one long block of text, and each tab is merely an anchor point to a new position. It’s like a bookmark system – thanks to the ingenuity of its designer Cory Show who developed AppifyWP.

Therefore the order of those tabs was important – the pages need to flow, like the book itself: we start with a quick introduction, tell you about the author, give you endorsements, the foreword and a reading sample. The reader doesn’t need to know the techie bits in the background, but s/he can certainly tell when they’re not right.

We also invite readers to have a look at Jerry’s other projects, like his website as well as his previous two books (and where to buy them). While scrolling through all this content, both the menu bar with navigational tabs and the sidebar with Social widgets sticks in one place so there’s always something new to discover.

Jerry also writes a monthly column for Seymour Magazine – so it’s easy to pull in his feed via the wonderful FeedWordPress plugin by “RadGeek” Charles Johnson: every time a new article in Jerry’s category is published by on Seymour Magazine, we syndicate it with teaser content and link back to it on the originating site. Automagically.

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 16.49.29

Meet DREXEL: my new Database Server

I’ve already mentioned this to some of you, but here’s the official release. Last week I introduced a new server to the Guru Network: DREXEL – my THIRD web server in only 18 months!

With it I’m building a dedicted hosting infrastructure optimised for self-hosted WordPress sites. Depending on how well it’ll go from here, I’d like to grow the Guru Network into a multi-server environment across the world similar to that of Automattic and WordPress.com. Continue reading Meet DREXEL: my new Database Server

How to Change Your Domain While Keeping Your Search Engine Ranking

I found this very interesting article on how to add bits and bobs to your .htaccess file, which then redirects one domain to another.

The great thing about this is that – as the title suggests – you can keep you search engine rankings. The downside is that doing it this way requires hosting – which often you don’t have on domains.

Another way to deal with the problem is to simply forward the domain (speak to your hosting provider about this), however you’ll lose your search engine ranking.

I read a tech article about InMotion Hosting, and on there they say that Google is rather up-to-speed with changing links. I’m saying this becuse I want to free up one of my domains (www.wordpress-guru.co.uk) and import all articles into this site – so the content stays the same, but all URLs will change. Let’s see how Google can cope with that.

Here’s the .htaccess article– enjoy!

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/how-to-change-your-domain-while-keeping-your-search-engine-ranking/11072/

How to upgrade PHP on CentOS 5

I’ve learnt a lot since this article went up – including how to do this properly. This article is left here for historic purposes. Read how to upgrade PHP on CentOS 5 on my other site The WordPress Guru

Original Article:

An account of events – not dramatized

yesterday, 09:12

Idea:

The need for amazing shopping cart software arises. Decided to install CRE Loaded on my website. Tried it a year ago, didn’t work. Better luck this time.

11:23

Installed the package, but found that minimum requirement is PHP 5.2.x – I have an older version. Hm. Must upgrade. What a challenge.

11:37

Huge Google search for “how to upgrade PHP on CentOS 5” brings up 90 million articles, all about something different than my question. Currently don’t’ even know what the hell a SSH connection is or what it stands for

12:08

Through sheer luck stumbled onto option to access my server via SSH. Feel very confident now that I can execute command line things and poke around professionally

12:27

Found that upgrading PHP is only possible using something funky called YUM. Must install that first.

13:01

Another Google search begins – WTF is YUM and why do I need it?

13:44

Stopped asking questions. Determined to get this going.

the next day, 17:55

Excited to have found this list – a detailed account of how to do it. Of course, the 10000 characters cannot be copied and pasted – just to drive us all completely nuts

18:37

Tried it. Doesn’t work. Pissed off with all things internet now. Giving up in search for another solution.

CONCLUSION:

pHP on CentOS can’t be upgraded by human beings. And if it can, I never met one of them. Just like Lottery winners. Time to find a different hobby, maybe connected to the outdoors. Hacking wood or drive-by shooting pigeons maybe.