Posts by: Matt

Set Up Your Mac for Development in Minutes

It’s great to get a new computer, but it takes hours to actually get the thing set up so you can use it. If you’re a developer, Lapwing Laps has a guide to automate the whole process, including setting up special default settings.

Hacker’s Guide to Setting up Your Mac
Hackers obsess over automation. We want robots to do the grunt work so we can focus on the fun stuff. One area that’s ripe for automation that hasn’t seen much attention lately is setting up your computer

How Small is SSL as a Ranking Factor

A few months ago Google announced SSL would be a small ranking factor for searches but really just how small. Well the short answer is very small at the moment. However it is still a good idea to have SSL certificate for your site especially on any admin pages you use or on any page you take information from the user like your contact page or comments.

Firstly let me explain why having SSL is important. SSL not only protects your users but also you. Do you want to risk having your password sniffed when you login to finish that blog post at the local coffee shop. The same applies to your users do you really want them to submit sensitive information via you contact form with no in transit encryption to protect them.

Now yes I know I do not use SEO on this site however on my other sites that I do expect sensitive or private information to be sent to me I do have SSL certificates and I do force SSL on by default.

There is a draw back of forcing SSL on your users however and that is page load time. It takes time for your server to encrypt content and the user to decrypt it before it can be displayed. There is also the increased time in handshakes and swapping the keys for the encryption. Now for a small site with not a lot of traffic this extra time is hardly noticeable but once your site starts to grow this starts to take longer as your server comes under more load.

Now all this is nothing that can’t be solved by using intelligent caching of content and increasing the size of your server or clustering as your site grows. it is still something most shared (cheap) hosting is not designed to handle very well (for good shared hosting that is clustered and can handle this see my Media Temple review).

So the bottom line should you get an SSL certificate to boost your search rankings, no there are many more reasons to get an SSL and its always a good idea to have one.

Media Temple Review

I recently moved hosts away from my dedicated server which served me well for over a year. The reason for moving from the power house of a dedicated box was simple, I no longer needed that kind of power.

When looking for a new host I decided to give Media Temple a try, I heard a read a lot of mixed reviews about them. Some people I know and trust swear by them and others say they are over priced and not worth it. I been with a number of hosts over the years so what was the harm in trying them out with a few of my smaller sites and a development domain I use when building sites for clients.

After been with Media Temple for 6 months now I decided it was time to move everything over to “The Grid” and shut down my dedicated box. That was when I really noticed the power of the Media Temple grid service.

It wasn’t until I moved some of my bigger, more important sites like this one and some large clients that I realised with a properly optimised site Media Temple’s Grid was faster then my dedicated box in terms of page load times. Now this is probably to do with a number of things that The Grid does differently like SSD based MySQL servers and the power of clustering. I have not looked into this in enough detail to say for sure but it is a definite improvement.

As for support this is an area hotly debated in other reviews online and I have to say my experience is one of the best, if you call them, live chat or bounce them a tweet with in 20 minutes you have an answer and a solution in place. I had a problem adding some new .UK domains to my account because the control panel doesn’t support all of the new TLDs released recently. It only took me 5 mins on chat with support to get these added to my account.

Now Media Temple are not the cheapest shared host around running at $20 a month for 100 domains (inc subdomains) 100GB of disk space and 1TB of bandwidth but I have found the servers are not overloaded and you always get really good and constant performance. Which as a freelance web developer that charges for hosting I need to be able to promise my clients good performance at a low price and Media Temple have given me the confidence to offer that without the expense of my own dedicated server.

If you have used any type of shared hosting in the past you may know a lot of companies doesn’t like you storing non-essential files like zipped site backups on their servers or running large databases (often as small as 500MB). Media Temple are very flexible on this, you pay for 100GB of disk space and you can use that however you like. I currently have over 2 GB of backups stored in zip files (also copied to Amazon S3 for off site redundancy) and a database currently pushing up on 10GB and after speaking with support before moving that site over they really don’t mind.

Now moving a 10GB database is going to be difficult when phpMyAdmin on Media Temple only allows 10MiB uploads, but this was not a problem it took 1 live chat with support and then kindly exported the database on my dedicated server and imported on to their servers for me at no charge.

I had been with Hostgator in the past and loved them, only having to move to a dedicated box when a large ecommerce platform I built almost brought Hostgator to their knees. Now that site is no longer online however I decided to upload a copy to Media Temple to see how they performed I have to say they handled it very well. The only thing that would stop that site been hosted on The Grid is GPUs.

So what at GPUs, Media Temple call these Grid Processing Units. It is a way of measuring how much of The Grid you are using and you get 2000 GPUs a month included for your $20 and additional units are charged at $0.10 each. This keeps The Grid usable by everyone and ensures 1 person is not abusing the service and effecting others on The Grid.

During my testing with The Clearance Zone I use using about 2GPUs an hour. although I would not of gone over 2000 in a month at this rate however I was the only person using the site (standard uploading products, monitoring a few real time auctions typical daily stuff we saw when the site was live in it’s full form) This is the type of site that is not suitable for shared hosting I know however this is the type of stuff I would normally develop on my shared environment before moving to a dedicated server closer to launch. With Media Temple I do have the ability to do that and not have them shout at me as Hostgator did.

if you host more then 100 sites as I do then you can purchase an additional grid package and manage both of them from the same account. This is something I like about Media Temple, they have limits stopping 1 person hosting 300 sites on 1 package slowing down everyone else’s sites.

So overall am I happy with Media Temple, yes. I can see them serving me well for the next couple of years at least I will be adding my second Grid package on there in the next few months as I continue to move all my sites over.

Update: For a limited time get your first months Media Temple hosting for just $5 with code “FALL5″ at checkout

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