When migrating your website to a new web host, it can be helpful to see the site up on the new server before it goes live. You want to make sure that the site is going to work on the new server without any errors before you start sending traffic over to it. You can copy the site and all your content to the new server, but how do you test the new setup without changing the DNS (and having the whole world see your site on the new server before it’s ready for prime time)?
The best way to do this is to change your personal computer’s hosts file. When you visit a website, your computer has to look up the IP address for that site so that it knows where to go. Before your computer goes out onto the Internet to find the IP address, it will first check its own local hosts file. The hosts file on your computer is a plain text file that contains a map of hostnames to IP addresses.
By changing the hosts file on your personal computer, you can send only your computer to the new server without affecting the live site at all. In essence, you are “tricking” your computer by manually setting the IP address for a particular website and telling it where to go instead.
The process for modifying the hosts file varies depending on what operating system you are running. The following utility has already checked which OS you are running (Mac, Windows or Linux) and has given you instructions on how to change your hosts file. Note that if you are using an older Mac, the instructions are good for OSX 10.5 and higher. Read more
At the ServInt Source, we try to keep up with two posts a week, one on something technical as part of The Tech Bench, and one on some other pertinent topic. Our litmus test for all posts is: do they have actionable intelligence? (i.e. are we giving the reader information that they can learn from and act on?) Some weeks are content rich. Other weeks, like this one, the works grind to a halt. Sometimes there are a lot of topics we are just not ready to take public, sometimes writers ask for deadline extensions because work takes time away from their writing. And sometimes… well, sometimes it’s a slow news cycle and we’re flat out of creative topics on which to opine. Today was one of those days.
The following is an actual transcript of a series of calls today between me: ServInt Source editor, Andrew Loschert, and my boss: Fritz Stolzenbach, VP of Marketing and Business Development. Read more
When you visit a web site, you are accessing a particular folder on a web server. For example, when you visit johns-carpentry.com, the server is pulling up the files at: /home/johnc/public_html. The web server only serves up the files located at that folder to incoming visitors. The location of that web folder is called the “document root”.
It is similar to using a coat check. You present your ticket to the attendant and they fetch it from the back room. The visitor doesn’t know the exact location where the coat is stored, but the coat does reside at a specific location.
That specific location of the web folder is the document root and is set by the Apache configuration.
But what if you wanted to change that location? cPanel’s default location may not serve your needs or you simply want to reorganize. In any case, I’ll show you how to make that change on cPanel. Read more
Yesterday at the Parallels Summit 2012, Parallels announced that ServInt won the 2012 Parallels Partner Award for Excellence in Virtualized Infrastructure Services and Virtualization.
Parallels Partner Awards recognize outstanding yearly achievements by partners who innovate with Parallels solutions to increase their sales and revenue, with special attention given to those partners who have excelled in the rapidly expanding small and medium business (SMB) cloud services market.
We’ve been running Parallels Virtuozzo containers as the base platform for all our virtualized servers for nearly a decade. It’s been a great partnership over the years and we’ve worked together to improve the product and develop other systems that have shown us the true potential power and scalability in hosting hardware.
This award is a true honor and marks an important milestone. As we continue to move further into the cloud in 2012 we are excited to keep building and strengthening our Parallels partnership.
Here’s to the next 10 years of working together to create the future of hosting.
SOPA seems to be breathing its last! Although Rep. Smith has indicated that he’ll remove the controversial DNS blocking provisions of the bill, we’ve heard that the bill is so poisoned, hearings won’t resume, essentially killing the bill. That’s a huge victory for the Internet industry. This bill had big money interests behind it, and we in the Internet community were outspent to a ridiculous degree — but at the end of the day our voices were heard. Victory, right?
Not so fast! Read more
Jailshell is a level of shell (SSH) access that limits a user to his or her specific directory structure. Under regular SSH when users log into their servers they are taken to their home directory and can execute commands within their directory structure.
Under SSH, that user can also travel to any directoy on the server and even use “ls” to get a directory listing, they just cannot open the files or interact with them. Jailshell, on the other hand, logs users into their directory structure and locks them in (much like a prison or jail cell), disallowing them from openly traversing the directory structure outside of their home.
November is in full swing and that means that once again it’s time for the annual Desert Bus for Hope charity gaming marathon. I genuinely look forward to this event all year!
Our friends at the sketch comedy group LoadingReadyRun created this event back in 2007 to raise money for Child’s Play, a charity that donates toys and games to children’s hospitals. Every year since it’s gotten bigger and bigger, and I’m thrilled at the role ServInt gets to play in it.
The gaming marathon centers around playing Desert Bus, a mini game within Penn and Teller’s unreleased 1995 Sega game, Smoke and Mirrors. Marathon gamers play the intentionally cruel and inane game in which players simply drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas in real time, on a perfectly straight highway, with no passengers or other traffic, at 45 miles per hour.
The deployment of our new web site, in and of itself, is probably of modest importance to readers of the ServInt Source. But it occurred to me that sharing details of why and how it was built might be useful, as the challenges we faced before and during the redesign are fairly common ones. So, following are some thoughts, observations, and rules of thumb that may be of use to you:
- When your customers tell you it’s time for a change, it’s definitely time for a change. Face it: the attractiveness and usefulness of your web site is way down the list of priorities for your customers — so when they take the time to tell you it looks out of date, or is hard to use, it’s probably a bigger problem than you think it is.
- Building a brand-new web site takes less work than propping up the old one. This one may seem hard to believe, since there is no doubt that the process of building a brand-new web site takes a lot of time and effort. But when you measure both the extra work your company has to undertake on a day-to-day basis to make up for your site’s lack of effectiveness and the big-picture process issues you can fix by implementing a new web site, the value proposition becomes crystal-clear. Bottom line: it’s worth it.
- Make your web site a mirror facing outwards, as well as inwards. It’s tempting to see your web site solely as a reflection of who you are, or perhaps who you wish you could be. It’s just as important for your web site to accurately reflect who your customers are. Your prospective and current customers need to feel like they’ve arrived at their online home when they arrive at your site — a place where they’re understood and appreciated. Our customer base skews very heavily towards “value purchasers” — people who don’t have time for marketing fluff. That’s why our site was designed with a visibly minimalist style. Our overarching goal was to provide an extremely efficient path towards the information our customers seek.
- Show, don’t tell. ServInt is fortunate to have a loyal customer base that is willing to tell the world how much they like us, and why. If your customers are similarly willing to compliment you in public — let them. A basic rule of thumb is: if your customers are willing to say nice things about you, there’s no need for you to say those things yourself!
- Pick a designer who understands you. As mentioned before, we had a clear mental image of what this site was supposed to look like before we started building it. We actively searched for designers who understood the minimalist aesthetic we were after, and why we were seeking it. When we found them, we were able to set them loose to do what they do best. This made things much easier than simply “buying talent” and arguing with them over The Vision Thing. When you and your designer clearly understand the brand strategy you have in mind, as well as the design style that’s going to get you there, you can step back and let them do their job.
We hope you like it!
In part 2 of our Cloud Hosting Series, ServInt CTO Matt Loschert made some interesting comparisons between VPS and Cloud Hosting. One of the things Matt said was “Cloud Hosting creates a world in which server instances are transient and disposable. The instance is no longer important — the communication and cooperation between instances is.” Pretty dense. Still, it got me thinking because this notion is at the heart of the promise of Cloud Hosting.
I was still thinking about it when I showed up to the local deli for a sandwich yesterday. I usually go around 2pm. Yesterday I went at 12:30. The place is tiny and normally sleepy-quiet. It’s just the owner at the counter and her son working the register. Frankly, I’ve sometimes wondered how they stay in business. But yesterday, an hour and a half earlier than I usually go to lunch, the joint was packed – and three times while I was there I saw groups of people come to the door, look at the line and walk out. Most of the time the owner’s just sitting on her hands when I come in. I realized that at 12:30, her business is made – but it’s not maximized.
So what does this have to do with Cloud Hosting? Well, the number one goal of Cloud Hosting seems to be the ability to achieve new levels of scalability. My deli experience serves to remind that the challenge of scalability to a business is not new. Read more
I was saddened to hear of Randall Mario Poffo’s untimely death earlier today. Of course, everybody knew Mr. Poffo as ”Macho Man” Randy Savage — or for me, just ”The Macho Man,” the professional wrestling character he made famous in the 70′s, 80′s, and 90′s. If you were a wrestling fan back then, it was tough not to root for Randy. He was brash, he was colorful, and he was the living embodiment of professional wrestling attitude.
I didn’t know him personally, of course, but in 2003 or thereabouts, when I was working in our Network Operations Center (pre-MST), the Macho Man was a client of ServInt’s. You can imagine the buzz around the office the day he joined the network: ”The real Macho Man?”, everyone would ask. ”Yeah, the real Macho Man.” I suppose to some there were “more serious” customers that one might use in a business or social setting to represent the quality and prestige of our company’s clientele. But for me, at that time, the first name that always came to mind — our coolest customer, in other words — was The Macho Man. And not surprisingly, people continued to ask, “the real Macho Man?” – and my response, delivered with a grin, would always be the same: ”yes, the real Macho Man.” There was no need for me to go any further. The name had been dropped. My mission was accomplished.
The real joy in having Mr. Poffo’s server under our wing was being able to talk to him on the phone on rare occasions. For us ’round-the-clock tech support guys, it was always a real treat when Mr. Poffo would call and ask us for help. You’d feel lucky if you were the guy who got to answer the phone when Randy was on the other end of the line. I remember him as a very curious and patient person, polite and professional. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that he was just a regular guy, but I was, if just a little. And if you’re curious… no, his every-day voice wasn’t the booming growl he used inside the ring, in TV commercials and back-stage interviews. But it was unmistakable — there was no doubt that you were talkin’ shop with Randy Savage.
After every Macho Man call, for a good 30 minutes or more, we couldn’t help but talk amongst ourselves in pathetic imitations of the Macho Man. It was impossible not to. Technical jargon just sounds better when you say it like Randy Savage. More fun, too. Every conversation was rehashed, sentence for sentence, for everyone else in the room. For some reason, it was incredibly important that each of us knew exactly why he called.
As much as I may have wanted to, I never had the courage — nor did I think it was appropriate — to ask him for a patented “Snap into a Slim Jim, oooh yeah”! But I was just as satisfied with phrases like “what version of Perl do I got” and ”let’s just reboot it.”
“Macho Man” Randy Savage was an icon of my childhood and my favorite client during my tech support years. On behalf of ServInt, I’d like to extend my sincerest condolences to Mr. Poffo’s family and friends. Thanks for all the memories, Macho Man.
Photo by goodrob13