Let’s talk about Tor

Teleread recently covered how the New Hampshire Public Library turned its Tor Relay back on, despite warnings from local law enforcement that although the router itself isn’t illegal, it will likely be used for illegal purposes. The article points out that Tor is an important service because, keeping aside the negatives that come from total anonymity, it provides political dissidents a way to bypass censorship. This is important for the growth of democracy in all countries around the world.

There is, of course, the other side – that Tor is used by a wide variety of undesirables who use it for nefarious purposes using the blanket cover of anonymity as a defense against possible government intervention. In that sense, Tor is kind of like torrents. You can download every open-source Linux distro ever created using torrents, but most people are probably just downloading pirated content off it. Continue reading

A brief update on Fever/AppFog

Recently, AppFog sent out an email telling us that free accounts will be further restricted in what features and resources they are will receive. This felt like a major issue for me at that time, since I have Fever running on the service and I’ve dedicated close to 1 GB of RAM to the app.

When the changes finally made through, I realized that I was wrong. Upon monitoring my Fever installation during updates, I realized that it doesn’t use more than ~150 MB of RAM at a time. The only other thing is the database size, which is more than 300 MB for me, something which cannot be easily hosted anywhere else.

I ran some numbers and have found that the most basic paid plan from AppFog can allow for 8 Fever installs with 256 MB each but with the restriction of 200 MB of database storage per install for $2.5/mo. So, if you can find 7 other people who don’t have more than, say, 300 feeds in their Fever installation, AppFog would be the perfect place for you. It would also be a good way of giving back to the service that has supported free Fever installs for so long.

To everyone else, I must ask this – tell me about your Fever installs. How much are you paying? How much RAM and db are you using? Would you be open to sharing space with me (and possibly others) to reduce hosting costs?

I love Fever. It’s one of those services that are just the perfect fit, in this case for reading RSS feeds. I’m grateful to Shaun Inman for continuously working on this application, even though it seems that new installs are at an all time low and he’s busy with personal stuff. I am ready to pay for the hosting, but I figure that if we work together, we can reduce our costs greatly.

Blog Merry-go-round

Using WordPress but tired of MySQL?

Want to have a fast, static blog?

Use Jekyll.

Using Jekyll but want a better UI?

Use OctoPress.

Using OctoPress but want to use Python instead of Ruby?

Use Hyde.

Using Hyde but want to use Dropbox to hold your files?

Use Pelican.

Using Pelican but want good search, analytics and plugins?

Use WordPress.


Good thing I’ve been on WP all along and intend on staying here.


On Google Reader

Ever since the Google Reader news of day before, I’ve noticed a marked increase in traffic to my blog posts regarding Fever as an alternative RSS reader. In fact, I’ve seen my previous record for views in a day of 495 was broken yesterday with 539 views. I’d like to comment on a few things while I have your attention.

First of all, yes, Google Reader was a free service and yes Fever is not. You pay $30 upfront and if you’re not able to get free Appfog hosting, you end up paying about $4-6 per month for hosting it on a fairly cheap host like NearlyFreeSpeech. Why is it variable? Because Fever’s hosting costs you based on how many feeds you want to add to it (my Fever MySQL database is 200 MB at the moment). But even though Fever is a paid solution, I’d still make the case for it. Continue reading

So, what happened??

Bad stuff happens. I loved HelioHost. They have some really good services. I specially liked them because I like playing with software and they gave me a big play ground.

But, they had frequent downtimes. Their servers were always crashing. But, and I thank them for their smarts, they always recovered all the data. So, I felt secure.

Bad idea.

I did not login to my CPanel in a long time. Hey, if everything is running and everyone is happy, why mess with it? But that was a mistake. A bigger mistake? Not taking a backup. CPanel has this great feature that you can back up your entire site, databases and all, to a file on your hard disk. Good for them. HelioHost has this amazing feature that if a person doesn’t log into their CPanel for more than 30 days, their response is – “This person is wasting our resources, destroy all their data and account info without sending them a warning email!”


So, where am I now? Serversfree.com
I like this site. 5 MySQL databases for free, lots of features and close to 100% uptime. Good idea indeed. I just have to verify their “didn’t login to CPanel for 30 days” policy and if that works out, I’m happy! 🙂

I will be covering more about serversfree and some things I’m doing on this site in the coming months. Hopefully, this blog will not have been deleted by then!


Update: A lot of people have been coming to this blog post looking to find out if serversfree is a good idea for hosting  your site. All I have to say is that I am no longer with ServersFree. They have a great service, but as soon as my blog had any kind of traction, they started complaining that I was using too many MySQL resources. I tried using a variety of caching services, but to no avail. If you want to host a static website or a blog that you believe will be for yourself only, ServersFree is a great place to be. But anything beyond that and they’ll start pressing you for paid hosting. When that happens, come and join me on NearlyFreeSpeech. It’s a great paid hoster that’s giving me really good service for a  really low price. In case you decide to host your blog on ServersFree, do make sure you use the WordPress Backup to Dropbox plugin.