Sunday, May 29, 2005

Plans for the Belmont Club

I'd like to thank the many readers who have generously offered to help re-host the Belmont Club, which is now inoperable due to Blogger problems. However, I don't need a hosting site right now, as I already have one that works tolerably well. I need ideas more than I need money. Moving to a hosting site implies getting blogging software and setting up a database to drive it. Past attempts to replace Blogger with free software Community Server, an ASP.Net application which runs off IIS and SQL Server, suggests that the database will grow by about 30 MB per month and bandwidth in the neighborhood of about 15 GB per month, even with a judicious use of graphics. That experience pushed me toward staying with Blogger, because I didn't have to worry about archiving to keep the DB size down nor about bandwidth from graphics (like maps, maps, maps!). But just to prove that there is no such thing as free lunch, Blogger has fallen down on me, because I suspect, it cannot handle a blog the size of Belmont. They've already disabled the ability to "see" more than 500 posts in the counter, etc and I'm over that.

Right now, I've decided to focus my energies on two things. To forget about the technical issues for a while and keep up a reasonable volume of posts and to look around for a new platform that will enable easy archiving of material because I simply cannot afford to pay for a database that will grow to half a gig in a little over a year. That means I'll continue to post at this backup site until I've figured out what to do with Belmont as a whole. Thank you for your patience.

58 Comments:

Blogger bill said...

Enjoy reading your site, lots of good stuff...

Have you considered hosting your own site? If you have a cable broadband connection and a little technical expertise it's fairly simple to set up a DDNS connect through an outfit like DynDNS.org(recommended).

I would suggest WordPress blog softare, MySQL, and centos 4 Linux as the base OS. A simple cable modem router, Linksys BEFSR41($50) for a firewall, as a needed feature the Linksys has built in keep alive needed to keep the DynDNS.org connection up, and you need a dedicated computer for a server, with all the disks you want. It may not give you the instantaneous bandwith you might like, but it will run well -- and except for your broadband bill, it's free.

Go to the DynDNS site and read about hosting your own server.
http://www.dyndns.org/services/dns/dyndns/
http://www.homenethelp.com/web/howto/apps-behind-router.asp

BTW, it's also a good way to back up and maintain a second site. You can also use it as a free online repository.

Wordpress can be configuered to download, transfer and put up your existing blogger posts.

If you have a fast enough desktop personal machine, you can even run your server from that host and use it at the same time. You will need a UPS to keep it on 24/7.

I have tinkered with building my site on DDNS and am about ready to abandon blooger, it just isn't reliable enough, and is way too slow for real work.

Hey, DDNS cheap to try -- free if you have the basic computer resources, if it doesn't work it's just lost time -- email me at '10ksnooker at gmail dot com' if you want more guidance.

5/29/2005 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Phoenix_Blogger said...

You may have already considered this, but what if you worked within the blogger limitations and moved your archive data to a different blogger site that would be accessible with a link? I.E. BelmontClub04.blogspot for 2004 or something along those lines. Would also speed up your upload times.

Matt S.

5/29/2005 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Wrechard you are a victim of your own success. I guess you could just keep stetting up new Blogger sites after certain amount of data has been posted (Belmont 1, Belmont 2, Belmont 3, and so on). Then just keep the list of the urls for you posters and visitors.

5/29/2005 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Hosting my own box with the tools I know can be pretty expensive. The main expense is software. A copy of SQL Server is $10,000. OK. I could use MSDE or some other database program so long as I can manipulate the connect string but it means a lot of effort.

The route you suggest is interesting, with Linux and MySQL, but the cost would be of another kind. I'd have to ramp up to be effective.

I'll think about it.

5/29/2005 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger bill said...

WOW, you need to give up on MS Windows and discover free software.

Theer is a LAMP package for Windows XP if you insist. http://www.wampserver.com/en/index.php

I have used multiple blogger blogs, it gets really confusing for users -- but does somewhat work.

5/29/2005 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger American Daughter said...

I kept two sites for American Daughter, one on Blogger and one on a private host. We got kicked off the private host for excessive bandwidth. So I moved to PowWeb. They are giving me 10 Gigabytes per day bandwidth for $7.77 per month, and they already run MySQL on their servers. So far I am hugely satisfied. You could always spend another $7.77 per month if you need extra storage space.

5/29/2005 05:31:00 PM  
Blogger Jak0zilla said...

$10K for a MS-SQL license? I'll echo the suggestion to migrate to Linux and MySQL. $10K would buy you a lot of classroom training - a complete RHCE track of classes is around $9K. Books are much less expensive, and you'd find a community of people eager to answer any questions.

Linux can be a bit daunnting. (Free as in puppy some have said.) But once you know it you can drasticaly cut your financial outlay.

If you already know MS-SQL I'd imagine that MySQL would be easy to learn. (I can't really say for sure, I don't count myself as an expert in either.)

Another option is Linux based MySQL hosting services.

I use dreamhost.net for personal hosting. (There are plenty of other options for hosting providers. I am not an employee of Dreamhost, but have been VERY happy with them for a couple of years now.) The details you've laid out for DB size, and bandwidth would put you easily in the $8 a month plan that I use. There is some sort of blogging software they offer as a standard install option. (Forget which - I don't use it.) They would take care of the OS maintenance, etc.

Your only hurdle would be the MS-SQL to MySQL transition.

You might drop them an email to discuss if this sounds interesting.

http://dreamhost.net/shared/comparison.html

(Sorry if this comes off sounding like a commercial for them ... I'm sure there are plenty of other hosting svcs. to compare with.)

5/29/2005 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The problem with moving the old posts elsewhere is that it will kill the links. The best outcome would be for Blogger to fix the old Belmont site and I would leave it as an archive and then continue on somewhere else.

5/29/2005 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger bill said...

Here is a link to WordPress importing blogger files http://tutorials.bluechronicles.net/index.php?p=4. Not sure if you mean external links, those should be fine, or post to post links. Ask in the WordPress forums, they might know -- they have a very responsive community. One of the largest blog software products out there. Written in php so it's easy to modify to your liking.

As to MySQL, this is what I use, http://www.phpmyadmin.net/home_page/ -- it is a browser face for MySQL. Makes MySQL database management, setup, backup, restore, just a browser page away.

The commercial site costs add up too fast for me -- storage and bandwidth.

I sent you an email with some info on my site.

5/29/2005 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger brdavis said...

Maybe I'm missing something here Wretchard, about the "breaking the links" part ...but in a tabbed text editor (such as NoteTab, even the "Lite" freeware version), you can open up literally hundreds of megabytes of files (or dozens and dozens of smaller files), and do a single search-and-replace-string operation across ALL those open-in-tabs posts to "fix" potential "broken links," prior to them being broken. Am I missing something else here in your concern about "broken links"?

(And I can't see how the external links would be broken by a change to past posts that point the "belmontclub.blogspot" to some other URL.)

It might be a bit tedious mind you, but not all that tedious. And not difficult, or too awfully time-consuming, at all at all.

5/29/2005 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger bill said...

OK, I brought my site online here

http://www.10ksnooker.blogdns.org/wordpress/

For the most part it's for tinkering and playing with, so it's a work in progress. But it shows what can be done for free, if you have a spare computer and a broadband connection.

Some assembly required :-)

5/29/2005 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I don't understand the persistence of those suggesting Wretchard implement these various solutions on his own:
Everyone only has a certain number of Years/Days/Minutes, and yes even money, on this Earth, and I would much rather have him spending that time reading and posting than playing at Local Linux Lineman duties, or any other w/"some assembly required". Did anyone notice his comments about database size, etc. Cannot imagine what WSJ requires!
---
Like brdavis, I am puzzled about the link issue, and have thought of, and am intrigued by, the multiple blogger subwebs.
---
The PowWeb post sure looks interesting.
Will look into that, and hope others will share more info on such.

5/29/2005 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I think you're misreading the costs of SQL server. I just checked Amazon and they have it for $1,279. Actually if you intend to have your own box, you could download the SQL Enterprise Manager and Query Analyzer separately for free, and then use MSDE. It would be indistinguishable from the full SQL Server. That doensn't solve the bandwidth problem though.

5/29/2005 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

brdavis:  That's fine for the site's internal links.  How do you fix all the referrals coming from other people's sites, bookmark files, etc?

The problem of link rot is far from trivial.

5/29/2005 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The idea that anyone would depend on free or low cost options to develop a community and then attempt use these services to archive the work of years is amazing. I have followed that path to fruition myself and felt the burn.

I have out grown service providers and hosts before. In each case we closed the door and moved to the next generation of tech. Painful as that was, in the end, it was the only real solution.

It is easy to become a tech head and become lost in the system, better to hire better providers and stay focused on the mission.

If the old site comes back use it as an archive and move to either multiple Blogger sites or pay the price of success on a single site that can handle the exponential growth projected.

5/29/2005 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Rat,
Such cyncicism born of mere experience:
I would be my life on Google outlasting it.
...and they're liberals, so they will always take good care, no?

5/29/2005 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Yeah, the links.
And if you change the address, all the links inside the web TO the web are screwed.
Can you pare down a web to a size where it becomes functional again in Blogger?
Or once it's screwed, that's it?
Could remove all the comments before I started posting, at least, and not lose much, probably.
(Fruit Flies Again)

5/29/2005 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger jakita said...

Wretchard,

Your site is a national treasure. Perhaps you could do some major fundraising to help you pay for the cost of setting up a new site, using professional technical help, if necessary.

I'm sure you thought of this--I just wanted to take the opportunity to tell you how much I value your site and the thoughts of the people who post comments on it.

5/29/2005 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Desert Rat,
Who are you using now.
Anybody using Simplenet?
They've been around at least since mid 90's.

5/29/2005 08:44:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Disregard all link comments I made, as if you ever paid them any regards.

5/29/2005 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Google out lasting my cyncicism? I'll be dead and Google will live on, in one form or another.

I assume all the links are dead today. The spending of any of the man hours needed to transfer all the archieved data from W's storage to new files that can only be accesseed internally is silly.

As I said if Blogger comes back, Freeze It! Link to it and be done'
Move on to what ever system makes the most sense to your condition.
But I'd advise against becoming a System Administrator, even if it is your own system

5/29/2005 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger hank_F_M said...

Wretchard

Last weekend I was trying to adjust my format. I started getting errors. I had to google the error message to get a clue, and eventully rebuilt my template from backups. The problems seemed to mostly go away when I republised from a different computer.

From the way it is behaving now, on my blog and others I have visited, blogger made a background change in there code for internal linking with no publicity. The link for each post now goes to a tag in an archive rather than an indivdual message. With as much internal links as The Belmont Club has this could be a problem.

I think there is some pratical unpublished, and perhaps unknown even to blogger, maximum size to a Blogger blog. If yo continue to use blogger I think you will need to restart a new version every so often.

5/29/2005 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

doug
check out

www.bridleandbit.com

It's third generation and we let other professionals deal with almost everything. Employees are wonderful

5/29/2005 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/29/2005 09:14:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/29/2005 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/29/2005 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Desert Rat:
Who provides web hosting and etc?

5/29/2005 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I'm not sure any more. I'll find out and let you know

5/29/2005 09:18:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Flea Control:
We've got a nice little outbreak of Murine Typhus on So. Maui.
...Some recent transplants probably would rather save rats than people.
---
Symptoms sound less than pleasant, esp infected eyeballs, loss of height from malnutrition, etc.
...and that's not as bad as "real" typhus.
Have to find out if shots for it help with murine Typhus.

5/29/2005 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

We use "Article Manager" software. It allows multiple submitters and is also password protected.

This is software works pretty well.
If you look at the bottom left column you see where we archive back to earlier edition.

Doing this we lost the Google Search engine hits on those pages, I never really understood why. I'm no techie, understand the concepts, have done lots of Graphic Art. Now we are developing a TV program for September debut.

That is one reason I'm intrigued with the video blog concept. Bought some good cameras and misc equipment and using Final Cut Pro we are able to desktop the entire show. Who'd of thought

5/29/2005 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Really!
Now I gotta figure out how to get my five minutes of fame.
A Doug and Pony Show?

5/29/2005 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

doug
Now you want to exterminate my jungle cousins?

The Navajo Land rats, in the four corners area, carry the Plague.
Black Death beats Typhus any day

5/29/2005 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Fame is easy, spend money, wisely.

5/29/2005 09:36:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Rats are Versatile.
Typhus, Black Death,
and now Home Grown TV.

5/29/2005 09:37:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Narrow band TV is part of the wave of the future. Satellite delivery to a defined niche. RFD TV is an rural lifestyle TV service provider. Reaches about 5 million homes across the US. Works out well in conjunction with one of our print products.
The dilemma with this Blog development is cash flow or rather the lack of it. Ad sales seem endemic, subscribers hard to collect from. There is demand for the product though, when it is free.

5/29/2005 09:46:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"There is demand for the product though, when it is free. "
---
Thanks,
We all needed that.

5/29/2005 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Works out well in conjunction with one of our print products.
"
---
The Shadowy Outlines of the Great Rat Empire fade in and out of focus, but they continue to grow.

5/29/2005 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Reformat the same data into different products for different geographic areas. Using short run newspaper technologies combined with "cowby or guerilla" distribution techniques and you can get a lot of bang per buck, within the niche.
Printing bills and distribution are still a big part of the cost structure. Hard to bill with out a product in hand.
Television seems to be different, as people pay for it and it exists only in the ether. I'll know in six months or so, for sure.

5/29/2005 09:58:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Short run newspaper technologies:
Are those ink based or Laser Printer/Copiers?

5/29/2005 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

In the old days we cut and pasted Laser onto Art Boards which were "burned" onto metal plates photographically.
Now the PDFs are sent to the Newspaper Printer and then processed digitally onto the press. Big improvement in both productivity and quality.
Printing as few as 3,000 copies of a short tabloid on a monthly basis is amazingly effective.
It does not solve W's challenge though.

5/29/2005 10:12:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

World:
British Government May Tax Horse Manure
.
. Bridle and Bit

5/29/2005 10:12:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Synchronous Posts:
Not to imply an equality of Output.

5/29/2005 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger Shrieking Geek said...

I run my site at home with Linux, MT and Postgresql, and it works just fine. Of course, it wouldn't work for a higher-bandwidth site like Belmont Club, since I've just got 768MBit uplink DSL. Not to mention that it's non-trivial to make this stuff work consistently (in particular, if you're running your own server, you have to learn how to secure it and keep it secure).

If you do decide to go with hosting your own, DO NOT use MySQL if you can avoid it. Postgresql is free also, and is a real database. (MySQL was the first free SQL database, so it has name recognition, but it's a terrible database, particularly with large data sets.)

Free blogging services - not just Blogger, mind you - are simply not built to handle very many large-size, large-bandwidth blogs, and will seldom have advantages over hosting services unless your traffic and content is small. And you don't mind losing it from time to time.

Your best bet, given the characteristics of the blog, would probably to find a hosting service that gives you unlimited or very large bandwidth allocations, and is inexpensive. There are a few, but they're hard to find. (I believe one of your commenters mentioned one. The trick there is to back up your content to your local machine, just in case the hosting provider loses their backups, goes out of business or what have you.

You could also try pulling an Andrew Sullivan, and asking for donations (or using your ad money, if it's large enough) to hire a bright college kid to do the setup and maintenance of a home server for yourself.

5/29/2005 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger GaijinBiker said...

Have you looked at Powerblogs?

5/30/2005 03:31:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

W,

I'm with Jakita, although I think the site is a Global treasure.

Do some fundraising (not least from your readers) and outsource the tech stuff. Important as technology is, your analysis is more important.

ADE

5/30/2005 03:37:00 AM  
Blogger solex said...

If one runs a serious website, they should not run it from a box in their closet. A real hosting provider does backups, server upgrades/replacements, has tech support, and actually notifies you when there are scheduled outages.

You said 15GB bandwidth and 30MB of DB growth a month. Those are very modest figures. There are many providers that could meet this requirements for quite a low sum. I will give you my hosting provider's VPS (Virtual Private Server) as an example. I do not work for them, but I am an extremely happy customer (and I've been through TONS of shite companies). These Kiwi's really know their stuff.

http://rimuhosting.com/order/startorder.jsp

Granted... you my not have the time to nor interest in learning how to admin AND SECURE a linux system. There are windows providers that offer similar packages, but the costs are nowhere near the linux/*bsd solutions. They have to pay for their licenses too!

There a loads of Belmont Club readers with quite a bit of knowledge when it comes to this stuff (I, for example, do this for a living). Many of us would be glad to help.

5/30/2005 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

My last advise would be to work in what ever software enviorment you like. Learn Linux if you want to be a low cost self provider, doing much of the work yourself.
The preferable way would be to develop a format YOU were most comfortable with, regardless of price. What ever that number becomes, fund. Well many could contribute time, effort and technical savvy others provide CASH.
There is no Pajama network without it.

5/30/2005 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Jeremiah said...

Whatever it takes brother, I'm still tuning in. You're one of the safe harbors and you need to secure your position. I think we're all patient enough to deal with that because the payback is worth the wait.

5/30/2005 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Used this years ago w/no problems, am interested in comments/comparisons.
. ____Simplenet____

5/30/2005 09:40:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

30MB a month is nothing. I know sites that do that in a minute.

Rackspace and 1and1 provide hosted mirrored sites at great rates and can handle any bandwidth.

But I agree that Wretchard is faced with a dilemma of costs and credibility.

He has only so much time and mind-space. And he has real work to do as well. His time has to be split between his job and thinking. Not managing a website.

Second, Wretchard, like Socrates, gets his street cred from not getting entangled in alliances of one kind or another.

All said and done, the Belmont Club Multiverse ( ie _1, _2, _3 ) is the best solution. It works. Its free. Don't change it!

5/31/2005 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Red River,
It's GB, not MB, and they have dedicated server options.
...But I agree with you, that if at all possible, stick w/labor free options.
AND
Blogger has been just fine, response wise for some time now.

5/31/2005 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Re, Archives:
Even w/o links, if Wretch can get them up somehow,
(or even downloadable archive, like Den Beste, for a fee, maybe?)
they are more valuable than ever w/Google Desktop Search.
They also had some sort of web crawler plug in that could index online archive.
Best new plug in allows you to call for re-indexing manually, plus indexes mapped drives, external drives, etc.
...INSTANT Searching!

5/31/2005 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Inquiring about the domain '1and1webhosting.com', with status: Expired"

5/31/2005 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The boys at Realclearpolitics raised, as I recall, about $40,000 per annum thru their reader base in an annual fund drive.
Maybe an approriate amount could be raised and tech help recruited to build a system set up that W could run on for free.
It all depends on what you or he or me think a lot of money is.
It depends on what he wanted as a System and how much it would cost to build, lease or rent.
He said money was not an issue but he could not afford what he needed.
That seems like a challenge of some sort.

5/31/2005 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Take the bit and run w/it 'Rat.
---
Gotta watch those Rat Bits,
Typhus, Black Death, TV,...

5/31/2005 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Enigma said...

Aha! I found you again! I wish I had some great idea to help you out, but I don't. Have you considered taking on a "silent partner" to handle the technical details while you focused on content? Just a thought...

5/31/2005 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

Doug,

Wretchard said "suggests that the database will grow by about 30 MB per month and bandwidth in the neighborhood of about 15 GB per month."

30MB not 30G. Most of the new stuff is comments and there is very little redo - thats not a lot. You can get dell 2850s with 6x300GB HDD in the channel for 50% of list. About $10K. OR- 1&1 has some server deals for $100-$200 per month and they can provide admin on an ad-hoc basis.

30MB per month is not much. But the bandwidth and maintenance will cost you a lot. If someone has a T3, then putting in dual mirrored servers with web caching would hande it easily and give you the HAA and the inbound traffic would be lost in the noise.

Having said this - the multiverse is the way to go.

Wretchard, you may want to leave the old belmont club alone as you may be making blogspot's job of recovery harder.

There are lots of online mirrors and web archives you can drag stuff out of and then put into the multiverse. As for links, you can line it all up then do a blanket search and replace.

6/01/2005 12:28:00 AM  
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2/08/2006 08:46:00 AM  

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