Roundup

Wow, it’s been a while since I last posted something around here. With all the christmas, new year and different other stuff coming up, it was hard to find the time, but now I’m back.

Server, Domains, etc: Although Ingoal’s Insight… is still hosted with Dreamhost, I’ve got my dedicated server up and running now, finally. So, I’m probably moving this site over sooner or later, as there’s no point in paying twice, although Dreamhost’s hosting packages have just been updated once again: quatrupled (space) and octupled (bandwidth) to be precise, so you can get 20GB of space along with 1 TB of bandwidth for as little as 7.95$/month. Check it out!

Apple: Does MacBook Pro ring a bell? Intel Core Duo (dual core Pentium M) along with the possibility to run Windows (although not officially supported by Apple). This is certainly good news, and I’m really considering switching to a Mac in the near future (although I’ll wait for the update of the iBook, MacMini and PowerMac series before I make a decision about which way to go).

Fantasy Footie: After the good run in the old year I started to drop in ranking again and it’s going to be a hard fight until the end of the season, I’m not sure I can surpass Mr. Price, but at least I’m giving it my best shot – and one way or another, it’s has been fun.

Uni: I’m currently taking some time off and I’m in the need to find an internship, as this is the last thing on my todo list before I head into the final exams in March/April…then I can start my diploma thesis, which I can hopefully complete before the end of the year.

Ingoalnetwork: The sites are finally completed and some network sites have been added, for news about the network head over to the new network blog.

Chitika: After the bad experience in October I stuck around and since then they’ve been working hard at improving their overall solutions (the product of emini-malls themselves, almost real time audits, etc) and I’m happy to report, that their reports are now much more accurate and with the addition of european support the clicks and hence the revenue has really been stabilised. On another note: I receive the first payment (for november) just days ago, so I’m really satisfied now, I’ll keep you updated about it the following months…in the meantime feel free to check their blog and our give their emini-malls a test run.

Poker: For all the newsworthy stuff about my new passion poker head over to my poker-blog.

Postchristmas update

So much to report, so little time. It’s been a while since my last decent post, but don’t worry…everything is fine, although I tend to not find the time to post in recent days. So, what else is new?

The new server

This blog along with some other sites is still hosted by dreamhost, but sites are being moved to my new dedicated server piece by piece. As mentioned in my Nov 25th roundup I just had to get myself a new dedicated server as the low-end AMD Sempron just didn’t cut it, especially due to the “low bandwidth deal” I had on that server (“only” 200GB). So I ordered an Opteron beast, but they couldn’t deliver it right away so I was stuck. After a lot of haggling with the technical support I got an interim server (AMD Athlon 64) free of charge until my real server would be ready. Happy news: the server was finally shipped and installed in the ISP’s datacenter on December 24th…! It took me a while to set it up with all the domains, DNS, mail accounts, etc etc but I got the job done.

Tech Specs:

  • AMD Opteron 146, 64bit server cpu
  • 1GB Ram
  • 2x160GB
  • unlimited traffic! (as this is with one of germany’s leading hosters this is a real deal, although unlimited should really be called unmetered as there’s no such thing as unlimited, it’s 100MBit NIC max data rate * days in a given month)
  • 160GB backup space in another data center

I’m running the box on Suse Linux 9.3 with Plesk 7.5 Reloaded, which is really comfortable especially due to the preinstalled Plesk modules (Courier IMAP, both Antivirus + Antispam solution, etc). I tweaked the linux install a little – now I’ve got stuff like apt-get known from debian for easy updating and installing of packages.

As I plan to migrate all the stuff over from all the different hosters one of the first things I thought about was data security – or in other words: BACKUP! So I thought a while of how to accomplish what I really wanted: daily backups of all the home shares, mail accounts, databases and configuration files. I came up with a shell script which will run once every night and which will backup all the stuff, zip it and move it to both the second hdd and the remote backup location (in another data center) automatically via cronjob. This way I’ve got daily backups which will be valid for one week, then they will be overwritten…

Here’s the code:

#!/bin/bash

MYUSER=myLocalUser

MYPASS=myLocalUserPassword

FUSER=remoteDataCenterUser

FPASS=remoteDataCenterPassword

mkdir -p /backup/mysql

WOTAG=`date +%a`

rsync -az –delete –delete-after /home /backup

rsync -az –delete –delete-after /etc /backup

rsync -az –delete –delete-after /var/qmail/mailnames /backup

rsync -az –delete –delete-after /var/www/vhosts /backup

cd /backup/mysql

mysqldump -AaCceQ -u$MYUSER -p$MYPASS -r mysql.dbs

cd /backup

tar cjf etc_dirs.$WOTAG.tar.bz2 etc

tar cjf homedirs.$WOTAG.tar.bz2 home

tar cjf maildirs.$WOTAG.tar.bz2 mailnames

tar cjf vhosts.$WOTAG.tar.bz2 vhosts

tar cjf mysqldbs.$WOTAG.tar.bz2 mysql

cp *.bz2 /mnt/zweite/backup

ftp -u ftp://$FUSER:$FPASS@remoteDataCenterLocation *$WOTAG*

IngoalNetwork

As you may have noticed there’s this whole network bar thing at the top of this blog and at the top of all the other sites which I own…I had the idea to put them all together under “one roof” by creating this network, the network bar and the corresponding website. Today I finally finished the Ingoalnetwork Webpage(s) – IngoalNetwork.com, IngoalNetwork.de – as you may have guessed the .de site is the german version and the .com site is the english version. Both are coded in valid xhtml transitional. I’m especially proud of the lovely AJAX enhanced contact form.
WordPress 2.0
I backed up everything here at Ingoal’s Insight this afternoon, so I’ll continue and upgrade as soon as I’ve finished this post. On another note: I’ve already done two upgrades today and both went really smoothly, so I don’t expect any complications…Update: done, no problems

Chitika Audited Revenue Rip-Off

So, today was the day that I had access to audited revenue stats for the first time since I switched over to Chitika and to keep it short: I’m shocked!

It’s not only the major cut, but the unprofessional way this whole thing is being handled:

  1. It’s quite normal that a certain percentage will be taken away from the unaudited click stats (usually around 10-15%), but I never heard from cuts of 95% percent before
  2. Why do you cheat people by showing ads for a month and then not paying anything for it?
  3. IMO if you’re displaying ads to untargeted/unwanted visitors (people from countries who aren’t supported) then it’s up to you to pay for it…especially if you’re not providing a mechanism to not show ads to those users! – On another note: chitika just provided the user with this mechansim through alternative urls…but that’s two months too late, at least for me!

So, I’m stuck with ad revenue that is 5% of the original showed revenue for October (yes the cut with my sites was 95%! :-( )…and now I can wait for another month to see the results for November…this isn’t right and I’m really about to pull all their ads from all my sites immediatly – then wait for the November revenue to be clear (end of the year) and then see what will happen?!
Or what’s your plan of action? Serve another month worth of ads for (next to) nothing?

(More about this topic can be found on numerous sites, including: George B., Jason Golod, JenSense).

Update:
After calculating everything and trying to read up as much as possible on this whole mess if come up with some conclusions which I put up as a comment to Darren’s Reaction on the whole issue.

Here’s what I had to say:

My comment on Problogger:

Alrighty, after venting earlier on in one of my posts if had another look at the whole situation and have been reading up on it too. I guess the quoted 90% is a quote from my post in this sitepoint thread
(http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?t=322419&highlight=chitika)…and after recalculating everything I can say that the cut was an exact 96,28%. In another context I would be really proud to be quoted all over the blogosphere, but not in this case as you can imagine.

My conclusion (without having any insight into the inner workings of the audit process) the following things are sure IMO:

  1. My sites don’t receive invalid clicks in the common sense (or at least nothing out of the ordinary)
  2. I’ve optimized the ads as best as possible using the hints of you, Darren, and other experts.
  3. There’s a good possibility that there are >1 clicks per IP as I’ve got many returning visitors (daily)…so they will be substracted…okay.
  4. The main chunk of the substracted clicks would have to be clicks from unsupported countries (if I can trust Google Analytics) a rough estimation would be 50% unique visitors from US + Europe, the other 50% ranging from South America, China, and the Mideast – and I guess these are all considered “invalid” and substracted.

So, if you combine 3. + 4. I guess that you can cut the unaudited numbers in half, maybe even chop of 60%…that said: substract another “usual 10%” and you’re near the true numbers I’m looking at.

So, does this make the situation any better for me? Not really, but at least I know what’s going on now…although it’s a little bit weird to put on the sherlock holmes hat and go “fact hunting” to get behind this…especially if you’re looking at an ad-provider like chitika who doesn’t support you in the whole process left alone in the whole “audit scandal”…on a brighter note: now that they’ve done their homework (with the whole alternative ad functionality) it’s possible that the numbers will be more real-life than fiction…although this is still no excuse for two months of served ads without proper payment (after all november is already down the drain as I think the cut will be similiar right there).
 
Bottom line:

  1. Don’t let your customers (in this case the publishers) in the dark for two months or at least stop wondering why there’s all this uproar everywhere and try to explain the situation (why do they have a blog again?)
  2. Work on a quick solution of more uptodate stats (if not daily then at least weekly)
  3. If you can’t handle all the buzz, don’t take on all those publishers just to leave them back unsatisfied!

One additional thought: I embedded the whole “alternative ad url” thing into most of my sites and I’m going to keep the eMiniMalls up and running for now…although I’ve signed up with BrightAds and Clicksor in an effort to balance my ad-streams…

Roundup 25.11.2005

Busy times, so not many posts in recent days. I’m the the middle of building up my domain-portfolio and I picked up a dedicated server (as mentioned in an earlier post) along the way, which was giving me all sorts of problems. The most urgent problem was the “small amount” of bandwidth included (“only” 200 GB) which were gone pretty quickly. So I had a decision to make: either stick with this server and pay additional fees for the traffic over the limit (probably each and every month) or switch to a bigger server with more bandwith included. I decided to go with the latter and ordered the following beast last week:

  • Opteron 146 (2.0 GHz, 64bit, 1000 FSB, 1MB Cache)
  • 1GB Ram
  • 2x 160GB HDD
  • Emergency remote console
  • Unlimited bandwidth (or should I say unmetered as there truely is no such thing as an unlimited connection)

Then I was stuck with the next problem: after waiting for a week and seeing the old server hit way over the bandwidth limit I contacted support about the status of the server. Sure enough they are backloged on this particular server and it could be another two weeks until the new server arrived. Groovy, not! So I told support that I was totally NOT satisfied with this and they offered me an interim server (without charge) and I accepted. So now some of the more resource consuming sites (Proxytastic, etc) are located on the interim server (AMD Athlon 64 3200+).

As for new sites:
After the success of Proxytastic.com I decided to add two more similiar sites to the network:

  1. FreeWebProxy.org using the PHProxy script
  2. TheCGIProxy.com using the CGI Proxy script

Fantasy footie:
Well, it seems that I’m slowly and steadily catching up with Mr. Price’s SPAM AND CHEESE XI squad…go INVINCIBLES RELOADED!

Mr. Price’s score: 31 pts (411 total)
Ingoal’s score: 35 pts (392 total)

WordPress.com is open for signups

WordPress.com is open! After working with invites so far, it’s now finally open to signups. So, if you’re looking to setup a WordPress blog without any hassle (not that it’s much of a problem to install WordPress, especially due to the fact that most hosters offer one-click installs these days) and can deal with some restrictions (as far as I can tell you can’t point a domain to your blog, but you will have to stick with the username.wordpress.com domain, as I don’t want to signup just for testing around I can’t say much more about it, but I guess that some other restrictions most certainly apply (plugins, etc)?!), WordPress.com is for you – especially because it’s free (at least for now!)

New blog launched

As you may have noticed there have been quite a lot of post concerning my new hobby of Poker around here. I thought it was time to extend that section and split it from this blog.

The result is my new Poker blog – Poker-Tastic.com – where I’m going to document my playing along with stuff going on in the poker world…

Pandora.com is free

Pandora.com created by the Music Genome Project is a really amazing site. You can listen to music and discover new music you never heard of before in the process. How does it work? Short summary: you enter a song or artist you like and the system will generate a playlist with songs that are similiar based on different aspects of the songs. If you don’t like a song in the playlist you can either skip it or tell the system about it…it’s adaptive. Groovy stuff…for now I’m on the free account…maybe I’ll switch to the subscription mode in the future…I like to test stuff out first though…so the free mode should be fine for now.

Hat tip: Sara

Dedicated server update

As mentioned in an earlier post I was thinking hard about getting myself a dedicated server, especially for one of my new sites: Proxytastic.com. I did so and everything went quite well, although the hosting company wanted me to transfer the domains I wanted to use on the server over to them – not a good idea IMO. So I went back and forth with their technical support to no avail.

…and just as I was about to transfer at least one domain over I thought: why not ask my fellow SitePoint Forums Advisors/Mentors for help? So I did and right away Jason Sweat was right on the money with his hint: use ZoneEdit.com! I did and everything seems to be up and running – finally.

If you encounter any problems with Proxytastic.com it could be that the DNS update isn’t yet fully propagated…

Ingoal’s Rating:

  • Product Name: Strato Power Server
  • Cost: 19.90 Euro / month
  • AMD Sempron 2200
  • 512MB Ram
  • 60GB HDD (in my case 80GB :-) )
  • Price/Performance index (so far): 5/5
  • Customer Service index – quickness: 1/5
  • Customer Service index – helpfulness: 1/5

I guess the old saying is true: you get what you pay for – in my case a nice little server along with not so nice customer support…although I can’t really blame them for their policies (domains need to be transfered to them if you want to use their nameservers) – after all their trying to make a buck or two, too ;-)

Server outage

I just wanted to let you know that there was a major server problem earlier which caused this blog (along with all of my other sites) to be down for some hours. There was something wrong with the mounting of the hard-drives so the home shares couldn’t be mapped to the domains. Everything seems to be up and running again though and the customer support responded within an hour…so I’m not totally happy, but at least relieved to see the sites all up and running again…

On another note: I decided to get myself a dedicated server for the likes of Proxytastic.com as they’re too resource hungry to be run on this shared hosting account. Watch out for an announcement once the dedicated server is up and running….

Update:…and another server outage, this time the DB server…this is starting to get annoying…

Second Update:Support got to it, although it was sunday morning quite quickly…the db server was filled up…now it’s been trimmed down to around 80% of it’s capacity, but it seems that they need another storage solution or something for this particular server…so…for now everything up and running again…

Time to get a dedicated server?

Well, after the launch of my newest site (Proxytastic.com) which was supposed to deliver a free webbased proxy for people who are unable to access certain sites from the workplace or school I find myself unable to keep it up as I’m getting constant warnings of the admins of my hoster (Dreamhost) that the resource usage (namely CPU time used) is way to high for a shared server.

I guess this is true, because such a site is just a resource hog when it comes to cpu usage and believe me, I tried every major (free) solution (PHProxy, CGI Proxy,…) – to no effect. Now I’m faced with the question: Should I shell out some major cash to get me a dedicated server or not? While I would love to have my own box (and cpu for that matter) I’m not to keen on paying another bill every month, especially due to the fact that I’m totally satisfied with my current hosting (Dreamhost) and it’s provided service in respect to the asked price (on another note: I already payed one year in advance with a major rebate). Decisions, decisions. For now I’ve taken the script off the server to avoid getting more techical support mails in my inbox although it hurts me as the site was really picking up traffic really fast (around 900-1000 uniques per day) – maybe I should have a closer look at the income (ads) the site might bring me and consider getting a dedicated or managed server…

Question to the readers: do you have any experience with dedicated servers (hopefully positive ones) and can get me a recommendation for a provider? (Currently I’m looking at offers from the major german providers (like 1&1 and Strato) with servers starting as low as 19.99 Euro/month (for a Sempron 2200+ machine – although I’m not sure how good this would be for one, not to say many, resource hogging site(s))

Progress report on online ads

As you may have noticed I’ve switched ads to Chitika after I’ve seen them on other blogs. So far I’m really satisfied with the results and I’ve started to add the Chitika eMiniMalls to some of my other sites, too – namely:

If you’re looking for an alternative to Google Adsense, Clicksor, Bidvertiser and similiar have a look at Chitika and their variety of advertising programs (eMiniMalls, RealContext, BlogContext) and if you would like to do me a favour do so by using my referral link: Chitika. Thank you!