My 1&1 Feedback

Today I called — yes called — 1&1 so I could cancel my hosting with them. A few hours later, I got an email asking for me to fill out a short survey about my experience. There was a box at the bottom asking for “any further comments or suggestions.” Here’s what I wrote:

Four points. First, I wanted to keep my domains with 1&1 but cancel my hosting. I called the 800 number over the weekend. I was told that sales is only available Monday through Friday, but that I could go to cancel.1and1.com to cancel my hosting but keep my domains.

I went to to cancel.1and1.com but there was no clear indication that the options presented to me would allow me to cancel my hosting but NOT CANCEL MY DOMAINS. You can imagine why I wouldn’t click buttons unless I was 100% certain that I would NOT BE CANCELLING MY DOMAINS. If the option is there, make it clearer. Probably redesign the entire workflow. If this option is not possible on the website, don’t let the weekend phone support tell customers that it is.

Second point. In order to cancel my hosting package, I had to give the phone rep my password over the phone. It is unconscionable that 1&1 operates this way in 2012. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc784090.aspx Most major companies NEVER ASK A CUSTOMER FOR HIS PASSWORD. Not over the phone, not in email, not ever. A phone rep should not need a customer’s password in order to cancel some or all of that customer’s package. This poor security practice has me wondering what other poor security practices 1&1 is guilty of. Frankly it makes me think that I should end all my business with 1&1. I haven’t decided, though, so please don’t kill my domains.

Third point. Why is admin.1and1.com STILL SO SLOW? Go create an account with Dreamhost. It doesn’t take 20 seconds for their panel to load up. It is nearly instantaneous! For as long as I can remember, 1&1’s admin panel has been slow.

Fourth point — Improve PHP support. A customer must jump through hoops to enable PHP 5.3, and when he does, memory restrictions make simple tasks such as writing a post in WordPress fail. This situtation is unacceptable, and this scenario is the reason I moved my hosting to Dreamhost.

New Host, New URL

In 2008, I moved my blog to a new web host.  After two months, I moved it back.  I believe my primary motivation was a desire to use ImageMagick.

This time around, I looked at new hosts because I wanted to use a version of PHP that hadn’t reach end of support.  PHP 5.2 was killed off with 5.2.16 in December 2010 (even if it did get updated to 5.2.17 a month later).  1&1 runs PHP 5.2.17 by default, but you can turn on 5.3 by adding a line to your .htaccess file.

I turned on PHP 5.3 for my blog, which runs on WordPress, and I got the “white screen of death.” So I created a new subdomain, activated PHP 5.3 on it, and did a clean WordPress install.  Everything worked … until I tried to create a new post.  And I hit a memory allocation error.  I did some Googling and found that my experience with PHP 5.3 on 1&1 was not unique.

So I researched other hosts.  Lifehacker has put Dreamhost at the top of its list on at least two occasions.  I created a trial account and repeated my procedure: new subdomain, activate PHP 5.3, clean WordPress install.  Write new post?  No problem.  Import entire content of existing blog (which also hit a memory error under PHP 5.3 on 1&1, and would be necessary in order to migrate my blog)?  No problem again.

At that point it was a lock, but I also found that Dreamhost’s admin experience is faster: faster login, subdomains available in DNS sooner, MySQL databases available sooner.

I’m going to keep my domains with 1&1 for the forseeable future.  I read on a Internet forum years ago that you should register domains with one provider and host your content on another.  I can’t forsee any particular advantages to such a setup, but mostly I don’t want to move any more than I have to in case I, you know, move everything back two months later.

HTML5 and jQuery

The last time I was unemployed, I put together Fav.Premo.biz.  Unemployed again, I’ve dipped into code all over the various projects I’ve got up and running.

With the exception of the main site (i.e., the page you’re reading), I’ve decided to change all of my sites from HTML4 or XHTML to HTML5.  In addition, I’ve decided that now is a good time to stop using Prototype and script.aculo.us and start using jQuery.

I’ve decided to move to HTML5 for two main reasons.  First, HTML5 is more elegant than HTML 4.x or XHTML 1.x.  I love elegance when it comes to programming.  I find that the criteria which determines what is and is not valid HTML5 code is less draconian than for HTML4.x and XHTML1.x.  Also, HTML5 introduces new features that allow developers to add greater functionality with hand-written markup.  Greater flexibility and greater functionality sound pretty elegant to me.  Second, due to these new features, HTML5 provides for greater use of open source technologies.  The long and short of my feelings in this area is that HTML5 gets us one step close to a world without Adobe Flash.  The <audio> and <video> tags allow developers to add rich content to sites without relying on a closed source, proprietary plugin that is a resource hog and a security risk.  Who couldn’t love code that’s more elegant combined with a better user experience?

I’ve decided to move to jQuery because jQuery is updated far more frequently than the JavaScript frameworks I’ve been using up until now — Prototype and script.aculo.us.  For example, jQuery 1.4 was released in January 2010 and jQuery 1.3 was released in January 2009.  When it comes to Prototype’s progression over that time, I can only estimate that it’s seen two bug releases (0.0.0.x) and one maintenance release (0.0.x).  Although putting out regular updates to a code base may be virtuous, it’s not the whole story.  Every time jQuery is updated, its release notes contain graphs showing speed improvements for all major browsers.  Speed improvements on an annual basis.  This just isn’t happening in Prototype or script.aculo.us.

I have a few public-facing sites that use JavaScript here and there, but only one makes heavy use of it: Fav.Premo.biz.  Since modifying code to use both HTML5 and jQuery would be painful at best, I’m going to rewrite Fav.Premo.biz using these new technologies.  It’ll be an undertaking, and it might not be finished soon, but it should be interesting.

Fav.Premo.Biz

Around the new year, I had some problems with my Netvibes page.  For two days, I couldn’t access my bookmarks.  As a result, I began to build my own bookmark manager.  Then Netvibes answered my support email with a resolution to the problem, and I stopped working on my project.

On the same day Netvibes responded to my email, I was laid off from my job.  After a few weeks of not writing any code, I got the itch, and decided to move forward with the bookmark manager.  For two or three weeks I spent up to five hours a day, five or six days a week, getting the thing up and running.  Once I got it to a feature-complete state, I stared at it for a few days, enabled user registration, and gave the URL to a couple friends.

I applied twice to Google AdSense, and got shot down both times.  I was waiting to blog about it until I incorporated ads, but now I don’t know if that’ll happen.

The site is fully functional.  Still, there may be bugs, and there may be some obvious features that I missed.  If you register, you’ll get an email, and I set up feedback at fav dot premo dot biz for, well, feedback.

If you sign up, remember: each link can have more than one tag.  For example, I might tag ajc.com with news and atlanta, I might tag espn.com with news and sports, and might tag atlantafalcons.com with sports and atlanta.

Oh — the URL: fav.premo.biz.

If You Can Read This, We’re on a New Host

I suppose technically you might have peeked at the obscure URL I used to make sure everything was up and running before I changed the nameservers for danpremo.com.

I moved my hosting to BlueHost.com. I got a good deal — $4.95 per month. It’s not a hard deal to get. Just Google bluehost $4.95 promo — I found it on the first (non-ad) result. Why did I move my hosting? I needed more tools but I didn’t want to pay more. In the next few days I should get my hands dirty with PEAR and PECL. Once I have a grip on those, Image Magick should fall into place, and then maybe I’ll have no choice but to implement a real site redesign. Hell, at that point I might even change the blog’s URL.

User Accounts on the New Host

FYI, since I moved everything over to 1&1, all user accounts were deleted. Old comments are still there along with the author’s username.  Feel free to register with your old username.  Or a new one.

This Old Host

If you’re reading this, then my site was served to you by my new (old) hosting provider. The original DanPremo.com was hosted by 1&1. A few years in, Lewis turned me on to WordPress, which requires PHP and MySQL. At the time, my price slot had an option for PHP (by way of Linux), but I would have had to pay roughly twice as much to get a MySQL database.

For a smaller increase in price (about 50% less), I moved my hosting over to PowWeb, while keeping my registrar services at 1&1. I always felt that this was a compromise because PowWeb lacks the support, performance, and professionalism of 1&1. At some point in the recent past, I discovered that 1&1 had added features to its lowest price slots, including MySQL databases. For less than what PowWeb charges, I could get the features that forced my move in the first place.

But I was busy. It’s probably been more than a year since 1&1 improved its feature set, and now I’m finally switching. Back. It’s been easy because I’ve continued on as a customer these few years, so I was able to upgrade my package entirely though 1&1’s website. (Who wants to talk to a person?)

Comments

Comments are off until further notice.

I’ve gotten a ton of comment spam lately. One morning I woke up with something like 10 comment spam posts in the moderation queue. I may allow comments or new posts from now on, or I may allow comments temporarily, or I may allow comments only for select posts.

It sucks, but spammers are awful people.

K2: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

WordPress theme K2 recently updated with version 0.9.1. I downloaded it. I installed it. I’m unhappy with it.

My number one gripe? The fonts changed from Beta Two to 0.9. Why? It’s an arbitrary change. I had been using Beta Two for months and now I’m supposed to deal with tweaky bulls***? This is the sort of thing I deal with when I’m evaluating a potential theme, not when I’m applying an incremental update.

My number two gripe? Although there is an extrememly useful tool — new in 0.9 — that allows me to change my header image without using an FTP client, there is no toggle to turn off the header text. This sounds to me like it should be simpler to implement than an image uploader, parser, selecter, and hell — randomizer! This means that if people want to disable the header text, we’ve got to edit CSS. Not unheard of, but again — this is the sort of thing I look at when I’m evaluating a theme, not when I’m applying an update.

The tipping point? K2’s forum is down, and although the post that tells me this says the problem “might take up to a day or two,” that very post is over a week old, and the forums still aren’t back up. So I can’t read the old forum post that told me how to eliminate the header text.

As a result of these gripes, I have rolled my site back to K2 Beta Two.

PS — As of 0.9, there are spelling errors in the K2 admin interface. This is the sort of thing that should lessen as a product nears final release — not increase. Boo K2, boo.