New Host, Fresh Community

posted in: Updates | 8

Well, if you saw the fireworks last week and over the weekend, you’ll know that Biofortified has just moved to a new host. A faster host, and a greener host!

We started having site errors that coincided with our move to Dreamhost – but we couldn’t tell if it was entirely due to that, or the large assortment of plugins we have installed on the site to make everything from the Forum, Community pages, Syndication, and GENERA work. It seems that the problem was a combination of both issues. Each plugin takes up a certain amount of server RAM to run, and the hosting account only let us use so much. Unlimited disk space, yes. Unlimited Bandwidth, yes. But should our site use more than a certain piddly amount of active memory – comments are lost and authors have trouble saving their posts. We had to pay more for more memory, but it did not fix the problems. When our site went down (again) due to server errors early last week, within hours we were in agreement that it was time to get off of Dreamhost.

You learn a little bit along the way, that Unlimited space and bandwidth doesn’t mean much without the memory to process it. And a website host with no uptime guarantees? I went through a lot of hosts looking for these essential requirements, and one that we came across, and eventually decided upon, was GreenGeeks. We settled on a virtual private server of sufficient memory, and signed up. A little shakiness with the transfer, and we were done.

Immediately, I have noticed a remarkable difference in load times, and upload and download times via FTP as well. I am impressed with the speed, indeed. But that’s not the best part about GreenGeeks. They’re wind-powered. So we can blog only as long as the wind is blowing! Just kidding. They purchase wind energy credits for three times the amount of energy used by the servers, so now by blogging more we’re actually making the environment better! (It’s the neoliberal dream. Quick: alert Michael Pollan) So I hope you will all do your part to heal the planet and comment more frequently! Pitch in – Biofortified is triple-green! (Note: this does not include your home computers, you energy-grubbing Earth-wreckers!)

Now that we have moved to a more capable place, I’ll be making a few changes to make things more accessible. Believe it or not, we actually have 791 registered users on the blog – and more come in daily. This is not a good thing, because most of these are automatic spam registrations that seem to bypass the required fields that people need to enter to sign up for the blog. Our community page, which displays all registered users, was getting choked with these and so I added a temporary fix that filtered out all users that haven’t left comments. The result is odd numbers of users on each community page, if you have noticed. Awkward to navigate.

This must change, and so now I am announcing the Great Biofortified User Purge of 2011. In a week, I will delete every user account that has zero comments. Only those who are actively a part of the community will have their accounts saved. Just one comment saves your login form the chopping block, and when it is all done, we’ll have a more secure block against registration spam to ensure that the community pages are for the blog community, and not web-crawling bots. I will send an email to all registered user accounts instructing their holders to log in and comment just once to make sure that they don’t have to register again. If you have commented before with your account you are already done. If you are reading this, and signed up recently but have yet to comment – now’s your chance!

That’s the news, so I’m looking forward to seeing how much awesomeness we can pack into our new server space. Happy biofortified blogging!

Follow Karl Haro von Mogel:
Karl earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at UW-Madison, with a minor in Life Science Communication. His dissertation was on both the genetics of sweet corn and plant genetics outreach. He recently moved back to his home state of California. His favorite produce might just be squash.