Computers, Technology

Site5 are pretty cool

Since the switch to Amazon EC2 I cancelled hosting with my previous provider Site5. Now due to unfortunate timing I cancelled a day after being invoiced for (and paying) a months hosting. But in an unexpected move, in the email confirming my cancellation I also got a full refund for my last payment.

So if anyone needs web hosting, consider Site5.

Computers, PHP, Programming, Technology, Web Programming

Moved to Amazon EC2

I’ve just moved the blog over to Amazon EC2 and so far everything seems to be going well.

I’d been considering the move for a while and a new feature (well I’m not sure how new it is but I only just noticed it) is a new smaller instance type. The virtual servers Amazon offer used to come in three sizes, small medium and large starting at $0.10*. Pretty quickly they added some bigger sizes (going all the way up to $2.00 per hour for quadruple extra large) as well as some more specialized types like GPU clusters. But it still meant the minimum price per month for a server always on was about $74/month which is expensive for simple web hosting.

Now however, their new micro instances are available at a pretty cool $0.02/hour (about $15 a month). For the performance you’re likely to get it’s still probably not the most cost effective solution for plain web hosting, but for having complete access to a server with high availability (and the extra features hosting on Amazon’s infrastructure provides like being able to clone a whole server with one click) it’s pretty good.

One final note is to remember that these numbers are not the final costs you’ll have to pay. You still pay for storage and data transfer which in my case look like they’ll be about an extra 10% extra.

* Since then the price of the small instance has come down to $0.085/hour or about $63/month.

Computers, Entertainment, Games, MPOGs, Programming, Technology, Video Games

Buy Minecraft

I’ve had a few things recently I’ve thought of posting but didn’t quite have enough enthusiasm to actually do it. Now I’ve found something I do have enthusiasm about.

Buy Minecraft

Minecraft is a clever indie game that has developed something of a cult following of late. It’s an odd sandbox game of building random stuff and surviving attacks by skeletons. Or something. To be honest I’m not really sure (except for the building) since I haven’t actually played it. The reason I bought it (and would like you to buy it) is largely unrelated to the game itself.

Apparently a group of self righteous players are unhappy with the progress the game has made recently and have issued an ultimatum that they will launch a DDoS attack at the games servers until there are signs that development is continuing at a speed more to their liking. The assumption is that with the game down the developer will have a lower income and no choice to give in to their demands.

A few blogs (and even the Escapist) have a more detailed account of the situation:

Living Worlds – Don’t Let Terrorists Win
Tradeskill Perspectives – Gamer Entitlement Going Too Far
Escapist – Minecraft Brought Down by DDoS Attack

There is a small part of me that is worried that this is a clever conspiracy to gain attention and sympathy, but since the game is only 10€ anyway I figured it was worth the risk.

Android, Technology

Swype is amazing!

One of the things that worried me about touchscreen phones (before I got one) was typing with an onscreen keyboard. Therefore, the first touchscreen phone I got was the T-mobile G1, a phone with a hardware keyboard.

Since then I had an opportunity to get a Nexus One which I couldn’t ignore. And I generally dislike the onscreen keyboard as much as I expected.

That has just changed however.

I just downloaded the beta of Swype for my Nexus One and the improvement is tremendous. Instead of tapping letters, you press and hold the first letter and then drag over the other letters. With a combination of seeing when you pause and a dictionary lookup, it picks up the word you wanted to type (it works a lot better than you’d expect). There are a few issues, specifically it has difficulty with very short words (mainly because there are generally more possibilities) and there is the pathological case of pit/pot/put being difficult to differentiate. But on the whole, it’s definitely an improvement.

By the way, I typed most of this on my Nexus One (using the official WordPress App). I added the links afterwards.

Here are some videos.

Computers, Entertainment, Programming, Technology, Web Programming

Open Graph protocol seems pretty cool

A few days ago Facebook announced their new Open Graph Protocol. It’s basically a way for people to interact with pages on the internet (in theory pages representing real world items, but it will be hard to moderate) in basically the same way as they do with existing Facebook pages.

For a page to be eligible all you need to do is add a few meta tags to it specifying it’s  name and type (film, book, actor, product, game etc.). To actually do anything useful, you then add a Facebook “like” button. Once some people have liked it, it appears in their Facebook news feed like any other item (with the data you added in the meta tags). One of the optional meta tags you can add specifies user IDs of Facebook users who can administrate the page. If you do, you can get access to the same sort of admin page you get with any traditional Facebook page.

Conveniently I just developed a use for this sort of thing so I added support to my blog. A few edits to the theme and cunning use of WordPress’s custom fields and now any page or post on my site can support Open Graph. Currently the only support is on the Gravitas page.