Archives for April 2009

Switching things around

This weekend I decided to mix things up on my blog. So I switched things around:

– I took one of my domains,, and moved it to TigerTech from pair Networks.
– I installed the latest version of WordPress on and copied the MySQL database from to
– I changed my blog layout to the excellent Thesis theme by Chris Pearson. Previously I was using the Almost Spring theme.
– I added an .htaccess file that will do 302 redirects from to .

Note: changing your IP address, webhost, domain name, blog template, and blog version all at the same time is the exact opposite of what you should normally do. It’s better to change only one thing at a time so that if something goes horribly wrong, you can trace what caused it.

Also, if you were truly moving a site, a 302 redirect wouldn’t be the right redirect to use–a 301 (permanent) redirect would be better. But if I like these changes, I might migrate to TigerTech and then migrate my blog from back to So I’ll stick with a 302 for now.

Sometimes it’s fun to mix things up. It’s not as if I make any money from my blog, so I don’t mind if my search rankings drop for a while. In fact, it will be a pretty interesting experiment to see what happens with search engines and traffic.

I’m sure a bunch of stuff broke; let me know if you see anything especially horrible!

Grabbag questions, April 2009

I scheduled some time today to record video, so I opened up a thread for questions. Post your questions over on Google Moderator so that I can see which questions are popular. I’ve only got 45-60 minutes, so I can’t answer every question, but I’ll try to answer several popular questions and a few interesting questions.

Just like in the past, please ask questions that everyone might be interested in, not just “What happened to my site”

My 8.7M pixel display

A while ago I wrote about Synergy and showed a picture of my desktop as of July 2007:

My desktop in July 2007

That’s two 24″ Dell monitors (one for a Windows computer, the other for a Linux computer). I’ve had that setup for a couple years and I recently decided it was time to upgrade. So I bought a 30″ Dell UltraSharp 3008WFP monitor. Now my desktop looks like this:

My desktop in April 2009

The two left monitors are Windows XP, the right monitor is Ubuntu. From left to right, I have seven browsers open showing my blog, the Google webmaster blog, Techmeme, Friendfeed, Twitter, Google News, and the Google homepage. I love how much screen real estate this setup gives me (a little over 8.7 million pixels).

Ubuntu 9.04 boots in 7.83 seconds!

Recently I treated myself to a solid-state drive (SSD). That’s essentially a hard-drive made out of memory chips. I bought the Intel X25-E Extreme, which uses faster single-level cell (SLC) memory chips instead of slower multi-level cell (MLC) memory chips.

I wanted to put the drive through its paces, so I decided to see how fast I could boot Ubuntu and start Firefox. It turns out that Ubuntu 9.04, code-named Jaunty Jackalope, is just a few days away, and one of the features listed is “significantly improved boot performance.” Perfect! I installed Ubuntu 8.10 from a CD and then followed the incredibly easy instructions to upgrade to the beta of 9.04.

So how fast did Ubuntu 9.04 boot with a solid-state drive? Really freaking fast. Like, “I can’t believe it’s already done” fast. Well, here, watch for yourself:

Total boot time from pressing power to Firefox loaded was about 22.5 seconds, with about 5 seconds of BIOS display on a Thinkpad. Subtracting out the Thinkpad BIOS display time, that means that Ubuntu 9.04 booted into Firefox in about 17.5 seconds. I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with this hard drive. Oh, and Ubuntu 9.04 looks really interesting too. 🙂

For the folks that are curious, I changed the GRUB boot loader time out from three seconds to zero, enabled automatic login to my account, then I added Firefox to default list of startup services.

Added: I collected a couple boot charts by using bootchart. As Ryan said in a comment, I ran sudo apt-get install pybootchartgui bootchart , then rebooted, then collected the image in /var/log/bootchart . If I’m reading the images correctly, it’s claiming 8.67 seconds for one boot-up and 8.69 seconds for the other boot-up.

Added: Okay, I reinstalled Ubuntu 9.04 so I could use ext4 and it shaved almost a second off the boot time! Check out this image which shows a 7.83 second boot time. 🙂

Happy 4.04 Day!

Today is April 4th, which means that it’s 4.04 day — even in Europe where they switch their months and days around. That means it’s a perfect day to learn what a 404 status code is. Essentially, a 404 is a way for web server to return a “Page Not Found” error when a browser requests a web page that the web server doesn’t have.

Happy 404 day!

If you have no idea what a status code is, start with these two posts about HTTP Headers and what they mean, followed by an introduction to common status codes used by web servers.

A few months ago, Maile Ohye organized a “404 week” on the Google webmaster blog. You can learn what a 404 is, how to make a 404 page more useful, why you should avoid “soft” or “crypto-404s”, plus read some Q&A about 404s and see examples of good 404 pages

There’s also a great feature in Google’s webmaster portal to show you who links to the 404s on your site.

Happy 404 day! Today is best celebrated by making 404 jokes with friends (“404 error: beer not found”), posting pictures of good 404 errors, and general merriment.