I had dinner with my cousin, a plastic surgeon.  He is a very friendly and warm person and donated his time to help operate on Haiti’s earthquake victims.  He participated with a charitable organization called Operation Smile.  At the time of his trip, Operation Smile had two sites in Haiti, my cousin’s was in Fond Parisien, a 7 hour bus ride from the Dominican Republic while the other was in Hinche, a 12 hour bus ride.  The actor Harrison Ford is involved with the charity and agreed to fly the team to Hinche from the Dominican Republic, and this is where the iPhone comes in.

The medical team boarded Ford’s plane and flew to the GPS coordinates of Hinche.  One of the doctor’s had been to Hinche before and was familiar with the location and topography.  The plane arrived at the coordinates and was unable to find Hinche airport.  The doctor looked out the Window and told the pilots that he did not recognize the area.  They kept circling and then headed towards a nearby airport to reconfirm the coordinates.  The tower provided the same GPS information and so the plane flew back to the same location and was still unable to find the airport.  Clearly the frustration was growing in the aircraft.
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New web infrastructure

As part of my move to update this blog, I have moved to a completely new webinfrastructure and gone from a self-hosted configuration on a dedicated server to shared system.  Self-hosted has worked well, but the difficulty of maintaining and upgrading server hardware has become too difficult.  I am happy to have someone else deal with the foibles of running a webserver and associated networking equipment.  Here are my current service providers.

Blue Host – I am using them as my webhost and have been happy with them.  Their customer service is good and it is rare to find a company where you can reach an actual person with minimal hold time.  Best of all, their prices are reasonable and they offer unlimited storage and bandwidth.

EveryDNS – This company is hosting my DNS.  I have been happy with them in general although I currently have an issue with one of my domains.  Part of the difficulty is that they have recently been acquired by DynDNS and it appears that support is in transition.

DomainMonster – These guys are my domain registrar and I have been very happy with them.  Their prices are reasonable and their service is first rate.  You can call them too and they will answer.  They are also prompt with their web-based response.  I also used their DNS services on my domain that is having issues with EveryDNS and everything worked smoothly.

Google Apps – I use this service to host my email and calendars.  I have a very positive experience with Google Apps so far and am impressed with the reliability and robustness of the offering.  Best of all, the price is free!  It also takes advantage of many of the Google applications already available for a wide variety of PDAs thus allowing you to synchronize your email, contact and calendars transparently.

I performed extensive research before choosing each of these options and so far am quite happy with each of them.

A walk down blog lane

I have started contributing to this blog again and it is amazing that it has been in place since August of 2002. During the eight hours of operation, I have used four different blogging engines and I thought it might be interesting to review.

1. MovableType — This was the very first blogging engine I used. I really liked its ability to host multiple blogs and its open-source design. Interestingly, the system was perl based and had an entirely different architecture from the pure PHP solution of the other two. I moved off of the platform because the authors, Six Apart, decided to make the engine closed source and force users to pay for it.

2. WordPress — I switched to WordPress because it was the big competitor to MT. It was (and is) a mature blogging engine which I liked. The big problem is that it was (and still is) a single blog only engine. There was WordPress MU which is a multiple user version of WordPress, but it was highly immature at the time. I decided to switch to a multiple to a multiple blog engine because I had some friends who I thought wanted to blog. (This did not come to fruition.)

3. B2Evolution — I chose this because it was a true multiple blog engine. It was okay, but the usability left much to be desired. The lack of plugins and add-ons and the complex user interface eventually drove me back to WordPress.

4. WordPress — Now the blog has been converted back to WordPress. I have used the engine on a work blog for two years and really like the technology. It is extremely extensible, powerful and simple to use. Best of all, the next major release of WordPress, 3.0, will integrate MU into the core and so will finally support multiple blogs.

As you can seet, I have experienced a broad range of blogging engines over the last 8 years. WordPress is clearly the best choice and I highly recommend it to others interested in hosting their own sites.

I realized a ways back that I needed a third party to provide secondary DNS services for my domain and researched many optins and eventually settled on EveryDNS.com. I liked the robustness of the service and the price, free! Of course, they asked for donations and I was happy to provide one for their valuable service.

EveryDNS(ED) has since been acquired by DynDNS(DD) and my needs have changed and I switched to using ED/DD as my primary DNS host. This has worked flawlessly except for one domain. It appears that I ran into a bug with their system and they are not providing accurate DNS results. This is a problem and brings the question.

ED/DD provide technical support, but the response email states that it could take 4-6 days to respond. I can understand slow response on a free service, but I did pay for the service. To make matters worse, the issue at hand is clearly a bug in their system. At this point, I am frustrated waiting for them to respond and my website is having difficulties. Given that I paid, I think that I deserve a better response. Am I being unreasonable with this request?

One final note, my name registrar provides DNS services and so I moved the domain to them temporarily while ED/ED resolves the issue. This solves my problem, but does not resolve my my annoyance.

5/10/10 Update: The DynDNS Twitter team responded to my tweet on this topic.  They were helpful and highly responsive and resolved the problem on the same day!  Kudos to the DynDNS Twitter crew.

Continued blog work

The migration to WordPress was completed, but there are many outstanding issues that need to be addressed.  Currently, I am working on finding a new template.  This is a temporary one that I am using.  The other issue is that I need to wait for DNS to propagate and so this site can become publicly available.

Please stand by….