Interior Renovations

Next week will be the 15th anniversary of the founding of Reinvented Inc., and the week after that is the 15th anniversary of the ancestor of this blog. For the first 10 years of writing in this space, I used a homebrew system that I hacked together; in July of 2009 I migrated everything into Drupal, coincident with the migration of my longtime client, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, of into Drupal.

By way of celebrating all these anniversaries, as a learning experience, and to get with the times, over the last month I’ve been slowly migrating from ye olde Drupal 6 into sleek, modern Drupal 7. Today I flipped the switch, and if you’re reading this then I was successful.

At the same time as I made this switch, for the first time I am serving from a server that I don’t own: since the site went live in 1999 it has been served by a series of owned-and-operated PCs. In the early days these were housed in the basement of my house at 100 Prince Street; more recently the server, known as “ross” internally, has been based in silverorange’s Fitzroy Street data center.

Starting today the site comes from a virtual server in Amazon Web Services’ North Virginia data center. As much as it pains me to move away from a custom-crafted piece of hardware that I can see and touch with my own eyes, that the power supply on “ross” died a month ago served only to reinforce to me that it would be kind of nice not have to worry about keeping the now-decade-old piece of iron rattling along.  And, besides, I use Amazon’s product every day otherwise, and I have come to have a grudging love for it: it’s feature-rich, hits a good sweet spot between 100% DIY and completely-managed, and it’s relatively inexpensive (it costs me 7 cents an hour to run this server).

There are a few other changes around here that came as a part of this big migration:

  1. I’ve turned off comments. Dealing with comment spam has been a factor of maintaining this blog since I started; at the same time, the conversation that used to happen in the comments has either disappeared or moved elsewhere; as I noted in 2011, the number of comments has fallen off dramatically in recent years, and spam, even with good spam filtering, has exceded “ham” in recent months. It’s no longer worth the trouble to keep up. If you want to speak amongst yourselves about something you read here, do it on Twitter or Facebook or Google+. Or go for coffee.
  2. I’ve turned off user accounts. Without comments, there’s not really any need to support user accounts, so I’ve disabled them all. Thanks to all of you who enjoyed the always-promised, never-delivered privileges of membership over the years.
  3. Really fast search. There are 15 years of my life poured out here (1.4 million words in 6700 blog posts). So in addition to a resource for the web to find SIM cards for Berlin, it’s a useful archive for me to recall what happened when. So I’ve put some additional work into making the site search work better, faster and stronger. And it’s now a lot more obvious, with a search field sitting up there in the left corner. So I’m primed and ready with quick access to, say, everything I ever wrote about Island Tel (a lot, as it turns out).
  4. Mobile-friendly. The site has always been mostly-readable on phones and tablets; now it should be more so.

There will likely be a few broken links and other things you’ve come to know and love; I’ll be mopping up the damage over the next few weeks. In the meantime, I look forward to another 15 years of writing about what’s happening.

For posterity, and to show off the throughput of the new digs, here’s an Apache ab test on the old site:

Concurrency Level:      5
Time taken for tests:   11.266 seconds
Complete requests:      100
Failed requests:        0
Write errors:           0
Total transferred:      2612300 bytes
HTML transferred:       2548900 bytes
Requests per second:    8.88 [#/sec] (mean)
Time per request:       563.309 [ms] (mean)
Time per request:       112.662 [ms] (mean, across all concurrent requests)
Transfer rate:          226.44 [Kbytes/sec] received

And here’s the same test on the new site:

Concurrency Level:      5
Time taken for tests:   5.299 seconds
Complete requests:      100
Failed requests:        0
Write errors:           0
Total transferred:      4505500 bytes
HTML transferred:       4460400 bytes
Requests per second:    18.87 [#/sec] (mean)
Time per request:       264.945 [ms] (mean)
Time per request:       52.989 [ms] (mean, across all concurrent requests)
Transfer rate:          830.34 [Kbytes/sec] received

For the technically-minded among you, the server now uses an Amazon Web Services m3.medium instance with 3.75 GB of RAM, 1 “virtual CPU unit” and a single 4GB SSD root drive supplemented by a 20GB EBS volume; this replaces “ross,” a 10-year-old plain vanilla PC with 1GB of RAM and a processor so old that it likely doesn’t compare at all in the modern era.

Safari Screen Shot

Chrome iOS Screen Shot

Links Screen Shot

Android Screen Shot