Cloud Confusing

Explaining hosting, AWS, Wordpress, static sites, and all manner of cloud solutions.

AWS static hosting

Amazon Web Services is an intimidating thing. After all, some of the largest, most active websites in the world are hosted there. But that doesn’t mean hosting a website there needs to be difficult. In fact, as AWS has matured over time and now it’s at the point where anyone with a minimum level of technical understanding can host a site using AWS.

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September 16th, 2019

Posted In: AWS

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WP Engine is one of the foremost WordPress managed hosting services on the web today. Despite extraordinary amounts of competition, dropping prices, huge competitors, and new offerings popping up every time you look, WP Engine has stuck around. What’s more, the company has grown, aggressively acquired other companies, and built out their product offerings.

Read on for my full WP Engine review. This is a deep-dive into their managed WordPress hosting, a service I’ve used for over a year now.

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September 16th, 2019

Posted In: Hosting

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If you are looking for an explainer on S3 redirection rules, you are going to have a tough time finding a good one. While information on redirection rules is available from all over, no one source (including Amazon) is even close to complete. Then outcomes don’t always match exceptions. Welcome to cloud confusion!

This guide should help with some of your S3 redirection questions. At the very least it’ll cover the major concepts and get you on your way to having a static web site with properly working 301s, 302s and other such options.

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September 10th, 2019

Posted In: AWS

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It turns out that staring at back-lit computer monitors for 40+ hours a week might not be the best thing for you. With this in mind, many of us have started to look towards alternate technologies, largely e-ink. It’s a nascent market with a limited number of products for sale, and new products are slow to be released, but this is an important technology nonetheless. I’ll be tracking it closely on this page.

Here are the basics and some help choosing your first e-ink computer monitor.

Last Updated: 9/10/19 – Finally some big news! The Onyx BOOX Max3 e-reader has been announced and is ready for sale. This device is billed as an e-reader, but it’s actually a whole lot more than than. And, yes, it’ll work as a monitor. More information below.

Last Updated 6/17/19 – It’s summer 2019, time for another update! Unfortunately news from Q2 2019 has been very limited and the Paperlike Pro remains the best game in town. The Boox Max 2 is still a viable buy as well, but still has many flaws. This category has (un-officially) entered a stall, but the good news it that we know e-ink monitors are on the radar of some major players, like Benq and Lenovo.

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September 10th, 2019

Posted In: Localhost / Environment

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Sometimes you have a bunch of .csv files, but you’d like to have one big .csv file. You can merge them in Excel, Google Sheets, or something similar, but that’s slow and error-prone. Plus, you might be dealing with something like a zip code — which starts with a zero — which is annoying to deal with in Excel.

So what’s a better solution?

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September 7th, 2019

Posted In: Localhost / Environment

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This won’t be an interesting topic for most people, but it will sure come in handy for a few of you! So you have a website setup on Route 53 and at some point in the past you pointed the name servers off to whatever your hosting solution was at the time. Now you want to do something else with that domain (maybe build a static site on S3) and you need your original Route 53 name servers back. But… what are they?

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July 24th, 2019

Posted In: AWS

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Google Tag Manager (GTM) has a lot of built-in variables, but the list is by no means complete. And what’s annoying about the built-in variables is that they are not fully customizable, so sometimes you need to build off of them. This can only be done by digging into GTM a little and writing some custom JavaScript.

One of these circumstances is when you want to store the query string parameter from a clicked URL. This is a slightly strange request because the UTM or query string parameter are generally for the downstream site, but you might want to store it nonetheless. This should be easy because:

  • GTM lets you easily store a query string parameter of the URL of the page you are on.
  • GTM also makes it easy to store the full URL of the destination page of a URL that get clicked.

… but if you want a param from a clicked URL? Time for a custom Javascript variable.

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June 21st, 2019

Posted In: Google Cloud Platform

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Ever wonder: when does AWS CloudWatch run rate events? I had this same question when I started using CloudWatch as a trigger for the Lambda job that backups my Lightsail instances.

Basically I had created a few events an told them to run once a day. That’s great, but when would that be? Rate events are not like cron events where you set a time and they run at (or very close to) when you specify. After all, you are simply saying “run once a day” not “run exactly at 01:14 UTC every day.”

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June 10th, 2019

Posted In: AWS

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Amazon’s Lightsail is a great option if you want affordable hosting and the power of a virtual private server (VPS), but the lack of cost means a lack of convenient features. One of the most glaring of these missing features if Lightsail’s complete lack of automated backups. This is a glaring oversight for Lightsail and it’s especially odd given that Lightsail has a built in — and very easy to use — snapshot tool.

How to: Cheap WordPress Hosting with Lightsail

Lightsail snapshots are one-click backups of your entire instance, which are better than simple backups, but there is no way to automate them through the Lightsail UI.

Using Amazon Web Service’s API and AWS Lambda you can automate Lightsail snapshots without much difficulty. In fact, thanks to a good web Samaritan the code is already done, so you just need to do the setup on your AWS account.

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May 16th, 2019

Posted In: AWS

Tags: , ,

One of the best things (OK, the best thing) about development with WordPress is piggybacking on the available plugins. If you are doing custom development chances are that a plugin probably wasn’t made with your specific use case in mind, so it’s often necessary to some work to get the plugin’s functionality and your goal to match. With that in mind, you have probably recently asked yourself, “Can I use a WordPress shortcode in my theme, as opposed to just inserting it into the text body?”

Good news,: you definitely can.

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May 3rd, 2019

Posted In: Web Development

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