Cloud Confusing

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

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 players and it’s not moving very quickly, but it’s important nonetheless.

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

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September 18th, 2018

Posted In: Localhost / Environment

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In the market for budget WordPress hosting? The competition for your business is immense, but that doesn’t mean you — as a consumer — will benefit in the end. The hosting business is largely a race-to-the-bottom where price sensitivity has overtaken user experience. Any buyer must go into the purchase in a defensive mindset, with the full expectation that budget hosting is going to come with a few serious catches. This doesn’t mean you need to spend $35 a month to host a WordPress site, but go into the buying decision with your eyes open.

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September 8th, 2018

Posted In: Web Development

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It used to be that hosting WordPress on AWS was a difficult task. You needed to deal with EC2 and the huge AWS management console with its dozens of tools and hundreds of options. Then Amazon introduced the AWS Marketplace and “WordPress powered by BitNami,” which made things easier but left many of the same hurdles in place. Then, finally, Amazon introduces Lightsail, which is basically AWS on easy mode.

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September 5th, 2018

Posted In: AWS

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WordPress is great at scheduling articles (posts) to go live, but what if you want to do the opposite — schedule a post to disappear? For that you need an expiration plugin.

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August 21st, 2018

Posted In: Web Development

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If you want to track clicks out of your site but you don’t own the page that is being linked to, it might not be immediately obvious how you can learn about your outgoing clicks. Some partners offer a conversion mechanism (a conversion pixel, callback, etc.) but many don’t. Plus not every click results in a conversion so keeping track of the people who are clicking out of your site can make a lot of sense. But how do you do it?

Don’t worry: tracking affiliate links clicks (or any other click on your site) is super easy and free.

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August 10th, 2018

Posted In: Web Development

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So you have an Amazon S3 hosted site with CloudFront caching in front of it? Nice work — it’s an affordable and highly scalable solution. One downside with this is that the cache, which helps makes your site so fast and cheap to run, is designed to hold on to files, possibly serving an old version to visitors.

That’s normally not a problem (it’s literally the point of a cache), but if you are making a lot of changes to the site and you want visitors to see them as soon as possible, then you will need to invalidate the cache and tell CloudFront to serve the most recent files.

Here is how you can do that…

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August 6th, 2018

Posted In: AWS

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Have you heard the term “WordPress Gutenberg” thrown around lately and had little to no idea what it means? Don’t worry about it, there’s a fix for that.

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August 3rd, 2018

Posted In: Web Development

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If you have been exploring the world of content management and/or static websites then you have almost certainly heard of Hugo. If not, or if you could use a refresher, Hugo is a static site generator built in Go that can easily and efficiently be used to build out multi-page websites. It’s similar to Jekyll (Ruby), Next (React), and any number of other tools. I’ve found Hugo to be particularly fun to learn and easy to use.

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July 24th, 2018

Posted In: Web Development

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There was a great question over at Hacker News recently that caught my attention: What’s your favorite way of getting a web app up quickly in 2018? Or, in other words, what is your preferred stack for quickly spinning up a side project? Having given the subject a lot of thought in the past I found the responses (over 500) to be of great interest.

The thread is worth a read, but it’ll take some time to get through. In an effort to (collectively) save time I wanted to summary the takeaways. This is not an exhaustive list, just my takeaways based on a thorough read of the comments. And, yes, this is a obvious over-simplication and the below categories are somewhat arbitrary but I still think there is value in summarizing the entire (quite messy) set of responses.

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June 4th, 2018

Posted In: Web Development

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While I’m partial to hosting static sites on AWS with S3, there other ways to solve the problem of cheap/free static hosting. One popular option that works for simple one-page sites, single-page applications, Jekyll blogs, and more is GitHub Pages. All you need to get started is a free (or paid) GitHub account, a basic understanding of how git or GitHub works, and about 10 minutes.

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May 15th, 2018

Posted In: GitHub

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