Turning on Cloudflare

Speed is good – there are plenty of studies linking server speed and sales conversions on e-commerce sites. I’ve set a goal of getting our average page load time below three seconds as measured by Google Analytics.

One way to speed up a website is to use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). CDNs use a number of techniques to speed up content delivery.

CDNs have locations around the world, hence the network part of the name. When a file is requested the CDN determines the quickest path to get the file to the user, based on their location and network path. CDNs also tend to be lightning fast in terms of DNS response, redirect time, server response time, and Internet connection speed.

I’ve been making baby steps towards using a CDN at the e-commerce website I manage. With just some small changes the speed difference has been tremendous. The CDN is delivering static files like images, JavaScripts, and CSS files two, three, four times faster than we can. Besides delivering files faster, the CDN is offloading those requests from our server and Internet connection to theirs. That should make the server respond better to the requests it’s still handling, such as dynamic pages.

Right now we’re just using the CDN to serve out header and footer template images – things like the logo, navigation buttons, and CSS and Javascripts that are common to most pages. To really take advantage of the CDN we need to use it to serve product images, of which we have many thousands and which account for the majority of our downloads. The challenge is that as new products are created and new product images are uploaded, we’d need some way to make sure the new images are synced with the CDN.

One way to sync them is to select a CDN that supports caching reverse proxy. We upload the image. Our e-commerce system will put it in the right directories on our servers, such as/images/product/image.jpg. We change our templates to call the images from the CDN instead of our server using the same directory path, such as http://www.cdn.com/images/product/image.jpg. The first time the file is requested from the CDN it will realize it doesn’t have it, then look for the file on our website in the same directory. From then on the CDN caches the file and serves the file from its own servers.

Another way to move all of the images to the CDN is CloudFlare. Instead of changing URLs and uploading files, you just change your domain records to point your domain’s IP address to CloudFlare. All requests for anything on your site goes through CloudFlare. They cache the content that comes from your site and then serve it out over their CDN the next time it’s requested. All of your URLs stay exactly the same. The basic plan is free. Paid plans add some interesting features, like DDoS protection, additional speed enhancements, and mobile optimization.

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Posted in Ecommerce, Tech | 1 Comment

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN DAY 4

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN DAY 4 – Lord Humongous and his motorcycle horde reign terror on the wastelands, seizing what precious little gasoline remains.

Judicial Watch Files FOIA for Information Related to Closing of WWII Memorial

McDonald’s Employee Admits Being Paid $15 to Protest WW2 Veterans

Posted in Funny Ha-Ha | Comments Off

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN DAY 2

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN DAY 2 – Has anyone else resorted to cannibalism already?

I predict the government shutdown will cause just as much mayhem and breakdown of society as the sequester didn’t.

Posted in Funny Ha-Ha | Comments Off

And Tennessee Fans Laughed and Laughed

Lane Kiffin Fired as USC Trojans Head Coach.

You know that feeling when a girlfriend dumps you for another guy, then that guy dumps her? That feeling of vindication and justice where the universe is back on track? Yeah, this is just like that.

Previously

Posted in East Tennessee | 7 Comments

Happy 9th Birthday, Katie

Hi, Katie. Another year, and another post so that when you’re grown up you can read this and remember what your early years were like.

Legos

This was the year of Legos. We went to Legoland Atlanta and a Lego build day. Your mom entered you in the Lego contest at the fair and you won second place.

Winning 2nd Place at TVA&I Fair

Miner 49er at Legoland Atlanta

You have a lot to proud of this year. You made a perfect score in math on the TCAPs. You can came in second in the Academic Olympics for reading. You and Natalie were on Charles West’s Blue Dogs soccer team and went undefeated for the season.

This is something you might forget. At Lake Hills summer camp you made this bracelet and gave it to me for Father’s Day. I loved it. I wore it all summer. I put it in the cigarbox where I keep things I want to save.

I want to tell you a story for your birthday. This one is about your grandmother Dorothy.

I don’t know if you know this, but grandma Dorothy was an orphan. Her mother, Fanny McCosh, died when she was very young. Her father, Wiley Everett, worked for TVA and had to travel for work. Her brothers and sisters were older and could take care of themselves – kids back then had to be a lot more self sufficient than they do now.

Her father didn’t think they could take care of grandma Dorothy because she was so young then. He placed her in the orphanage in Maryville. A family in Walland, the Whiteheads, adopted her. You know my cousin Johnny and his wife Tina and son Caleb. They’re Whiteheads.

One of things I did for money in high school and college was to cut grass. For a while I took care of the lawn at the Mill House in Walland. It was an old brick mansion that had been converted to a restaurant.

I have a specific memory of working there. I owned a Sony Walkman (a brand of cassette player), but I couldn’t hear it over the sound of the mower, so I’d sort of sing songs, or remember songs, in my head as I worked. I remember very clearly thinking through REM’s “Welcome to the Occupation” while mowing the grass at the Mill House. I also recall taking the money I made there one day and going to the store and buying a Levi’s blue jean jacket.

One day I told mom that I was doing some work for the Mill House. That’s when she told me that she had worked there as a girl, when it was still someone’s home. She did work for families here and there to earn money. She used to walk to that house and work in the kitchen and make pies.

I thought you’d like that story.

Your mom and dad love you, kiddo.

Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC

Mast General Store

Moon Pie Store in Charleston, SC

Posted in Family Tree - Jones Side, Home Life | Comments Off

Word of the Day – Image Macro

This is one of those words that most people don’t know, even though they know the thing.

Wikipedia:


The term “image macro” originated on forum websites including that of Something Awful.[2][non-primary source needed] The name derived from the fact that the ‘macros’ were a short bit of text a user could enter that the forum software would automatically parse and expand into the code for a pre-defined image,[2] relating to the computer science topic of a macro, defined as “a rule or pattern that specifies how a certain input sequence (often a sequence of characters) should be mapped to an output sequence (also often a sequence of characters) according to a defined procedure.”

Beginning in 2007, lolcats and similar image macros (a form of Internet phenomena) spread beyond the initial communities who created them and became widely popular.[1]


In other words, it’s one of these …

Dark Side

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previous WOTDReynolds’ Law and Murray’s Third Law

Posted in Star Wars, Word of the Day | 2 Comments

The Jerk Store called. They want Lane Kiffin back.

Back in 2008, Lane Kiffin took over as University of Tennessee’s football coach. He arrived on the job, rolled up his shirt sleeves, poured a cup of coffee, and then quit to take a job at USC about the time his coffee got cold. That’s why Tennessee laugh and laugh when they hear USC may be about to fire his ass.

Posted in East Tennessee | 2 Comments

Dark Houses are Dark

The power went out a couple of hours ago. I woke up, probably because without the AC the house got warm, and never went back to sleep. The electricity came on a few minutes ago, so here I am.

When I woke up, I went to the kitchen for a glass of milk. I keep a Mag-Lite beside the bed, but it didn’t cross my mind that I’d need it. I get up in the middle of the night all the time without turning on any lights.

I was surprised how hard it was to find the bedroom door. Turns out that’s only easy when the room is lit by the dim glow of two clock radios. The living room  was likewise dark without the LEDs and LCDs on the AV equipment.

I don’t have any great revelation to impart here, except that electricity sure is easy to take for granted.

Posted in Home Life | 1 Comment

Now This is a Hell of a Bio

Check out the bio in this guy’s shirt:

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

He throws in the professional stuff and accomplishments right beside the human stuff, the physical weakness and the failed career. That’s the way to write a personal bio.

Posted in Nifty | Comments Off

Double Edged Safety Razors – Screw You, Big Razorblade

VodkapunditHirsute Hipsters Have Harrowing Habits

Harrowing, that is, if you’re in the business of selling disposable razors:

Procter & Gamble (PG), which rules the category with Mach-3-maker Gillette, said its razor sales are falling in developed markets. This followed yesterday’s announcement by Energizer (ENR) that unit sales of its Schick men’s razors have dropped 10 percent in the past year—a literal decimation.

I’ll tell you what’s really killing them, and that’s $4 razor cartridges. If you’re a kid in your 20s, stuck living at home because of Obamanomics, you’ll save money wherever you can — and there’s a good chance your boss at your McJob doesn’t care if you have stubble or not. The worst part for manufacturers is, how they gonna get those kids back on the cartridge farm, once they’ve seen hairy Par-ee?

I haven’t shaved with a disposable in years, and it was the price (and the promise of a better shave) that chased me away. I used to go through two Fusion cartridges each and every week, for a total annual bill of almost $420 on blades alone. But if you’re willing to take a few extra minutes in the morning, and a few weeks to learn a new skill, you can save a bundle by switching to old-school double edge safety razors.

I switched to a double edge mostly because I thought shaving with a cartridge razor was boring and soulless, but the savings are sweet. (It’s a closer shave, too.)

I bought a Stahly Live Blade at an antique store for five bucks and ordered 100 Persona blades from Amazon for 19 smackers. So a razor and enough blades for years for less than 25 bucks.

Most people who get into double edge and straight razors buy a badger hair brush, soap bar, and mug, which ups the initial investment a bit. I haven’t gotten around to that. One day that would make a swell Father’s Day present. Right now I’m still working through the same can of Barbasol.

PreviouslyDouble Edged Safety Razors – The Blades

Posted in Home Life, Population | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Poland Seizes Half of Private Pensions

Zero HedgePoland Confiscates Half Of Private Pension Funds To “Cut” Sovereign Debt Load:

While the world was glued to the developments in the Mediterranean in the past week, Poland took a page straight out of Rahm Emanuel’s playbook and in order to not let a crisis go to waste, announced quietly that it would transfer to the state – i.e., confiscate – the bulk of assets owned by the country’s private pension funds (many of them owned by such foreign firms as PIMCO parent Allianz, AXA, Generali, ING and Aviva), without offering any compensation. In effect, the state just nationalized roughly half of the private sector pension fund assets, although it had a more politically correct name for it: pension overhaul.

Venezula seized pensions, but Poland is a member of the European Union. It’s one thing for a small country with a shaky political history to do this. You expect EU countries to have better finances and more respect for private property.

Posted in Economics, European Union | 2 Comments

The Sigma Bigma 50-500mm

Ever since my 70-300mm lens was stolen I haven’t had a telephoto beyond 200mm, which ain’t very long, even at a 1.5 crop factor. Another 300mm would be okay, but for wildlife it would be swell to get something longer.

Dx0Mark likes the Sigma 50-500m lens, AKA the Bigma. It tested just a whisker width’s behind the Nikon, but for a thousand dollars less scratch. One of the guys in my videography class last fall is a stringer for the local paper, and he loves his. The next time I have $1,500 burning a hole in my pocket I’ll have to list the pros and cons of buying one versus buying all of the other stuff I want. Ain’t that always the way?

Posted in Photography | Tagged | Comments Off

Bosch Dishwasher Long Term Review

Back in 2009 we replaced our old dishwasher with a Bosch dishwasher. Though I loved it at first, I wouldn’t buy another.

The Good

$T2eC16R,!)EE9s2ugOmBBR0(nYBnKQ~~60_12

You’ll just have to trust me when I say this black rectangle is a Bosch dishwasher.

I bought a Bosch because it was the quietest dishwasher on the market. It really is amazingly quiet. Every so often I’ll open the door to put something in the dishwasher and only then realize it was running. It’s that quiet.

Bosch dishwashers don’t use a heated drying cycle. If they did, they’d have the same door vent as other dishwashers, and that vent is a big hole in the soundproofing. Eliminating the heated dry cycle makes the Bosch quiet and energy efficient. The downside is that things don’t dry exactly like they do in a conventional dishwasher. After making a few adjustments, we found the secrets for getting a Bosch to dry dishes and I don’t consider that a problem.

Now I’m doing saying nice things.

The Bad

Because this was a $700 dishwasher in 2009 dollars, Bosch has to provide extra features to justify the sticker price. For example, normal $350 dishwashers have racks with a bunch of tines sticking up to hold glasses and plates. “Pshaw!” said Bosch.

Instead, to design their racks Bosch hired an engineer who played with too many Transformers toys as a child. Tines flip up and down. Most of the bottom rack has no tines or slots at all, except for some clip-on tines that flip up and down. The clip-ons fall off all the time. And when they’re not falling off they’re flipping down. After a couple of years we quit putting them back in, so there’s never enough things to keep dishes from falling over. Advantage – $350 dishwasher.

Speaking of things which fall off all the time, the wheels on the bottom rack fall off all the time. Even when they’re all in place the rack doesn’t slide smoothly into the dishwasher, so you have to wiggle or shove it into place. Round two goes to the $350 dishwasher.

Then there’s the button. On those horrible cheap dishwashers you press the button and the dishwasher starts. On this finely crafted European dishwashing appliance you press the button. Which just turns it off. You have to press the button again to actually start the dishwasher. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve pressed the button once and opened the door the next day to find a load of dirty dishes. And why you’d ever want to turn off a dishwasher I can’t even … You win again, $350 dishwasher.

Most dishwashers have a little latch under the handle that you have to press to open the door. The incredible strain of pressing the little latch has caused millions of Americans to develop calloused, arthritic fingers, excruciating shoulder pain and – in extreme cases – diabetes, asthma, scoliosis, impotence, and death.

Bosch to the rescue! There’s no little latch to press. You just gently pull the handle and the door opens. Or you can pull a little bit harder and the entire damned front panel and circuit board will rip loose, requiring a $170 repair. Two repairs like that and a fella could buy hisself one of them fancypants $350 dishwashers with all the tines and the non-falloff wheels. On the plus side, as a Bosch dishwasher owner I can smugly look back with heartwarming satisfaction on the four carefree years of my life when I didn’t have to press a little latch.

My wife has been annoyed with the Bosch’s quirks for years. I’ve put up with it because of how quiet it is, but that repair bill was the final straw for me.

Posted in Best Of, Funny Ha-Ha, Home Life | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Word of the Day – Reynolds’ Law and Murray’s Third Law

Good stuff:

I haven’t been blogging much lately, because I haven’t had many thoughts that haven’t been better expressed elsewhere. But I have to draw attention to a remark of Glenn Reynolds, which seems to me to express an important and little-noticed point:

The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.

I dub this Reynolds’ Law: “Subsidizing the markers of status doesn’t produce the character traits that result in that status; it undermines them.” It’s easy to see why. If people don’t need to defer gratification, work hard, etc., in order to achieve the status they desire, they’ll be less inclined to do those things. The greater the government subsidy, the greater the effect, and the more net harm produced.

This law is thus a relative to Murray’s third law in Losing Ground, the Law of Net Harm: “The less likely it is that the unwanted behavior will change voluntarily, the more likely it is that a program to induce change will cause net harm.” But Reynolds’ Law rests on a different and more secure foundation. It focuses on character as fundamental.

Previous WOTDPredicate

Posted in Word of the Day | 1 Comment

Netflix for Legos

Pleygo Is Basically Netflix for Legos

Come to think of it, you could use the Netflix model for lots of things.

Posted in Ecommerce, Nifty | Comments Off