WIP: Bradbury’s Wings and Chekhov’s Gun

Friday

In the morning, my daughter kept my parents entertained for me, and I got some good work in. In the afternoon, I got more good work in, then she took a nap, which let me get even more good work in. In the evening, we went to an art show at Puente (yes, the famous Puente), where we bought T-shirts (Film the Police), then I got some more work done. I had not gotten all my planned work done, so I wanted to work through the night, but, alas, I slept. It’s better to get up early anyway, I think.

Unfortunately, again, most of my energy for the day was exhausted trying to get my managed WordPress site working.

Managed WordPress at Pressable, Part 2

It turns out that Pressable has been having lots of glitches due to their datacenter move. The problems remained, and I didn’t hear from anyone at Pressable, until late afternoon, and not until I contacted them. By that point, I had already set up and tested Cloudflare at my former host, and staying wouldn’t have killed me.

In the late afternoon, there was a burst of activity, an admin page was found to be “stuck” in the cache (which I could have fixed if I’d thought of it), and my site was declared fixed. Okay. The daily backup to VaultPress had finished running, so I set the site at my former host to Undergoing Maintenance and started the routine to “restore” the latest backup from VaultPress to Pressable. That said that it worked, and it seemed to have copied the latest data, but it did not appear to have touched the plugins or themes. No matter, the post data looked good, so I installed the remaining missing plugins by hand, made sure everything looked complete, and switched that site to be the live one.

And, immediately, I saw that it was going to leave my e-mail broken. The Pressable system won’t let you configure the e-mail settings until you switch your DNS to them. A reasonable analogy is that their system requires you to jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down. I like Bradbury’s advice in general, but I didn’t want to do it with Pressable’s support, which doesn’t work overnight and is slim on weekends. I was able to get back on the metaphorical cliff by changing my DNS to point back at Cloudflare, then make the new site live again by pointing Cloudflare at Pressable. This isn’t ideal, because it bypasses the MaxCDN setup built into Pressable (or adds an extra hop, I’m not sure which). Pressable’s system has no provision for setting the MX records unless you’re using one of their three integrated hosts, and I’m not. Their help pages say to open a support ticket to ask a service agent to do that for you. I did that. The agent replied to me to say that my DNS was not pointed at Pressable, so if I wanted my MX records changed, I’d have to do it at Cloudflare. I quickly replied with an “of course, I know that,” message that pointed out I don’t want my e-mail bouncing while Pressable’s support gets around to setting up (and fixing, most likely) my MX record, and I know they can do that before I make the change, so please do that. I got no reply.

When my website was hosted at NearlyFreeSpeech.Net alone, WebPageTest.org reported a first-page load time of 8-10 seconds, and Google’s PageSpeed Insights gave it a score of about 36/100 for Mobile and 45/100 for Desktop.

When I added Cloudflare as a CDN, WebPageTest.org reported a first-page load time of 4-6 seconds, and Google’s PageSpeed Insights gave it a score of about 36/100 for Mobile and 45/100 for Desktop.

When I changed to Pressable’s hyper-optimized WordPress hosting for my site, keeping Cloudflare as the CDN, WebPageTest.org reported a first-page load time of 3-4 seconds, and Google’s PageSpeed Insights gave it a score of about 36/100 for Mobile and 45/100 for Desktop.

Apparently, having Cloudflare as the CDN makes moving to Pressable nearly irrelevant.

(Update: I had forgotten to turn on Pressable’s caching mechanism. After I did, page load speed dropped to 2-3 seconds. So, Pressable’s tuned server’s appear to be 2-3 times faster than untuned servers.)

And Google’s PageSpeed Insights isn’t going to be happy until I recode other people’s plugins to minify the JavaScript and CSS, which is never going to happen.

Other page speed checkers report my site now loading in under two seconds, which is good, but I wonder what the mean by “loading”. Those times are only a little longer than what WebPageTest.org reports as the speed of the first byte, which can not be, for my site, anyway, considered loaded. But I forgot to check with them after turning on Cloudflare at NearlyFreeSpeech.Net.

Apart from page speed, the other plans I have for my site make Pressable a good choice. Even a few seconds better is a big difference for web pages. Plus, having a team keeping an eye on the security of the site and available to provide assistance whenever I get stuck with a plugin or something will be a big help, at least once in a while. I want things to work out at Pressable.

Anyway, this is way off track for this website, but maybe someone will find the data useful.

Angel of Death

 [Cover of Angel of Death: A Victor Storm Novel by T.F. Torrey] Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. I was working on this today, and it took longer than I thought it would. I know, right?!

I got a lot of good work done on Angel of Death today, but not all the work I wanted. I can’t really say that I sidetracked myself by deciding to change hosts, because that’s all part of what I want need to get done in the next couple weeks. It’s important.

Despite not finishing, I’m happy with what I did get done. Some parts that were weird before now fit in. The classes were reflowed nicely. And though I still haven’t used Chekhov’s crossbow pistol, everything else is tied up.

Unfortunately, things are going to get even worse for the next thirteen days. My next project can not be delayed any longer, and I have to start it tomorrow (and write like the wind). Angel of Death must also be finished, but it has to be in addition to the other work.

I jumped off this cliff a while ago. I need to get these wings built.

Daily Results

  • New fiction words: ~2000
  • Scenes completed: ~4
  • Chapters completed: ~4
  • Covers completed: 0
  • New weblog words: 1075

If I can’t keep better track of these numbers, I should stop reporting them.

WIP: I’d Be Embarrassed

Thursday

My daughter is a wonderful little person, and I love spending days with her. She is so smart and creative. She’s awesome! And I got to spend all of today with her again. I’m so lucky. (Not being sarcastic.)

Almost my entire working day was sucked up trying to get the managed WordPress site working. Spoiler alert: their system is still not right.

Managed WordPress at Pressable

I had hoped that the remaining fixes would be easy and quick, and I’d have the site migrated first thing in the morning. Instead, the new installation doesn’t work, and they don’t know why, except that it might be because they are moving datacenters. The glitches in the site are random-looking, and while the ones I know of are annoying but not critical, I have no idea what other ones exist that I don’t know about. The people at VaultPress got their system fixed, but the people at Pressable still have no idea what is going on or how to fix it. They tried off and on throughout the day, and in the end still came up with nothing. Along the way, I had to give up on completing the move and back out the changes I’d made. I doubt this is representative of the quality of their service, but still, if I was on their end of this case, I’d be embarrassed.

Once again, I’m hoping that it will get resolved tomorrow, but I’m less confident than before.

Angel of Death

 [Cover of Angel of Death: A Victor Storm Novel by T.F. Torrey] I worked out some of the weirdness today. I had scenes that didn’t seem to fit anything, but today I figured out what they were doing. Turns out they were important! And I need a couple more of them. I’ve arranged a large chunk of dedicated time tomorrow, and I expect (and need) to have the book finished.

Daily Results

  • New fiction words: 0
  • Scenes completed: 0
  • Chapters completed: 0
  • Covers completed: 0
  • New weblog words: 325

Tomorrow. Period.

WIP: I Stepped In It This Time

Wednesday

Again I spent the day with my daughter. Soon she will be in school every day, and I will miss her. I didn’t get much done during the day, but it wasn’t her fault.

Managed WordPress

At the web host I’ve had for a long time, my WordPress website currently loads in 6-10 seconds. And that’s without my planned expansions. 1-3 seconds is acceptable. 10 seconds is too slow. (Probably, but that’s another story.)

So, I’ve been researching managed WordPress services. If I can get optimized servers and specialized security and managed backups and spam protection and easy SSL for only little more than twice what I currently pay, that seems like a good deal.

After a lot of research, I decided that DreamPress and Pressable seemed right for me, with Pressable narrowly winning out. Pressable also has a two-week trial period, and I have to move or give my current host more money in the next couple days. And while moving a WordPress site isn’t exactly trivial, I’ve done it before in only a couple hours. Going to a managed host is probably slick and speedy, right?

Well, it wasn’t for me. After twelve to sixteen hours of working and trying and trying and retrying, I finally had to give up. The new site just wasn’t working, as in, the code does not correctly save options and present the data of the site (and it still isn’t). That doesn’t work at all. I don’t know if it says bad things about Pressable or if it’s just a fluke, but it was neither fun nor productive. And there is still no end in sight.

Maybe it will be better tomorrow.

Angel of Death

 [Cover of Angel of Death: A Victor Storm Novel by T.F. Torrey] Despite my website woes, I did get some time spent on Angel of Death. I rewrote the transitional parts that had to be changed because the scenes are in a different order. That went well, but I also ran into a couple scenes that don’t seem to fit what the story had become, and I’m not sure what I’ll do with them. Also, some of the action at the end is not properly justified by the existing scenes, and I’ll have to do some work to fix that. I’m again hoping it will be done tomorrow, but I’m planning now to release it next Tuesday.

Daily Results

  • New fiction words: ?
  • Scenes completed: ?
  • Chapters completed: ?
  • Covers completed: 0
  • New weblog words: 400

Must go faster.