Linode “Nextgen” upgrades

Linode has invested over a million dollars into upgrading their network, servers and bandwidth to levels that are unparalleled when it comes to all the features they have already made available to subscribers.

There are three parts to the “Nextgen” upgrade so far.


The Network

“We’re spending $1 million making our network faster. Way faster. Cisco Nexus 7000 routers. Cisco Nexus 5000 switches with Nexus 2000 Fabric Extenders. Linode outbound network cap increased 5x. Outbound monthly transfer quota increased 10x.”

The Hardware

“We’re investing millions to make your Linodes faster. Crazy faster. We’ve begun a refresh of 3/4 of our entire fleet to a new ‘NextGen’ host hardware specification. And we’re upgrading all Linodes to 8 cores! Right now. As in all you need to do is reboot to double the computing power of your Linode.”

RAM Upgrade

“We’re doubling the RAM on all of our plans. This upgrade is available to existing and new customers. New Linodes will automatically be created with the new resources. Existing Linodes will need to go through the Upgrade Queue to receive the upgrades.”


These upgrades represent a MAJOR upgrade. I went from 1.2 TB of outbound to 12 TB. That is quite substantial. The 8 core hardware upgrade is a little harder for most to quantify, but it’s better than the 1-2 “visible” cores I get on DigitalOcean or other “minor” providers. The RAM went from 512 (for me) to 1024. That is very substantial as well when you determine how many sites you can run on a single 512 machine and how many more you can run with double the RAM.

I actually, to Linode’s loss, removed one of my VPS servers and moved sites over to one of the newly upgraded ones. I’m sure, once I outgrow my latest linode, I’ll expand to a new one once more, but for the time being, I love having the additional resources. For my “first” linodes and client ones, it’s great to have the additional resources, especially the “pooled” bandwidth.

Anyone who is looking for a VPS server would be stupid not to get one on Linode with all they have to offer. I manage 9 linodes split between 3 different accounts and the piece of mind that my sites are “safe” is reassuring. I have linode backups on half of them. 30 day S3 and personal rsync backups on the others and do not have to worry about my clients.

Here is my referral link.

Goodbye 2012. Helloooo 2013, you look good!

2013This will be my first (and last) post of 2012. It has been a busy year, so I’ve neglected posting.

2012 was a good and bad year for me. These are both personal and business.

The good.

  • I have been kept busy with various ventures and expect some of them come to fruition in 2013
  • Have built a foundation for personal and business growth
  • Have a LOT of good friends that have referred a lot of business and been there to hang out with
  • Got a cool new office space (see next item)
  • Still freelancing, but I’ve organized a new local (Somerset, KY) collective of amazing freelancers (Hivemind)
  • Visited and met with the main people I work with at my primary and oldest client in New York City (for the first time)
  • Flew in the co-pilot seat of a private jet, a Cessna Citation CJ-3 (vid). (Probably doesn’t happen often)
  • Got back into the “dating scene” after 17 years out of it. (Still looking)
  • The world didn’t end on 12/21/2012 :)

The bad…

  • My iPad mini “disappeared”, at a family event. :(
  • Still a bit “lonely” in life
  • Running out of storage space on my NAS’ (plural)

Can’t really think of too many “bads”. I guess that’s a good thing.

2013 is here!

I am pretty sure this coming year will bring new opportunities for everyone. The world is so crazy these days, sometimes we just have to tune it down and focus on improving our own lives and spending time with those who are important to us. I’m sometimes guilty of beating around the bush and not taking the leap to make things happen in my life, but I’m going to try to change that this coming year.

There are many things out there that can bring us down, both personally and in business, but we can’t let them. Stay positive, realize that even on our darkest days, we are more fortunate than most people in this world.

Have a Happy 2013!

PS – I’ll try to post more often.

How to Balance Work and Family Life

Creating harmony between your career and family life can sometimes be a bit difficult, especially for those of us who are freelancers, in management and/or have a full-time job as well as side-work that can consume your family time.

I’m no expert on the topic, but after having virtually neglected my family life for many years and “losing the love I loved the most”, I feel that I can at least speak on the topic.

Freelancers

This is the way I am currently making my living.  I am 100% freelance and while making enough money to survive,  I hope to continue being more successful in the future so I can support my kids and have some savings when I get older.

For freelancers, the most important aspect of life is being able to delineate your time between work and family.  Stick by it as “religiously” as possible. Things will come up occasionally “after hours”, but make sure your significant other understands that fact and make sure (100%) that he/she is OK with these occasions. Perhaps even have an associate on call who can help if you are completely indisposed.

Since I unfortunately don’t have many day-to-day familial responsibilities as I used to, most of my work is performed in the afternoon and late at night. I usually sleep from 5-6am to 12-1pm.  I get my work done and still have time in the early evening to visit my daughters, family and participate in social activities.

If married, getting your work done during normal business hours is key. Have a dedicated office space to stay “in the zone” or if possible, rent a low cost office outside the home so you can separate your work location from home.

Fulltime + sidework

This was the way I operated for many years before and after I was married and had children.  I worked for many corporations, contractors and agencies and still had a “side job” hosting websites for friends, family and numerous clients.  Before I streamlined my hosting operations, it was consuming MANY evenings, sometimes days of my time when problems arose.

The actual design work wasn’t too time consuming, but the fact that I was on call virtually 24/7 could overshadow a vacation when the phone rang or during a holiday when it was hard to assist clients.  Laptops started going with me on vacation, to visit family and virtually anytime I was away from home.  Sometimes I even had to “clock out” of my day job to serve my personal clients.

This was probably the most stressful period in my life. Work, kids, wife, more work, then finally sleep for 3-6 hours. It took it’s toll on my health and due to bad handling, it also played a part in destroying my relationship.

For this category, I give the same advice as I did for freelancers. Streamline, follow a schedule, make sure there is truly an understanding with your spouse and have some backup if needed.

Managers

I know many people who are in management, from team leads to program managers and VP/CEO’s of companies.  Some of them are able to balance their lives well, but many others are hopelessly attached to their smartphones or work laptops, checking and responding to email at all hours of the night, even from bed, while still being at work before anyone else.  Some are “heroes” to their families, some have had their life crumble before their eyes.

The managers that are usually the worse offenders are  younger ones (25-45) who feel like they HAVE to work unlimited hours for “the company” so they don’t lose favor in the eyes of their superiors.  In extreme emergencies, I agree they should respond, but for normal daily operations, disconnect and enjoy life a little.  There’s always tomorrow and most likely nothing major is going to change from 7pm to 7am.

Conclusion

I’ve made many mistakes in the past, many mentioned above, and am doing my best so they never happen again.  My hosting operations are solid and streamlined.  I rarely have problems with that unless it’s an upstream provider.  I’ll send out one email to the affected parties and just wait for service to return. Design work can be scheduled appropriately.  As long as my clients don’t expect a full website whipped out in 24 hours, I am able to schedule and get them done in a reasonable timeframe.  Prioritize your work based on income, urgency, etc. and you shouldn’t run into many problems.

Full, honest and open 2-way communications is KEY in a relationship. Whether or not you have children, your significant other still needs to know that you are giving him/her adequate time without “pining” to be back on the PC.  Offer as much time as possible outside of work obligations.  Make a plan, understand his/her needs, keep a normal schedule… Don’t be creeping into bed at 2am, disturbing their sleep.  Be sure to make the time you spend quality time. Not just sitting around watching TV.  Make dinner, go for a walk, go to the movies, visit extended family or friends, find a mutual hobby, etc.  Turn off the phone or silence it.  Stay away from computers.

Losing one impatient client is better than losing your family.

What I think Apple Should Do…

Dear Steve Jobs,

I feel that with the “death” of the XServe Server and the uncertain future of Mac OS X Server OS, Apple should delve into offering hosted services to pull in entities who are now scattered among numerous other services such as Google Apps for Domains, commercial hosting, and numerous other third party hosted or self hosted apps, which require a lot of maintenance, multiple accounts, billing, etc.  Many of my IT associates who have switched to Apple laptops and desktops have commented to me that they hate still having to use non-apple apps to complete their daily business.

For example, the MobileMe interface already is an attractive and functional interface for email, contacts, calendar, iDisk, Photos and location services.  How much harder would it be to allow a company to signup and fully attach their own domain to the MobileMe framework.  Perhaps even create a separate enhanced version of MobileMe in their [Apple's] newest “cloud” datacenter in North Carolina and, over time, have an ‘a la carte’ offering of additional new services that users need/request.  Maybe even allow developers to write custom Apps that can be cleanly integrated into the web interface and a matching app for the iOS device(s).

Keep the price reasonable, no more than $1-2/mo per user, which would be very attractive for small businesses, special pricing for larger corporations and perhaps discounts when Apple devices are purchased and attached to an account.  Perhaps 1 year for free when any iOS device is purchased to draw users in.

The advantages of this would be numerous, it would give small businesses and organizations a unified and complete “Apple Branded Experience” on their Mac PCs, iPhones, iPads, etc.  Almost everyone I know has a Apple device of some kind and many would prefer to use their own domain.  Apple does offer the capability of attaching a domain to your MobileMe webspace, but that does not extend to customization of the other services.

Also, with minor modifications to the existing MobileMe framework, it would bring a whole new potential residual revenue stream that millions of users could utilize.  It may also spur additional companies and users to buy Apple hardware knowing that all these services are so well intergrated. Adding similar features as Google Apps for Domains and improving upon them would make it a very attractive alternative.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do use and am VERY happy with Google Apps for Domains, but it would be nice to have some competition from another major player to keep things interesting.  Google does accomplish a lot of what I’ve stated in this email, but it’s not as “pretty”, well integrated and cost effective for those with many needs.

Perhaps Apple could even purchase a VoIP company and add that to their portfolio of services.  With an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and an old Mac Mini, it would be nice to get deep integration of all my communications needs while not being forced onto the @me.com domain.

I guess only time will tell how far Apple is willing to ascend into the cloud.

Need to Accept Credit Cards? Try Square!

Square Card Reader in iPhone 4

Square Card Reader in iPhone 4

Guess I’m a little late jumping on the bandwagon, but this past week I discovered Square. Square is a, in my opinion, revolutionary way to accept credit cards, whether it be within a company’s location or anyone who is constantly on the go.

It is very easy to signup and really the only thing to do is verify your bank account, so Square can direct deposit the funds you charge and the waiting time for the reader itself. I only signed up this past week, so I’m still waiting on my reader. Once it comes in, it looks as if it’s compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch, iPod and some Android devices. Just plug it into the headphone jack, open the app and swipe away.

When you swipe a card with the Square reader, the fee is only 2.75% which is quite excellent. Manually entering the card is 3.5% + 15¢, which is bit higher, but still not bad for the convenience it provides. I went ahead and manually entered a test charge from one of my cards and it went right into my account, minus the transaction fee. So even with the higher charge, $20 came out to $19.15.

A photographer friend of mine uses Square and it increased his revenue quickly. An IT associate uses “Square Up” with his clients onsite and does not have to worry about monthly invoicing paperwork and running to the bank to deposit paper checks. You don’t even have to be a “business” to utilize this, even individuals can use it. Square can be very helpful for anything from flea market selling to adding a convenient payment option for garage sales. Heck, you could even sit outside at your kid’s lemonade stand and use it for the “larger” transactions.

I plan on primarily using this “app” when I do work onsite for clients or over the phone if credit cards are the best option for them. I may add a slight surcharge if it’s done manually. But I think with the convenience it provides, it’ll definitely help increase my revenue stream.

Linode turns 7, gives ~42% RAM Upgrade to all customers!

Linode has turned out to be the best VPS provider I’ve ever used and it as of yesterday (6/16/10), they upgraded all VPS’ memory by ~42%.  All I have to say is Wow.  Since I’ve been with them, they have upgraded HDD space, which is also nice, but not something I really needed.  RAM is a different story, that is very important for VPS customers.  That much more memory means a LOT and really makes the entry level 512 servers (for only $19.95) much more useful without breaking the bank.

I currently have 5 512MB Linodes (upgraded from 360) and one 768 (upgraded from 512).  I should now be able to do much more with these servers now and offer more scalability to my customers who are paying for their own servers.

Linode, in my opinion, destroys the competition and always seems to be ahead of the gang of “peer” VPS providers like Slicehost, Rackspace Cloud Servers, VPS.net and others.  They may not have the “prettiest” or most user friendly control panel, but they offer a level of flexibility unrivaled by others.

Amtrak… All Aboard!

Since I am starting to focus this whole place more on technobabble, I try to avoid non-techy subjects, but having posted on Amtrak before, I will do so again.

Last week, Congress appropriated 15 billion to help Amtrak “steam forward” (sorry! ;-) ) into the the future.

In a veto-proof 311-104 vote last week that mimics a Senate decision late last year, the U.S. House wisely pumped $15 billion into the national rail system, allowing for capital improvements and providing operating funds for the heavily-subsidized service through fiscal year 2013.

While cross-country service will continue – Amtrak serves 500 destinations in 46 states – the House turned a switch and sent passenger rail service barrelling in new directions.

The bill provides about $500 million in each of the next five years for grants to allow states to contract with Amtrak to expand or establish rail service between cities. It also instructs the federal Department of Transportation to seek proposals from private firms to establish rapid rail service between New York City and Washington, the nation’s first foray into high-speed rail.

I’ve taken Amtrak in the past on various trips mostly from Ohio to DC or vice-versa on the Cardinal.  They have been fun and full of socializing with new people from all over the world (mostly while smoking in the smoking car, if they still exist).  From students to lawyers, hackers, rural commuters who were taking the train from Prince, WV to Manassas, VA to work construction, the people and their stories can be mesmerizing.  I even happened to run into a Shawnee “tribesmen” (who rolled us cigarettes when we ran out) who actually knew my old minister who married my wife and I.  Besides being a minister in Oxford, Ohio, he is also the story teller (AKA: Neeake) for the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band. Small world!

In my few trips, Amtrak service was plagued by delays, mostly due to CSX and other freight lines that hit their crew’s time limit and had to stop, wherever they were, and bring in a new crew.  Sometimes these stops were made in the middle of the night on a single track with no secondary track nearby for them to “pull over”.  Sometimes the delays were up to 12 hours, but at least there was food (and self brought vodka and coke) to pass the time.  Even with the delays, there was plenty to do and we were able to move about the train and stretch, unlike the recent airline debacles this past winter.   Fortunately, I had no schedule to meet, but others did and problems like these turned a lot of people away from rail.

Hopefully this new federal funding will change this and allow infrastructure upgrades possible that will minimize or eliminate these massive delays and bring back the “good ol days” of passenger rail in the U.S.

To conclude, trains are an American past-time, a mode of transportation that made expansion across North America possible.  Most people these days don’t give trains their due when it comes to this “forgotten” piece of history.  Lets embrace this funding and encourage your elected officials not to let it die before it is fully realized.

PS – Gas prices aren’t getting any lower any time soon.

Original Article from quote above