The OS Quest Trail Log #43: Problems & Solutions Edition

June was a slow month on the Quest but things began to pick up in July. It looks like problems that started in June now appear to be cleaned up. Along with that success I finally appear to be running the latest version of all my software both on my computers and on the web. Although Mr. Murphy did his best by releasing an WordPress update the day after I updated all my sites. But I lucked out and that was his only contribution.

Another fix that also slipped in this week was an update to the Search Unleashed plugin I use on my sites. It had broken when I upgrade to WordPress 2.8. Can’t say whether it was WP 2.8 or a recent plugin update, but it’s all better now.

After two weeks with my new Unicomp keyboard I still consider it the best keyboard ever. Well, at least among the keyboards I’ve used. Also on the positive side I proved my iMac didn’t have any hardware problems. At least I choose to view it as a positive and not that I wasted an hour of my time.

Among the updates was Firefox 3.5 (and 3.5.1). I’ve no complaints and I like it, but at least for how I use it I haven’t seen any great improvements. I probably need to explore more, but the upgrade was seamless and things continued to work as expected.

Nik Green posted a comment on my Synergy posted and suggested SynergyKM to provide a GUI interface to the setup. It adds a nice preference pane to the Mac so it can be easily configured to auto start. No need to set up any scripts. It’s only been a couple hours, but so far so good.

My Windows Home Server continues to grow it’s disk. I swapped out a 1TB drive for a 2TB drive this month so bring the total to 15TB as far as the manufacturers ratings are concerned. But between overhead and different definitions of a megabyte and formatting overhead the actual space is a tad under 14TB. Hard drive manufacturers use base ten math while OS’s use binary math. So a manufacturer’s 1,000 is an OS’s 1,024. A hard drive mfg says a kilobyte is 1,000 bytes while the OS says it’s 1,024. Not a big deal when drives were smaller but these days it adds up.

Web Site Outage

Things haven’t exactly been problem free. My site was down early this morning for some unknown reason. Haven’t come across the root cause yet. The problem was excessive swapping on the server but no clue as to the cause. The first alert was generated shortly after my backups started running. The SQL backup ran on schedule and seems to have finished before any problem. Then a job kicks off on my PC to connect to the server and backs up the files system. The time seems to coincide with the first alert (backup started about 3 minutes before) but according to the backup log there weren’t any problems and the backup finished as expected. Now this doesn’t mean it didn’t affect apache, but it hasn’t in the past and running it a few minutes ago was problem free.

I did update Ubuntu the day before and apache got some updates so maybe it’s related. But it hasn’t re-occurred so hard to tell. Maybe it’s time to reboot the server since it’s been up 96 days. Problem is, by the time I woke up and saw the problem free, top and everything else showed a healthy server.

Got to love computers. Models of consistency.

SiteUpTime – Web Site Monitoring

I came across SiteUpTime.com which does web site monitoring, as the name implies. They offer a free plan which I just signed up for to monitor The OS Quest.

The free plan includes:

  • 1 Monitor
  • 30 or 60 minute check intervals
  • 4 Monitoring Locations
  • Email Alerts
  • Monthly Reports
  • Online Statistics
  • Control Panel
  • Web Server Monitoring (http)
  • Email Server Monitoring (pop3)
  • Email Server Monitoring (smtp)
  • FTP Server Monitoring (ftp)
  • Public Statistics

There are some reguirements on the free account. You need to link to their site (I added a badge to the right sidebar) and you need to agree to receive occassional emails about their services. Plus you can only have one free account.

The way the system works is you specify a primary location (of the four) when creating the monitor. If the site in not accessible from the selected monitor then additional locations will be checked. The locations are San Fransisco, Chicago, New York and London.

The also have Premium and Advanced plans which increase the number of monitors, frequency of monitoring and the type of services that can be monitored.

It’s worth noting that your monitoring services, not servers. So if you want to monitor both ftp, web and email on a server you’ll need three monitors.

I just signed up so I can’t really say if the service is as good as it seems. But, it will be interesting to see how Bluehost does, even though a 30 minute interval leaves a lot of time for unnoticed server reboots.