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Give it Up for Let’s Encrypt

As I awake from my relative blog slumber this Summer, there are a couple of things (actually a lot of things) I’ve been meaning to blog about. (And luckily I even have a new soundtrack to blog by now thanks to CogDog.) Let’s Encrypt passed a pretty big Milestone in June with 100 million SSL certifications issued in less than two years. In a moment where there’s no shortage of nightmare stories around web security, surveillance, and hacking, Let’s Encrypt seems to be one of the few genuine feel-good stories of the web. A joint-effort, non-profit organization designed to make the web safer by providing free and open SSL certificates. A simple and much needed development that has changed the web dramatically. According to Let’s Encrypt:

Percentage of HTTPS Page Loads in Firefox.

When Let’s Encrypt’s service first became available, less than 40% of page loads on the Web used HTTPS. It took the Web 20 years to get to that point. In the 19 months since we launched, encrypted page loads have gone up by 18%, to nearly 58%. That’s an incredible rate of change for the Web. Contributing to this trend is what we’re most proud of.

Read more

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Retiring Bad Brains

While I am blogging about servers, we recently retired Reclaim’s very first institutional Domain of One’s Own server: Bad Brains. It had been a workhorse with more that 3 years of service and over 1400 cPanel accounts. It holds a special place in our history because it was the first DoOO institutional server setup Tim built at Reclaim. It’s easy to forget three short years and 60+ schools later that expanding Domain of One’s Own to other schools was a dream vision. The idea that just two people could extrapolate and support what we did with Hippie Hosting and UMW Domains to numerous schools and thousands of people was never a given. We white knuckled much of those first two years, and we remain grateful that the University of Oklahoma gave us that early opportunity—there is no question they (along with Davidson College and Channel Islands) helped legitimize Reclaim early on. And three years later with over 5000 users and 5 servers neither of us has looked back. Thanks Mark and Adam, you rule!

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Podcast Generator

After being asked by a friend about podcast options on Reclaim, I started playing with the podcasting tool Podcast Generator. I heard about it thanks to this thread by Tim Klapdor on the Reclaim Hosting Community Forums. It’s a really simple content management system designed specifically for podcasts.  It provides a stripped down space to upload files and simple metadata like title, description, and categories. It also provides iTunes integration and an OG RSS feed.

I was intrigued so I finally tried installing it, and it took all of two minutes.  All I needed to do was upload the zip file through File Manager, extract it, and then move the contents of the unzipped folder into the root directory where the application will run. After that, I just open my browser and point to the URL it is installed at and I am greeted with a wizard that simply asks me to create a username and password. Part of the simplicity of this install is there’s no database, it’s running a flat file structure. It is easy enough that even I may be able to build an installer for Installatron through Reclaim Hosting. That is a small project I am setting for myself over the coming weeks—although it is so easy it may be unnecessary.

Tim Klapdor ultimately rolled his own using Jekyl, which looks quite good. I’m sure there are a million recipes through WordPress given the resurgence of podcasting over the last few years, and I’d be keen to learn how folks are approaching their setups both within WordPress and beyond.

Academy Fight Songs Sung by Rebel Grrrls

We’ve been hard at work at Reclaim Hosting getting ready for the Fall 2017 semester, and it is officially upon us.  We have setup and rolled out two new shared web hosting servers last week in honor of two groundbreaking punk bands: Mission of Burma and Bikini Kill. We have been working through the 80s hardcore punk scene for a few years now, and Mission of Burma was a terrible oversight, so it was time to fill that gap, and with Bikini Kill we are pushing into the post post-punk movement of the early 90s (our only foray into that territory thus far is our Unwound server).

There are few better punk anthems than “Academy Fight Song,” and if you worked in higher ed for as long as we have, few songs age better than this one. Enjoy it as you start the new semester, and if the emboldened Nazi movement in the US has you worried, remember that Burma were not afraid to link currents of exploitative religion with fascism* in “New Nails,” which is probably better remembered as an early example of a guitar-driven sound/noise that would re-emerge years later with bands like Sonic YouthRead more

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Restoring a Full cPanel Backup on the Server

If for whatever reason a user needs their account restored from a full cPanel backup, or if a user is migrating to Reclaim Hosting & has provided us with a cPanel backup, the restoration process is actually quite simple:

  • Make sure that the user has signed up for an account so their domain has been pre-assigned to a server.
  • Log into the root folder of the server via FTP & upload the cPanel backup:

  • Once the backup has been uploaded successfully, log into WHM & search “Restore” in the left sidebar. Select Restore a Full Backup/cpmove File:

Read more

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Repairing a Crashed Table in phpMyAdmin

Yesterday, a ticket came in where a student’s website was not establishing a database connection. I started my usual checks to see what kind of installation she had on her domain. In this case it was a WordPress installation. I went to double check that the username and password in the wp-config.php file was the same as the wp-options table in phpMyAdmin. After trying to open the wp-options I received an error similar to this:

mysql> select * from nagios_servicechecks;

ERROR 1194 (HY000): Table ‘nagios_servicechecks’ is marked as crashed and should be repaired

This error can say a wide range of things, but this fix works when it says that the table should be repaired.

**Note, this error was not what I was working on it’s definitely similar though. I didn’t grab a screenshot of it before fixing the error**

To fix this first click the checkbox next to the table you’d like to repair. Then click the ‘With Selected’ dropdown box. 

Once that’s done, click ‘Go’ on the bottom right of the screen. 

Once complete you’ll see this.

Double check that the site loads now. If you’re still getting the “Error Establishing Database Connection” try refreshing your browser cache or load the site from your phone with the Wi-Fi turned off.

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Adjusting to Post Grad

The professional world is in full swing for me at this point. I’ve been with Reclaim as a customer support specialist for almost two months now. It’s kind of surreal to be back in the town where I went to school, not only in the summer, but not getting ready to go back for the fall semester at the end of August. But it an odd way it feels normal.

I am very fortunate and lucky to have a job right out of college, and at a company I interned with no less. And I think that’s why a lot of this feels so normal.

Things were off to a rocky but good start. I’ve found that working from home is one of the hardest things about the job. I was still living with my parents back in June so I was constantly bombarded with the questions “Are you working on a ticket?” (I mean that in the most loving way, mom and dad <3) I also didn’t have a desk in my room/guest room before I moved back for the summer. So I was constantly moving from the kitchen table into the dining room when I needed to jump on a call then eventually back to my bed because the kitchen was too busy to focus. It was frustrating. 

It didn’t help that I had so much to learn (and I still do). Every situation is dynamic, so the solution isn’t always the same. I was constantly asking questions in the help channel in Slack, and having the computer screen as a buffer was not in my favor.

I hate asking for help. Well I shouldn’t say hate, I really dislike it. It’s something I struggle with. I’m more of a work until something gets done, searching for answers on Google and going based off of my knowledge. I try to ask for help only when it’s the last possible option. And I’ve had to ask for help more times than I can count in this job. Ironic right?

That’s something that I’ve really adjusted to, not only this past spring semester, but coming back onto the team in June. When I first started at this job, I realized how high stakes the position could get. If I missed a step, I could really mess something up or even break the internet. The same can be said for most jobs too, when I was a lifeguard over the summer if I didn’t follow the right procedures, a pump could break or even worse, someone could get hurt (but that’s another post for another time). So I knew that asking for help is crucial to getting something done correctly.

I really wasn’t expecting to be so frustrated with myself at this point in post grad life. After graduation, I was so excited to get started with my job and I was looking forward to my little summer break lifeguarding before moving. It really hadn’t sunk in that I was no longer going back to school. To be honest it still hasn’t. I keep thinking that I’ll move back to my apartment that was slightly off campus, and getting ready to work at the Digital Knowledge Center for another year.

With all of those challenges and frustrations, I can honestly say that things have gotten better from there. Being in the office has been such a blessing. I actually have someone I can talk to in person! Whether Tim or Lauren (most of the time both) are in the office, I don’t have to worry about if I am asking a question in the best way. It’s 10000% better to talk out a process and get all the questions out in a conversation rather than typing.

Unfortunately that didn’t last long. Tim and Lauren went on vacation shortly after I was back in the office and I was running CoWork for the week. It was back to the computer screen for help. I wasn’t completely alone on the support side of things. Jim was a super big help, he was not on vacation. Although seeing him live in Italy I’m convinced that living there is a constant vacation in itself. Just check out his twitter. He was around for most of my questions. But I learned how to research for the solutions until I was just stuck or I exhausted every resource. Then I learned the aspect of effective communication because of the buffer that the computer screen provides.

But with that being said, I love my job. I am constantly learning new things. Even though I’m done with the educational part of my life, I’m experiencing a completely different side of higher education. Coming from Mary Washington, I only got to see how the Domain of One’s Own program works as a student. Now I see how different institutions incorporate DoOO/web hosting into their curriculum. There are so many different configurations to this too. I even get to explore a completely new side of the web, that is web hosting, that I knew was a thing, but couldn’t grasp how it works until now.

I interact with people across the world. Just the other day I was helping someone with their website from Ireland. We even have clients from Australia! Speaking of people I work with, I work with people I consider to be great mentors. I have learned a ton of things from Tim, Jim, and Lauren in just my short time working with them.

The office space is awesome too. Since Reclaim is just 4 people, it wouldn’t make sense to get an office for us. CoWork has been another perk. There are so many more people in the office that it’s not just Reclaim any more. I’ve gotten to see the space transform during the construction phase as an intern and its awesome to see it full during the week.


Another thing I love about this job is that I get to travel. Granted, I’ve only gone on one trip for the Domains conference, but who gets to go on a business trip before you even start with the company? I’m definitely looking forward to more travel in my future.

It’s been a whirlwind of a new experiences, emotions, and adjustments over the past few months. I’ve moved back to the city I’ve been in for 4 years and I’m officially on my own. I’ve started a new chapter of my life at Reclaim and I’m so excited to see where this goes! So stay tuned!

**Featured Image by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Building Capacity at Reclaim

Yesterday Lauren tweeted that she has taken control of the coveted top spot on the Reclaim Hosting support leaderboard. Beating me is easy, but topping Timmmmyboy is no small feat. Lauren has been working double duty the last 3 weeks given Tim has been on a European vacation and I’ve been traveling and hosting over that same period. This last month was a really good test to gauge whether Reclaim can flourish beyond its co-founders, and I think we have found our answer.  We have built capacity over the last two years, and Lauren’s brilliant work last month is a testament to just that. I do not think anyone hosting with Reclaim has seen a dip in the excellent service they expect, and at the same time Tim and I have been able to let go of certain things these last few weeks. Read more

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Reclaim Reflection

Last week provided a unique scenario for me. Jim was in Australia, Tim was in Germany, and Meredith was on vacation. As both of my bosses were asleep by early afternoon on the east coast, I had to step up my support game to say the least. I worked longer hours, faced the out-of-my-league support tickets head on, and learned an absolute mess of information. And to be honest, I feel rather proud of myself. It was probably the first time that I was on my own support-wise for longer than an afternoon. Additionally, it was also the first time that I felt like a truly capable “fixer”. Don’t get me wrong– I still had to be rescued every now and then, but overall I held my own and that’s something worth celebrating.

I suppose in any line of work, it can be very easy to compare your skill set to that of someone else’s. Especially in an “All Things Internet” career path, this feels so tempting. There’s always another language to learn, another problem to solve, another platform to develop. And on top of that, it’s ever-changing. Shortly after I was first hired at Reclaim, I dreamt of this scenario one day where I never had to ask support-related questions. Where I just always knew the answer. (Lol.) It sounds silly to even type now, but there were months on end where it felt like asking questions was all I did. Read more