There Will Be No Domains 18

It occurred to us at Reclaim Hosting that if we were going to run a Domains 18 conference, we would have to start the planning now. Fact is, we really don’t think there is a need for another conference right now. We want to avoid running the conference every year as if it is an inevitable necessity given the simple fact it’s not. Domains 17 was awesome and I believe meaningful for those whom attended, but 4 months later I’m not sure running another conference would add that much to what has already been done and said. Maybe there will be a Domains 19, I don’t know. But for right now it is enough to say there will be no Domains 18, and that’s a good thing.

Setting Up a Feed with Feedly

Working at Reclaim means I get to interact with people who do incredible work within the Ed Tech community. I was first exposed to this at #domains17 and I remember thinking that I wanted to keep up with all of these wonderful folks and the work their doing.

At first, I had no idea how I could keep up with all the blog posts except through twitter. I didn’t really like that idea though because I could lose tweets within my feed. I wanted a place where I could keep them all together. I don’t know too much about RSS feeds but I knew that’s where I needed to start. I a little bit of experience using FeedWordPress to syndicate blog posts to the main class hub but I knew that would chew right through my storage limit.

Then I came across Feedly. Feedly is a freemium (you can use it for free up to a certain threshold) service where you can ‘follow’ RSS feeds to different blogs. I’m enjoying it so far! The interface is simple and I had my feeds set up in a matter of minutes.

You’ll do most of your navigation through the left-hand sidebar. There’s an option to see what’s been posted today, what you want to read later, and filters you can set up to view the content more easily. From here you can do most of your feed’s organization. You can set up multiple feeds. Right now I have two feeds going, Ed Tech and Fashion/Lifestyle. These are both topics I wanted to curate within Feedly

Setting up these feeds were super easy. I searched for each person using their URL like http://meredithfierro.com/feed or http://meredithfierro.com/rss. These will bring up a feed of the website’s content. Then within Feedly, I searched that URL.

From here you have the option to follow this feed. Feedly also shows you how many followers this feed has, and how many posts they have per week/per month. In the case of my feed, it shows that I post one article per week (definitely not true, I don’t post that often).

Once you have the specific feeds you’d like to follow set up, you’ll see the posts you haven’t read yet. Currently, these are the ones I didn’t get the chance to read this weekend:

 

So setting up a feed through Feedly is as simple as that! I’m really liking Feedly so far. It makes reading people’s blog posts so much easier and is a great tool to keep everything in place.

 

 

 

The World’s a Mess, It’s in Reclaim’s Latest Server

The semester has been pretty busy at Reclaim Hosting, so much so we needed to roll out a third shared-hosting server last week. This one was named after the early LA punk band X.  X marks the server in this case: x.reclaimhosting.com. X is a band I got turned on to during my seven-year stay in LA during the early 90s. X reminds me of seedy one-room apartments on Sepulveda Blvd, taking the bus (which was always hairy in LA), and the layer of filth left over from the 70s and 80s that was just beneath the surface of America’s big cities. Albums like Los Angeles and Under the Big Black Sun became staple listening more than 10 years after their release, and Penelope Spheeris‘s 1981 documentary The Decline of Western Civilization sealed their allure in my imagination as the epitome of punk, in part thanks to the following scene wherein they sing “We’re Desperate”:

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Handy DNS Tools

DNS, in general, has always been an intimidating topic for me. But the more you practice and work with it, the easier it gets! The following list of tools helps make my life easier when changing records, troubleshooting errors, etc.

What’sMyDNS

Going to What’sMyDNS.com is super useful if you want to check the status of DNS records during a move. If you’re pointing your domain to a different hosting service, for example, or routing your domain’s email through Gmail, you’ll have to edit nameservers or MX records, respectively. Whenever you make changes to DNS records, a good rule of thumb is that it takes up to 24-48 hours for those changes to stick. So staying on top of where everything is pointed can be really helpful in understanding a website error or DNS delay.

Simply search the domain in question and use the menu drop-down to change the record that you’re interested in:

 

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Working by Myself

So today was a first for me in my support role. I started my shift bright and early this morning and everything was moving slow. Tim and Lauren went off to a meeting and Jim is traveling this week for a conference, so I was by handling support on my own for a short period of time, but this was a normal thing. I felt confident that I could handle each support request that came through and if I didn’t Tim and Lauren would be back by lunchtime and I could ask my questions then. I was completely unprepared for what would commence in the next hour.

A lot of schools are still getting up and running with their semester and that means a ton of sign-ups on our Shared Hosting at Reclaim. This September we had 721 new sign-ups on Shared Hosting. So we knew that things could get a little hairy on days where classes were signing up, like today.

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Ghost in a Shell

I woke up this morning with an excited texts from Tim “the wonderful wizard of Reclaim” Owens pointing me to some work he did on our Cloudron test instance. Short version: it is awesome.

Now for the slightly longer version. First off, for more background on Cloudron and why we are even exploring it, check out these two posts. Tim has made good on his promise to make this as simple as possible, and below I will use a series of screenshots to narrate the process of spinning up a Docker image of the node.js blogging application Ghost using Cloudron.

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And you get a server, and you get a server, and you….

I have been remiss in responding to Keegan’s post in early August exploring the idea of “A Server of One’s Own,” but I have not forgotten it. In fact, what he outlines in that post is something that dogs me regularly. Namely, how can we provide more options for folks when it comes to hosting a more diverse array of applications beyond what Domain of One’s Own currently provides.

Let me explain. As it stands right now, Domain of One’s Own has definitive technical limitations given it is built around a LAMP server environment. What does that mean? Well, it means beyond HTML, you are pretty much limited to PHP, Python, and Perl scripting languages. Also, it only supports the Apache web server software and MySQL (or MariaDB) databases. In other words, it is a specific server environment (a.k.a stack) that only supports specific applications. But given the wild success of PHP apps over the last 15 years, in particular WordPress, for most of us web plebeians that has been enough.

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Stepping into Domain of One’s Own

Over time, this web space has naturally become a collection of tutorials, guides & how-tos for navigating a Reclaim Hosting account. Documentation makes for really easy blog posts. And I’m constantly learning something at Reclaim. So when I learn something, I blog it. It’s been a great system.

That said, there’s a whole other side of my position at Reclaim that I don’t blog about often, likely because it still feels new and a bit intimidating. But it’s beginning to take up so much of my time that I simply can’t ignore it any longer!

I’ve always had a serious interest in the “people” side of Reclaim Hosting. And by that, I mean discussing with folks at institutions about supporting Domain of One’s Own on their campuses. For those who are new to the scene, Domain of One’s Own is a package offered by Reclaim Hosting to schools who are interested in giving their students and faculty members a space to explore what it means to have an online identity. Everyone who signs up through the customized single sign-on portal is given access to their very own cPanel account & domain. There’s generally a couple (if not a full team) of folks at the school that then spearhead the project and act as liaisons between students/faculty & Reclaim Hosting support. Read more

Featured App: Airmail

Just wanted to pop in quick to say that if you’re in the market for a great email client, I highly recommend checking out Airmail. I’ve been using it for a couple of months now per a recommendation from Tim, and haven’t looked back since!

I’ve somehow found myself in a position where I’m managing 5 email accounts, so I needed an interface that would allow me to access all accounts in a clean, organized fashion.

A couple of things to note about the main view: the color coding is phenomenal. Each of my accounts has a different color. Each email that comes in is then assigned to that color automatically.  You can view the master list that includes every email in all of your inboxes, or you can view each account separately. You can also see a list of your email accounts on the bottom, left-hand side. Read more

What people are saying

Wanted to take a quick minute to officially welcome Meredith Fierro to the Reclaim Hosting team via the blogosphere! Yesterday was her first day as Reclaim’s fourth full-time employee, and it’s already been wonderful having her online and around the office for the extended hours.

It’s also no coincidence that Reclaim’s support has been top notch recently! Our customer support satisfaction rating has been gliding at a steady 100% for the last few weeks, and there’s no doubt that Meredith’s participation has helped with that.

After folks submit a ticket, receive help, and then resolve the ticket, they’re sent a feedback form on the level of service they received. Here are some recent responses:

Best customer support I have ever received and I have been working in the technical field for over 20 years! The team responded within 5 minutes of my initial inquiry and my issue was resolved within an hour.

You guys are the best. I’m not the most tech-savvy guy, but you patiently translate my concerns into quick action. And somehow never charge me for it. Who does that anymore?

I was very impressed by the speed of reply to my initial email and the way I was kept informed all the way through the process. Everything was dealt with speedily and efficiently. Thank you.

Not only do you always address my problems quickly, but I always learn something in the process – a wonderful bonus to working with Reclaim!

And my personal favorite:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I feel incredibly lucky to be apart of a team that is so authentic and helpful.