Are British Sea Power the most eccentric band in the country?
Quite possibly; I think you could certainly make an argument to that effect. They certainly make a compelling racket on stage and on record, as well.
I took about three hundred shots during the three songs I was allowed to shoot in. I got about eight pictures that were of even the vaguest use. There’s a homily about life in that, I’m sure.
Another homily about life in general that I’ll interject briefly before the usual “what I’ve been doing” entries is the old one about best laid plans.
This week was going to be my marathon catch-up-on-stuff and clear-the-decks week, making good use of my time off from the day-job … suffice to say that events conspired to prevent me from getting anywhere near as ahead as I had planned.
Writing about music
What I have done a great deal of this week is writing about music. Mostly record reviews, clawing ahead on my schedule for The Dreaded Press. It’s inevitably a game of attrition, though – just when you think you’re sorted, an album turns up on your doorstep that needs to be reviewed by Monday, as happened this morning.
But even so, it’s been a crazy week; I’ve been to two shows as a reviewer (British Sea Power, as above, and Explosions In The Sky, who were absolutely fantastic) and done one interview (with Scott from British Sea Power).
Writing about books
For reasons already hinted at above, I’ve done little or no concerted writing about matters literary. I hope (but don’t promise) to redeem this state of affairs over the weekend.
I don’t feel too bad about not having cleared as much writing work as I’d hoped, as I have managed to transplant my rather precarious “stuff it in a pile/box/cupboard” archiving system to a fully organised GTD-style filing cabinet. Go me!
It took about twelve hours in total, but it’s a huge weight off my mind, and should enable greater productivity in future.
Other miscellaneous trickiness, aka – MidPhase Hosting sucks
[Readers uninterested in rants designed as revenge for poor customer service may wish to scroll down approximately one screen-length straight away.]
The main source of my problems this week has been Futurismic, which regular readers may have noticed has not only been running sluggishly of late but also suffering intermittent down-times.
The hosting company where Futurismic was located, MidPhase, had been repeatedly telling us that our WordPress installation was using CPU resources in spikes of 40-50%, and they had suspended our service a few times as a result. This is fair enough – on a shared server, one site caning the CPU isn’t fair on the others.
However, MidPhase’s tech support people were unable (or, as I suspect is more likely, unwilling) to share the reasons for these CPU spikes, instead supplying us with advice on how to enable a site to survive “the Digg effect” – which, given Futurismic’s rather gentle traffic levels (500 visits a day, 1200 RSS subscribers handled by FeedBurner) and lack of Slashdottings or similar, seemed a little pointless.
But we complied; we activated caching plugins and SQL query caches, and deactivated a number of perfectly normal plugins that thousands of WordPress users employ on a daily basis with no trouble at all.
And yesterday the CPU use spiked again, so MidPhase killed our account.
So yesterday I upped sticks (or files, rather) and moved Futurismic to the server where VCTB and TDP live. It’s already running faster and smoother than before.
I suspect MidPhase were either trying to up-sell us to a bigger package, or had overstrained the server which Futurismic was parked on (either by overstraining cheap hardware or not realising there had been some sort of compromise or attack elsewhere). Whatever they were doing, or thought they were doing, customer service it was not.
So, please tell everyone you know: if you’re thinking of changing your hosting provider, and you want one that will actually work with you to resolve problems rather than simply cut and paste passages from a set of standard responses, do not host your website with MidPhase.
MidPhase hosting sucks. ANHosting (the same company) also sucks. Both MidPhase and ANHosting suck. And, for SEO purposes, I will repeat it once more:
MIDPHASE HOSTING SUCKS.
We now return you to your scheduled programming*.
Books and magazines seen
Interzone #214 has arrived, yay**!
My seemingly-never-ending F&SF subscription rolls on relentlessly, with the March 2008 edition arriving a mere week behind the February. [shrug]
The Orbit people sent out a fantasy doorstop***, a Tom Holt (who I’ve never really gotten onto, though he’s not bad), the obligatory vampiresexdetectiveOMG novel, and:
Elizabeth Moon is one of those names I hear quite often, but whose writing I’ve never actually experienced. Anyone care to suggest whether I’ll like her work?
Also arriving this week was the production-run version of Stross’ Halting State, reminding me that despite having received an ARC nearly six months before, I’ve failed to write my review of it before it’s publication date. Bah.
So, not much clever or interesting to say here, having burnt out my verbosity in informing the world that MidPhase Hosting sucks****.
There’s still much to be done before kicking off back at the day-job next week, so I shall bid you all a fond farewell and hope you have a good weekend. In the meantime, I’m going to skip out and fetch The Friday Curry – because some traditions never take a holiday.
Hasta luego, people.
[* I always knew that I’d find a use for my reasonable PageRank and a bit of SEO knowledge one of these days. Chew on that, shysters. ]
[** I’ve now had a chance to re-read my Iain M Banks piece as it is on the page, and (unusually for me) can find less things wrong with it than I had thought there would be, which is rather gratifying. ]
[*** I don’t complain or feel guilty about these any more, having discovered that I can send them on to my mother who appreciates them greatly. Thinking about it, perhaps I should encourage her to review them for me – it’d save me time and bring me traffic … 😉 ]
[**** Every iteration counts. ]