Dreamhost and hosting issues

So, at about 8.40am today, I noticed my sites (fadingwhispers.org and janetalkstech.com) were rather sluggish. I managed to post a comment on Fading Whispers before both sites went dark i.e. were not accessible on the internet. I didn’t panick and kept refreshing a couple of times. After ~2 hrs of waiting and anxiously refreshing Firefox, I finally sent a support ticket to Dreamhost and a little under an hour later, I got a response that the server that my sites were on, needed a reboot and that things should be back to normal. In the meantime, I was advised by the Dreamhost representative that I should disable the All in One SEO Plugin because it was “known to cause major issues on shared servers.” He also helpfully noted that I was running a WordPress site and directed me to some WordPress troubleshooting tips (perhaps my little trafficked site’s plugins were interfering). I dutifully deleted plugins that were not active on both sites. Also, since it was only Fading Whispers that was acessible after being informed of the server being rebooted, I deactivated plugins that I could live without i.e. OpenID plugin for WordPress which I discovered (from the WordPress article) could be problematic on shared servers, the All in One SEO Plugin, ELA Archives, BDP Setup and some more.

It is currently 10pm and Jane Talks Tech! is still down because (according to a second response from Dreamhost to my support ticket), the server my site is on has been experiencing “intermittent” downtime. Intermittent, my butt. It’s been the whole freaking day! I’m just happy this happened on the weekend when traffic is the least. However, I’m not happy at the downtime because I had some posts I needed to churn out which will be delayed because of this. I’ll update this post as new developments occur.

Moving, moving, gone!

Yup, it’s day two in our new casa. It’s awesome and M & I can’t get enough of it. Right now, it’s a hot mess and our tempers have both flared and ebbed. Hopefully, things will come to some sort of order. I feel so displaced, but I know it’s for a while. There’s a lot to be done and it’s at times like this that M & I’s differences come to the fore. Thankfully, we’re learning to work with our different methods of operation. ๐Ÿ˜€ I don’t think you’ve noticed anything on this blog, but I’ve upgraded to WordPress 2.5. Much of the changes are to the administration panel and you just have to see for yourself. It’s no longer a pain to update plugins because you can do it all from your administration panel without having to hunt down portable versions of FileZilla and 7-Zip (I have them on my 8GB thumbdrive although it’s a pain to generally boot from USB drives especially if your system is slower than a turtle) and do the song and dance that I usually have to do when upgrading plugins. I can’t thank WordPress’s creator (Matt Mullenweg) enough. It’s actually enticing me to do more blogging just so I can discover more of the niceties about WordPress. Enough about that.

M’s dad’s an April Fool baby but he graciously spent it with us lugging our bags and furniture back and forth for two days! Make una help me thank am oh. Mouth no fit talk because as gas dey be so, I no wan tink how much hin put for gas. I sincerely thank him. M’s mom & sister have also gone into planning mode/drive and M’s actually meeting up with them to do some shopping for our place. They’re all so excited for us and I’m overwhelmed by their genuine caring. I feel words can’t really describe my gratitude. I just hope they know I really appreciate them going to bat for M & I. On that tangent, Mrs. JW is looking good and radiant!! 3 more months to go and we’ll see if the stories they tell of her hubby’s family are true! lol. In any case, I’ve got to run. Remain blessed y’all.

Savings, Retirement and WordPress woes

Of late, I’ve been reading a lot of personal finance blogs and I could kick myself for the information that I’m discovering that I wish I’d known before. Nevertheless, it is not too late. I am turning 23 this year and I got started on my first ‘real’ job. My job automatically contributes the maximum amount from my paychecks to a 401(k) which they match at a rate of 9%. This is pretty good. Their benefits are good such that M has dropped his employer’s health plan in favor of mine e.g. they cover 90% vs his employer’s 80% plan). Based on stuff I’m reading, here are several things I’m learning:

  1. Debt resolution should be #1 on your list. You can do this by paying it down aggressively or “snowflaking” approach popularized by Dave Ramsey i.e. you pay little at a time, taking money from little areas that you might otherwise ignore. In my case, snowflaking will be the best way to go afterall that’s pretty much how I cleared up my Bank of America credit card. Let me see them collect 20.74% APR on a zero balance card. In your face!!
  2. Building an emergency fund. The idea of an emergency fund is emergencies. It’s said that an emergency fund should be “three to six months worth of basic living expenses”. Without going into too much detail, this will also require me/us to practice some serious snowflaking habits. Now, I started this one out the wrong way. What did I do? I put $100 in a tip jar. Now, this is a special tip jar, but M just showed me a neat way of retrieving money from this jar so I’ve safely retrieved the $100 from this jar, but that’s not what was wrong with my approach. The money was just sitting in my tip-jar when there are no-cost high yield savings accounts that are liquid (i.e. easily accessible assets)! So, I have started an Orange Savings Account with a 4.10% annual percentage yield. All you need to open this account with is: $1.
  3. I’m also learning that it is a good thing to participate in another type of retirement account (the IRA or individual retirement account) called a Roth IRA. I would go out right now and start one, but the biggest obstacle is committing to the somewhat hefty payments that need to be made monthly. Additionally, I’d like to set up one for both Matt and myself so it will take some number crunching. Last night, M & I couldn’t sleep and we actually sat down (or up cos we were lounging on the bed) and tallied our cost of living. We are going to do some interesting things with that discovery and I’m pumped about being savings, et cetera.
  4. A key principle to getting rid of debt and not getting stuck in the cycle is not channeling all your funds towards the debt such that when some mini-disaster strikes, you will end up having to resort to dipping into the credit card pool. It’s taking a little while for me to wrap my head around that, but it makes perfect sense. For a while last year, I would throw quite a bit at both cards and by the end of the month, I’d find out that I was essentially going nowhere! However, little chips here and there caused me to wipe out the Bank of America card, some old lingering school fees, etc.

That’s about it for now. I’ve been going nuts tinkering with my WordPress 2.3.2 installation because contrary to my last post’s congratulatory tone, I still am getting the “tinyMCE is undefined” error which causes the toolbar to disappear. I finally hunted down Dean’s FCKEditor plugin for WordPress and I’m typing merrily once again. I hope the WordPress developers fix whatever is causing the TinyMCE toolbar to disappear. I mean, I reuploaded a fresh instance of WordPress 2.3.2 (after deleting old files) and my toolbar showed briefly. Today, I logged in and coudn’t get my toolbar to show. Anyhow, I’m working with the FCKEditor now so I don’t care too much. In more WordPress news, I’ve been discovering some really cool plugins most notably StatPress! It’s like WordPress.com stats on steroids!! l recently transitioned from using the WordPress Reports plugin because it kept “forgetting” that I’d put in my Google account information a zillion times. So, I decided to go with Local Analytics which gives a lot of customization room. Still, I really miss the nice report view that the WordPress reports gave me. I haven’t gotten used to the really complex Google analytics interface and it takes me a while to figure who visited my site, and from where. It’s a confusing mish-mash. That’s why I still have Statcounter running on this site because it condenses the information and presents it in relevant bite-sized and digestible chunks. Hey, I’m easy to please.

Oh and lastly, I finally gave into activating the Share This plugin because it really wiped out several things in one fell swoop: giving you the ability to email/IM/twitter any post you like to your friend/enemy/frenemy as well as posting it to any or all of your accounts on Facebook/MySpace or the next hot social networking site. I didn’t like that the original developer (Alex King) had sold the plugin and that I had to sign up to use the plugin, but it wasn’t that painful and I just hope I don’t get spammed. Besides, the older version of the plugin is still available. He’s pretty involved in the WordPress community and I trust his plugins. Alright, I’m getting tired. It’s red flag day and I’m really twitchy. I wonder how come I am relatively docile up until the day comes. Then, I turn all grumpy and usually, my grumpiness is even what alerts me to the possibility that the red lady’s come a-knocking! I know, weird. I’m pretty regular although not to the exact day. It’s more along the lines of a windows of 7 days. So, stay outta my way for the next 5-7 days. lol

A brief update

Here are some words of advice to WordPress users who download themes from the WordPress Theme Viewer site: make sure to visit the theme authors’ sites to download the true latest versions. Case in point: Breaking News by ShinRa House. On the Theme Viewer, it’s still only version 1.0. On a hunch, I downloaded the version of Breaking News on the author’s site and lo & behold, it came up as version 2.6.ร‚ย  If only the theme viewer site was as streamlined as the official WordPress plugins directory! I am more in love with my theme right now because it’s not picture heavy at all. I will be working hard to add some more tweaks, but out of the box, it fits all my needs right now. My first week back at work was uneventful and a bit slow. I didn’t have too much to do, but I know that the pace will be picking up pretty quickly. There are a couple of goals that need to be reached and I need to be on my grind. So, as next week rolls along, I shall be rolling my sleeves up along with it. Let’s get this party started!! ๐Ÿ™‚

We’re still apartment-hunting. Thanks in no small part to my aggressive cost-cutting measures, our power (gas) bill is still low.ร‚ย  However, little niggling issues (mostly on my part) are cropping up and making me just a wee bit extra-eager to get our own place. Since I’ve started working, I really get at most 4 hrs per week day to myself. I don’t want to spend it housekeeping especially if it’s not stuff that I’ve majorly contributed to or accumulated. I do a bit of housework myself. Just not as much as I used to when I was jobless. However, PC likes delegating during his free time and me, I like to do things as the spirit moves me. So, even paying me will not entice me to do certain duties unless aforementioned spirit moves me. ๐Ÿ™‚ *sigh* We’ll see how things pan out.

In other news, lol, I just made a batch of kick-ass chili (very thoroughly inspired by J, M’s sister). I followed the Pinto Bean Chili Recipe as found on About.com with some minor modifications. I soaked the pinto beans overnight to get them to soften. Then, I fired up a pot of water to boil and dumped the beans in there and left to simmer for about 1hr or until the bean skins peel off if lightly touched or blown upon. Then, I dumped a big can (and a quarter can) of diced Hunts tomatoes and allowed this to simmer with the beans for over 30mins (the recipe said 5 mins, but I began to panic because it didn’t taste like Julie’s chili yet. lol). Then, I fried up (in 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil) 2 big green bell peppers and 1 and half large onions till the onions turned brown.ร‚ย  I added my seasonings consisting of chili powder, curry (I thought the recipe said curry, but it was cumin. Oops. lol), garlic powder, dried oregano leaves and some maggi. I let the chili simmer for over 4 hrs and M said it was awesome. I am definitely going to try my hand at this again.

In other other news,ร‚ย  I’ve paid off my BoA credit card. I am more than relieved about this. I can now focus all my energies to paying off my SunTrust card. I’m reading a bunch of personal finance articles that are alternately uplifting and scary. lol. I’ll have to write about my findings in a separate post. Till I do, take care!