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  • NegBox 7:02 am on June 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , AWS, Cache, , Cloud, , Plugins, S3, W3 Total Cache, Wordpress   

    How to Accelerate your Site to Warp Factor 9.9 without paying $99 a month 

    Ever wish you could deliver web pages and graphics at blazing speeds without having to sell your firstborn?




    Before CloudFront Blog Load Times




    99% of the content of this blog is now speeding from Amazon’s CloudFront Content Distribution Network. Check the page source code – whatever comes from “cloud.negbox.com” is actually coming from a server at an Amazon location near YOU. Yes, YOU. Not me, not my hosting provider… You.




    After CloudFront Blog Load Times

    After CloudFront Blog Load Times




    I never thought I would set up my own little CDN in a few hours – I thought these things were hard as hell to set up. Amazon has made it incredibly simple, and you don’t have to pick up the phone to talk to any IT ‘tard. I basically muddled my way through. The really nice bit is that I estimate that for my 3GB of storage and an ungodly amount of traffic on this blog, the monthly cost I would pay for storage, transfer, etc would not exceed a coffee at Starbucks even when I double my realistic estimate. Yup, this is really cheap.

    Now imagine hosting your landing page and images on CloudFront. Wouldn’t that be sweet for the PPV mavens?

    Turns out Amazon has been offering for some time this service called CloudFront. If you’ve heard of Akamai (by far the biggest name in this field) and other Content Distribution Networks – you know what this is. They put the stuff in a redundant cloud close to the people that request the files. Theoretically if folks from Botswanahilii start requesting your pages, your pages start getting replicated to servers closer to Botswanahilii – That’s the gist of a CDN and I understand CloudFront follows it to some degree – not going to split hairs on this one.

    Signing up for Amazon Web Services is dead-simple. Setting up CloudFront is not for the faint of heart – it involved no coding, and can be done easily – but there is little in the way of user-level help screens – you get tons of help pages, but its all aimed at developers. Just do like me: Close your eyes, plug some values that make  sense and cross your fingers… You did it on every other test in school – this is no different.

    Amazon has a really nice web interface for all their web services… I’m not going to go into how awesome all their other services are – just check them out, they are awesome.

    If you’ve got balls of steel, you can follow my instructions:

    1 – Signup to AWS (Amazon Web Services) – Give them your billing info.

    2 – Go into the AWS interface, go to the tab labeled S3 and “Create a Bucket” any name is fine – if it gives you errors, try a more unique name. “Bucket” is probably taken.

    3 – Go into the CloudFront tab and “Create a Distribution” and give it the name of your blog, or your pet Iguana, don’t really matter.

    3a – Select download for the type (I really don’t know what the difference is – this is how I did it). On the “Origin” drop down, select the name of the bucket you created on step 2

    3b – On the CNAME field, put a subdomain you will be creating for this file distribution service. I chose “cloud” so in that field I put in “cloud.negbox.com” … The way NegBox is set up (no www) I could have perfectly well chosen  “www” on CloudFront and could serve some static pages from http://www.negbox.com/index.html straight from CloudFront (note it doesn’t do “root” or document finding, so pointing your browser at the root of your CloudFront subdomain returns gibberish).

    4 – Go to your hosting provider’s DNS tool or your registrar’s DNS tool – Whoever is doing name resolution for you at the moment – and add a CNAME record. The Cname Record has only two pieces of information – One is going to be the name you want to redirect, in this case “cloud.negbox.com” the other piece of info is WHERE you want to redirect it to – that comes from the AWS interface – when you are looking at the CloudFront dashboard you can see your network’s line that says “Delivery Method, Domain, Comment, Bucket”. That domain name that is something like d87sdhs98.cloudfront.com is the second bit of info you need for the CNAME record.

    5 – You’re done. Sorta – Now you need to redirect traffic to the cloud.

    To get WordPress working with CloudFront I am using W3 Total Cache from Frederick Townes. I can’t even begin to explain what an AMAZING piece of software the W3 Total Cache plugin is. I am simply amazed it is free – he could charge in the hundreds for this piece of software. One hint, though – Don’t use the current distribution release – get the development build 0.9 from wordpres.org, this new release in the pipeline worked flawlessly with CloudFront.

    To really use the plug-in is going to take a bit of time to figure out and learn – but its amazing. It scans your site and uploads to the CDN the files it needs, it minifies and caches your pages an uploads the cached pages, updates your .htaccess, goes through all your posts and fetches any content you’ve linked to, brings it into the media library and then exports it to the CDN… In short, it won’t wipe your butt, but it comes pretty close.

    If you need some hand-holding, they actually offer support, installation and professional services… Or you could go dig into the much more exhaustive posts on how to use W3 Total Cache with Self-Hosted CDN from Udegbunam Chukwudi and his follow-up post – His post is about self-hosted CDNs, but still very useful.

    What does this all translate to? Well, this site loads about 40-50% faster when profiled with simple Safari tools. Yes, the women are coming faster at you.

    It also means I’m going to seriously think about how I use CloudFront to accelerate any landing pages, blogs, flogs, etc.

    Go forth and Accelerate!

     
    • Frederick Townes 10:31 pm on June 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      A great how to post. Thank you. 🙂

      • Slave Rat 4:32 am on July 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Frederick, you’re a genius with your W3 Total Cache plug-in. Once I got the right version, I could not believe how simple it was to push everything to the cloud – and keep it updated automatically – plus the minification and cache. Hats off.

    • Mike Chiasson 12:28 am on July 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Heh a good lil quick tutorial. I had thought about this a while ago, the benefits are obvious, but I never actually looked at the possible price. I know Dreamhost offers a really quick integration for their customers.

      A while back I wrote a post on how bad my analytics reported on my PPV traffic from my shared hosting plans. However on my dedicated server the load times are like 5-10x better and I still see a big fall out from what I’m actually paying for from what my analytics shows. So sometimes I’m not so sure that load times matter as much as we all think, people are getting faster at hitting that X on the pop up!
      My recent post Kicked From an Offer

      • negbox 4:50 am on July 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Mike, for price check out their online calculator here http://calculator.s3.amazonaws.com/calc5.html Its very complete. Its in the same ballpark as any traditionally hosted solution for most intents and purposes – you're not going to rack up a $3000 bill unless you're running animoto.com – Which runs entirely (rendering and everything) on Amazon's cloud.
        I saw your post on the PPV view rates – I was thinking of you when I wrote about the PPV mavens. 🙂 … This may be a dumb question, but… Are those analytics for PPV view rates javascript-based? If so I've heard its a good idea to compare to good ole AWstats and other log analysis tools.
        Speaking of BlueHost… Damn… I just Googled "Bluehost CDN"… They integratred CloudFront within four months of release and it is a push-button integration – not all this stuff I just did. I smell a trial migration coming at least for one site.

    • Udegbunam Chukwudi 8:32 pm on August 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the mention but do please edit the post ’cause my tutorial is for self-hosted CDN not CloudFront.

      Cheers 😉

      • Slave Rat 9:29 pm on August 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, I’ve updated the post. Really nice guide. Thank you again!

        • Udegbunam Chukwudi 12:07 pm on August 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply

          Hey what’s up? I just wanted to call your attention to the fact that your link back to my blog is till showing “how to use W3 Total Cache with Cloudfront from Udegbunam Chukwudi” as the anchor text. Do please change it to “how to use W3 Total Cache with Self-Hosted CDN from Udegbunam Chukwudi”.
          Thank you sir ;-).

          P.S: Since you say you’ve already made the change do please clear your cache as I’m still seeing the old revision in my browser 😉

          P.P.S: Your contact form ain’t sending mails from my end.

          • Slave Rat 5:24 pm on August 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply

            LOL.. Thanks for the tip-off. Fixed I believe!

  • NegBox 7:55 pm on June 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Wordpress   

    WordPress 3 Released! 

    Wohoooo! WordPress 3 is now officially live! Lets see how many of my sites I can break with this! Check out the features Video below!

     
  • NegBox 8:56 pm on May 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Wordpress   

    Headway Marketplace 

    Nice! Clay and team have opened the doors to the Headway Marketplace. If you don’t know what it is or why you should care… Read up, you’re missing out on the WordPress theme to end all Themes.

    Headway Theme Marketplace

     
  • NegBox 12:48 am on May 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Wordpress   

    WordPress Lockdown by IP 

    Nice article by Matt Cutts on protecting a wordpress installation with an .htaccess file.

    There are also one or two some security plug-ins by Askapache that you can run that will do all sorts of magic – But quite honestly getting them to work is not that easy depending on your hosting and using them is anything but friendly.

     
  • NegBox 4:03 am on April 24, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Datafeed, Digital Quill, , , Wordpress   

    DigitalQuill Has Best Datafeed Plugin for WordPress 

    Digital Quill seems to have the best and pretty inexpensive (around $40 – unlimited) plugin for using datafeeds on a WordPress site – Or importing from Excel or CSV file into WordPress. Read the tutorials and seems really good for what I need… It even updates posts when you change the source file! Nice, real nice.

    I have a ton of data I need to make available – I am really good with Excel, so I can create and update Excel really easy. SQL commands – its been six years since I’ve done any serious SQL stuff, and even then it wasn’t that serious. This is a match made in heaven.

    Update: Theres a problem with this plug-in: PHP timeout. If you are trying to import a lot of records, depending on your host and your setup the plugin may time out and it has no provisions for recovery – it’s a manual and frustrating task. Backup your database before proceeding. I hear that WP Review plugin comes with “Importman” plugin – it seems to do pretty much everything this one does – I’m wondering if that works better.

     
  • NegBox 8:35 pm on April 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , SimplifiedSES, Wordpress, WPCloaker   

    BlackHat World – The Dark Side of the Cheese 

    Sharing a link that I’ve found… “intriguing” in the past.

    Black Hat World

    Whenever I go there I always learn something. The audience is really very technical – the “Black Hat” they’re referring to is 99% on the technology side. I’ve yet to see anything on naughty marketing techniques.

    Today I stopped by Black Hat World looking for the “ShomoneyX” course. Its free at shoemoneyx.com but Jeremy has it on an autoresponder that takes three freaking months to deliver it complete – 12 installements, one each week. I’m on week 1.

    Well, you get the picture. In ten minutes I went from Week 1 to Week 12.

    Like I said, I always learn something. In this case I just learned what “WordPress Cloaking” means. Essentially they show a blog to the search engines and forward live users to an offer page. Call me clueless, but setting that up seems like a waste of good time that can be used in building something real – not a card castle.

    Anyway – Here’s more info on WordPress Cloaking is that floats your boat: Simplified SES and WPCloacker with some informative videos.

     
  • NegBox 4:53 pm on April 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bar, Digg, , , Wordpress   

    Co-Opting Content with Digg-like Bar for WordPress 

    What a cool plug-in! It’s called “WordPress Bar“. I’m trying it out right now. Try any of the external links like this one and notice the bar at the top. It does a TON of things, including tracking clicks, shortening URLs, giving users a way to share your post after they’ve left your site, without having to return and co-opt the destination page.

    I’m really impressed. This guys should be charging for this..

    Look at what happens when you go to the WP-Smart Tools site following my link, the top bar looks like part of the destination site (click to enlarge):

    Wordpress Bar - Click to enlarge

    That’s nothing.. Look at what happens when  I click on the little Facebook icon to share on Facebook:

    Wordpress Bar co-opting link - Click to enlarge

    Facebook takes the title and URL of the short URL, and since your short URL is copied from the original, well.. You get the picture – You co-opt the destination content, pretty much! Now whenever someone else on Facebook clicks n that short link, they’ll have your navigation bar at the top… Rinse and repeat if they share/bookmark something.

    All I can say is: Wow. And Free.

     
  • NegBox 5:37 am on April 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bickering, , , , Wordpress   

    Facebook Theme – and some minor bickering 

    Theme is called “Smells-like-facebook

    The story of how I bumped into it is notable… I was reading Jeremy’s post about Patrick Curl.

    Basically, someone had problems with a ClickBank refund on the Shoemoney System and Patrick jumped in and posted some conjectures about Jeremy – topped with a character attack (“He’s just a two bit thief.”)

    Then Jeremy comes out with a scalding post about Patrick, and adds a laundry-list of all the amazing stuff he has done. What the fuck? I love the post for the summary of Jeremy’s story, but seriously dude, nobody cares if he calls you a “Two-bit-whore-in-a-one-horse-town-with-a-one-trick-pony-five-cents-short-of-a-dollar” – I know Jeremy cares about his character (look at the reaction)- but do you really need to step down five rungs and address Patrick by calling him a “Social Media Idiot”.

    Ideally, Jemery should have ignored the personal attack and if he felt there was a need to explain what he accomplished in the past, then just do a nice “Story of” post and let it go… Align the messages and let them collide – don’t smash them and get splattered!

    Anyway.. All this bullshit was actually good! This guy Patrick is using a Facebook styled theme called “Smells-like-facebook” – Which looks wickedly like a Facebook page. I understand from one of the Sheomoney videos that Facebook doesn’t allow you to advertise and link to pages that look like Facebook… And Jeremy commented they convert like crazy. …. Hmm.. How about using this theme and driving traffic via some other means – leave facebook out of it.

    I see myself using the Theme Split Testing plug-in I got with WP-Smart Tools and WP-LinkEngine two of the most awesome-est tools in my arsenal.

     
  • NegBox 2:10 pm on March 24, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Automattic, , , Wordpress   

    This “P2” theme from Automattic serves its purpose well. Since it ain’t broken, I’m going to try to fix it! Its a great way to procrastinate on more important stuff

     
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