SSL Enabled

I just enabled SSL for free on my site  simplysaru.com, by following the instructions here.

 

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I am using the free SSL certificate from https://letsencrypt.org/.  Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority (CA), run for the public’s benefit.  The service is in public beta, but that didn’t stop me from trying it out on my site.

I tested my site with SSLlabs test site. Here is how secure my site is.

The installtion and activation was extremely easy. I will recommend you try it out if you haven’t already.

Designing blogs

This one is a must read if you are trying to redesign or design your blog. A very in depth write up and a mindful condensation of years of experience writing and designing blogs. My next redesign will have these neatly incorporated. I am hoping to do it myself and hence i don’t have any deadlines set, expect the design in a few months.

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Personal Blog on Amazon EC2

Its been a very happy 55 days since I moved to Amazon EC2 for my personal blog. Yeah, yeah, I understand the puzzled look on your face. Let me explain why you should consider moving to EC2 as well. You can thank me later :).

Over the past decade the best thing that has happened for people is that computing became cheaper, and its getting cheaper day by day. Amongst this vast revolution is the Amazon Ec2 cloud revloution, to which I am thankful for and may be you will be too very soon.Over a year back Amazon launched a Free Tier plan for its customers opening up the cloud computing for bloggers like us who dont make money out of our blogs yet. So what? Why should you make a switch to something so complicated ?

Here you go:-

  1. You pay for what you use and for the first year, if you are in the free tier, you hardly pay a dollar in the first year which is totally cool.

  2. There is hardly any downtime of your site. For the past 55 days I have had 2 minutes of down time which is nothing compared to any other hosting provider. hardly any outages since jan 12th

  3. The response time of the site is averaging around 400 ms at max which is totally kick ass.

    See the steep drop in response time since in the month of Jan.

  4. Security is not much of a deal as long as your are keeping your virtual server updated.

  5. Back ups and restores are just a button click away.

  6. Page loads are much faster.

  7. With all of the above, peace of mind is almost always assured after the switch and settling down glitches. Yeah you heard me, there most likely will be minor issues, till you get the perfect customization. No transition is perfect, so be prepared for a bit of hassle, trust me its totally worth it after its all done.

  8. Ofcourse you can boast your geekiness before your friends that your blog is hosted on Amazon EC2 🙂

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p>Now the world is not perfect anywhere, is it? So what are the drawbacks u ask me? Amazon EC2 is not a very user friendly environment if you are a total newbie to setting up servers, running them and maintaining them. It does need a fair bit of knowledge of how things work in the computer world, but dont be discouraged,Its a worth while learning curve that anybody can learn if they commit to put their mind to it. If you have been self hosting your blog on any host, you will be able to manage it without any issues.

I moved to EC2 free tier on 12th of Jan, prior to which I was hosting this very same blog on Godaddy. I just didn’t find the value with them, given over the 4 months of hosting i did with them, the blog had a total of 6 hours of down time and the response time was averaging around 3 seconds and content loading was very slow. That made me think of alternatives and here I am with a my personal blog on Amazon EC2 and I am truly delighted.

Some useful info if you are considering to move to EC2 yourself.

Bitnami is the preconfigured Virtual stack I used for running WordPress on Amazon EC2, which really is the easiest way to host your blog on EC2.

Here is a tutorial that helped me move to EC2.

Support documents of Bitnami are here incase you need help tweaking.

Copper Egg, The most simple and the extensive elegant tool, with which I monitor my servers health.

Note:- A word of caution, these are my learnings from my personal experiences and how things worked for me, so try them with a pinch of salt. Not all problems have the same solution, so may be this solution might not work well for you, so dont come here whining, i would be glad to help but only to an extent and I wont take any reponsibility if i things break on your blog. Thanks for reading, please feel free to share if you like it.

Google Analytics on wordpress.com -My findings

Well I am sure you a have reached here after a quite a bit of search about enabling Google Analytics on your free wordpress.com blog. There is good news and bad news. The good news is that, it is possible if you have a custom domain setup on wordpress.com.  If you don’t have, you are out of luck temporarily.[you can always buy one 🙂 ].  Since this post is NOT about how to get around setting google analytics, please head over to the last paragraph for the instructions. But before you go there let me just warn you a bit about how my efforts fared at this attempt and what I gained and what I lost.

Google analytics is just awesome, and i will miss it badly. I had it for a month and it was just great.  Yes, i undid the workaround I had done a month and a few days back. The issues that I had were of page load times. Pages with a lot of images like this one that gets the most vistiors on my blog took more than 17 second to load (yes i tested them personally,  and average page load time for the same page on Google Analytics was 14secs.) Now after undoing the work around it has considerably reduced like (8 secs).

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What was surprising was a few days back when I checked I had this message popping on the site, which was nothing I had done. Well a close investigation said that it was protecting the security of my site and was put up there by cloud flare guys. Well this is a bit annoying to me in the first place, I cant even imagine how bad it would be for a user who came here due to a search engine. Should be disappointing at the very least. I am not sure what triggered this, it could have been a setting change I did or it was something default of theirs, but regardless of who is to be blamed, I don’t like it and i do not want it. The page load times and the security was more than enough for me to stop this hack around. To me happy readers matter more than the stats.So i will sacrifice the in depth stats for now.

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I am not advising you to stop from trying, i am just sharing my set of thoughts and issues. If you feel its worth the hassle, please feel free to try them from here. [I wonder why two pages for it though, cheap pageview tactics] My recommendation would be, Its better to host your own blog elsewhere [Not on wordpress.com] and have tracking. Remember there are no Free Lunches 😉 if they are they are probably not great.

 

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