Some Solid Hosting Advice

Rouge Amoeba has a post up with some pretty solid advice on things to consider with a web host. This whole topic was spurred by the scheduled power outage at that went terribly wrong.

I found this particularly interesting since I was one of the many people who got caught up in Dreamhost’s outage. This site was down for what seemed like the better part of Saturday and Sunday. I was still seeing some intermittent flakiness Sunday night and Monday morning with the mysql server.

A look at the comments on Dreamhost’s status blog shows that there are a lot of really pissed off people about this.

I does really suck to have your site down for a prolonged period of time. That said, I’m not really very pissed off about this. I pay about $8 a month for the service. I get everything I could want to play with. They are very responsive and fast with the changes and updates. Also, I get almost unlimited bandwidth. I don’t really see much to complain about here.

If I was hosting a commercial site where I was relying on income from the actual website, I would be panicked. Then again, if I was running a commercial site, I probably wouldn’t be hosting it with Dreamhost. In web hosting, reliability is what costs the big bucks.

CSS Techniques

Monday By Noon has a good list of CSS techniques to help you save your sanity:

The list is good, but I’d have to say I disagree with the first item:

* { margin:0; padding:0; border:0; }

This is meant to set all of the properties to 0 to make sure the browsers aren’t adding any weird spacing. I did this for a time, but later decided to just work with the defaults that the browser gives you.

I find that when I reset everything to 0, I just end up adding a lot more styles and styling things that I wouldn’t have otherwise styled.

Where’s My ‘Green’ Refund?

Last night I finally got down to doing my taxes. Overall, it wasn’t too painful for me. Then again, I’m not going to mess around trying to nitpick at every deduction I can find.

I used Turbo Taxes for the second year. It’s pretty easy to go through and in the end I feel at least like I’m not getting totally screwed, or worse, in danger of being audited. I’d hate to have to sit in front of an IRS agent and explain that actually I have no idea why Turbo Tax gave me that deduction. I might feel silly then.

One thing about the whole process really bothered me though. I filed federal and state taxes (Massachusetts in my case). My basic process goes like this: Turbo Tax asks me some bizarre question and I answer yes or no to it. In most cases the answer is either no, or “I don’t know what that is” (which also means no). Overall, it makes things pretty simple.

I was amazed about how many questions I got asked regarding homes and cars:

  • Did I purchase a fuel efficient car last year?
  • Did I purchase an electric car last year?
  • Did I purchase a hybrid car last year?
  • Did I commute (regularly) to work last year and have proof of the tolls I paid?
  • Did I spend money making my home more energy efficient last year?

These things are great. If giving a tax break to people who buy fuel efficient cars actually makes Americans buy them, then I am all for this. I support hybrid, electric, or otherwise efficient cars 100%. If I bought a car, it would be a hybrid.

But that’s the problem: if I bought a car.

You see, I live in Boston. I don’t own a car. I don’t need one. I could buy one. But, I actively choose not to own car. I ride the T. I love the idea that I’m not contributing to the traffic jams, parking problems and other general crappy situations of the city.

The T really stinks a lot of the time. It’s usually not very convenient. I think that I’ve gotten frostbitten many times while waiting for the bus. Grocery shopping is miserable. And oh yeah, I can’t actually leave the city.

I grew up in the somewhat rural suburbs of southern Maine. Owning a car was not an option. If you wanted to work or live, you needed a car (unless you were training for the Tour de France or a marathon). Now that I live in the city, I love that this is actually a choice. I can go anywhere in Boston I want for under $2. I can go out (anywhere in Boston), and I never have to worry about how I’m going to get home.

Back to the point. Where’s my tax deduction for choosing not to own a car at all? Where’s my tax deduction for using public transportation 365 days a year? It’s not exactly cheap any more to ride the T.

Shouldn’t I get some sort of tax break for renting a house that my landlord refuses to make more energy efficient? I paid an awful lot of money on heating last year.

Enough of this self-absorbed rant. Doing this tax stuff just reminds me how truly broken the entire system is. ‘Til next year…

Browser Testing Sequence

Here is an interesting post on what one web developer does to test a site in all of the relevant browsers.

I think that it’s a good general description of what browsers you should test and things to be looking at in each test.

For instance, some of the older browsers (like IE 5.5 and IE 5) aren’t worth your time to make the site look perfect in them. It is however probably advisable to at least make sure your site is still readable and useable in them (even if that means stripping out the JavaScript and CSS).

Generally speaking, this is about the same process that I follow. I’m not nearly as vigilant with all of the smaller browsers though:

When something major (a full page template or a particularly tricky part of a design) is done I give it a quick check in the latest version of every browser that runs natively on Mac OS X. Currently that means Camino, Flock, iCab, Netscape, OmniWeb, Opera, SeaMonkey, Shiira, WebKit Nightly, and any other newcomers.

Birth of An Apple Store

They’ve started work on the new Apple Store that’s going in on Newbury Street in Boston, MA. Somebody put up a webcam and is recording all of the exciting action in it’s full glory. Well, okay, actually things move pretty slowly. Check out the blog though because they’ve put together time lapse videos for each day the construction has been going on.

Via MacUser: Watch the new Boston Apple store construction… live.