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Web Tech

Posted on 11/02/2013 by Adam

Anyone who knows me should also know that I love technology.  They should also know that I love the web.  I created this website when I registered AdamWelch.Co.Uk on the 7th of February 2002. So the ten year milestone passed me with little celebration (as it did you I’m sure) a little over a year ago.  In 2002 not a lot of people had personal domains, definitely no where near as many as those that do now.

With that in mind, I thought I’d document – for myself mainly – the history of the site, and explain in a little more detail how it all works now.

2002 – 2006 I used a few different hosts at the beginning of the website.  Non of which were very good, but they were cheap, and very few people viewed the thing anyway.  It first hosted a few html pages I hacked together from code I’d learnt, and a little later a nice php based gallery system for my photos (well ahead of facebook me you know).

However in January of 2005 I made the Cillit Bang Experiment which even today proves quite popular.  If that had been released today, and proved to be as popular, it would have been considered as ‘going viral’.  Back in 2005, it was just considered to be very popular (tens of thousands of hits within a couple of days).  Unfortunately this success caused some issues for my webserver of the time, enough so I had to offload the images to my ISPs host (which thankfully had reasonably fast servers which didn’t have bandwidth limits).  With the experiment still proving popular a year later, it became clear it was time for a new host.

In early 2006 I signed up with Servage.  A clustered web host which again, a few years later would rebrand using the latest term, a ‘cloud’ web host.  Their offering meant I had unlimited bandwidth and space and could host as many domains as I fancied.  I guess this is where my love of web services started – I had the space to play.

Servage hosted all of my websites – not just this one.  What had become the (probably) biggest Terrorvision fansite, silly web jokes such as RateMyHate.Co.Uk and a games map download server.  All eating a few gigs of bandwidth a month but are now either dead, or dying.

By late 2012 my relationship with Servage needed to come to an end.  Their outages and less than perfect customer service, and some long term annoyances meant I needed a new host.  After much searching and comparison I was able to find my current host, Vidahost. Once again a clustered service where the php/html is served by one server, the MySQL by another etc.  It has proven to be excellent so far.

The biggest advantage in recent months however has been a change in DNS servers.  I’ve been trying out a few solutions over the last few months. I changed from using my domain registrars utilising two servers, one in UK, one in Holland to pointhq where I used servers in the US east and west coast, London and Bournemouth. Now I have found a home at Cloudflare.  Their free service is fantastic.  Distributed Dynamic DNS across the world and they’re also a content delivery network.  Basically this means they cache some of my popular webpages and deliver some of the content directly.  This makes it faster for the end user (the content is much closer), reduces the demand on my server, and cuts my bandwidth bill.  Triple win.

This system was extreamly useful when a picture I took of the International Space Station was retweeted by @VirtualAstro (I’ve blogged before on how and why I host my own twitter images).  It was retweeted a modest amount of times, but that picture was seen about 5,000 times in a matter of a couple of hours.  With that picture already distributed to the Cloudflare network my web server didn’t have to do much at all.

Although admittedly not that many people come to this website to read my posts, it has become increasingly more popular because of social networking, mainly twitter.  The front page is powered by Rebelmouse.  A simply amazing (in my humble opinion) social front page that can aggregate output from twitter, facebook, instagram and RSS feeds into a modular, regularly updating stream.

Due to the fact that this website is my very public face on the internet, I try to stay mindful of my reputation online, my digital footprint if you like.  I try as much as possible to stay positive, polite and where possible a little humorous. The same goes for my twitter, vine and facebook accounts (although I rarely use the latter).  Although that’s a subject for a different post, using a different hat.