FLDS: illegal or just weird?

I’m getting a funny feeling about what Texas has done with the FLDS people in Eldorado.

Sure, the FLDS church is very, very weird. Their theology is heretical. Sometimes they have done bad things. E.g., their previous dictator, Warren Jeffs, is in jail for various sex-related crimes.

But the Texas clan, why the extremes? Where’s this 16 year old complainant? If they have such a good case, why did they not have grounds to arrest the supposed perp? (Yes, they met with him.) Why are most the captured children forcibly separated from mothers who are accused of no crimes? Why are no facts coming out? Why the delays?

Is something up? Does Texas have a real case? Are Texas taxpayers about to be soaked in a major civil suit?

Is weird now illegal?

Storm hits Plano. Both trees fall.

While our floors were being redone, I stayed with inlaws. (Hence the commuting piece.)

3:00 AM Thursday morning, an unusually severe storm hit Plano. The next morning, we found that my inlaws’ street had a lot of vegetation damage. Leaves and branches were everywhere.

The most stark damage was right next door where this medium-sized tree fell over:

My bedroom was on the corner of the house closest to this tree. I never heard it tip over, probably because of the pounding horizontal rain and the multiple lightning strikes each second.

Here’s what astounded me. Well after I drove away from their house, I saw this:

Yes, the wind turned my folding mirror against the car and pulled the mirror out! I have no idea how this happened; that mirror takes some force to move!

Fortunately, the inlaws found the mirror. It was on the pavement below the car. I am lucky I didn’t run it over!

The car is overdue for inspection, and this will unfortunately delay it further.

Web host comparison

I host all my sites at 1and1.com using its Linux “Beginner” hosting. Even though it’s called “beginner,” I am barely using my package’s limits. My disk utilization is about 15% of max, and my monthly bandwidth utilization is at 0.5%. At $4 per month, this package is a steal.

It still has several downsides:

  • No announce or discussion lists. Only 1and1’s $10/month and $20/month packages support these but are arbitrarily limited to 5 lists.
  • Arbitrary limits on some resources such as subdomains (25) or MySql databases (10).
  • Slooooooooooooooow. Sometimes pages on my blog or other sites take several seconds to load. It’s probably because of overwhelmed MySql servers.
  • Incompetent support. Level 1 is outsourced to foreigners who barely know what they are doing.
  • Intransigent support. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to convince level 1 support that, yes, I really do know what I am talking about. I’ve lost email thanks to this.
  • Missing features. For example, no SSH shell access or Image Magick.

Can I improve by going with another shared hosting service?

Probably not. All inexpensive shared hosts operate on the overselling model, meaning they intentionally overbook resources, sometimes badly. All the major overseller-model hosts, including Dreamhost, AN Host, Hostgator, GoDaddy, Bluehost, etc., all have plenty of “x sucks” Google results. E.g., dreamhost sucks.

If you are going with a shared host, just go with the cheapest one that doesn’t suck too badly. 1and1.com foots that bill for now.

The next step from shared hosting are virtual private servers (VPS). This is where a powerful machine emulates many complete computers, and you rent one of those virtualized computers. We use this at SMU for a growing percentage of our servers.

Several of the shared hosts offer VPS. However, how can I trust these hosts not to oversell VPS, too? Plus, the resource allocation is pitiful. You can’t get 512MB RAM on 1on1’s VPS until you pony up almost $60 per month.

The next step up is dedicated hosting. This is even less price efficient, understandable since you are renting actual physical machines. And since these are physical machines, you get the added complexity of discrete machine management, a real pain during hardware problems.

CoreNetworks.net has apparently inexpensive dedicated hosting by a long shot, but you know what they say about the lowest bidder…

Suppose I was to get a dedicated or VPS hosting plan? I know enough to hack together a Ubuntu server, but I would have trouble being a true server administrator. I need a trusted individual who can administer it for me.

Amazon.com’s Elastic Cloud Computing could be a solution. It goes back to the VPS model, but Amazon’s reputation for reliability and (relative) inexpensiveness is enticing. They just a feature called elastic IP, which mimics a static IP.

My mind is spinning on alternatives. I know a guy who has CoreNetworks.net’s $50/month midrange MR28 package. I’m willing to pay him much higher than $4/month if he can host my sites. The biggest limitation is only a 120 GB hard drive. However, since I am only using 1.5 GB right now, would that ever really be a problem? But Amazon.com’s Elastic Cloud Computing sure is tempting…

Likely outcome? Analysis paralysis, meaning I’ll do nothing!

Commuting is not for me

For a few days this week, I’ve commuted 20.8 miles from work to Plano.

We had to vacate our home because the wood floors are being refinished; this is the last step of the restoration from the ceiling collapse. A long wood-floored hallway connects all rooms, so there’s no way we could avoid walking on it.

Commuting is for the birds. Even though this commute is moderate by modern standards, it was 220% more miles and 150% more time than my regular drive to work. And because it is on a freeway, I get to experience maddening, random slowdowns as traffic unpredictably oscillates between freeflow and congestion. And yes, this happens even with good following distances and right lane travel, Steve Blow! (link)

So let’s see, I could commute and get a larger house and lower crime in exchange for:

  • No scenery.
  • No trees.
  • Maddening daily commute.
  • Loss of more than an┬áhour of my time each day.
  • Boring neighborhood.

No, thank you.