USPS quadruple fail

USPS screwed up part of my son’s birthday. My mother sent him an overnight package, but USPS failed four times:

  1. Took 3 days to deliver the overnight package.
  2. Demanded a signature even though my mother marked the “WAIVER OF SIGNATURE” box and signed appropriately.
  3. Claimed to have left a notice (that I needed to pick up the package personally), but in fact declined to do so.
  4. Never re-notified me that the package was waiting. I finally found out because my mother asked me about it. I was able to call the local post office 2 hours before they would have returned it as undeliverable.

Go to http://usps.gov and check on package EH45 2451 528U S if you want to see this incompetence for yourself.

I say privatize and de-unionize the USPS and let it sink under its own massive debt. And deregulate first class mail delivery. Of course, Democrats will oppose this because government largesse and union intransigence are their job security.

In case you think I’m being vindictive, de-unionization would be the biggest gift we could give the USPS as it would create a competitive advantage over heavily unionized UPS and FedEx.

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!

Fat Daddy’s Burger House = Worst… Burgers… Ever

After “enjoying” three vomitous meals, I declare that Fat Daddy’s Burger House in Casa Linda Plaza is the second worst burger place in Dallas.

The first two meals were overpriced and disgusting burger and fries. It’s overpriced because you’ll lose $8 per meal without a beverage. It’s disgusting because they overseason everything with a nasty salt/seasoning mixture, and it’s very greasy.

Some people bathe in perfume to mask bad hygiene. Fat Daddy’s seasoning bath masks its sewer-class quality.

The last time I was there, I got the chili and salad. I asked the cashier if the chili was made in house, and she assured me it was.

Damn liar! It was meat-flavored rubbery chunks from a can! Yuck! And the salad was just iceberg lettuce with a little cheese and a few vegetables on top.Highland Park prices imply quality. Fat Daddy’s delivers crap quality.

There’s is one draw: free beer. Seriously. Rumor is they can’t “sell” it because they lost their alcohol license. (Not sure if that’s true.) Since I’m don’t do beer, I’m not impressed.

Other bad burgers:

  • Miami Subs, which used to be in Dallas on the northeast corner of Central Expressway access road and Southwestern. That was the absolute worst, most tasteless rubber burger I have ever had.
  • Aramark‘s Umphrey Lee Cafeteria at SMU. When I was a regular, I enjoyed greasy, drippy, tofu-enhanced burgers. Aramark actually had great burgers at a grill in the bottom of Hughes-Trigg in the mid-’90s. However, in typical fashion, they shut it down because it was too good.