Improving support and how we talk about it

Looking back, it’s hard to believe we’ve been using our new subscription-based support system for almost eight months. Wow, time flies. Overall, we’ve been very happy with this change. We really enjoy getting to spend time working with our members and helping them be successful with our service. The response from the people who’ve used it has also been almost uniformly very positive. So, right now, we feel like we finally got it right. Which isn’t to say that we can’t do even better.
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Automatic file server upgrades

As most of our members are aware, one of our older file servers, f5, has been causing intermittent problems. The time has come to move the sites still using it to newer, faster, more reliable equipment. The ability to do that manually has been available in our UI for about a week now, and it has not surprisingly been pretty popular. But after that server caused additional downtime this past week, we’re moving to the next phase: moving sites automatically.
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Software updates… update

We’ve released some software updates that bring new options for both PHP and CGI. PHP 5.5 is upgraded from beta to stable, a PHP 5.6 developer preview is available, and new stable-track and beta realms offer updated language versions and software tools for ssh and CGI usage.
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Post-mortem report of Saturday’s file server failure

On Saturday, March 29 at about 4pm US Eastern time, we rebooted one of our file servers that hosts content for member sites. It experienced a critical hardware failure and did not come back online. It took about 28 hours to get things back into service. We’re going to talk briefly about why that happened, and what we’ll be doing differently in the future.
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Price cuts, more security and recovery options

We’ve made a few changes lately that we want to make sure everyone knows about.

  • Bandwidth pricing has been radically revamped (downward)
  • Storage pricing has been slightly tweaked (downward)
  • Revamped membership security settings (2-factor authentication, SMS, and more)
  • New options to control how long accounts and memberships are retained.

Read on for full details.
Continue reading Price cuts, more security and recovery options…

Member support: points out, subscriptions in (Updated 2014-02-15)

Back in 2009, we changed our support from a “best effort” model to an experimental “pay per use” option where people purchase a block of support points and then we charge a variable number of points based loosely on how much time we spend responding to an issue.

Over the past few years, the support points model has proven wildly unpopular with virtually everyone (including us), unprofitable, and it hurts the quality of support we provide. Consequently, it must go. Effective immediately, we are replacing this model with a support subscription where people make a conscious choice about whether they want individual support or not and then either pay or don’t pay a monthly fee of $5.00 based on that choice. (If you currently have support points and prefer that system, you can keep your points as long as they last, but you won’t be able to buy more.)

We’re also making several changes to our support system to make it easier to interact with.
Continue reading Member support: points out, subscriptions in (Updated 2014-02-15)…

CGI/ssh Upgrades

We’re officially introducing three new realms for CGI and ssh, not only to help us stay up to date as CGI languages evolve but also to let us better meet the needs of different members who want different, often conflicting, versions of a language, like Python 2.7 and Python 3.3.
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PHP 5.4, PHP 5.5, and Apache 2.4

We are finally officially announcing that PHP 5.4 and PHP 5.5 are available to all members. In the past, we have offered “Fast” and “Flex” versions of PHP for people with different needs. That’s no longer the case for PHP 5.4 and beyond; we have developed and deployed new technology that is both faster and more flexible, all in one. This is a big deal for us; with this step, we’ve gone from being behind the curve on PHP to — I feel — ahead of it, and we’re well-positioned to stay there.

We’ve also rolled out Apache 2.4 for these new server types, and we have some config advice for those looking to make the switch.
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IPv6, SSL, scheduled tasks, storage discounts & bulk bandwidth

We have quite a few feature announcements to bring you this holiday season. We’ve added support for several features, some of which have been requested for years like IPv6, SSL, and scheduled tasks (AKA cron jobs). We’ve also introduced new billing options that make our service pricing fairer and more scalable; these options will help a broad variety of our members save money.
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Official UK government attempt at censorship

Free speech is a funny thing. A lot of people are for it, as long as it’s for them. An awful lot of people lose interest in principles when someone says something they don’t like. And lots of people who say stuff use NearlyFreeSpeech.NET to do it. So it’s not in any way unusual for us to get complaints, or random demands to remove a web site. Some small fraction escalates to a sternly-worded letter from a lawyer containing such toothy admonitions as, “If you do not immediately comply and confirm to me that you have done so, I will be forced to advise my client to instruct me write to you again.” It rarely goes beyond that, because at the same time they’re writing to us, the good lawyers are explaining to their client that web hosts have federal immunity against that type of lawsuit. Some few do go ahead and threaten to sue us, either because they don’t know better or they figure maybe we don’t.
Continue reading Official UK government attempt at censorship…

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