A few days back I took a little hike, upon which I brought my spiffy new FlipHD camcorder. I didn't really have a plan of what I was going to shoot, so it started off one thing and then became another, but I share it here anyway, since some of it really cracks me up. (I am a dork.)
Just got home from Henry Selick's 3D interpretation of Neil Gaiman's Coraline. Long live stop-motion.
This movie was really enjoyable, was visually stunning, and blew the pants off the last movie we saw at cinema: My Bloody Valentine 3D. I guess that's not saying much, though.
It's no secret that I prefer stop-motion to fancy computerified animation, and this film is a fine example of why. The set design, lighting, props -- everything -- were stunningly crafted, with an obvious amount of love and care for the medium. I was particularly fond of the scale model Volkswagen "New Beetle" that was used throughout the film. Someone spent a huge amount of time on that...
For me, though, the best thing about the film is that it completely eschews the standard cliche elements of this particular genre. [SPOILER ALERT] There is never an "and it might have been only a dream" or an "and it was all a dream -- or was it?" Everything is nicely self-contained, which is something of which other people exploring this genre ought to take note.[/SPOILER ALERT]
I do hope, though, that parents will heed the particularly frightening imagery found in the trailer, if only to ensure that future screenings didn't contain nearly as many crying children as the one I saw. Seriously, parents, don't bring your tiny ones to this movie.
I'm also glad that this movie might be the tipping point in people realizing that "From the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas" is not referring to Tim Burton -- it most certainly will be for this guy.
Part of my webhosting woes of late is that, like Wordpress, my blog software (Serendipity) is horribly dependent upon massive amounts of database interaction. A few hits and suddenly your server starts leaking smoke and your webhosting provider shuts you down. This is obviously not optimal, and a big part of the reason I made the switch to Dreamhost's Virtual Private Server platform in the first place. Dreamhost's VPS came with its own host of problems, but needless to say, database server overloading was still somewhat of a problem there. (Actually, I maintain that it is MORE of a problem, but that's something you'll have to take up with your helpful Dreamhost Support staff -- you know, if they ever get back to you.)
Because this is such a problem on Wordpress there are quite a number of different plugins to alleviate this, all of which have pros and cons, meaning that it takes some research to determine how best to go about caching your content. Being a lesser-used platform than Wordpress, Serendipity doesn't have quite the number of solutions to help cache the content and relieve the database server from some of its tireless work, so I set about trying to come up with a solution.
While reading up on some of these plugin-based solutions on Wordpress's platform, trying to see if there was some technique I could move over to Serendipity, I stumbled across an ingenious idea:
Squid is designed to sit between your browser and the rest of the internet, efficiently caching content so that your browser doesn't have to re-download it all the time, effectively "speeding up" your internet connection. This is especially helpful in a network situation where you have a number of people using the same internet connection. When Bob loads up the day's LOLcats, squid will cache them locally so that Steve's computer doesn't have to download them yet again. Pretty common setup, and very effective at what it does.
Anyway, someone far cleverer than I realized that one could use squid the other way 'round: by running it on your web host, intercepting every incoming request seeking content from your site. Squid will happily pass requests through to the web server, where content will be fetched from your database. But if squid knows it has a recent copy in memory, it will send that back to the browser instead, never letting it touch your webserver -- and thus any databases -- saving yourself some pretty significant amount of RAM and CPU.
I'm here to report that it works like a charm. Granted, there are quirks -- like comments not immediately displaying -- but that's a trade-off I'm more than willing to make.
If you'd like more information, here are the instructions I followed to get this setup running on my new host: Reverse Proxying with Squid.
Having finally had it up to here with Dreamhost, we've undertaken the process of finding a new host that will meet my needs. Those needs being:
prompt support replies
not costing an arm and a leg
not being a total pain in the ass to deal with
Having been with Dreamhost for a number of years, and now having tried out a series of other hosting providers, I can honestly say that save for my first bullet point, Dreamhost far exceeds every other hosting provider I've seen. They really "get it" over there.
If'n your hosting needs are limited to flat HTML without any reliance on databases (and you don't mind the occasional incommunicado outage) I very much recommend them.
If, however, your needs are a bit more technical, I heartily recommend GIVING UP ON YOUR NEEDS, because I went through four different incompetent hosting providers looking for one that can handle my crazy hodgepodge of web-fu.
Flat HTML was awesome in 1994, and it STILL IS. Your blood pressure will thank you.