For those of you in withdrawal…

Last night I posted this to appease community members clamoring for the strip.

This morning I have news.

1) Canaca cut me off without warning because apparently more than 100 of you attempted to read the comic at the same time (and no, Canaca did NOT tell us this might happen).
2) We’ll be executing our 30-day money-back guarantee with Canaca, and moving elsewhere.
3) The site should be operational by early afternoon today.

Re: point number 1 above, it makes SENSE to cut someone off if they’re hogging server cycles. Schlock Mercenary serves static HTML, so that shouldn’t have been a problem. We suspect that some OTHER site on the server was executing php a little too aggressively, and that when the techs went in to take a look they found that MY site was the one with all the users hitting it. After all, within about 10 minutes of the new strip airing, there are typically between 1000 and 2500 readers online requesting it.

So… while it makes sense to cut off a problem site, it’s unlikely we were actually CAUSING a problem. It’s much more likely that the techs at Canaca don’t understand how to configure Apache. (Hey, if any of you Canaca techs are reading this, I just challenged your tech-mojo. BRING it, bay-bee. Your kung-fu is just dung-poo.)

As a result of all this I lose between twelve and eighteen hours of Google Adsense revenue, which, interestingly enough, easily amounts to a couple months’ worth of hosting at Oh, and Canaca loses my business for the next three years, as well as the business of anyone currently reading this.

The hosting company we’re moving to has stated up-front that their policy in this regard is a little different. Rather than holding your site hostage and defecating in the open mouths of your customers, they’ll email your technical contact if there are problems, and give him/her three days to solve those problems. This sounds much more reasonable, don’t you think? They cost a little bit more (about 50% more over a three-year period), but I’ll still be able to pay for three years of hosting in (mumble mumble count-on-fingers) 20 days or so.

So… sorry for the pain, folks. We’ll have it sorted out by the end of the day.


42 thoughts on “For those of you in withdrawal…”

  1. 1) Canaca cut me off without warning because apparently more than 100 of you attempted to read the comic at the same time


    And these people call themselves a webhosting service? I could serve more simultaneous connections than that over consumer DSL.

    1. Ditto. My public web server handles more connection then that, and it lives on a 1.5/768 DSL line. And it’s a 5 year old machine, too boot.

      1. My home web server handles bursts of traffic whenever I put up a new release of Hercules, with no problems whatsoever. My 512K SDSL sometimes strains under the load, but the server doesn’t miss a lick.

    1. Oddly enough, that’s exactly what everyone else I’ve talked to has said.

      Question: Am I Using My Powers For Good if I post this information from the Open Letter, or am I Just Being Spiteful?


      1. Don’t lose any sleep over giving fair warning about incompetent service. Wouldn’t you be doing a disservice to any readers looking for hosting by not warning them of a known problem? Canaca’s wounds are self-inflicted.

      2. You’d be remiss in not documenting your experience in the Open Letter. It’s like the eBay feedback system: posting your experiences only helps others make decisions.

      3. Powers For Good. Definitely.

        In my experience, word-of-mouth is the single most effective advertising technique… however, it happens to be one you can’t control at all, because it’s based on actual people and their actual experiences with the product/service/company. You’re not spreading disinformation; your goal is to try to warn people away from having the same experiences as you.

        I, for one, appreciate hearing about it, because who knows? Maybe I’ll want to buy hosting from someone someday, and I’d rather not have to deal with this sort of dung-poo attempt at server administration.

      4. Not only would you be using your powers for good, your readers who aren’t smart enough to read your live journal, would appreciate knowing what happend and would receive reassurance from the fact that you have taken steps to fix the problem.

        If I don’t get my schlocky goodness, I’m traumatized. Knowing that you’ve taken steps to correct the issue gives me the courage to face the days ahead.


  2. Indeed. Post it as an open letter and let Canaca have it. Bunch of morons, they are…

    I’d suggest for the heck of it…

    Lizard Rat out.
    Random in Albany NY

    1. Right now we’re using our “emergency backup plan,” in which my site lives on a server owned by one of Shiny Systems’ other customers. DNS for went to the right place, but without the www it defaulted to the “root” webserver (which is the way it should be).


      1. backup

        You should look at possibly recruiting some helpful troops to give up some space for emergency failover/mirrors. Heck, plenty of geeks around here that could help. Especially when some of us are working at hosting companies 🙂 (hey, no problem here if my personal site sits on the office OC3 :))

        And not just for emergencies, I’m sure if you get some nice bandwidth charges, mirroring even the archives could help out some (thus, keeping our grubby little hands off of the precious buffer).

  3. Unrelated to any of the above, just randomly ported to a strip from 2000.

    It’s astounding how much better you’ve gotten at drawing.

    Then, five years is a long time.

    Astounding. 🙂

    As ever, I continue to thank you for the wonderful daily.

  4. This does more sound like a startup webhoster realizing that the bargain they drove to get the contract might put them in deep shit traffic wise… incompetent.

  5. Rather than holding your site hostage and defecating in the open mouths of your customers…

    Wow. Er. Just wow.

    Being so vulgar without actually being vulgar.

    Is that your Mormon-fu?

    1. Mormon-fu indeed… I have to give Winston Churchill the credit for being my inspiration here. He was said to be able to give a spectacular dressing-down without using profanity or vulgarity, and without raising his voice.


        1. Direct from wikipedia:

          [In response to Lady Astor saying “Winston, you are drunk!”, Churchill replied] “And you, madam, are ugly. But in the morning, I shall be sober.”

          1. Re: Direct from wikipedia:

            Actually I think wikipedia got it wrong. I believe it was Bessie Braddock he was replying to.

            I think the Lady Astor quote went something like, “If you were my husband I would poison your coffee.” To which Winston replied, “If you were my wife, I would drink it!”

            But then I’m probably wrong and wiki could be right.

  6. Could be worse. Last Wednesday, I noticed that several sites I check every so often (some ongoing stories and the like) were unreachable.

    I did some digging into DNS records and found that all the domains involved were hosted by the same company in (as I recall) New Jersey. And even the company’s own domain was unreachable.

    *Saturday* they finally got a message up if you tried accessing the root of the various domains.

    Please Stand By…..
    We are currently experiencing technical diffuculties, and will be back online ASAP…..
    Thank you for your patience…..

    Tuesday *one* of the pages I check started working again. The others are still down. And I suspect that the owner of the page that is up can’t update it yet.

    I can understand major failures, but for this they must have had *everything* in one place with no alternate server or anything to set up as a “Sorry we’re down” server.

    1. Yeesh.

      My “Worst Case Scenario” for the bulk of my customers, and my personal machines, is about 4-6 hours – and that’s if I had to build the server, then take it down, plug it in, and reconfigure the basic system.

      Less time if I just had to pick up machines and move them to another site (A-La Tropical Storm Allison)


  7. “within about 10 minutes of the new strip airing, there are typically between 1000 and 2500 readers online requesting it”

    I take this to mean updates happen at a scheduled time each night? Could someone enlighten me on when that happens? =)

    1. 11pm Eastern time. It used to be “somewhere between 12:05 and 1:00am Eastern,” but that was when Keenspot was hosting and automating the system.

      Once we’ve got all the bugs ironed out of the system we’ll drop it back to midnight Eastern. The earlier hour is a gift to you in exchange for putting up with stuff like you had to put up with today.


      1. Sweet, thanks!

        And for this being my favorite comic, of the 31 I check on a daily basis, there’s nothing much to “put up with”. Stuff happens, I can understand that. It’s obvious you put a lot of time and effort (and sweat and blood?) into this, even when something goes wrong, I know you won’t let it stay that way for long.

        So … any news on estimated book release dates? =)

  8. So, Howard…I’m interested in knowing whether moving off of Keenspot was really worth it, considering the hosting troubles you’re having.

    (This interest is more than just idle curiosity, as I have a Keenspace comic of my own. 🙂 )

    1. Excellent question: Worth it? Yes, it’s still worth it. Since I’m doing this full-time, and since I’ve got a partner in this endeavor who has the technical chops to keep up, these kinds of things are just hiccoughs. I lost maybe half of a day’s revenue, and that’s it.

      I’m working a little harder, but I’m being paid a lot better for my time. The site was only up for 13 hours on Thursday, yet Thursday’s ad revenue was four times my average daily ad revenue from Keenspot during Q4 of 2004.


      1. Wow. Can’t argue with the bottom line. Mentioning Keenspace reminds me of an occasion when Keenspace went belly up for a heck of a time and another favourite strip went host-it-your-own as a result….

  9. Have you heard of WebHostingTalk?

    Good place to check on a subset of opinions of a subset of webhosts. Maybe you should post there of your experiences.

    Incidentally, how much checking-out did you do of EV1 or whatever hosting service you’re using?

    1. Re: Have you heard of WebHostingTalk?

      The hosting on an EV1 server is being done as a partial temporary measure, and the server itself is run by a Schlock fan.

      EV1 servers has been checked out extensively in the past, however. Several employees are (or have been – employees, that is) Schlock Mercenary fans.


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