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An Update On the Linode vs. Digital Ocean post

October 4th, 2013 by Andrew Smales

Hello! So again, this isn’t completely slanted towards podcast hosting stuff, but because of the great reaction to my previous article on Linode vs Digital Ocean, I thought I’d add some additional info that has come up. So this isn’t a Linode or Digital Ocean review per se, more of a follow-up.

First of all, just popularity-wise, DigitalOcean continues to grow at a crazy rate! These guys are signing up customers all over the place, and Netcraft wrote a report this summer that demonstrates this. One crazy metric from that article: In December 2012, Digital Ocean had 100 web-facing computers, but by June 2013 it had 7000.

Now that’s obviously nice for Digital Ocean, but what does it mean to customers? Well, I’d make an argument that it’s very easy to imply a pretty high level of customer satisfaction from this huge growth. Word of mouth is so important when it comes to this stuff, and there’s clearly a lot going on. How do we know this? In my opinion, that kind of insane growth can only happen when a company is basically doing everything right. If Digitalocean was making any significant amount of people unhappy, it would impact that number pretty quickly.

One other fun data point was provide in this tweet today by Richard Taylor. It shows the same app running on Digital Ocean vs AWS (Amazon Web Services), and the app is running massively faster on Digitalocean, despite the fact it’s on a $20 instance, versus running on two $100 instances on AWS. I think it’s safe to assume that whatever the app is, it’s getting a big speed up from D.O.’s SSDs, but that’s pretty typical of many, many web apps these days imo. Here’s the graph in case that tweet ever disappears:

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(credit: Richard Taylor on Twitter @moomerman)

So things are looking great for Digital Ocean, what about Linode? Nothing but good stuff to report on them too, actually!

Linode have continued to keep up their great customer service, and my servers with them have been running fantastically. In fact, a couple of months ago, I started serving a bunch of static files from a Linode server, that I had previously serving from elsewhere. (There was actually another root cause for that, but I was pretty happy to move those over.)

The big news though, since I wrote the previous post, is that Linode just went ahead and doubled every customers storage space in late July! No extra charges were involved or anything, customers just had to complete a short procedure inside the Linode Dashboard in order to use the new space (and they do make the process fairly simple, a few button clicks and a small amount of downtime that depends on how data is on your VPS.)

This sort of free upgrade is very typical of Linode. A few days after I wrote the previous blog post, they gave everyone 20% more storage space (I edited the original post at that time and mentioned this), and they have also doubled all customers RAM in the past, as well as (and this one was huge for me), multiplying bandwidth allotments by 10x in March 2013.

So that’s about it for now. My original post got a lot of good feedback and I wanted to just kind of let everyone know where these services were at now. If anyone was deciding between these two, had looked over their prices and specs, and was on the fence right now, my advice is that you can’t really go wrong with either, but I would go with Digital Ocean for smaller projects, or perhaps sites that will benefit greatly from SSDs, and go with Linode for bigger projects, and if you think you’ll have a need for their more mature, developed features (Linode have more features in their Dashboard, and just introduced a new statistics collection and graphing service, called Longview, that you can install on your server to manage it better.)

Here’s The WordPress Theme Castmate Uses, For Free

June 25th, 2013 by Andrew Smales

I wanted a simple, minimal WordPress theme for Castmate’s blog, and I created this.

(note: Just put $0 in the payment area there, and it’ll let you download it!)

I was using another theme previously, and it looked okay, but it wasn’t very flexible at all. The width they allowed for entries was very narrow. Since Castmate is a podcast hosting company, I needed to embed some audio players in entries, and several styles didn’t fit.

I’m giving this theme away, because I didn’t bother adding any comments stuff to it. I don’t use comments, but if anyone requests that, I’ll probably add it. I’m using Gumroad to distribute this for now, since they’re easy and I can grab download stats and collect email addresses. I put the pricing as pay-what-you-want, so if you want it free, that’s fine.

The big goal for this theme was something that people could grab, and customize pretty easily. Open up the sidebar.php file and it’s pretty obvious how to put in info about you, or your company. You can see very easily where the 3 boxes on the side are, and remove or edit any you want.

I tried to hack away at the old theme a bit, but I find WordPress templates to be pretty impenetrable a lot of the time. Commercial themes are great, I’ve purchased several (usually from Themeforest), but they tend to try and be everything to every one, and they are overloaded with options, most of which I have never wanted or used. Basically, themes are usually great until you need to change them.

The old theme had something like 15 CSS and Javascript files including – it may actually have been more. There was a lot of code I just didn’t feel like going through, so I grabbed a book on WordPress dev (I’ve been meaning to for ages) and made this myself.

The big goal for this theme was something that people could grab, and customize pretty easily. Open up the sidebar.php file and it’s pretty obvious how to put in info about you, or your company. You can see very easily where the 3 boxes on the side are, and remove or edit any you want.

The typography on this theme will use Google Webfonts by default. It is using Droid and Droid Sans, but if you don’t like them, you can edit the header.php file and take out the 2 lines including them from Google.

I personally use Typekit, and I designed this template using their FF Tisa Web Pro and FF Tisa Sans Web Pro fonts, which are available on their Personal plan ($25/yr).

If you use Typekit and want to use that font, you just need to create a kit with those 2 fonts in it (just Regular – no bold or italic versions), and Typekit will give you 2 lines of CSS. Paste that CSS into header.php and you’re good to go, the CSS already calls FF Tisa.

Oh, and another goal for this design was to be fast! Getting rid of all the unused CSS and Javascript did a good job of this, and the Castmate blog is currently getting a score of 96/100 on Google’s Pagespeed checker (until I start embedding things!).

The blog runs on Linode right now, so they’re part of the reason it’s fast of course, I recommend them highly.

Here’s the link again to grab the theme.

The New Embedded Podcast Player

June 25th, 2013 by Andrew Smales

We just changed the default embedded player that is linked from your podcast page ( username.castmate.fm ). The new player should be a lot nicer than the previous default one, and should also play a bit nicer with some layouts, so if you’re embedding
your podcast into WordPress or something, this may help. The one thing about it is, it’s still a bit wider than some people might want, so there is also a compact, thinner version of it.

So, what better way to show it off, than to actually embed an episode right here, right? So here it is:

And here is the compact version:

We also have some cool beta standalone versions of these (just add &sa=1 to the url), and some other new ones. Check these out:

Standalone Player

Standalone Compact Player

A beta version player that may still change

Same thing, but with your iTunes image as the page background. (looks a bit gaudy with some images, as you can see!)

 

 

Your Podcast’s RSS Feed Belongs To You, Not Your Hosting Company (Info On Redirects)

May 25th, 2013 by Andrew Smales

Someone, who recently started a podcast with Castmate, just emailed with a great question, that I’ve actually been meaning to write about.

Their question was: “If I use Castmate, and then switch to another provider sometime down the line, how much control do I have over my RSS feed. Will I lose control, is there any way I could redirect it?”

The answer is: You have full control over your RSS feed. If you want to switch to another hosting solution down the line, we will follow Apple’s recommended procedures, of putting a itunes:new-feed-url tag in your feed, as well as a 301 redirect, and we will leave those in place forever. (more…)

Welcome to the new Castmate blog.

April 15th, 2013 by Andrew S

Okay, so we had a blog here previously, but I’ll admit, I did a pretty terrible job of updating it. There were only 4 entries (shameful!), and I didn’t like the look, so I decided to change the design of it. Then, somehow, the whole WordPress install got all janked up because of the combination of installing the new theme and changing the url for the blog (from blog.castmate.fm to castmate.fm/blog).

I spent 10 minutes trying to fix it, when I realized: Those 4 posts were not so good! So I just installed this whole new thing. Did I have to make a post about it? No! But I did.

ABOUT:

Castmate.fm provides hosting for podcasts of all sizes. We aim to be the most podcaster friendly thing possible.

This is our blog, check out our main page to see all our features and plans. Contact andrew@castmate.fm with any questions/comments!