UCSF Headache Center

Optimization Behind the Scenes

UCSF Headache CenterOptimization

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]een working like a madman on my blog—optimization under the hood. You know: part of the 10 year celebration has been sprucing things up a bit moving forward.

Aside from the new look, which is temporary, here’s a list of some of the improvements:

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  • Page loads, in your browser, should be dramatically faster: between 4-7 seconds on average. This has been a monumental undertaking that required I learn about things like: minification, deferred parsing of javascript (still befuddles me), non-blocking-asynchronous javascript, caching, CloudFlare setup, image optimization strategy, and the list goes on… Still more to tweak here—a lot more.
  • I dropped a lot of things on my site that delayed loading the page and were not all that useful to visitors.
  • I’ve added an entire menu item that features my YouTube videos (under Photos / Media). Check it out at the link below. Eventually, I’ll also add my Vimeo account.[ilink style=”tick” url=”http://timtyson.us/filed/my-youtube/”]Click Here to Visit My New YouTube Channel Here at tt.us[/ilink]
  • I’ve added a number of new plugins. Actually, I’ve used most of them before. They return as old friends. Even better! TubePress, Broken Link Checker, W3 Total Cache, Regenerate ThumbnailsWordPress Editorial CalendarWP-Optimize, and Yoast WordPress SEO.
  • The photo galleries  have had a major visit under the hood. After the cache files rebuild, they should now load significantly faster than before as I reduced file sizes by about 66%.* The optimization tradeoff for faster is size and visual quality—not that most people will be able to see a difference. I have historically gone for quality, but with MediaTemple, my hosting service provider, having major issues over the past several weeks, I’ve decided to opt more for speed.
  • Because MediaTemple has had such horrible issues, I decided to add the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin to help optimize my site to get my stats back up. (This post has a readability score of 67.8 on the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease scale, probably around a 6th grade reading level. They actually have a formula for reading ease. Jeeze.)
  • And this brings me to the next soon-to-be-major change here at tt.us. I’m changing web hosting. More in the next section.
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MediaTemple Is Now the Temple of Doom

[twocol_one]I’ve been a huge MediaTemple fanboy for years. We’ve had a few issues in that time, but the company was always about quality hosting service coupled with superb customer service. Customer service is expensive but builds loyalty.

GoDaddy bought MediaTemple [mt]. Good [mt] employees fled for the doors from what I’ve read from people in the know. Done deals became undone. It hasn’t been pretty. Seems many über geeks hate GoDaddy.

In the last 4 weeks [mt] has begun to have major issues on my grid [/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]server cluster. The support people repeatedly gave me a load of horse shit about “unexpected increases in server load” and stated their engineers were “working to address server latency.” My stats began dropping then free falling.

Two weeks ago I began working a lot on my blog and began having an impossible time getting my server to respond. My stats dropped into the toilet—about a 66% drop! I’ve never had that few visitors per day! [mt] was still dishing out their “server load” tripe until the server completely died—dead, no worky, six feet under, kicked the bucket… On my birthday of all days![/twocol_one_last][hr]

At one point [mt] even tried to deny there was a problem at all! Huh?! I installed a plugin that notified me when the server was totally dead:

[toggle hide=”yes” border=”no” title_closed=”Click to see a partial list of when the server was dead” title_open=”Click to hide their shame” display_main_trigger=”yes”]
  • Your total downtime was 23 mins, but your site was up again as of Saturday, April 12, 9:49 pm.
  • Your total downtime was 28 mins, but your site was up again as of Saturday, April 12, 8:39 pm.
  • Your total downtime was 13 mins, but your site was up again as of Saturday, April 12, 8:04 pm.
  • Your total downtime was 12 mins, but your site was up again as of Saturday, April 12, 7:29 pm.
  • Your total downtime was 18 mins, but your site was up again as of Saturday, April 12, 7:09 pm.
  • Your total downtime was 3 mins, but your site was up again as of Saturday, April 12, 6:19 pm.
  • Your total downtime was 8 mins, but your site was up again as of Saturday, April 12, 5:39 pm.
  • Your total downtime was 12 mins, but your site was up again as of Saturday, April 12, 5:19 pm.
  • Your total downtime was 7 mins, but your site was up again as of Saturday, April 12, 4:09 pm
  • Your total downtime was 7 mins, but your site was up again as of Saturday, April 12, 8:44 am.
  • Your total downtime was 32 mins, but your site was up again as of Saturday, April 12, 7:29 am.
  • Your total downtime was 2 mins, but your site was up again as of Saturday, April 12, 6:44 am.
  • Your total downtime was 23 mins, but your site was up again as of Wednesday, April 9, 6:04 pm.
  •  Your total downtime was 37 mins, but your site was up again as of Wednesday, April 9, 10:04 am.
  • Your total downtime was 3 mins, but your site was up again as of Tuesday, April 8, 12:44 pm.
  • Your total downtime was 18 mins, but your site was up again as of Saturday, April 5, 7:09 pm.
[/toggle] [hr] [twocol_one]Who knows how often it’s been dead before I installed the plugin that notifies me every time it’s dead! And all day on April 12th, even when the server was “working,” the server was so non-responsive as to be enragingly useless.

MediaTemple’s answer to all of this: Spend more money. You can upgrade! For just $50 a month… Or you can go to our dedicated WP plan … But you will need to purchase more server space because…

No. Hell, no!

I’m over this!

Service they volunteered to provide in the past [/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]is now “out of the scope of our statement of support.”

I do want to thank Daniel G. You were the only person at MediaTemple to actually offer any assistance to me over these past several weeks—things I could do to decrease page loading time. I took your suggestions and raised my page loading score to 91%! (I’m still studying up on deferred parsing of JavaScript to improve my score even further.)

So, I’m shopping for a new hosting service.[/twocol_one_last][hr]

Sad, But a Sliver Lining

[twocol_one]MediaTemple, you earn your customers every day! My perception that you failed to take my concerns seriously weeks ago and then let the server crash and burn has caused you to loose me, a once loyal customer. In addition to being angry about all of this, I’m sad. Once upon a time you were truly customer, support, and service oriented! For years, you were the best![/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]

The silver lining around this cloud: I’ve taken a serious stab at site optimization for the first time ever! (I’m no good at it, but I’m learning.) I didn’t even know such things as GTmetrix and Google Page Speed Insights existed. I’ve even begun learning how to use Safari Develop to study load, server response, error and warning messages, and isolate specific areas of a webpage’s code, etc. Amazing stuff, this![/twocol_one_last][hr]

*The reason for reducing the size of these files (weighing in at a whopping 30+ gigabytes!) was my anticipation of moving the files to another hosting service.