Looking Back to 2010

Photo of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in Iceland by Örvar-Atli

Like in December 2009 I’ll be looking back to the Year 2010 in just one post.

For the blog 2010 was a bit disastrous: I count only 76 posts up to and including this one. An absolute low when compared with 192 posts in 2009, 215 in 2008 and 166 in 2007.

  1. The main reason is a disappointing number of issues with my hosting companies. That started already in November 2009.
  2. However, on a positive note, the enormous growth of my significant other blog, Chair Blog made me spend more time over there than here.
  3. The third reason for the lack of posts is a positive one as well: The enormous growth in nights sold at Haagsche Suites. Although many guests may not know of this blog I would like to thank them here for their visits and great reviews! On the other hand it prevented us from traveling as extensively as we would have wished, so there was less travel content generated by us traveling around.
  4. Finally some of my precious time was used for a new venture that I started: Absolutely The Hague!

Although I’ve produced less content, the number of visitors and page views has been growing constantly. Also the average number of draft posts has increased from approximately 70 in past years to 170 right now. So from this you may assume that I anticipate being posting much more in 2011. I won’t let Happy Hotelier die. I don’t believe Blogs are death. I even am planning to start monetizing Happy Hotelier more seriously in view of the rising costs of hosting this blog.

2010 By the Month

  • January:
    1. Introduced my own set of Rules of Engagement after some travel blogging friends had experienced “issues”
    2. Unpleasantly surprised that my sites were hacked.
    3. Announced my main project for 2010 to revamp the website of Haagsche Suites into a website with integrated blog. Unfortunately I haven’t finished that project yet, mainly because of my hosting issues.
    4. The end of January brought us the IPad introduction. Yes, I had a feeling this gadget would cause a revolution in the way we are doing things and that feeling proved right and: No I haven’t bought one yet.
  • Februari:
    1. Published #TweetupThehaue: Why Attend and How to Host a Tweetup and organized a successful #TweetupTheHague (2)
    2. After considering various options, I decided to introduce a Mailchimp based e-mail subscription here. Did you sign up already?
    3. Was captivated by the American Cup challenge in Valencia that was over very quickly.
    4. Decided to decimate the number of Tweeps I followed dramatically after introduction of Twitter lists. Main reason is battery saving for my Blackberry.
  • March:
    1. Formulated my 16 C ‘s to keep in mind when blogging. It developed into 20 C ‘s with the help of my readers.
    2. On March 25, I was asked to give a presentation about social media for a couple of Dutch hospitality types in Amsterdam which reminds me I might have to upload a couple of photos of the event. I didn’t do that until now, because there was a person in the group who doesn’t want photos being published…
  • April:
    1. In March I had visited the PhocusWright bloggers meetup at ITB in Berlin. In April I published two impressions: DePhocussing from ITB 2010 (1) basically a video interview with me by the Austrian Tourist board and DePhocussing from ITB 2010 (2) which is more in depth.
    2. Published my March 25, 2010 presentation: A Blog is a Hotelier’s Best Friend.
    3. Off Course the Iceland Volcanic Ash Cloud disruption of air traffic all over Europe kept all travelers’ attention.
  • May:
    1. Published Can you Build a Hotel Website solely based on WordPress software (2)? and got some nice feed back. And there and then the issue slipped away from my attention.
    2. Continued my 10 Questions For Series with the interview with Patrick Goff of Hotel Designs
  • June:
    1. 10 Questions For Dutch travel writer: Ellie Brik.
    2. Despite my usually neutrality vis a vis football, captivated by the Football (Soccer) World Championship in South Africa where the Dutch lost from Spain in the Final eventually. My attention was fueled foremost by the Dutch Dress Guerrilla Marketing Incident.
  • July:
    1. Started with my scare for Google I really hope some counter forces will curb this Moloch in 2011 somehow.
    2. Busy with the launch of Absolutely The Hague!.
    3. Created and incorporated a Tweepml list here in Happy Hotelier. Alas, since November 2010 TweepML is trying to get back online…
  • August:
    1. Was a busy moth in the hotel and with Absolutely The Hague! Only post worth mentioning her my interview with Claude Benard.
  • September:
    1. Finally Radisson Blu published the winners of their huge Social Media Contest. However, their after contest service is so poor that this SM experiment that started out great ends as a fail in my opinion.
    2. Not one, but two interviews: with Craig and Linda Martin who I had met earlier in the year and with Martin Schobert.
    3. By the end of September our family was enhanced by the birth of our first granddaughter.
  • October:
    1. I became Furious when my Dutch provider suspended my accounts and totally unannounced!
    2. I spent most of the month getting the blogs right and back on track.
    3. All the time involved with this mess did cause me miss the TBex Europe event.
  • November:
    1. Visited and reported about TBCamp 10.
  • December:
    1. As if I hadn’t learned enough, I evoked hosting problems again with a (too) time consuming migration of my sites to a VPS Cloud Solution.

Nativity Secrets of Hotel Sonne

Father Helmut in the middle checking out the terrace in front of the porch to the courtyard

Courtyard of Hotel Sonne in Offenburg, GermanyThe courtyard with private parking space and the breakfast room at your left.
Here it is clear that the old part of the building is really old.

Nativity in the wood

Roman style Nativity

Close up of another Nativity

The three Kings

For the less religious there is the showcase with a persiflage of the hoteliers family

You may know that I’ve frequently visited Hotel Sonne in Offenburg, Germany. The hotel is operated by Gabi and her husband Horst. However the father and mother of Gabi, Helmut and Brigitte, who must be well in their 80ies still help their daughter out almost every day. The same family operating this hotel already for over 150 years.

In my prior review I’ve just showed one photo. Here I have some more, also to point you to their little secret: One forebear of Brigitte loved to collect little wooden figures and loved to make showpieces of them, mostly with Nativity as subject. Time permitting Brigitte will love to show them to you. They occupy a couple of their hotel rooms, but soon they will disappear as the hotel rooms will be refurbished in due course and be added to their inventory.

Merry Christmas from The Hague

Merry Christmas from The Hague

With this photo of the Christmas tree in the The Hague “Passage” shopping mall I would like to wish everybody a merry Christmas from The Hague.

Changing Theme

You’ll see me changing theme from Thesis to 2010 and maybe backward to see if this helps solving hosting problems….

Migrating to a VPS Cloud Solution

VPS logo "in tha cloud"

After migrating to Westhost, two months ago, I’ve been looking at the performance of this site. Luckily the visitors have been coming back slowly, but gradually. Thank you all!

However I was not content with the load time. In addition, in the future I want to deploy the photos via a CDN (Content Delivery Network) so I’ve decided to migrate to VPS Net Cloud Hosting. I can assure you this is not for the faint hearted. More to follow after the migration has been completed..

I would like to thank the people at Westhost for their patience and support. If your site is not as heavy as this one (in combination with my other projects) Westhost is the hosting provider to be. I’ve left hosting of one project with them anyway.

During the two months hosted there, there were only 12 minutes of downtime. With my former hosting company I have experience hours of downtime…..

Lessons Learned

A cloud hosted VPS is a Virtual Private server that operates in a cloud. The difference from a normal VPS is that when one data centre goes down another center takes over from it. As VPS says it:

Our VPS cloud architecture is designed from the ground up with redundancy at its core. A traditional server always has a single point of failure; a hard drive, a power supply, a power outage. Our virtual private server cloud uses a RAID 10 SAN system, powered by Cisco network hardware, allowing virtual machines to be quickly moved to new hardware in the event of a failure.

This is the site as at VPS Net

Again it is a matter of a lot of commercial and or technical talk and things they don’t tell you.

  1. Neither Yoast, nor VPS, tell you the learning curve is so steep that you should not try to set up your own VPS if you only have a scanty knowledge of Cpanel and how DNS work like I had. If for instance, if you are a bit familiar with Cpanel already, be warned that a VPS Cpanel and a User Cpanel are two completely different matters, let it be trying to understand their inter operability.
  2. Somehow I miss an article at VPS that describes what the maintenance of your own setup precisely could entail. In other words VPS should give more insight what managed hosting precisely does.
  3. VPS has a wiki that only gives some scanty information. Be sure, before you head over to VPS, you have read and re read their entire features, their entire wiki their entire faq and their entire blog.
    Especially from the blog you should read:

    • Moving to the Cloud: Creating your first account in cPanel
    • Moving to the Cloud: Your First ISP Manager
    • VPS.NET 8/20/2010 Weekly Update Introduction of Jumpbox. An out of the box VPS WordPress installation. May work if you have one Blog, may not work if you have several blogs…
    • Using VPS.NET’s DNS Servers with the cPanel DNS Plugin..This confuses me no end! (see 5 below)
  4. When migrating servers in shared hosting you usually get a temporary name to access your site via a browser. It is not easy to see how to get such access in VPS. The advantage is that you don’t start repairing a migrated WordPress installation using the temporary name and break al the links to your photos….If I would have known 2 months ago that you can buy a month of managed service from VPS including a setup fee and thereafter can cancel the managed hosting and go on with self hosting, then I would not have migrated to Westhost. I would have jumped into the VPS hosting right away. It would have saved me days and nights of work. The trick is that in one way or another you should have your own IP number. With your own IP number you are less likely to install your WordPress blog on a temporary address. If your not savvy with .htaccess and MySQL, you’re likely to end up like me spending days and nights of manually adjusting urls of your photos. The migration of my 2 main sites only cost 2 to 3 hours. After they were migrated they seemed perfectly in order.
  5. All in all the managed migration went reasonably quick and well. However I had chosen to flip the DNS at my registrars after the migration. That cost me another two days and many tickets getting it resolved.
    A nifty tool to remember is this What’s My DNS which helps you seeing the propagation of your DNS servers.
    I have domains registered at 4 instances: 3 servers of my ex host and 1 server at Westhost. One of my questions is: VPS makes it not clear whether you should transfer the registration of your domains to VPS or not. What are the advantages and what the disadvantages? Another question is. If it is advised to transfer a domain from your current registrar to VPS, where can you do that on VPS’s site?
  6. Things VPS could should clarify in addition to other issues mentioned before:
    • VPS suggests you can try it out for yourself when you buy a node for one day for $, but it is not clear that if you want to check it out with CPanel, you’ll have to buy a Cpanel licence for a whole month ?…
    • If you have setup a server with a paid license for for instance Cpanel, you shut it down and you start a new server with Cpanel…you get another bill for Cpanel…
    • Comparing VPS with Westhost now, I noticed that their online chat response times and ticket response times are slower than Westhost’s. I assume that this is because the VPS peeps are maybe more in the clouds that the down to earth Westhost peeps….
  7. Finally I’m not yet sure the load time has become faster after the migration… [Update: at December 8, 2010 the propagation of the DNS servers seems complete and I measure a nifty 2.5 @ 3 secs as opposed to 8 or more secs, but this is Europe]

Last edited by GJE on December 8, 2010 at 4:48 pm

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