Issues with Images- Resolving once for all

Introduction

In this post, I will talk about the issues I faced so far, with the loading of images on this site. Let us also take a look at what is being done to resolve it in production. At the issue of missing images and 404s for image URLs has plagues me for a long time. It is time to plug that gap once nad for all.

Background

Ever since I moved this blog in May 2019 from Bludit to WordPress, this site has been plagued by the issues of images not loading properly. Some of the typical issues are:

  • Images do not load at all
  • Part of a set of images load

What causes these errors?

The reason for this is mainly because of my ignorance. Sometimes I experiment with different CDNs, too much. At other instances, I restore website from WordPress backup. (Either using All in One WordPress plugin or Updraft plus).  Almost every time I have used All in One WP, some images have taken a hit.  Next was changing the CNAME settings for different Content Delivery Networks (CDN) and finally, using WordPress plugins (Gumlet and Bunny CDN).

Resolving these problems

In order to fix these issues, I followed the following approaches:

a. Reading up on how to sideload images on WordPress and integrate them into the database. This can be done via a plugin or using wp-cli.

b. I tested the use of an external plugin for feature image. A plugin called FIFU has found my liking, which allows me to server the feature image from Gumlet or BunnyCDN or Backblaze b2. (The feature image for this post uses FIFU and Backblaze). There may be other similar plugins, and at present the free version of FIFU serves my needs.

c. Finally, using content delivery networks, or CDN, the way they are supposed to work. We will delve a little bit on this matter. I have written about CDNs several times, and have finally settled on two primary sources: BunnyCDN and Gumlet.

I had used other CDNs in the past, some like Fast.io have closed shop. Others like Shift8 CDN I not longer use. This obviously had an effect on user experience had an effect on the overall webpage design. But most importantly probably SEO because of broken links etc.

I have nearly 300 posts published on this blog, and another 100 odd planned before the year ends. Therefore, maintaining a dual CDN structure would be my preference. Two folders storage zone in BunnyCDN and a web folder) will have identical setup of images, that way in case one CDN or server goes down I can quickly do a “find/replace” in WordPress and move over to the backup CDN.

Remember,  WordPress does make multiple copies of every image that loads. So, if I’m not going to use the images from WordPress Media folder, it makes sense to use a different image hosting system. The other advantage I get from a script or URL based image service like Gumlet is that all feature images will follow similar dimension. That is not the case at present. Shortpixel adaptive images is another solid option to consider- but not at this time.

Hoping for the best but preparing for the worst

Let us hope that this will solve the issue of images once and for all. But I will continue monitoring this issue in the times to come.

Image of tree served from Backblaze b2. Blog of Amar Vyas
This image is served from Backblaze b2.

A Weeklong Outage that went Undetected by downtime monitors

I experienced the “perfect storm” this week with my website.

This morning, I was looking up analytics on this blog, number of visits had dropped to 10 percent of daily traffic. I am aware that google algorithms have changed (again) and many are experiencing a drop in traffic… but the numbers were alarming. What exactly went wrong?

Continue reading “A Weeklong Outage that went Undetected by downtime monitors”

Hindi-Test

नीचे दी गई पोस्ट “वेबसाइट की गति और प्रदर्शन के लिए सीडीएन या सामग्री वितरण नेटवर्क का उपयोग कैसे करें” के बारे में है। यह अगले कुछ दिनों के लिए एक कार्य प्रगति पर है- कम से कम 2020 के मध्य मई 2020 तक। मैं चाहता था कि यह एक ‘लाइव’ पोस्ट हो, और वह प्रकाशन का कारण हो।

सीडीएन पर इस (बल्कि लंबे) पोस्ट के लिए तीन साथी पोस्ट हैं।

ए। मैंने CDN पर 3,500 शब्द पोस्ट कैसे प्रकाशित किया (यानी मैंने यह पोस्ट कैसे लिखा)
संपादित करें: यह पोस्ट 4,400 शब्दों तक पहुँच गया है !!
ख। अपनी वेबसाइट के लिए छवियों को अनुकूलित करने के 7 तरीके
सी। सबसे अच्छी छवि संपीड़न सेवा कौन सी है?

9 months later.. Benchmarks on Server by Racknerd

Introduction

I am publishing a post about running benchmarks on server after a while. In this post, you will find the benchmark tests on a VPS located in Chicago, by Racknerd.

Background

During Black Friday 2020, I had surprisingly won a 1 year “freebie” from Racknerd… they had posted their offers on LowEndTalk. I actually won twice, but I ended up returning one freebie.You can read about my Black Friday 2020 “bounty” (web hosting plans I signed up for) in this post.

Continue reading “9 months later.. Benchmarks on Server by Racknerd”

Server Uptime Monitoring Using Screpy

Introduction

In this post, I will write about Screpy, a SaaS (Software as a Service) tool for monitoring, optimizing and managing your server.

In a previous post, I have talked about the need to monitor the uptime of your website. In that post, I discussed over 15 tools for monitoring website performance, such as Hetrix Tools and Uptime Robot . Some of these tools or SAAS (Software as a service) are free, while others follow the freemium model. A few, such as Phpservermonitor, are self hosted open source programs. These services monitor the uptime of websites and send alerts via SMS, email or slack when there is downtime. The methods they use include ping, http/s, UDP, and others.Continue reading “Server Uptime Monitoring Using Screpy”

Text To Speech Services- Podcaster’s Friend or Foe?

Introduction

Over the past few months, there has been a flurry of companies who have started offering Text to Speech (TTS) services. Many of them are startups, majority of them are in early staged of growth, and almost all of them use one or all of the Amazon Polly, Google Text to Speech, or similar solutions from IBM or Microsoft Azure*. In this post, I will talk about a few such services, and ponder on the all important question for Podcasters:

Are the Text to Speech (TTS) services a podcaster’s friend, or foe?

Continue reading “Text To Speech Services- Podcaster’s Friend or Foe?”

Random testing with Speech to Text Programs

Over the past few weeks, I have explored a few apps other than Otter (which I use extensively and love!).

The reasons are:

a. It is always nice to be aware of alternatives to one’s SAAS of choice.

b. Languages: otter provides transcription in English. For Hindi and Marathi, I have to explore options anyways.

Enter a plethora of apps:

a. Dictanote

b. Android speech to text converter

c. iOs speech to text program

Are the speech to text programs any good?

The proof is in the pudding. Below is the output from a couple of programs:

Dictanote Pro

Post the status why yes just let her wife alphabet and the reason for doing so is when I had started using on web browser on my MacBook Pro I had connected the microphone and somehow none of the words are getting recorded and transcribed as I’m sure I want to say why is this happening and the only word that Bhat pick up from the party I thought it was quite funny let it be the way it was but now that I have been able to figure out how to narrate record transcribe it’s actually working out quite well no complaints on that front as of now I will keep posting all Marathi and Hindi asWell if you can’t go well I may continue with right now there a drop in with you Karen Ya microphone I can disappear and I am writing but nothing is getting recorded and password so with that in mind while to offer using the speech to text app seems to have partially positive

Otter.ai on iOs using Hands free

Recorded while walking: so quite a few oops’es
Note: I would really like to know which email service is offered by Dr. Koh
Privacy focused email service providers concept has taken some prominence over the past few years, and then also gained significant sindelle light of multiple data breaches and also email servers themselves being exploited. With that in mind, I will talk about five services that I have tried or used or planning to use, and these are tutanota proton mail. Then his mail fits for this. Dr. Ko, email, and finally, as a larger film. He will relay services themselves. Most of them have premium versions and most recent one being the Go email account from Dr. Koh, and I’m not really sure how the signals shape up in the times to come.

iOs keyboard mic, transcript by ios

Note: one long paragraph, no breaks for sentences. But quite good quality output.Now let me see how good is the dictation that would be speech to text that comes out of the iOS device of course I am home now and I am using the default Apple or iOS dictation device and I have the hands free at the via Bluetooth hands-free text that I am using so this one does not have noise cancellation maybe later I may try it with a noise cancellation option but looks like much of the art capture and the conversion from speech to text is happening rather flawlessly which is an encouraging sign indeed.

Notes by Amar Vyas, August 2021

Which CDN (Content Delivery Networks) to use for your WordPress Site?

Introduction: Need for CDN for WordPress site

Today someone asked a question in a Facebook group about using CDN or Content Delivery Network for their WordPress site. They wanted the CDN not just for media files but for other elements of the website as well. I responded with a series of options, thought of posting them here so that it can benefit the wider community.

Last year, I wrote several posts on different elements of a CDN on my blog, you can read them by following this link.

Choosing system settings for Linux Mint

What can a CDN be used for?

Most people would associate a CDN or Content Delivery Network with serving media files such as images or videos. But a CDN can do much more than that. You can host documents, presentations, etc that you can give away in exchange for email address of the recipient. CDN can be used for hosting scripts (e.g. javascripts specific for your site) or fonts such as google fonts. You can host landing pages (e.g. Brizy cloud) or other related content. In other words, there are plenty of ways in which a CDN can be used.

Many shared hosting providers offer Cloudflare CDN as an add on. The free tier should more than meet the requirements of most persons. However, their paid plans can get pricey beyond a limit.

There are options that range from the really cheap (in price, not in quality!) such as BunnyCDN, going all the way up to enterprise level networks such as Cloudfront and Akamai. For images, there are a few deals going on in the “lifetime” deals space. EWWW is one such deal currently available on Appsumo. Annual plans are offered by most Image-specific CDN providers such as imgix. For video, look no further than Vimeo.

Note: Bunnycdn is awesome for images, scripts, and now video. And …yes there is WordPress plugin for BunnyCDN.

CDN Options I have tried for my WordPress sites

In addition to Cloudflare, here are options we have tried or currently use:

Paid options

Shift8 offer cheap monthly pricing for 1 TB traffic, which should take care of most images and non Hd videos. Else Quic.cloud (Litespeed hosting only), -Both have WordPress plugins if you prefer the convenience of using plugins.

Free option: backblaze b2 + Cloudflare

(read my post for video hosting and delivery by following this link)

Below image is hosted on backblaze B2 and served over Cloudflare

Uploading images on Backblaze b2 bucket
Skies by Amar Vyas

Gumlet + Backblaze b2

If in “aftermarket” you can get 1 code or two for Gumlet… backblaze b2 +gumlet works wonders, no Cloudflare needed (if you are averse to using Cloudflare) -Gumlet has WordPress plugin

Below image is hosted on backblaze b2 and served via Gumlet

Updates to operating system while installing Linux Mint

Selecting Timezone for installing Linux Mint

Rethink/ Publist

In theory, for low traffic sites, you can use any cloud storage such as Dropbox or pCloud (particularly for serving documents or reports, etc.) In this space, I recently found that Publist (or Rethink, original deal from Pitchground) is actually a good CDN though it is cumbersome to configure/ embed codes. But the speeds are great for Audio, video, images. I had written about my experiences with Rethink earlier this year. -They don’t have plugin afaik.

You can also serve video and audio files this way.

CDN for serving Images Only

In addition to EWWW and Imgix, below are some more options:

Shortpixel Adaptive Images (they use Bunnycdn as backend)is a great option. Free tier offers 50 GB of data transfer a month (note: I am NOT a fan of ‘free’ services) -Yes there is wp plugin for Shortpixel Adaptive Images

Optimole, Smush, and a host of other wordpress plugin based services for serving images.

Finally, you can get cheap shared hosting for 4 or 5 dollars/month, with high traffic limits. Then use that as a CDN if all else fails. You can use cName for your own subdomain. For example, the domain a.amarvyas.in is actually a folder located on a shared hosting website.

-No WordPress plugin for this method (that I am aware of). However, Gumlet and Shortpixel can be used to get the desired results.

Wrapping it up

There are plenty of options for CDN for WordPress site. “Which CDN should I choose for my WordPress site” is a common question, but the answer does vary depending not he need, ability and the requirements of the website owner/ administrator. In this post, we saw options that vary from free to freemium to paid, and options that are most suitable for one form (e.g Images) to those that can serve multiple file types such as scripts, fonts, media, documents etc.(e.g. BunnyCDN or Cloudfront)

Also note:
Cloudinary and Droplr are the other two CDN options I have used in the past. Below is an image served from Droplr.

Droplr: Using RClone

Best wishes in picking your poison!

Linux on Macbook Pro Retina and USB Boot for Raspberry Pi4

Introduction

In June and July 2021, I consolidated the data and upgraded the computers in the household. The data (images, Documents, audio and video files…)was spread across devices, external drives, and cloud storage.
While the computers could support the native operating system (e.g. Mac OS for MacBook Pro) I decided to zero in on the operating systems that would keep them chugging along. This post covers the operating systems I tested during the process. The data consolidation will be covered in a separate post.

Hardware and Software Upgrades to Laptops

I have three laptops and a Raspberry Pi that all got some updates or another.

These include:

  • MacBook Pro Early 2015
  • MacBook Pro Late 2012
  • Coconics Enabler Laotop
  • Raspberry Pi 4 Model B- 4 GB

specifications of MacBook Pro Retina Late 2012.Screenshot by Amar Vyas

Specifications for Macbook Pro Retina, late 2012

Installation of drivers for Broadcom Wifi Chip on Macbook Pro with Linux Mint.Screenshot by Amar Vyas

Installation of Linux Mint on Macbook Pro

Hardware and Software Upgrades

In addition to the above computers, I also changed the battery and doubled the Ram for my wife’s computer (Dell Inspiron 3000). I did try to persuade her to use Linux, even replaced the stock SSD drive that had Windows 10 with NVME that had Ubuntu Mate! But that did not go down as intended. My post below will therefore cover the above four devices only.

Hardware changes/ upgrades to computers

Below I have summarised the changes I made to the computers as they were purchased or acquired:

ComputerOriginal SpecsModificationsOperating System
Raspberry Pi4 Model BSee specificationsUpdates to Bootloader, Boot via SSD drive on USBUbuntu Mate 20.04
Coconics EnablerSee OEM SpecsKingston 480 GB SSD + 128 GB MicroSD Card. Boot via SSD, Home folder is the eMMC driveLinux Mint 20.02 ‘Uma’, XFCE edition
MacBook Pro Retina Late 2012Quad core i5, 8 GB DDR3 1600Change SSD to 512 GB Name (planned)MacOS Catalina
MacBook Pro Retina Early 2015Quad Core i5, 8 GB DDR3 RAM, 128 GB SSD1 TB NVMeSolus OS Plasma Edition 4.2 (upgraded to 4.3)
Dell Inspiron 5300i7 processor/ 8 GB DDR4 RAM/ 256 GB SSD DriveNew Battery, extra 8 GB DDR4 RAMWindows 10

Disk speed test on eMMC drive for Coconics Enabler Laptop
Disk speed test on eMMC drive for Coconics laptop

bench.sh test on Coconics Enabler Laptop with Ubuntu Mate installed
Bench.sh on Coconics laptop using Ubuntu Mate

Screenshots from Installation

Manjaro Budgie and XFCE

The 2021 versions of Manjaro kept giving some strange errors- the operating system would install, ask for an upgrade, and then… Kernel Panic. Ironically I experienced this on the MBP2015 as well as Coconics. For i3, XFCE and Budgie versions of Manjaro. I had to reluctantly let that option go.

Linux Mint

Next on the list was Linux Mint. With the 20.01 version, I had some success- except that the Broadcom drivers for wifi became an issue.

Disk speeds and partition structure
Kernel Module Error
Using Ocenaudio App
Dark Mode for Mint Linux on MacBook Pro
MBP15 Operating System Information
Mint Driver Manager

The Kernel Module error kept repeating, and I had to look for other options. Yes, most errors are fixable provided one is willing to put efforts. But I was looking to standardize the operating systems and the data/ folder structure across all devices, so I needed consistency.


SolusOs Budgie

Next on the list was SolusOs Budgie desktop.

Screenshots from Installationand Desktop Setup
New Installation of Budgie Desktop
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Installation of Budgie Desktop
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Completion of Installation
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Checks before installation
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Manjaro XFCE Installation*
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
*In case you prefer it over Budgie

Screenshots from Installation of Linux Mint

2019 Edition ‘Tara’2021 Edition ‘Uma’
Multiple windows open in Linux Mint Tara
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
System settings for Linux Mint Uma Installation
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Default Desktop of Linux Mint Tara
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Hardware settings for test machine
Installation of Linux Mint Tara, 2019. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Dist- Upgrade for Linux Mint Tara
Installation of Manjaro Linux, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Updates during installation of Mint
Installation of Linux Mint Uma, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

And for good measure, let us look at Linux Mint Uma- XFCE edition

Disk Parition Scheme for Linux Mint
Installation of Linux Mint Uma, 2021. XFCE Edition. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

SolusOs – KDE Plasma Edition

Finally, we take a look at Solus Plasma Edition

KDE Plasma Installer for SolusOs
Installation of SolusOs Plasma Edition, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Installation of Solus OS
Installation of Solus Plasma Edition, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Installation of Solus OS
High RAM usage in Solus Budgie desktop, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Solus Plasma- Install Complete
High RAM usage in Solus Budgie desktop, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Ram Usage for Solus Budgie
High RAM usage in Solus Budgie desktop, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
Free up Disk space using Bleachbit*
High RAM usage in Solus Budgie desktop, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas
*Handle with extreme care, read up the risks before using Bleachbit
System Upgrade for Solus Plasma Edition – 2
High RAM usage in Solus Budgie desktop, 2021. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

Why didn’t I opt for the Budgie Desktop?

Solus is known for the Budgie desktop -they created it after all. But in my installation of Solus with Budgie desktop, I experienced very high RAM usage. Below is the usage when the desktop had just loaded.

High RAM usage in Solus Budgie Desktop
On both Coconics and MacBook Pro15, I experienced very high RAM usage while using web browsers. This was a result from a bug in one of the GNOME libraries that is apparently still open.

RAM usage on MacBook Pro 15, Solus Budgie Desktop

RAM usage on MBP15 running Solus Budgie. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

RAM usage on Coconics Laptop, Brave browser

memory footprint for brave browser on Coconics laptop.Screenshot by Amar Vyas

The other issue I encountered on the Coconics laptop was high CPU temperatures and disk temperatures. Below is a screenshot from Ubuntu Mate 21.04 installation. The below image shows temperature from 5 minutes after installation. The laptop went into forced shutdown mode twice because the ‘safety’ temperature of 100 Deg Celsius was reached. I removed Mate and installed Linux Mint XFCE.

heating issue on Ubuntu Mate Installation.Screenshot by Amar Vyas

CPU and disk temperature was a problem with MacBook Pro retina 2015 as well.

cpu and disk temperature for MacBook Pro Retina 2015 using Linux.Screenshot by Amar Vyas

Wrapping it up

The option (and ability) to boot RaspberryPi4 is indeed a blessing! I was able to follow the instructions listed here and here, and the process was seamless. My RaspberryPi Rb / 4 GB device runs Ubuntu Mate with aplomb. I had of course tried installing Manjaro XFCE – my preferred linux distro. Alas! That was not to be.

Manjaro XFCe on Raspberry Pi4. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

RAM usage while running Firefox on RaspBerryPi4. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

Speedtest result for Internet speed using RaspBerryPi4. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

Creating boot disk for RaspberryPi4 using Raspberry PI Manager. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

Same issue; High RAM usage with Firefox

RAM usage when Firefox browser is running. Screenshot by Amar Vyas

Reflection

The high RAM usage while using browser, in particular Firefox, makes me wonder if the extensions for browser are the culprit. Moreover, I use Firefox sync so that all browsers have identical setup. I did run a test with all extensions disabled, but the results was not much different. Solving that issue will be a problem for another day.