Attacks on DreamHost and Enabling CloudFlare

For the past 2 days, our site has been going up and down like a roller coaster due to attacks and connection issues at our webhost (DreamHost):

As a temporary fix (maybe permanent?) against the attacks, they’re limiting every account to only 3 simultaneous connections, which has created a new set of problems for us, causing what many of you saw yesterday as 503 Service Temporarily Unavailable.

For now, we’ve enabled CloudFlare on our site, hoping by having CloudFlare cache our site (which is mostly static), it would help relieve some of our simultaneous connections issues.

We’ve also reworked how our site caching worked, making it less agressive at expiring cache. You might end up seeing some stale pages once in awhile. Hopefully that’ll help too.

In the meantime, we’re looking into options for a more reliable webhost.

Down Time

Many of you may have noticed that our site was down for the majority of yesterday. I’m still not sure what happened, but I was alerted that around 10am, people were getting 500 Internal Server Errors. Somewhere between then and 12pm, people started to get redirected to

I contacted 1and1 (our web hosting provider) and the first tier customer support had no idea what was going on. I knew it was still reaching their servers since pages requiring basic auth still prompted for credentials. But afterwards, it’d still redirect you to They told me they were going to escalate the issue. I inquire what the ETA is to fix and they told me they had no idea. I asked when I should call back if the issue is not resolved. At first they told me 24 hours. Then they say it may take up to 48 hours. I was not pleased with the response, but I guess that’s what you get for cheap hosting.

After 12 hours of down time, I decide to move my site onto DreamHost temporarily. During this move, I made some changes that’ll make my life easier if I decide to port it onto another server. It was a good thing I still had shell access to my 1and1 account. Hurray for rsync for making my life super easy. I was also able to access the databases to get the latest updates since our last backup.

I also took some time to move the blog onto it’s own subdomain. All previous links will still work as they’ll be redirected to If you do see broken links or things not working in general, please do report the issue. Having the blog on a different subdomain served a couple purposes:

  1. It allows us to bypass the WordPress cookie for our main catalog.
  2. It allows us to run each site under a different user.

I apologize for any inconvenience this had cause. Maybe it’s time I get a dedicated server.

Project Wonderful

So I’ve gotten around to trying a new ad system: Project Wonderful. I first heard about it on Real Life Comics and decided to look into it. Also the fact that there was some way to get ads into my RSS feeds sounded interesting. I haven’t looked too deep into that yet, but it looks like due to the fact they have code for both <script> and <noscript>, the noscript part can be activated on RSS feeds, so if I inject the code directly into the feed php files, it should theoretically work.

I found many of AdBrite’s flash animation ads to be really annoying, so it wasn’t that difficult a decision to leave them. I still have the footer on AdBrite to compare it against the header which is now using Project Wonderful.

Some cool things about Project Wonderful include:

  • A lot of tweaks (i.e. banner size, text/graphical ads, enable/disable animation, open in new/same window, colors, audience catering, etc.)
  • Ad code that doesn’t necessary need to run JavaScript, so you can place it on RSS feeds.
  • Nice and helpful customer support. Sent an email, got a reply 5 minutes later not with an automated response or someone who doesn’t even bother reading my email, but an actual human telling what I had to do.
  • Once you’re approved, you can post ads on any site that you own. You don’t have to manually request for approval for additional sites.

I also heard about OpenX from my DreamHost newsletter (don’t worry, this site isn’t hosted on DreamHost). I’m not exactly sure how it works, but it sounds like another interesting ad server. If anyone knows about OpenX, please feel free to drop us a line telling us about it. Much appreciated.