Mediatemple vs Westhost

I have been using Westhost for mine and my wife’s blogs. It was a VPS account and was quite cheap. But sometimes it would slow down really bad. I looked around on internet and decided to go with mediatemple.

But before switching I just wanted to check the performance on both servers using LoadImpact online load testing service.

Here are the results.

On Westhost VPS

Loadimpact results on westhost VPS

On mediatemple grid service

Loadimpact results on mediatemple grid service

You can see for yourself, westhost VPS almost stopped working with a load of 20 clients and mediatemple scales without any problems to 50 clients.

Please note this is just a comparison of pure speed and that too of different types of hosting VPS vs Grid-Service and I am not an expert on different hosting providers.

So, would I still recommend Westhost? absolutely!. If you are an open source developer looking to learn or develop in multiple languages such as PHP, Python, Ruby and Java, Westhost VPS is cheap and best. If you are looking to scale your website then mediatemple would be a better option.

Let me know what your experience has been with different hosting providers in comments.

iPhone app for Mumbai

Flip Media has released an iPhone app (iTunes Link) for Mumbai. If you are an iPhone user and living in Mumbai or traveling to this city, this app can be of great help. This app is an extension to the popular website for Mumbai called mumbaikar.com.

Here are some of the features

  • Geo-tagged directory listing of Restaurants, Bars & Pubs, Cafes, Clubs & Gymkhanas, Hotels, Cinemas, Libraries, Shopping, Parlour, Salon & Spas, Petrol Pumps, Hospitals, Chemists, Banks & ATMs, Services, Gyms, Yoga & Meditation, Schools & Colleges and Places of Interests.
  • Geo-tagged events by categories.
  • Geo-tagged crime incident alerts
  • Blogs written by prominent mumbaikars
  • Search across all sections
  • Rate & post comments.

This app lets you search for anything around you or any selected location if you like. Even though I don’t live in Mumbai, I use this app to read interesting blog posts from mumbaikar.com

Its a great effort from Imthiaz (Developer) & Dinesh (Design & UX) at Flip Media. Congrats guys!

Mumbaikar.com has full details of the app. Also read Imthi’s blog post about the development process.

Online backups, storage and sharing with sugarsync

Storing backups of important documents, photos, videos etc. is really a pain if you need to do it yourself. I lost couple of portable hard drives and lost some data forever. I tried to use a lot of free methods to backup like using GMail with some free tools. These are only workarounds and not really usable long term solution. Then i tried using Amazon S3 which is an amazing service, but you can’t manage the files online. For that you would have to use JungleDisk which adds to the cost. I tried the free Dropbox account for a while, but not what I wanted. It doesn’t let you backup your separately and not have everything synced across all computers. And there are no plans lower than $99/year for 50GB. I waited for a few months for them to introduce a 25 – 30 GB plan. If you check their forums, there is a new thread everyday asking for a lower end plan, so it seemed to me that its not gonna happen anytime soon.

Then I tried Sugarsync. At first I was skeptical as there were reviews about it being slow, but still I gave it a try with a 30GB trial account which is $49.99/year. But the upload was fast, and around 5GB of my data got uploaded in about 16 hours. My quest stops here for now. It has everything I need including an iPhone application which is a bit slow, but I can live with that. Here are some of the features listed on their website.

  • Online backup
  • Multi-computer sync (Mac and Windows)
  • Remote access
  • Mobile phone access (iPhone, Blackberry and Windows Mobile)
  • Music & photos
  • Sharing
  • Data security

So, I am another happy sugarsync user and I hope to see more enhancements to the Mac version of the software which is currently in beta.

Tip: They are currently running a promotion, you can get 10GB extra! if you use my referral link


Four years at Flip Media Dubai

June 12, 2005 was one of the most important days of my life. It was the day I joined Flip Media and it has been 4 years since then. I can still remember how excited I was after my interview with Dinesh and Martin. Back then the office was smaller and so was the team. First thing I did when I got a call for interview was check their portfolio on the website and was really impressed.

So, what is so good about this place that I consider it to be one of the most important things that has happened to me?

On my first day I was asked if I wanted a laptop or a desktop or a mac. I had seen macs but had never used one. So I opted for a desktop with dual LCD monitors. Now I hate to work without a mac, thanks to Dinesh :). I had an impression that people would be snobbish, but my presumptions were wrong. Everyone was very friendly and I felt very comfortable in no time. Till now I don’t remember my bosses telling me to just do something. I was always asked if something was possible and how much time I would need. Now, don’t get me wrong. These people have been in the industry for a long time and are real geeks. They know their stuff. But I was given the freedom to do the way I wanted. If they wanted something to be different than how I would do it, they would come and discuss even the most trivial stuff and explain in detail why and how. This is something that helped me grow personally as well as technically. It dramatically changed how I approach problems and the overall web application development.

Flip’s work used to be mostly on Microsoft platform, but there were a couple of sites running on Mambo and WordPress. Dinesh has been a supporter of open source and had been advocating the adoption of LAMP stack instead of ASP. In a short time, the focus shifted to PHP. I used to program in ASP before I started in PHP and haven’t looked back since then. Well, I could just keep writing about everything that makes me love Flip, there is lot to tell, but it will get very lengthy.

Flip has grown a lot in a short span, which I personally think is due to the leadership of Martin, Dinesh, Yousef and the amazing people working here including Flip Mumbai and Flip Trivandrum teams.

And last but not the least about the Product Development Team which develops the CMS and other products. I have really enjoyed working with the whole team, Yogesh, Lijeesh, Sheeban and especially Imthiaz. We got an award for Best Buddies at the X-Mas Party :). We have had lengthy discussions, arguments and sometime fights but no regrets, we all have a passion for writing good code and it was only to make the products better.

It would be extremely unfair if I didn’t thank my wife for her patience and support when I have to work very late, sometimes it goes on for weeks.

I still feel this is just the beginning and we have a long way to go.

WordPress plugin as a facebook application

Couple of weeks back, I was asked to give a presentation at the first “Facebook Developer Garage – Dubai“.
The agenda was

  1. facebook & flip
  2. application development
  3. demo app

I had about 45 minutes and had planned to create a small demo app live during the session. Due to the nature of this development environment, files had to be edited directly off the server. Although the reverse SSH tunnel kind of worked, but for some reason facebook failed to connect, so had to drop the plan. 

Demo could have been another mysmiley like sample application, but I wanted to do something useful but quick. Needed some kind of existing application on the top of which this facebook application could be built. Since wordpress is one of the most widely used blogging platforms, this seemed like a good option. Creating a wordpress plugin is really easy, all you need is a comment block with the plugin details and you just throw in some hooks you need to get started. So this made wordpress a perfect choice for the demo. 

WordPress site for the demo was supposed to be a portfolio site for multiple users. And this plugin would act as a facebook application frontend of this supposedly existing website.

Due to the lack of time and a terrible internet connection at the venue the demo couldn’t get far, and I had to end it. Some of the programmers at the event had asked if they could get a completed sample of the application I was building. So, here it is.

Please note that this sample does not take care of caching or proper privacy checks. I might create a complete version of this sample app and release it later.

Download Plugin 53.5 kB

Here are some screenshots

MINI Cooper campaign in Dubai

MINI Cooper promotion

If you are from Dubai and happened to visit Dubai Media City around DMC Bldg 14, you have probably seen a mini cooper in middle of a roundabout enclosed in a wooden and glass box. I liked the Idea, its something different, or at least I haven’t seen this before. But something similar was done by Samsung or Sony Ericsson on roundabouts in DMC.

But I wonder what would be their budgets for such a campaign. I am not an expert on advertising but a simple google search on “mini cooper dubai” doesn’t even bring up the dealer website in first 3 result pages (didn’t check the 4th page though). Haven’t seen any ads supporting this campaign on any of the middle east portals as well. An online campaign which highlights the power and features of this tiny thing should have been there to support the offline campaign.

Nikon SB 600 Speedlight/Flash for D40x

Nikon SB-600 Speedlight
Nikon SB-600 Speedlight

Back in school days I would always draw and sketch the charts for science class as my teachers thought I was good at it. But as the time passed I never improved my drawing/painting skills because I never painted except for some school competition and would end up with a second prize. I have always been fascinated with photography. After moving to Dubai in 2003, got my first camera which was a Canon PowerShot A80, it is a simple point n shoot camera with some “Manual” options. So I played around with it for a while.

Last year at gitex I got a good deal on Nikon D40x which is an entry level Digital SLR which was bundled with a 70-300mm lens for AED 3,500. But still I have not been doing much with it. I think now its high time I spared some time for my hobbies as well.

Last friday I attended couple of great sessions at Gulf Photo Plus 2009. One was by Bobbi Lane on “Portraits Tips, Tricks & Lighting Ideas” and the other was by Cliff Mautner on “Learning how to use your (external) flash or speedlite”. The rooms were packed with enthusiasts, amateurs and professionals. I never really knew the power of speedlights before.

So yesterday I went to Grand Stores at The Dubai Mall and got a Nikon SB 600 speedlight. Nikon SB 800 was not in my budget, so had to settle for this one. My Nikon D40x does not have the commander mode by which I could trigger the flash off camera wirelessly, so I wanted an off camera TTL cord and the best one for me would be Nikon SC-29. But Grand Stores does not have it. Anyone knows from where I can get this in Dubai?.

Struggling to blog

It’s been a while since I started this blog.  Been kind of lazy when it comes to this, well thats not the only reason. I had tried a few times, but I would just go blank with the cursor blinking in the title field.  I had almost given up, but during past couple of days, Imthiaz Rafiq (my buddy and team mate) started pushing me to post something. So here I am.

Upgraded WordPress after a long time. They have done an amazing job with the new version. Love it!. Especially the plugin installer and media handling. Was hoping to see some changes in the Custom Fields, but it is still the same.  Even though Ajax is used quite a lot throughout the backend interface, still feels very light. Code wise slowly but steadily moving towards OOP.

Thanks to Martin Diessner and Varun Rampal who recently started blogging for additonal inspiration 🙂