Well, upon running into the theme we were using for the umphteenth time, we decided that it was time to change things around. Not finding anything that really jumped out and not wanting to start from scratch, we borrowed and modified a theme from web2themes.com I think it's definitely an improvement, but please comment and tell me how much it sucks, or how you've seen the same thing a hundred times. While in there, we took the opportunity to get rid of some plugins. Ajax-wp, while fun, really had no true benefit and it seemed to muck with the Share-this plugin. The bookmark this plugin was trashed in favor of the Share-this plugin too. While throwing out we also threw in a Google Custom Search, we've been checking out the google co-op project and thought it was worth a go, who knows maybe it'll improve search rank and Ad CTR. We'll try to post more regularly with some new Lighttpd, Ajax, and Java articles soon.
We're still here, just been too busy to blog, it's been a month, but we've done a lot.
First and foremost we found a new host and at a great price. We opted for a VPS at JTLNet, for $19.95/mo. we get 15GB of disk space, 256MB of guaranteed memory, 200GB of bandwidth and the ability to install any software we want. We wouldn't recommend this setup to anyone that doesn't know what they're doing, but it's a great alternative to a dedicated server. The guys at JTLNet are top notch, many a night we've opened support tickets at 1 a.m. because we hit one roadblock or another and they're there and on top of the issue within an hour.
Having the freedom to pick your own software and not be bound to what your host is running is a beautiful, yet time consuming, thing. I've swapped out the Apache web server for Lighttpd (Lighty) 1.5, the mod_decompress module in Lighty has reduced our page sizes by 85%. For those that don't know, Lighty is a lightweight web server that serves up PHP via FastCGI faster than Apache using mod_php, it's still in Beta but so far it seems stable enough and pretty quick. We upgraded our PHP version to 5.1.2 and MySQL to 5.27 to gain any performance improvements the newer versions are bound to have. Last but not least we migrated to WordPress 2.2 and added some Ajax goodness to the site, notice as you click around we're no longer refreshing the entire page, but just the post content.
All in all things are running smoothly now, not to say we didn't hit several hurdles upgrading and migrating to a new server and platform. We'll be sharing the details of the upgrades and our troubles in our upcoming posts.