Welcome to Curious Business

Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, April 09, 2010

Four Years and 24 Minutes

My Sunshop Admin site is where all the magic happens. That’s the back door to Curio City where I create all of the store’s content and manage its database.

When I moved to Mochahost four years ago, Admin started logging me out after a few minutes of inactivity. Sometimes I have to log back in as many as 15 times a day. If I’m called away from my computer while writing a product description or editing a template, that work evaporates when I come back and find myself logged out again.

I started complaining about this in 2007. Turnkey (the shopping cart developer) swore that it wasn’t their fault and referred me to my web host. Other Sunshop developers suggested some tricks to make the server obey my will, but none worked. Mocha washed their hands of it and sent me back to Turnkey. Since this was going nowhere during the Christmas season, I dropped the subject.

The next year I asked my developer to pin down the blame. Eric was by then only performing my upgrades because I couldn’t find anybody else. He thought he might know how to solve the timeouts, but he never got around to trying…and then he was gone.

I reopened the subject with Turnkey when another Sunshop user raised the same complaint last year. Turnkey sent me back to Mocha again. Mocha sent me back to Turnkey again. I dropped the subject again.

When my new developer (Brad) performed a version upgrade last month, I asked him to reopen this old wound. He finally found the fault. The server’s PHP.ini file cleans up idle sessions after 24 minutes (not the 5-10 minutes that I’d misperceived all this time). Knowing that it’s definitely Mocha’s fault, I could finally tell them exactly what to change.

They flat-out refused to increase that timeout interval. If I want custom settings, they said, I can upgrade to a more expensive account. Customizing the ini file could destabilize my shared server.

Well, what do I expect for $75 a year? I stay with Mocha because they’re cheap and their server has been reliable since my Spring 2009 site move. When I eventually outgrow shared hosting and need a (virtual) private server, I will look for a company that’s more cooperative.

Meanwhile, I just have to log in whenever I’m inactive for 24 minutes.

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