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March 2012 Newsletter

Introduction

Guess what? I started writing this month's newsletter ON AN AIRPLANE!

It was probably the most exciting time I've ever had writing anything before. I was working through a fog of adrenaline at the time but I'll do my best to recount the day's events.

At first there was shouting. Then there was yelling. Then, sirens in the distance.

I remember the sirens getting closer, then the shouting seemed to come from all around me! Eventually someone pulled me from the wing, threw me to the ground, and restrained me in plastic zip-tie handcuffs. The rest is kind of a blur.

I have flashes of being thrown into some kind of cell. There were also a lot of angry people with guns and uniforms - yelling at ME!

At one point some guy with a glove stuck his finger in my butt! I definitely remember that part. Kind of wish I didn't.

After that whole business they gave me a sweet jumpsuit to wear. I've never owned a jumpsuit before and let me tell you - they do not improve your jumping ability, *especially* when your ankles are shackled together.

So, long story short, as part of my court-ordered restitution I was asked to paint over what I had written to restore United Airlines' logo to its former glory.

I'm also required to make the following statement:

Defacing private property is not an acceptable means of promoting a web hosting company. I regret my actions. Please learn from my example so that the friendly skies stay that way for everyone.

I think they also said I'm on some kind of airport VIP list now, so that's cool.

Was all that hassle worth it?

Let's just say I'll let you know next month from my seat in first class, which I'm pretty sure is the chair right next to the pilot.

-Brett

Simon Says... (Written by CEO Simon Anderson!)

Hi there, March. You arrived so quickly! Even with the leap year day in between. So what's been happening?

First up, make sure you read ALL of this crazy newsletter, because Brett has put a lot of care and thought and detail into it. And we sure have been busy. The big focus in the last month has been ensuring the security of your websites. The world wild web has gotten wilder this year with plenty of young guns trying to gain fame and a bit of "redirect to Russia" fortune, so we've been helping lots of customers clean up, literally. More on what you can do to protect yourself below.

Our development and engineering teams have also been hard at work on our next gen cloud services. We're making good progress with the final development phase of object storage, and we're deep into speccing and architecting compute. Our object storage solution is based on Ceph, the open source distributed storage software that we've been nurturing (developing) and is now being contributed to and tested by technology companies around the world. And our compute solution is built on Openstack, the open source cloud software and community that we're a big contributor to. These projects will enable us to add a whole new range of in-demand web services to our lineup.

We've also been very actively participating in WordCamps in the US (good to see you Phoenix, hello San Diego next week!), and contributing code to WordPress to support the incredible community and software that powers over 500,000 websites and blogs on DreamHost.

And last but not least we're very big the open source programming language Python, so we have a crew up at PyCon in Santa Clara this week, so look out for our people if you're there!

Best,
Simon
@DreamHostSimon

(Now back to Brett!)

VPS Usage Reports Just Got Real

DreamHost customers with Virtual Private Servers have long had access to visual usage reports: pretty graphs on the DreamHost control panel that indicate the memory and CPU usage of a VPS over time.

We had hoped that these graphs would let you make informed decisions about just how much RAM to allocate (and thus pay for) when managing your VPS service. Unfortunately these graphs were not as accurate as they could have been.

Now they are!

We've recently upgraded these graphs to give you MORE information to help you make even BETTER decisions about how best to configure your DreamHost VPS service.

The amount of working memory and the amount of memory devoted to disk caching are each now represented in these graphs, giving you a clearer picture of what exactly is going on with your virtual machine.

You can get more information and even view a sample graph on our blog:

DreamHost Blog: Improvements to VPS Reporting

If you've got VPS service on your account you can now view the new-and-improved graphs from your web panel at:

DreamHost Web Panel: VPS Usage Graphs

If you're not a VPS customer, why not upgrade and see what all the fuss is about? You can deploy new Virtual Private Servers (specialized for either general web service or optimized for MySQL performance) in a matter of minutes at:

DreamHost Web Panel: Enable VPS Serfvice!

Better VPS reporting has been a much-requested feature and we're happy to bring it to you. Thanks for letting us give you aids - visually!

Security Enhancements Comin' Your Way

Insecure web applications and permission settings continue to be extremely popular vectors for hackers to gain unauthorized access to websites. This is a problem not unique to DreamHost - but to the web at large.

Directory permissions govern who can read, write, or execute content within your DreamHost account. If these aren't set properly you and your site's content could be at risk.

A directory with permissions set to "777" is a hacker's jackpot. Here's why:

DreamHost Blog: Pesky Permissions

If that's all Greek to you (or English to you Greeks), we've made it easy to secure your user accounts. You'll just want to make sure that you've enabled the "Enhanced Security" option within your account control panel for each and every one of your FTP and SSH user accounts:

DreamHost Wiki: Enhanced User Security

While this option has been enabled by default for *new* users for quite some time, this is not a new feature, and that hasn't always been the case. Best to double-check that you've got it singly-checked!

On the WordPress front we've made a change to the way our One Click Installer handles "Deluxe" WordPress installations. Our installer will now create an ".htaccess" file within WordPress' "/wp-content/uploads/" directory. This will prevent malicious scripts (or any scripts) from being executed within what is, by nature, a directory that accepts user-generated content.

DreamHost Wiki: WordPress Deluxe One-Click Install Details

Our web panel also now includes color-coded password strength indicators everywhere and anywhere that passwords can be set, helping you pick strong and secure passwords for access to all of your data.

I know that part because I read last month's newsletter. And also because I sawr it.

But really, this stuff is just the tip of the iceberg. We've been doing quite a bit behind the scenes to enhance our overall security.

You can learn more on DreamHost Status:

DreamHost Status: Security Improvements

The DreamHost Reach Out & Touch You Tour Rolls On!

Our "Reach Out & Touch You Tour" has already lived up to its mandate and has started leaving a trail of victims in its wake.

We spent last Thursday night touching customers in Los Angeles in an irreversible, potentially life-altering way. It was fun!

Attentive bartenders and an incredible soundtrack helped set the stage for an evening full of great conversations, unexpected hugs, and spontaneous dancing.

You people really are something else! We felt the love - and based on the post-event feedback, you guys did too! I think we all learned some good lessons that night. For example, I am highly receptive to flattery.

Portland - get ready! You're next. Next Thursday we'll be touching you in a way that, we are certain, no other web host has ever dared.

Tickets to our events in Portland, Chicago, and Seattle are now available - but they're going fast!

RSVP for DreamHost's Reach Out & Touch You Tour!

New York and San Francisco, keep an eye on our Twitter & Facebook feeds to learn when tickets to Touching events in your fair cities will become available.

@DreamHost on Twitter

DreamHost on FaceBook

I will also be at all events signing copies of my book, which kind of looks a lot like a blank cocktail napkin. Don't let the $35 signing fee scare you away - that autograph will only increase in value after one of you shanks me.

Python and OpenStack Love!

The world's first DreamHost lanyards made their appearance this week in Santa Clara, California at PyCon US 2012! Trade show badges have never looked better. True story.

PyCon is an "In Real Life" love-fest for the Python programming language, and DreamHost is proud to sponsor this year's event!

We're also co-sponsoring the PyCon development sprints and are organizing a group that will focus on the OpenStack project. The OpenStack sprint will take place *at* PyCon from March 12th-15th.

DreamHost Blog: On Your Mark, Get Set, Code!

OpenStack is, of course, the project that aims to create a scalable and open software foundation for both public and private cloud hosting environments. Some people might even call it "the future" of the hosting industry.

Some.

A mere two weeks later we'll be hosting the FIRST OpenStack Meetup in Los Angeles - at our downtown Los Angeles office!

Rackspace Cloud Builders' Vish Ishaya and Ron Pedde will be among the presenters. Jay Pipes will also be there to chat about TryStack.org!

You won't be listening to any of it, though, because the dazzling sights of Los Angeles at night from 50 floors up will consume you.

Spots are still available for this Meetup, so RSVP now for a peek at our Los Angeles office and some learnin' about OpenStack!

"Lights, Camera, Stackers!" : OpenStack Los Angeles Meetup

Yo Dawg, if that seems like a lot of OpenStack for one month, it's because we heard you like OpenStack, so we put OpenStack in your OpenStack so you can OpenStack while you OpenStack.

New Charity: The Lambi Fund of Haiti

December through February we solicited donations for Charity Navigator, a "meta" charity that ranks *other* charities on a four point scale.

They act as an independent and impartial third party that potential philanthropists can turn to when they need guidance for getting rid of all that dirty, extra money that just keeps piling up around the house.

Maybe I should start a Brett Navigator...

26 of you beautiful people pitched in to raise $936.23 for Charity Navigator. We've gone and matched that three times over, QUADRUPLING the original figure, and have just submitted a donation for $3744.92!

Haiti was ravaged by unrelenting hurricanes in 2008 and it's no exaggeration to say that a 7.0 earthquake and an endless series of aftershocks in 2010 nearly wiped Haiti off the face of the Earth.

At that time we decreed that we would not be donating any money to Haiti, or asking you to do the same, for quite a while. Money was flooding into the country through the Red Cross and other sources back then, and we realized that the need for assistance in all forms would exist in Haiti for years to come.

Soooo...this right here actually feels like a pretty good time to donate funds to Haiti. Actually, hang on a few seconds...and... wait...wait for it...wait for...there it is.

Yep, that feels good. Let's do it.

Founded jointly in 1994 by Haitians and Americans, the "Lambi Fund of Haiti" is a unique grassroots organization supporting economic justice, democracy and sustainable development in Haiti.

You can submit donations to The Lambi Fund (which we'll then quadruple, as always!) from the "Give to Charity" section of your account control panel:

Donate to The Lambi Fund

The Lambi Fund of Haiti also rates pretty squarely in the "4" territory with Charity Navigator, so both of us can be reasonably certain that nobody will be airlifting pallets full of oversized foam cowboy hats, 24 karat solid gold toilets, high-class amputee pornography, leather pants, endangered cats, Dom Perignon, Michael Jackson gloves, Cuban cigars, diamond-studded dog collars, handles of Tanqueray, cartons of beef jerky, didgeridoos, wheels of Humboldt Fog, personal robots, crystal barware, a set of handbells, servant monkeys, jetpacks, the master tapes of Vanilla Ice, Faberge eggs, or diamond-encrusted toothpicks into Haiti anytime soon - at least not with OUR money!

DreamHost WTF: The DreamHost Wiki

What's That Feature? It's The DreamHost Wiki!

I'll say it right now - Wikipedia is the world's most accurate source for information about anything, ever. It has taught me so much about the world that I even thought about donating during one of Wikipedia's pledge drives! Then I laughed at myself and closed the browser.

Did you know that when cavemen rode dinosaurs they did so on saddles made from a crude form of plastic, and NOT from ostrich leather as some Antarctican archaeologists had previously believed? That was kind of a shakeup for the scientific community, but I was there watching Wikipedia as events unfolded in real time and the article was repeatedly edited by scientists! Riveting stuff.

You can think of the DreamHost Wiki as a smaller version of Wikipedia with a laser focus on all things DreamHost.

The DreamHost Wiki

Our wiki is an owner's manual for anyone with a DreamHost account. And, just like Wikipedia, it can be updated and added-to by just about anyone for maximum accuracy!

If you'd like to share a tip, go ahead and add an article!

Spot any typos? You can just fix them yourself in a fraction of the time it would take to email us.

I mean look at this - I had no idea we offered Windows hosting! When did that even happen? Man, you guys are ON IT!

DHSOTMs

The DreamHost Site Of The Month is a coveted title reserved for a select few DreamHost customers. Past winners have had their lives irreversibly changed - mostly for the better. Some we just don't talk about.

As voted by you, the winners from FEBRUARY are as follows...

The winner in the OVERALL, CONTENT, STRUCTURE, and ORIGINALITY categories is:
Stuff I Google
"A Public Display of Personal Curiosities"

http://stuffigoogle.com/

When I read 'personal curiosities' I was thinking of...well never mind what I was thinking of. It was gross. Cool site!

The winner in the DESIGN category is:
Extreme Web Designs: Website design & Web Development Company
"Extreme Web Designs is an experienced team of professionals with superior and professional talents serving outstanding business to its clients. Our talented web site designers & skilled web developers are specialized in designing & developing premium quality and custom web sites."

http://www.theextremewebdesigns.com/

A design company won the design award! This IS extreme.

Remember, you can always click through to the DreamHost Site Of The Month section of your account control panel at any time to submit your site, vote on candidates, and view all winners past and present. (Winners appear in bold.)

Nice work, everyone!

DreamHost Web Panel: DHSOTM

Take Our Survey - Win an Apple iPad 3!

Who are you?

Shhhh!

Don't answer right away.

And don't let our finger pressed on your lips creep you out - we've done much worse things to customers on our Touching Tour already, believe me.

Take a look in the mirror and stare deep into your own eyes. Don't look away until you're really seeing...you.

Who am I? Who are you? Who are any of us?

We think we know who you are. But we don't, really. And that's because we've never taken the time to ask. We're like a selfish friend.

Beautiful, handsome, and intelligent - we know that you are two of these. Some of you may even be three of these. Whatever the case, we're glad that you're you.

We're just lookin' for some basic demographic information in this month's survey. Nothing too revealing, we hope.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QRJ5S2R

One lucky survey respondent selected at random will receive an iPad 3 for their trouble!

Apple's a little too uppity these days to call it an iPad 3, but come on. S'what it is.

See ya next month!

See ya next month!
Brett D!

P.S. - Air travel used to be classy. I rarely am. You can unsubscribe from this filth here:

https://panel.dreamhost.com/id/?tab=contact