2015-03-04

Recommendations

Over time I have evolved the online services I use when setting up a site. The following is a list of sites and services I use myself and fully recommend (in some cases for the technically minded only):

  • For DNS hosting – without a doubt CloudFlare is my choice. As well as having a no strings attached free option, they provide not only DNS hosting, but inbuilt (and also free) anti-malware protection for your site as well as a free CDN system
  • For web, etc hosting – Amazon. Not for the faint of heart, however if you understand how it works, Amazon’s EC2 platform gives a sysadmin amazing tools to setup and manage a server.
  • Closely related to the above is Amazon’s SES for sending emails. While Amazon servers are fairly locked down for sending mail by default, once you remove those blocks it becomes an excellent system for sending bulk (non-spam) messages.
  • For running an actual website, WordPress has become my favourite (Drupal has long held that title). Current day WordPress allows for managing multiple sites from a centralised dashboard, automated security updates, and there are several essential and aweome plugins out there for WordPress (e.g. Woocommerce, WordFence, Jetpack)
  • For office/productivity provisioning – Google Apps for Work. It is (or can be) a replacement for any number of disparate and un-integrated office services. While it no longer offers a free option, it is quite reasonably priced for small businesses – considering costs of having an office full of other options legally licenced.
  • For backups/data – Dropbox (EDIT: or Google Drive). This service is very simple, but very powerful. It essentially keeps a copy of your whole Dropbox account on every device you install it upon (though mobile devices require extra work to behave that way). And when you can add it to your linux amazon server… yep, automagical backups, stored everywhere you have Dropbox installed.
  • For automagical AWS snapshots! – Skeddly. I just found this, and dang but it does a proper (and CHEAP) job of automating AWS tasks – like creating snapshots.

And, I think I’ll add a new category here for IoT / Automation recommendations:

  • For remote power point control: (Belkin) WeMo – I’ve been using these for years (before I fully got into home automation), and short of flood damage (drowning?) they’ve never failed. Bonus, while they talk to a Belkin cloud server, they can also happily be controlled by a local server.
  • For enviroment sensing – WirelessTag sensors. Ive not long started trialing these, however they have a lot of positives. They last years on their replaceable button batteries, communicate via long range WiFi, and every sensor can gather temperature, humidity, and motion (either because they are moved, or via P.I.R. motion sensor). Only down side I’ve found so far is that without the internet, they can only send alerts of events (e.g. motion), but not sensor readings (e.g. temperature) they are temporarily bricked (unlike WeMo devices).
  • Saturn South energy monitoring – while not exactly home automation, this allows whole house real-time energy usage reports.
  • openHAB – as mentioned elsewhere these guys make a great product, which can be configured to work with an awesome amount of different platforms.
  • IFTTT – for anything more complex than openHAB can handle (or that touches on other services on the internet). This site/service has a truly awesome array of supported systems.