Another Day, Another Server Change!

Hi all,

I’ve been spending my morning tabbing between P2L and my other sites checking out how the server updates are going and I thought I’d take a second to give you guys an update on what’s happening. I decided to leave already Server4sale for a couple of reasons:

1. I just feel overall they weren’t able to deal with the constant issue of Apache locking up. Basically the server wouldn’t load any sites until someone restarted the Apache service, and this lock up would happen at least every 48 hours, although sometimes it would happen every 6 hours. This has been an issue since pretty much the first day I signed up, and a month later it was still happening. S4S tech support is lightning quick and they would quickly reset the service very quickly, but the fact that the server was so unstable and didn’t seem to be getting any better bugged the crap out of me.

2. The server underwent a couple of minor ddos attacks apparently and I didn’t like the way it was dealt with at all, plus the LayeredTech datacenter has no ddos protection on it’s network at all unless I pay additional fees for hardware protection. When I was with ThePlanet, their network had some basic protection as well as some hardware in case the ddos was significant. So I feel that between the DC and the host, they just couldn’t deal with it effectively and I was basically hanging out to dry.

I started looking around this week for a new datacenter and finally settled on SoftLayer, which has several ddos mitigation tools if required. I bought the box directly from the DC so there is no middleman, and I ended up with the same box I have now with double the RAM and a bit cheaper. Nick was able to transfer all the accounts for us and I went with a company that specializes in server management called Platinum Server Management, which monitor and maintain the server for me. So far they’ve done all the optimization and OS hardening and the server is running great! None of the initial issues I had seem to be cropping up this time around, so already that’s a great sign.

Now I just have to wait until the DNS changes kick in around the globe and see how the box runs under a full load.

That’s the deal with the servers… sorry for all the jumping around guys, I’m just trying to find a stable and solid solution I can stick with.


Pixel2life Presents the Publishing System – Phase I

In case you missed the announcement, recently re-launched the high quality tutorials that were once published under the now defunct twodded system as the first look at our new Publishing System. We still have a lot of work to do on this, but we wanted to give folks their first look at how the published tutorials will look plus we wanted to get the tutorials back online because so many of our users were requesting them. Publishing System

The actual category browsing system for the tutorials is not yet functional, so the best way to see a full list of published tutorials is via the source site page at Included in this list is Tiago Dias’s famous Flash XML MP3 player and all the other popular tutorials that you guys were spamming me to put back online.

So what’s next? We’re now working on the actual Publishing System itself where our members will be able to write their own tutorials with full image and media hosting combined in a very sophisticated writing environment. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the interface Nick has been working on and it’s nothing short of amazing, so I’m sure you guys won’t be disappointed. We’re also going to have featured writers, ways of making some money from your tutorials and monthly prizes for top writers and contributors. We’re VERY excited about this product and I can’t wait to see what you all think of it. Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to launch!

Take care!

General Update – Servers, Sites and Other Goodies

Good morning everyone!

It’s been a little bit since I’ve been able to post here on my blog so I thought I’d better get on here and post myself an update. In business news, I’ve been having a bit of a time getting the new server going now I have moved away from Server Seed and I am no longer at ThePlanet data center. Instead I have moved to LayereTech with a managed solution form Here’s a post I left in the news at P2L that describes what’s been happening:

It’s no secret that it’s been a bumpy week and a bit with the server, and I thought I’d take a few minutes to let you know what’s been going on, where we’re at and what’s getting done.

First off, we are no longer with Server Seed hosting… we have moved to a managed solution with Server4Sale, which has the best, most incredible customer service I have ever seen! So with that said, I just want to point out that P2L was hosted with Server Seed from day 1, thus Ty has had the advantage of being with us as we grew in size and was able to adjust our various servers as required. We started off with shared hosting, then eventually went to a dual Xeon, then 2 dual Xeon boxes, then to a dual core dual Opteron. We had many issues over the last couple of years and Ty was able to fix each one as they came up.

Well now we’ve changed hosts and they simply had this huge site dropped in their lap and have had no chance to build up the box with us. So all the issues and errors Ty had with a bare bones install over the last couple of years were basically thrown at our new host all in one shot. This ranges in stuff from special MySQL config adjustments, Swap tweaks, to firewall filters and tweaks for mitigating the more or less constant ddos attacks we get. MOST of these adjustments have been done without a hitch, but right now we suffer from 2 main issues:

1. The firewall is banning legitimate traffic.
2. RAM suddenly climbs to 90% usage and the sites are unreachable for 15 minutes or so every 6 hours or so.

For issue 1, we are continuing to tweak the firewall and mods so they do not ban legit traffic, but people under common IP masks are an issue. We are working to overcome this problem and so far we’ve only had 1 person get banned in the last 24 hours that I know of.

If you get banned:

You might be IP banned if you are unable to get to P2L or any other site on this box (like my blog) and you get a 403 error in your browser. If you get a 404 error, a DNS error or a timeout, this is not a ban issue. Another indication that you could be banned is to try and access the site using a Proxy. I welcome members to post their favorite proxy sites in this thread if they wish. If the site comes up in a proxy, you’re either IP banned or there is a routing error. If you suspect you are banned, I need you to do the following:

1. Open a dos window. (You do this by clicking on Start > Run and typing “cmd” or “command” in the window and click OK. This will open a black dos box.
2. Type “ping” and hit enter. It will run 4 ping attempts. Once the 4 pings are done, take a screenshot and save it.
3. Type “tracert” and hit enter. This will run a trace route and will show you all the hops your connection takes to get to P2L. It will hope anywhere from 10 – 20 times normally until it reaches the server. Once it’s finished, take a screenshot of that.
4. Send an email to me at info at pixel2life dot com and attach your 2 screenshots along with the approx date and time of your ban and the name of your ISP if you know it.

With this information, I have a better chance of checking to see if you are banned and working on a solution to ensure you are not banned again. At this point the chance is fairly remote that it will happen… there has to be a big chunk of data coming from you.

Now for the memory Swap issue… We actually had this same RAM spike issue on Server Seed when we launched P2L v3 and Ty had to change something on our config to fix it. Unfortunately with Ty MIA, I have absolutely no idea what it was, so our new host is trying a few things tonight to try and fix it. In the meantime, if you suddenly are getting a timeout on P2L, it’s probably that memory issue so just hang tight for a few minutes while we fix it.

I am aggressively working on all the server issues and I am working with the host on a daily (hell… HOURLY) basis trying to get everything working smoothly. Right now we are working on trying to get this server to do what we need, otherwise we will look at some other options or possible hardware upgrades on this one. Either way, I’m doing what I can and I thank everyone for their patience during this adjustment period. I know it’s a pain in the ass for many of you… heck I went through 2 days of the site taking 5 minutes to load the main page. I was ready to toss the monitor out by office window. Donna has been banned by the firewall pretty much daily.

So that’s the deal for now guys… as always, please report and errors you see and if the site is totally unreachable, please be sure to send me the ping and tracert screenshots… those are vital in helping me out with all this. It’s tedious for you, but it helps everyone in the long run.

Thanks again everyone for all your help!

The real pain in the ass with this has been the banning of legitimate traffic, so as of right now, I’ve disabled mod_evasive to see what happens. So far the APF firewall seems to be doing it’s job and the site appears to be running fine.

In other news, I also posted a warning to webmasters that buy tutorials from authors for their sites. If you’re not sure what I mean, many webmasters that run tutorial sites don’t write the actual tutorials… they buy them for $10 – $50 each from someone who writes them and then they publish them on their sites with full rights to the content. The problem is that some publishers out there are selling tutorials that were copied from other sites and are getting scammed. So if you’re someone who buys tutorials, check out my little post on the subject.

I would also like to share an amazing video I found on the Dove website. It’s probably one of the most revealing videos I have ever seen on how the Hollywood industry can turn anyone from the average person to a super model. It’s a real eye opener to people that bust their butts trying to look like a cover model. Check out the video here. Bottom line, you won’t look like a cover girl unless you can physically apply photoshop edits to yourself.

Google has also just announced their amazing new Custom Search Engine technology, which looks very cool. You can get more info and a full review from Matt Cutts.

That’s about it for now… I have some other things I want to talk about P2L related, but I’ll add this in another post 🙂


Sheen Text Logo – Create a Text Based Logo with a Gradient Sheen Look, Shadows and a Reflection!

Hello fellow Corel Photopainters!

Today I want to show you a fairly simple but very stylish text effect that is very versatile in terms of how you can use it. It looks great in a website header, for a company logo or even for a wallpaper where text is a dominant feature. I’m going to show you several tricks in this tutorial that you will be able to use in a lot more pieces than just a simple text effects too.


As you can see by this downsized version, we’re going to learn how to make simple gradient text, reflections, linear shadows and a subtle but very attractive back light effect. We’ll use all these elements to create our final result, but you’ll be able to take home these new tricks and apply them to things such as layout design, photo enhancing and 3D object creation within Photopaint. This is also going to be one of my last text effect based tutorials for a little bit… I would like to get a bit more into complex effects and photo editing, and maybe even a full layout tutorial depending on how brave I’m feeling. I’m also considering a small series of tutorials based on my favorite tools in Photopaint that people can quickly refer too when they’re not sure how I did something. We’ll see how that goes in the weeks and months ahead. Either way, I’m definitely getting back into writing again and so you can look forward to plenty of articles and tutorials.

So, without further ado, let’s get cooking! Please continue to Page 2 to get started!

Gearing up to leave Server Seed Hosting

I hate to say it, but after 3 years of relying on for all my hosting needs, I have decided that it’s time to move to a new host. Ty has been a friend of mine for a very long time (8 years + at this point) so this is a real downer for me. Unfortunately his promises to improve the level of service, which is almost non existent for the last couple of months, have not been fulfilled and it’s been weeks since I last heard from him despite dozens of emails I’ve sent. I’m also tired of the daily complaints I am seeing from P2L members that went to serverseed because of our affiliation with them. I don’t know why Ty has dropped the ball on this so badly, but I am tired of the backlash I am getting and I have a serious fear of losing data if I walk in one day and find out Serverseed is gone and my server is toast.

So, with that said I am being proactive about this and purchasing a server with a new host over the next week and getting ready to move everything over. I predict this being a huge pain in the ass, but I’m pretty much forced to do this.

Sorry Ty, I just can’t deal with the lack of communication and service anymore… you are a good friend and Server Seed was one of the best hosts I’ve ever dealt with, but now it’s just not acceptable anymore.