Knowledge is Power

The previous post covered how I was spending some extra time to refresh my knowledge of DoOO after an abundance of tickets came in before the holidays. I’ve now had the chance to participate in the DoOO Onboard Training again and wanted to lay out my observations. First, it was a great opportunity to be able to have this training from Lauren, who did a wonderful job. I really appreciated being able to cover a lot of topics which had been coming up in the tickets recently.

First of all we started off by taking a look at the DoOO Admin Landing Page Configuration.

The landing page is like a home base for the admins to use, especially when they’re getting started. Here they can find descriptions and links of resources we’ve put together for them.

Next we covered the Dashboard and how it really is just a standard WordPress Dashboard. DoOO uses a custom theme built off the parent theme “Enfold”. This theme was made specifically with a mixture of API calls, functions, and code that makes the DoOO systems all work together. In addition, there are some plugins present that enable the magic to happen.

  • SSO – this plugin allows users to click the Get Started button, use their campus credentials that they are already familiar with, and jump right into managing their websites. This definitely helps users not have to add to their list of logins.
  • Remove dashboard access – takes away the dashboard for end-users so they can only see their embedded cPanel with the WordPress wrapper.
  • User switching – allows admins to easily mask as the user and view the account as the user would see it upon logging in. This is probably the most helpful tool in working with/troubleshooting within DoOO.

Within the Dashboard, each user has a different role, be it Administrator, Author or Subscriber. When users initially sign up, DoOO admins are given the opportunity to assign either the Author or Subscriber role. This can also be changed later on. Typically the Author role is the most used.

Being able to once again review all of the bits and pieces on the backend which make DoOO work has been a great experience. I’m definitely feeling empowered by the additional knowledge I learned from not only the Onboarding Training but also the review of the Workshop documentation. I look forward to applying all of this to any tickets sent my way.

Fitting the Pieces Together

Here at Reclaim Hosting the company where I work in customer support, one of our main products is Domain of One’s Own. What you might ask is DoOO? Put in simple terms, it’s an all in one package aimed at educational institutions. Students are able to use their school login to access the account they have with us which keeps things really simple. All they need remember is that one password and they’re logged in. The front end is built around a highly customized installation of WordPress into which we embed cPanel. For those who aren’t familiar with the intricacies of web hosting, cPanel is probably the worlds most popular control panel in use today. It makes managing your hosting account very simple. DoOO also allows the account administrators to manage all aspects of their installation via WHM which is Web Host Manager. Think of it as cPanel on steroids for the server administrator.

A few weeks before the holidays, during one of our regular weekly support meetings, I had mentioned to my manager that we had been getting a lot of what I considered complicated tickets related to DoOO. She said that this was do to the end of the school semester when all the students needed to wrap up their class projects and all the administrators must have decided it was time to complete all those tasks sitting on the back burner before the end of the year. It was certainly a bit of a frustrating time. Some admins would send in multiple tickets each day with all variety of problems to solve from cleaning up domain aliases to finally solving that issue with a subdomain that wasn’t resolving. I found myself having a bit of a tough time with quite a few of these tickets especially since the DoOO infrastructure is spread over many servers. Not helping was that the tickets are on a one hour timer when they arrive. Obviously if there’s more investigation needing to be done this can disappear quite quickly so you obviously feel a little rushed with the extra pressure. Thankfully we have some terrific documentation resources to help in not only troubleshooting issues that arise but also for sending out to the DoOO admins. Our Workshop area covers all manner of topics ranging from an overview to cPanel backups to changing PHP versions. It really is a fantastic resource and one I use constantly when attempting to solve those tricky questions. We also have a demo of DoOO which can be used as a tool for seeing the process a student goes through when signing up for an account. I’ve used this a few times when needing to have a front end rather than a back end perspective on an issue.

I truly enjoy working with my colleagues here at Reclaim Hosting. My manager Meredith is always pushing us to learn new things and of course when I said about all of the DoOO tickets coming in, she promptly assigned me some additional learning on the subject. We recently hired a new part-time account manager who will be going through the initial DoOO Onboarding Training and I asked if I could sit in on this again since it’s been over a year when I took this myself upon being hired. I’m looking forward to the refresher and hoping that it will allow all those pieces of the puzzle to more easily fit together. A followup post shortly thereafter will summarize my thoughts with some additional DoOO areas I’ve been researching and also how the initial training helps me look at things from a different perspective after having more knowledge than when this was first presented to me.

Cloud Hosting

The wonderful company I work for, Reclaim Hosting, is launching a new product called Reclaim Cloud later this month. Reclaim Cloud is a platform where your site is stored on multiple servers, which lets you pull resources from a variety of different places. This makes cloud hosting a very scalable, reliable, and flexible type of hosting, perfect for sites that experience hikes and dips in things like traffic. Cloud hosting is great for anyone who needs flexibility. Think of your plan like a pay-as-you-go mobile. You decide your own resource limits each month, and pay accordingly. If you have a big marketing campaign coming up, for example, cloud hosting allows you to prepare for a one-off busy month.

It’s definitely been a bit of a learning curve with the new platform. I’ve been mostly just installing simple environments to see how all the pieces fit together. Nothing too serious although others have been definitely doing more than kicking the tires. I’m definitely a little anxious about the prospect of support Reclaim Cloud but we have a great team who work together really well.

Tim and Jim our two co-owners have been very busy documenting the projects they’ve been working with. We also offer a Community Help Forum where others can share ideas on how to utilize the product. This will be a great help for a support resource.

I’m sure once we all delve deeper into the inner workings of Reclaim Cloud the pieces will eventually start falling into place and everything will become clearer. As with anything new, the journey is part of the fun to reach the destination.

Searching for a New Domain Registrar

I’ve had my domain hosted and registered with Pair Networks since 1999. The site is just one page with a picture of my old cat Riffie who lived from 1990 – 2007. I’ve always had plans to put up more pictures or do a proper write up, but nothing has ever taken shape unfortunately.

A couple of months ago I received a voice mail from pair Domains stating that messages sent to the e-mail I have on file for my domain were bouncing and that I needed to update the information. I gave them a call and they sent over a PDF form since I no longer have access to that e-mail due to some trouble with the server. The process involved filling out the form and sending it back to them with a picture of my drivers license. Luckily I had been corresponding with their support department with my Yahoo address since 2013 so this was already validated in their system. Thankfully the process went fairly smoothly and I managed to update all of the whois information. Phew!

I hadn’t had a need to log into the pair Domains account since 2015 when I paid for a five year renewal. Upon logging in and looking it over, I saw that interface was very rudimentary. One of my plans has been to cancel the hosting I have with Pair and move the site over to GitHub Pages for free. This would require quite a few changes to the DNS records and I soon realized it would be a hassle through the Pair Domains interface. The first step then would be to move the domain to a new registrar. I started looking at other registrars to see what they offered. It has been an interesting experience. Prices for .com domains range from $8 to $17. There are plenty of add-ons, such as DNS, SSL Certificates and even in some cases e-mail. I read a lot of reviews on Reddit and read through the documentation pages of a few registrars to get an idea of the services they provided.

After much thought I decided to transfer over to Google Domains where I also have another domain registered. I thought that at least by doing this I would consolidate the domains into one account and not have to worry about logging into two separate places to manage DNS. OpenSRS which is owned by Tucows handles the registration duties for Google so it’s pretty rock solid. The pricing for domains through Google is $12 a year which isn’t too bad. I started the transfer on 5/22 and it completed 5/27. Google Domains has a really slick interface for managing DNS and I was able to easily create a new subdomain and point it over to a server at Reclaim Hosting where I work and have a test account. Finally I could transfer this blog to a proper domain.

It was certainly a fun learning experience researching the different domain registrars and I learned a lot about the industry even though I’ve been working in hosting for many years.

Learning One Month at a Time

I’ve been working at Reclaim Hosting for six months now. I can’t believe time has gone by so quickly. This is a really great company who cares about their customers and employees. We always have plenty of opportunities to learn new things each day. A few months ago we started focusing on one particular topic for a month of intense learning. We’ve covered File Structure and Permissions, WordPress and this month Domain of One’s Own. DoOO is a product unique to Reclaim Hosting. It’s basically an all in one package primarily aimed at educational institutions. Students are able to use their school login to access the account they have with us which keeps things really simple. All they need remember is that one password and they’re logged in. The front end is built around a highly customized installation of WordPress into which we embed cPanel. For those who aren’t familiar with the intricacies of web hosting, cPanel is probably the worlds most popular control panel in use today. It makes managing your hosting account very simple. Not like the old days where everything was done via a Unix command line.

DoOO also allows the account administrators to manage all aspects of their installation via WHM which is Web Host Manager. Think of it as cPanel on steroids for the server administrator.

Getting back to the learning for this month, we are covering all aspects of DoOO. Each time a ticket arrives with a DoOO question I’ll not only answer it in a timely and thorough manner but also try and do a deep dive into our documentation so that I can fully understand why the issue happened in the first place. It has definitely been quite the experience and I’m learning many new things. That’s the great thing about working in support. Just when you think you know everything, a ticket will arrive that shows you that no, there are always new things to learn.

As of this writing, we still have two more weeks left for this months learning topic and I’m definitely doing my best at immersing myself into the world of DoOO. I’m sure there will be many more opportunities during the remainder of the month to learn the ins and outs of this product. If you would like to see for yourself what DoOO offers, feel free to sign up for a free trial at

The End Is Near, Or Is It Already Here

These are certainly interesting times we are living in. Society seems to have completely turned upside down. The world is being ravaged by a pandemic and financial markets are tumbling. We’ve seen many apocalyptic movies released over the years and with the ever growing possibility of a lockdown here in the US and mandatory isolation I wanted to make a list of these must see films for viewing while you’re stuck indoors. Of course there are many more than just the ones I’ve listed below, but I wanted to primarily focus on older films which might have been overlooked. I couldn’t pass up adding 28 Days Later to the list though because it’s such an interesting film which mirrors what’s happening to civilization around us at this time.

On the Beach

Released in 1959 this American post-apocalyptic science fiction drama depicts the aftermath of a nuclear war which has devastated the entirety of the Northern Hemisphere, killing all humans. After polluting the atmosphere air currents are slowly carrying the nuclear fallout into the only still habitable reaches of the Southern Hemisphere.

The Day the Earth Caught Fire

Released in 1961 this British science fiction disaster film is one of the classic apocalyptic films of its era. The story involves strange meteorological events which begin to affect the globe after the Soviet Union and the United States accidentally detonate simultaneous nuclear bombs during testing.

The Last Man on Earth

Released in 1964 this black and white post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film stars Vincent Price and is based on the 1954 novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. Dr. Robert Morgan lives in a world where everyone else has been infected by a plague that has turned them into undead, vampiric creatures that cannot stand sunlight, fear mirrors, and are repelled by garlic.

The Andromeda Strain

Released in 1971 this American science fiction thriller film is based on Michael Crichton’s 1969 novel of the same name. It involves a team of scientists who investigate a deadly organism of extraterrestrial origin.

28 Days Later

Released in 2002 this British post-apocalyptic horror film depicts the breakdown of society following the accidental release of a highly contagious virus.