Apache mod_pagespeed

In a previous post, I’ve been using Google’s PageSpeed Insights for a while to help optimize the page loads of my websites for a while now, but I’ve never gone so far as installing the Apache mod_pagespeed plugin.  But after trying a few different Joomla extensions, I figured this one might be more efficient by optimizing directly through the Apache layer.

mod_pagespeed is an open-source Apache module that automatically optimizes web pages and resources on them. Optimization is done by rewriting the resources using filters that implement web performance best practices. Webmasters and web developers can use mod_pagespeed to improve the performance of their web pages when serving content with the Apache HTTP Server.

Among many other features, this plugin will automatically combine/optimize how JavaScript and CSS are presented.  Afterinstalling and enabling it using .htaccess, on two of my sites so far, the pagespeed scores have increased about 6 points (from 88 to 94 on Used Boats Ahoy!), and shaved an average 500ms off page load speeds.

2012-05-24 Update:

After having good luck with this plugin on Used Boats Ahoy!, I enabled it on my other websites.  Below are the changes in PageSpeed score.
Bodhi Development: 70 to 92
Stat Addict: 74 to 90
Washington State Used Boats: 85 to 92
Quality Used Boats: 88 to 93
Bodhi Sanctum: 72 to 76
Used Boats Ahoy: 88 to 94

Linux Server Kernel Upgrade

I’ve been hosting a VPS through Linode for the last couple of years, and I’ve have a great experience so far.  A VPS provides the full root server experience without having to worry about the hardware.  I was going through my server configurations, and realized I was running a deprecated Linux Kernal 2.6.  A host like Linode makes it extremely easy to change kernels on a VPS with a simple web interface with a dropdown menu to select from a prepolulated list of kernels. From an issue in May of last year, I was recommended to use a more stable version ( which was still selected.  I’m hoping any issues I experienced have been resolved since then.

While there are no significant changes, there rare plenty of random fixes and driver updates, updating the revision to 3.0 was a huge milestone for Linus and Linux. As of today Linux 3.4 has been released, which I hope to be able to look in to taking the additional leap.

Website Optimization

In my previous post about Used Boats Ahoy! I mentioned a Joomla plugin Mobile Joomla! and how it can detect mobile devices and display the website accordingly without having to redirect to a subdomain..

Unfortunately since I don’t have complete control of how things are displayed due to the nature of the services I’m using, I’ve had to resort to complex CSS, and other creative solutions.  It’s proven a little more difficult than I expected to format everything just right, but even so the mobile experience is much better now than it was before.  By getting back into the code for this website, I felt it was an ideal time to look into other ways to boost my site performance.

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SOAP Web Services

Web services are one of the easiest ways ways to communicate between multiple languages or multiple servers by passing HTTP requests, or XML/JSON.  With the recent surge in HTML5, more web sites than ever can use web service requests to deliver updated content without requiring the user to refresh their browser.  One of the most widely used web service protocols is SOAP.

SOAP is the protocol that Used Boats Ahoy! uses to populate it’s inventory of boats.  The web service client connects to a web service server that has direct access to a database.  Interoperability is key with web services since the code base of any given web site is unknown.  In this case the client code is written in PHP and the server in ColdFusion, but they both communicate using a common XML format. Read more »

Web Services/Feeds Introduction

One web site can become much more useful to a user if it has access to other useful sets of information to display. The challenge is to be able to control the flow of information being passed between server and client interfaces.  There are many different types of use cases for web services which have different sets of requirements. While RSS feeds are more of a precursor to the proper web service, they are a good example of a one way service where a client can display content, usually articles, from an external server’s database.

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