Justin and Justina make up The New Leaf Journal’s resident dialogue duo. Most of their dialogues, which you can find in their series archive, focus on their own adventures, idle thoughts, and arguments. Occasionally, however, our similarly-named friends act as presenters for The New Leaf Journal (see 2020 and 2021 years in review). In today’s dialogue, Justina remarks that the site has been slow recently. Justin explains what has been happening and how the issues will be resolved.

A poorly drawn frowning smiley face created by N.A. Ferrell in Microsoft Paint.
I created this magnificent work of art in Microsoft Paint in June 2020 for an article on our caching crisis. While the current situation is – in a way – a good problem to have, I thought that it would be fitting to bring back a classic piece for this article.

A Dialogue on Slow Websites

The following conversation between Justin and Justina occurs over instant messaging. They had planned to meet in person, but the prospect of snow kept the fair-weather Justina indoors.

Why is the Site Slow?

Justina: I was wondering, why is that New Leaf Journal site being so slow?
Justin: You’re reading it!?
Justina: My blood pressure was low so I read our previous dialogue.
Justin: Good choice for that. I’d recommend Pumpkin Taker if you need to ratchet it up.
Justina: Not that much!
Justin: Suggestion was enough.
Justina: Anyway, the site is slow. What’s happening?
Justin: Well…
Justina: Is this why people don’t read our conversations? Because the site is too slow? Is it Nick’s fault?
Justin: That’s probably not it…
Justina: …
Justin: Anyway, I’ll explain.
Justina: OK.

A Growing Website

Justin: You know how Nick always makes leaf puns and tie-ins because the site is called The New LEAF Journal?
Justina: No.
Justin: I see you’re not a newsletter subscriber. Or are you as bad about checking email as you are about checking regular email?
Justina: No comment.
Justin: …
Justina: …
Justin: Anyway, that was all to say that The New Leaf Journal is a growing website, right?
Justina: Right.
Justin: So it’s a small tree, but it’s in a flower pot – do you follow?
Justina: Not really.
Justin: Or let’s say it’s a big flower pot, but there are a ton of trees in the flower pot.
Justina: I’m following less.
Justin: So The New Leaf Journal has very cheap shared hosting.
Justina: Come again?

Unnecessary Analogies

Justin: This is to say it’s a tree in a big flower pot, but there are 1,000 other trees in this flower pot.
Justina: Your analogies aren’t helping!
Justin: Every tree in the pot is sharing resources.
Justina: …
Justin: This necessarily means that each tree has a limited amount of resources.
Justina: Are we still talking about why the website is slow?
Justin: So The New Leaf Journal has become more popular. WordPress is not the lightest tree.
Justina: Tree?
Justin: So it’s regularly maxing its CPU allocation.
Justina: Ok that’s starting to make sense.
Justin: Let’s use an analogy. It is starving for nutrients and there’s not enough fertilizer to go around.
Justina: You were starting to make sense! Stop with the analogies.
Justin: Leaves turning brown. Maybe golden? That could be more aesthetic.
Justina: You’re impossible.
Justin: That’s more than possible.

So What Is Nick Doing About It?

Justina: What is Nick doing about the slow site? This is harming my chance to become popular!
Justin: So he’s going to Lowe’s…
Justina: No more analogies!
Justin: Fine.
Justina: …
Justin: He plans to move The New Leaf Journal to better hosting some time in the next week. The new hosting will be vastly more powerful. It will make the site faster and allow for new features that were not possible before.
Justina: Which features?
Justin: To use an analogy, the features are about as possible as I am until we get fancier hosting.
Justina: That was funny but I’m still going to strangle you.
Justin: Who would take care of Pumtake?
Justina: Fair.
Justin: So that’s the gist of it. Nick rates this as a far less severe incident than the great caching crisis of June 2020.
Justina: Caching?
Justin: Don’t worry about it. But the feature image for this article comes from a late night post by Nick in the middle of the caching crisis.
Justina: This is going to be an article?
Justin: PSA, really.

On Hosting Websites?

Justina: So is Nick saying that people shouldn’t do this shared hosting thing?
Justin: Not at all. Shared hosting is appropriate for many small sites, especially ones just starting out. Moreover, if The New Leaf Journal used a static file CMS, it may have held up a bit better under the traffic than it is with WordPress and a large number of images.
Justina: I see.
Justin: To use an analogy…
Justina: Don’t use an analogy!
Justin: Of course, Nick would note that many big shared hosting providers offer cheap hosting for first-time subscribers, often on long-term contracts, and then ratchet up the price for renewals. He would advise people to think about their expectations for their project when buying shared hosting and to make plans in advance before it becomes an imperative to move.
Justina: Did he not do this?
Justin: Fear not. Nick took up Linux in 2020 and moonlit as a home server administrator recently. He has been preparing for this moment.
Justina: He’s going to break something, isn’t he?
Justin: Probably.

A Word From Our Editor

I (N.A. Ferrell) take the microphone (or phone) from Justin and Justina to conclude this article. Some frequent visitors to The New Leaf Journal may have noted that the site’s performance has become erratic as of late. While we are still a long way from challenging Buzzfeed listicles for the pinnacle of internet pageviews, we have outgrown our shared hosting for some of the reasons that Justin explained to Justina. For this reason, I am in the process of preparing to move The New Leaf Journal to hosting that will scale.

I will add in conclusion that our cheap shared hosting from Bluehost served us well (except during the caching incident). For example, despite our being a small fish in a crowded pond, we withstood an unexpected avalanche of views from Hacker News in March 2020 – which remains The New Leaf Journal’s best month to date (the current month of January 2022 is now second). That is, shared hosting has many good uses – and the fact I am opting to go in a different direction is not an indictment of cheap shared hosting.

I look forward to writing about the big news once the move is complete – but let us not count our chickens before they hatch.