Technical

Why Eukhost are bad

Finding good affordable hosting is a very difficult task. At work, we have several solutions hosted across a cluster of machines at Rackspace. These guys are by far the best hosting company I’ve ever had to deal with, and have an amazing level of support.

I have also always paid a yearly amount for some personal web hosting. As I currently deal with largely asp.net, I need to work with Windows Servers.  So about two years ago, I came across Eukhost.

I went for Eukhost because of their prices, and the available technologies ticked the right boxes – I even paid a little more to have Sql Server 2008, which is available for a lot cheaper than I could find elsewhere.

However it must be said that the service provided by Eukhost is poor. Below are a list of my grievances with Eukhost, accompanied with evidence.

Technical staff don’t take care and lack professionalism

One afternoon I discovered that one of my websites hosted at Eukhost had just stopped working. It was spitting out an asp.net runtime error, and had just come out of nowhere without me updating any of the files on the server. After initiating a support ticket with Eukhost’s Windows support, I was amazed to learn that a “technician” had accidentally changed the version of asp.net to 1.1 after doing some routine maintenance

You need to notice that your hosting isn’t working

Eukhost don’t proactively check that your hosting is available. It’s up to you to notice that its down and to contact them and to get them to fix it.

When there is a major problem and they have actually noticed it, don’t expect them to tell you

Recently, the server that my hosting lives on came under a massive DDOS attack (according to Eukhost). I only found this out because I discovered that several of my websites were down. I did the usual thing – contact Eukhost with a snotagram and get them to resolve the issue. I was then told about the situation, and told to read the forum. Silly me, not watching the forum for anouncements about the state of the service that I pay them for!

Support staff will get you to clean up their mess where possible

When Eukhost eventually worked out a solution for the DDOS attack, it involved the updating of the DNS records for all websites hosted on that machine. Rather than do it themselves by means of automation or just by putting all hands to the pump, they informed their customers, through means of forum post, that they needed to go and change their DNS settings.

Shared Hosting should be called cattle hosting

During the mess that was the DDOS attack, one of Eukhost’s staff got cornered in a forum and asked why nobody at Eukhost felt the need to bother updating the DNS settings themselves. In a rude and inconsiderate response, one the Eukhost’s staff claimed that there were “Over 3000 websites hosted on the box and that it would be impossible to update them all”. Eukhost have forgotten that as somebody that pays an annual fee for a service, I don’t give a monkeys about anyone else on my hosting, it just needs to work.

You can read through the said forum post here, although its contents have been butchered by Eukhost staff in what looks like a PR exercise. I can understand the difficulties in dealing with a DDOS attack, but I would have been a lot more sympatheic and understanding if it had been dealt with to the customers properly.

Anyway, I’m currently looking for a new asp.net hosting company. I’m willing to pay a little more if I can get a better service.

Technical

How to avoid cell merging when exporting to Excel in SSRS 2008

Lets be completely direct here. Cell merging in Sql Server Reporting services after exporting to Excel, is a common nightmare.

It happens because the engine that transforms the report tries to do so on a presentation basis.

I have been developing reports in SSRS for a few years now, and here are the best ways around the issue that I have found:

1. Don’t use standalone textboxes for titles, or any non-data elements.
Rather than fiddle with these for hours trying to get them to line up, just insert another row or two as headers above your data driven report element (e.g. table). You can then play with the presentation of the cells to make it look like it isn’t part of the same table. This can be done by colouring certain borders white to give the impression that there is nothing there.

2. Use points and not centimetres when specifying sizes.
The renderer converts all measurements into points anyway, so converting from centimetres can often lead to rounding errors. This is why you still get cell merging sometimes when you have two table opposite each other, with exactly the same sizes. I appreciate that this can be a bit of a hassle, especially if you already have a report that already specifies everything in centimetres. I’d recommend using a hefty bit of search and replacing in the source rdl fie.

I use both techniques in almost all reports that I develop. It keeps the clients happy.