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Interview: Q&A with Low End Talk Moderator Raindog308

Today we’re talking to Andrew, also known as @Raindog308 on Low End Talk. Andrew is a long time member of our community and moderator as well. A big thanks to @Raindog308 for taking the time to answer some questions and for his support of the Low End Talk community over the years. So, let’s get started with the questions!

Tell me about your background? How did you get into IT?

I actually got my University degree in history. After college, I worked for the university in a marketing research department that was filled with a lot of very nice but also very middle-aged women. Sitting next to us were the Unix guys and they were a lot more my speed. I ended up hanging out with them, then picking up some Unix, and then I became obsessed about everything I could learn about Unix. I ended up working on Sun boxes (SunOS 4.1.x as my first Unix). This was 1994-1995 and Linux was just coming along. Long story short, I geeked out so much on Unix that I eventually got a job doing Unix consulting.

Sometime later I got into relational databases, and then I went to business school and got into IT management.

Have you worked in the hosting industry?

No. I did almost start a hosting company because like a lot of people I was already hosting a bunch of sites for friends/family. But I came to my senses. Reeeaaaalllly old LET readers will remember my StartupSaga site where I documented my hosting company’s startup, but I never went live with it in the end.

How have you seen LowEndTalk evolve since you joined?

I first read it in 2010-ish when I wanted to find cheaper VPSes, and then joined in 2011.

Originally, LowEndBox was kind of the private journal of mad explorer LEAdmin (the original owner). He’d go find some small hoster and try them out and report his findings. He also posted a lot of interesting content on how to do things that were thought impossible in the industry. If you went on WebHostingTalk and said you wanted to host a few low-traffic static sites, the supposedly knowledgeable people there would give you ridiculous specs. LEAadmin would host it on 64MB.

When Chief bought LET, I’m not sure he really knew what to do with the site. Then CC bought it and LET entered a sad, slow decline, mainly because they never spent any time on the property.

I’m optimistic now that there’s an independent owner (Jon Biloh) who ponied up to acquire the site and wants to make it better. To be frank, there was a lot of drama and mistrust in the past but I think we’re on a better track now.

What is life like as a moderator?

Mostly living a Scrooge McDuck lifestyle, diving into towering heaps of gold coins and pillowing my head on the laps of cooing bikini models.

What’s life really like as a moderator?

There’s a ton of spam that we dump. I personally pass out a lot of warnings, but I also clear a lot of old warnings. I rewrote the community rules and did some help desk articles for other mods – just miscellaneous stuff like that. The other mods do provider tags. I don’t have the expertise to really dig into that.

What are some of your favorite moments of LET history?

I’ve loved the black Friday threads with their manic energy, boisterous commentary, and hilarious themes (Emma Watson, Korean pop, etc.) I also remember when BuyVM started and there would be this made dash every month or so when they’d have new stock and people would get up at 2am to get an order in because by 3am everything would be sold out. It was like LowEndAppleStore for a while.

What are your favorite technologies?

I love OpenBSD just because the documentation is taken so seriously (compared to Linux where it’s often optional) and there is such a focus on perfection. But I also do a lot with Linux because for web things it’s easier to work with since the ecosystem assumes it. I use Macs for my dekstop/laptop hardware.

I’m an RDBMS snob so I prefer Oracle, but when I don’t have millions of other people’s money to play with, I use PostGres. I’m also in a long-term relationship with vi. I respect emacs (for one thing, it has vi-mode). I’m a big perl guy, but also speak python, shell, and some of the big-boy languages.

What do you think of the hosting industry now?

There was a time when there was a stark cost choice between the lower-priced indy hosts and the big players. But with OVH, Dropbox, Vultr, Linode, etc. there’s more pressure now because for $5 at one of those places, you get a pretty premium product. I think it’s tough to make it as an indy provider these days. The environment has also radically changed. There were very few DDOS attacks when I started reading LET, for example. People didn’t expect to spin up and orchestrate an empire of VMs like they can with the big cloud providers, and most small providers don’t have that kind of API.

What advice do you have for hosting providers?

Differentiate yourself. If your plan is to be yet another host selling Linux VMs with Solus with a ThemeForest template based in an OVH datacenter, I think you’ll struggle. People say “I’ll offer better service!” but it needs to be more tangible than that.

Right now, small indy players lack the cloud features (block storage, hourly billing, resizing on demand, etc.) to compete with big guys and don’t offer an API. A small player who brings those to the table will have a leg up. Also those who can find some niche and really add value – e.g., if there is a specialized piece of software that you can master and be the go-to host for – can rise above the herd.

It’s tough, no doubt.

What do you do when not reading LET?

Quite a bit of family stuff. I’m involved with my church. I also have a passion for German Shepherd Dogs. I write fiction, play old-school tabletop roleplaying games, like guns and target shooting, and playing NetHack.




  1. Thanks for taking part in an interview Andrew!

    June 4, 2020 @ 8:49 am | Reply
  2. Great interview!

    LEB is lucky to still have you. Enjoyed reading and learning more about you. Thanks for everything you do for the community.

    June 4, 2020 @ 9:15 am | Reply
  3. This is a great interview from Andrew. You are truly a Linux Geek and Admin. Best of luck, mate.

    Congrats to Jon for doing a great job with LEB and LET. Very excited to read all the upcoming interviews and learn from all the experts in our industry.

    June 5, 2020 @ 4:16 am | Reply
  4. Great to know that you are geek and to my amazement you are not into hosting business. I saw dp of yours on many forums. is this your real pic?

    June 6, 2020 @ 11:36 am | Reply
  5. After having read this, Andrew gets +5 on all charisma rolls, as far as I’m concerned. :)

    June 9, 2020 @ 12:39 am | Reply

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