Coincidently, being an Earthlink customer - I also looked for another host for the same two reasons you mentioned. And in fact I am spending much of this weekend switching various blogs over. I chose Pair after a hefty and long search online.
I host several blogs too, and your archiving tip is something I hadn't considered doing until now.
Thank you for your post. Oddly comforting to read someone else has recently gone through the same process as myself.
Is the process of generating new page names automated, or do you have to do it yourself? How does it deal with non-unique names? I'm not so sure that fifteen letters is unique enough; what if, the day after the Haupia Bread Pudding recipe, you got a cute loaf pan in the shape of a dog, and you wrote about Haupia Bread Puppies? Or you discovered that the bread pudding was great when integrated with calisthenics, and wrote about Haupia Bread Pushups? The examples are contrived, but the question is serious. Having the year and the month be part of the URL obviates a lot of that problem, but it's still conceivable that you'd duplicate the first fifteen letters of a title within a thirty day period.
Still, a text-based indexing system is a lot better than numbered records. Keeping things organized in some sort of hierarchy is an improvement over a single flat file. It makes things so much easier to find.
Database migrations suck. You haven't lived until you've tried to migrate a huge NetWare installation from NetWare 3.x to NetWare 4.x, which used different structures entirely. Good story!
It's definitely a valid point. I could have gone with 20 letters or more, and I probably would if I was setting up a blog for someone else... but I know that my titles are weird and inconsistent enough that I wouldn't repeat in a 30 day period -- in fact, I'm pretty sure I haven't repeated the first 15 letters yet, at all.
Update: Google, of course, has updated, so my example above (the search on Haupia bread pudding) doesn't work any more -- now Google is pointing to the name-based URL, instead of the number-based one.
Too darn effecient! :-)