Entries Tagged as 'Internet'

Google Music

Well that didn’t take long.

I’ve used a little of my time this week to get more of my digital music library together… and now I’m over the limit of Google Music (and I can tell you it doesn’t handle it gracefully).

But it was pretty obvious from the start that managing the Google Music storage wasn’t really going to be easy.

And I haven’t even finished uploading all my music — I haven’t even started on symphonic and Broadway tunes; and I’d guess I was about 70% through my rock/alternative/dance/country collection…

Yes, I could probably eliminate some music that I would probably never listen to; but the whole thing with cloud storage is that it’s supposed to be there when you want it no matter where you are… if I were always going to stay at home, I’d have access to all my music without the effort.

It’s a pretty safe bet that I’ll be using Amazon music storage by the end of the year, and just go ahead and pay them another $20 per year… the advantage to that is that they do support downloading your music — so I can view the $20 as simply a reasonable fee to backup my music off site.

Originally posted 2011-10-19 02:00:00.

Web Site Version Control

I’m not sure this is something that occurs to everyone, but I use SVN to version control my web pages. Essentially I treat my web pages just like a “software project”.

You do need to be mindful of files that you want to exclude from source control and/or transfer.

But I find the combination of SVN and FileZilla works great to take a local working copy of my web pages, maintain versioning, and push them out to my hosting facility.

While it’s not quite “one click” — it’s fairly simple to do, and it allows you to roll back changes easily.

Originally posted 2008-07-18 21:01:19.

Free Web Hosting

Below is a list of free web hosting sites; most of them don’t place any type of advertisements or links on your pages, some of them support scripting, and some of them have lenient policies as to content.

You’ll have to check each of these to see if they meet your needs.  I have very little personal experience with any of them, and none of them have my endorsement.

Please keep in mind what I generally say:

You rarely get what you pay for!

Originally posted 2009-02-22 01:00:14.

Domain Registrars and Hosting Companies

All domain registrars and hosting companies aren’t created equally…

If all you need from your domain registrar is just to get a domain, then find the absolute cheapest (and many have discounts for some TLDs from time to time)… but in general you might want DNS services, web redirects, email, etc… or even a full blown hosting plan — so it’s work looking around.

My domains are registered with, and hosted by 1and1.com — do I think they are the best… NO, but I do think they have a very good price for the services I happen to want, and their system works reasonably well.

But before you make a decision, you really need to decide what services you want, and look to see who offers what.

Ask your friends, a personal recommendation is one of the best ways to narrow the field.  Remember, though, not everyone wants the same services, so make sure you ask what services your friends get from the various companies, any problems they’ve had, anything they particularly like or dislike — and ask if they chose it because of a special promotional price.  The best deal today, won’t always be the best deal tomorrow.

Do you need your hosting company and your registrar to be the same?  Well, no you don’t…  Often though you’re going to find you get a better price overall by having the be the same.  That said, if you’re looking to move your domains from one place to another you might want to “try before you buy”.

I’d say the only requirement that a company has to have for you to consider them is a “money back guarantee”.  You can look over the information, play with their dummy control panel, etc all you want… but you won’t know if you like it (and it does the job) until you actually try to use it.

Most reputable hosting companies provide a 30-day money back guarantee.  I certainly ended up taking advantage of that at an “unlimited” hosting company.  And that’s something you just need to be sure they have.

The other thing to look at is what the contract term is for a reasonable price.  Some companies want you to sign up for three or four years to get a good price.  My advice is go with someone who gives you a competative price for thee to six months, and maybe even is offering a promotional package that extends the time you pay for.  Never sign up for more than a year unless it’s some incredible price, and then consider whether the company is likely going to be in business for the duration of the contract — and make sure they have a money back guarantee — and pay by credit card.

What if you only need domain registration?

Well, look at the prices charged, and any extra fees imposed.  You can check what the ICANN fee is currently, and contrast that with what the company is providing.  Odds are, though, you do want more than just a domain registration unless you do your own DNS, eMail, web, and blogs…

Here’s a partial list of feature you will probably want to consider:

Price

  • DNS (types of records you can create — additional domains, secondary domains)
  • email (POP, IMAP, SMTP — SSL/TLS — how many domains, how many accounts, forwarders, responders)
  • web (PHP, ASP, PERL, dot NET — how much storage, how much transfer, additional domains, secondary domains)
  • web applications (blogs, web page editors, etc)
  • database (MySQL, Postgress, Oracle, SQL Server — how large, how many)
  • access (FTP, Telnet, SSH, SFTP, SCP, WebDAV)

Here are a few companies to get you started:

  • JustHost
  • 1and1
  • NameCheap
  • Dotster
  • GoDaddy

And do an internet search on hosting companies – that will return quite a few.  Be mindful, many companies do business under multiple names.  I don’t generally consider this a very ethical practice; but not all companies who do this are dishonest.

 

One final personal note.

If NameCheap had more competative prices for hosting packages, and provided IMAP email I’d probably still be using them.  They do charge a little more than say 1and1, but they provide users the ability to control most every aspect of their domains.

I just moved all my domains from NameCheap to 1and1 when I decide I wanted to outsource my email, web, and blogs…

Originally posted 2008-05-12 13:17:53.

Internet Explorer 8

Microsoft released Internet Explorer 8 quite a while ago, and I’m not sure they fully realized how many web pages it would break.

Sure, they put a compatibility mode in it to allow some older sites to run; and they have the facility to “update” IE8 to configure it for more sites with know issues, and developers can add a header or a meta tag to their web pages to force IE8 into compatibility mode, and of course a user and select compatibility mode.

A truly sad thing is that in all this time Microsoft hasn’t issued a fix to Virtual Server 2005’s web management interface (the only way you can control Virtual Server 2005); and it requires compatibility mode to work (come on guys, how tough is it to just update the web pages to include the meta tag — or maybe you could actually fix what’s broken in the page).

My personal feeling is that we didn’t need another version of Internet Explorer; and we certainly didn’t need another version of any software rushed out the door riddled with severe bugs and deficiencies.

Why software companies spend so much time and energy making things worse (work on thing that are BROKEN) is beyond me…

Your potential. Our passion.

Maybe they should consider we could all achieve our potential if we didn’t have to waste so much time finding works around for their psychoses.

Originally posted 2009-08-26 01:00:09.

AT&T U-Verse – Summary

After thinking over AT&T U-Verse service I’m going to have to make the call that it’s something you’ll have to consider long and hard and figure out if the cost makes it something that’s worth it to you.

AT&T is a horrible company to do business with; but then again, so likely is the company your get your video, telephone, and internet services from now — so that might be a wash.

AT&T is a company that doesn’t engender trust is the least — and you’ll have to keep documentation and follow up on them on just about every aspect of your order, your service, your rebates, your rewards, your bills, etc; but then again, that’s probably all true of almost every company you do business with now — so that might be a wash.

The prices are high; so unless the service offerings are a good fit for exactly what you want (and you can take advantage of some of the bundle discounts) you might want to deal with separate companies for each of the services.

The only real positive thing I can say about AT&T U-Verse is that there isn’t a long term contract; in fact there’s not really a contract of any sort (as long as you ignore the fact that you will need to retain the service for some period of time to actually get your rebates and rewards).

One thing I suspect we’ll see as the economy continues to stagnate is that companies will do more to retain existing customers; so you might find that pricing becomes much more flexible (I’ve already been offered a “free” upgrade to U450 service with the top-tier internet for 90-days… of course I’m pretty sure they’re betting on me forgetting to downgrade [I said “no thanks”]).

Originally posted 2010-05-18 02:00:50.

Wikipedia Funding

I’m a big fan of Wikipedia— that should be clear from my previous posts on Wikipedia and my frequent use of Wikipedia as a reference tool (and to link to from my posts).

Wikipedia rose from the ashes of failue much like a phoenix… and currently operates one of the largest (if not the largest) repositories of human knowledge.

Wikipedia is freely accessed by anyone with an Internet connection (provided their provider does not block such access), and is currently funded completely through donations.

While I applaud the dreams of Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales to keep the site free of advertising, my feeling is that advertising might well be a better way to sustain the site.

My concept is that those who do not wish to see advertisement donate, and are free from advertisements as long as they have “credits”… when they run out of credits then they like those who choose not to donate see advertisements.

Since Wikipedia is one of the heaviest traveled sites on the internet, advertisers will likely pay top dollar, and there’s likely no need to work through an advertising network…

Originally posted 2010-01-24 02:00:35.

Remote Access

I’ve been using a combination of bitvise WinSSHD and Tunnelier for remote access to my home network.  It basically allows me to tunnel a RDP (or simple command shell) via SSH to a Virtual machine running on my server (actually each “user” has a virtual machine all to their own, so there’s no contention).

I really like the simplicity of the SSH tunnel, and find that running it on port 22 and port 443 provides me with a very good likelihood of being able to connect through all but the most draconian firewalls.

You will want to make sure that you implement good security policies on your SSH server, and that you either use pre-shared keys or certificates OR that you make sure you have a strong password.  There are a number of bots out there that try to break into an SSH server using a list of well know user names and dictionary attack for the password.

WinSSHD will lock out IP addresses after a number of failed attempts; but I created a test account called “test” with the password “password” just to see what the bot would try to do (the account was jailed without any write priviledge in a safe sub-directory with no files).  The bot got frustrated and went away, but I was trying to upload files, and I would guess execute them (probably propagating itself).

You can black list IP addresses, and if you’re like me you run the DynDNS client (I use DynDNS.org for my dynamic ip naming service; it’s free, and it works well) on your notebooks so that you “know” their IP address via a fixed host name (though in WinSSHD the IP black list superceeds a DNS name white list).

http://www.bitvise.com/

http://www.dyndns.org/ or http://www.dyndns.com/

Originally posted 2008-10-30 13:00:59.

Media Com – Followup

I got an email notifying me of my first (and last) Media Com statement about two weeks ago, only problem, I couldn’t access my bill online without the PIN printed on my first statement… a bit of a flaw in their system (nice of them to switch me to paperless billing before they sent the first statement).

And, of course, I’d already gone through customer service and been told that they will not provide me with the PIN over the phone (nor is it printed on anything they had given me to date)… so I had to ask that they send me a paper copy of my final statement.

The statement arrived on Saturday, and it had a balance (nice how their 30-day guarantee guarantees nothing but to waste your time). 

No only did the bill not have a zero balance (they had refunded my payment to my credit card), but it didn’t have the $20 credit for a missed appointment — so by any measure the bill was WRONG.

I called up customer service bright and early Monday morning, and actually spoke to a billing representative who seemed moderately bright… as she went through the bill she found more and more issues and from the tone of her voice was almost as disgusted as I was after reading the notes and looking over the bill.

Apparently the individual who closed the account noted the money back guarantee, but didn’t do anything about it.  The supervisor who refunded my credit card didn’t process the money back guarantee either, and that’s why the system re-billed me.  The system billed me for more family cable than it should have (on the first bill Media Com indicates you have to give them a seven day notice of disconnect, technically I told them when they failed to provide me reasonable speed internet that I was disconnecting — but even using seven days from when I turned in the equipment the system billed me for over two weeks).

You’d think that companies would build into their billing systems rules that enforced their policies… and who knows, maybe they do build in rules to enforce their billing polices and sending out fraudulent statements is the way they choose to do business.

Original Post

Originally posted 2009-08-15 01:00:59.

Air Time Free

If you have a flat rate cellular voice plan, you may not be interested in this article; but for most of us who simply don’t have cost effective options for flat rate plans this might help cut down on cellular bills.

Most cellular telephone companies off the ability to add one or more telephone numbers to your cell plan that will not be charged air time for inbound or outbound calls.  It goes by various names, A-List, Friends & Family, My Favs, My Circle, etc.

Unfortunately, all of them limit the number of telephone numbers you can designate as air time free to a fairly modest number.

But… by using Google Voice, you might find that one air time free number is really all you need to greatly reduce your monthly cellular expenses.

You can go to Google and read a fair amount about Google Voice, they’re adding new features all the time so I won’t even try and cover all of them; just a few that might be of help to you (by the way, the “Call Me” widget on my web site uses Google Voice, and it’s no cost to the caller or me).

So how exactly can you use Google Voice — or really what will be covered in this post is how I use Google Voice.

First, I setup a Google Voice account a few months ago, mainly to be able to give out a telephone number that I wouldn’t be bothered answering when I didn’t want to, and still be able to get voice mail (at my convenience).  Mainly I wanted to do this because I’m going to disconnect my home phone (AT&T offers “naked” DSL here, and since all my home phone does is provide telemarketers with a number to call I really don’t see a reason to ever answer it).

The Google Voice line worked great for receiving messages; I got them in my email inbox, and more times than not the voice to text transcription wasn’t very useful, but I could just click the link and listen to the message as well.

Second, I added my Google Voice number to my Verizon “Friend’s & Family” (what AllTel used to call “My Circle”) so that it would be air time free.  Partially because there would be times when I wanted to actually route my Google Voice number to a phone so I could answer it (say when I was expecting a call), but mostly so that I could use Google Voice for outbound calls to people who were not going to be air time free.

So to use Google Voice for air time free outbound calling you need to log onto the Google Voice web site (there’s a mobile version of it as well, so if you have an unlimited data plan you don’t even need to be near a computer to make use of it) and simply instruct it to make a call.  What happens is Google Voice calls you, then calls the number you instruct it to call and conferences you together.

To make all this air time free, you need to setup Google Voice to present you Google Voice call on inbound calls (that’s the number you specified as air time free with your cellular provider).  This, unfortunately, means that you don’t know who’s calling, but there are some Google Voice features that help there too (I’ll let you go through all the features yourself).

For outbound calls you could setup Google Voice to present your actual telephone number, but it makes more sense to have your Google Voice number presented (especially for toll free calls, remember that they always get your telephone number).

Now you might not care whether or not you get charged air time for a quick call to your doctor’s office to confirm an appointment, but when you’re going to be on the line with customer service for half an hour (or more) you might want to think about the extra step of using Google Voice.

Now let me make it perfectly clear.  I don’t trust Google with my personal and confidential information, so I would never have any sensitive data go through a Google Voice call; but hey, when it’s something like a customer service call people I don’t really trust with my information already have it.

You can request an invite to Google Voice, it’ll probably take ten days to two weeks before you get it.  I’d recommend setting up a Google Mail account as well (you can forward the message from the Google Mail account or you can directly access the Google Mail account with POP3/IMAP4) to go along with Google Voice.  In fact, even if you don’t expect to use Google Voice much, I’d say go ahead and setup an account now.

Also, Google Voice will be adding VoIP (SIP) service (they purchased Gizmo5) soon.

Originally posted 2010-02-10 01:00:49.