Entries Tagged as 'Internet'

Just Host

As I posted a couple weeks ago I’d gone ahead and moved some of my domains over to JustHost.com.

Mainly I was looking for an affordable hosting package that supports server side includes in addition to what I already had at 1and1.com for around same price.  I also wanted unlimited bandwidth (but frankly I could have gotten that at 1and1.com with a cross-grade for just a small amount more per month with no hassle).

The way I started looking for a new host was to find some the “10 best” “50 best” or what ever they happened to be articles on the internet for hosting companies.  I read through them, looked at their current offerings, features, and prices.  The ones I felt were interesting I looked for reviews on the internet and read them.

Reviews from people you don’t know are not necessarily valuable.  Read the review, see what they’re saying, see how they’re saying, and see if their needs and abilities closely ally with yours.  And look for a pattern in reviews — if many people say the same thing, it’s far more likely to be true and not simply an isolated incident.

Once I narrowed down the field to a handful I reviewed any demos they offered of their control panel, features, etc.  If they didn’t have any demo I placed them on the bottom of the list.

Then I tried their online “chat” feature to talk to a pre-sales person.  If they didn’t offer an online chat I placed them on the bottom of the list (the very bottom — online chat is more important in the long run than a demo).

For the chat, I asked a few questions that there were in fact answers to on their site (just to see how quickly the person on the other end could provide me with a response, and if their response agreed).  Then I ask any questions that I had that were not addressed by the site.  Finally I ask one question that would require the person to actually think and apply the information on their site to the context of the question.

After that I decided on going with JustHost.com — they seemed like they provided the best package, best support, and most reasonable price.  When I went to order the package they offered me a better price when I was going to navigate away from the order page to check on a couple things.

I’ve moved all my domains over to JustHost.com; I’ve put an affiliate advertisement for JustHost.com on my web page and my BLOG (if you’re going to order service from them, I encourage you to click on the advertisement on here so as to help defray the costs for maintaining my BLOG — and hopefully growing it; it won’t cost you anything).

Things I don’t like…

  • They have the concept of a “primary” domain; which makes all domains but that reside under the primary in the directory structure.
  • They do not allow direct access to DNS on shared packages.
  • Shell access is extra (quite a bit extra) per year.  It would have been a “nice to have”, but I didn’t need it, and didn’t pay for it.
  • PHP5 doesn’t work by default in subdomains.
  • Databases are on the same machine as web servers.  I know this is very common, but I prefer databases to be on database servers and web servers to be separate.  This item is on the end of the list for a reason.


  • They will allow you to use a “fake” domain (I did a subdomain of their domain) as your primary, which makes all domains equal, but if you want to access the root you have to use the host name where your hosting account files are located rather than your domain name (you could have them enter a CNAME for you if you like, but if you forget the host name just do a trace route to one of your domain’s web addresses and you’ll see it).
  • While you don’t have direct access to DNS, they will enter DNS records for you — CNAME I know (they did that for me); and I expect they’ll do TXT, A, etc.
  • To enable PHP5 in a subdomain you just need to add a couple lines to your .htaccess file (the service representative didn’t know them right off the top of his head; but after confirming it should work, I had no problem).

Things I do like…

  • The price is very reasonable for a unlimited shared hosting package.
  • Customer support is great; the people who’ve chatted with me or replied to my tickets have been extremely courteous and have resolved the issue.
  • Server side include support.  It really is nice to be able to have dynamic content that is provided by the server rather than have to have intricate AJAX requests (and faster).
  • Performance.  Thus far I can’t complain about the performance.
  • IMAP, POP, SMTP email both clear text and SSL versions.  SMTP is offered on alternate ports as well for individuals who’s ISP block access to port 25.

I often say..

Rarely do you get what you pay for.

With JustHost.com you may in fact get what you pay for (and maybe more).

Originally posted 2010-02-07 01:00:29.

Speeding Up Your Home / Small Office Network

This will be the first in a multi-part post targeted at making suggestions as to how you can improve the performance of your home and / or small office network.

None of these recommendations require a rocket scientist, and if there are questions on any of these topics I’ll try and take the time to put together a HOW-TO post to cover those areas.


The Intenet, and your home network use TCP/IP, and while it was designed to withstand a nuclear attack, it isn’t necessarily always the most efficient protocol.

DNS (Domain Name Service) is built on top of TCP/IP and it’s purpose is to provide a way to refer to nodes on the “network” by name rather than remembering the address (in dotted quad notation).

Most modern computers are capable of caching DNS resolutions, so that you don’t have to continually resolve the addresses, and that’s important for a browser since it will often load many parts of a page from the same address.  However, if you have more than one computer on your network, those computers do not share the information they have (some routers will also do DNS caching).

A good way to improve the performance of your network is to implement a local caching DNS server; that type of server basically only knows how to do resolutions, it doesn’t have any addresses stored locally (that makes it easy to install and maintain — since you really don’t need to do anything to it once it’s setup except check for security updates).

If you happen to have a Windows server machine (2000, 2003, or 2008) then you can just install Microsoft’s DNS server and use it.  However if you only have Windows workstations (home, professional, etc) then a good option is BIND from ISC — it’s totally free, and is the reference platform for DNS.  For a novice BIND can be a little daunting, but you can download everything you need to setup a caching only name server.  If you have a *nix machine around (that’s BSD, Linux, OS-X) then you can also run BIND on it, and odds are there are some ready to run configuration files with your distribution.

After you have BIND installed you will need to tell each of your machines to use your local DNS server rather than the current server they use; odds are your router does DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) and issues IP addresses as well as gateways and dns information to each of your machines.  Just change your router so that it provides the address of your local dns server rather than the ones it currently does and you should be good to go.

Now with BIND installed locally, you can also create your own zone and name your machines — but more about that in a future post.

Originally posted 2009-01-09 12:00:12.

Domain Registrars

In going through looking for a new domain hosting company I also looked to see about costs for domain registration.

I can certainly tell you that all my domains will remain registered at 1and1.  I will be switching from a hosting package to their “instant domain” package (it’s free; but it does in fact have more than just basic registrar services).


Well, 1and1 isn’t quite the cheapest domain registrar (you can save a little with a few of the others), but 1and1 offers private domain registration at no additional cost.

A private domain registration does not publish your personal and confidential information in the ICANN database, so marketers cannot get your phone number or address.  It does publish an email address that will forward mail to you; but you can easily filter mail coming from that address (it’s likely SPAM) or change it occasionally (make the domain public then immediately private and it’ll generate a new email address — it would be nice if they just let you enter an email address).

Also, I’m not sure it isn’t a good idea to keep your domain hosting and domain registration separate — that way it’s much harder to fall into a trap (though we have to hope that the companies we use for either of those services are reputable).

Originally posted 2010-02-08 01:00:21.

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.


Both Apple (in an essay by Steve Jobs) and Microsoft (from the general manager of IE) have put a stake in the ground — the future of the web is in HTML5 and Adobe Flash is nothing more than a transitional technology that had no place in the future… of course with that, Microsoft has also indicated the IE9 won’t be supported by Windows XP, so it too obviously will have no place (in their minds) in the future.

I would agree that Flash has no place in the future; of course, I felt it had no place in the past either… but the glut of mediocre web designers and the masses need for eye candy seemed to give Flash a leg up in the past, and my bet is will continue to keep it alive long into the future.

Additionally, my guess is Windows XP will do just fine — after all, you can run Operate, FireFox, Chrome, and Safari today on that platform, and all of those will likely continue to develop for and support Windows XP in the future.  All of those are far better browsers than IE is today, and I suspect that’s a pretty safe bet for tomorrow.

In fact, Chrome, Opera, and Safari all support HTML5 today (and score 100/100 in the ACID3 tests)…

Apple on HTML5

Microsoft on HTML5

Originally posted 2010-05-05 02:00:07.

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.

What is the RIAA up to?

The RIAA (Recording Industry of Association of America) is apparently backing off of the individual lawsuits they’ve been filing and working with major ISPs (read that as AT&T, Comcast, and Cox) supposedly with the help of New York’s Attorney General (hey, he failed in his war on Usenet child pornography, so we can only hope him as much success here) to implement new policies where by your ISP monitors your habits and slaps you on the wrist (or terminates your service).

The new “3 Strikes Plan” basically is a boom for the ISPs because even though they like to advertise “unlimited” internet service, they’d love to find ways to limit it and charge you for your use.

ISPs are looking at this as a way to test and implement system that cap your downloads, implement metered service, and just outright block you from doing things you might want to (and may in fact be perfectly legal).

My advice is start looking for an ISP that has gone on record as NOT supporting this type of activity and send a single to the “big boys” that you can choose who to spend your money with, and you will not accept limitations placed on your unlimited internet service.

Who’s a good choice — apparently Verizon has gone on record already as not supporting or participating in assisting the RIAA other than as required by law.

NOTE:  Remember, Comcast has basically told the FCC that they don’t have to disclose anything they don’t want to about their traffic shaping and filtering policies to customer, and they’ll file litigation against the FCC if they are fined.  So be warned, you may subscribe to Comcast’s 50MB service but you’ll only get what they want you to have!

Originally posted 2009-01-31 01:00:26.


Wikipedia is an incredible place to find information; if you’ve never used it, you should try it out.

That said, you should always question the accuracy of any information you get off the internet (really you should question the accuracy of any information you get period).

When you read something on the internet, it’s best to confirm the accuracy of that information by visiting a web site that should be authoritative one it.

For instance, if you’re gathering medical related information, check out the medical web sites provided by major medical schools and clinics; and the government.  Compare what’s there with what you’re reading on another site, and don’t take anything as being factual if you can’t corroborate it.

I’m not trying to diminish the value of Wikipedia, I’m just pointing out that all the information there probably isn’t correct; and you should double check anything before using it.

Originally posted 2009-02-20 01:00:57.


I’ve noticed that here lately my SSH server has had an increasing number of hackers trying to log in.  Mostly they’re from the APNIC (Asia-Pacific) region, but a fair number from other regions (include North America) as well.

Since I have no plans to travel abroad in the near future I went ahead and blocked out all IP addresses registered through any registrar except ARIN, and I also added several hosting companies that seem to to have customers that either don’t secure their servers well or they themselves launch cyber attacks.

It’s generally a good idea to make sure that any server that can be used to gain entry to your network is as secure and limited as possible.  Obviously you don’t want to go overboard and make it impossible for you to do what you need with relative ease; but that said, you don’t want to make it easy for others to do things to your computers.

Originally posted 2010-01-25 01:00:43.

AT&T Provides Exceptionally BAD Customer Service

Yesterday morning (and well into the afternoon) I spent over two and one-half hours on the phone with AT&T trying to resolve an issue with a “$50 Cash Back”.

First I call the customer service phone number on my bill; and was quickly told I’d have to resolve it online since it related to an online order.

Then I brought up a chat window with online customer service, who was quick to tell me I needed to call the rewards center (which I did was I was chatting with them — and left the chat open exchanging information slowly).

With the rewards center I talked with a useless individual who transferred me to a supervisor who was actually some what helpful; but she told me I had to go through customer service and have the rewards center conferenced in (they apparently can’t access customer records, nor can they make outbound calls).

So I called back customer service, spoke to an individual who wanted to help — but wouldn’t transfer me to a supervisor; determined I need to talk to the rewards center (duh — that’s what I told him — I needed to be conferenced in to the rewards center with a supervisor)… he transferred me to the rewards center (main number) and hung up… so I talked with a rewards center person, and was again transferred to the same supervisor (who told me again there was nothing she could do — and I pointed out that I had done EXACTLY as she ask, and again AT&T had incompetency was the issue).

She transferred me back to customer service — which turned out to be more of a hassle since it was a different office, and I had to enter all my account information.  The person I spoke with was EXTREMELY rude, and the supervisor she transferred me to was an absolute BITCH (trying to play the power game).

I then called back to customer service, was transferred to a supervisor, who did conference into the rewards center and then got an absolute BITCH there.

After that (and noting all their names and operator IDs — at least the operator IDs of the ones that would actually provide them to me) I decide to just call and go through the complaints process…

I explained the whole thing to the woman, she read over the notes; ask me a few questions, and then just said “How ’bout I just credit your account $50 and put this issue to rest”.

It took her less than five minutes to understand the previous two and a half hour nightmare with AT&T individuals who were for the most part in a hurry to say NO, tell me I didn’t know what I was talking about, or tell me I needed to talk to someone else…

And all of this is a result of AT&T designing a system of rebates / credits / incentives that is difficult for an individual to navigate through and redeem… after all, they don’t really want you to get the money, they just want to defraud you.

HORRIBLE company (yeah — I already knew that)… and certainly AT&T doesn’t do anything to retain customers…

I’m already making plans to change my Internet provider as soon as I get the credits for the other promotions.

As far as I’m concerned, if I have to deal with crappy customer service, I’ll just play the providers against each other and maximize my savings.

All I can say is…

Just say NO!

Originally posted 2009-08-04 01:00:18.