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.

But…

  • 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.

Media Com

OK, so I thought Comcast was bad…

After I first moved I had Cox Cable — and it was great.  The installation happened exactly as they promised; I consistently got 15 mb/s down stream out of the 20 mb/s down stream burst they promised, and it was at a fair price.

Then, of course, I bought a house and moved in, and Cox didn’t service my new address — Media Com ( mediacomcc.com ) did…

So I went to the office to order service since there didn’t seem to be any way to do it online.

When I got to the office, and stood in line for about half an hour, I came to find out that they couldn’t setup cable service for me since the address had never had cable and wasn’t in their database and the person who added addresses would take two to three days to complete it.  But I was told that they would call me as soon as my address had been entered.

Never received a call… so I stopped back by the middle of the next week.

My address had indeed been ordered; and I was able to order Internet service (actually TV plus Internet was $0.10 cheaper than Internet alone, so I got both — not that either option was what I’d consider a fair price).

The installer arrived within the window provided; but didn’t actually have everything to complete the installation (no outside box — so he just wired the splitter up with no protection from the elements and promised to come back within a couple days to install the box).

There wasn’t a problem bringing up the Internet (it was a self install) — I can’t tell you anything about the TV service since my TVs (to this day) still remain in the boxes from the move.

The first thing I noticed was that the connection was slow (we’re talking very slow); but I didn’t panic right away and call technical support because I knew that on many system the modem might take 72-hours to provision correctly.

After a few days I started to run speed tests… they consistently showed that I was getting around 400 kb/s down stream out of the 8 mb/s advertised (but, of course, not guaranteed).  I might have been happy with 4 mb/s, but less than 2 mb/s meant that the connection would not be usable.

I placed a call to technical support and of course had to wade through all there attempts to deflect the problem as something I was doing.  Finally they decided that there must be a problem and scheduled an appointment for a four hour window the next Monday (almost a week in the future) with a 30 minute notice call.

Sunday evening came around and their automated system called me to confirm my appointment.  I pressed the button on my cell phone and the appointment was confirmed.

Monday I’d arranged my schedule to be around the house all afternoon… fifteen minutes before the close of their window (fifteen minutes after their notice period had expired) I called technical support.

The first thing I heard was… “we still have fifteen minutes” — then I pointed out that no, since I’d been promised a call 30 minutes before the service technician arrived that they’d officially missed the window.

A little more checking and they discovered that my appointment had been cancelled by the local office because they’d determined the problem was with the head-end and not in my home — of course no one had bother to notify me that I didn’t need to be available.

Immediately the technician offered me a credit for the missed appointment — I ask to speak to a supervisor.

The supervisor assured me that I should have been notified; but he was unable to provide me any information about when I could expect a resolution to the problem — so he committed to have someone call me back within 72-hours.

I stressed to him that if Media Com couldn’t honor simple commitments that I would switch my service to AT&T ADSL.

The week passed, and no return call – so I called in again, go a promise of a call back… and to this day I’ve never received a call back.  I also filed an online support ticket that’s never been answered.

The day after I had AT&T ADSL installed (which gives my consistently 5 mb/s downstream out of the 6 mb/s promised) I returned the equipment to the local Media Com office… and was ask why — I recanted the story so that everyone waiting in line could hear it.

The woman didn’t seem to be the list bit surprised, and never offered an apology.

The following week I called up to make sure that my account was closed and to insure that the 30-day money back guarantee was honored… the person I spoke with just happen to be a supervisor and was actually the first person who genuinely apologized without me needing to underscore how pathetic their customer service had been.

I could have lived with the poor Internet service for some period of time had I believed that the company was actually customer focused and that they would honor their commitments.  Further, I would have been far more willing to work with them had their customer service actually apologized right off, and made me feel that mine was the exception and not the norm.

BUT… 400 kb/s — come on… my cell phone does better than that!!!

Originally posted 2009-08-03 01:00:43.

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

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.

Hackers

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.

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.

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).

Why?

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.

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.

HTML5

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.

Net-Neutrality Policy

Google and Verizon have announced an agreement on a policy proposal surrounding net neutrality.

You an read up more on that on:

While the agreement provides that traffic on the “public Internet” will be handled equally for all sources and destinations; it does not preclude vendors setting up private networks to carry traffic… a policy that could see resources that once might have been available to the “public Internet” only available to those who pay.

The proposal also limits the FCC jurisdiction to wireline; and exempts wireless broadband — and that could spell trouble in the ever growing dependency of American’s on carrying their Internet with them in the palm of their hand.

I have an innate distrust of big companies like Google and Verizon, and I’m pretty sure if they’re agreeing on anything , it’s not a good deal for me.

Originally posted 2010-08-19 02:00:08.