Entries Tagged as 'Blogging'

1000+

Woo-woo…

Over one thousand posts — over two thousands hits per day — a ranking just over two million…

I would have never dreamed my BLOG would have reach such heights in under two years.

Honestly, though, it’s not the stats that make me do it — it’s the fact that I enjoy sharing my interests and views on what ever crosses my mind (I know — there are those of you who think I lost my mind… but trust me, I have it on a tight leash).

Advertising

I have added side-bar and banner advertisements to my BLOG in order to offset the hosting costs.  The advertisements are supplied through Google AdSense, and public service advertisements have been enabled.

I certainly will _not_ allow any pop up (or pop behind) advertising, and I have no idea how many (if any) readers will actually click-through the advertisements; but my feeling is it’s certainly worth a try to see if it can support itself.

Blogging Software

I looked at quite a few blogging solutions before I settled on Word Press, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts.

There are a number of free blogging services; indeed Word Press operates one.  Generally when you use a free service you get advertising on your pages (I really didn’t care for that, just like I don’t care for advertising on my web page).  But the one thing that always is the problem with free services is, you get what you get… and you’re stuck with it.

I tend to like to have full control over my information, so I decided to install the software to run my blog so that I could change ANYTHING I wanted to about it.  And Word Press is open source, written in PHP, so it’s realatively straight forward to make any changes you want.  And, of course, the price is right — FREE.

There are tons of addons (widgets, themes, and pluggins); though not all of them are free.  There are commerical addons available for Word Press as well.

I looked at several other solutions, originally ASP based solutions (when I was running Microsoft IIS), but then when I switched to a hosting company something that ran on PHP, PERL, Python became a more practical solution (my hosting company provides more flexible services with a Linux hosting plan than with a Microsoft hosting plan).

Here’s a list blogging software written in PHP (in no particular order) you might want to take a look at:

And here’s a list blogging software written for ASP (in no particular order) you might want to take a look at:

 

You’ll want to evaluate blogging software with your requirements in mind; but one thing to keep in mind is most blogging software supports importing from another system via RSS.  That might not be a requirement for the first blogging system you choose (but I think it shows a level of maturity in the software), it certainly will be for any blogging software after that.

One thing to keep in mind, the information in a blog site is written into a database; and while it wouldn’t be my first choice, you can dump the database to get the text of the ariticles, but it’s unlikely your going to be able to directly import it into another system’s database (without a lot of work).

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).

Windows Live Writer

Part of the Microsoft Live Essential software suite available either from Live.com (see link below) or through the Microsoft Update is Live Writer; a simple tool to make posting to a BLOG easier (certainly for novice BLOG posters).

Live Writer will post to Live BLOGs or to a number of other BLOG engines / sites (including WordPress).

This post was create with Live Write (though a few settings were edited after posting to keep everything consistent with the way I publish to my BLOG).

With Live Writer, you can post formatted text, hyperlinks, pictures, photo albums, tables, maps, videos, etc… you can use a clean easy UI on your computer rather than logging into your BLOGs and using a different interface on each of the sites you have an account on.

The only thing that doesn’t seem to work are:

  • WordPress categories and the tagging is different.  If you have an existing BLOG there’s now way I’ve found using just Live Writer to use categories and post tags in a WordPress fashion.
  • The ability to schedule a posting for a later date and time.  I haven’t found any way with just Live Writer to schedule a post for a later date and time.

For both of these you can log into your BLOG site after posting and make the minor setting changes.

The ability to create a BLOG post in a WYSIWYG fashion is certainly helpful for many.  You see the post much as it will look when published (with the background and text styles), you get spelling check as you type, and manipulating rich content is substantially easier than the default WordPress editor.

Windows Live Essentials

Windows Live

Microsoft introduced it’s next generation online services quit some time ago under the name Windows Live through the URL live.com.

It’s intended as far more than a replacement for Hotmail or for MSN Messanger, it’s a fairly rich on-line experience with BLOGging, photo sharing, calendaring, document sharing, as well as email and instant messaging.

You can also download software to install on your PC through the site, the Windows Live mail program is the next generation to Windows Mail / Outlook Express; and it promises to be much more polished and functional (it will allow you to interact with your Hotmail/MSN/Live account from your PC without launching a web browser, as well as any standards based POP3 or IMAP4 server).

Additionally, Microsoft offers email hosting for your private domain (for free)…

I find it interesting that Microsoft doesn’t heavily publicize all these features like several other large internet companies, they just offer them at no charge and with what looks to me like much less advertising and no hidden information collection.

Over One Billion Served

Well, not exactly… but I’m amazed at how the readership of my BLOG continues to grow.

I’ve added a widget that lets me view information on how many hits I get, the frequency, and geographic dispersion.

I would say my BLOG has global appeal, but I haven’t registered a hit from Antarctica (yet)… so that wouldn’t be true.

The vast majority of hits are from the United States, second on the list is Canada (which makes North America the heavy weight for sure); but an amazing number of people read my BLOG from Europe, Australia.  There’s a good number from Asia as well; and I need to talk to my marketing people about South America and Africa.

On a weekly basis (daily it’s all over the map):

  • I see about two hundred feed subscribers downloading posts (some daily, but most seem to do it less frequently).
  • The number of hits in the four weeks I’ve monitored has been between around four hundred and eleven hundred (yeah, pretty wide variation over a month time; but the numbers looked to be generally increasing — to tell more I’d really have to do some statistical analysis).
  • I get about six contact messages (for the month, one of those was from a company wanting to help promote my web site, in rather poor English; one of those contained almost as many explicative as mis-spellings; three of them have been from a vendor; and the rest have been complimentary).

When I decided to do this BLOG it was really a replacement for my mailings to a group of people I knew that focused mainly on technology, I’ve been aware for sometime that the readership has greatly increased (initially it seemed due to the search engine indexing); but I’m continually amazed at the number of people who read my BLOG and keep coming back.

All I can say is THANKS — and that I have no intention of commercializing my BLOG in any way, it will continue to express my views and you need not worry about advertising!

Just Host – Just A Dependable Hosting Company

It isn’t often that I get to praise companies over and over — and honestly this time I’m writing about Just Host again not because they’ve done something great, but because they’ve continued to do what they’ve done since day one — work.

When I originated my multi-year hosting contract with Just Host I was expecting that I’d be canceling it and taking advantage of the money back guarantee… while we’re no where near the end of the term of my contract yet, I’m beginning to believe that the likelihood of canceling the hosting is far lower than renewing the contract.

Now if you need 99.99% uptime (high availability) and you’re running a web site that makes you millions of dollars every day this isn’t for you… but if you have a business or personal site that isn’t mission critical, but could still be very important to you — this might be for you.

I don’t know much about the internals of Just Host, and I’m glad that I haven’t needed to figure all that out… when things work, I’m perfectly happy just using the service.

At the moment I’m hosting my forty plus domains; sites for several of my friends and relatives; and a number of sites for clients of mine (for the most part I designed and manage the sites — and they’re nothing lavish, just basic sites that provide these business a presence on the web).

If you’re looking for a solution to your needs for hosting, click the ad below (or the one I put in my sidebar long ago) and try a reliable, reasonably prices solution that seems to just keep working.





One of the upsides of the internet…

One of the things that the internet allows almost everyone is the ability to express their opinion in a venue that others can “hear”.

Just do an internet search on almost anything you can think of… you’ll find reviews, comments, rants, and sometimes raves!

While you rarely know anything about the individual who wrote the posting, from a well thought out post you can gather some important questions to get the answers to before making a decision, so as a tool for an informed consumer the internet can be invaluable not only in locating the “best” prices, but also in finding the “best” products and “best” vendors!

It only takes a little effort to learn a great deal about any good or service you’re considering — it’s totally up to you whether you make an informed decision or just wing it.

Two Weeks and All’s Well

It’s been over two weeks since I started the migration from 1and1 hosting to JustHost and right at two weeks since I moved my BLOG.

I have to say I’m very happy with JustHost.  Things worked the way they should (well, yeah, there were a few things I had to figure out, but that’s been true of every hosting service I’ve ever used personally or for clients), and things have continued to work well.

JustHost is different than 1and1 in many ways; and my main reason to seek another hosting company was to find one that offered Server Side Includes (SSI) at a reasonable price (yes, I can do most everything that SSI does through AJAX call backs, but it’s so much more efficient for the server to just send the information; and I could have actually wrapped the page in PHP and essentially done what a SSI would have done through PHP).

If you’re looking for a hosting company, I do encourage you to click the ad to the right and review their packages.  The price is extremely attractive, they get very good marks in most every review, and they just work.