Sunday, March 26th, 2006
Welcome back, or not

I got an interesting e-mail today from Tina Peters, the current owner of Axis Host and former owner of Affordable Host, which was the host I used until I switched to A2 Hosting. Affordable Host was a good web hosting company offering reliable service until Tina sold it in April 2005 to dotCanada, when the level of service plummetted, causing some customers to want to follow Tina to her new company, Axis Host. However, they couldn't do that because Tina had signed a non-compete agreement with dotCanada promising not to take their customers for a year. Now a year is almost up, and Tina's marketing to her former customers.

As for me, I figured then and figure now, why would anyone want to follow Tina to a new company only to be sold yet again to someone who won't provide quality service? True, my new host might be sold, too, even, God forbid, to dotCanada, but I see no reason to follow someone who's already done that to me once.
Sunday, November 27th, 2005
For my birthday, I've gotten a new web host, A2 Hosting.

I had been using Affordable Host since I started my own web site back in 2002, and they'd been pretty good, but then in April 2005, Affordable Host was sold to dotCanada. If you search Usenet, you can find that complaints about Affordable Host's new management started right away.

I didn't have many problems with Affordable Host (partly because I didn't do much with my site), but a problem last month and nother problem this week finally convinced me to switch. My account's paid through January, so this gives me some time to try to switch gracefully.

The first problem, which happened at the end of last month, didn't interrupt my service any, but it did shake my confidence in dotCanada greatly, and that's because all of a sudden on phpMyAdmin I had access to a new mySQL database that I didn't create. It turns out to have been the tables for trecblog.net's Xoops bulletin board, including member names and passwords! I e-mailed trecblog's admin, and she wasn't pleased to learn that her data was available to other AffordableHost customers!

This week was the second problem — Affordable Host managed to piss me off by doing away with SpamAssassin and implementing Mailscanner. Now Mailscanner may be a fine program, better than SpamAssassin even, but Affordable Host didn't ask me if I wanted to switch and didn't even notify me beforehand that they were switching.

So that was it. A2 Hosting's impressed me so far by having my new account quickly available. I've got my e-mail switched over and SpamAssassin set back up the way I like it. It shouldn't take me too long to get my website changed too.
Wednesday, August 11th, 2004
One of the benefits of running this site on a web host instead of just putting it on my ISP's server is that I have access to the web logs, giving me some information about my site's visitors and what pages they're looking at. (Earthlink, my ISP, offers Urchin, which reports basic info such as number of visitors and number of hits. Urchin also has lots of enticing links promising info such as referrals and browser types, but these links all lead to a page asking you to upgrade to Earthlink's web hosting package. While Earthlink is fine as an ISP, I wouldn't recommend them as a web host.)

At any rate, what I've found is that by far the most popular page on my web site is my blog from October 2003. I've also found that the reason for this is Google's image search. Last month I had 541 hits from it, mainly from images.google.com but also from images.google.ca, images.google.com.au, images.google.fr and from several other countries. Of those 541 hits, 386 of them were for the October 2003 blog page. August isn't even over, and I've had 389 hits from Google's image search, of which 243 were for the October 2003 page.

What were these people searching for, you may ask. Nudity! of course. There were some other search entries such as "brown," but most people want to see nude pictures, and Google Images directs them to my site, which really isn't the best place on the net to find nude pictures. There is a little bit of nudity on the October 2003 page, a butt shot of a drunken guy in a limo, but his hands cover most of his buttocks and I used PhotoShop to blur the bit between them. If I were using Google to find something to get myself excited and that was the best it could come up with, I'd be disappointed.

My bandwidth usage was also markedly higher for these two months, although, luckily, not so high as to cost me any extra money. Nevertheless I did what I should have done when I first set up my site, which was to set up hotlink protection. Of course I don't mind people looking at my pictures, but I'd rather they see them in context. However, Google's image search still shows the whole page if someone clicks on one of the thumbnails returned by Google. I decided to hone my PHP skills a bit and came up with a way to redirect visitors from images.google.* landing on my October 2003 page to a special message.

You might also ask why I've posted links in this entry to Earthlink, AffordableHost and Google but not to the October 2003 page that all this is about. Well I figured that page gets enough hits already. If you really want to see Todd's butt and read about why he showed it, use the month navigation links on this page.
Sunday, January 11th, 2004
I've moved my website from my ISP to a genuine web host. What's the difference? Well, with an ISP, you get space to run a web site, but generally you don't have support for a database or server-based scripting.

Last October, I'd done some automation of my menus using JavaScript. I got an e-mail from one of my few blog readers pointing out how evil it is to use JavaScript since it puts the performance load on the client's end instead of the server and since some people even disable JavaScript. Well with only an ISP account I couldn't do anything server-based, plus I didn't have the energy or inclination at the time to do anything about it.

I've got experience with ASP and SQL Server but couldn't see paying for a host that supports those just for my personal site. But now for whatever reason, I'm interested in experimenting with PHP.

I went with Affordable Host because with a 20% discount for paying 2 years up front and another 25% special discount, it cost $3.57 a month, which isn't bad. Plus now I've got an extra 100MB of storage, which helps since with my various pictures I was getting close to filling the 60MB I get with Earthlink.

I know I could use some existing PHP blog template, but I'm setting up something on my own. This very entry that you're seeing actually resides in my mySQL database and gets displayed by a PHP script. My classes page is all nicely automated, and I'm going to work on putting my previous blog entries into the database. But this is all for fun and a hobby, so if you care what I've said before today, you'll have to go to the pages on my ISP, at least for now. (Update as of 4/13/2004: All my entries have been moved)
 
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david@davidlauri.com