Changes abound. First, and probably most noticeable, is that the site is up and running without any gaping downtime. In fact, I’m not sure if there’s been any downtime, since I switched to a new hosting company. See, this web site is mostly a place where I unlock excess mental baggage and speak my mind without trying to vie for someone’s attention constantly. I mean when I listen to someone else tell me a “story” I very, very rarely let my attention waver; when I talk to someone I’m constantly interrupted by “oh look, there’s a leaf on the side of the road,” which after 28 years of talking can really be annoying. Anyway, I started this site just as a lark and it’s grown into something of a Rant, Rave, Tech center, coffee-soaked satire that has held my attention for quite a while now – it will be a year of Rants soon, actually – who knew?
The point of this babble is that the site is without ads. It’s a not for profit site (don’t get me wrong; I would sell it at the drop of a hat – I just don’t expect it to be for profit!) and I was searching for the cheapest hosting solution possible.
When the site first launched, I hosted it on one of my work servers – with permission, actually! – but I didn’t want to keep it there forever… I’ve worked for too many companies that had “gone belly up” very quickly; if that happens here, I want to be worried about where to find the next job, not where to host a server. So I went out to the local cable company and snagged a Cable modem; I’ve been using DSL for years but I wanted a separate connection for serving. After having read all of the “No server hosting of any kind will be allowed by this cable company” agreements, I set up the modem and a server in my second bedroom and let her rip. Well, I also signed up for Dynamic DNS support at EveryDNS which is an incredibly neat service… free too, to start out with. So, I was hosting from home, now. Of course, the reason why they tell you that you cannot host a server is because the upload stream is dismally slow and the service goes down without warning for any where from a minute to seven hours at a time. I know this because I had a connection checker thingy running to keep an eye on it.
Consequently, RandyRants.com is now hosted by ChicagoWebs. Well this one site and two others, actually; they have a great setup that supports multiple domains on the same account, saving me a lot of extra cash. So far they’re been a great company to work with – they are extremely helpful and fast with responses – and I’m told by a number of regular readers that the site is now “snappy” with response times… we’ve found a new home!
Of course, the other massive change is the change of notebooks. I’m starting this week carrying one notebook: The 12″ PowerBook. Simply put, I want to know if I’m going to suffer from PC withdrawal, in which case I will switch back to one of the Sony notebooks – quite probably the Celeron/333 505 model, which is smaller than a piece of paper… 10.5″ screen means that it’s less than 8.5″ by 11″ around the sides, but it’s pretty sluggish with XP installed. With the Mac, I’m now running with a trial version of Office.X and Virtual PC. As they are both pretty freakin’ expensive, so I want to see how well they run first, before shelling out a combined $600; VPC has been pretty good with Windows 2000 installed – it’s how I’m running CityDesk at the moment. If VPC doesn’t pan out – or if I’m too broke after the hardware purchase – I’ll simply use Word or TextEdit to write the Rants and post them via Remote Desktop Connection when I get back online. I’ve tried it already and it works remarkably well, with bold, italics and links (if I use Word) all getting stored on the Clipboard. Office.X is almost a given, since it is still a Windows World. I’ve tried a bunch of stuff with Word, including chapters of my book, and they’ve been fine. I even wrote a chapter in Word.X and gave it to someone to read in Word XP and they didn’t notice.
There’s other software as well: BBEdit Lite for web pages, Safari for web use, MSN IM and AOL IM for messaging – iChat is a little too weird for me so far. The latest versions of iCal, iTunes, iMovie, and iPhoto – none of which I’ve used yet! Remote Desktop Connection, of course, to get to the PC’s at work and home. There’s also little utilities that are worth their weight in code, like LiteSwitch (an on-screen Alt-Tab tool), KeepSoundAwake (since PowerBooks put their sound cards to sleep making an annoying *pop* sound when coming awake), RBrowserLite (a great FTP client), and uControl (for disabling Caps Lock and other keyboard functions) – most of which are free thankfully… and we’ll see what happens. So far, I’m typing away, so there’s been no problems yet, aside from remembering which keys take you forward and backward a word at a time… in Mac it’s Command + Arrow; in Windows it’s Control + Arrow… at least in Win2K I know I can remap all the keys using the registry, like I did for caps lock a few months ago…