Monthly Archives: January 2014

Don’t Know How

One of the biggest mistakes I think people make is waiting until they know how to do something before they begin. This is especially a problem in our information-rich world. If you hesitate, if you wait until you are fully qualified to begin, it might be too late. Get going now!

Don’t worry ’bout what you don’t know,┬álife’s a dance, you learn as you go. – from the song Life’s a Dance.

Especially in my field of computer technology, we are always learning as we go. This stuff is moving so fast, you are always playing catch up. The best that you can do is to always be learning. That’s why I like the Pablo Picasso quote that goes like this:

Picasso's Philosophy

Don’t wait for permission. Don’t wait until you feel qualified. Dive in and start doing it. The best computer/tech people don’t let the excuse of “I don’t know how to do that” get in the way. The best computer people I know have a big collection of self-taught knowledge. The best computer people do things they don’t already know how to do on a regular basis. If you are doing things you don’t already know how to do, you are doing it right.

 

Hosting Websites

I think every professional should have a website of their own. I have had numerous websites over the years. Most of them are no longer available. Do you know why? Because I didn’t own or control them. I was entirely dependent on someone else’s ability to stay in business and keep the website doors open.

I will grant you that it is nearly impossible to operate a website completely independent of someone else. After all, that is what the world wide web consists of — many independent websites interconnected to one another.

The closest I ever came to having such a website is the time that I experimented with self-hosting LAMP on an old PC in a spare bedroom. LAMP stands for Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP and is a suite of software that allows you to set up your own website using the Linux OS. There are similar versions for Microsoft Windows WAMP, and Macintosh OSX MAMP. For now, I limit such tinkering to the lab of my computer networking course. I simply don’t have the time to dedicate to system administration of my website.

Even with a self-hosted system like LAMP, WAMP or MAMP, you are still dependent on others to make it all work. Most importantly, you need a high speed internet connection that will allow you to host your own website. My home ISP doesn’t prohibit web-hosting at home, but many ISPs do. Also, my upload speed is pretty slow, so any websites I host from home would be slow loading for any visitors.

Considering all of this, there are a couple of approaches that I use. For the past several years, I have relied on a web host called Edublogs, because I wanted to create a blog website about my work in higher education, and connect easily with other educators. You can see that website at http://billgx.edublogs.org. That approach has served me well, but as I mentioned before, it is not under my control and I am limited in what I can do with it. Over time, Edublogs as evolved from a free-for-educators model to a tiered model where you can pay for additional services. This evolution involved removing features that were formerly free. I paid a membership for a few years, because I appreciated their service and wanted to support them. However, even with a paid membership, I still was dependent on Edublogs to decide what services and features were included. For most people, this arrangement is fine. But for me to continue learning in the world of web design and development, I really needed to move to my own system.

I purchased the domain billgx.com several years ago, and it mostly was used as a forwarder to my Edublogs site. I decided over the Christmas break that I would get this website set up. That you are reading this is proof that I reached that simple goal. Right now it isn’t much to look at, but over time I hope to continue working on sprucing things up.

I had billgx.com hosted on Bluehost, which is where my wife’s business website is located. I have registered web domains in the past, but one thing I hadn’t done was initiate a domain transfer to a new host. I’ve been wanting to try asmallorange.com, so I purchased a hosting plan and requested a domain transfer. It was pretty straight forward, but since I hadn’t done it before I wanted to see what was involved. When I first got things set up on the new site, and even after the domain transferred, it still went to the old website because I forgot to point the DNS to the new domain name servers. (That’s the system that tells the internet where a given domain name is hosted.)

Anyway, it all works now and I am happy I can start using my new website.