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This page last updated on or about 7-19-05

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AUTHOR'S NOTES: Below follows a partial log of my personal experience in authoring this and related web sites, as well as still earlier network-related publishing in general. I also maintain the page How small-time web sites can make it financially on the web. I don't include the names of certain companies so that I won't accidentally break various contract terms I may have with them now or in the future (sorry!). Due to the chronological nature of this log, certain embedded web links and documented costs/prices for wares discussed may be out-of-date by the time some readers find this piece. This is Real World usage rather than a syrupy evangelistic exercise, so you'll find both good and bad things about authoring web sites here. END NOTES.

Back to the LATEST Web Site Authoring Log...

Web Site Authoring Log Table of Contents

3-18-04: My enemy changes their company name a third time, as I continue to battle against their un-authorized credit charges

After seeing a notification at my credit card company's web site that they expected me to contact the party making the unauthorized charges first, I did so-- although it wasn't exactly a straightforward process. The unauthorized parties appear to be trying to get me to hand over to them a bunch more personal info, plus interact with certain web site forms in ways which might be used against me in my disputing of present and future charges. I did NOT cooperate with their gambits.

I finally seemed to get through to someone though, via email, after I first called a telephone number and got someone who re-directed me, claiming they weren't involved themselves. As might be expected, the person I reached by email seemed to be playing some sort of shell game, claiming they did charge me, but only once, and then refunded that. What actually happened was they charged me the same amount twice, and refunded me once-- and ALL those tranasctions were UN-authorized by me.

The suspicious folks claimed that if there was any problem it was an accounting or database error on the part of my credit card company, so I should contact them instead. Yeah. Right.

I unfortunately encountered a run-around on my credit company's web site too, finally giving up and calling a phone hot-line. The person on the hot-line said their web site was notorious for not being helpful in such matters. The hot-line person terminated my old card number and issued me a new one. They also noted the name of the company making un-authorized charges to my account. I tried to make sure the card termination wouldn't adversely affect the many legitimate transactions I had that same month on my account. Afterwards I had to go change my card info stored at a legitimate vendor who charges me monthly for hosting one of my old domains.

I guess it'll take a while for all this to finally be settled, darn it (I hate uncertainties like this). In the meantime I got another spam email from the apparent crooks just yesterday, saying they'd changed their company name yet again, and that if there's any problem with un-authorized charges on my card just let them know at the same time I tell them everything in the world about my account numbers, and they'll fix me right up. Needless to say, I'm not handing over more info to these guys. I guess now I'll have to watch out for un-authorized charges coming from this new name, too. Hopefully though the changed card number will act as a barrier to such schenanigans.

Web Site Authoring Log Contents

2-25-04: I terminate a contingency hosting contract left over from my domain problems last year; and that old foe who caused jrmooneyham.com to go offline so long last year reappears to plague me once more, only with a changed name

I hopefully 'cut the cord' today with the web host company I signed up with on a monthly basis in a desperate attempt to retrieve and protect my domain name last year, from that original host which went into meltdown, taking my domain with it.

I'd kept up the subscription this long just in case there was any protective legal effect at all, until after my jrmooneyham.com domain came up for renewal again. Jrmooneyham.com's still online after its supposed expiration date, so I went ahead and canceled that hosting service I never ended up using.

This particular web host company at least tried to step in and 'rescue' folks like me from the melting down host of the time-- but at the last minute it appears the meltdown host company nixed the deal, leaving people like me high and dry. The legal situation was extremely confusing, especially in regards to the trapped domain names. Hence, my purchase of a subscription with the rescue host, after I'd tried everything else I could think of.

So I've severed my bond with that replacement host. That bond was entirely separate from the present host of jrmooneyham.com, whom I chose of my own free will, shopping around.

But alas, I'm still being haunted by that awful original (and possibly criminal) 'meltdown' host of yesteryear. They still have my credit card number, and they're willing to use it.

Turns out the recent spam email I received really did indicate unauthorized charges against my credit card. It never did before, but this time it happened.

Apparently either that web hosting company which melted down on me and caused the domain jrmooneyham.com to be trapped in limbo and off-line for months has changed its name or been folded into another company-- and begun charging the credit cards of folks who had accounts with the first company prior to it blowing up.

Apparently the charges didn't show up in my online statement until sometime after the second time I checked for them. Or maybe I wasn't reading my online statement correctly. I've discovered several dismaying aspects to my credit card's bank's web site lately.

I'm in the process of ridding myself of that meltdown host parasite once and for all. I'll try to give an update on my progress later.

Web Site Authoring Log Contents

2-2-04: So far so good on my escape from domain registrar hell; but an old nemesis rears its ugly head again

The web host which caused me and apparently thousands of other web site authors so much trouble last year by going into meltdown PLUS placing our domains into limbo thereby preventing easy or fast recovery regardless of monies spent, began sending me some fresh emails of harassment and/or potential entrapment last month.

They've occasionally done this on and off again ever since the original debacle. In some cases they've notified various previous victims of their schenanigans that they've recently charged their credit cards for some new imaginary order which the victims themselves never placed with them. YIKES!

Fortunately, in those previous messages it turned out that many of us never actually got charged (though I think some did). Eventually I read in an online forum that the authorities had taken away the crook's database of card numbers, or else blacklisted the crook so anything they charged wouldn't be accepted by the card companies.

So here in January yet another round of emails began coming in from that onerous party. The first was a reminder that my hosting subscription with them was expiring soon, and I'd better renew (this is the same subscription they didn't honor, leaving my site dead and my domain stolen and inaccessible for transfer for months). I ignored this message. Emails to those folks quit going through last year, so it seems to be a waste of electrons to respond to them.

A few days later I got another email. This one looked alarming.

It said it had accepted payment from my credit card for a new order. Even worse, it said the outlaw outfit was now being run by some other company (or else the original gang had renamed themselves). This sounded ominous. For it's routine these days for crooks to bilk lots of credit card holders, grab the money, and run. Then set up shop with a different name and do the whole scam over again.

I'd visited the original web site of the bandits zillions of times last year trying to escape from the mess, to no effect. But this email offered a new domain name. So I thought I'd go there and see if I could find out anything. The email itself offered a specialized URL for me to click on 'to see details of my order'. But no way I'd click that thing. The email itself's sender address was listed as robot@zzz.com (I zzz'ed out the domain there for legal reasons). In my experience it's no use responding to a robot in general, and especially not to any email from that particular domain. So I visited the home page of the new domain named in the email to see what I could find out.

Turned out to be nothing but a facade. A front page, and that was it. Clicking on any links on the Home page led to 'under construction' indicators. Yeah, right. There were no email addresses to write to.

I checked my credit card accounts online to see if I'd been charged for something, but nothing showed. I checked the same day I got the email, then again a couple days later. Still nothing.

More emails poured in from the defunct host and/or its replacement over the next week, basically still acting like I'd placed an order and my card had been charged.

Finally though, today, a new email came in from the same bunch, this time saying my payment had been 'refunded'. Hmmm. So far as my card accounts showed, nothing at all had happened in regards to this outfit over that time. So was this some sort of trap? If I'd clicked on the carefully crafted special URLS they presented concerning my 'personal order', would I have suffered bilking of some sort? Maybe.

Be careful out there people!

Web Site Authoring Log Contents

1-19-04: Escape from domain registrar hell

On 1-17-04 I got an email notice from the registrar for my jrmooneyham.com domain that in around 30 days it would expire, so I needed to renew it.

Regular readers of this page might recall that this registrar seemed suspect to me months back as being too closely related to the original web host for jrmooneyham.com, which went into meltdown last year, taking my domain with it. Somehow my domain had also been hijacked, with its registrant and administrative contact IDs being assigned to someone other than myself. YIKES!

One result of all this was jrmooneyham.com went dead and stayed that way for more than a month, while I struggled to recover it.

A different web hosting company came in rhetorically claiming they were riding a white horse and would rescue folks like me, but it turned out virtually everything they told me failed to materialize (to put it politely). It was all a horrendous mess, which left me thrashing about trying all sorts of things to salvage my domain.

I finally managed to change the nameservers for my domain to a different host altogether, despite the interface at the registrar making any changes at all virtually impossible (note that a tech support person at the registrar gave me the fairly long list of secrets required to make these changes, thank goodness).

I had also made some efforts towards getting my domain loose from the registrar, being as how much info on the web and from all the various parties involved made it sound like the registrar was way too close to the meltdown host themselves, and so my domain's future would retain high uncertainty in their hands.

I wasn't able to pry my domain loose back then, but I did manage to get my registrant and administrative contact info changed to myself, as well as redirect my domain visitors to a set of working nameservers. When I tried to do more than that, I got scary feedback from the registrar, which seemed to endanger the progress I'd already made-- so I stopped trying to escape at that time, even as I continued to look for more info on my options.

It appeared I might have to play a game of chicken with my registrar and unknown strangers on the net to wrest my domain away from them. Namely, maybe even let the domain expire and/or go into a sort of 'limbo' period where not only my own rights but the registrar's rights to my name were weakened too. So I bided my time.

Months later I get my domain expiration notice. I decided to try for an escape once again. If it didn't work, I'd still have the riskier expiration/limbo route to attempt afterwards. I HATE being coerced or blackmailed, and might even endure some fairly injurious measures to stop such insults.

First I did some updated research about domain transfers and expiring domains, and the status of a particular new registrar I figured to use as the new holder of my domain. All the stuff on the web indicated the new registrar seemed fairly trustworthy and credible. I also looked for any recent news about the original domain mess and all its participants which so wounded my site last year.

I double-checked my current nameserver info in case I had to give it to the new registrar.

The new registrar seemed to offer an excellent deal: $8.00 to BOTH transfer my domain and renew it for another year. But there were a few caveats. For instance, I needed to initiate such a transfer prior to the last ten days before expiration. So this called for immediate action.

I set things in motion at the new registrar. There were a few glitches, but I got past them OK. I made sure to record my new log in ID, password, receipt number and customer numbers along the way, plus a customer service phone number. The site informed me the transfer was in progress.

Over the next 24 hours or so I got a spate of emails requiring various things from me, or acknowledging something I'd already done. My new registrar sought approval verification from me for the transfer (me being both the official registrant and administrative contact). My old registrar required my approval for transfer, too. I also got a couple emails stating the transfer had taken place, and I needed to confirm some settings at the new registrar.

The domain management interface at my new registrar seems a thousand times better than my old one, in terms of ease-of-use. Still, I encountered a few glitches, possible due to having to input a lot of info as a new user in the system. It appears I'll have to make another trip or two to the login screen to make certain my settings are as they should be, as the registrar's site told me some settings once changed become unavailable for a short while after modification (so it'd be hard to verify them in the same session you entered them: especially when several different screens are involved).

Will jrmooneyham.com suffer any outages related to this? I hope not, but it's possible. Even if everything seems fine now, the real proof may not be available until after my original domain expiration date comes and goes. If memory serves, my horrendous site problems last year began around expiration time, despite my believing I'd correctly renewed everything.

I also have a few other renewal items pending at this time: other domain(s), and various hosting deals. If I can get all these squared away reasonably well, it may permit me to cancel certain extraneous contracts and save on my monthly site-related bills.

Web Site Authoring Log Contents

11-22-03: A typical few days at WebFLUX Central

Thursday I accidentally learned from an online article that the top search engine company is penalizing web authors who maintain site mirrors with demotions in result rankings, or even outright banning from the engine database. I figure I'd better change my own practices, then.

Friday I'm alarmed to discover my site has already (within just the last 24 hours) suffered a drastic demotion in rankings-- apparently due to the thing I only found out about the day before. I spend all day creating redirect pages for my various domains to try to get into compliance with the new rules ASAP (it'll probably take me a SOLID WEEK to do everything required here, if my schedule will allow me to do that and nothing else-- I simply cannot respond any faster). Depressingly, I know whatever I do, at best I cannot expect the ranking to change again for at least TWO MONTHS(!)

Friday evening and night I try repeatedly to post some of the necessary redirects to one of my domains, but can't get access to do so-- that domain is not accepting file uploads. I DO manage to post some redirects on another.

Saturday my local internet access goes down, so I can't even check to see if I can now upload to the domain which was inaccessible yesterday.

Even after I create and upload all the hundreds of redirect pages now required in a week or so, I'll still have a tremendous mess to clean up in regards to site maps and other navigational devices on my site. SHEESH!

As I'm doing everything possible to rectify the situation ASAP, and examining the devastating traffic results from the search engine change will only depress and frustrate me for months to come, I'm resolving to try to ignore that for as long as I can. After all, there's nothing more I can do.

Web Site Authoring Log Contents

11-20-03: Up the creek, perpetually

Man! It's tough being a small web site author these days! If you have any ambitions whatsoever beyond creating a simple page for yourself and a few friends or family, you're pretty much out of luck. For there's zilch low cost, easy-to-learn-and-use tools out there for critically important things like basic graphics creation, adding application and/or database style functionality to your site, doing your own direct e-commerce and mailing lists, password-protected site access, etc., etc. The state of the net is downright dismal in these areas.

And the powers-that-be on the net just keep making it harder. For instance, according to some sources the main search engine player (I won't mention the name here due to possible retaliation) is now punishing folks who maintain mirrors of their content on multiple sites or domains, by reducing their status in search results, or dumping them from the database altogether. YIKES!

But hey! What are we small fry supposed to do to stay online? I had my main domain hijacked for months and had no choice but to get a new and different one, to get my content back online. There's also the problem of traffic spikes which easily wipe out a single domain or site. If you don't have a mirror those put you off-line indefinitely, too. Other plain old technical problems can also take a host off-line, for who knows how long. Again, if you have no mirror, you're screwed. AND, even if you do have a mirror, if that mirror isn't itself already in the main search engine databases when your first site or domain goes down, you face disaster as well-- for it can take MONTHS to get into such databases, during which time your site is, for all practical purposes, dead as a door nail and unable to receive a significant number of visitors.

On the other hand, big business and government can afford to hire enormous staffs of expensive personnel armed with tens of thousands of dollars in software apps and months or years of training in their use to maintain their sites. If one of their domains is hijacked, they can often get it back and running again in just hours or days. Traffic spikes are fairly easily handled by transparent, dynamic re-routing to MIRRORS on vast 'server farms' that often all sit behind the same domain.

Little guys like us simply CAN'T have such resources. So as in all other facets of life, we get punished when we try to cobble together our own such resources on the cheap.

Of course, maybe the premiere search engine company just doesn't realize how it's unfairly penalizing us. If so, that means they've really lost touch with the common folk on the net-- a state that can be pretty much as injurious to us as doing this stuff intentionally.

I'd already spent quite a lot of time studying ways to increase traffic and revenues so I can keep the site online and myself alive while doing it. Partly by re-reading Don Lancaster's classic book The Incredible Secret Money Machine (you can see his web site version HERE [generic link in case first broken]). Lord, but the results from that alone mean lots more site work which basically has little to do with the creation of new content, for some time to come. Now, with the new traffic penalty policies towards mirrors coming from the major search engine, I have even more non-content creation stuff to do, MERELY TO TRY TO PREVENT LOSING WHAT LITTLE TRAFFIC I ALREADY HAVE.

And the absence of tools described before is hurting me badly as well. I'd LOVE to create more graphics for the site, but I don't have the stuff I need to do so. Maybe 99% of the existing site graphics were created perhaps six years ago on an old Mac set up, which no longer exists. Newer Macs can't match the old Macs for this. Modern PCs can't either. At least not in ease-of-use, advanced features, and low cost. I've literally spent years trying to find suitable replacements. The only possibilities left I haven't tested all cost at least $400 each per app, and likely require man-years of time to become adequately versed in to match the imagery I almost effortlessly created on that old Mac years ago. Plus, there's far from any guarantee that expensive stuff would work anyway. There's a LOT of junk on the market today, really sucking the life out of individual productivity and disposeable income. My experience of the past ten years makes me very leery of ALL claims from computer ware makers and vendors about what they're selling. I don't have either the spare money or time for such effort sinks. Once upon a time you could use reviews in popular computer mags as guides to such stuff, but no more. Now, that media rarely warns us even of the worst rip offs, for fear of law suits, and mediocre stuff is raved about in return for ad monies. You no longer know who to trust about such stuff.

Plus, with the low quality of operating systems, applications, and peripherals across the board today in terms of contingency testing by their developers, and the fact that virtually all of us are running unique system configurations compared to anyone else (at least slightly different settings, software, and peripherals), even if there does exist a reviewer you can trust, and they give the thumbs up to a particular solution, odds are it still won't work as hoped on your own set up. DOH!

Well, anyway, I guess I'll try to determine which pages are doing best on which domain, and make that their more or less only domain, with the weaker position thereafter just offering a redirect to the stronger location. This way I'll eventually have different content on different domains, like my search engine master now demands. Hopefully they won't cut my throat traffic-wise before I can get the transformation completed (it'll likely take me months).

Switching over to this new format will be pretty tricky and awkward and annoying, and likely cause all sorts of broken links and mistakes along the way. Creating a universal site map straddling the multiple domains hosting differing content will be a headache to maintain too. SHEESH!

This is going to cause me to lose much of the excess bandwidth capacity I enjoy now, designed to accommodate traffic spikes. So my potential for revenue collection is going to have a much lower ceiling than it used to.

On the other hand, I do really need to drop some older domains, along with their monthly fees, like my ancient AOL subscription, and maybe my tripod site as well. This changeover could accelerate that process, and lessen my monthly bills in one fashion, to hopefully make up for the expected revenue shortfall.

Web Site Authoring Log Contents

11-1-03: Site traffic update, the addition of a new revenue channel, and a discussion of gateways and multiple site presentation options

Well, over the past 30 days it appears that my site has totaled up around 30,000+ visits and 65,000+ page views over all three major domains combined. There has been NO traffic spikes: just a steady ramp up in recovery since the hijacking of my central domain ended several months or so back.

This stat can be compared to the 26,000 visits and 51,000 page views a month circa 2-1-03 for the jrmooneyham.com domain alone, prior to it being hijacked.

Today, jrmooneyham.com accounts for only some 36% of the total traffic, with jmooneyham.com bringing another 36%, and my second oldest but-still-full-fledged domain doing 28%. Jrmooneyham.com alone is doing around 24,000 page views and 13,000 visits, so it has not fully recovered yet from the hijacking and subsequent fall out of Google in traffic terms. Indeed, jrmooneyham.com today has recovered to only half its pre-hijacking traffic levels. One striking observation here: the domain's present traffic performance appears eerily equivalent to its presence in the Google database: that is, right now only about half the domain's pages have been re-incorporated into Google since it returned from limbo a few months back, and the domain's traffic is about half what it was before the hijacking. So perhaps in the next month or so jrmooneyham.com may jump back up to its previous traffic strength (if Google's next update includes the missing pages: Google refreshes its database about once every two months I believe)?

I added a new revenue generation channel to the site recently. As usual, I don't want to discuss many specifics due to potential contractual obligations. But by checking out my major gateway pages you can likely determine much about it for yourself.

I'm still in the early stages of adding the new channel, so much optimization and implementation remains to be done. Fortunately, so far the process is relatively easy and straightforward, with minimal reformatting of pages required.

It's a pay per click channel. Like virtually all other revenue channels, you need such things on the highest possible traffic pages you have. I only have decent traffic breakdown stats per page for two domains, not all three. Plus, one domain presently has several off-site and off-domain advertisements pointing to several of its pages-- a condition that's temporary at best, but for now is inflating the traffic stats of certain pages. These are all things I must include when making my conclusions about which pages across all sites will be best for housing the new channel. I also must comsider my own contribution to page traffic. For instance, the 'what's new' page on jrmooneyham.com gets LOTS of use from me in my near daily check of news sites, resulting in stats for that page which don't reflect the normal usage of average site visitors.

How small-time web sites can make it financially on the web was recently updated.

My host for jrmooneyham.com recently implemented major improvements to their site statistics reports. Remember I mentioned that aspect being somewhat lacking when I first joined up? It's almost spectacular now!

As I was poring over site traffic analysis matters, I recalled again that we site authors do possess some leeway for increasing our site traffic via recursion: that is, getting existing visitors to spend more time on-site, and examining more different pages than before.

The big corporate sites tend to achieve this by making their sites 'dead ends' wherever possible: that is, not providing any links to external sites by which they might lose a visitor. Or providing a minimal number of such links.

But it's much harder for small sites to get away with that, plus likely diminishes your site's value and utility to visitors, where implemented.

Recursion is a software term, relating to a program sort of feeding on itself, or doing self or internal referencing. On our sites whenever we add a link from one of our own pages to another within our site, it's a form of recursion, and opens a channel by which we may keep present visitors inside our domain for a bit longer.

There's often gobs and gobs of such internal referencing links we can add to our sites without hurting the visitor's experience, and maybe even enhancing it. But it can be time consuming to locate and exploit such opportunities in any systematic way. And easy to over do it.

Offering a variety of different presentations of the same content is another way to increase local site recursion. Determining popular synonyms for current keywords used in your pages for search engine purposes (and adding them to your HTML) can help surfers find your site easier and more often than before.

Splitting up large content pages into smaller ones might also improve recursion rates, as it can lead to visitors viewing more pages, and such pages being more focused in their respective content, even as it lowers the overall cost to the site owner in terms of the bandwidth required to deliver such content to surfers. And the tighter focus of the smaller individual pages may make it easier and faster for surfers to locate what they're seeking on your site, too. Yet another advantage to splitting up larger pages into smaller ones can be a larger resulting footprint in search engines. That is, once spidered, you'll have more pages in the various engine databases, and so a greater chance of netting visitors. And since each page can have its own unique keywords and title, you'll have a greater chance than before of any particular page appearing near the top of the results in a given user search. Of course, determining unique keywords and titles for smaller pages spun off from larger ones requires some extra work in itself...

Multiple gateways or presentation windows to your content can help you capture the attention of more visitors via the same content, than a single such view. That's why the big sites often have so-called 'splash screens', and virtually all well done or high end sites offer site maps and search functions to visitors.

Ever since I brought my site online I kept my site's main page (index.html, the page all general domain references like jrmooneyham.com or kurellian.tripod.com automatically take a visitor to) exactly the same as my timeline's table of contents page (future_history_timeline.html). This was a reasonable thing to do so long as the timeline was the defining feature and content of my site. But it was also a wasted presentation or gateway opportunity.

So I'm now experimenting with giving my index.html page an identity of its own, and seizing this chance to offer site visitors a whole new window to my content. For this new index page I'm also resurrecting a title I used long ago for a page on-site, which originally offered links extolling the new and exciting options emerging on the embryonic internet of the mid-nineties, such as web cams offering surfers realtime views of exotic faraway locales, enormous new online reference sources, and more. Only now I believe the title will be appropriate for my own diverse collection of site content.

I'm also revamping my site map functionality, to offer TWO different map views of my site, rather than merely one. The original site map will now be considered the 'comprehensive map by outline view', while the new map will be the 'topical portal view'. And each will offer a link to the other, so visitors can select which mode they prefer.

Hopefully I'll have some version of all these new pages posted by the time you read this. If not, just check back again later.

There's yet another old site page I'd like to raise from the dead as well. It originally pertained to bleeding edge gaming, VR, and 3D options on the web I believe. But even then I wanted to someday have it pointing istead to certain efforts of my own. Hopefully I can implement that in the new future as well.

Web Site Authoring Log Contents

7-10-03: jrmooneyham.com is back!

At least for the moment.

Did either my failed host or the replacement host who supposedly took over the customer base fix things for me? NO! At least, if they did, I sure couldn't tell it, they never emailed me about it, and if they did, the fix just happened to occur at the same time I was doing things myself to correct the problem.

I've got to be careful here, since my domain may still be at risk from these people. I believe my domain registrar was originally closely related (at least business-wise) to the failed host-- which started this whole mess-- and seemed to be somewhat complicit in the resulting domain name hostage-taking themselves. But it's all a huge mess, with many issues still unresolved and uncertain.

If any of these people helped me finally escape, even if only temporarily, it was a service tech at the domain registrar, who emailed me detailed instructions on how to navigate the bewildering domain management system at his company site in order to change my domain name servers and just about everything else (including the all important registrant and administrative contact info!). YAY!

Despite all my research on the web and forums on the matter, and emails and phone conversations with the replacement host and various registrar techs, I still to this moment don't know if the registrar is now owned by the replacement host or has some other business relationship with them. So the domain jrmooneyham.com may still be in some danger of outages or hijacking beyond this point.

Apparently there's not necessarily much you can do in a situation like this, other than try to avoid getting any of the folks involved peeved at you, or not developing your domain into such a high profile, high traffic name that it would obviously be valuable for a hijacker, or maybe pursuing legal action in an area of law that so far isn't promising for providing redress to the little guy.

The obvious course would be to escape and flee both the replacement host and the original registrar-- but for the last two months I could do neither. Now it appears I may have escaped the host. But I definitely have not escaped the registrar, and if I tried I believe they'd immediately know it and could stop me, as well as take me offline again by changing my DNS servers and not allowing me to change them back-- and there might not be a lot more I could do about this but initiate long and drawn out (and possibly costly) legal proceedings: the conclusion of which might not necessarily be in my favor, and even if it was, the domain could by then be worth no more than a freshly chosen obscure name, having fell out of all the search engines and had most or all the previous third party links to it dissolved, due to its long absence online. Indeed, jrmooneyham.com is almost in that bad a shape at this very moment, having fallen out of virtually all the major engine databases online.

It appears I've been able to set my domain's all-important registrant and admin contact info back to what it should be: me. But my registrar (or replacement host?) might change that info back at any time. So far as I know, the registrar was the one who set it wrong to start with!

Folks, if you're serious about your long term web presence, and especially if you have any business ambitions in regards to it, you should plan on developing at least two different domain names at the same time, each registered through a different and reputable registrar, and each hosted by a different web host, with neither host affiliated in any way with either registrar, if at all possible (to reduce possible conflicts of interest among your service providers).

You should also look into trademarking your domain name(s), for added legal protection.

So if I didn't use the replacement host, how is jrmooneyham.com being hosted right now?

Well, actually I did use the replacement host, sort of: I got so downright desperate for getting more help from them on getting my site online I signed up for ONE month of hosting service with them. But of course, this did not help matters one iota, so far as I could tell. Rather than help me with the enormous mess of transitioning from my failed host (something they'd promised all us failed host customers they'd do for free months ago, but never did to my knowledge) they treated my signup as if I was a brand new customer, not related at all to the ongoing mess-- despite my sign up including explicit indications of this status. In the same boiler plate email message you'd get from signing up with just about any host for the first time, they informed me I'd need to transfer my domain name to their servers, and gave me the server specs to use-- completely ignoring the long running problem I'd had with my domain and site ever since they got involved.

So I returned to the registrar site where I'd fruitlessly tried to fix my domain many times before. The last time I transferred my domain to new servers was when my failed host unexpectedly forced me to manually migrate my site, files and all, at renewal time, to all different servers. At that time my registrar was in bed with my host (so far as I know). Anyway, as my registrar has a domain management interface not even its own mother could love, I could no way figure out how to transfer my domain. So I finally emailed the registrar tech support about it and they did it for me, no problem.

Fast forward to this transfer to the replacement host servers. I emailed the tech support about the new transfer, and this time was informed I had to do it myself. Fortunately, they included nearly complete instructions for navigating their interface. After seeing this info, it's no wonder I couldn't accomplish anything before: it seems expressly built to prevent webmasters from easily accessing their domain info, much less change anything.

After I managed to get past the instructional 'gap' (a spot where a step was left out (likely inadvertantly, due to the complexity involved) by the tech) I found myself facing the Holy Grail of domain name management. It appeared I could even re-set the domain to its proper ownership (myself) after all!

But first things first. I needed my site back online ASAP, I'd just bought a month's worth of hosting from the replacement host (in the hopes of bribing them to help me), and am still unsure what the replacement host and registrar's relationship is now, and what, if anything, they'd let me do with my own domain.

So all I did was try transferring my domain from the servers of the failed host to the replacement host. I figured if that worked (or was allowed), I could try to do more later. And when a check of the whois database within the next day or so showed the transfer as apparently successful, I went back to the registrar again and changed my domain's registrant and admin contact to myself.

Unfortunately, though the domain transfer went through according to whois, it seems nobody at the replacement host had a clue about it. Either the servers the replacement host directed me to weren't functional, or they left out some crucial information, or they were stilling playing with me in regards to my domain name-- or maybe something was going on at my registrar. I just don't know.

I'd uploaded a test "index.html" file to the replacement host servers, and waited for the name servers to be updated in the whois database and 'propagate' through the dozen plus major web servers worldwide over a day or two. I kept checking jrmooneyham.com to see if it ever came back online, over a period of days.

It didn't. For about five days. But according to whois, the transfers and other changes to my domain info went through OK. The problem seemed to be with the replacement host themselves.

As every time I'd called the tech support of the replacement host since they took over my site they told me they didn't know how to help me, I didn't call them again this time.

As it appears to take at minimum three weeks plus for the replacement's tech support to answer an email-- and even then they always say the same thing as the phone support: 'don't know how to help me'-- I didn't email them either.

According to the whois database I had successfully transferred my domain to the replacement host servers days before. The servers just didn't seem to work.

So I went back to my registrar, and transferred my domain again. This time to the name servers of the hosting package I'd chosen by free will months ago (see entry for 5-10-03), rather than as lately, under apparent coercion by the replacement host.

Immediately after this I uploaded more than just a test page-- pretty much my entire site, but for updates taking place within the past couple weeks (because I had all this handy) to the free will chosen host.

Two days later, jrmooneyham.com was back online!

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6-27-03: jrmooneyham.com is still dead; now dead a full and complete month

On 6-19 I finally got a reply to an email request for help I sent to the new host's tech support staff 5-27(!) That's the good news. The bad news is they said they still can't figure out what in the heck they're doing, so my site is still dead, dead, dead.

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6-16-03: Still setting new records: jrmooneyham.com has been off-line for 20 days

My new jrmooneyham.com host sent me an email with FTP settings for uploading my whole site from scratch to a new server (note I had to do this exact thing with the previous host in February after I unsuspectingly renewed my subscription).

The email appeared pretty generic, branded with my old defunct host's name rather than the new one, and implied my credit card had been charged-- but surely this was inaccurate as I have not ordered anything from the new host yet, technically am paid up for many months to come of hosting service, and they've promised all along they'd keep our sites up and running for free for two months at minimum (as they say they got none of the monies paid to the previous host). Of course, so far all that's really happened is the plug has been pulled on my site and it's been dead ever since, with not a single response to my emails to tech support, still. The generic email about FTP came immediately on the heels of a voice call to tech support. But as the domain jrmooneyham.com is still dead and unconnected to the new server they had me upload to, my site's still dead, as I'm the only person in the world who can visit it. Sheesh!

The domain name itself is still in limbo as well, with me unable to move it to a different host if I wanted.

I've already began replacing jrmooneyham.com with kurellian.tripod.com in my mirror links and others, as no real progress has occured with jrmooneyham.com for going on a month now.

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6-13-03: jrmooneyham.com has been off-line for 17 days: the worst outage in its history

Well, jrmooneyham.com has been dead now since May 27, or around 17 days so far. I've sent multiple emails to the new host, done everything they advised me to in generic emails they sent to everybody, but nothing seemed to work. My emails to tech support resulted in nothing more than auto-responses (robot emails). I was instructed to set up a new domain name management account at their web site but that didn't work either.

My domain name remains in limbo, and my site dead as a doornail.

For a couple months now my main news sources for what was happening to my site and domain were the frozen FAQ at the new host's site, and posts to several of the web hosting forums linked at the top of this page. The posts to the forums seemed to dry up a lot in recent days, which would seem to indicate that some progress was being made by the new host (as people most usually post to bitterly complain, rather than proclaim good news).

I'd seen indications on the forums that people who phoned in seemed to be getting a better response than emailers. But my own experience with tech support over phones the past 20 years or so has been dismal, so I'm not keen on that. Plus, it can be tough to find the spare time to put my whole life on hold to listen to Muzak and punch buttons waiting to get to a live person in such ordeals. Another thing is the inaccuracies and errors inherent in such communications. With email there's much less chance of getting tech info wrong, while via voice all sorts of havoc can take place, forcing you to go through the whole thing again and again and again. So any outfit that forces you to use the phone rather than email loses points in my book. Just in case I've not made myself clear: I HATE talking on the phone. Far too much of my life has been consumed by incessant phone jabberers, and so I don't like using it, period.

A couple days ago I got my first personal email from the host-- from a salesman I think. The message was a bit casually worded for the current circumstances of folks like me, and my initial response came close to being withering. But I realized I needed to take a step back, breathe deeply, and give the host folks a bit more benefit of the doubt. After all, they sort of inherited a pretty grand mess, maybe 40,000 or so web sites in various states of disrepair, with perhaps little or no consistent documentation to help them sort through the mess.

So I gritted my teeth and tried to type up the most civil response I could muster under the circumstances. I made sure to emphasize my priorities, such as getting my site running again, and my concern over domain name ownership.

This time at least I got a real response. Call this phone number...

As soon as I could marshall a potential 30-60 minutes to sit on hold, I called it, and after 12 minutes got Alec. We went over things for around another 10-15 minutes, and Alec told me that it sounded like my site server at my old host had died. And that there were likely no backups of my site anywhere around, due to the previous host's lax ways. I said I could replace my site files myself if I had a place to upload them to. Alec said he'd see what he could do. We also discussed my hostage domain name, and repeated the set up of a new domain name manager account, getting an error once more. Alec said the problem might be related to my dead site server.

Alec asked me if I'd emailed his company about all this, and I said yes, several times, with no response, and he said they were heavily burdened with the salvage operation. I told him I understood, having been a network admin myself in a previous life, but still two weeks plus was a long time to be dead on the internet.

Alec told me he'd see what could be done about my problems, and got my email address and phone number. But he couldn't give me any time frame for resolution, of either my hostage name or dead site. So jrmooneyham.com is still offline indefinitely so far as all indicators are pointing.

On a brighter note, the new host looks to have announced a somewhat improved low end hosting option for folks like me than was previously offered.

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5-29-03: Outages are becoming a broken record around here

As I write this I'm off-line in at least two different ways. My local ISP service is dead once more (lately it seems to have been down 25% to 33% of the time). And jrmooneyham.com has been dead for days (of course I haven't been able to test it today).

Jrmooneyham.com the domain has been taken hostage by a failing web host. I'm not the only victim. There may be tens of thousands of us. Up until recently though at least the content there remained in my control, and the site stayed online more or less. At times I couldn't update it. But now it's kaput. Inaccessible on the web. At least for maybe a week.

There may actually be good news here. Another host has reportedly 'acquired' all us long suffering customers from the failed host, and may be in the process of freeing the hostage domain names to their rightful owners, as well as transferring our sites from the old servers to a more reliable platform.

I'll be very interested in seeing the personal email they say they plan to send us soon about these matters.

According to some of the forums linked near the top of this page, this new host has a decent reputation. So maybe we'll be treated better than we have been the last several months.

Unfortunately, the new host plans to only let folks like me ride another 60 days; after that I'd have to buy a whole new hosting package. Yeah, I paid my previous host for about another six or seven months of service beyond that, but that money now appears hopelessly lost. Of course, that doesn't seem to be the new host's fault.

So far as I can tell jrmooneyham.com will be down maybe a week as the new host takes over the sites. Then hopefully run normally for a couple months before another jarring change is possibly forced upon it.

If the new host frees up our domain names ASAP with minimal new headaches for us rightful owners, that'll score them more points than just about anything else in my book. If they get jrmooneyham.com up and running again quickly and reliably, that'll add still more points, and I'll seriously consider buying into their hosting services. Unfortunately, they may not offer a sufficiently economical package for my needs at this time, based on what I've seen on their site so far. On the other hand, according to the forums it looks like they might create an all new package for webmasters in my price range that might better appeal to me.

Another complicating factor of course is the hosting package I already bought in anticipation of host failure and domain freedom. So we'll just have to see how things work out from here I guess.

Yesterday evening I did manage to upload some new redirects to several important old pages on my America Online account. Previously these redirects took folks to jrmooneyham.com, but now they'll take them to jmooneyham.com instead. There's actually dozens (maybe hundreds) more redirects to be changed there; but that'll take more time to accomplish (and might have far less dramatic impact on traffic flow than those already modified). Plus, hopefully jrmooneyham.com will come back online and under my control in a few days, obviating the need (at least for a while) of changing all those other redirects.

Needless to say, all the extra worry and effort this hostage situation has been causing me the past several months has taken big bites out of the time and energy I've had available to put towards implementing new revenue channels or updating or expanding site content. So sorry about that folks!

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5-26-03: The offline blues

Well, my ISP has me off-line again today (this has been happening a lot lately). If money was no object I'd like to have something like my present cable modem broadband ISP PLUS a DSL over phone line ISP PLUS satellite dish ISP all at the same time, so that I could switch among them to insure continuous internet access. Ah. Must be nice to be rich!

There finally appears to be significant breaking news about the troubled host of my domain jrmooneyham.com. Some sort of merger or buyout by another host has taken place, according to the latest post. Of course, this could be another hacker defacement. Only time will tell. But it appears to be legitimate.

From what I know so far it looks like the new host is only going to honor the current service contracts of the first and second most expensive host packages previously purchased from my troubled host. That means folks like me with the cheapest host packages will have to pony up more money soon for new packages (losing what we paid to the previous host), or else take our domains elsewhere. But wait! Does that mean we'll actually have our hostage domain names freed into our custody? Not necessarily. The fate of our domain names still seems clouded with uncertainty. But at least the new host says it'll keep us poor folks' sites online for another 60 days or so after 5-21-03, to allow us time to figure out what to do.

Unfortunately, it looks like jrmooneyham.com may go dark anyway in just the next day or two, as some sort of glitch in the bandwidth measurement for my site is about to declare me exceeding my bandwidth limits for the month, apparently due to some gross error in the measurement which took place for just a single hour around mid-April. In my host control panel the error actually changed which day the spike was supposed to have occurred maybe two or three times before it finally decided to 'stick' to a certain, single hour of a single day. Note that even if the spike was real (which all indications are it wasn't), it supposedly occurred well over 30 days ago and so shouldn't be affecting my bandwidth limit now. But it is, according to my control panel.

Note that a similar problem existed for several weeks in the measurement of disk space I was using (as described in previous items).

I hope my new host corrects this somehow, and doesn't take me off-line, or charge me some immense sum for what appears to be an error in my gauged bandwidth usage.

Considering the unholy mess my previous host seemed to create, both in money and legal terms, I can't really complain about how the new host is handling things so far. It'd be tough for anybody to come in and clean up to everyone's satisfaction the mess left by the previous host. To me the most important things are a minimal disruption for visitors to jrmooneyham.com, and the turning over of the jrmooneyham.com domain to my rightful ownership ASAP. Of course, getting through this with minimal added expense and labor is also important, for reasons both economic and stress-related.

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The above article(s) come from and make references to a collection copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 by J.R. Mooneyham (except where otherwise noted in the text). Text here explicitly authored by J.R. Mooneyham may be freely copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes in paper and electronic form without charge if this copyright paragraph and link to jmooneyham.com or jrmooneyham.com are included.

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