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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the chronological nature of this log, certain embedded web links and documented costs/prices for wares discussed may be out-of-date by the time some readers find this piece.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.

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Web Site Authoring Log Archives Table of Contents

5-10-03: The incredible risks involved in webmastering today

Folks, it's scary out there, in terms of web hosts and domain registrars. Very often the only way to find out how good and honest and reliable a web host or registrar is, is to use their services for a year or so-- and even then a good entity can turn bad overnight. You can also do research on the web via Google or other search engines with key words "host name.com" and "problem", and check out various forums as linked to near the top of this page. But the stuff you'll see there has about the same value as the history track record of prices for a company's stock on Wall Street: it can mean very, very little about the present or future of the company itself.

There's also the fact that virtually all such hosts and registrars have only existed a handful of years-- sometimes only a few months. So many have no track record to speak of. Discovering how many current customers they presently possess can be a decent gauge sometimes-- at least of how substantial the company and its resources are, and how many folks are presently trusting them to do their job. But even then the numbers can be deceptive, if a company is holding customers hostage via unethical claims on their domain name, or other means of coercion.

Plus, a company can simply lie on the web and claim it has thousands of clients even if it doesn't have one. It might be difficult for the average person to disprove such claims on their own.

It's also true that even great companies can have a certain amount of claims against them on the web, simply due to unreasonable customers, misunderstandings, and plain old mistakes which are later rectified. The more business you do, the more folks you do it with, and the longer the period over which this occurs, the more complaints you're going to end up with on the web about you, no matter how good and decent you are. But examining a good-sized sample of such posts usually easily shows you whether the preponderance of such complaints are reasonable or not.

There can also be something like 'acts of God': events which damage a company or hurt its customers, due to things beyond the control of either. I.e., the attacks of 9-11-01. Or 'once-in-a-100-year' floods. Stuff like that.

Right now I'm personally caught in a situation with a host and registrar that really makes me nervous. There's currently quite a few complaints about them on the web. And their sites and interaction with customers of late sure hasn't inspired renewed confidence. But a couple years ago when I was researching the host it was very hard to find any complaints of substance about them. There was little or no indication that they should be avoided. And from my shopping around they seemed to be offering one of the better deals out there. They were even recommended on Wired magazine's webmonkey site at the time.

I was also with them for a year (they hosted my site), with very few problems. Of course, my site's very simple and straightforward, using no database or server side includes or PHP scripting, etc.. I also never set up my domain-related email options. So there wasn't much I was using of their services except plain old serving up of HTML and gif images.

Then came time to renew both my site and domain. That's when lots of stuff hit the fan, not only for me but many of my fellow customers of the host, as documented in previous posts.

The crisis is ongoing. But occasionally there appears a sign that things may yet improve at the host. For example, my disk space gauge on 5-9-03 for the first time in a month or more showed me only using some 13.1 MB of diskspace, rather than maxxing out my allowable 50 MB. This reading was more in line with the space gauges at my other two major domains (all three domains basically contain the same files), and allowed me for the first time in weeks to update jrmooneyham.com. Plus, ever since I finally got my site transferred to the different servers in the thros of renewal, my site appears to have stayed up and accessible (for visitors) every time I've checked it. It was also accessible for me to update in a manual, one file at a time manner over most of that time too-- but for the recent several week period mentioned before.

My host briefly posted a how-to for setting up FTP file upload access once more to the site, which requires me to configure various mail services for my domain beforehand-- something I never had to do before. The process is fairly involved, so I haven't had the time or motivation yet to tackle it. I DID make notes about the how-to. It's lucky I did, for the host took the how-to back down again after just a few days, as they've done a lot with such useful customer info over past months.

However, lots of support services remain 'suspended' at the host, and I've never yet got back any sort of site traffic breakdown report for jrmooneyham.com since shortly after renewal. And the whois database still lists the host rather than me as the effective owner of my domain-- despite the host assuring me in their site spiel before I bought from them in the first place that such stuff would never happen.

Note that for you to be in control of your domain name, the whois records should show you as the registered owner AND the administrative contact for it. Luckily at the moment whois shows jmooneyham.com to be in my control. But it appears it wouldn't be difficult for someone to hijack your domain.

A few days before 5-5-03 I visited the support page of my jrmooneyham.com host, as I had come to do regularly to look for more how-to info or possible updates on the host finally resolving some of the many current problems. This time though it appeared my host was notifying all customers to move their domains quick to another host, as this one was going out of business by 5-5-03. YIKES!

Of course, being aware of many problems there for quite some time, and seeing claims of class action lawsuits being brought against them on the web, etc., this turn of events wasn't entirely unexpected. Plus, in the announcement they said they had freed up all the hostage domains so the real owners were now free to transfer them as they wished. That was welcome news, especially since I'd been shut out of updating my site with them for a couple weeks by then, due to glitches on their end.

Unfortunately it turned out this was a web site defacement by a hacker, or else a good-hearted host employee who thought things were going down the tubes at last and posted a contingency announcement already prepared by management, only to find out a day or two later they'd jumped the gun and the host wasn't quite ready to throw in the towel just yet. But gosh, what a furor that must have set off among their remaining customers!

The bottomline of recent events is this:

When jrmooneyham.com went offline during renewal, and I was at a loss for what else to do, I bought the new domain jmooneyham.com (as I couldn't transfer jrmooneyham.com to another host, anyway). I bought this new domain and a host package for it from the same company, which appeared at the time from all the research effort I could muster to be a decent low priced host with relatively few user complaints to be found in Google. For contingency purposes at that time I also decided I'd use lunarpages.com to host jrmooneyham.com, if it become necessary and I could retrieve the domain from my old troubled host. Lunarpages too seemed to be a decent choice from what I could gather at the time.

A few months later when I saw the seemingly dire warning that my old troubled host was going belly up and it was every webmaster for themselves, I was glad I had the contingency host lunarpages in my back pocket. Unfortunately, when I revisited the site to buy a host package I read their terms of service and was appalled at all the ways I could get charged hefty fees for sort of offbeat things simply on lunarpages' say so.

Thus I began a new search for a good contingency web host. Keep in mind I thought I only had a day or two to find one, and begin domain transfer, if I was to keep my jrmooneyham.com downtime to a minimum.

The search was harder than I thought. I came close to giving up, and simply buying a second hosting package from the host I currently used for jmooneyham.com, as that host had seemed to do pretty good by me since I signed up with them. But I desperately didn't want to be dependent upon a single host again for everything. I'd learned the hard way that that was a very risky route indeed.

Finally, after a huge amount of effort, I decided on a host.

Web-based complaints about this host appeared to be comfortably in the ambient noise level. Their basic deal looked pretty good-- $9.95 a month for 750 MB of diskspace and 20 GB of monthly bandwidth. They appeared to be a fairly substantial company, with a good number of existing customers, and had been around for a while already. Their web stats package did look a bit weak, but I figured I could get around that. There's quite a few advanced services that I'd have to get down dirty and geeky with personally to set up, or else pay a host tech $100 per hour to help with. But from the research I've done in these areas that looks pretty much the case all over, whether hosts inform you about it upfront or not. There was a lot to like about their site, and how they sounded in general. So I bought a package there.

This host may be a bit more proprietary software-wise than many other low cost hosts, but that appears to be how they offer their bargain rates (they may pay less in software license fees than others), plus extra options compared to many of their peers (they offers custom software solutions for various things).

But still it's Unix servers and quite a bit of normal open source stuff-- which it looks like I may have to learn anyway, sooner or later.

But of course as my jrmooneyham.com's host's 'going out of business' announcement proved bogus or premature, I now have an extra hosting package on my hands with no domain to service. It likely wouldn't hurt for me to go ahead and upload my full site to it to get that out of the way, and make the contingency more rapid to implement when and if the time comes. But I don't know at this time if there's any reason to be in a hurry about it. And copying the site over is a considerable amount of work.

Web Site Authoring Log Contents

4-28-03: SHUT OUT

I tried to update eight pages today across my three main domains (kurellian.tripod.com, jmooneyham.com, and jrmooneyham.com), but found myself shut out of jrmooneyham.com: I could not upload pages or updates there.

I got a message saying something like "failed...permission denied...or disk quota exceeded".

Note the uploads were mere replacements for already existing pages, not wholly new ones.

I'd noticed in previous weeks my gauge of disk space in the control panel for jrmooneyham.com had been bouncing around all over the place, but mainly tending to 'peg out' to where it seemed I had zero free disk space free there. This bouncing around and conspicuous consumption of disk space often seemed to happen during periods where I uploaded absolutely nothing to jrmooneyham.com. For a while it seemed someone else was uploading tons of files to my disk space, which included a huge apache server manual, of which I spent quite some time deleting the individual files to get some space back. There were thousands of those files, and I could only delete them manually a handful at a time through my control panel GIU (graphic user interface). Fortunately someone at my host noticed this mess and seemed to delete the rest for me, saving me perhaps weeks of manual deletions.

However, now I'm wondering if maybe all that happened was that the host did NOT remove those apache manual files, but merely made them 'invisible' to me, so that I could not remove them myself? And yet those unwanted and unneeded files are now taking up all my disk space?

Another factor here is that my domains are essentially 'mirrors' of one another. The same files on all the domains, or as near to that condition as practical constraints allow me to maintain. The disk space gauge of jrmooneyham.com on 4-28-03 said my files there were using every single byte of my allowed 50 MB of space. The gauge at jmooneyham.com (a 99.99% mirror of jrmooneyham.com) reads only half that, or around 25 MB. My kurellian domain, which is another mirror but for commercial contract reasons doesn't necessarily include the handful of pages containing affiliate or donation links, reads considerably lower than that, at maybe 14 MB.

Prior to renewal of my site and domain with the current host of jrmooneyham.com in February, I was experiencing negligible problems with the domain and site, and my disk space gauges there were much more consistent with the readouts I now only get from kurellian and jmooneyham.com. I could try manually calculating my jrmooneyham.com file sizes from the individual file sizes listed in my control panel's upload directory, but there's maybe several hundred files (most pretty small), and so would be an annoying process to got through just to write to my host about (and they don't appear to be accepting emails at the moment anyway). I keep hoping they'll get their act together and all this annoying stuff will disappear once more.

I still don't have any semblance of web site statistics back yet for jrmooneyham.com. The bandwidth readouts usually look like they're about what might be expected (except for times like the anomalous spike described before), and have been bouncing around with something like 150-180 MB of traffic being the daily highs reached during a given week. That works out to the equivalent of my entire site, all pages, all graphics, (maybe 6000+ pages if printed?) being downloaded over seven times a day (or 43,000+ printed pages worth daily). Of course in reality the traffic is mostly concentrated in a handful of 'gateway' pages on-site, rather than being evenly spread around. At last check the kurellian domain was showing around 400 page views a day in its own right. The jmooneyham.com domain still hasn't shown up in Google in a meaningful way yet, so has very limited traffic of its own, mostly serving as the source for foreign language translation pages and local site search fodder so far. I am directing a bit of new traffic its way gradually via an ad or two on third party sites and my own email correspondence to possibly interested parties.

For a comparison of my bandwidth (or your own) to that of other sites, "the average website uses less than 250MB of bandwidth per month and receives about 50 visitors per day", according to webmasters.com.

Web Site Authoring Log Contents

4-20-03: The anomalous spike

Well, my jrmooneyham.com host control panel has been displaying anomalous stats lately. Like over 5 GB of bandwidth being used in perhaps as little as a single hour of a single day, with no ramp up before it and no gradual decline after. Yes, I know that spikes can appear suddenly without warning. But the drop off afterwards is almost always a gradual one-- not a cliff face, like that my control panel shows. Also, this spike in the stats appeared to 'move' from one day to another, like the panel wasn't sure for a few days whether the spike happened one particular day, or the other. It finally settled down, showing the spike occuring a day or two after it initially claimed it had.

There were NO other indicators of such a spike in my other two major domains, which happen to be prominently internally linked as mirror sites to jrmooneyham.com, and so typically reflect such traffic jumps. Such a spike also did not appear in my third party referrer logs.

My email load also didn't reflect such a spike. Traffic spikes almost always are accompanied by email spikes. No email spike this time though.

As my jrmooneyham.com host has never yet brought back anything resembling a detailed traffic stats package like the one I enjoyed prior to renewal, I can't study or analyze the claimed spike in the way almost any other '.com' owner might be able to these days. So it's frustrating. Worrisome too. Because the claimed spike sucked out a huge quantity of the bandwidth my site is allowed to use during a month. So jrmooneyham.com may be in danger of suffering another outage before April is done, solely for bandwidth reasons alone.

And I'm fairly sure my site didn't really use that much bandwidth. Is this just another post-renewal glitch at my host? Or was it purposeful? A calculated action to restrict my personal bandwidth availability to make up for some mistake my host themselves made elsewhere in their budgets?

Recent visits to the support area of my jrmooneyham.com host don't inspire confidence. Besides all the scary things I described in previous log items, now there's something resembling a Nigerian email scam message posted as an update on the tech support page. It seems to suggest that there's an overhaul of the internal operations and employee roster of my host going on, but tries to dress it up with lots of formal-sounding language, which ends up making it sound somewhat hollow.

I just hope my jrmooneyham.com host keeps me online sufficiently for various search engines to soon catalog jmooneyham.com!

Web Site Authoring Log Contents

4-12-03: The banner advertising sales experiment and more

I'm finally dipping my toe into selling ad space on this site. The main spiel, mechanisms, and specs can be seen here. Among other things, it represents the first 'unique' offering of mine available in my site store ('unique' as in no one else can offer such ad space on my site). Note the very limited inventory: I could easily get oversold here, causing me various headaches. I'm working on figuring out how to avoid that.

So how did I figure out what to charge? I looked at available examples of other sites already selling similar ads on the web, and what their traffic stats were. Then I compared the info to my own stats to get my starting rates.

I say starting rates because every individual case can be unique. For example, if my site proved more in demand with advertisers than others, for some unforeseeable reason, I might find I could charge more (or provide less banner impressions for the same price) than others. The thing is to watch what happens and change (or not) according to what hints reality gives me.

Back many incarnations ago I airbrushed T-shirts for a while in a self-employment stint. Much of the artwork desired by customers was of the 'high end' variety, such as detailed, realistic renditions of their cars or other complex and time consuming artwork. Some artists in the trade had or developed a skill at rendering quickie caricatures or cartoon style works of such objects, thereby sort of meeting customer demand without undue extra opportunity costs on their part. Alas, I never got the knack of such cartoonish work, and so could not emulate them. Sure, you could charge quite a bit for my realistic and often beautiful works (to use words from many of my customers), but it turned out the really big money was in doing lots of quickies rather than a few masterworks a day. I learned this and applied the knowledge as best I could, eventually just pricing the 'undesirable' items so high customers wouldn't order them in the first place. But there was also another lesson I learned. Namely, avoid underpricing yourself. Case in point: There's much custom work involved in T-shirt airbrushing, even ignoring the portraits or car renditions often asked for. Inexperienced airbrushers often make mistakes in their estimates of how costly time-wise a given custom job might be. And inexperienced MALE airbrushers such as myself (early on, anyway) might often underprice themselves on purpose for a pretty girl. This practice was bad enough in how much money it caused me to lose in all the standardized 'quickies' I could have done instead in the same timeframe. But at least once or twice it got me into much more trouble time and cost-wise than that. For after I finished the item, suddenly there'd be half a dozen family members or friends of the girl all wanting the same thing themselves at the same price. YIKES! It seems a similar problem could develop selling ads, if you underprice them plus have very limited inventory to hawk as well.

In other matters, I still haven't been able to re-enable FTP file upload access to jrmooneyham.com yet. I tried it one way and managed to at least see my site file directory in the program, but couldn't upload anything ('permission denied').

I've done some more studying of the new user manual for the new control panel imposed on me by my host at renewal, plus examined new how-to's posted at my host's web site about the problem (I reckon LOTS of their customers are in the same boat or worse as me), and taken some notes with which to make another configuration stab at it. Apparently I'll have to set up myself as a mailbox user of some sort on my domain before I can regain FTP access again. It seems unnecessarily complicated. They've never yet brought back any web stats for my site either-- other than simple disk space and bandwidth indicators. And the disk space gauge seems very time-delayed.

I've still got the third party referrer logs on several pages that I began setting up before the renewal problems. But I wonder if the referral resource I'm using isn't getting overloaded and thereby outputting unreliable results. For instance, it's supposed to roll over every 24 hours (start again at zero), but I'm unsure if it is. Plus, it doesn't list page hits initiated by visitors moving about within my site (which amounted to half or more of my total traffic according to previous, more comprehensive stats), but rather just visitors entering my site from external referrers. I'm also wondering when the 'other shoe' is going to drop. The referrer site looks to have become very popular the last few months, and so must be sustaining a heavy bandwidth load by now. Will it soon fold up, leaving my site pages with error messages all over the place? Or will the operator suddenly start charging for the service?

I've been gradually shifting more and more of my foreign language translation bandwidth demands to jmooneyham.com, away from jrmooneyham.com, as jmooneyham.com enjoys a greater bandwidth capacity (according to my hosting specs), that is mostly unused at this time due to not being readily accessible in Google yet. I also switched my internal search engine bandwidth to jmooneyham.com, as well as redirected some external links and advertising to jmooneyham rather than jrmooneyham.

I did some reconfiguring of several site elements. Rewrote my spiel for donations in the Amazon Honor system, changed the display text in the paybox, and raised the minimum donation amount from $1.00 to $5.00. I'm also restructuring my site to make my donations request page a more prominent link, existing across-the-board among my pages.

Another change is the addition of a public Philanthropists page, with multiple levels of contributors. Hopefully this (or some future modification of same) will help encourage a higher frequency or quantity of financial contributions (or both). Quite a few respected organizations have offered something similar throughout modern history, including the Whole Earth catalog crowd.

Web Site Authoring Log Contents

4-1-03: Some progress for both the jrmooneyham.com and jmooneyham.com domains

Well, things seem to be slowly improving for jrmooneyham.com. The available disk space problem appears to be clearing up, with someone at my host having erased the oodles of Apache server how-to manual documents that were erroneously dumped there by someone other than myself.

I'd already spent a few hours manually erasing some of those files myself to free up some space for updates, but it was very slow going, as I had to work through the new limited functionality graphic user interface screens in place since my hosting package renewal, rather than a much faster and more straightforward FTP application. Plus, there were literally thousands of related files in that pile-- no wonder it filled up my disk space!

Note that I did recently come across some info in my site's control panel that may re-enable FTP access for me, but I haven't yet had time to configure a program and try it. Also, my host's site recently posted alerts that it was still working out kinks in file directory paths and accessibility, so I'm in no hurry to test out possibly buggy pathways just yet.

My control panel web stats are still down, though my host is promising to get them fixed soon.

So far as I'm able to tell jrmooneyham.com is up and running, and no pages are missing in action (though it likely wouldn't hurt for me to try a link check of my site map just in case).

Google seems to have at least 'seen' about half the pages on my other domain jmooneyham.com already, as they showed up temporarily in a search the other day. I say temporarily, because it seems to take around two months for a new site to be fully integrated into Google's database after Google first spiders it, and during that time the site may appear and disappear again many times in Google search results. Jmooneyham.com has only sported pages since around 2-26-03, and I didn't post significant links to it from jrmooneyham.com and kurellian.tripod.com (for Google and other engines to follow to find it) until around 3-4-03.

unknownnews.net has been helping me get jmooneyham.com launched into the search engines with links to some of my Newz&Viewz articles, as well as an ad I bought on their front page. The banner ads on Unknown News seem like pretty good deals from my experience, in terms of the traffic they bring me. However, as always, it's best to make sure your advertising is relevant to the audience who'll be seeing it, in order to garner the best results.

I'm going to have to overhaul my donation links display, in order to make them easier to manage. Just as I today funnel all feedback desires towards a single page on site so I can more easily manage and change my email address if necessary, I now need to do the same with contributions. However, since I also want to make it as easy as possible for people to make donations, I need to add some new 'funneling' links to my near ubiquitous navigation bars near the tops of my pages as well.

Web Site Authoring Log Contents


If it isn't one thing, it's another. Please see this page for the details.

Web Site Authoring Log Contents


The outage I'm speaking of now isn't absolute, but relative. My infrequent checks of jrmooneyham.com show it to be online at least those times I check it, but my available traffic stats for it may be wholly unreliable, so I have no way of knowing the full extent of my online/off-line status.

I say my stats are unreliable because my present host of jrmooneyham.com (wholly different from my jmooneyham.com host) appears to be going through a severe disfunctional episode. Angry and frustrated users of the host are posting stuff all over the web, and apparently trying to cancel their subscriptions and transfer their domains elsewhere in sizeable numbers. According to the posts, the host is often fighting their attempts to move their domains and cancel their accounts, YIKES! Lots of folks are apparently complaining to the Better Business Bureau and Attorney General (of the state where this host is based) as well as pushing for a class action law suit. The host also appears to be taking retaliatory action against users who post their complaints publically on their web sites or third party sites-- or even post links to such complaint sites.

But such scary stuff can also be found on my host's own site, and in the control panel for my own account. I frequently cannot get my control panel to come up, and when it does it's so sluggish as to be disfunctional. This is doubly scary now that all my site updates and related stats must be accessed through this interface, unlike how it was before renewal. My control panel also claims I've used up all my alloted disk space, which seems completely wrong. I had tens of megabytes free for months, and suddenly that free space just disappeared within days. I watched it diminish even during periods when I uploaded no files whatsoever. Lately I even erased some files that my host had apparently put there to create a temporary 'under construction' page when I was thrashing around trying to figure out how to bring the site back up after it was nuked during renewal. This freed up a small amount of space. But within another day or so this space too disappeared-- despite my never uploading anything to consume it.

It may be the culprit is a bunch of HTML files making up an Apache user manual and maybe other things that my host seems to have put in my storage space. I've looked through the host user manual to see if anything's said about this use of my disk space, but found nothing. Whenever I get a spare several hours I may try to manually calculate what disk space my files should really be using, and write my host about it. Of course, my host is pretty temperamental and sporadic about accepting such email, much less responding to it, based on my recent experiences plus the postings of others. So I don't look forward to it.

If you dig around at my host's main site, you find lots of indications of major problems on the back end that they say they're working on. Hopefully solving those will resolve at least some of the issues I describe here. But it seems (so far anyway) that the sheer simplicity of my site has helped me get back online and stay there better than more ambitious sites on my host servers. For instance, my site is basically text/html and gif and jpeg files, with a little javascript here and there. No database or PHP use, etc. I never even activated my possible domain-based email accounts with this host-- and now that too seems to have protected me from even more problems, according to various postings.

The indications that I've used up all my disk space (and the weird behavior when I try to free some up with deletions) has me concerned that any updates I attempt to the site will either result in extra charges to my credit card or erasure of existing files without replacement of same, leading to 'file not found' errors for site visitors. So updates to jrmooneyham.com are NOT happening as I write this. Hopefully my host will fix these problems soon, or I'll email them and they'll (fingers-crossed) fix it.

So why am I putting up with this? So long as jrmooneyham.com continues to stay online, it helps search engine bots find jmooneyham.com and index it. Once jmooneyham.com is in the engines, I can better weather an absolute outage of jrmooneyham.com if necessary to fight over transferring it to another host or whatever. Plus, all this trouble only began around the time I renewed my hosting package and domain name with this host for a YEAR. So I've got some 'sunk costs' here that I likely can't get back, regardless.

The troubles with my host may yet force me to try a transfer sooner rather than later, but another month or two of service would likely greatly reduce the total damage to my traffic and domain rank in search engines.

Fortunately I still get a little traffic feedback from certain gateway pages due to a third party site and related javascripts I installed some months back. This set up basically gives me referrer logs at the bottom of the pages on which it is installed. According to these jrmooneyham.com may have been getting quite a bit of traffic during the past month of two, despite the problems. The main table of contents page for the timeline is regularly registering around 6000 hits a day according to this counter, while my how to live well page is getting a 1000, my Mac deals page sometimes almost matching my timeline TOC, and my PC deals page plus spin offs ranking around the same as the Mac page.

Weird stuff has been happening at kurellian.tripod.com too. At least according to the meager traffic stats I get there. According to the stats, kurellian got no traffic at all through the first half of March. But this is so anomalous compared to past history, plus the domain has quite a few third party links, and works every time I click on it, plus was still in Google last time I checked, that I believe it more likely that Tripod's stats software simply didn't work correctly during that time. Another counter-indicator is the third party javacript/server counter on some gateway pages on kurellian, which continues to show healthy traffic there when checked.

Note that my present jrmooneyham.com host only pretty recently 'went to the dogs'. Prior to this, it was garnering accolades from various sources, and little adverse comments on the web that I could find. And in the year before my package renewal, my site usually ran pretty well there, with only occasional and usually brief outages. Heck, my local broadband ISP should have been so reliable! But alas, I will likely have to transfer from this host at some point-- hopefully later rather than sooner, for the reasons given above. Though so far my new host for jmooneyham.com seems pretty neat, I want to maintain two separate unique domains, each on independent hosts after this, just in case.

Web Site Authoring Log Contents

3-5-03: New domain progress; old domain problems; donation glitches; I terminate one affiliate relationship

I still don't have FTP access to jrmooneyham.com again, yet. Which complicates the updating process, especially with two full 'pro' domains to maintain. But hopefully either my host will provide some info there, or I'll figure it out on my own soon. I also no longer have the indepth web traffic statistics reports I had before with jrmooneyham.com. Instead, I get a very brief summary which provides about 10% of the info the other did. This is annoying, and will make it much tougher for me to provide the kind of meaningful site traffic updates on this page which readers have seen in the past.

Of course, even if I still had the original comprehensive report, surely my traffic took an enormous hit last month, being off-line as I was for so long.

jmooneyham.com is up and running, pretty much at 100%. I've linked to it from jrmooneyham.com in quite a few places, as well as from my tripod site, to get the ball rolling in search engine recognition. Some friendly webmasters have also began linking to my new domain for me, thereby speeding things up further.

jrmooneyham.com apparently fell completely out of the All the Web search engine during the prolonged outage. The only references to it there at last check were from third party links (or my own tripod site). As it sometimes takes as long as two months for changes in Google's database to become evident, it's possible jrmooneyham.com will disappear from Google by April 18, 2003, and maybe stay that way until June 18, 2003-- maybe longer. YIKES!

As things stand right now I'm supposed to have 5 GB of monthly bandwidth available on Tripod, 10 GB available for jrmooneyham.com, and 50 GB available for jmooneyham.com. Accordingly, I'm transferring the bandwidth loads of the translation services, local search services, and 'make this page a favorite' javascript to jmooneyham.com (via changes in related links). Prior to this transfer, I'd already used 1 GB of bandwidth on the renewed jrmooneyham.com as of early this morning, despite it being completely off-line until just eight days or so ago.

During the ramp up of the two domains from scratch I noticed that some previous search and replace actions on my part had possibly thrown monkey wrenches into the paypal donation processes on my pages. Specifically, the absolute URLs to some related HTML pages had been converted to relative URLs (I discuss absolute versus relative URLs elsewhere in this document). YIKES! I'm in the process of correcting this. It may be I lost some possible donations due to this glitch, over past months.

I've also terminated one of my affiliate accounts. The reason? Well, it wasn't bringing me much at all in commissions (negligible in fact), plus was quite a bit of trouble to maintain (I couldn't set up the type of links I most wanted to with the outfit). On top of all that, the broker which managed it suddenly announced it was going to start charging $10 a month (I believe it was) to folks like me that weren't getting much business through it. YIKES! That's outrageous!

I figured that the broker would soon discover it to be a big mistake to hold folks up this way, losing tons of affiliates as a result. And lo and behold, they soon sent out a new message to everyone trying to downplay or backpedal from the announcement. But the damage had been done.

I had an account at a local bank once for years, when out of the blue they sent me a letter saying that it might be harder to draw money out of my account for any reason, after a certain date. I immediately drove to the bank and closed my account there, switching to a competitor.

A NOTE ABOUT INTERNET RELIABILITY IN GENERAL: Just a few hours ago I tried to send an email to someone from my local ISP email account. I got an error message that the email server was out of commission. This happens fairly regularly with my local ISP-- maybe once to several times a month when I try to send or receive email. Occasionally (several times a year) the outages are considerably worse. I also have the web-based yahoo.com email account, which is usually more reliable than my ISP email. So I logged in there and tried to send again. I basically got a 'page not found error' in response, and lost all contact with the yahoo email servers. No, this wasn't an outage with my internet access account, because I could still surf elsewhere-- even to various Yahoo news pages. But yahoo mail appeared to go out. I discovered later my email did go thru (because the recipient replied). But at the time sent I didn't know if it had or not. The odds of both relatively independent email accounts suffering outages or near outages at the same time are unfortunately fairly large-- I see it happen far more frequently than seems logical. Fortunately I have a third email account at AOL I could try if necessary, and at least two others tied to my various domains I could use (after I set them up). But it's relatively costly and inconvenient to maintain a multitude of such accounts (along with their passwords). I'll be glad when we get out of the Stone Age of the internet, and can get by with less redundancy in our infrastructure. Of course, that doesn't look to happen any time soon-- after all, computers have been around much longer than the net (since the mid-1940s I believe), and we haven't yet moved past the Stone Age with those(!)

FINAL NOTE: It appears someone pegged out the allowed bandwidth on my tripod domain around the middle of my jrmooneyham.com outage. There was enough traffic in one hour to download my entire site (graphics and all) from there around three times. Tripod likely cut them off after that (as Tripod has become quite strict on bandwidth spikes).

Web Site Authoring Log Contents

2-28-03: OUTAGE PART II: I buy a new domain name and hosting package, both independent from jrmooneyham.com

Well, after an pretty bad and lengthy ordeal of 'sweating bullets' for days, I finally got back online by late 2-24-03.

After much wild thrashing about, I finally have a clearer understanding of what happened.

Maybe 90% of my outage was unnecessary. If I'd known better what to do and when, and my host had given me better info, perhaps I'd have only been off-line a couple days, or even less. And gotten by with much less manual labor and anxiety as well.

According to my host's site at last check (but definitely not before!), if I'd renewed my domain earlier they would have transferred all my files automatically to the new servers (thus saving me some work I ended up doing in fact). But perhaps I'd have still been off-line a couple days(?) due to the name server change that came with my domain renewal.

It seems my host quit the registrar business and began redirecting folks like me to a new registrar at renewal. Plus, my host was forcing sites to move to wholly different nameservers too upon renewal (maybe this was related to the registrar change?).

Complicating the earlier renewal option was the text my host displayed at the renewal option on-site. It seemed to indicate that I shouldn't renew my domain/hosting package until my host sent me an email notification first. Or, at least not until it had officially expired(?). Doing a Google search of the web for more info (since little was forthcoming from my host at the time) sowed still more confusion, with indications that domain owners might have a 30+ day grace period from some hosts after domain expiration, to renew.

Keep in mind I'd never renewed a domain or hosting package before-- only bought one. The renewal procedure turned out incredibly more difficult and time-consuming than the original acquisitions had been.

In the midst of my problems I googled for my host name plus the word "problem" and found that quite a few people were in the same straits as me with my host-- and most all very recently, too. Before that, there had been few complaints with my host in Google (I'm pretty sure I checked the status before originally buying from them a year ago, and periodically ever since).

While I was offline and helpless I did much desperate searching of my host's web site, and Google for hints as to what was happening and what (if anything) I could do about it. I emailed both my host and my new registrar for help. My registrar fixed my nameserver problem when I gave them an email my host sent me about it at renewal, and I explained I couldn't figure out how to set it on my own (my registrar's site is not the easiest to fathom). My host's tech support said they checked my site and it seemed right as rain-- this despite the fact I and no one else I know of could access it on the web at the time.

For a brief time, a visit to my domain gave an ominous note from my host saying my account had been 'suspended', and to contact the host about it if I (the visitor) was the owner of the site. What the heck!? Had my credit card gone bad? Was I being censored? I wrote the address provided TWICE and never got a response.

Some time later my site reappeared with an 'under construction' notice and graphic from someone other than me, which seemed to indicate that somebody else now had control of it. YIKES!

Folks, I did not like this one bit.

I was locked out in another way as well. I could no longer access my web stats with any username or password I could come up with. I could still see my site files in my FTP program I'd used for the past year to upload files, but in that window I could also see evidence that someone else was fiddling with my directories.

Fortunately I wasn't entirely off-line. I still had my tripod domain, although for legal reasons that domain only mirrored some 85% or so of my content, and virtually zero of my revenue-raising efforts.

The main thing that worried me was the growing risk of losing my place in search engines like Google the longer I was off-line.

Stymied at almost every turn, I figured I'd wait out the 2-7 days that it could require for the nameserver change to propagate thru the net, according to my new registrar and some Google searching. Why? Because I'd already paid for the domain and site hosting renewal with these folks, and it'd take quite a while to ramp up a whole new domain to jrmooneyham.com's status in the search engines and other site links (meager as it might be). And if I transferred my domain from my present host to a new one, another nameserver change would be necessary, starting this whole cycle over anew(!) YIKES!

But I'm not one to sit around doing nothing. Plus, what if no progress came about after seven days? I needed to cover that contingency too.

I'd been considering the purchase of another domain name for a while already. Why? To be able to have a 100% mirror rather than 85%, for one thing. And a higher profile and more credibility in search engines and third party site referrals (unique domain names usually garner more respect than generic ones). I'd also been pondering another host, for redundancy reasons, as well as more bandwidth and maybe more commercialization support than I presently possessed.

So I bought the domain "jmooneyham.com", to begin the process of bringing such a second site up. I'd link to it from my tripod site to get the search engines to see it quickly. I'd also use its new URLs in my correspondence with other webmasters.

This way I'd gain at least a few days on the game if a worst case scenario came about with jrmooneyham.com. But if jrmooneyham.com did reappear, well, the second domain would enable me to execute some new moves I'd been considering for a long time anyway, for all the reasons above. Plus make me much less dependent upon a single host or unique domain.

My jrmooneyham.com host apparently felt a lot of heat over the renewal confusion, and finally posted some tips on their site about how renewed folks like me could get back online. This broke the impasse for me personally. I discovered that yes, my site was alive and OK, but required me to build it up again from scratch on the new servers. YIKES! That was hundreds of files to be uploaded folks. And I no longer had the convenient FTP access which allowed me to upload the whole thing with one button click. Nope, now I had a pretty graphical user interface control panel on a web page that only allowed me to upload ONE FILE at a time. DOUBLE YIKES!

But I was so vastly relieved that I didn't mind that much spending six or seven solid hours getting jrmooneyham.com up and running again. It is a bit scary though that my jrmooneyham.com host appears to have placed lots of restrictions on their tech support of folks like me. And quite a bit of email sent to addresses they listed just bounced back on me when sent.

Of course, I've been a network administrator myself, and so understand some of the problems involved in major network revamps. But seriously folks, if I'd been in charge of this particular changeover, I'd have done my damnedest to minimize the customer disruption which seems to have taken place here, and hope I could have done a better job of it than what did transpire.

Keep in mind that this latest escapade is just about the only real problem I (and perhaps many others) have ever had with this host, during the past year. Hopefully it'll be the last for a long, long time to come. Previous to the last year, others had good experiences with the host too, and had recommended it on WIRED's webmonkey. That's actually where I learned about it from myself.

Web Site Authoring Log Contents

2-18-03: OUTAGE (web host)

As I write this jrmooneyham.com is 'off the air'. Off-line. Indefinitely (in that I don't know when it'll be back).

I thought I had all the renewal stuff fixed and done. Especially since my original expiration date for both domain and hosting package came and went with no perceptible problem with the site, the previous week.

But silly me. Just because I did my best to complete all the forms, cross my T's and dot my I's, and pay for everything with my credit card, did not mean everything was hunky dory.

My old stuff expired on either Friday or Saturday. The next Monday was President's day (a holiday). So of course any switchovers didn't happen until Tuesday. That's today.

Logging in at my host seems to show everything's as it should be there. But during renewal my host seemed to send me to a whole new bunch regarding domain management. OK. So logging in there shows....that at least my domain is renewed. I verified this with a whois search. But I can't tell much else about my account with this new registrar. It's too confusing.

This confusion has also prevented me from doing anything about that one last loose end in all this.

That one perplexing email that I better change my name servers or else, which I got from my host after renewal. I hoped this was only necessary for folks who transferred their domains to another host or registrar-- something which I tried mightily to avoid by renewing both with my host-- the same folks I got them from in the first place. Alas, apparently my host made it automatic that something was transferred during renewal-- hence the new registrar and whole new account and password, to add to my ever lengthening list.

For the life of me I can't figure out how to do what that email urged me to, despite logging in several different times at my accounts with both my host and new registrar, and examining and trying everything.

Heck, it took me a while to figure out just exactly which company to contact about the matter. I finally emailed the registrar for help.

Complicating matters here are two other factors: One, a small bit of downtime is normal with my host, based on a year's experience. About once a month I might notice an outage of twenty minutes or so. There may be a slightly higher frequency of outage 'blips'-- instances where the first load of a page fails, but hitting the refresh a minute later gets it. So I had to wait a while before hitting the panic switch. When the outage had lasted a good hour I started actively trying to do something about it.

Number two, fiddling with things you aren't sure about can be a recipe for disaster in computing and online. This stuff is definitely not user-friendly. I didn't want to make everything even worse somehow through ignorance. So no way was I going to do stuff of high uncertainty regarding name servers or anything else.

About 10 minutes after my email request for help I got an automated response, which at least verified they got it and I'd typed in my correct email address.

UPDATE A FEW HOURS LATER: It appears some unknown technician at my registrar fixed the problem for me. I never got a 'live' email from them, so I don't really know who to thank. But thank goodness!

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2-3-03: Site traffic update

Visits to jrmooneyham.com in January 2003 rose by 31% over December 2002. Page views by 32%. And this was with a reduced total bandwidth load on my site from month to month too!

The reduced bandwidth load seems due to my downsizing a couple entry pages like Civilization's best defenses against war, terrorism, technological stagnation, and economic ruin and How to live well on very, very little, by offloading some of the content to subsidiary pages where it belonged. The better access to mirrors of gateway pages and others on my secondary domain (and the across-the-board revamp of local navigation links) likely helped too. Note that these stats also include a significantly larger primary domain in page number, as quite a few new pages were added, some entirely new, and others spin offs from existing pages.

The bandwidth load on my secondary domain has actually declined as well.

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2-2-03: The frustration in prospecting for internet gold

The renewal of my web site hosting package and domain name (jrmooneyham.com) has come due, and I've been trying to get it all put away properly. My host, which I like a lot, and so far seems to have kept outages of my site to a minimum (perhaps less than that I've seen occur even with sites like Yahoo.com in the past year(!)) did a major revamp of their hosting package purchasing process several weeks before my deals were to expire. To me, the changes seemed to make the renewal process considerably more difficult than my original purchase had been. My host obviously went to a lot of trouble to try to minimize the pain involved in the new process, with an onscreen video tutorial and more. But I ended up having to abort the process several times mid-way through, and examine the tutorial and other help screens on the site quite a few times before finally getting the hosting deal renewed.

Folks, there's LOTS I still don't know or understand about site hosting. Lots of acronyms and specialty jargon I don't have a clue about. Maybe I'm below average on the site hosting geek IQ scale. Because I just had to guess at some of the decisions I had to make in my renewal.

But I'm far from a tech novice. I've spent decades on computers, from mainframes through PCs to set top boxes, designed and built a good-sized LAN for a robotics company (as well as the tiny LAN here at WebFLUX Central), cobbled together and maintained computer systems for self and family for years, created from scratch a full-blown kit of software and illustrated instruction manual for Mac users to configure their computers for the net, back when it was far geekier to connect than it is today (and served for several years as the sole tech support for that kit for several east Tennessee counties). I've helped other computer users via email ever since I went online in the early nineties. And much, much more.

And yet renewing my site hosting package was surprisingly difficult and puzzling to me. Much harder than the initial purchase was last year.

If the web's ever going to really become 'mainstream', with 51% or more of average citizens maintaining their own 'real' domains (as opposed to freebies like geocities), then the hosts and related geek technicians are going to have to meet us halfway. Sure, we users might have to learn a bit more to handle our end. But at the moment we seem pressured to learn way more than we should have to about the technical details of a site. Our primary concerns should be the design, editing, presentation, content, navigation, user-friendliness, and regular updating of the site, as well as responding to our visitors. Lower level technical details should be accessible to us via a simple and straightforward control panel and/or by paying an extra fee. That's it. We shouldn't have to pay fees AND become experts in the building of backend suites for our sites, to handle things like mailing lists, password-protected directories or subscriptions, other e-commerce arrangements, etc., etc.

To be fair to my host, so far as I can tell webmasters everywhere, with practically all hosts, are facing similar challenges. Difficulties and complexities abound in the global infrastructure. My own host may actually be one of the better ones in this regard, based on my experience and research so far.

Perhaps it's because the internet itself is still so young, and so much of it still under construction. And so much of its potential still in the experimental and costly 'trial and error' mode.

Maybe it's just that I'm an increasingly old, tired, and cranky computer geezer. But it just seems there's so much wonderful potential locked up in the internet-- and it's so difficult and expensive for individual webmasters to get at it.

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1-1-03: Some progress in low cost PC drawing capabilities and more

I may have found a better free HTML editor plus usable draw and paint programs for my PC site editing. The used Compaq Presario 5151 I now own came bundled with quite a bit of old peripherals and software-- including lots of graphic software. Unfortunately, all the graphic software was of the paint variety with little or no draw/vector capabilities. My newer HP PC too was sadly lacking in the draw department. I'd also combed the internet in past months in search of a free or low cost and easy to use illustration program, with no luck.

Then I remembered I had one more repository of software to sift through: the bundle which accompanied an HP CD-R drive my friend Roger gave me a couple years ago. And sure enough, I discovered both Adobe PhotoDeluxe (a decent photo editor) and Corel Print House Magic (including the basic draw functions I require) in the bundle.

I installed these on the 5151 and did some testing of the draw functions. It appears they will suffice.

Note this combination won't be nearly as convenient or easy-to-use as an old ClarisWorks on an ancient Mac-- but it's increasingly impractical to set up and maintain such an old configuration these days, and the modern Mac/AppleWorks platform is sadly much less user-friendly and substantially less stable than the ancient version.

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12-31-02: Traffic updates and site consolidation progress

Well, the normal Christmas holiday traffic slump, plus my redirecting traffic back to my old domain to better balance bandwidth (and free up capacity for future spikes) really hit my jrmooneyham.com domain hard traffic-wise. It also appears that my domain either had a near complete outage for a couple days, or else a glitch caused my stats report not to work correctly, as there's an obvious anomaly in the charts for a 48 hour period.

I do know for sure my jrmooneyham.com domain has had several lengthy outages as well as brief periods (certain minutes) of inaccessibility over the past couple months, due to my own visits or updates being stymied. Usually my host posts a notice about the problems on their web site for customers, but not always. To make sure it's not my own ISP connection that's the problem I try visiting sites I know to be robust during such times, such as Yahoo or Google (although they too ocasionally go down). Rarely have my domain outages lasted more than several hours at a time, so far as I am aware.

Poking around my host's site during these times or while researching for my how small sites make it page, I discovered I appear to have a practical limit of 15 GB of bandwidth a month for my jrmooneyham.com site. My other domain is supposed to have a 5 GB limit. So under ideal balancing conditions I may enjoy 20 GB bandwidth overall (with potentially unlimited bandwidth if and when visitors make use of the Google cache links I provide on my web site services page).

Over the past few months it appears I've actually used around three GB on each of my two major domains: but as I've recently modified my traffic patterns (and jrmooneyham.com traffic appears to be steadily increasing over time) this will surely change.

The above patterns include ZERO traffic spikes to either domain during that time frame. They also don't include any traffic which goes through Google's caches of my two domains, which I offer on my web site services pages (local example here) for times my two domains themselves are having problems.

My domestic traffic (visits between pages on the same domain) seems to have increased somewhat on jrmooneyham.com, but this may simply reflect the smaller proportion of traffic streaming in from the search engines and directories over the holidays, rather than the across-the-board page format consolidation I recently performed.

Speaking of that consolidation, it's pretty much done. I'm running across a lonely page here and there which still lacks the update, but 95+% of the job appears to be complete. So now virtually all the pages of both domains boast the updated reference formatting, and revamped navigation links. As well as a few extras like options to email my URLs to others, or add my pages to a visitor's favorites, and 'first aid for broken links'. The email and favorite addition options, as well as translation features of the two domains, tend to give users URLs from my primary domain, rather than the secondary, for reasons of practicality, bandwidth, and long term consistency.

The secondary site isn't a complete mirror of the primary, due to my need to keep pages with commercial links mainly on my jrmooneyham.com domain. So in those cases I'm placing simple redirects to the primary domain version on the secondary site.

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12-03-02: Traffic update, site mirrors, and navigation improvements

As usual the holidays took a bite out of my jrmooneyham.com traffic (people seem to surf less during those times). Plus I've been basically redirecting some traffic back to my older domain, via certain page updates. See, around the same time jrmooneyham.com was going live I was getting a strong traffic spike on my older domain. So I replaced some critical entry pages with others redirecting big chunks of traffic towards the newer domain instead of keeping it local. Besides relieving the bandwidth crunch on my old domain, this was also helping search engines already familiar with my old domain to find and index the new one ASAP. But now I'm wanting to better balance the two domains traffic-wise to maximize my bandwidth potential overall (so as to better exploit future spikes).

So anyway, it appears my November visits to jrmooneyham.com dropped 2% compared to October. Page views fell by 6%. I guess I should start listing the traffic change stats for my other domain as well in future entries, to offer a more complete picture of things.

I can't recall now why I did it, but long, long ago I began using absolute URLs for all internal links to HTML pages on my site. I did not do this with images. Perhaps I did the absolute thing because I detested how the exclusive use of relative URLs in many web pages I saved to disk from other sites would prevent me from having a complete URL to cite that page in my research. Or maybe it had to do with my straddling two different domains for a while when I switched over from my AOL domain to my next one.

What's the difference between an absolute URL and a relative URL? And why am I even bringing it up? Here's the absolute URL of this page on the jrmooneyham.com domain:


Here's the relative URL of this page on ANY domain I might have:


Notice the advantage in HTML editing between the two URLs? Plus such addressing may even speed up local site page downloads at times. And there's a definite advantage here for anyone wanting to mirror their pages on a second or third domain. The mirroring part may be why many large sites use relative addressing exclusively-- it helps them manage their bandwidth loads on their servers. Relative addressing also makes it much easier to move your entire site to a whole new domain if you must.

So here I am in 2002 pondering how best to manage the mirroring maintenance for my domains, and am struck between the eyes with this super simple item from the very dawn of the web that I had known of ages ago and forgotten. DOH! as Homer Simpson might say.

So I made a pass through every one of my pages and replaced their absolute addressing with relative addressing. There's a few exceptions of course. I still have all local site domain searches reference jrmooneyham.com exclusively. And all pages on jrmooneyham.com will point to a select set of mirrored reference pages on a second domain, and vice versa. In my copyright notices I ask for listing jrmooneyham.com as my domain in citations. Important entry pages on both domains also offer a specific pointer to their mirrored counterpart on the other domain.

Wherever local server disk space constraints or contractual obligations may force me to leave a 'hole' in my site mirror on a domain, I just install a tiny placeholder redirection page there, which immediately whisks users to my primary domain version of that page.

I'm also performing a long overdue consolidation of page and style formats across both my most important domains at this time. And adding a First aid for broken links option to each page, to increase the chances folks can overcome broken links in citations and elsewhere on their own.

Hopefully all this will help increase the functionality and accessibility of my site content in several ways.

In something of a javascript experiment I'm also encouraging folks to send my page URLs to friends via email, as well as add my pages to their browser's favorites.

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11-19-02: Never take anything for granted-- especially where Macs are concerned; Plus a traffic update

Well, here it is 2002, Microsoft won the browser wars eons ago (in computer years), and cross-platform Javascript has been around for ages. So a simple javascript that works in Microsoft IE 4 on Windows 98 and IE 6 on Windows ME should also work in MS IE 5 on a Mac, right? WRONG. Here I'm finishing up a major consolidation of page formats on two different domains, which includes adding some javascripts to make it easier for users to add my pages to their Favorites, or send my URLs to friends, and it turns out only one of these functions seems to work in IE 5 on our Mac G4. Heck, I'm not even sure whether it's IE 5 in Mac OS 9.x or OS X-- both are running on the G4 and I've not had much time to fiddle with it. All I know is the 'Add Favorites' option doesn't work there.

Yes, I'm going to try to figure out and fix the problem. But I'm amazed that this is happening. Fortunately Mac marketshare is so low these days that very, very few folks will likely ever notice this. But still...

So anyway. I'm late with traffic updates. Traffic for September to jrmooneyham.com was up 15% in visits and 9% in page views compared to August, in sort of a bounceback from the previous slight dip. October numbers offered a rise of 19% in visits and 21% in page views compared to September.

I expect to get a pretty hefty decline in traffic to jrmooneyham.com soon. Why? Because for a while now I've been redirecting lots of traffic from several major entry pages on my older domain straight to jrmooneyham.com. I first installed the redirects due to a severe traffic spike on my older domain, just as jrmooneyham.com came online. I left at least a few biggies in place even after the spike diminished, mainly to jumpstart the new domain. But now I'm revamping the 'mirror' aspect of the other domain by ending these redirects. This will undoubtedly reduce the overall traffic to jrmooneyham.com for at least several months. BUT...this should also significantly increase my traffic capacity overall. That is, make it harder for spikes to completely overwhelm my two hosts.

As for my revenue channels, I'm trying to mostly have them concentrated on jrmooneyham.com for various contractual reasons. So they won't be as prominent on the other domain. However, the other domain will offer several links on every page which can lead visitors to one revenue channel or another. So hopefully there'll be little adverse impact there.

Other info: According to my October referrer log, almost 14% of my hits came from other pages on the jrmooneyham.com domain. So at least that much traffic is going through at minimum two of my site pages before leaving the site. Note that these stats depict my traffic before the local site navigation and service links are fully installed across-the-board. And they do not include the traffic coming from my other domain, or my local search function.

A bit under 4% of my traffic is coming from Google. So I'm getting at minimum around four times the traffic from my own internal links than I am the premiere search engine of our time. Local navigation links are important, folks!

My own stats (and likely those of many other small sites) are currently being slightly inflated by a backdoor trick some webmasters are using to try to sheperd more traffic and/or higher google rankings for themselves, by using automated means to 'visit' my site at least once from their own in order to get listed in my referrer logs. If I then post these logs on the web as active links (as some sites do), I automatically help those sites raise their rankings in Google.

Many of the sites performing this backdoor trick are pornographic, although there's also less objectionable, plain commercial sites doing it too. How do I know who these folks are? Sometimes you can get an idea from their domain name, as you're looking at the referrer log. But other times you find out only by going to the site to see what it is. Lots of web authors like myself sometimes visit sites listed in our logs to see what they might say about our site when they list it, and hopefully find a new site worthy of adding a link to ourselves. Fortunately, the 'backdoor' sites are not linking to my site (although I guess technically it'd be a good thing for a porno site to link to mine-- as that would get a visitor outta there and back to more wholesome digs-- but still I'm not too comfortable with the type of environment my site link would be seen in there). I noticed all this happening around a month before I saw the first web news articles talking about the new tactic.

Unfortunately, my referrer logs have been getting too long for me to easily check out referring sites for quite some time. Now the addition of these automated 'backdoor' tactic sites is just about making it impossible. I still try to check some new referrers out from time to time, but after you get shang hai'ed to several porn sites in a row that way you start taking less chances, and so perhaps never see some truly great real referring sites out there.

One way you can sometimes weed out the fake referral sites is to only go to sites which are referring substantial numbers of visits your way. The backdoor tactic sites usually show low numbers (but not always).

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11-2-02: Playing with javascript

I'm experimenting with javascript on this page and a few others it links to, so sorry if you encounter glitches of various sorts in the near term. I'll try to minimize the time and circumstances during which I subject visitors to such things. If I can get this stuff to work it could add several new features to my site handy for both me and you.

It's too bad there's no utility for translating HyperTalk into Java or javascript. I'd love to port Pathfinder to the web in some easy and straightforward fashion. But alas, so far as I know today that would be a major project to undertake.

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9-30-02: Site traffic update

Sorry for the late update! Things have been hectic.

Overall site traffic actually fell some in August, compared to July. A decline of 1.4% in visits, and 6.2 % in page views.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I usually see traffic slow downs in summer, as people are spending more time outdoors, on vacation, out of school, etc., and so off-line. Although I have few hard figures to back up my perception here, this summer's slowdown seemed less drastic than previous ones, and arrived later in the season. Compared to previous years it seemed it almost didn't show up at all.

I should have the traffic update for September soon.

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8-21-02: How small-time web sites can make it financially on the web

This item has been expanded, updated, and moved to its own page. CLICK HERE to see it.

Web Site Authoring Log Contents

8-7-02: Site traffic update

Visits to jrmooneyham.com in July were up around 11% from June. My secondary site traffic is now plummeting; apparently most surfers are realizing which one is numero uno of the two now, in terms of updates and expansions, making the secondary turn into a ghost town. However, I'm still utilizing the secondary as a mirror for much primary content, for contingency reasons. For instance, I recently updated The Rise and Fall of Star Faring Civilizations in Our Own Galaxy on both domains, then submitted a piece about the item to Slashdot, making sure to note both sites (since usually a single domain of content gets swamped by slashdot visitors, essentially breaking under the traffic strain).

Did slashdot post it? Nah. They never post anything I send them. But that's OK. I'll just keep plugging along. Plus, a slashdot post might bring me too much traffic, and result in headaches I can't fully understand the implications of at present (based on the site meltdowns I've read about happening elsewhere). But if my site survived a slashdot posting, surely that would help me and my site promotion-wise with the public.

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7-20-02: Increasing the vitality, accessibility, profile, and convenience of this site for myself and others (for minimal extra cost and effort)

[this log item originated in Newz&Viewz and so speaks from that perspective]

For years now I've struggled with the conundrum of how to best balance many elements of my web site, including:

A: the 24-7 hunger by users (and maybe soon search engines as well) for fresh content on-site

B: my desire for polish, credibility, and comprehensiveness in my research and writing

C: the need to coherently organize 'on-the-fly' the huge variety of topics covered here

D: my wish for optimal user access to my site, including the best navigational system I can muster

E: my need to keep site maintenance costs both time and money-wise at an absolute minimum

F: my desire for maximum site flexibility to increase the chances I can overcome unexpected problems; for instance, the site needs to always possess at least a couple of mirrors or near mirror sites, with at least one of these available to the public and one on my personal hard drive; I also prefer site architecture to be relatively low tech to reduce the complexity of potential problems and solutions, as well as my site's dependency upon any particular software application or hardware platform. This low tech approach also means contemporary search engines may more easily catalog my site than they could if it were database-driven

G: my desire to have a 'rough draft' version of many future site elements somewhere on my site, where my visitors might help me with constructive criticism, etc.

H: my need for a somewhat unorganized draft version of future site elements to which I could gradually add material or tweak it, while I decided what its ultimate form and destiny on site might become

I: my ongoing problem with Favorites, URL collections, and URL searches. Sherlock on my iMac for some reason won't search Favorite files, or if it does, can't see the names of the Favorites in such files. As I collect thousands of new URLs a week and must purge them as I save them for research purposes, plus have never come across a good organizational remedy which can work with the little free time I usually possess, my Favorites menu in Internet Explorer is practically useless to me for normal web surfer purposes-- i.e., if I don't get my own personal Favorite links installed onto my web site somewhere, they quickly become lost to me, possibly forever.

J: My immense URL collection is difficult for me to access in a practical and convenient fashion. My vision is not what it used to be, and I end up getting quickly fatigued as I squint at zillions of URLS in tiny text in my HTML windows, as I go through saved Favorite HTML files. I also sometimes do not move a particular URL to the appropriate page on my site because its name is too vague and I cannot remember why I saved it, and I cannot readily click it or type it in again to surf to it to see its value. Part of this last problem is due to me editing my site on an iMac which is not normally connected to the web. But I have good reason not to have it connected so, and thus am loathe to change this circumstance to address the other. But if I could have a regularly updated list of my Favorites posted on my site, that would help.

K: My on-site logs also serve me as personal reference. If I run across a problem I encountered before, I can go back to my log and see exactly how I solved it in the previous instance, without starting from scratch in troubleshooting. At least I can if I documented the original instance. The harder it is to document and post however, the less likely I'll do so, and thus the more likely I'll lose access to that information, thereby costing me extra time, money, and covenience that I can ill afford. Besides helping myself, I've also been able to help thousands of others with these logs. I know this because many of them have thanked me via email for it. Thanks folks!

L: The bigger and more comprehensive my site becomes, the easier and quicker I can spin off new and reasonably supported projects and ideas, plus defend old ones with solid media and scientific references.

Recently I hit upon the idea of maintaining a variety of specialized weblogs as part of the solution. The specialized logs are actually an old idea which came about somewhat organically. They began years ago when I first culled entries from my newz&viewz weblog pertaining to particular Mac computer models and placed such information into their own page(s). Examples of these and other logs can now be found near the top of this page.

I pursued this course for a number of years sort of unconsciously, taking related material from newz&viewz which was best viewed chronologically and putting it into its own log format, then updating that log as needed. Related material from newz&viewz which was best viewed by subject matter, or in other context, I put into the form of single 'guide' or portal pages, or else integrated into works like the timeline, Contact, or others. And so the array of guides and logs displayed at the top of this page came about.

Only in the past year did I realize I should place an index to all these at the top of this page, plus revive the Newz&Viewz weblog itself, since weblogs were suddenly becoming fashionable on the internet.

Newz&Viewz went on hiatus in 1997 for five years for primarily two reasons. One, I had several child relatives to help care for, plus Steve Jobs returned to Apple Computer and set about driving it into the ground (yep, that's my opinion, strongly supported by my personal experiences with Apple technologies in the years since-- please refer to my user logs for details). Childcare demands immense gobs of time and energy, even if money's not an issue. So even if Apple hadn't started its death spiral I'm unsure if I could have continued writing this log.

But Jobs' destruction of the Mac and what it stood for did have a huge impact on my psyche. A major element of Newz&Viewz for several years had been my speculation on future Apple moves in the market or via technological advances. When Jobs returned, he trashed Apple's R&D and effectively killed almost everything I ever liked about the company and its products. Jobs letting HyperCard wither on the vine was a particularly nasty blow to me, as I had spent years becoming pretty much an expert in HyperTalk, and dearly loved the platform. Some of my greatest ambitions of the time involved Apple's promise to take HyperCard compatibility cross-platform, plus boost HC's multimedia clout, via Quicktime. But Jobs killed all that.

So Newz&Viewz went into stasis, not to re-emerge until 3-6-02.

But back to my original conundrum: Way back 5+ years ago I maintained newz archives, but in early 2002 I decided not to maintain such archives again. Back in 1997 and before I'd ran into storage space issues as well as others with the archives.

But lately I've been pondering my conundrum again. And gradually working out a solution. One element of this is transferring fresh Favorites lists into my 'Stream of web consciousness snapshots log'. I can also take a subset of these and place them into 'Leads to recent medical and health related articles'.

Transferring new URLs into these site pages make them somewhat more accessible to me than before, in a variety of ways. Plus, it allows me to share my finds with site visitors in a more timely and complete fashion. The large collections of URLs could benefit my site in terms of search engine rankings and backlinks as well, over time.

Last night I realized an exciting new way to possibly improve upon my current site scheme. I could start archiving newz&viewz again, only this time make them 'living' archives rather than 'dead' ones. That is, they would be subject to revision, in order that additional references for existing topics could be added, and item texts rewritten, as I prepare them for possible spin offs into their own pages or integration with large projects like the timeline.

If and when I did move such newz&viewz items into their own pages or elsewhere, I could remove them from the archives themselves, thereby avoiding inefficient use of my site's disk space. Of course, it'd be smart to still leave a redirection link in their original archive locations pointing to the new ones, for those visitors following a trail of old Favorites or third party site links.

Besides effectively offering me a vast online repository of 'draft' elements for future site additions, and making all this accessible to site visitors much sooner than it otherwise could be, it should also make the newz archives ever higher in quality of information for both my site visitors and myself, over time.

I believe I'll also create another specialty log. This one to contain relatively short term predictions for the future, that up to now I've tended to make in Newz&Viewz and never post anywhere else. Spinning the predictions off this way will remove them from the new 'live' newz&viewz archives, and give my visitors (and myself) a convenient scorecard by which to grade my short term predictions.

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7-7-02:Site traffic update UPDATED 7-20-02

Visits to jrmooneyham.com in June were up 28% from May. The July 4th holiday made July stats get off to a very slow start though, as holidays are wont to do. I noticed years ago that holidays decimate web traffic, at least to my own sites. Weekends take it down some too, but not as much today as they did years ago, since now lots more people can browse at home, compared to years back. Why? Back then most could only web surf at work, due to several factors like PC prices being higher, more and bigger problems configuring PCs for the internet, bigger long distance phone bills and fewer local access ISP numbers, and the internet in general still being pretty new and most folks not yet realizing its importance or potential.

Another factor for my depressed early July stats may have been a temporary cut off of much of Asia from the internet during that period. I didn't see the news report of this until after I originally posted this item. But as my site gets considerable traffic from asian nations, such a cut off would significantly impact my stats, even if it only lasted a day or two.

Note that my jrmooneyham.com stats don't tell the whole story. My secondary domain is getting as many or more visits than jrmooneyham.com these days. This doesn't mean I'm getting double or more the traffic my jrmooneyham.com stats indicate however-- because I have several redirects from the secondary site to the primary now-- so there's significant overlap there in the traffic numbers (maybe 5%-40% would be a very rough estimate; I haven't performed any formal analysis there). The secondary site enjoys strength from its much greater longevity compared to jrmooneyham.com (the secondary preceded jrmooneyham.com in posting by years), its presence in several important web directories like Yahoo and the Open Directory, and virtually all the major web search engines, and a decent number of links on other sites in general.

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7-6-02: Is there some sort of text-related bug in the HTML files PageSpinner creates, or does moving the files from my OS 9.0.4 Mac to my Windows ME PC create a glitch in the files?

Maybe. Back months ago I downloaded an update to Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer on my PC. After that I noticed lots of places in my online web site where words ran together on-screen. For instance, if I had "the place" in my original HTML files on my iMac, sometimes it would display as "theplace" in my web browser. These run-together words don't seem to appear in the older MS browsers on our Macs here.

What has me concerned at the moment is that it seems I'm only seeing the run-together words on my own site and no one else's-- or at least much more often on my site than anywhere else. I'm still investigating the matter, but it's highly annoying. I believe a few months back I did a web search to see if anyone was writing about such a bug in Internet Explorer, but didn't find anything.

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7-5-02: I overcome my PageSpinner editing window shrinking my text sizes, and a spacing glitch in-between tables

It was like it was changing its own preferences or something, much like the Mac OS Extensions Manager sometimes seems to do in OS versions 8 and later. This left me stuck in my editor with the main body text of my pages being so small I couldn't read it. Note that the page text size looked fine in a browser-- it was only tiny in the window I was having to edit it in. I tried trashing the prefs file to get back to defaults, but that didn't help-- all it did was cause PageSpinner's copy-protection to turn back on, requiring me to register it again as it does for folks who have NOT paid for the software (I HAVE paid). So I had to put the old prefs file back again.

This was mainly happening in my Newz&Viewz page. Before trashing the prefs file I'd tried repeatedly changing my Fonts Preferences and Editor Options in PageSpinner to fix it. Nothing helped there. After the prefs file change didn't work, I finally discovered that the problem lay in my own HTML. I'd created a new table in my newz page to place weblog links alongside my table of contents in a two column format, and was confusing PageSpinner with my FONT tag settings related to those columns. Eureka! I made sure every beginning FONT tag had a twin end tag, and also reset the FONT size to "4" just for good measure, just after where the small size "2" font is supposed to end.

Wow. This problem has been bugging me off and on for a long time now. Glad I got it fixed!

I had a similar problem a while back trying to get rid of an unwanted tall white band in-between tables like those near the top of this page. Notice how I have one wide colored block for the page title, and three smaller blocks just below it for other purposes? Well, in-between the top long block and the three lower, shorter blocks I had a wasteful band of white big enough for another line of text to fit in, that I definitely didn't want. But nothing I did seemed to get rid of it. I finally noticed one of my other pages did have the exact format I wanted, without the annoying empty band. So I tried copying the HTML formatting from the 'good' page to the 'bad' one. It didn't work in repeated attempts to copy the format a bit at a time from one page to the other. But these incremental changes eventually taught me what the problem was. The glitch came from how I was formatting the text inside the top box in my HTML. The spacing between the boxes would never format the way I wanted unless I arranged the text formatting just so. So viola. I did it (you can always examine the source of this page to see how I'm formatting things).

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6-26-02: Some recent site changes

I've added immediate language translation links to most of my major site entry pages, such as An Illustrated Speculative Timeline of Future Technology and Social Change, J.R.'s clearinghouse of used Mac ware sources, J.R.'s Dirt Cheap PC and Killer Deals Page, Civilization's best defenses against war, terrorism, etc., How to Live Well on Very, Very Little and jrm&aFLUX Newz&Viewz. Added a 'nifty weblog' index to my jrm&aFLUX Newz&Viewz page.

I've also started a HANDY TOOLS FOR WEBMASTERS section near the top of this page.

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6-13-02: Miscellaneous site changes

I'm experimenting some more. I'm adding alternative navigational links near the tops of pages which allow visitors to use my secondary domain when they're having trouble with jrmooneyham.com. This has the added benefits of cross-linking the two domains for search engine bots, and making it easier to update both domains without forcing the secondary's outgoing links to go exclusively to jrmooneyham.com. I also beefed up my services page with a specialized search for site updates, more accessible translation options, and tips for diehards to access my site directly from Google's cache even if both my primary and secondary sites are down.

I'm adding a list of weblogs and other links I regularly visit to my newz&viewz page. Among other things it should help other logs I've already been linking to elsewhere on-site to notice my own main weblog, as well as possibly other parts of my site. I should have done this long ago, but instead kept such links more compartmentalized on-site.

I still need to copy some new pages to the secondary domain which for now exist only on jrmooneyham.com. I want all the pages I consider most important to be mirrored on the secondary domain, for maximum reliability in access.

I also decided to upload redirects to jrmooneyham.com from my secondary domain for all the user logs which I currently update on a frequent basis. As well as all pages with possible commerical links on them. This move makes updates simpler, as well as minimizes other possible problems.

Around that same time I updated some pages on my secondary domain that had gotten pretty stale compared to their peers on the primary. Though I fully intend the secondary to always run behind the primary in updates, I'd prefer the differential not get larger than six to twelve months in many cases.

I saw an interesting automatic backlinking technique on a weblog the other day. I'd love to get this sort of thing working on my site too. This is something I've wanted to do for YEARS. And some pretty smart web experts have said for a long time that the ideal world wide web would have this as an option for all sites across-the-board. Disenchanted links back to you was the main page covering this subject last time I checked. A related item was Ghosts of Xanadu.

Unfortunately, it appears this particular technique wouldn't work for my site, as it's based on some pretty geeky underlying web programming I have no access to, and even if I did the folks at disenchanted claim it's proprietary in some way-- and so might cost something to license. Oh well.

I need to do some more page exclusions in my local site search engine parameters soon, since the ceiling on free pages spidered is significantly less than my current site total, and I keep adding new pages (DOH!)

I'm considering the graphics apps Canvas and RealDraw Pro as candidates for my new imaging software. Both seem to be all-in-one type products, though RealDraw is from a brilliant one man band and costs a fraction what Canvas does. RealDraw also seems to maybe have a constraint where it can't output gifs due to licensing issues.

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6-2-02: Traffic update and missing products

Visits to jrmooneyham.com in May were up 53% from April. Unfortunately (for traffic purposes) we're now entering the warmer seasons and so traffic net-wide will likely diminish, making any traffic building results harder to come by during the period. At least this is what happened in previous years, from all indicators I've seen. Basically this seems due to people spending more time outdoors in the warm months, and so doing less web surfing.

Another affiliate tip: Be sure to double-check that the online vendor you're affiliating with will actually be making available for sale the item(s) you expect to push on your site. I got a rude awakening yesterday when I finally performed such a confirmation check myself on a vendor link. Lo and behold, of all the myriad of products and services they offer for sale worldwide, the single item I most wanted to sell of theirs on my site was not available through their online store! This has forced me to remove some text and a link from my PC deal offerings, since I'd previously assumed that product to be available (darn it).

I have yet to install one of my new vendor links onto my site-- mostly because I haven't had time to fully consider where it fits in. This link was sort of a 'bonus' link which came bundled with one I'd actively applied for. The link looks promising-- I just have to see where it would be best to place it.

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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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