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Monthly Archives: April 2008

It looks like I was wrong about the problem with Facebook notes since it was able to import a new blog entry without duplicating everything else. So I guess the first time was some sort of fluke. Definitely the kind of time when I’m happy to have been (probably) wrong.

Yesterday I wrote about Facebook Notes importing an external blog rss feed.

For some reason, I assumed that because it gave no errors it worked properly. Of course I should know better than that. I noticed today that it had each entry (and it went back a full year) listed twice except for the most recent one which was posted after I put it up. I deleted the extra entries, but I suspect that once it updates from the feed again and sees this new post the same thing will happen again. My feed looks okay to me, so I don’t think that is where the issue lies. I guess I’ll see for sure after this post gets noticed by facebook.

I just discovered something that Facebook does that I wanted to have in Myspace for a long time. There is a Facebook application called Notes. It is sort of a poor-man’s blogging tool, but it can import an external blog through an rss feed. That mean I can do this blog on blogger (assuming I ever post anything) and have it automatically show up on Facebook. I think it is very cool that I can have a blog on Facebook without having to trap my info in Facebook. Myspace has a blog, but has no way to import from another blog unless you want to copy and paste text each time (which is a really poor solution). I appreciate being able to fully participate in the flavor of the month social network while still keeping my data where I want it and can control it.

Up until now, I never realized how hard it was to find web hosting. I guess since I never needed to do it before I just sort of assumed it would be easy. I’ve always been able to keep my webpage on my department’s server, but now that I’m not going to another astronomy department, that isn’t really possible. And with our new policy of deleting old users after a short time (a policy which I was in favor of as the grad. student rep. to the computer committee but realize will give me some trouble), I can’t just coast and leave my stuff up where it is.

I have a few options. I could move my pictures to Picasa, use this blog more, maybe move ZEUS-MP to Google Code, and forget about having an actual webpage all together. I could try and find some sort of free hosting. Or I could actually pay for hosting.

My current preference is to pay for hosting since I like having a webpage and I like having full control over it. So, I started looking at cheap providers. One of my main requirements is that I really want ssh access. I’m far too used to that to be willing to deal with any stupid site builders or ftp or anything like that.

Here is where things get a little hard. There are an unbelievable number of places that offer hosting and as far as I can tell no unbiased sources of information. Most of the “review” sites seem really sketchy and out of date. Reviews from actual people tend to only come from unhappy customers who are complaining about their bad experience. While that is understandable, it is not too helpful. Even worse, ssh access is not too common. I’ve seen a few places that require a copy of a driver’s license if you want ssh access. That seems totally nuts to me. They can do far more harm to me with my driver’s license than I can do to them with shell access to a virtual server. (Unless of course they really are that bad at security in which case I don’t want to deal with them anyway).

The two places that looked the most interesting were Host Gator and DreamHost. Both are fairly cheap (around $10 or less per month for a one year commitment). Both offer ssh access. I’m leaning towards DreamHost since they give more disk space and transfer allowance plus much nicer seeming mail stuff (at least for someone who prefers command line access to stuff). They did have some billing issues recently (but I pretty much only pay for things through credit cards which would have protected me from some of that trouble) and some people complain about uptime issues, but I don’t think I’ve seen a single shared hosting solution that doesn’t get some complaints about that.

One big plus to DreamHost is I might be able to use them for my main email which would be great since Gmail doesn’t exactly get along with my cell phone or pine/alpine nearly as well as I would like (and I need a new home for my personal email for the same reason I need a new home for my webpage).

I think I’ll give DreamHost a shot this weekend (unless something more interesting comes to my attention before then) and will try to write about it soon after.