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"Packing Up and Moving BenTurner.com"

Every time I've migrated my site, it's come along with a removal of hassles and a slew of new features. When I first started at some small local ISP, they wouldn't let you do ANYTHING without their permission. And since they never answered via tech support, all you could have basically were Java applets (what few there were) and basic web stuff.

Then I signed up at Digiweb and registered my domain name. They gave me everything back then. And they didn't require permission for shit like CGI scripts or telnet access. Over the span of time I was with them, I was always happy they never went out of business or anything, but they would just get WEIRD errors sometimes. Like sometimes my domain would become unlinked from the virtual server, or their whole network would go down, or my site would stop working. Strange stuff. They were very good for tech support.

But then they got acquired by Interliant, which assimilated them into its larger network. As you could predict, half the features were cut out and the price remained the same. Now, I don't know if you know anything about servers and hosting and all that shit, but I don't know why providers are SO fucking stingy about it. They act like it's worth your money to spend $10 to get something like telnet access or a few more subdomains. The reality is that you could setup that shit using a server script!

If you have a Linux box at home, you can, for free, offer anything the commercial hosters can offer except redundancy, backups, and most importantly, bandwidth. But what do the big boys make you PAY for? The unimportant stuff. Okay, so I'm no expert on the economics of this business, but it seems to me that if you can add all the features that one could want with virtually NO production or service cost (more tech support questions would be filed but that's about it), then you could concentrate purely on the costs of running the business (namely, bandwidth) and the price you're willing to sell at in order to be competitive yet make a profit.

So after Interliant bought Digiweb, everything went to shit. Okay, first of all, none of my logins worked! They had some funky system that wasn't even reporting the correct logins to me in their processed e-mails. Tech support was impossible to reach. Some stuff on my web site broke. Any added features had to be personally requested.

So my main man, Slavek, told me about the provider he found, AMS Computer, which gives you everything that any present provider should have. Subdomains, PHP, SSH/telnet, SSI, custom CGI, various e-mail accounts, mySQL, and so on. Plus, no setup fee. My package costs like $8/month.

PLUS, their telnet shell is FAST! Have you ever had a shell that goes so slow you have to wait a second in between each character? Unbearable.

Okay, so AMS's tech support is wonderful. They respond to Slavek and me almost instantly, and they actually help. Like, I had a problem with the server and the guy wrote a script to fix it for me. You wouldn't see this from a big provider.

Plus they give some basic scripts that help you manage your site, like phpMyAdmin and Webalizer and so on. Stuff that's actually fucking useful to you instead of some of the shit scripts I've seen from other providers. (hint hint Interliant) Their account stuff is all standard so it's familiar to anyone who's used Linux stuff before. Not proprietary like, again, Interliant.

I'm not really sure how AMS will stay in business though. They offer all this stuff, and have great tech support and service, almost no downtime (according to Slavek), and all for a REALLY cheap price. I don't know, maybe they'll close down overnight and thus fuck me until I can move things again. Or maybe they really are an oasis in a desert of incompetent companies! We'll see.

Anyway, enough about that.

Moving my site kind of sucked. I had to convert all my files from .shtml extensions to .php extensions so that I could use PHP freely. The last time I moved, I had to change everything to .shtml, so I was familiar with the tedium. Then I rewrote certain things in PHP, which required some reading up on the programming language. I'd never used PHP except to interface with back when I worked with Trish. I wish I'd learned more then, because PHP is a godsend. It does everything that would've taken 5 different languages to accomplish in the old days of web design.

I've never called myself a programmer, because I haven't done more than read two instruction manuals for C++, and a little JavaScript, Pascal, Java, server-side scripting, and client scripting. But I know the basic concepts well enough that I can put together efficient code by knowing where to look it up in reference manuals.

I first worked on the philosophies survey, which takes the viewer's results and compares them to mine. Then I redid the software section so that all I had to do to add software names was to go into my database and add a new entry. Plus I could change the way the whole page looked by only changing it in one area instead of many.

I was pleased with myself. I finally added the ability to insert CSS and JavaScript stylesheets site-wide, something I regretted not doing when I first converted everything to .shtml years ago. This means I can add things to each page by just changing one file. Very convenient.

I was able to run some programs through each page on the site to change some directory paths and obsolete markup, but I also had to go in and manually rename hundreds of files, which was a bitch.

Eventually I got it all up and running, and even got my forums installed using an open source free PHP project. That required getting to know how to use mySQL databases and how to interact with them.

Then I had to call Network Solutions, the company that controls most of the domains in the world. That is, domains like benturner.com are held in a central repository where the owners change which places they point at, so when you connect to benturner.com, the actual address it is hosted at is given to you. Many faxes and e-mails later, including one helpful guy who changed my record over the phone, thus lessening my wait time, my site was fully online and operational.

Since then things have been moving smoothly. I have fixed most errors accumulated in the move. The only thing that will fix broken links and bookmarks is time. My e-mail server is a LOT faster, where at Interliant it might take hours before I got my e-mail. It's nice. It's the way it should be. It makes me feel like I got a huge bargain for one of the highest quality products out there short of a company that sends out a nympho support geekette to perform fellatio.

This is the way it should be. I'm one happy customer. And my site is as strong as ever. Despite the fact that fewer people come to visit, and even fewer think it's worth the thought.

This is my baby. And through it, I grow.

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