Monday, January 27, 2014

Going It Alone Isn't for the Faint-Hearted

After four months of blogging, I feel I've made enough of a commitment to the task that I want to move on. That is, I've proved to myself I will stick with it, so I want my own domain and web page where I can control everything a little better and be more "visible."

In pursuit of that goal I have wasted the bigger portion of two days worth of free time trying to get a page up and running.

All I've managed to do is register a domain name that I'm not sure I'll be able to access after canceling the lousy web hosting service I had started out with, and a loss of money for a plug-in I was roped into buying in the process.

For the record, even though iPage apparently paid well for good reviews, offered reasonable pricing and a money back guarantee, the service sucks. Nothing worked. Customer service was always experiencing "longer than expected waiting times" if I called. An email for customer support always earned the response that it was working fine, although the instructions they sent me for the first problem kept me in a loop that went nowhere, and the second time the page I had spent all afternoon creating was not the page that came up under my domain name when I attempted to publish it as any idiot could tell.

To say I was frustrated by the experience would be an understatement. In fact, my husband has had a break from my normal woes by hearing me complain about the idiocy involved.

For someone raised before the computer era -- my college roommate took computer programming and it was with punch cards on a computer the size of a room -- tackling a webpage that will do what I want, which is basically host my blog with my name instead of blogger.com, is a hassle and a half.

I don't consider myself computer illiterate, by any means.

By the time I graduated, we were using old school word processors and floppy disks at the first newspaper where I worked. When we filed copy, we manually carried the disk to the editor.

Within a decade, we were working on Apple computers to not only create our stories and ads, but do layout or paginate. We were networked so that what we created no longer had to be carried on a disk from one location to another, just filed under a different status for the editors. I moved up from writing to doing layout and creating a newspaper.

When I changed jobs, I went back to the old processors for a while with the new challenge that the office was carpeted. We had to be careful if we rolled our chairs across the carpet to touch our desk before we touched the metal cabinet of the processor or an static shock could erase our stories. A few years later Apple invaded that office as well and I was the first at my daily paper to know how to do pagination. I bought my first computer for my home and the Internet invaded our lives 24/7.

I think I'm on my fourth desktop now and my third laptop. My second tablet is frequently in use and I'm on my fourth smart phone. In general, I feel fairly computer savvy.

I'm used to being a consumer of the technology that is part of the computer age. Although I've never had to learn the basic coding, and shouldn't when using a template format, I have been on the creation side of pages for years as well.

The daily paper had a website and it was the editor's job to format and upload pages at the end of shift each night. When I started my own business several years ago I used a Yahoo template to build and maintain a page for my kennel. It didn't need to do more than describe my services and provide contact information and it worked just fine. I cancelled it when I no longer felt the need to advertise, especially to out-of-town people because my business was doing fine with local customers and a Facebook presence.

For the last three concert seasons I've handled updating the website for The Blue Ridge Music Center, telecommuting to publish concert information and provide other changes as needed. I use admin tools and the "back door" to accomplish that. I troll through the free calendar listings on-line to keep the music center's concerts on local, regional, and national musical calendars.

I'm not totally unschooled in how this process works, so I'm fairly well convinced it was a bad choice of a web hosting service, but I'm not really in a position to find out.

Now my domain is registered but stuck in place for 60 days and I don't have the info I need to transfer hosting to another service and start over. I'm not sure whether to wait, tweak the name, or give up entirely, which isn't really an option. I do know I'm frustrated.

I'm also tired of winter, in need of more sleep or coffee one, and thinking I really should do some housework instead of fool with this computer.

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