CE5560 – Elements of the Web – First Steps

As we discussed, we are modifying the focus of this course based on your needs. Rather than approach it from a pedagogical approach, we will be looking more deeply at the technical aspects of the development and management of web-based services. There are no required readings for this course however there are two books that I would highly recommend for your bookshelf. The first is Will Richardson’s “Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms.” This is a great read on the pedagogical implementation of web technologies in the classroom. The other is Elisabeth and Eric Freeman’s “Head First HTML with CSS and XHTML” which I’ve found to be a wonderfully practical introduction to programming in HTML and is a great reference for those who need to know more about the inner workings of the code.

So for us, the first step is to find a home. As our explorations will require us to have deeper access to the dark and dirty recesses of the web, we will need to have two things to start:

First of all you will need an identity, a web address where folks can find you. This may be perhaps the most challenging of tasks as you will likely find that many of the names that you would hope to use are already taken, whether they are in active use or are simply being “squatted” on my domain name speculators. In the past I have used a number of different domain name registrar services but have recently used GoDaddy.com with great success. You can shop around and find domains available at a number of pricing levels but it seems that if you are paying more than $10 annually, you’re paying too much.

The first thing that you will likely notice is the wide range of choices in TLDs or Top Level Domains. If you follow the last link to the Wikipedia entry and click show next to the box entitled Generic top-level domains, you will see a list of common TLDs such as .com, .net, .org, etc. When you search on GoDaddy, you can select from a wide range of TLDs in the drop down but the results page is much more useful as it displays not only the TLD you selected, but the availability of other TLDs as well. For example, searching on my domain, whitemountaintech, shows that both the .com and .net are not available but that the .us, .info, .org are.

Take care in selecting your domain name, particularly if this site is going to have a life beyond this course. You want to ensure that it is memorable to your prospective audience.

Don’t buy the domain name yet though. Check out your hosting options next as you will need to know the IP addresses in order to point your new domain name to your hosting service. There are a number of hosting services out there. Some domain name registrars such as GoDaddy provide the option to have your site hosted by them. But as with any big purchase, make sure that you shop around. While many hosts offer the same basic array of services such as email, web space, etc. There are add-on features such as CPanel, Fantastico, email lists, streaming media services, etc. that you will want to investigate. The bottom line is that although it is possible to move your domain from one host to another, it is not without a level of complexity that makes it a rather unpleasant process for even the most hard-core of system administrators!

When I first launched my sites, I used a service called Hasweb.com primarily because it had the features I was looking for at a price that was just right for me – US$48 per year. Now this only let me host one domain name but that was ok because I wanted to use this as a springboard to learn the nuances of site management. I now use Dreamhost and a number of my fellow edutechies use Bluehost. Both of these run a bit more, closer to US$100-120 annually, although they also provide the ability to host multiple domains and have commensurately higher storage and bandwidth allowances.

So here is your homework.

  1. Select and purchase a domain name.
  2. Select and subscribe to a hosting service.
  3. Connect your domain name to your hosting service.
  4. Using the information provided by your host, explore the features available to you and learn more about what each does.
  5. Once you’ve done this, please respond via comment to this post.

[tags]ce5560, ce5560-summer2007, course, grad-course[/tags]

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2 thoughts on “CE5560 – Elements of the Web – First Steps

  1. Sorry it has taken me so long to get this process started, other classes I am currently enrolled in are coming to a close and I will be able to focus on this fully sometime in the near future.

    So I think I have completed the process through Go Daddy and then Bluehost.

    I have done some navigating, but would like some help in direction for what makes sense in terms of building this website as a class user-friendly site.

    thanks and I am excited to get this going.

    J.K. Scott

  2. John, whenever you are ready to help me get started I am ready to go. If it would behoove us to meet that would be great too! I have no idea how to get it started.



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