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Web Hosting - Do It Yourself Administration, Things to Consider The choice of whether or not to try to administer your own web site brings with it a host, pun intended, of issues. For most web site owners, the primary focus is naturally on creating, maintaining and enhancing the site. That often is just part of managing an entire business, for which the web site is just the means to an end. That implies there will be little interest in or time left over for technical administration like database maintenance (tuning, space management, security, bug fixes), establishing and maintaining backups to ensure they're successful and usable, email administration, disk space management, applying operating system fixes for bugs and security, and other tasks. But cost is always a factor in any business. Paying for technical help can burden the budget of a new and struggling business. Consulting fees can range from a few dollars an hour to over $100. On the lower end, the poor skill level and quality of work will make it not worth even that small amount. On the higher end, you can quickly rack up expenses that will bust your business. Permanent employees are usually somewhere in the middle of that range when you add up salary, employment taxes and more. Often, server and/or web site administration can be paid for as part of the web hosting package. That cost is usually lower than independent contracting help, but those staff are usually tasked with maintaining dozens if not hundreds of servers and sites. They can, therefore, give very little individual attention to yours. Often, novice web site owners are intimidated by some of the technical requirements for server or site administration. But, as with anything, a little familiarity can show that the knowledge required is more modest than one might expect. Administration in many cases involves fairly elementary, and frequently repetitive, tasks. These can be learned easily. Using a test site or a free hosting service is a good way to practice and learn without risk or cost, other than time invested. Once that initial hurdle is jumped over, administration can be done quickly and some even find it interesting. It allows the site owner to exercise additional control over the total product, and there's satisfaction in being able to say 'I did that' even if you prefer not to do it forever. That real-life learning experience also allows the site owner to better judge any consultants or staff that are hired. It's much easier to judge if someone is providing you with an accurate assessment of a problem if you've solved it yourself. Any time-estimate they provide to fix it can also be better calculated if you've had to do it yourself. Every web site relies on a variety of factors, usually unseen, in order to continue to function properly. But the fact is that they misbehave from time to time. Deciding whether to tackle those problems yourself depends on your available time and skill set, and what it will require to get things back on track. In other words, it's a standard cost-benefit analysis that everyone has to undertake every day in life.

Web Hosting - Is a Dedicated Server Worth What You Pay? In reviewing web hosting plans, many web site owners are faced at some point with the decision of whether or not to pay for a dedicated server. A dedicated server is one which holds your site(s) exclusively. It's not shared with other sites. You then have the option to put one site or many on that piece of hardware. But the decision is never easy. There are multiple considerations to take into account, far beyond just the higher dollar outlay that inevitably accompanies a dedicated server option. Performance is (or should be) a prime consideration for the majority of site owners. Studies show that when a page doesn't load within about 10 seconds or less, almost everyone will give up and go elsewhere. The delay may be caused at any of a hundred different points in the chain between the server and the user. But often, it's the server itself. In any case, it's important to eliminate the server as a possible bottleneck, since it's one of the few points over which the site owner can exercise some control. That need for control extends further than just performance, however. Other aspects of the user experience can benefit or suffer from server behavior. Security is a prime example. With the continuing prevalence of spam and viruses, a server can easily get infected. Having only your site(s) on a single server makes that issue much easier to deal with. With fewer sites on a server, there is less likelihood of getting infected in the first place. Also, since you will place a higher value on security than many others, it's easier to keep a dedicated server clean and your site well protected. You can use best practices in security to fortify your site. Having other sites on the server that you don't control raises the odds that your efforts are for nothing. One way your efforts can get watered down is through IP address sharing. Less sophisticated hosting services will often assign a single IP address to a single server and multipe sites. That means your site is sharing the same IP address with other domains. That leaves you vulnerable in several ways. Virus or spam attacks may target a particular IP address. If you have the same one as another site, one that is more likely to attract hostile intentions, you suffer for and with someone else. In other cases an IP address range is assigned to the server, with each site receiving its own address from within that range. Though better than the one IP:server scenario, this still presents a vulnerability. Many attacks try a range of IP addresses, not just a single one. But even legitimate sources can give you trouble when you share an IP address or a range. If another site engages in behavior that gets it banned, you can suffer the same fate if they ban the address or range. If the miscreant that shares your server/IP address or range is himself a spammer for example, and gets blacklisted, you can inadvertently be banned along with him. Using a dedicated server can overcome that problem. There's a certain comfort level in knowing what is installed on the server you use, and knowing that you alone put it there. But a dedicated server option may require increased administration on your part. If you're not prepared to deal with that, you may have to pay still more to have your dedicated server managed by someone else. All these factors have to be weighed carefully when considering a dedicated server plan.

Web Hosting - Free vs Paid Web Hosting Options Everyone likes to get something for free. But as the existence of spam shows, free isn't always good. Sometimes, it's downright harmful. Deciding whether it's worth the cost to pay for hosting involves a number of complex considerations. Hosting companies that offer free services obviously can't stay in business from the money they make from you, since there isn't any. So why do they offer free hosting and how do they make money? Why should you care, so long as you get yours? Because, in reality, there's a price of some kind for everything, even something that's free. Free hosting may come from a company doing a promotion to attract business. They expect to demonstrate their value, then charge an existing customer base fees to make up for what they lost by the (short term) offer. It's in essence a form of advertising. But free hosting is offered by lots of companies that are not dedicated to managing servers for websites. Google, Yahoo and thousands of others provide a modest amount of disk space and a domain name on a server for free. Users are free to do anything they like with it, though if the load becomes excessive you can be shut down. That introduces one of the more obvious drawbacks to free hosting: resource limitations. Typically free hosting offers a relatively small amount of space. That's often enough to host a few dozen pages. But an active site can quickly run out of room. A more serious limitation is load. Free hosting often places strict limitations on the allowed amount of bandwidth consumed. If you become a well-visited site, when users start banging away on the server, you can be asked to leave or simply be blocked for the rest of the month. Or, you may be permitted a certain quantity of total bandwidth use per month. Once it's reached, no one else can reach your site until the beginning of a new month. At the same time, you will certainly be sharing equipment with thousands of other sites. Their load can affect your performance, prompting you to move. Migrating an established site brings with it a number of thorny issues that might be better avoided in the first place. Free hosting has another potential downside: lack of support. When you pay for hosting you typically get, at least in theory, a certain level of support. Backups in case of disaster recovery from a hack or server failure, assistance in analyzing connection problems... the variety is endless. With free hosting you usually get none of that. A company or site that offers free hosting will usually recover a disk or server that fails completely and you'll be back up when they do. But if only selected portions of the drive fail, or you lose a few files through a virus attack or accidental deletion, you have to rely on backups to recover. A free service will usually come with no such option. That may not be a problem if you have a small site. You can make copies of everything at another location and simply recover the site yourself - if you have the discipline to keep it current and the skills to make and restore the copy. Free hosting will typically come with a few email addresses, intended to be used for administration and other tasks. But if your needs grow beyond that, you'll need to seek another option. The email service also comes with minimal oversight. The server may be protected against spam attacks and provide virus scanning. But few free services will provide even minimal help with any issues that arise. But the most serious limitation may have nothing to do with any technical issues. Free hosting services often require that your site's pages carry some form of advertising that pays the host, not you. That may be fine for you, or it may not. Individual circumstances vary. On the other hand, if you're just starting out, a free hosting option can be a great way to learn needed skills and a few of the potential pitfalls. You can set up a site, learn how to maintain and improve it, and not care too much if it gets hacked. Freely hosted sites can be a great platform for learning the ropes. Free services don't usually offer any of the features that an active, commercial site will need sooner or later. So if you plan to grow, it may be reasonable to get the free service for a while, knowing you'll have to migrate when you become popular. But in the long run, you get what you pay for and you may need to pay for what you want.

From the Publisher?s Desk: How Book Publishing looks from the Other Side (book publishing) Many writers aspire to writing books. Writing a book is a long, involved, difficult process. Book publishing is harder. A writer may submit his book time and time again only to be turned down again and again. He may eventually be successful. Wouldn?t it have been easier to have just gotten published the first time? Is that possible? You can improve your chances if you understand a little bit more about what happens at the publisher?s desk. Book publishers are busy people with several projects crossing their desks every day. They must make fast decisions about what will sell. They must also delegate their time efficiently in order to keep the business running. Only occasionally do publishers actually seek out work. Maybe understanding the work day of a publisher will help you to get a book published. Persistence Has a New Meaning You all know that writers must be persistent. Regardless of how many times you get shot down and your ideas are thrown in the trash, you have to keep going back for more discouragement. The idea is that eventually you?ll make it in the door. If you can get all the way through, you will finally get to the place where more of your work is accepted than declined. When working with the book publishing world, the rule is the same. If you have a book that you know will sell, you can?t give up on getting it onto the publisher?s desk again and again. You probably won?t be sending the entire book, but excerpts from it. As you continually send your manuscript again and again to publisher after publisher, you should try to market it in different ways. Publishers are looking for a particular kind of writing and will dismiss anything that doesn?t look like what they are looking for. Variation in your marketing techniques may turn a rejected book into an accepted book. The Right Stuff Book publishing is a strange area of business. The people?s tastes are somewhat fickle and a book publisher has to keep up with what kinds of books will sell. It seems that technically written mysteries will always have a place on the bookshelves, but it is unclear how many authors readers are willing to get to know. That market may be tied up until Crichton and Grisham are finished. That is just one example from one genre of books though. Publishers have to keep track of what is selling in all areas of literature. The best way for you to get your work noticed is to make it look like the other writing that is selling. Be careful not to imitate style or voice of another author. Write with your own unique words while imitating the use of popular public opinion. Another way to improve your chances of getting your work onto the right publisher?s desk is to find out who?s publishing what. Are You Barking Up the Right Tree? Some publishers specialize in a certain kind of writing. If you are writing a novel, it won?t do you any good to send it to the people who publish technical manuals. How do you find out who is the most likely candidate to publish your work? There are reference manuals at your library that will tell you the kinds of book publishing that is happening. It will contain valuable information leading you to children?s book publishers, novel publishers and textbook publishers. If the handbook at your library is not quite up to date, your next option is to check out the new release and best seller rack at the book store. Buy a few books and read them. You?ll have a much better feel for the market if you are a consumer. Book publishing is a difficult field to break into. It can be helpful to approach the issue from the direction of the publisher. Before you send out your manuscript again, there are things you can do to improve your chances. Change your marketing style so that you just may grab some better attention. Make sure that you are a book consumer yourself. You?ll get a better feel for what?s selling and therefore what a publisher will buy. You?ll also find out who is publishing which types of books. Finally, by buying the product you are trying to sell, you will improve the book economy all together. Publishers need to see people buying books before they can commit to publishing more.