Monday, March 4, 2024

Changing Web Vendors ...
and Winding Up Where You Started!

I've been using my current web provider, Network Solutions, for over 20 years. They provide hosting for my two domains, plus privacy protection, email and SSL. But prices seemed to be rising, so I began looking at other sites to see if I was missing savings.

I had a consulting website. But once I retired, what remained was more of a repository for family pictures and a way to keep my hand in coding. I was spending far too much money each year for that family use.

So, I created a wish list of needs and started looking around. Figuring out what you need is probably the first step.

My wish list:

--Support for Classic ASP (Yes, it is an older technology.)
--SSL for each domain
--Email Support (for minimum 5 emails per domain)
--Hosting for at least two websites.
--FTP Support
--Adequate bandwidth for visitors
--Adequate space for content
--Daily backups, if possible
--Reliable, timely Customer support (optimally with a live person)
--A strong computer network with very minimal downtime

Understanding how I work may help. I code HTML, ASP and JavaScript in Textpad, which is just an ordinary editor like Notepad, except for a few bells and whistles. I have an IIS local website where I build and test. Then I FTP the page(s), images, folders, individual files up to the server using an IP address. And I'm done.

The first item on my list, Support for Classic Asp, cuts out a lot vendors. Most support Linux-based servers with cPanel interfaces for site handling. They also offer editors like WordPress, Wix, 10Web, Shopify, Website Builder and others that contain pre-designed templates and drag-and-drop features. You can get a site up quickly by choosing a template and editing text and images.

Perfect if you're just beginning or if that is what you want. Most of these drop-and-drag editors make it difficult to almost impossible to add you own HTML, JavaScripts or customization. Though WordPress seems to be the best if you want to introduce your own changes.

Hosting platforms tend to be either Linux or Windows. Linux is open-source, while Windows still has licensing which the vendor pays. As a result, sites built on Linux platforms are usually less expensive. When I checked, these hosting vendors did not offer classic ASP support: Hostinger, BlueHost, DreamHost, AccuWebHosting, Shopify, ScalaHosting. Note: there are many more vendors I did not check. I did find classic ASP support at GoDaddy and HostGator, but pricing was high at both, comparable to Network Solutions.

I tried three smaller vendors who I'd recommend. I purchased minimal time on each and built out my website to the point of previewing it online.

Accuweb Hosting: The chat salesperson continues to say they support classic ASP, but my website refused to load and support told my they do not support classic ASP. I had ordered hosting for 3-months, which they did refund when I canceled.

What impressed me the most was how upfront they were about pricing. The pricing page lists the entry discounts and the actual renewal prices, so you know exactly what you are paying. My ASP.Net hosting plan offered monthly, every 3 months, annual or triannual billing. There are a range of hosting packages including Web Hosting, WordPress Hosting, VPS and Forex. Free basic SSL is provided with the option to purchase premium SSL.

Think I would have been happy there, except it didn't work.

Interserver: I was more cautious and started a 1-month subscription. Support was via email and I had unresolved issues previewing the site. Canceled and refunded. This is a small company specializing in classic ASP and And they have a 60-day FREE trial! So, you can build your site and preview the results before locking into a quarterly, 6-month, yearly or longer plan. This is a smaller company buying shared computer resources from other companies, which may be more common than we know. Kind of like telephone companies sharing the same lines. I was impressed by them, though they didn't offer automatic renewal billing. They do send renewal notices.

What did I finally do?

I stayed with Network Solutions, moving from a premium plan to a less expensive plan suiting my current needs. But I learned a lot along the way.

Note on SSL (secure socket layer certificates) : I found 4 types during my research.

1. Let's Encrypt: free SSL open-source certificate, only validates domain, no subdomain validation; identity of the website is not verified to the same extent as a website with Extended Domain Validation; re-issuance every 90 days.

2. Single Domain SSL Certificate: applies to one domain and one domain only.

3. Wildcard SSL Certificates: are for a single domain and all its subdomains.

4. Multi-Domain SSL Certificates (MDC): lists multiple distinct domains on one certificate.

The three that you pay for are usually 1 year with auto renewals and have easier installs with vendor support. Level of security you'll want probably depends on the function of your site. Financial institutions like banks and traders will want the most secure. If you don't receive any payments via your website, Let's Encrypt is probably fine.

There is also the whole issue of migrating or transferring a site.

In a nutshell, you may choose to transfer the "whole kit and caboodle" -- domains, hosting, SSL and email to another vendor. Or, you may have domains with one vendor and hosting (some form of SSL) and email with a second vendor. Both instances involve changes to the DNS server.

If you are lucky, the vendors will do this bit for you. Otherwise, you need information from your current vendor and your new vendor for the values to be inserted into these records. These are kind of like traffic cops. They connect domain, website and email wherever you have them maintained. If, for example, your domain is at one vendor and your website at another, you need someone to direct traffic from your domain to where your website is stored.

These records include:

NameServers: Contain the DomainIPs of vendor maintaining the domain.

The A, CNAME, MX and TXT records are all related to email.

A: Address records which direct domains or subdomains to an IP address, i.e. pointing the link "" to whomever is hosting that site. The 3 records below each take the IP address of the vendor hosting the website. Sample IPs are shown.

AWWW 123.45.678.9

CNAME: Cononical Name points one domain or subdomain to another. Sample names are shown.

MX: Mail Exchanger (MX) entry records directs emails to a particular mail server. Again, sample entries shown.

TXT: Text records offer descriptive domain information in text format, ome of which can aid external servers in managing outgoing email.

TXT@string provided by vendor

SRV: An SRV record allows a user to locate a specific service on a network rather than a specific machine. Service could be a printer, FTP or other similar device.

SRVstring from vendor string from vendor

You'll also need to rebuild the websites at your new host and potentially copy over emails, unless you decide to just start fresh with emails. Many vendors offer migration help, doing this work for you. There are also programs that will copy email over for you, such as

Think this covers most of the information I garnered during my research. Time for a breather (and Happy Hour!).

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Where are we? This feels like a blog.

I retired from ASP, CMS, HTML, CSS and JavaScript coding in 2019. But I keep my hand in handling small jobs and learning new ways to make things work.

One of the fascinating things to watch is the development of HTML/CSS/JS. In my mind, HTML was a more simple and direct way to build web pages. You didn't need complicated languages or compilers or indepth programming knowledge. It was straight forward logic.

Classic ASP, now about 20+ years old, worked well within this landscape. I could code and debug in Classic ASP from a text file. You tend to learn more, faster when you have to fix your own mistakes. It took less than 10 lines to write "Hello, World".

<body>Hello, World!</body>

Then programmers got involved

For me, ASP.Net was not as friendly. You couldn't code in a simple editor. You had to learn Visual Studio and set up an entire structure. It just felt like programmers taking over a simple project and making it more complicated.

Mind you, my late husband was a skilled programmer -- assembly, SAS, shell, C, C++, Java -- picking up languages as they evolved. He also understood hardware. In my line of work, I was the conduit who interpreted what the programmers did, coding it to work for the customer. That is a level of expertise on its own.

And they dummied it down

My current and only hosting provider, Network Solutions, still supports Classic ASP, which is considered a "relic" by its support people. This led to my search into hosting sites, which all seem to be pushing user-friendly web building packages. Hosting for the masses. Nothing wrong with that and quite profitable, I suspect.

You choose a pre-designed template page with limited customization of text, images and pre-set styling. I find false limitations frustrating. Why can't I add my own stylesheet, tweak the size or move that object 20 pixels to the right.

This led to some research on which packages allow HTML coding. For my purposes, WordPress seems best fit. But am still testing that ...

But HTML is fighting back ... oh, joy!

Fast forward and HTML is talking about web components, reusable HTML templates and custom elements. We can define the headers & footers once and then add them to pages with a JS include. No ASP, no, no java, no C++, no compiles. Just some HTML and JavaScript.

Check out the Introduction to Web Components by Caleb Williams over at

What are the top web building packages? Can I add customized HTML, CSS, JS codes?

USA Today's Pick on Best Webbuilders.

What are the top programming languages for 2030-2024". What should I learn? Where is my time best utilized?

IEEE Spectrum: "The Top Programming Languages of 2023".

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

It's Been Awhile ...

Here is it is, already the end of April 2023. Where has time gone since my last post?

Let's see. After Stephen passed, my son Erik and his fiance Stephanie, moved to Tucson from Boston and into my house. They kept me company and it allowed them time to establish a foothold in Tucson. They obtained jobs, made friends and bought a car. When they moved out into their own two-bedroom apartment, I donated several pieces of furniture to the effort -- including my sofa, the bed and side tables from the guest room, some chairs, bookshelves, pictures, books ...

With a half-empty house, I had two options: buy or sell.

Since I wasn't sure which, I started packing things into boxes. I would either unpack later and buy furniture or I would sell the house and be half way out of it. My sisters were encouraging me to relocate to Bloomington to be near them. Unconsciously, I was making a decision. Though I may not have actually known that until the weekend Erik and Stephanie came for dinner and discovered I'd sold the Christmas Tree! Ouch, the shock of it.

The packing and selling on Facebook Marketplace picked up speed and the house-hunting in Illinois began in earnest. Though I still hedged my bets. I could still unpack and refurnish the house ... or not.

I went back to Illinois for a wedding and spent the weekend with my youngest sister, Sam. We came across a by-owner listing and called to preview it. I was interested, but said no and returned to Tucson. But, that two-bedroom condo with patio and palladian windows kept popping up in my brain. Finally, I called the owner and offered to buy it. He accepted and handed me the keys before we ever signed anything. "We're more trusting out here in the Midwest," he said.

It took longer for the lawyers to do the paperwork than it took for us to agree. And my Tucson house sold over the weekend.

That was a year and a half ago.

Today I play canasta at the ARC (old folks center), mah jongg with three different groups, help with estate sales and wine tastings, write code snippets for word and web, and enjoy cocktail hours and lunches with my sisters and friends. There are also the antique shopping trips, visits to Chicago, and entertaining occasional guests. And I've joined the Symphony Guild and the DAR. You could say I am busy doing fun things.

Over the years, the girls have bought/sold and traded things with each other, from furniture to tea cups. Now I am in the loop. Part of the fun was re-furnishing my condo. I only brought a few pieces of furniture -- what would fit into a pod.

Counting up what I bought from Sam: one sofa, an ottoman, three carpets, four dining chairs, two Hickory chairs, one easy chair. Then there's the rug from RugsUSA, the round table and open book shelf from marketplace, a sofa from sister Jan, lamps from Target, two modern blue leather sling chairs from Growing Grounds, two TVs from Best Buy and an Alexa dot on Amazon. Rule of thumb dictates that no matter how much you get rid of when you move, it is quickly replaced with more "stuff".

And I am settled enough to enjoy cold winter evenings in front of my gas fireplace or breezy summer evenings on my patio drinking wine with neighbors. If I am home long enough to enjoy. Whoops, off to play cards ...



Thursday, May 7, 2020

SARS-CoV-2 (aka novel coronavirus aka COVID-19)

How did COVID-19 originate?

There are two theories:

1. COVID-19 was transferred to humans from contaminated animals at an out-door Wuhan market.
2. COVID-19 is the result of a leak in a Chinese research laboratory, either accidentally or on purpose.

Fact-checkers have been busy debunking the second view, but not always for the reasons you might think. Problem is that those who think it is manmade often present pertinent information and then dilute their validity with charges of Chinese conspiracy or bioweapons research.

As a result, fact-checkers invalidate the story and Youtube and Facebook ban it.

What do we know? Let's take a look.


The official view from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is that the novel coronavirus started at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China – an open-air market selling fish, meat and exotic wildlife. It is suspected the virus was transferred from a bat to an intermediary animal like a pangolin and then to a human.

SARS, MERS, and SARS-CoV-2 (aka COVID-19) are zoonotic, which means they can be transmitted between animals and people. Bats are not the only known carriers of viruses.[1] The plague was carried by rodents and HIV spilled over from chimpanzees. Experts estimate animals are responsible for about 60 percent of human infectious diseases.[2]

While bats were the first suspected source of the virus, experts believe it may have been transmitted to humans through an intermediary animal like a pangolin. Pangolins are long-snouted, ant-eating mammals often used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Two researchers at South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou, Shen Yongyi and Xiao Lihua, identified the pangolin as the potential source of nCoV-2019 on the basis of a genetic comparison of coronaviruses taken from the animals and from humans infected in the outbreak. The sequences are 99% similar, the researchers reported at a press conference in February.[3]

Scientists say that the suggestion, based on a genetic analysis, seems plausible — but caution that the researchers’ work is yet to be published in full.

Moreover, the genetic sequence of the virus seems to confirm COVID-19 as naturally occurring rather than genetically altered.

A group of researchers compared the genome of this novel coronavirus with the seven other coronaviruses known to infect humans: SARS, MERS and SARS-CoV-2, which can cause severe disease; along with HKU1, NL63, OC43 and 229E, which typically cause just mild symptoms. In the March 17 journal Nature Medicine, the researchers wrote: "Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.[4]

A research team at Scripps Research[5] concurred that evidence pointed to a natural source.

Kristian Andersen, associate professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research, and his colleagues looked at the genetic template for the spike proteins that protrude from the surface of the virus. The coronavirus uses these spikes[6] to grab the outer walls of its host's cells and then enter those cells. They specifically looked at the gene sequences responsible for two key features of these spike proteins: the grabber, called the receptor-binding domain, that hooks onto host cells; and the so-called cleavage site that allows the virus to open and enter those cells.

Analysis showed that the "hook" part of the spike had evolved to target a receptor on the outside of human cells called ACE2[7], which is involved in blood pressure regulation. It is so effective at attaching to human cells that the researchers said the spike proteins were the result of natural selection and not genetic engineering.


However, there are things that don’t add up say those who suspect it might have been produced in a lab.

Neither bats nor pangolins are listed on the inventory of items sold in the Wuhan market.[8] The illegality of trading pangolins could explain this omission. Pangolins are protected animals, but illegal trafficking is widespread. Under Chinese law, people selling pangolins can be punished by 10 years or more in prison.

Some of the first patients had no contact with the market. A research article published by a large group of Chinese researchers in The Lancet shows that 13 of the first 41 patients diagnosed with the infection had no link to the market.

'It seems clear that the seafood market is not the only origin of the virus,' says Bin Cao of Capital Medical University, a pulmonary specialist and the corresponding author of The Lancet article.[9]

The “smoking gun” for many seems to be the proximity of Chinese labs doing research on bats and coronaviruses.

Just 300 yards away from the market is the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention and 20-miles away is the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was studying coronaviruses in bats as part of a $3.7 million grant from the U.S. National Institute of Health.[10] The grants, awarded in 2014 and 2019, were paid through a subsidiary of NIH, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the coronavirus task force, is director of the NIAID.

Wuhan Institute of Virology was at the forefront in researching causes of SARS and their researchers were the ones who proved that the last SARS outbreak originated in bats. Researchers had been gathering bats infected with the coronavirus since at least 2012, focusing on ones that could spread their illness to human beings.

There were hundreds of bats in Wuhan’s labs when the 2019-nCoV outbreak started, and the researchers there were studying at least 11 new strains of SARS-related viruses in them.

The Institute of Virology is a biosafety level 4 (BSL–4) laboratory constructed in 2015. Even so, there has been speculation that viruses may have accidentally leaked out.

A paper, attributing the outbreak to the China biolab, was published by scientists, Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao, in February on the international scholarly database Research Gate. The paper was quickly censored by Chinese authorities and removed from the site.[11] However, an archive copy is still available with, of course, no peer review.[12] Shortly thereafter, China tightened security on the labs.

Are these all just coincidences?

Shi Zhengli[13], who is deputy director of the institute and a highly respected Chinese virologist, told the press in February that she 'guaranteed with her own life' that the outbreak was not related to the lab.

Shi told the science journal Scientific American of her relief when, having checked back through disposal records, none of the genome sequences matched their virus samples.

Shi's team released its data identifying the disease on January 23 on a scientific portal before publication the next month by the journal Nature. It said the genomic sequence was 96 per cent identical to another virus they found in horseshoe bats in Yunnan, which supports the first theory.


Basically, we are still without an answer. Neither theory is conclusive. And until further study is done and more is known, we cannot make a definitive answer.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my 72nd birthday!

Oddly, I've spent the past two years thinking I was 72 and then delighting each year in knowing that I wasn't. Hubby, Steve, kept telling me that I was in my 72nd year and/or my 8th decade.

Now I finally am!

So far, I've had two early birthday celebrations, with one more scheduled today. My oldest son and his fiance want to take me to dinner. I just have to pick the place ... my easy chair?

On your 72nd, you just want to put up your feet, have a drink and watch some TV.  Not that I'm too old to go out and groove, just that I'm settling in after 8 weeks traipsing around the country.

I went to Virginia to see a friend, Illinois to see my 4 younger sisters, and Boston to see my son's family. Each stop was a 2-3 week stay.  A subliminal reason for all this travel was "testing" each area of the country to see if I could live there. After Steve's death, I was constantly asked if I was moving "back home". I always thought I was home, but just wanted to re-affirm this.

We moved to Tucson in 2007 to get away from the congestion and winter weather in New England. In the years we've been here, both conditions have worsened in New England. Plus the housing market has gone sky-high.

Illinois was where I grew up, but I've been away over 40 years, and my sisters are the only draw there. We have a wonderful time when I go to visit. But, Illinois is cold in the winter, the state is almost bankrupt and real estate taxes are high. I do keep looking at and zillow though, just in case the perfect house appears.  I won't move, but I love to house-hunt.

Arizona is home on so many fronts. We've been in the house 12 years and have friends and neighbors. Children on the block come at Halloween to see our 6-foot bear dressed in witches' costume. The little neighbor girl, who walked Molly, is now in high school. We got married in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church and I help teach sacramental prep there. There are lunches with the girls, cocktail parties, baptisms and cul-de-sac block parties.

It is delightfully warm in winter and the frogs are out in force after a midsummer monsoon. There's no grass to mow, the sun shines almost all year, and you can smell the desert ozone.  Tucson has grown a lot, but we are still a cowboy town at heart. Where else can you find rodeos, gem shows, desert museums and mesquite all in one place.

And finally, this is where Steve and I made our home.  He set me up to be warm and economically stable here. Two of his golden rules were "don't embarrass the family (there's no bail)" and "don't do anything stupid". Moving north or east would fall under the latter category. 
At the moment, my oldest son and his fiance are living with me while apartment hunting. They moved to Arizona -- to my house (?!) -- during my travel jaunt. This has worked out well as they kept an eye on the house, catching two troublesome water issues.  They've already found jobs, bought a car and tackled health insurance. Next on their agenda is getting an apartment.

Gives me one more reason to stay in Arizona ... or is that a reason to leave? Sometimes distance does make a heart grow fonder.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Coping by example ...

The list of widows is a mile long.

In my family, it was almost always the women who survived. It was my mother, Grandma, Aunt Max, Aunt Flava, Aunt Ida, Aunt Elsie, Cousin Mary, and on the short list of men, Uncle Gottleib and Cousin Bill.

How did all these people cope? My mother had children still at home. She and my aunt both worked. That would occupy their days at least.

But grandma and the aunts were all homebound and were part of the generation that didn't drive. What were their options? I wish now that I could pick their brains. How did they survive -- not just financially and physically, but more importantly, emotionally?

The first two weeks after I became a widow, my children and cousins were visiting, keeping me company and providing a distraction. The next month was tied up in paperwork -- closing accounts, transferring assets, filing death certificates, talking to accountants and lawyers.

I went online and looked up life actuary tables and survival rates for spouses after one died. FYI, widows have a higher death rate within the first 3 years. After that, the average lifespan is another 15 years, give or take a few years.

Confirming this is the double funeral the family had, when Aunt Rita died three days after Uncle Bob. They had been married forever and Uncle Bob did everything for her.

When Steve was alive, we were always planning to get the wills updated and check beneficiaries on this or that. Like most people, it was all still on the to-do list when we needed it.

Ordering my own house -- writing the will, the living will and defining beneficiaries -- became my next objective. I want it to be easier for the kids when I go, whether that is next week or 10-20 years away.

I'm not being macabre with all the death discussion, but I want to be prepared for the inevitable outcome. My Aunt Ida was in a nursing home the latter part of her life and she had everything planned, right down to the songs they would sing at her funeral, the Bible verses they would read, and which dress she would wear in the coffin.

And yes, I will admit, I do look forward to seeing Steve again. It's not that I want to go right now (or next week), but I miss him. Tear time.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Where to begin ...

Stevie, my husband and constant companion for over 38 years, passed away early Sunday morning, March 24, 2019.

It was about 1 a.m. After a normal night of TV and internet browsing, we were getting ready for bed. He was in his chair by the edge of the bed, breathing normally and then he stopped.

As quick and simple as that. One moment we were there talking, he was breathing and the next moment he wasn't. I'd always thought the human body was incredibly strong and took a lot to die. But it isn't, wasn't.

Guessing that I went into auto-mode. I remember calling "Stevie, Stevie ...", dialing 911 on the cel while running to unlock the front door and turn on the light. The dispatcher had me put Steve on his back and begin CPR. But think he was already gone.

When the firemen arrived, they worked on resuscitation for about 45 minutes ... before proclaiming Steve dead. Not passed, not gone, dead.

My hubby, my "Sweetie", the one I make Easter baskets for and send birthday cards to, the one I watch endless hours of Fox News with, the one who holds my hand at night and tells me silly jokes when I'm trying to get to sleep.

I know he is gone, but he is still here. I can hear his voice. I can feel his touch.

It's been just over a month and I wasn't ready to write this until now.  I've googled all the links about surviving spouses and the stages of grief. And those about how to survive after a spouse dies -- both financially and emotionally.

I've received lots of support from friends, family and neighbors who have reached out and continue to do so. My sons and California cousins were here the week after and I continue to get weekly, daily calls and texts.

Other widows have offered valuable information. My hairdresser lost her husband 7 months ago. My first question to her was, "does it get easier". The answer ... expected of course ... is "not really".

But there are so many of us. One statistic I came across said "nearly 700,000 women lose their husbands each year and will be widows for an average of 14 years".

I spent 33 years growing up, 38 years married to Steve, and now a projected 14 years as a widow -- the three stages of life? He often told me that I had to live long enough to see the grandchildren graduate from high school. That is just about 14 years.  He adored his granddaughters.

Earlier this month, my daughter-in-law texted me that our 3-year-old granddaughter Addie had been laughing in her sleep. When asked why, she said she had been playing "with Stevie and Aunty Sarah". 

Addy never called him Stevie, but always "Grumpy". Yet that day, it was Stevie who had been playing with her. "Aunty Sarah" was our late daughter, who was stillborn. And that sounds about right, that Stevie would be visiting ... with Sarah at his side.