Saturday, January 19, 2008

New Home on the Web

I've pretty much completed the move of my files from my defunct Comcast account* to my new, mostly free domain, Links in the sidebar that pointed to Comcast now point to the new domain. I've changed all the links in the body of the blog that I've found, but there may be some I've missed. If you find one, please email.

Letting Awardspace host my account for free puts a few quirks into the system that I didn't expect. They aren't too onerous, but if you're tempted to sign up with them, don't say I didn't warn you:

  • First, they wanted to call me up and have a conversation before they'd unlock the website. I expected they would try to set me up with one of their higher-price services, but they didn't. In fact, the conversation was quite pleasant. I guess they just wanted to be sure that I wasn't a spam-bot.
  • You can use ftp to transfer files, but you need to be in passive mode. The easiest way to do this from the command line is to invoke the ftp client with:
    $ pftp
    Also, they timeout after 60 seconds, which is annoying, because:
  • You never know whether or not your web page is going to display until you test it. Awardspace has a list of “forbidden words,” which are, of course, unposted. If your file doesn't pass the guidelines then trying to view it takes you to the Awardspace homepage. (It also gives you a 403 error, but you don't see that unless you use a browser such as lynx.) Looking at their forums I see that p o r n is forbidden. OK, I see the point. It's a free web account, and the company doesn't want to get into trouble. But why do they censor something like a link to

    Google Mail (

    Yeah, it's not technically the correct site, but it redirects to a rather well-known address.

    And it similarly rejects, which is a link to the book Just Say No to Microsoft.

    What's really annoying is that they don't tell you what part of your page is offensive, you have to do a bunch of trial uploads to find it yourself.
  • Oh, yes, they also block mp3 files. Even innocent ones. Well, again I can see why, but ten-second or less snippets shouldn't bother anyone, and, as you can see, they allow the sounds in ogg format.
  • If I were a conspiracy theorist I could give you a hundred reasons for this behavior. However, I realize that they're giving me the web-space for free. If I wanted to remove the limitations, I could pay for the site. Even their $5/month plan has fewer restrictions, and I could use scp to copy files over. But at the moment I don't need that, and $60/year buys a half-dozen paperbacks. So I'll put up with it, at least for now.

So would I recommend Awardspace to anyone else? Well, for now it works for me. Next month it might not. I'll keep you up to date, but in any case your mileage may vary.

* You had to try it, didn't you?

$19.95 per year for the domain registration, “but wait — there's more!”