How to Reliably Research Web Hosting Companies

Q: How do you research web hosting companies without feeling like you’re getting filthed on by a bunch of guys who used to lurk around the dead mall?

A: Wait, I was hoping you’d have the answer to this one because I sure don’t know!

I’ve been thinking of changing web host companies after a few years with ABN Hosting. The main impetus behind my shift is that I have a few domains that mostly sit on a shelf and get very little traffic, but they’re wonderful little side projects I just don’t have time for right now. I don’t want to shut them down completely, but I also don’t want to pay for them to be separately hosted and ABN doesn’t allow multiple domains on an account (domain add-ons).

So, I’m trying to hunt around to get honest appraisals of uptimes, customer service availability, responses to emergency issues like security hacks, etc and all I can find are what appear to be heavily biased hucksters trying to shine you on about whichever hosting company is paying them the most to push their site.

There simply doesn’t seem to be any reliable info out there and it’s no wonder people stick with the devil they know – the notion of shifting hosts is daunting!

I have encountered a few sites that give fairly detailed reviews. Sure, there’s still plenty of opportunity to manipulate the ratings, but you have to approach this with a very critical eye. I wanted to save these here for my future edification should my new host choice be a bomb and I have to do this again (I think I’m going with HostGator – thoughts?).

ClickFire has a lot of great, thorough and comparatively unbiased reviews. Plus, it’s apparently the pet project of a guy who claims to have found Christ, which, for me, is code for “if I lie, I believe I’m going to Hell.” Call me biased, or just plain ignorant, but I’m prone to trusting the word of someone who’s attempting to run a ministry over someone whose first motivation is making money, at least in this shady area. Downside: The one downside to ClickFire is that there’s basically only one review per hosting service, so you can’t do a lot of comparisons from different people. All the same, they’re excellent reviews.

WebHostingStuff seems like the Epinions of web hosting. Basically, it seems anyone can rate and write experiences of hosting companies on this site. This is great because you get varied experiences, but the downside is that hosting companies can stuff fake claims into their and their competitors’ review pages. So, just like I eyeball reviews on Yelp with a wary eye (sure, it’s 4 stars… but how many reviews say that?), so too do I assess reviews on WebHostingStuff.

WebSecretRevealed claims to do unbiased reviews. Um… sure… they’re unbiased as long as you can wade through the sycophantic hyperbole! The site does, however, have a lot of original content that explains a fair amount about each hosting service’s offerings.

Posted in 2010, Things I Learned Today, Web Hosting and Domains | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Getting Command Prompt on a Mac

As a PC user, I was accustomed to occasionally using the command prompt, which I accessed via the “Start -> run” and entering “cmd.” I’m by no means a computer expert, but there are various reasons why someone might want to access the non-graphic version of their computer. The command prompt rolls you straight back to the days of basic DOS programming, which I well remember as my first experience with computers.

Anyway, accessing the command prompt equivalent in a Mac is a snap. The program is called “Terminal.” I get to it by using spotlight. I hit “CMD-Spacebar” (which opens Spotlight), type in “Terminal” and choose the application option. Voila!

Now that I’m in Terminal at the command prompt… what do I do? Here’s an easy access guide to the basic commands:

A-Z Index of the Apple OS X command line

And just in case you need to compare commands, here’s the PC list (note that it’s for XP):

A-Z Index of the Windows XP command line

Posted in Mac Software, PC to Mac | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Keyboard Shortcuts of the Day: Navigating and Highlighting Text

The Skinny: PC version “Shift-Down Arrow” = Mac version “Shift-CMD-Right Arrow” (or Left)

I’m still adapting to using a Mac after a loooooooong time on PCs. Every now and then I come across something that’s so reflexive, I can’t believe it’s not the same in both types of machines.

The latest realization is that the keyboard shortcuts / commands for navigating and highlighting text are different. Sure, any PC to Mac person rapidly discovers that “delete” only works backwards and there’s no backspace key. If you want to delete from left to right, you need to hit FN-Delete.

I’ve been aggravated that my old PC standard of highlighting the rest of a line of text from my cursor’s insertion point (Shift-Down Arrow) seemed to highlight an arbitrarily large amount of text that was well beyond just the end of the line.

Finally I’ve come across the Mac equivalents of cursor deployment! The following comes from the Wayne State University website’s handy “Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcuts:”

  • Shift-Command-Right Arrow    Select text between the insertion point and the end of the current line (*)
  • Shift-Command-Left Arrow    Select text between the insertion point and the beginning of the current line (*)
  • Shift-Right Arrow    Extend text selection one character to the right (*)
  • Shift-Left Arrow    Extend text selection one character to the left (*)
  • Shift-Command-Up Arrow    Select text between the insertion point and the beginning of the document (*)
  • Shift-Command-Down Arrow    Select text between the insertion point and the end of the document (*)
  • Shift-Up Arrow    Extend text selection to the line above, to the nearest character boundary at the same horizontal location (*)
  • Shift-Down Arrow    Extend text selection to the line below, to the nearest character boundary at the same horizontal location (*)
  • Shift-Option-Right Arrow    Extend text selection to the end of the current word, then to the end of the following word if pressed again (*)
  • Shift-Option-Left Arrow    Extend text selection to the beginning of the current word, then to the beginning of the following word if pressed again (*)
  • Shift-Option-Down Arrow    Extend text selection to the end of the current paragraph, then to the end of the following paragraph if pressed again (*)
  • Shift-Option-Up Arrow    Extend text selection to the beginning of the current paragraph, then to the beginning of the following paragraph if pressed again (*)
  • Control-Space    Toggle between the current and previous input sources
  • Option-Control-Space    Toggle through all enabled input sources
Posted in 2010, Keyboard Shortcuts, PC to Mac, Things I Learned Today | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

You, Me, He, She and I: When to Say What

A few weeks ago, I wrote about something that bugs me like nails on a Mexican hairless grammatically incorrect hamster. That’s right, I’m talking about the “heighth / height” debacle.

Since I’m airing all my grammar laundry, I might as well get this one out of the way: what pronoun to use (I / me) when combining it with another person.This subject comes up more than I’m comfortable with because of the glories of Facebook. People gum this up all the time when referencing themselves with the company of others in a photo.

When you’re mentioning yourself in the context of being in the company of others, when is it right to refer to yourself as “I” or “me?” The answer is super simple:

Ask yourself one question every time: “If the other person / people were not there, how would I refer to myself?” The answer (“I” or “me”) is the pronoun you should insert into the sentence.


“Bill and I/me went to the Grand Canyon last week.” hmmm… what to say? Welp, what if Bill’s foot got caught in the lawnmower you accidentally rode over him the weekend before your trip and he had to bail at the last minute? Bill is a little lame like that – always flaking out over toe amputations and what-not. In short, what if Bill wasn’t there?

Answer: You’d say “I went to the Grand Canyon last week.” Thus, since Bill’s foot was only hypothetically run over and he did join you on the trip, you would say “Bill and I went to the Grand Canyon last week.”


Now, let’s say you’re showing me a picture from this Grand Canyon trip. There’s Bill, there’s “I/me,” there’s the big hole in the ground… How should you reference yourself in this photo?

You would probably say something like, “Hey, this is a picture of Bill and I/me at the Grand Canyon last week.” So, which should you say: “I” or “me?”

Let’s suppose that right before this picture was taken, you shoved Bill into the Grand Canyon, just to see how gravity works in Arizona. Right after you pushed Bill into the hole, someone took the picture. How would you describe it? You’d probably say something like, “Hey, here’s a picture of me at the Grand Canyon right after Bill fell in. Isn’t that sad about him? Too bad he wasn’t wearing a helmet, but man that guy was clumsy. By the way, did you know that gravity works the same in Arizona as it does in Florida? I’m just sayin’.”

Since that whole scenario with Bill’s untimely demise didn’t (technically) happen, and he did stay in the picture, you can now rest assured knowing you’re using correct grammar by saying, “Here’s Bill and me at the Grand Canyon last week.”

Bottom line: when you’re referencing yourself in photos with someone else — even with hoards of someone elses (sic), not just one person, DON’T say “I.”

BAD (I might smack you) –> “Here’s Bill and I at the Grand Canyon.”

GOOD (I still might not care, but I won’t envision shoving you in the hole while you’re telling me about it) –> “Here’s Bill and me at the Grand Canyon.”


But Wait… What if You Refer to Bill as “He” in the Sentence?

Mmmm… Good question grammah-son! Here’s one of those annoying grammar idiosyncrasies. Let’s say that you’re at a dinner party boring regaling people with nauseatingly over-detailed lovely  stories of your road trip to the Grand Canyon. To make matters worse enhance the fun, you’re showing pictures of the interminable thing adventure. Over the soup course, you might open with saying, “Bill and I went to the Grand Canyon last week. Here’s a picture of he and I/me at sunset.”

In this case, the “ask yourself how you’d say it if you’d been alone” trick doesn’t work. After all, who says “Here’s a picture of he and me?” That’s the stuff your momma would’ve smacked the backside of your head for saying. What? Oh, no, not your momma? Just mine. Well, that explains a lot – like why you don’t know what to say when, and why I want to smack you for it. Back to the issue at hand: “he and I/me”

The answer is simple – you say “Here’s a picture of he and I at sunset” because, well… it just sounds right. That “sounding right” is probably what got you into that mess with a face smacking before, back when you’d say stuff like “Here’s Bill and I at the beach.” You say it because you don’t want to make the error mentioned above, the “he and me” issue.


So, what about “him and I/me?” If you’re walking around saying things like “Him and I went to the movies last weekend,” or “Him and me were best friends,” I honestly have no idea what you’re doing reading this post. You clearly lack a grasping of the most elementary grammatical structures and I’m surprised you can even read this. Did the stick figures make sense at least?


If this is still muddling, that’s cool. Just give yourself a break and refer to yourself in a group as “we” and “us” as often as possible. It’ll certainly make you sound like you have a solid grasp of grammar and it spares me having to resist the urge to reach through the computer screen across the Facebook Universe to smack you.

Posted in Funny, Grammary Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

More on DAM Digital Asset Management, iPhoto and Bridge

I just want to remember these great resources I’ve encountered recently about the subject of DAM, iPhoto and Bridge.

This article offers a breakdown of some great solutions to finetune iPhoto. My biggest takeaways are iPhoto Diet and Keyword Manager.  Unfortunately, iPhoto Diet looked like a great tool, but it also appears to be outdated as of iPhoto 09. Puh… I wonder if there are any similar programs out there that eliminate the numerous full versions of photos that iPhoto saves with each small rendition provides some excellent tutorials and articles on understanding metadata.

Photo MetaData has some great tutorials and articles on understanding metadata.

Dharma Blues gives an excellent synopsis of the reason why DAM is so important, as well as why it’s so troublesome. It’s amazing this topic isn’t being treated more seriously with greater standardization.

If you want to read the book on the matter, get The DAM Book.

Posted in iPhoto, Mac Software, Photography | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Week: A Loop in Time (Banco de Gaia Remix)

I swear, I’m not trying to turn this blog into a MySpace freakout with tons of loaded videos and music. I just thought it would be cool to share some of the music that’s moving me these days.

I’ve got this song on my study mix because I can groove to it while focusing on other things (like coefficients of determination). The Banco de Gaia Remix has a dub at about 3:30 about ways of knowing that sounds really interesting. I’d like to hear the full quote. Perhaps it’s from the original, which is really slow. I’ll have to give it a full listen at some point.

Meanwhile, here’s the mix I like:

Posted in Music, Song of the Week | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Adobe Bridge: Shortcuts and Things to Know

I don’t use Bridge daily, so it’s easy to forget what’s what. This is my list of handy shortcuts and things to know so I can use Bridge efficiently.

View Items in Subfolders

(shows everything within a folder at once). Two methods to achieve:

  1. On Toolbar: View, Dropdown, Select “Show Items from Subfolders” (last choice in 5th segment)
  2. In folder list (Documents>Pictures>Christmas etc) right-click on folder you want to view all contents off, choose “Show Items from Subfolders”

Wheel ‘O Pictures

(For reviewing – shows wheel of pictures that you spin through, can quickly remove pictures from folder or selected set by using down arrow to “reject” them)

  1. CMD-B
  • Left and Right arrow to spin wheel either way
  • Down arrow removes items from view
  • Zoom can be accessed on bottom right, first button on left
  • After removing all unwanted items, can save as a collection
  • Create collection by clicking on button on bottom right, next to the “x” button

Batch Rename

  1. Shift – CMD – R

Posted in Adobe Bridge | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Keyword DAM on iPhoto vs. Bridge

I’m a keyword freak when it comes to my photos. I have hundreds of hierarchical keywords that I’ve created so I can pare down and search my thousands of photos for exactly the right picture a situation calls for. Data Asset Management, or DAM, gets more important the larger a collection you have and, for the most part, DAM is performed by the maintenance of metadata. You never know when you’ll need it, but proper photo organization is unbelievably helpful. My husband’s father died last year, for example. It was a breeze to locate pictures of him from when he was healthy and get them printed in time for the memorial.

In truth, however, I only have about 1/3 of my photos keyworded. A ton of them still sit in the “unprocessed” folder of my drive because, after investing a lot of time properly keywording them via Windows Gallery Live, I knew I was going to be bouncing to a Mac and didn’t know how well the keyword structure would survive.

I’m happy to report that my keywords are visible and usable in slightly different forms in both iPhoto and Adobe Bridge. In Bridge, I just adjusted one of the preferences (post on this later) to ensure that it interpreted the “|” as a break in levels. On iPhoto, the keywords were flattened, which is seriously aggravating, but at least every one retained its hierarchy in its name (thus, a photo that had been tagged as “Location>United States>New York>Long Island” in hierarchical form was interpreted as “Location, United States, New York, Long Island”).

I’m still dithering about whether or not I’m going to commit to Bridge or iPhoto as my main photo management tool. They both have advantages and disadvantages, the greatest of which, to me, is how they handle keyword metadata. Bridge has a hierarchy that is directly embedded into the metadata. Creating new keywords and navigating a deep structure like the one I’ve created is hard on the fly, however. Bridge doesn’t have an intuitive search mechanism for its keywords. Yes, there’s a general “search” box, but it would be nice to be able to easily pare down to the correct level without having to search. An example of this would be my cousin’s children. When I first entered my cousin into my system, she was unmarried. Now, she’s married with children. I’d like to be able to easily find the level with her children on it, but I forget if she’s under her maiden name or married name, which is a level in my hierarchy. If I could pare down to the level with my last name (which is her maiden name), I could see where she fits within the level – as a “Brown” or as a “Smith-Brown.” This is technically possible to do in Bridge, but the UI is so tiny that it’s like reading the fine print on a drug commercial. Windows Live Gallery offered several ways to view the structure (on the left panel and also within a separate panel on the right if you picked the option).

Another aggravating and limiting aspect of Bridge – and this is the killer – is it’s nearly impossible to change a keyword once you’ve created one. If you create a new keyword and have a typo, like “Chicagi” and realize this only after you’ve applied it to 200 photos – you literally have to go back to each one and change the keyword spelling. You can’t overwrite the “Chicagi.” You have to create a new keyword “Chicago,” apply it to each photo and then delete “Chicagi” from every individual photo. Serious buzzkill.

iPhoto, on the other hand, does not support hierarchies out of the box. As I mentioned, iPhoto just flattened all of my keywords on import. In addition, when you CMD-K to open the keyword dialogue, all of the keywords are represented as buttons with a very limited space. It’s like they thought people would only use 12 characters per keyword, never imagining we’d want to use a hierarchy. Thus, though all of my keyword structure was preserved in a manner, finding the right keyword is impossible when you are in the “button” view of the keywords. A keyword like “Location, United States, New York, Long Island” is only viewable as “Location, Ne.”

It is possible to view the keywords in their entirety, but only when hitting the “Edit Keywords” button on the keyword window. You can’t copy and paste a lengthy keyword structure to ensure you’re recreating the right hierarchy, nor can you easily search your keywords for the right one – an invaluable tool that Windows Live Gallery had. The only thing you can do is delete, rename or create a shortcut for the keyword.

There is, however, an aftermarket plug-in which is aptly named “Keyword Manager.” This tool purports to be quite flexible. The freeware trial version comes with strings attached via TrialPay that I don’t want to deal with. I’d like to buy the software and kick it around. It looks like it has everything I want and there’s no similar plug-in available for Bridge :-(. My only concern is that I want to be certain when I export photos that I can attach the keywords as metadata. We’ll see!

Posted in Adobe Bridge, iPhoto, Mac Software | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Print Screen CMD-Shift-3 or CMD-Shift-4: Mac Keyboard Shortcut of the Day

CMD+Shift+3 = full screenshot

CMD+Shift+4 = crosshairs to drag area for partial shot

Images saved to desktop

Yesterday I wanted to demonstrate how to find out the size of my trash file on a Mac. In order to do that, I also wanted to show an image of the Mac Inspector window that was opened. Thus, I also learned how to take a screenshot, or perform a “print screen,” on a Mac.

What’s lovely is that it’s possible to take a whole screenshot or just a partial shot. This WikiHow page gives a far better explanation than I, but the nut of it is that it’s pretty easy. So easy, in fact, that I’m not repeating the commands I put in bold above.

Posted in 2010, Keyboard Shortcuts, PC to Mac, Things I Learned Today | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Mac Keyboard Shortcut of the Day: Show Inspector


I wanted to know the size of my trash. I like knowing how big the trash is before I dump it. It gives me that same sense of satisfaction as when I take all my change down to a Coinstar, dump it all in and get $58.12 back. Sure, the money’s nice, but what’s even nicer is that sense of being unloaded.

Normally, on a PC, you can just go to the desktop, right-click on the recycle bin icon and see the total size. On a Mac, it turns out, you need to use the “Show Inspector” command. The hotkey for “Show Inspector” is “Command + Option + I” (plus signs + are meant only to mean ‘plus’ here, not the plus button).

To see the size of your trash, click on the trash icon, then invoke the “show inspector” command (CMD-OPTION-I). A new window will pop up with the folder’s info (in this case, the trash’s info).

What is Inspector anyway?

It looks like the Inspector combines two previous offerings by Mac, the “Get Info” and the “Show Info” functions. I don’t have the time to read about it now, but the nut of it is that you can open multiple “information” windows on folders or files in the computer and do side-by-side comparisons. The whole enchilada history and explanation is here on the Apple site.

Posted in 2010, Keyboard Shortcuts, PC to Mac, Things I Learned Today | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment