I’ve been involved with computers since the very beginning and have always felt that they were cutting edge, with great opportunity for all. Back in 1970 I worked on an IBM. It filled a 10 x 10 room with big hulking metal and barely enough room for an operator to sit at a bench on a stool to type in the data. That’s when I learned BASIC programming and had my start in the marvelous world of computing.
So here we are, 38 years later. Wow – that seems unbelievable in itself. Hard to believe that computers are – or even that I am – that old. Now I use computers and the internet for work and for pleasure, and I blog, maintain websites, send and receive dozens of emails, create spreadsheets and presentations, maintain databases, and create letters and mailings daily.
So it amazes me to come across people who have almost no exposure to computers, people who don’t have daily access to the internet, and people who have no idea how to create a simple website or even find a free email account. I have a friend up north who has a dial-up connection and uses the internet to sell items on Ebay for her main source of income and she plays spades on the same site I use. She hunted me down yesterday and asked for help planning a card party for some of our internet friends. She wants to invite all the players using email and put up a simple website as a type of internet flyer where people interested in attending can find details on the gathering, directions to the venue, make reservations, etc.
I told her I would help her with some of it, but I didn’t realize how little she knows about computers. She has no idea how to create a website, find a web host, or parse the emails of the players. she wants to have the party over Memorial Day weekend, so we need to get busy right away.
Yesterday I helped her get familiar with web hosting. She needs a web host for a minimum of 3 months, and if this party is a success she might want to host another one later this year and again next Memorial Day weekend, so the web host might be an ongoing need. She has a very modest income, so the web host needs to be very inexpensive and hopefully she will charge a small admission fee for each player who attends the party so she can recoup her expenses.
I like the web host research guide called “Web Hosting Choice” so you can see at a glance the main features of the top web hosting sites, such as the monthly hosting fee, setup fee (if any), the amount of disk space and data transfer, how long they have been in business – a good indication of reliability – and the overall rating by the web site. The chart has a direct link to each web host site so you can get more details or sign up when you have made your selection.
The site has an easy to use Learning Center, including a “Quick Start Guide” and “FAQ” for beginners like my spades friend.
If a user has a specific need, such as Unix or Windows compatibility, there are links within the site and a search page for more details and specific features. I especially like the page in their Learning Center that speaks to “Cheap Hosting.” It is a short, plain english article that points out some of the shortcomings of site that advertise “free” web hosting.Â They also have a page devoted to an article on “Scams” and anyone new to this should read up on these articles before they fall victim to operators that live on the shady side of the internet highway.