STEP 2 – Figure Out Your Site Name

We are moving now! Now is the hands down, most critical part of setting anything up – what do you call this thing? So – everyone knows how the web works. You just type in www.something.com and stuff appears on your screen. Well yes, it does, but how does all of that magic happen? Lets take a little side trip here.

How does the internet work. A primer. So in a previous step we talked about how your computer ends up connecting to another server somewhere in the cloudy ether. But how does that work? Computers are just like you when you are driving somewhere. You need an address on a street, in a city, in a state, in a country. Computers use a standard called an IP address. IP stands for Internet Protocol. Most IP Addresses come in a format that looks something like 192.168.100.101. This is an IPv4 address, meaning version 4 of the standard and it has been around for a while. Each octet (3 numbers between the ‘.’) ranges from 0-255. This means that there are a total of about 4.3 billion combinations in this address space. Big neighborhood. However, we have so many devices connected that we are running out of room in this neighborhood so there is a new one called IPv6 that supports a much bigger space that is in use on some systems. How much bigger? 4.3 billion looks like this: 4,300,000,000. The IPv6 space is this big: 340,300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

Ok, ok, why all of this number mumbo-jumbo? Well, just like you are not your street address, something has to exist to map www.internetcheddar.com to an IP address of 192.168.101.202. The ‘www.internetcheddar.com’ is the website name but the ‘192.168.101.202’ is how a computer finds your website. In order to do this mapping in real life, those of us who might remember such things might have used a phone book to do this (ask your parents if you are lost or check to see what is propping up the wobbly leg of the dining room table). The phone book maps a name to a phone number and address. In internet terms, this ‘phone book’ is called a Domain Name Server, or another way to put it is a DNS. A Domain Name Server maps www.internetcheddar.com->192.168.101.202.

Note – 192.168.101.202 is NOT the actual IP address of this site. I am using that for example purposes. A fun side note: the 192.168.xxx.yyy and 10.0.yyy.xxx are reserved for internal network addressing so I know that that is a safe IP address to use as an example. Most of your home router IP Addresses and work IP Addresses will be on one of these two subnets.

So now we get to what this post is actually about. Just so you know, the term domain (remember 2 seconds ago and the ‘Domain’ Name Server?) can also refer to the ‘name’ of your website. My domain name is www.internetcheddar.com. Some domain name server somewhere translated that text for your computer into an IP address and voila here you are! When creating this site I had to pick a domain name just like you may be doing right now. Did you know that there were originally 7 top level domains? These were: .com, .net, .org, .int, .edu, .gov, .mil. Now there are over 330! The originals still are king, but more and more are becoming popular. Look through them when deciding what to name your site.

So what should I name my site?

Good question. That is up to you. If you are serious about your site then you want it to be recognizable, easy to type, and memorable. I chose the name internetcheddar.com because I used to work with a guy that would ask me almost daily if I had found a way to “make any of that sweet cheddar”. So here I am, working on making some cheddar of my own.

The best advice I can give you on this topic – pick something that makes you happy. I have tried creating many websites before now and never gotten this far. I own about a dozen domain names and most of them are gathering dust. Pick something that is good for you and it may help you stick with it a little longer and let you get some cheddar of your own. If nothing else, it will be your own little corner of cyberspace that shows who you are, with your own little address in the DNS white pages.

Site Snapshot – June 19

This is a recurring feature that I would like to post every so often just so I can look back later and see how far this site has come. Below is a screenshot of what the site looks like on June 19, 2016:

2016_06_19

STEP 1b – Signing up with Dreamhost

Ok – so you have decided to move forward with setting up your own site and have decided to give Dreamhost a shot. Hopefully you are using one of the free money links from my last post, but just getting started is a big deal and I hope that you are excited.

So – how does signing up at Dreamhost work? I don’t know. I first signed up in Jan 2005 and I have slept since then. More than once. Therefore, I have no clue how setup works today. So lets figure it out together. First, I am using Chrome as my daily driver browser. I like chrome for a lot of reasons, fast, syncs between my work and home computer, extensions, etc. However, I have multiple browsers installed on my computer. This comes in handy for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons is to have a browser that does not contain all of the cookies and history that my daily driver does. This allows me to check out things with being tracked and see sites in their vanilla form. I am going to use this method to figure out how setting up a new Dreamhost account works.

First, if you are using Internet Explorer, *shudder*. IE is not a good browser for many reasons. Yes, you may have some toolbar that you can’t live without, but even Microsoft is dropping it. Please take a minute to go grab another one. I like Chrome and it can be downloaded here:

Chrome (link to Google's site. Also, not an affiliate link)

I also have a second Chrome browser installed called Chrome Canary. This is a developmental build browser with the latest and greatest. This also means that it can crash sometimes, but I am ok with that. I never log into anything with this browser and will use it for a dry run through the Dreamhost setup. You can find this here:

Chrome Canary (link to Google's site. Also, not an affiliate link)

FYI – I would not recommend trying to use Chrome Canary for your everyday browser. Also, there are a bunch of other good browsers out there. Firefox (I also have it installed), Opera (haven’t used it in years), Safari (great on a mac, so-so on a pc), and Microsoft Edge (replacement for IE, never tried it) are all different browsers that are out there, and I am sure that many others exist that I don’t have listed here.

Ok – so firing up Chrome Canary, navigate to the main Dreamhost (FYI, affiliate link) page:

dreamhost_main_page

To get started, I didn’t even scroll anywhere, I just clicked on the big blue button titled ‘Learn More about Out Website Hosting’. This took me to a second page with a big yellow button that said ‘Sign Up for Web Hosting Today’. Please note – I am writing this post in June of 2016. Whenever you read this, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary), meaning that it could look very different by the time you see this. As of this writing, the signup page looks like this:

dreamhost_setup

So normally, with pages like these I would not show screenshots, but as this site is dedicated to learning about setting up webpages, there is a lot to learn here. Without getting too deep into design, looking at the first page the blue button to move forward is basically the exact center of this page and is very visibly and grabs the attention. The second page is similar, but with an even catchier yellow button. Then – when we move forward to the account creation all of the other stuff is gone. Super clean, 5 clear and easy steps at the top, very straightforward. I really like this design. Informative, with an easy to follow path. At this point I am going to jump forward and assume that you can get through the following steps:

  • Create your account – the page shown above
  • Choose your Domain – YES you get a free domain name with this account.
  • Choose your plan – I am on the monthly $10.95 plan
  • Additional Options – not sure what is on here
  • The money part – I am assuming this is where you set up your payments

Ok – now you have your account setup and we can move forward with setting up the site.

STEP 1 – Finding an Internet Hosting Provider

Wait, What? I am on the internet, right? Well…yes. If you are reading this then you are officially ‘surfing the internet’. In order to get into this step, maybe a little background is in order. The internet is nothing more than a very large bunch of computers that are connected to each other. That is pretty much it. The computer that you are on. The server that this website came from. The ‘cloud’. All computers. Oh, wait, you are on an iPad/android/chromebook? Guess what, all computers.

The term computer has become some catchall for a lot of things. If you have a desktop (basically anything that is not a phone or looks like a laptop) then you are probably looking at a monitor and using a separate keyboard and mouse. I am using a setup like that to type this right now. None of these things are a computer (this is why IT people shake their heads when you point at your monitor and tell them your computer isn’t working). The core of your computer is the processor in the middle of the machine. This little piece of silicon does the computing which is the secret sauce that lets graphics get on your screen and the keyboard input appear on your screen and the operating system run your browser. We won’t get into that now, but every computer in the world has a processor in it. Therefore any device you use to get online or device you talk to while online has a similar processor in it. Phones, tablets, laptops, computers, servers, and yes, the cloud (which is basically just a bunch of different computers in another location).

Ok, so now we have somewhat of a definition for a computer. The internet works by connecting two computers, yours to another one out there somewhere. Usually this occurs by talking to a number of other computers in the middle to eventually find the computer that you are looking for. So skipping over a lot of networking in the middle, there is your computer talking to a web server. A web server is a computer that has information that is presented in a specific way that your web browser can render it and you see a nice shiny website with my words in the middle. This web server has to live somewhere. And this is the purpose of this step in setting up your own site.

The Hosting Provider

The hosting provider is usually a company with a lot of computers in a central location (or locations) that other people’s computers can talk to. They can have fancy names (server farm, the cloud) and have fancy statistics (99.9% uptime, unlimited bandwidth) but basically you need to find a company to rent a server from to host your website. That is it. Once you have found a company, paid them a little money, they give you access to a computer that they are running or managing and give you some sort of access to that computer to run your website.

For purposes of setting things up and getting running, I am not going to go through a bunch of providers (although I want to do that in the future). Instead I am going with what I know: Dreamhost (FYI, affiliate link).

Why Dreamhost? Well the main reason is that I have had a relationship with Dreamhost since early 2005. I had been out of college for about a year and my access to my college accounts, including a small hosting account, had been turned off. I did some research at the time and found some very good reviews for Dreamhost, and have been with them ever since. As I currently have an account there, it was very easy to get started on a new site with them.

The rest of the site creation steps will utilize information based on my experience with setting up a site with Dreamhost. Feel free to look around for other providers, there are a lot out there. In the future, I hope to review some other providers and provide some more choices. In the meantime, feel free to check out Dreamhost (FYI, affiliate link), and, if you decide to sign up, you can share in some of the affiliate money that is generated. The links below will net you $25 or $50 off of a shared hosting plan if you sign up (the money comes out of my affiliate fee). So click away and get up and running if you so choose (FYI, affiliate links):

FULL DISCLOSURE: All of the Dreamhost links above use a referral code linked to my account. Why? So that if you decide to sign up I can make some money off of that. Does it cost you more? Nope. But one of the reasons that I have created this site is to explore how to make money on the web using affiliate links, and thus I am going to be using a lot of them on the site in the future. Do I have to use your affiliate links? Of course not. Feel free to type in www.dreamhost.com yourself into your browser or just use the link below:

Non-affiliate link (This will open in a new window!): dreamhost.com

Don’t forget to check out the second part of this guide: STEP 1b – Signing up with Dreamhost to see how to get an account with this service provider!

First Things First

Ok – this site is up and running. I have a million ideas for posts and configurations and things I want to do. Slowing down at this point is hard – but it is necessary. Take a deep breath. If you are using this guide to help you set up your own site that is awesome! But I can’t talk about the few things that I have done in the past few minutes (setting up analytics, creating an extra page) without walking through how I got here. So – this is a reminder post. Don’t get overwhelmed. Setting up a full site on the internet is hard work and a big task. Lets go back to the beginning and start from square one.

This will be STEP 0 in the walkthrough on how to create your own site.

Continue reading “First Things First”

Welcome Post

Welcome to Internet Cheddar! This is my first post and the second on the site. The first post is an auto-generated post that I am leaving up for reference. You can see it here: Hello World.

 

Every post on this site has a purpose. This post is intended to allow me to walk through the posting process in WordPress and see how it all works. Don’t worry, I will create instructions on how to do this later. This is just me getting up and running. If you notice, I also created a link on this page. Going forward, I will be creating informative pages that actually instruct and explain things. But for now, I have my first post written and the site is up and running. Off we go!