Build a free web site pitfalls

Geocities - there goes another free web site service.

The problem when you build a free web site using free website services like Geocities, you are at their mercy. After all, you are using their services for free, so what's more could you ask for if they decided they no longer want to run the free service anymore.

And recently Yahoo has made a lot of changes to make themselves more competitive against their rivals namely Google and Microsoft. So whichever business unit is not profitable, they will discontinue it or change it in one way or another. Yahoo has been revamping many of their services and stop providing many of their services. My Yahoo Briefcase was discontinued, and changes to 360° Yahoo was also made. There were a few more other services as well, so hopefully Yahoo would be leaner and better to compete against their rival. Best of luck, Yahoo!

While for the rest of us who make use of their free services like Geocities to build a free website and 360° for blogging, now will have to consider the next option.

Build a free web site using those free services are like that, you never know what the company would want to do. It is up to them, after all they do need a source of revenue to upkeep and maintain their services. So don't cry foul when they decided to change their terms or close down their free website services.

Although I don't really make full use of Geocities free website, I had it for a very long time, and it was kind of sad to see it go. It was also where I start practicing how to code HTML. The usefulness when you build a free web site is the chance of learning some HTML/CSS programming without having to make any payment for a full web hosting services. However nowadays, the free website offerings now comes with a free web site builder which makes it easier to make websites but at the expense of not being able to get your hands dirty into coding.

Thankfully there are still some free website services that still have the ability for you to do your own coding and upload to their free website hosting.

In closing Geocities, Yahoo offered suggestions where you could still host your web site for free. They are:


  • Tripod Lycos (www.tripod.lycos.com/)
  • Webs.com
  • Weebly.com
  • Webstarts.com (I think this site is dead, can't see the website at all)
  • SynthaSite (now Yola.com)
  • Wikispaces.com


I could add a couple into the list:

  • Bravenet.com
  • Google sites (sites.google.com)


And of course using free website will have its caveats, but that is the price you have to pay for not paying for web hosting.

Why free website may not be a good idea if you are into building a website seriously.


  • URL address is added on and not your own domain - bad impression if you are serious into getting a web presence for work
  • You are at the mercy of web hosting company policy - they dictate the terms. If they want to close, they will close (eg Geocities), if they want to change URL, they will change (eg SynthaSite to Yola), it may be ad supported (eg Bravenet)
  • Bandwidth transfer will be limited
  • Storage space is less
  • You lose all the inbound links when they make changes to their URL address (eg Geocities, Yola, etc) thereby losing your website traffic.


Good point about free website

  • Well, it is free
  • Good place to learn about website creation
  • If they provide HTML file uploading, it is good place to learn about HTML/CSS


So with the closing of Geocities by 26 October 2009, I no longer can build a free web site with them, though fortunately it is not such a major impact for me. However, I do need to remove links from web site to my website at Geocities; otherwise I get broken links within my website which is not a good as it is frown upon by search engines.

Flock a better browser experience than Firefox

I decided to give Flock browser a try and see what it is like. Turn out to be rather interesting. I had a much better browsing experience than Firefox despite the fact that Flock is based on the same Mozilla Firefox engine.

Flock is meant to be useful for those who log in frequently to their social web sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, MSN Live, Delicious, etc. Since I have almost all of the above accounts, so may as well give Flock a try. Mind you I already other browsers installed in my Windows Vista with the inclusion of Flock I now have a total of five web browsers installed!

Flock browserFor those who are already using Firefox fulltime switching to Flock is a piece of cake as all the Firefox functions remains intact. After installation, Flock would also ask whether you want to import any settings from one your browsers, so I chose Firefox. The importation was smooth and surprise was that the Yahoo toolbar was imported in as well! Since I was more of Google toolbar user and Flock was similar to Firefox, I could download and install the Google toolbar into Flock without any problem.

Next, I log into my social web sites and let Flock save the settings for each site so that I don't have log in again when I restart Flock in future. Flock has a few ways to keep track of what's happening in your social circle. One via the sidebar, one via the My World page, in addition the Facebook chat and notification would be displayed at the status at the bottom of the browser.

So now whatever has been going on in those social web sites like Facebook or Twitter you can see it happening in an instance. Though I doubt I will always be checking it all the time as though I got nothing to do except when I may need some diversion or something I could poke around those sites and see what's happening!

Another feature is the webmail function, it could check whether new incoming mail has been received in your Gmail and Yahoo account. I said "and" that means it could check both, so all you got to do is log into those account and save the settings to Flock and let the browser do the rest.

Since all functions are based on logging in, you may want to set a master password to secure Flock for privacy and other people from meddling with your account settings.

So what happens if somebody wants to use your PC to surf the net? Since I have so many browsers, I'll just ask them to use the other browsers available without having them to use Flock.

So far I've been using Flock browser for a week now and have been customizing it to make it more useful. And it seems to be more stable than Firefox which seems to crash all the time. So looks like I will be using Flock as my default browser.

Build a Free Web Site with Webs

Webs.com was formerly Freewebs.com. You can build a free web site here too! They have been around since 2001, longer than Yola but not as long as Bravenet. They use a free web site builder to make your own web site.


It's free, so I sign up just to have a look see. So here's my URL JanLeow.Webs.com. Because they use the provided free web site builder, I'm stuck with their choices of free web site templates available. There was a custom section, but I couldn't get it to work. Perhaps that would require more fiddling but for now I'm just stuck with what they have. You could still customize the template but I find it rather limited in how you might want to customize it.

They have made it easy to create your web site, but if you need more advance features, you would be better off going for a full normal web hosting services provider rather than build a free web site with Webs.com. I find their free web site builder a little clunky, clunkier than Yola's.

Free web sites builders has the advantage of being easy to use, but would not provide you with the flexibility of doing more advance customization and coding. Although they have a HTML code insertion so that you could still insert codes like JavaScript or do some HTML/CSS coding, but the HTML code insertion is not very smooth to use.

Anyway, it is free! So if you prefer something simple to make your own web site, then use Webs.com to a build a free web site.

IE vs Firefox, Opera, Chrome browsers

Internet Explorer is still bloated and slow as ever. And it is very telling. Just open your Gmail account and click on any inbox entry. It takes 5 long seconds for the message to open. It takes just as long to return to the Inbox list. In comparison, Firefox, Opera and Chrome takes only an instant. I couldn't even start counting the seconds (you know, one thousand one, one thousand two, etc to denote an estimated one second duration) for any of the 3 alternates to IE.

In terms of page loading, Firefox, Opera and Chrome browser all wins hands down against Internet Explorer. Much as I would like to avoid using IE, I still need to check my web site display every once in awhile to see if the layouts and alignment are in order or not.

Too bad for us Web Developers like us who dislike using Internet Explorer, but there are still a large number of people out in the World Wide Web who don't know about the better browser alternatives. And so I have to keep IE around just to make sure the web site will load up properly. And still Microsoft seemed to be aimless and aloof about their slow bloated inefficient browser and feel rather contented about their browser market share of about 60%-70%. Even with Firefox and Chrome slowly eating up small slices of the browser market ever so slowly, is Microsoft doing anything to improve their browser or are they going to strong arm their competitors and hobble them with a law suit like what they did with Netscape Navigator?

Twitter for Palm - MoTwit

Can't have enough of Twittering? Own a Palm mobile phone like Centro, Treo or something like that? Then give this freeware app a try! It's call MoTwit (formerly known as TreoTwit). Useful for those who own a Palm mobile phone and wanted to twit using mobile phone but not residing in US, UK, India or Sweden. Actually you can SMS but the cost would be very expensive since it will become an international text message. So use MoTwit instead which uses 3G/GPRS/EDGE service. Would save you a bundle and still have the ability to Twit!

http://www.mitreo.com/motwit_twitter_palm_os/

Build a free web site with Yola

Build a free web site using Yola. So what is it? Well, free web site hosting is good for those who do not wish to pay out of the pocket. So I decided to sign up and see what's it all about, after all it is free!

This site is fairly new, so don't bank on it just yet. They still need to work out their monetizing model to support their freebie. It they can't find a way to generate income, they will fold soon after or at the very best take over by some other company with usage rule changes.

From the initial try out of their build a free web site system, it looks interesting. This is not your normal web hosting company. It works more like Google Sites. ie you can't upload your own HTML files. However the difference is that Yola provides unlimited storage (versus 100MB given by Google Sites) and unlimited bandwidth. AFAIK, there is no way you can use up that much storage space especially with the cost of storage coming down, many web hosting company are giving unlimited storage capacity.

Like Google sites, You build your free web site on Yola online using their sitebuilder tools. Good for those who don't want to sully themselves with HTML/CSS codes and still create a web site with a zing! However it takes some getting use to their system. You are given two choice of web site creation: a normal web site or blog web site, or you could even go for both!

Anyway it's free, so just go sign up and see what's it all about and see if this Yola.com build a free web site is suitable for you or not.

This is my site using Yola.com:

http://yola.JanLeow.com

(Yes, you can use your existing domain, create a subdomain and A Record it to Yola's DNS)

Cheers!

Windows 7 RC is free! For awhile anyway.

Microsoft is releasing a preview version of Windows 7 RC (release candidate) which you can use until it expires in June 2010. That means about 13 months free usage from current date (May 2008).

PC World reported that this is the longest trial usage ever given by Microsoft. The Vista trial usage was given about 7 months usage from release till its expiry in June 2007. Once it expired Windows Vista will auto reboot every two hours to remind users to get a paid copy. I guess Windows 7 will be of a similar vain.

Anyway 13 months is quite long. And for some of us, we do reformat the hard disk every year or so, and 13 months seem like a good duration. In fact I was already thinking of reformatting my hard drive so it might be a good time to give Windows 7 RC a try. Only problem now, Microsoft server is swamped from too much download request. Guess I will wait awhile before going for a download.

PC World article reference:
Use Windows 7 free (for awhile)