Scott's Column
Gone But Not Out

October 1, 2005
By Scott Lewis

September brought major changes as I was forced to give up my domain name and start using the barely adequate personal home page feature of my ISP. At least it's free... which was the point.

Gaming This Month

As you will see below I have been very busy. Too busy for games. I did manage to finish Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy on both the dark and "light" path. The ending was very anti-climatic... for both endings. I was hoping for more. Overall it is a very playable game, but the switching from 1st to 3rd person could be better. I also didn't like how hard it was to know what to do or where to go. However, at least you can save your game anywhere, so long missions are easier to deal with than Halo, which only saves the game at checkpoints.

This is the second game I have been able to complete without resorting to cheats. I did have to get online and find a walkthrough to find my way out of some missions, but I was able to defeat all the bad guys without finding out how to go into "God mode."

If you are not a Star Wars fan then this game is wasted on you. I am barely a fan (I just like the movies), and found it more trouble than it was worth. I enjoyed FarCry much more, and liked Halo more also. However, FarCry is still my favorite FPS. It had the best mix of environments (indoors and out) and the best combination of fixed paths vs. open space to explore. To date it's enemy AI was the best, if still not that great.

Next I need to get back to Splinter Cell. I don't have enough hard drive space for all the games I want to play and I have a string of Demos I am interested in checking out. I just downloaded the demo to Age of Empires III, and even loaded the Demo to Doom 3... the game I upgraded my computer for. I am looking forward to trying it them out. I didn't play Age II as much as I expected and practically never played Warcraft III. Age I and Warcraft II still reign as the two games that have eaten more of my time that any other games. I really should try playing Warcraft III again, but I don't know if I can get good enough to play online, and playing the computer seems less thrilling in a real time strategy game. We'll see. The first few minutes of the Doom 3 demo proved a point. I had read to turn up the sound and turn off the light and be prepared. I didn't have to turn up the volume much, and it is a scary environment. It will make you jump. More later.

My Web Site Moved

As those of you that subscribe to my newsletter know, I have moved. When it came time to renew my domain name and hosting service I decided it was not worth it. It was costing me a little over $80 a year ($7.99 for the domain name, $39.99 for the main hosting, and $34.99 for additional services... which I don't think were necessary and was going to cancel anyway). Even at $48 a year, it just wasn't worth it anymore.

So I am going back to doing it for free, but I refuse to put ads on my personal web site. Time to use my ISP's tiny 5 MB of web space. Notice the current address is now "The Burb" is a nickname of sorts I started using a few years ago when I needed names online, such as on Microsoft's Gaming Zone. Every cool name is long since taken, and clearly I can't get away with using just my first name. In fact, I couldn't use my first and last name. Geez!

It was time to bring back The Burb, which is a name I came up with when the family car was a Suburban. The Burb was the vehicle, which then became a name I used online. Whenever I have to register on a website for free I use the name theburb. It works well enough and I can remember it easily when I visit places infrequently.

My current web site, with all its archived articles, was taking up about 93 MB on my host's server. There is no way to fit that in 5 MB of space. I had to decide what I wanted to do. Here are the free options I could think of:

  1. Trim it down to under 5 MB.
  2. Host it at home.
  3. Put some of it on RR's server and most of it at home.

Trimming down to 5 MB is the least attractive for me. I am really enjoying my Classic Car Watch column that posts numerous pictures each month. Add to that the massive number of images in my archive and I would be very limited with the amount of history and pictures I could maintain.

Hosting it at home has its downsides. The biggest downside it that I am on a dynamic IP address. I can't register a domain name with an IP address that could change (hence the term dynamic). This means that my site could disappear at anytime just because it is not at the same IP address. I could monitor this and e-mail my subscribers the new address when it changed, but search engines would just never be right, and that's how I get noticed by those of you that don't subscribe.

I am going to try option 3, where I will put the main pages on Road Runner's servers, while putting as much of the graphics and the archive on my machine at home.

How To Split a Site

I tend to use full pathing to my own web pages. What is full pathing? It is the path you see in your browser when looking at one of my pages. For example: If you were to go into my archive and look at the April edition of Scott's Column your browser would display the address That was the full address... before I moved. When I reference an old article I always create links to those full addresses. This has some plusses and minuses. The main reason I do it is to make sure I always point to the right place for you and for myself while building pages that reference my archives. This is especially beneficial while I hammer out the content (text) of my article in Notepad. It's easy and I can do it anywhere. I especially like being able to jot a quick paragraph or two down whenever I get an idea. If one of those ideas references an old article I go there and capture the full address and leave it in Notepad. When I am ready to put the article into FrontPage I simple copy and paste and then turn the addresses into links.

Using relative addresses (an address relative to the location of the main page) works, but I have found that if you move pages around within your site in the wrong ways FrontPage might mess with the link in a way you don't want. By explicitly stating the link FrontPage leaves those links alone.

Now that my "home" address has changed I need to change ALL those links to be relative address. Why not just make a quick global change to make them all point to my new address? Well, for starters, what address would that be... the Road Runner address, or my IP address of at home, which is where most of the content will reside. It is time to switch to using relative addresses.

I will use full pathing for all the links on the pages that will reside on Road Runner's server. Every link there will point to my house. Since I plan to keep just a few pages there it will be an easy thing to make a global change there if my home IP Address changes (which it already did once during September).

That still leaves two tricky parts. First, how do I maintain both copies easily. I am thinking of doing the following:

  1. Edit the main pages for the Road Runner site in a FrontPage web site.
  2. Upload the pages (with links to my home server) to RR.
  3. Copy the local copies of the pages to a different FrontPage web site containing all my history.
  4. Do a quick global change of the links to be relative links again.
  5. Make copies of the pages for the archive.
  6. Upload the second FrontPage web site to my own server.

Some of those steps might not be too easy. I will have to practice to see if I can make it as smooth as possible. If it changes much I will let you know... in case any of you are thinking of doing something similar.

The second tricky problem I have is with graphics. When I first setup the Road Runner site, I uploaded the thumbnails of the cars in my Classic Car Watch article, but changed all the links to the full size images to point to my home IP Address. This is a little time consuming. If I continue this way I may have to deal with cleaning up the old thumbnails on my Road Runner space (only 5 MBs, remember). Ideally I should have the thumbnail images come from my home server. I just haven't figured out a way to do it so that so it will be easy to move the pages between two separate FrontPage web sites.

I am giving this some thought, and will most likely come up with a solution as I upload this month's pages. I will give you an answer next month.

Site Building Tools

I am finally working on a the comparison of Dreamweaver, FrontPage and Nvu. I actually came up with a basic look to build in all three tools. However, I have rambled on enough this month and don't want to waste too much time discussing. Next month I will definitely cover the initial setup of all three tools to use for maintaining a static web site.

If you are interested in seeing the progress as it unfold you can follow these links to see the works in progress:

FrontPage Sample Site
Dreamweaver Sample Site
Nvu Sample Site

Stay tuned... I am not going away just yet.