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Scott's Column
FrontPage 2000, Floor Plans, Web Site Moved

July 1, 2000
By Scott Lewis

A lot happened in the last couple of months. If you didn’t notice last month, my web site got a completely new look and moved to a new location. All this was done while upgrading to FrontPage 2000, selling our house, finding an apartment, having a garage sale, etc.

The Move (Web Site, That Is)

My web site moved. The new address was http://home.satx.rr.com/sml. This is the space provided with my cable modem access with Road Runner/Time Warner. Time Warner is gracious (read with sarcasm) in providing 5MB of space for a personal web site.  My old site was part of my dial-up account with TexasNet.

I prefer the TexasNet web space for five main reasons. 1) It provided 200MB of web space. I never used more than 15MB, but the option was always there to use it if I wanted. Squeezing down to 5MB has already created problems for me. 2) TexasNet supports Server Side Includes (SSI), and forms that send automatic e-mails (if you are a subscriber of my newsletter you subscribed by way of this forms capability). 3) The TexasNet account is faster and more reliable than Road Runner’s. 4) TexasNet has their own counters that work well, are fast, and I can configure them to be invisible so only I know they are there. And finally, 5) I hate to have to change the address of a site that gets about 5,000 hits a month (mostly from my gaming pages).

The only downside to TexasNet’s web space is that they limit total bandwidth to 2 Gigabits per month. I exceeded this a couple of time. It caused me to design my gaming pages with a more streamlined approach than the rest of my site. Overall I like the account.

The driving force to move was selling our house. When we sell our house we were going to move in with my in-laws (while we build our new house). My in-laws have been using my old account with TexasNet. When we moved in with them I was planning on networking their computer to mine and share a cable modem. Since they would not need the dial-up account anymore I started the move to the new web space.

Unfortunately, family health matters prevented us from moving in with my in-laws. I was really looking forward to it. Instead my wife are going to get an apartment. I will have more on the apartment next month after we move in (Tentatively scheduled for July 22). I don’t want to spoil that for you, but I will provide this little teaser: It is a brand new apartment complex. It is a state of the art facility. It comes pre-wired for DSL Internet access in every apartment. The rest you will have to wait for until next month.

That DSL access is through the local phone company, Southwestern Bell - a subsidiary of SBC. SBC is even more gracious (read with even more sarcasm) in providing 3 MB or space for a web site. Since my in-laws will still want access I am moving this web site back to the TexasNet web space. I will be trying to keep the space under 3 MB just in case I have to move again.

Eventually I will have to move it, But I will stall that as long as possible. I may start looking for a separate place to host it. If anyone has experience with free or near free web hosting services, let me know. My only requirement is that I have no advertising on my site, something that will be difficult for a free service.

Road Runner & FrontPage

Time Warner/Road Runner supports FrontPage Extensions. This is something TexasNet does not do. I was hoping to try and use these features with the new web space. However, I have been using Road Runner since August 99, and have never been able to update my site through FrontPage.

With the imminence of the move, I decided to finally get into it with Road Runner. I sent an e-mail to their support address. After two days of receiving nothing in return I sent another, more irate, e-mail. I received a replied that I need to call their support phone number. Gee, and Internet provider that can’t provide support over the Internet. What was I thinking?

I was on hold back and forth with two support people for almost two hours when Road Runner finally said that it was a FrontPage problem. They determined this since I was able to update the site with FTP software. I found this extremely disturbing since they claim they provide FrontPage support up to the point of getting you connected. Yet no one in the support area would even try to use FrontPage to update my site. So there is no way to know if it was my copy of FrontPage or their servers.

They pawned me off to Microsoft, which would have cost me money to get support only for MS to tell me that it was a Road Runner problem.

FTP to the answer. One of the last things the support guy told me was that their server was both an HTTP (web) server and an FTP (file) server. FrontPage always told me it was trying to go to the HTTP address for my site, as it should. So I tried to see if I could force FrontPage to go to the server as an FTP server. I put ftp:// in front of the address, and low and behold... it worked.

It seems a fair amount slower than using CuteFTP. But CuteFTP doesn’t have any way of knowing which pages in my site need updating. In the long run FrontPage will be much easier. I can hit the publish button and it will do its thing. Much better than manually going through all the directories that make up a FrontPage site to update pages and other files manually.

Since I am not going to use the Road Runner web space I tested the ftp trick on TexasNet, which specifically does not support FrontPage Extensions, and it works too. So now I still get the benefits of publishing with FrontPage.

FrontPage 2000

This all led up to FrontPage 2000. I upgraded to it for a couple of its features. 1) It has on-the-fly spell checking like Word. This is great when I cut and paste from Notepad, which I do often. I tend to write things in Notepad when I am trying to get an idea out. Then I paste it into FrontPage. I never liked using a spell checker that thinks so many words are misspelled. I hated that about Word prior to Office 95. But the on-the-fly red squiggly lines work great for quick scanning of my spelling. I can overlook the words underlined that are not wrong, and spot the spelling errors I need to attend to.

Next was my desire to get away from my old hand coded HTML. FrontPage 98 was never very good at preserving HTML. But FrontPage 2000 will leave your hand coded HTML alone. I built a new design in FrontPage 2000, and even made use of their themes. I only use the theme for the banner graphics at the top of the pages, and for the bullets. But these two items are reason enough. It makes it easy to do something that would be very tedious in HTML.

I still have the ability to code HTML, but now I can do it when I want to. I was spending much too much time fiddling with the same code every month when I updated this site. Now I can do monthly tasks much easier.

Floor Plans

Here are the initial floor plans for our new house. They actually show a revision to the upstairs that put the game room over the great room. Our designer initially drew the game room over the kitchen. It looked more like another bedroom. We like the open feel of it over the great room. There will be a railing to prevent falling into the stairs. This adds to the open feeling. We wanted a game room about 12 x 12. We ended up with 16 x 20. We are a little more than 200 sq. ft. over what we wanted. But we decided to go with it. In the long run we will enjoy the space. I may even put a pool table in the game room, something I gave up on because I didn’t think we would build a house big enough for a pool table.

This Old House

We put our house on the market at the end of June. The idea being to attract people that buy before the school year starts. Our agent wanted us to list it in March or April, but we just couldn’t be ready in time.

Some of the last minute fix ups included 1) Patching the wall in my computer room. It is supposed to be a formal living room. I mounted a TV on the wall, and needed to patch it as well as paint the entire room to cover up crayon and marker from the kids. 2) Power wash the front and back of the house. Shave the rear door (it stuck very badly after the power washing). 3) Patch and paint the master bedroom ceiling from flaking paint. 4) Put GFCI outlets in the kitchen and bathrooms. 5) Paint the rear of the house and the front door. 6) Patch a hole in the wall of my sons room where the door when through the wall. 7) Fixe the rear gate (pictured last month).

There were other things, but you get the idea. I built a play list of music to play while people were seeing the house. I burned four CDs and put them in my CD changer and set it on random. Here is the play list.

98 Degrees - I Do (Cherish You)
Aerosmith - I Don't Want to Miss a Thing
Ani DiFranco - Wishin' and Hopin'
B.J. Thomas - Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head
Berlin - Take My Breath Away (Top Gun Theme)
Bette Midler - Wind Beneath My Wings
Billy Joel - Honesty
Billy Joel - Just The Way You Are
Bob Seger - We've Got Tonight
Bruce Springsteen - My Hometown
Bruce Springsteen - Secret Garden
Bryan Adams - (Everything I Do) I Do It For You
Bryan Adams with Rod Stewart & Sting - All For Love
Chicago - If You Leave Me Now
Christopher Cross - Sailing
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Just A Song Before I Go
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Our House
Dan Fogelberg - Longer
Dobie Gray - Drift Away
Don McLean - Bye Bye Miss American Pie
Elton John - Daniel
Eric Clapton - Tears in Heaven
Everly Brothers - All I Have To Do Is Dream
Faith Hill - Breathe
Gary Wright - Dream Weaver
George Harrison - All Those Years Ago
Goo Goo Dolls - Iris
Hootie And The Blowfish - Time
Jackson Browne - Load Out & Stay
Jackson Browne - Tender Is The Night
Jim Croce - Time in a Bottle
John Lennon - Imagine
John Waite - Missing You
Johnny Nash - I Can See Clearly Now
Cyndi Lauper - Time After Time
Lovin' Spoonful - Do You Belive In Magic
Matchbox 20 - Back 2 Good
Otis Redding - Sittin' on the Dock on the Bay
Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade of Pale
R.E.M. - Everybody Hurts
Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody
Sam Cooke - You Send Me
Sarah McLachlan - I Will Remember You
Seals & Crofts - Summer Breeze
Simon & Garfunkel - Homeward Bound
The Association - Cherish
The Beatles - Here Comes The Sun
The Beatles - Hey Jude
The Beatles - The Long And Winding Road
The Beatles - Yesterday
The Byrds - Turn! Turn! Turn!
The Drifters - This Magic Moment
The Drifters - Under The Boardwalk
The Honeydrippers - Sea Of Love
The Monkees - Daydream Believer
The Moody Blues - Nights In White Satin
The Scorpions - Wind Of Change
U2 - With Or WIthout You
Van Morrison - Brown Eyed Girl

I built a play list that had a lot of mellow music, both old and new. We played the songs at a low volume so that you would just hear it as background music while walking around the main areas of the house. You couldn’t hear it from the bedrooms.

Going, Going, Gone!!!

All of our hard work paid off. We received a full asking price offer from the first people that sw the house. It was the second day it was on the market. In fact, since it was a full price offer the buyer’s agent just faxed a signed contract to our agent without even calling to see if we would accept the offer. Like we would turn down full price.

My wife and I have been kidding that we should hire ourselves out as “house Selling Consultants.”

We are under contract as I write this, and we are waiting for the inspection and the appraisal. If those go well we will be closing on the house on July 28. I will let you know how the details go next month.

The biggest thing is that we don’t have to go through the daily grind of making sure the house is show quality spotless every single time we step out the door. A difficult thing to do with a 5 and 2 year old.

Conclusion

I mailed copies of our new house plans to my father in New York. He is a contractor and has built more houses in his lifetime than I could count. I want to get his expert opinion on what we are trying to do. More on that and the apartment, the move, the storage unit, and DSL next month.

It is going to be a fun year. Stay tuned.
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