Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Google:

Yeah, I use the Google too Mr. Pres., yeah, and I know the name of the program is called Google Earth. But unlike the Pres, I am not just flying around looking at my ranch, well, that is because I don't have a ranch, unless the dressing in the refrigerator counts - Anyway I have have been using Google now for quite sometime, but I expanded it a bit. For years now I maintained my own Web Server(s) (Both IIS and Apache ), an email server, a file server and data storage at my home. This after a while gets a bit pricey. The electric bill alone is enough, but the hardware, software and my time also piles up. Now, I did it not only because I like messing around with technology, but it was a good way to learn and test things at home. At work I am a network administrator, so a lot of what I did at home translated to things I did at work. But lately I started thinking, "you know I don't need to do this all at home anymore. I can do the same thing pretty much for free on the Internet and without much hassle".

I looked at Google Apps. What I did not realize before was that with Google Apps, I could point my domain to them, and I would not loose my domain presence. You don't need to do this, but then your URLs have a longer name, and the Google. com name is always in there. Instead, once you set yourself up with Google Apps (free version), you create Custom URLs. Following the instructions I had no problems. There is basically two parts: One you have to be able to change your DNS settings with the company that is hosting your domain name, like GoDaddy, or Network Solutions. I, for example, had in network solutions: www. wuz-up.com, mail.wuz-up.com, ourfamily.wuz-up.com, and techbytes.wuz-up.com. Each was pointing to an IP address, and I had the appropriate MX records created for the mail. I deleted all of that, and created CNAMES which are basically Aliases, and pointed them to the appropriate address. That is the other part: Google shows what to put in as you are setting it up. Voila I moved it all to "the Google". The email basically worked right away. Some of the Web Pages and Blogs took a few minutes. The longest I think like 30 minutes to come up. This is normal when you are changing pointers out there in the Internet because it takes a little time for the changes to spread to all the DNS servers.

The only one that was a little different is for email. You have to have had the CNAME for your domain first. You then add the MX records that Google Gives you for the email. Now your email never stops and you still keep your custom personal email. You have the option to use the Google Gmail Web interface, or Pop it with your email client.

After that you can roll. You create CNAMES for all your other stuff: Blogs, Web Page etc. I opted to Move my Blog server that I had running at home featuring WordPress to Blogger, and then put the appropriate CNAMES also for that. Blogger does the same thing where you can just create a CNAME, and you don't have to use the "blogname.blogger.com" format. Also, if you created a blog on blogger, you know all the good names seem to be taken, so instead of having "yourblogname.blogger.com", you would get something like "yourblogname-somethingelse.blogger.com". By doing the CNAME thing you can have whatever you want baby because it is your domain.

The biggest limitation so far is my Web Site. I had complete control over my Apache and IIS servers. I had the complete ability to have MySQL, PHP, Frontpage Extension, etc. Also I managed my space and used whatever I wanted to develop the site. With Google right now that seems a little limiting, but I think I can accomplish what I want with it. The Blogging is cool and the email is really cool because I have my own email server, just not have to maintain it.

The Google Apps is a bonus also. I can create Documents, Spreadsheets, and Presentation all on line. I can upload MS Office documents to the Folders on the Google Apps Server, and I can convert the Google Documents to a variety of formats including Office and Pdfs. That is quite cool. Not only that but I created accounts for others in my family, and they can share all that information also. They have emails with the same domain name which is really cool and it is easy for them to use without me having to explain anything, because after all, it is just the Web and everybody seems to be able to use the Web.


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