Sunday, January 9, 2011

52 Projects: Blog

So that's the goal. 52 Projects in 2011. One a week. Use the blog as incentive to get off my butt and get some of those little projects finished.

The first project was to actually put up the blog so I could write about the other projects. It turned out to be a pretty simple project overall. Researching how to do this (took a few hours) was the hardest part. I used to be fairly technically inclined so I do have some advantages (I know what DNS - explained below - is, am familiar with html, and am fluent with a computer) but my deep technical skills are bit stale. Who know's maybe some other of my 51 projects will involve getting my technical chops back.

So putting up the blog involved:

Getting my domain name (

I wanted to use my own name as the domain. was taken years ago by someone who thought they could get rich registering surnames and charging folks to use subdomains (so I could be and get mail at . I guess I'm a control freak and wanted to own my domain.

To register a domain name I googled around and found There were a few complaints on the net but overall this provider was rated positively. It was also cheap ($10 a year) and came with some pretty cool free services. Turns out many places charge extra for Domain Name Management, mail forwarding etc but not namecheap. It's web interface was fairly easy to use and they have good online help.

Choosing and setting up the blog service

I'm not a blogging expert nor do I want to be one. My company hosts it's own Wordpress blog and though I could of done that (and hosted it on my company's server) I really wanted something simple. I could of gone to but I'm a heavy google user ( is their blog product). Yes I know it [sucks|lacks features|isn't secure|blah blah blah] but:

  • It's simple to use
  • Was easy to set up
  • Has good search tools (surprise right? google...)
  • Allowed me to use my own domain (, and
  • Was known to me - when my wife and I travel I keep a travel blog for family and friends and use blogger (aka blogspot).

Further it really did all I needed: had the blog, allowed labeling of blog posts, filters blog spam, allows pictures, and someday if I get really ambitious (it's not on the projects list yet) it allows me to customize the look by manipulating HTML. I like simplicity. Creating a blog was just a question of pushing the create blog link and filling out a few simple questions (blog name, URL/address, and verifying I'm a human):

Fiddling with Domain Name Services (DNS) to get my own domain name

This ended up being the hardest part of setting up the blog. I had a blog at blogspot ( but I wanted folks to be able to access my blog (and web pages) with my chosen domain name ( To do this you use a clever little thing that makes the whole internet possible called domain name services (DNS). Basically it allows you to route folks looking for a specific site ( to the computer that hosts that site. In other words, when you type in it sends you to this blog.

After much research there were two steps to getting this done. First, I needed to point my domain ( to the blogspot blogs. To do this I used namecheap's domain management facilities.

From my homepage on Namecheap I clicked on "view" under my domain and then clicked on my domain ( From here I click on "All Host Records" under the "Host Management" category.

Now came about the only hard part. Per above I am familiar with DNS but namecheap decided to make it "easy" for lay users to redirect domains to where they want. Unfortunately they use terms and symbols that are not standard in DNS management terms so I had some learning to do. Rather than go into the detail I'll give you the end product: put the @ host name to (in my case and the www host name to See the picture below. Make sure and click on save changes.

Second thing was to get google/blogger/blogspot to recognize that when someone came looking for they were to be sent to my blog. In blogger you click on settings, publishing, and click "Custom Domain". From there click on "Switch to advanced settings", fill in your domain name (, and prove you are human (it's really called a captcha).

Remember to wait up to 24 hours for all this to propagate throughout the internet. Then you should be able to go to a browser, type in your domain (, and there you are with your own piece of real estate on the net.

Note: You can make this a lot simpler if your only intent is to blog. Just go to, register, set up your blog per above, and then just purchase your domain through google/blogger/blogspot (it's still just $10 a year) and they'll hand all the DNS stuff for you.

Writing my first entry

Well your reading that so...I guess project 1 is complete!

Just a quick note: I'm using the blogo tool to write and post this entry. It's a decent tool for blogging on a mac. You could just use the web interface the site provides has but I like having a better editor and the ability to drag and drop pictures while I'm editing.

Well that's it for this project...51 more to go.

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