Learning and Brushing Up On Web Programming.

December 2008 Browser Usage
December 2008 Browser Usage (Photo credit: Elliott P)

There are a bazillion options out there for learning web programming. One I recommend (and still use) is W3Schools. No, you won’t learn everything by using

W3Schools, but you can learn a lot and its more systematic than googling for articles piecemeal as you go along. I also find W3Schools a useful reference tool when I need to refresh my mind on some technique or language I haven’t used in a while.

They have tutorials available on HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AJAX, SQL, PHP, ASP.NET Web Forms, XML, and a bunch of other technologies I didn’t mention. If you are brand new to web programming start with the HTML tutorials then move on to CSS followed by JavaScript. It is also likely that you’ll need to do database work at some point, so learn SQL and then you can choose what sort of language you want to program interactive applications in – two of the most popular are ASP.NET and PHP.

Bluehost Review.

Multiple racks of servers.
Image via Wikipedia

When it comes to choosing a web hosting provider the options are nearly limitless. The first decision once has to make is what platform one’s website will run on. If one is using plain static HTML, which almost no one does completely anymore, then even this doesn’t really matter…but if you are in the 99% who will be using more than HTML, it is important to consider whether one wants a Windows or Linux host. When it comes to Linux options one of my favorites for the past several years has been Bluehost.

I’ve written about Bluehost in the past, but I figure its time to give an update on how I think things are going. This time I’m going to start out with the bad and then move on to the good.

The Bad:

  • SLOW: This is very subjective, but I feel that my sites have been running significantly slower of late. Sometimes it can take 5-10 seconds for a page to load, and I’m on a 10 Mbps Verizon Fios connection with a fairly powerful machine! This is in part due to CPU throttling – an intelligent mechanism Bluehost invented that ensures that no one site on a shared host can utilize all the bandwidth thus slowing other sites down…but even when my account isn’t being penalized with CPU throttling (and it is, fairly frequently), it still seems to oftentimes move at slow speeds. Let me add the caveat that I do run a fair number of sites off my single hosting account – and that I expect for the average single website (or even two or three websites), Bluehost will continue to be a speedy option…but for us “power users” I’m wondering if Bluehost’s abilities are diminishing?
  • OPTIONS: Bluehost allows you to do almost anything with your default account, but when it comes to adding on additional options – its really lacking in a few key areas. Sure, you can buy additional domains, get premium spam protection, and get a static IP address – but what about the most basic – extra CPU and memory share? For folks like myself who apparently are pushing the bounds of whatever share Bluehost is giving us on a shared host, we sure could use a way to buy extra “slices” of CPU share. Bluehost does offer a Pro package now which includes, amongst other things, “increased CPU and memory” – unfortunately, Bluehost doesn’t tell us how much CPU/memory (10%? 20%? 100%? 300%?) and the price at $19.95/mo. is a pretty steep step up from the base price of $6.95/mo. (yes, there are other features, but quite honestly I don’t care about free ssl certificates, domain privacy protection, or postini email filtering!).
  • PRICING: The base product is nice and cheap, but they tag you decently on additional domain names. Each additional domain name costs $10/yr. – but I’ve got perhaps twenty domains – and it begins to add up. It’d be nice to see some decreases in pricing as number of domains purchased increases.

The Good:

  • PRICING: The base product for $6.95/mo. has a ton of features built into it and will be more than adequate for most folks.
  • RELIABILITY: As long as you don’t push the CPU share restrictions, Bluehostseems to be an extremely reliable host (again, from my personal experiences).
  • SIMPLE SCRIPTS: SimpleScripts is beautiful! It allows anyone to get a site up and running in minutes. SimpleScripts automatically deploys any of a large number of applications to your website in minutes at your request. Examples include WordPress, SugarCRM, Drupal, Moodle, SMF and phpBB, Coppermine, and MediaWiki along with dozens more.
  • LIMITS: The base package includes some pretty significant features as I mentioned above – just a few that are really worth highlighting – unlimited monthly bandwidth, unlimited storage, and 100 MySQL databases. This is really sweet!

Overall Conclusion:

If you are running a single site or a few sites – go get Bluehost. If you are a power user running a half-dozen or more sites…you may need to look elsewhere. I’m hoping Matt Heaton and company will add at least the ability to purchase additional CPU/memory shares soon…b/c I’m currently in the market for a new host for this power user…and considering options like AWS…though I’d prefer to stick with Bluehost due to ease of use and flat storage/bandwidth handling which makes pricing significantly simpler.