Web Hosting, Big 3 in Tech, Twitter, Halloween

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In this newsletter:

Post: A Peek Behind the Scenes of Web Hosting
ICYMI: The Big 3: Apple, Google, and Microsoft
ICYMI: Twitter Updates
POTW: Halloween Picks

A Peek Behind the Scenes of Web Hosting

In order to read or listen to this newsletter, you must have visited a website. However, there are multiple websites to access this (aside from social media). You potentially landed here through Substack, WeeklyWheaties.com, YouTube, or even through your email provider. However, each of these websites may function differently on the backend. For example, my website is set up as a blogging platform. YouTube is a video delivery platform. Your email provider, you guessed it, helps send and deliver emails. My point is, to the end user, those “websites” function the same. After visiting a website, you are greeted with the content it provides - and the content you expect.

What you don’t see, is the software languages helping communicate with the servers providing the information and content. Every website or application that requires the internet to function - lives in the “cloud.” Meaning, the files, data, etc., requiring the site or app to load must live on a physical server somewhere. A server in this case is nothing more than a computer with a very large hard drive and other components designed to run 24/7. These servers potentially live in server farms across the US. Depending on what service is in use will depend on how many times the site or app is backed up, too. Many times, these servers live in multiple locations should one go down or lose connection.

These servers provide what is known as hosting services. Since hosting requires hardware and/or software to function, they typically charge a monthly or yearly fee. This can range from as little as $4/month to hundreds of dollars a month depending on how much space you need, how much traffic to expect, the software language used on the backend, if you have an online store, if you provide video content, and much more. There are free alternatives, too, but be careful. Typically, free hosting only comes in the form of basic blogging. The most popular example can be had on Wordpress.com. Other popular hosting services include: GoDaddy, SquareSpace, Wix, IONOS, and much more. If you are focusing on blogging, consider the service my site runs on: Storipress.

Note: All of the services mentioned above provide web hosting and assist with web creation through templates or their built-in builders. None require coding of websites.

Notice to access any of these services, you must type in or click a web link. This www.[example website].com is known as a Domain. This is the "in real life" way to explain to your computer and the internet where you want to visit on the world wide web.   Many times, these are also called URLs.  Every site technically has an IP address associated with it, but those are too hard to remember.  Instead, when we type in the domain, your computer (and many servers) takes that information and forwards it to the IP address associated with it.  There's a lot more going on behind the scenes, but essentially, your computer will convert weeklywheaties.com to the IP address matched with the website’s server address in order to access the information stored there.

ICANN is the organization responsible for "coordinating the maintenance and procedures of several databases related to the namespaces and numerical spaces of the Internet, ensuring the network's stable and secure operation."  Basically, they control what domains go to what sites (or servers).  However, if you want your own domain, you have to go through a 3rd party.  Luckily, there's a lot of them.  Different companies offer different services and different extensions, too.  While the dot com (.com) is the most popular domain extension, it's by far the only one available.

It’s also important to note - you do not have to purchase a domain from the same service providing your hosting. As a matter of fact, I have more recently practiced purchasing domains from a service that only works with domains and does not provide hosting - or make it difficult to use other hosting services. Some of the ones available I've used in the past and would recommend as a place to start include: Hover, Porkbun, GoDaddy, and NameCheap.

There are other domain extensions you may use other than .com, too. The sky’s the limit and new ones come available each year. In recent years, popular and new ones have become the 21st century real estate. For example, with the AI space growing rapidly, the .ai extension has escalated in price. Originally, the .ai extension was set aside for the British territory of Anguilla. Now, by selling off some of their domains, they “could rake in 10% of its GDP in domain sales this year.

Lastly, it doesn’t make sense to have hosting without a domain. However, it can make sense to purchase a domain without hosting. You can then set up a forward with your domain to have it “forward” to any other site you wish. For example, it may forward to your Facebook page, a booking request, your Amazon store, and much more. Garrettwheat.com forwards to a linktree style website I have from Hypage.

What website will you build or domain will you purchase?

ICYMI: The Big 3: Apple, Google, and Microsoft

While Apple announced their ‘Scary Fast’ Mac event scheduled for later today, Business Insider reports nearly 90% of Gen Z owns an iPhone. However, if you’re still an Android hold out and want your fix for the blue bubbles - or you want to text from a PC - consider trying out Beeper. Not only does it work with iMessage, but it is also a central app for all your social messaging apps! In the courts, California has new laws surrounding the right to repair. Apple has announced they will honor these regulations nationwide. Meaning, having your phone (and other Apple products) repaired by a third party may become less expensive and more widely available. Internally to Apple, they will stock not only replacement parts for common fixes, but the tools and documentation to help users repair their own devices. Can’t say I saw that one coming.

On the Google side of things, if your main choice of online search boasts the typical 4-color way or one of their one-off doodles, your experience may look different if not already. Google is testing a different homepage, including a newsfeed below the search bar. And since this is one of those rare times I can say it - I must. Microsoft did it first. In other Google news, if you live in an area offering Google Fiber, you may have access to 20 Gbps speeds.

With Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI - read: ChatGPT - it looks like it is paying off. Copilot is rolling out in updates to Windows, and is embedded across the OS. In their most recent quarterly earnings call, Satya Nadella noted there are over 3,000 organizations and over 1 million paid Copilot users.

ICYMI: Twitter Updates

To limit the number of bots and scammers on its service, X.com, formerly known as Twitter, announced they will be testing two new methods of verification. First, users will have to verify their phone number tied to their account. Second, starting in New Zealand and the Philippines, users will have to pay $1 per year to complete actions that allow them to interact with the system. Reading posts and following accounts will still be free. While this may not affect other parts of the world yet, I would suggest creating an account if you don’t have one. Make a post or two to hopefully prove you aren’t a bot, then if this ever comes to your country, there’s a chance your account may be grandfathered in. Then again, maybe not…

POTW: Halloween Picks

With tomorrow being Halloween in the US, I collected a few fun links to share. There are a few places of interest to visit should you ever be in the area of one of them. Happy to say, I’ve visited every location in Louisiana, too! If you do visit a Haunted House this year, consider your actions towards the workers. There’s a good write-up about the behind the scenes of a haunted house actor on Thrillist.