This morning the world handed me a belly-laugh.

So, I used to be a webhost/site designer a few years ago. You know, the person who does all the coding and file management and such. A worker bee. My company, accordingly, was called TechDonkey. I still use my domain for all my personal web/domain management stuff.

A week ago I decided to consolidate all my domain names (,,, etc etc) under one registrar, rather than managing them in five different places. I’d asked for advice, done gobs of research, read reviews until my eyes dazzled, and made a decision. I’d communicated with that new company to make sure my settings wouldn’t suddenly collapse, and then, late at night, sailing forward on old tiredness and a fresh caffeine buzz, opened an account and began the process.

A day later I realized I’d made a terrible mistake.

I had accidentally swoopingly arranged to have all my domain names owned by TECHODNKEY. Pronounced TECH-O-DiNKY. Aaaaaaaaaaagh! I’ve never typo’d my email address in my life! Why now, when it’s actually important???

So, why not just change the email address back? Well, because ICANN (governing body for domain names) considers *that* a change of ownership and requires confirmation from… you guessed it: .

Okay, I used to be a troubleshooter as well! I can deal with this! Admittedly, there was probably something I could have done through the registrar, but instead of having the embarrassing conversation with the folks at Support, I spent $1.19 CAD at some random, badly-rated-but-cheap-first-year registrar for the domain I connected it to my existing hosting, set a forward on the email, and voila! I can approve my “ownership transfer” back to myself at techDONKEY. Times 20 domain names. Sigh.

So this is what I’ve been doing sporadically for the last three days. One of my domains “arrives” in my account, I edit the techodnkey email adress in three places each, and then “transfer ownership” back to TechDonkey. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. While complaining, and randomly startling my wife with shouts of “TECH-O-DNKY! Aaagh!”

This morning my phone rang.

A kind gentleman who said he was from a website design firm said they’d noticed that I’d just registered — he paused here for a moment before carefully enunciating — “tech-oh-dinkey dot com” and surmised that I might wish to build a … tech – 0h -dinky… website… and his firm just happened to build the best …er…. ma’am? …. ma’am?

TechDonkey closing

Dear Elaine Miller / TechDonkey customer;

Hi folks. As I’m sure you’ve been expecting, I’m folding the last wee bits of TechDonkey, as its time has come.

I’ll be moving to smaller, non-professional digs, and my rather expensive plot on the server farm will close up shop on Dec 12, 2014.

This part’s important:


This entails two parts. Firstly make sure your domain name is registered to you and not me, and secondly, move the files and functions of your site to some other hosting company.


If your domain name ( is not registered to you or your company, but instead to me, you gotta get it into your name. That’s all of your domains, if you have more than one.

I don’t know! How do I find out?
Look yourself up here by domain name: (or any whois tool/website of your liking)
Scroll down and look at the registrant name.
Is it me? You WILL need to change the registration.
Is it you? You DON’T need to change the registration.

How do I change the registration name?
Scroll to the end of this email for that info.

Everyone: Don’t forget to also check Step TWO “Hosting”


If you are hosted with me, you’re living in an apartment building slated for demolition. You’ll need to move into new digs.

I don’t know! How do I find out?
Look yourself up here by domain name: (or any whois tool/website of your liking)
Scroll down and look at the registrant info. If you see this: NS1.TECHDONKEYHOSTING.COM, then you are hosted with me and you’ll need to move.

What do I do to move?

1) Set up a hosting account with another hosting company
then when you are ready to move…
2a) If you have Cpanel access, download your own backups (files and databases and email forwarder lists and so forth) OR
2b) If you are just a small site with only WordPress access, request a custom-built giant file package from me at (tell me every single domain name I need to grab for you)
3) Move into your new site hosting (Upload files, reinstall apps, re-hook-up databases)
4) Point your domain name at the new hosting. Done.

reminder / warning
Once you have your backup, swap right away. Your site will have a hiatus of 8 – 24 hours after the DNS settings are changed where changes made on oldhosting WILL NOT show up on newhosting. (Explanation: newhosting site is created using an uploaded snapshot of the exact moment of backup. Say you do the big backup on Dec 1, and then set up the new account and upload it on Dec 2, and then the DNS info takes a while to propagate through the internet, and by Dec 3 everything is current at your new address. Anything you blogged, any changes you made, all comments coming in, etc from Dec 1 to Dec 3 at the old location will be lost.)


There are a godzillion hosting companies out there. You choose according to how much space you need, how fast, what kind of help you need, or where the servers are if you like Canadian-style privacy.

– I can help with details a bit as my store workload allows.
– Krisztina Kun can be hired for tech help, gorgeous design, and can do very small-type hosting. Contact her through
– If you’re looking for a commercial host, try   MDDHosting.



The TechDonkey server will have its life support removed on

Dec 12th, 2014

All websites, database, files, folders, pictures, and settings will disappear for good.



How we do this depends on the particular registrar (the company we rent the names from), and whether you are keeping the same registrar or using a new one.

One way is for you to request it from your own registrar and then I get an email which I confirm and then the ownership changes. Another way is for me to “push” ownership to your email address, which you then confirm.

It is possible that you have control of the domain, but that my name still attaches to it. Check into it and make sure the domain is yours, all yours!

1) Choose the registrar you want to rent the domain name from. It’s generally easiest to stay with the existing registrar, but it’s your choice who you go with. You’ll need to set up your own account with that registrar if you don’t have one already.

2) In the WHOIS info you’ve been looking at is the name of the registrar, often or, but not always. Look on the site of the registrar for instructions. Here are a couple to start with:

3) Once you know what registrar you want to “catch” the domain name with, and which is the current one, and what your preferred method is, email me at and tell me so, giving me the name of every domain we need to swap, and what registrar is holding them for us. Once I have that info, I’ll help you shoot them across.

A domain name needs to have its DNS records pointing at your current hosting in order to work. If you transfer and ignore this step, your website will be present BUT invisible to the internet (“it’s down, Jim”) until you fix that.



Your fees might have been carried, waived, or traded for sponsorship.
If not, the most common plans were:
$50 a year for full hosting with CPanel access
$25 a year for simple hosting with WordPress only
$15 a year to pay to register your domain name for you.

If you have an unpaid balance, it can be paid most easily by PayPal to
If you’re wondering about anything, contact me at



I wish you well you on this next step of your internet journey. Do please let me know when you’ve safely completed the swap and are sailing happily into the future, so I can make a wee checkmark next to your name in this huge list I’m keeping here.

very best regards
– Elaine


The Internet Analogy List

To help you think about the concepts we employ…

The World Wide Web is a World Wide Town

Your computer is like an assistance dog, trained to run and fetch things for you to look at.

Your website is your collection of belongings and furniture and appliances.

Your webhost is your landlord.

Your server, where your website resides, is like the house or apartment you rent.

The mail server is an old-fashioned post office.

The DNS, or domain Name server (or nameserver) is the town gossip, who knows everything about everybody., and specifically is able to give directions to your house to strangers in town.

A domain Name is your unique name (,

Your IP address is the street address where your house is built.


Cookies? Nope, no-one’s baking anything. Here’s the simplest way to describe a cookie:Imagine that you’re a first-time customer in a great big store. When you walk in, the greeter pats you invisibly on the back, and slips a business card in your front shirt pocket. The card has on it only the name of the store, and a unique number.

If you just look around, and then exit, the store doesn’t need to enter stuff on the card – but if you join the points club, enter a draw, buy with a credit card, or other stuff, the greeter may magically make a note on the card in your pocket, depending on their privacy policy and your own agreements.

This mean that your private info is kept on *your* computer, not on theirs.

The next time you come back, the greeter pats you on the back, and picks your pocket. It finds the card, (ignoring cookies form other stores and sites) and sees that you’ve been a gone for a while, and have shown interest in buying Science Fiction books. “Hi, Joan Smith.” it says “We have some new SF books since you’ve been here last.”

By far, most cookies are used for forces of good. It’s often convenient for you to have a site (where you’re a legitimate user) know who you are. Many cookies are used to stop repeat visitors from getting the same pop-up window again and again. Many membership sites, where you have to log in, can’t work without cookies, because without them, every new page will treat you like a first-time surfer.

Cookies can be set to evaporate after a certain time (days or years or minutes or when you hit the “log out” button).

There’s a potential for abuse here, certainly. But mostly they’re just useful.


Called hypertext markup language, HTML ain’t very daunting if you start easy.Think of a page from a textbook from your high school days.

Now imagine that it all had to be typed out on an old-time typewriter, and you couldn’t make some things bold and some things italicized and couldn’t separate the paragraphs in any way — everything is just one long string of unremarkable text.

Now, imagine that you could type little thingies into that page so that when someone looks at it, they see the heading and the subheadings, the discrete paragraphs, the bold, the italic, the graphs and the pictures.

That’s what HTML does. The “thingies” are called tags. Tags generally come in pairs, one to say “start doing this”, and one to say “stop doing that”. Your browser (Mozilla, Opera, Internet Explorer, etc) knows how to interpret the tags.

Reading from the left to right, there will be one tag that says “start making this text bold” and then, after a word or a sentence, there’s another tag that says “stop bolding now”.

There’s all sorts of tags, for “This is a header” “here’s a paragraph” “this text is a link to”, and “stick an image right here”… and many, many more.

To save space and keep things simple, the tags are standard and as brief as possible. Instead of saying “make this bold”, we put in a tag, and instead of saying “stop being bold”, we use a tag.

The reason it works is that the consortium of folks who develop HTML and the software folks who make browsers have mostly (kinda) agreed on what little tag means what. If they disagreed, the browsing public would not be able to see anything except what their own little browser was trained to see. (Which is why really old browsers make designers tear out our hair — they’re behind the times, and haven’t been trained to read the newest tags)


When you build a website or contract to have one built, you decide what fonts (typefaces) you’d like to use.

(Fonts can be in word-graphics, like in a logo, or in navigation bars. Human eyes can see this as text, but it’s really a picture of text, and machines can’t read it, and search engines can’t pick it up, so that ain’t what we’re talking about here.)

The thing to remember when you choose the text font for your website is this: it doesn’t matter how cool the font is that you choose — if the person viewing your site from his or her computer doesn’t have that very same font installed, they’re not going to see it — they’ll see a substitution font.

There are a couple of technical methods for having fancy fonts embedded in a webpage, but they’re often expensive, difficult, or annoying for the client, and they can “break the page” (make it look wonky or unreadable) in many browsers.

What you can do is, in the html-coded font specification for the page, list the cool font you really want folks to see first, and then give a few secondary and tertiary options that also appeal to you. Chances are good that someone will have at least one of them.


POP3 mail

POP3 stands for Post Office Protocol 3. That’s because your server acts very much like a real post office.

Here’s how it goes.

Firstly, You have to have an agreement with some server somewhere to act as your post office, and you’ll have gotten a username, password, and the names of the POP3 (your mail comes in) and SMTP (your mail goes out) servers. Either you or some geek you know will carefully type all this info into the right place in your email application, which keeps it so you only have to type in this info again if you change something major.

You sit at your computer. You wake up your email application, and say “Go get my mail, eh?”
The email application sends a request along the line to the specific server you have the agreement with. This can be your own domain (,,, or the domain name of the folks who sell you internet service. (,,

Say, for instance, that your email address is (yes, I know it’s actually my email address, but bear with me). Your username is elaine, your password is banana, and your pop3 server name is pop3.ElaineMiller.Com.

The dialogue would go kinda like this if you could translate it into English.

Emailer: “Knock, knock.”
server: “pop3.ElaineMiller.Com post office. Whose email do you want?”
Emailer: “Elaine’s email please. I am Elaine’s computer.”
server: “Prove you are Elaine”
Emailer: “The secret password is… banana”
server: “Okay, I’m spitting your email down the wire to you. Four messages.” (Ptoo! Ptoo! Ptoo! Ptoo!)
Emailer: “Four messages. Got ’em all. Delete your copies.”
server: “Messages sent and erased off of this computer. Pleasure to serve you!”

Okay. Now your email is in your home computer, as files, and your emailer helps you view and work with the contents of those files.

When you choose to send something, you talk to a different part of the server.


Think of webmail like a post office that you have to visit in person, from any computer anywhere. Instead of handing your mail to you and letting you go home with it, the imaginary postal clerk holds each piece of mail for you, opened out and flat against the glass between you, and you read it there. One at a time.

You can send replies, forward email, delete, store it, simply by typing directions to the clerk behind the window. *

When you leave the post office, you’re don’t have a bag full of mail — anything you haven’t deleted is still in the post office, and the next time you visit (no matter where you visit from), you can look at it all over again.

Some companies are famous for offering free webmail services, such as Hotmail, Yahoo, and so forth. These services generally don’t offer a POP3 service unless you pay for it.

Webmail access to your POP3 account

Many hosts (like DykeTech.Com) give you webmail access to your regular POP3 box. Confused? Here’s how that goes.

On Monday you sit at your regular computer, open your email application and ask for your mail. It shoots down the line to you, and there it is in your computer.

On Tuesday you’re in Banff for a conference, and you go to an internet cafe, and use the browser to access your mailbox. Now, Monday’s mail is on your computer at home, so you can’t see it. But Tuesday’s mail is right here. You read a few, reply to the important ones, and delete three SPAM mails, and then leave the cafe to enjoy the scenery for the rest of the day.

On Wednesday, you’re back at your home computer. You open your email application, check your mailbox, and down the line comes not only Wednesday’s mail, but Tuesday’s as well — except for the deleted messages, which are gone for good.

If you don’t have a home computer, or want to keep all your mail on the server for some other reason, you’d best be sure you have a big mailbox. Just like in real life, mail takes up space.

* You can ask the imaginary webmail clerk to save a message or its attachment to whatever computer you’re on, as well

Design and Content

Design is more than the look of the page and the fonts you choose. It’s also how the material is presented an used, how the navigation gets you from place to place, plus any interactivity — like forms, or membership log-in areas.In its simplest form, bare-bones design is putting unadorned text and graphics together (content) and linking pages to other pages in the site and outside of it. (That linking is what makes it a world wide web.)

– You decide what the site will contain. A one-page info sheet for your business? A bunch of your high school poetry and some pictures of your dog? A home for your online diary (blog, weblog)? A big community site with forums and memberships? A catalog of all your wares?
– You decree what it’ll look like, according to your skill level, your taste, or the skills of whomever you hire.
Disco balls? Flashing lights? Quiet pinstripes?
– You decide how big your site will be. Do you want a mansion or a simple information kiosk? How many rooms (subdirectories with webpages)? Sparse and spare, or lush and overstuffed? Organized or chaotic?

Webpages and Surfing

A webpage, generally, is a single file, with perhaps other files attached to it (by means of the author linking stuff within the text of the document), such as graphics, sounds, or scripts.When you type in a URL (the wordy version of the address of a file) in the address bar of your browser, or click a link on another page, or click a link in your mail program, you are actually asking for your computer to fetch a file for you, off the server that houses that webpage.

Here’s the URL to the title page of this very set of documents, all stretched out

(edit, Aug 2008: The address has changed a bit these days, but I’m leaving the old example in place so I don’t have to inject needless complications about the backend software I use to keep the site up to date, and the way it handily rewrites URLS for me. See, aint your head spinning just from that?)




This part dictates the protocol, or language that you’re speaking, and starts you off at the root of the internet. This part is the domain name, which your browser will find out how to translate into your numerical (IP) address. This part says that in the website, we go a level down into the “internet-explained” subdirectory. This part has the actual name of the file you’d like to see.

The browser contacts the server which houses the webpage or other file you’d like to see, and it asks for it.

The server, which just lives for this moment of service, hands over the file, which squirts down the wires to your computer.
If it’s a standalone file like a JPEG or GIF image file, the server’s job is done.
If it’s a webpage with embedded graphics or sounds or such, the browser and server conspire to fetch the linked files along with the webpage, so you’ll receive a small collection of files, and see one whole webpage, with background pattern, graphics, pictures, or sound.

When you click on a link to a page, that exact process starts all over again.