Five years ago, in 2005, I decided to start up my own private homepage
in the Internet. We had changed our telephone connection from the
German Telekom to the private enterprise firm of Arcor some time before
that. So it seemed natural to just take up their offer of hosting such
homepages within their own "arcor.de" domain. The deal was that you had
50 megabytes of storage space on their computers, and one gigabyte of
per month, this service being provided free of extra charge. I supposed
that this was reasonable, since after all we were paying for the
telephone and Internet connection to the house. As far as the homepage
was concerned, they offered a number of extra services. For example, in
order to have some sort of detailed information about who might be
clicking into the homepage, one could order a statistics package for
€4.19 per year. Then if the one gigabyte of traffic was insufficient,
an extra gigabyte of traffic for a given month would cost €5.19, and so
on. But I had
no need for such extras. It was possible to see what the total
traffic every month was by seeing how much of the single gigabyte was
used, and it seemed to be a surprisingly constant 300 or so megabytes
every month for the last 3 or 4 years. Well below the gigabyte limit.
So everything was fine.
But then just recently, not having looked at the homepage for a month or more, I suddenly found that Arcor had put a banner onto the top of all my pages, saying this was Arcor, and giving various links to news stories on their main site. They hadn't asked me if I was agreeable to this whole procedure. It wasn't advertising, in a narrow sense, but still, I didn't like it.
Looking at the html page source, I found that just after the </head> instruction in the html code, they had inserted the instruction
I tried reloading
the original pages back into the arcor homepage without this code, but
then when looking at them again using the Internet, I saw that the
instruction had been automatically reinserted. This was all a bit
irritating. Googling various forums turned up numbers of other people
who were similarly irritated. Some had worked out tricks to avoid
having the instruction inserted into their pages, but then when looking
at those pages, I saw that Arcor seemed to have erased them. Very
unfriendly! Furthermore the script which the instruction tried to load
was often very slow. It seems that whatever it is that is at
"home.arcor.de_vl.js" takes a long time to load, so that the page seems
to become stuck in a state of blankness.
Well, I can understand it if Arcor is offering the possibility of having homepages for free to people who do not have their telephone services connected via Arcor. Nevertheless, this doesn't apply to us. We have been paying them quite generous fees for the telephone connection for years now. One possible explanation for the whole business might be that Arcor has recently been taken over by the British telecom giant, Vodafon, and this advertising policy might be a part of their general operating methods.
Whatever the case may be, it was obvious that I must vacate this Arcor business as soon as possible, moving to some other place on the Internet. I had often vaguely thought that it might be nice to have my own domain. Other people who had taken this step clearly found their Internet addresses to be superior to my humble address within the arcor.de domain.
Thus there were two problems. (1) Which Internet hosting service should I use, and (2) What should my domain be called?
As far as problem (1) was concerned, I tried looking for various test reports, listing the different hosting people as being either good or bad. Other sites listed these services in terms of how many domains they administered. And so forth. It seems that "www.strato.de" is the largest hosting service in Germany. Yet in a test site, there was a long description of how somebody tried to move their (comercial) domain from somewhere else to strato, leading to huge problems. The advice at the end was to steer clear of strato at all costs. Then it seems that the second biggest thing in Germany, and the biggest worldwide, is "1and1.com". (In Germany, it's called "1und1.de") But then again, one can find horror stories from disgruntled users of that service as well.
One hosting service which was extremely highly rated was "nx24.com". Looking at their website and what they write there, I decided that that was the thing. Friendly, and each owner of a domain had an individual human advisor somewhere within "nx24.com", who would answer the phone if you have any problems. Wonderful! So I clicked on the button which said "Tarif bestellen" (that is - order this tariff). Immediately, I was confronted with an Internet page saying that the Security Certificate of this site has expired! But from their webpage, those nx24.com people seemed to be so friendly that I decided to write them an email, asking them why their Security Certificate had expired, whether they were aware of this problem, and that if they could explain the situation to me, then I would gladly site my homepage within their hosting services.... But they have still failed to reply to my email.
During these researches, I also became aware of the hosting services at "one.com". This is a Danish company. It also looked good, and I always think that Denmark is a wonderful country when we travel through it. So I decided to try them. Another advantage is that although it is all set up to deal with German sites (as well as in other European countries as well), still, the main language they use is English. Clicking on the "Order" button brought me directly into the whole business of registering my domain, paying for it, and so forth. A very simple procedure; no fuss. Obviously their Security Certificates are in order. They recommend for private homepages simply taking the smallest size, and if that proves to be inadequate, then it is a further simple business to up-size things.
But for me, being used to the sizes of things on "arcor.de", the sizes of the domains on "one.com" are immense! The smallest size is three gigabytes of storage, and an unlimited traffic. (Compare that with Arcor's €5.19 for a single gigabyte of extra traffic!) They sent me a couple of emails, telling me how to get started with my new domain, and so I did.
But immediately there was a problem! After being told via email that the domain was ready to go, one activates things by opening a certain webpage, and then one clicks on a stylish icon which is supposed to open some program which composes html pages. But my computer opens instead a message, telling me that that program only works within Internet Explorer. Since I use Linux, no such programs are on my computer here at home. Therefore I decided to simply ftp my homepage directly into my new domain as I had always done in Arcor. Yet, trying to access things over the Internet, I got the message
"Forbidden: You don't have permission to access / on this server!"
Panic! What was wrong? Was it a mistake to get involved with "one.com"
in the first place? Do they force their users to use all that Microsoft
stuff, leaving open-source people such as me out in the cold? Would I
have to just write off the 14 Euros I had sent them for the first year
of operations, and instead search for some non-Microsoft hosting
Looking further at the "one.com" webpage, I saw a link to an online service chat. So I clicked on that and chatted into the vacuum, telling it my problem. Soon somebody, apparently a real person, chatted back! In English. And very soon it was clear that the problem was that my html files had the wrong permissions. The read permission was not opened for all users. (This is, of course the unix file structure. In fact all these hosting providers, and indeed Google itself, operate using Linux.) Therefore, problem solved, and I was most happy to see that these Danish people have elegantly solved the problem of dealing with inquiries using this chat system.
But before this there was the problem (2), namely what to call my personal domain? I suppose many people would say that the most sensible thing would just be to use my own name. Typing in various things, I discovered that "hemion.com" had already been taken. I have no idea how distantly I am related to the family with that domain. (And in fact for some reason, they redirect things to a domain called "mysite.ncnetwork.net". Maybe they had problems with their original domain hosts or something.) The address "hemion.org" seems to be available. On the other hand, I see that from here, it is simpler and less expensive to have the ".de" ending. Again, "hemion.de" seems to be available. But then, as with the Hemion family at "hemion.com", it seemed to me to be a more pleasant idea to find a different kind of name. However this is certainly not to say that I am dissatisfied with the family name. Heaven forbid! It is, in fact, an elegant French name. The original Hemions were Huguenots, who escaped to North America in the 17th or 18th centuries.
Letting various words float up into the conscious mind for consideration, it seemed to me that very few describe the thing which is actually to be described. Most websites have very cryptic names which would be meaningless for the uninitiated. In fact, thinking about it, it seems to me that there must be at most a few hundred English words which actually describe what one does in a homepage such as this. The word "meandering" seemed singularly apt. And it was available. So there you are!