This website is hosted on MacHighway, a web hosting company that’s been around since 1997. In internet years, that’s almost pre-Holocene. There are lots of reasons why I have used them for nearly 4 years, including world-class customer service. I’ve gotten live help (on the rare occasions that I need it) at odd hours and days. They are very Mac-centric, although the Mac does not have any special needs in running a website, it’s nice to talk to someone who is familiar with the Mac. They have competitive prices, lots of bandwidth, and, for a shared server service, good speed. I have looked at some of the other big name web hosting companies, and I just wasn’t impressed.
For those of you who haven’t tried setting up your own website, it is really a lot of fun. The hosting side is a bit more complicated than I had originally hoped, but the staff at MacHighway provide all the assistance you need. Seriously, I have it down to pushing one button to send updates to the host for my website. Depending on the number of files I’m sending, it takes just a few seconds.
They also have online web design, which looks to be pretty nice and easy to use. For a few dollars, you could create your own online marketplace, blog, or just a location to host all of your family photos (so that you don’t exceed the bandwidth limitations of some of the commercial services).
It’s a complete “turnkey” solution if you want to be a part of the interwebs.
To design, modify and publish my website, I use RapidWeaver from RealMac Software. I’ll admit that I am not an expert in HTML, CSS, and whatever else is needed for good website coding. I wanted something powerful enough to make my website design look unique and interesting, while being easy enough to use so that I’m not overwhelmed with brackets, indents, and other stuff. In fact, this page is written in a mixture of RapidWeaver templates, along with some coding that I wanted to make it look a bit better. I can combine it without changing a setting.
I’ve added a lot of upgrades to RapidWeaver. Right out of the box (well, there’s no box, you buy it in the Mac App Store), it’s very powerful, but not very expensive. But because it’s probably the #1 web authoring program for the Mac, there is a vibrant marketplace for plug-ins and add-ons (like themes). I’ve purchased a couple of themes that I’m not using (sometimes they just don’t work out), and a few plug-ins that work very well.
RapidWeaver contains a lot of different pages to run your website. It has basic text pages, blogging, photos (that easily links with your iPhoto library), videos and other media. The pages are so easy to set up and use. And you’ll spend hours trying to figure out which is the best looking theme (I think 20-30 actually come with RapidWeaver). But there are literally hundreds of themes that you can purchase, along with dozens of plug-ins that increase the versatility and beauty of your website.
Although this is the third website I’ve set up, I’m still learning about what themes are the best for both myself as the sole content contributor and to the reader. You might see wholesale changes, followed by a complete reversion in a couple of hours if I don’t like the results.
One small issue with RapidWeaver is that it’s blogging page is not well designed. It works very well and looks as good as any blog out there. But the way it handles the uploading of content to the web host is a bit clumsy, in that it doesn’t upload changes, but everything you’ve ever written and posted. So, after a year or so, a change can take a few minutes to upload.
All of my blogging is done on WordPress, which is hosted by MacHighway (which provides it for free, and provides step by step instructions for installation). I think from the moment I installed it to my first posting was less than an hour. All of my writing is done within my browser (Safari 5), and is hosted in a hidden folder within my website. Using the WP-blog plug-in, the WordPress blog is placed inside the RapidWeaver theme, making a unified look for my website. All WordPress/Jetpack plugins work perfectly in the sidebar. I have some integration with Twitter available through various plug-ins from WordPress. Furthermore, using Google’s Feed Burner, my blog is tweeted to my followers within a few minutes of posting.
Though this process may appear to be a complicated way to post a blog, it gives me all the power of the WordPress family of tools combined with the beauty and readability of RapidWeaver themes and design.
In this scheme, the WordPress themes are suppressed, and the RapidWeaver themes take precedence. I think it looks very nice, and it is much more powerful than the RapidWeaver blog. Furthermore, being associated with WordPress provides a higher SEO (search engine optimization) which brings more eyes to your blog/website, an important factor to growing (and monetizing) your web presence.
If you have any questions or need assistance, please send me a message on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
As you might assume, I built this website using a Mac, a brand I have been using since the day it was launched in 1984. I’ve probably owned nearly 150 different Macs over the years, but for the last four years, I have only used the MacBook Pro. This particular model is a MacBook Pro 15”, with a quad-core i7 Intel processor, 8GB RAM, AMD Radeon HD 6490M 256 MB graphics processor, and a really cool multi-touch trackpad. I haven’t purchased anything special with this particular Mac, though I have, in the past, connected a monitor for more desktop space. Otherwise, I do all my work on it.
I’m not sure it’s very productive to get into the age-old Mac vs. PC arguments, but there are a few basic reasons why I choose a Mac:
- Beautiful design. I enjoy industrial design, and there is an elegance to how the computer is put together. This has nothing to do with technology, but just with ergonomics and looks. Walk into a Starbucks and you can instantly tell what is a Mac. You can easily tell what is not a Mac, but other than that, there is nothing that distinguishes them.
- Superior technology. The multitouch trackpad is unbelievable. Once I started to memorize all the different actions with 1, 2, 3 and/or 4 fingers, I was able to move around my laptop quickly. That’s important on laptop, because you have a limited screen footprint to manipulate several windows. And that’s just one of a list of technical advances.
- Fit and finish. I have no evidence but my own experience (which if you read my blog, I would strongly criticize), but Apple uses better parts, a better case, and better components. This means the laptop is more robust and should last longer. But others could say the same about their anonymous laptop that isn’t a Mac.
- It just works. I haven’t used a Windows computer in a couple of years, but I remember spending hours just trying to get a webcam running on a laptop. When I plug in a peripheral, as long as it’s Mac compatible, it starts running perfectly. When you install a program, you know how it runs, because almost everything has the same menus and the same basic learning curve.
I also voluntarily give my time to the Apple Community Discussions, where Apple users share their ideas, tips and solutions with other Apple users worldwide. I usually contribute to iPhone, MacBook Pro, Aperture, OSX, and iTunes communities. I’m now a Level 5 contributor, meaning I’ve given enough “helpful” and “solved” answers to questions to accumulate a lot of “points.” I’ve been actually contributing for nearly 10 years, so my participation has been rather steady over the years. I also learn a lot just by investigating problems.
I’m a computer geek, and I love my Mac.