Are domain registration, web site, and email hosting all connected?

A friend writes:

I had registered my domain with GoDaddy, with the domain registration (and private registration) paid up through 3/30/2019. Web hosting expires 3/30/2015. My understanding is that the expiration date for the hosting is irrelevant to me now, right? The site and email have been hosted on Gmail for years, so it doesn’t matter that they’re expiring on GoDaddy, right?

And then in 2019, do I just shop around for anybody who charges the least to re-register the domain?

I haven’t uploaded new files to my web site in a while, but I believe the FTP passwords and settings date back to when I signed up with GoDaddy. Do they change?

Confusion on this is common, but easily cleared up:

Domain registration, web site hosting, and email hosting are three distinct and separate services.

GoDaddy is your domain registrar, and also your web site host. Google is your email host.

Of course you want to keep your domain going, presumably forever. And email for @yourdomain.com as well. Whether you continue to want a web site, we can discuss.

Domain: Shopping around for a domain registrar in 2019: I still really like and frequently recommend GoDaddy, who keep their prices pretty low. Namecheap.com is great and the cheapest I’ve found. Hover is just a bit pricier, but the most clean and considered approach. The price difference between any of these is perhaps $7/year, so I don’t choose strictly by price alone. I myself have domains at GoDaddy and Namecheap, and I’m happy with both, but prefer GoDaddy’s customer service, though Hover’s is better.

Email host: Google for Business (using their email et al. with your domain) is no longer free for new subscribers, but you are grandfathered into free. But if you did want to change email hosts, the other one I recommend is Microsoft Office 365 at $5/month or so, depending on the plan you choose. There are others, of course, but those are the two with the most moxy.

Web site: I assume you want to keep your web site live, in which case it’ll be easiest to renew with GoDaddy. (Passwords for your site wouldn’t have changed if you didn’t change ’em; this would be a good opportunity for me to recommend making sure your email and web site admin passwords are strong.) If you did want to change hosts, that’s doable but a longer discussion. If you didn’t want a web site, then just let it expire, but I’d recommend exporting and downloading your content first.

Modern email hosting

My current email service stinks. Three different people reported to me recently that they had emails kicked back from my address address. I spoke to my host, who said they were doing maintenance over the weekend.

I really can’t have an email address that is subject to occasional maintenance. Do you have a suggestion as to where I can host it? I was with Network Solutions but had problems with them as well. I’m seriously thinking about just going with my gmail address for business and everything.

Here’s the scoop: We now have two excellent and similarly priced options for hosted email: Microsoft Office 365 or Google for Business.

I’m a Google reseller, and I’ve used and loved their product for years now. All my @playworksync.com email goes through Google, and I can use any email software or the super-powerful Gmail web site to get at it. Great collaborative calendar stuff, and a whole ecosystem of third-party apps to tie into it.

Microsoft has made a quite amazing turnaround in the last couple of years, and their Office 365 reflects that. People who want a true Exchange experience (in many ways still the best in the industry) no longer have to own and maintain their own server. And if you pay a bit more, it can include your license for Microsoft Office, in keeping with the new software-as-subscription model adopted by Adobe and many others.

Really, I can recommend either of those solutions. Let me know whenever you want to make the switch. You’ll never look back.

Gmail tip: Clear your inbox in one swell foop

The number of messages in your inbox is entirely a matter of personal preference. Having more in there does not affect the performance of your email or other any of your devices. The number of unread messages in any given mailbox is similarly left to the user’s habits.

That said, I myself have undergone a minor maturation recently, in that I finally recognize the value of keeping one’s inbox clear. I learned to change my ways because Gmail makes it so easy:

All you have to do is “Archive” your messages. That takes the messages out of the inbox but leaves them in the “All Mail” folder. (In Gmail-speak, it removes the “inbox” label.) Messages are still there, still searchable, but totally out of your way.

The Apple Mail apps are not great for this procedure, but the Gmail web site does it beautifully. You’ll see the Archive button right up top. I select multiple messages using keyboard shortcuts: first, the up and down arrow keys to move between messages, the “x” key to select, and finally I hit “e” to archive.

To Archive all of your inbox, click the Select checkbox — the master one, the little grey square that sits to the left of the “Refresh” and “More” buttons. That selects all the messages on the page, and you’ll see this text at the top of the message list: “All 50 conversations on this page are selected.”

Next to that, click “Select all xxx conversations in ‘Inbox.’”

Then click the “Archive” button that now appears above the messages, the little box with the arrow pointing down.

BOOM: Inbox Zero!

And now, here’s my newest new way of doing things: I’ve now started using an awesome free iOS app called Mailbox. It is one of a breed of mobile apps helps me process email much faster, by giving me a single button that will archive all my read messages.

J2 News: Prevent Someone From Becoming You

Black HatIf you got my last newsletter, you know that this is the year when we all — the whole internet-using universe — become targets for bad hackers. We’ve already learned how they will try to get at our Macs. Now we need to look at how our online accounts and identities are vulnerable. Please at least read the first section, on passwords.

Got GSP? Picking a Good, Strong Password

You know how, recently, you might see a spate of emails from a friend that you know are junk — invitations to off-shore pharmacies and the like? And then that same friend emails everyone in his or her address book, to the effect of, “Sorry, someone hijacked my email!”?

Well, that happened because your friend had a password that was too simple, too easy to crack, and someone cracked it and took control of the mailbox.

This intrusion is not just an inconvenience to your friend and the people in their inbox. If someone has your email password, they can get passwords to ALL of your other online accounts, including possibly banking. And hackers make money — more than you might think — by acquiring access to things like passwords, online accounts, credit card numbers, etc. (Hackers commit other kinds of crimes, too, but let’s continue.)

How do they do it? I’m not a hacker, but I can abstract it: The bad guys have their computers scan the internet for, say, @gmail.com addresses. Then they point other software at the Gmail servers, and run software to try to log in to known accounts by guessing all the possible password permutations. Unless you’re famous and being specifically targeted, they’re not researching the names of your kids and pets. They just run through the dictionary, and common names, and number sequences (e.g., “1234”), and their bots work really fast. If your password is more simple than what I’ve outlined below, they can guess it.

Here’s a real disconcerting site, which I found by googling “crack gmail password.” There are others.

So, I’ve already posted this, but it’s well worth restating:
Please — as in, umm, now — please create a Good, Strong Password for your email and any other important online accounts.

A Good, Strong Password contains:

  • at least 10 characters of both letters and numbers
  • at least 1 capital letter, preferably in the middle
  • at least one non-alphanumeric character, preferably in the middle
  • no recognizable names or words.

Microsoft words their recommendations slightly differently, and offers one tip for creating a password. I like their suggestion of choosing a memorable phrase and building the password from there. I even think that choosing a full sentence with capitals and punctuation might be a good way to remember the password; a bunch of recognizable words would be safe-ish. I also like passwords that are easy to type, as long as they don’t contain keys in order, such as “fghj.” Here are some other tips.

I have met every different kind of personality when it comes to creating and remembering passwords. And believe me, I have every sympathy for people who feel they have more important things to do with their brains. Unfortunately, we have come to a time when, from here on out, you either keep your digital stuff locked tight, or you get your life messed with.

Keeping Track

The natural question that follows is, how do I keep up with all my passwords? Fortunately, your Mac has an excellent built-in device for this, called the keychain. Several software packages are also available for Macs and PCs. Check out my full write-up on the keychain and other options.

Do the It’s-Really-Me Two-Step

There is another method to lock your ID even tighter. It’s called “two-factor” or “two-step” authentication. Not every service offers it, and I won’t lie and say it ain’t for those who like to keep technology simple. But Google has rolled it out, even to their free accounts, and it is as smooth as I could expect something like this to be.

You dance the Google two-step like this: When you sign into a new computer — or every 30 days on your usual computers — besides accepting your password, Google sends you a text message with a code. You have to enter that code on the Google web site to continue.

Google two-step verification

Also, for all your other apps that access your account, such as an email or calendar program, Google will generate a single-use “application” password that you only have to enter once; it will get stored by your computer or phone, and if said device gets stolen, you can revoke permission.

“Gosh, this sounds like fun!” you’re saying. You can’t wait for us to come over and show you this awesome new computery thing. Just wait! There’s more…

Google offers a couple of backup verification methods in case you can’t get a text: You can receive a voicemail with the code, or your phone can run an app that generates a code for you, or you can carry a piece of paper with 10 “backup” codes on it. Really, I’m not kidding.

They also will do a retinal scan and test your DNA against a sample they keep in a cryo-vault… OK, that time I was kidding.

Enabling Two-Step Verification for your Google account is in your Account Settings. It’s a bit of a process, and I recommend reading carefully each step of the way.

Facebook also does this login two-step now, which is good because 750,000,000 accounts are a terrifically big honey pot, and we all know someone whose account got hacked. Go to the Account Security section in Account Settings, and make it look like this:

Facebook Account Security settings

Facebook should already know your cell number, and will text you a code to enter.

I dearly wish more services were doing the two-step. Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, Apple iTunes — they should all get on this bandwagon. But the smart ones are at least starting to require Good, Strong Passwords.

Welcome to the Age of the Hack. Don’t shoot the messenger.

New Mac, need more wireless, how about a mini media server?, and ready for Google Apps!

• I’m replacing my 2006 MBP with a shiny new one which will arrive this week – a fully loaded 15”.

Woohoo!

• What’s the best migration approach?

Your new Mac will ask if you have an old Mac, and instruct you through booting the old one to “Target Disk Mode,” and connecting the Macs via FireWire. Then you hit “Go,” and ALLLLL your stuff — user accounts and home folders, applications, support files, network configurations — will get brought over to the new machine, which will finish booting and reveal itself to be just like your old one.

• I use SuperDuper to back up to local disks at home and at the office.

I love SuperDuper, and really like to use it in conjunction with Time Machine. They can coexist on the same backup drive, even if you set SuperDuper to “SmartUpdate.”

• Shared drive for the family network – mainly as a music server – just hang a drive off the Airport extreme?

The main thing to consider about an AirDisk (disk attached to an Airport, or the built-in hard drive of a Time Capsule) is that there’s no easy way to run daily, incremental backups from the AirDisk to another storage device. So the AirDisk is really best (read: solely) used as a backup itself. For home media server, one of my top three most favorite projects currently — which, incidentally, also include setting up a Mac mini with OS X Server in a business, and hooking a business or household together with Google Apps — is putting a beautiful little Mac mini with Server in the central entertainment system of a household, plugging it into a big flat-screen with HDMI, and making it the kickass, full-throttled media jukebox for the whole family.

Plus, the mini becomes central file and backup storage for every Mac on the property. Time Machine from Mac to Server is so very sweet.

Important to say at this point that there are some great, small PCs coming out with Windows Media Center (ewwwwwww!) or, better, Linux. They can run a media front-end such as Boxee that is pretty easy to operate with a simple remote. But without question, even in spite of its high price tag, the Mac — running Boxee and Plex and Hulu Desktop and maybe an EyeTV One — is currently the best platform for the job.

• My colleagues and I are ready to transition away from an in-house Microsoft environment – we have an Exchange server for 4 people – to Gmail, cloud storage, etc.

I am, as I say above, fully ready to help any business of any size move to Google Apps. It, and services closely related, are the best thing that has happened to the internet since the Web. And we are very able to do work in Austin, and lots can be done remotely.

• Upgrade the home network – right now running one Airport extreme which is not sufficient to cover the house – at some point I may need a wiring guy to enable broader wireless coverage.

Certainly ethernet cable is always the most reliable mode of networking. Everyone with a home, however, should know about PowerLine adapters: run network through your home electrical system. Sometimes cheaper per drop, depending on the house, but always more convenient than hiring a cabling contractor, especially if you only need, say, one or two more drops to attach to Airport Expresses, which are great for extending an Airport network.

Posted via email from J2 Tech Blog

Our Current Methods

Attached: Our Current Methods
Message from info@j2mac.com:

http://bit.ly/j2currentmethods I am inspired to create a doc that has all of our current methodologies. I'm going to update it from time to time, and rely on Google Docs to keep revisions.

Google Docs makes it easy to create, store and share online documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

Google Docs logo

The Usual Scenario

Client buys a new Mac

Typical Purchase

Single CPU for home or small biz. Client should walk out of the Apple Store with at least:

  • Mac

I think everyone should have a laptop as their main computer, buy maybe they really want an iMac.

  • AppleCare

Maaaybe someone wants to buy at Best Buy and get their extra coverage, but I want every Mac to have AppleCare. Businesses can negotiate for custom AppleCare quotes.

  • External hard drive
    (See the section on Backups for current software selections.)

This can be a 1TB or 2TB Time Capsule, but if they already have a wireless router, then an external drive with FireWire is essential. In San Antonio, the 3 brands that both are available and don’t suck completely are LaCie and G-Tech (Apple Store) and Seagate (Best Buy). 

The number of LaCie d2 Quadra drives we have unpacked and installed has probably entered 3 digits: FireWire 800 is now standard on every Mac except the MacBook, and the extra option of eSATA rocks. Until recently, we spec’ed the 500GB model, but since the 1TB unit is $154 on Amazon, that size has entered the sweet spot of price-per-gigabyte.

 

Email

  • Consumers

If a client uses an email address given them by their ISP, we immediately start pushing them to sign up for a Gmail address. If they don’t want to do it, fine, but it’s easy to assure them that the process, described below, is quite easy and painless.

So, obviously you sign ’em up http://gmail.com. Then we turn on forwarding in the ISP’s webmail, and the vacation responder as well, to say, “Thanks for writing me. Please know that, from now on, you can find me at yaddayadda@gmail.com.” Also, in Gmail settings, we configure a filter that “labels” any mail sent to the old address as, for example, “satx.rr.com” or “sbcglobal” or whatever.

Other Gmail settings to tweak are: keyboard shortcuts ON, IMAP enabled, and HTTPS/SSL enforced.

Obviously, we are usually going to configure Apple’s Mail.app. See this hint for a good tweaking of Google’s recommended config for Mail (I am going to comment on that hint with a couple of amendments that I have found useful). But I want people to get familiar with the Google webmail interface. Show them filters and labels. Consider showing them Docs, Calendar, and Buzz, and even Wave if they’re a bit nerdy.

  • Businesses

Business clients are always asked who their email host is, if any. 

New Mac setup

  • Run Software Update.
  • Next, System Preferences:

    1. Desktop & Screen Saver: Turn off “Translucent menu bar,” and demo RSS screensaver.
    2. Security: Turn on the Firewall and enable Stealth Mode. Consider “Require password to wake from sleep.”
    3. Keyboard: Turn on “All controls” for a tab-able interface.
    4. Trackpad: Turn on “Tap to click.”
    5. Sharing: Anonymize computer name. Consider File and Screen Sharing for desktops, but turn off every service on laptops.
    6. Accounts: Configure second admin account called “Administrator,” with the same password as the primary user. On laptops, turn off “Automatic login.” On any Mac, turn on “Allow guests to log in,” and turn off “Allow guests to connect to shared folders.” Consider additional user accounts and fast user switching.
    7. Date & Time: Make sure network time service is enabled.
    8. Time Machine: (See section on Backups.)
  • Next, install freeware: See this blog post for Things I Download on Every Mac. Direct links are included.
  • Safari: Turn on Autofill for “User names and passwords,” and “When a new tab or window opens, make it active.” Set new windows and new tabs to open to “Empty Page.”
  • Mail.app: Bold unread messages. See above for configuring Mail for Gmail.

Backups
  • On-site
1 Partition on external hard drive. SuperDuper backup will live side-by-side with Time Machine.
Time Machine
SuperDuper (Carbon Copy Cloner is great, but just not as clean, and not anywhere near as FAST as SuperDuper. Also, CCC can’t co-exist with Time Machine backing up to the same partition.)
  • Off-site
MobileMe Backup is fine for basics. If they don’t have MobileMe, consider MozyHome (free) or Carbonite ($5/month and unlimited, use coupon code TWiT.)

Posted via email from J2 Tech Blog

Glowing Apple MacBook skins

Robert Marcus wrote:
Like my new mac sticker?

Just kidding. Have you seen this and others? If not here's the link from Wired: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/02/amazing-iron-man-macbook-sticker/

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Jonathan Marcus <jjmarcus@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Feb 6, 2010 at 11:35 AM
Subject: Re: Like my new mac sticker?
To: Robert Marcus <joggernut@gmail.com>

That's sweet. First one I knew of that took advantage of the Apple is this:

CreationOfAdam.jpg

From http://www.pvpstuff.com/skins.html (heard about on MBW episode 156: http://wiki.twit.tv/wiki/MacBreak_Weekly_156). The glowing Apple's not in the shot, but it's right where the fingers touch.

(BTW, I'm putting this on the blog.)

Posted via email from J2 Tech Blog