A couple of people have asked me some technical questions about this blog (and one of them gave a very glowing comment about the layout). I thought that it would be a good chance to put in some Shameless Plugs for products and services that I use. I also want to let people know how easy (and cheap) it can be to set up a blog using Microsoft technologies and some external services. Note: I am going to mention several companies and products in this post. I want to let you know that I have no affiliation or financial interest in them with the exception of Microsoft (who I work for).
Domain Registration – Hover (http://hover.com)
I recommend that you register a domain name directly with a domain name provider. Most hosting companies will allow you to register a domain name when you sign up for your account and some even include the cost of the domain name in your hosting package. I avoid this because it ties me to the hosting provider to some extent. Most of them will let you transfer the domain name, but it is a hassle. I LOVE Hover because they have an awesome user interface, let you easily change DNS records without having a separate nameserver and their price (which seems a little high) also includes private registration for your domain (keeps your personal information from being searched). When you compare their one price to the upsell for that service on other providers, it is a bargain. Look for discount codes as well (generally 10% off any order).
Price: About $15/year for one domain
Hosting Company – ASPnix (http://aspnix.com)
There are a lot of good companies that will provide Microsoft (ASP.NET) hosting. This is a great one! There cost is reasonable and they do a good job of keeping up with updates to the .NET Framework. The best part is there package allows you to host up to 7 seperate sites (I have 2 blogs, the podcast, a family site and a couple of microsites all on the one account).
Blogging Software – DasBlog (http://dasblog.info/)
DasBlog is a very full featured blogging platform. It provides “out of the box” functionality for just about everything that you can think of. One of the best parts is that it requires no database! It uses a series of XML files to store your site configuration, your content (posts, comments, trackbacks) and all the security settings. This makes it FTP friendly and true XCOPY deployment. It is built on the .NET Framework and ASP.NET (1.1). It features multiple skins (I use the Tricolor one).
Photo Sharing – Flickr (http://flickr.com)
I will occasionally add a photo that I have taken to a blog entry and most of these are hosted on my flickr account (feel free to check out my other photos). I think the picture adds to the blog in a nice way and I hope that you do to. I do not host screen shots on the Flickr account because most screen shots contain copyrighted works. Flickr’s terms of service asks you to not do this (they don’t want to get DMCA take down notices and I don’t blame them for that). Flickr is another way for me to take a bandwidth load off my blog (when you see the picture it is served by Flickr not my hosting provider). The other great thing that Flickr does is that it automatically scales the photos for me. I shoot with a 6 megapixel and an 11 megapixel camera and you don’t want to see photos that large when you look at a blog entry! Flickr also interfaces with DasBlog that allows me to create a blog entry right from the photo and does so with a very pleasing layout.
Price: Free or $25/year (Pro Account)
Blog Composition – Windows Live Writer (http://explore.live.com/windows-live-writer)
I have to thank Drew for pointing this product out to me. It is a windows application (sorry Mac and Linux readers) that allows you to create blog entries. DasBlog is great, but their built in editor is still a web application. You have to be on the Internet to use it! I find myself writing blog posts at all hours and in weird places (airplanes and restaurants) and it is nice to have a client application to do that with. It has a spell checker, good formatting features and supports many blogging platforms (WordPress, blogger, SharePoint, TypePad, etc). I have quickly grown attached to it to the point where I would have a problem if I could not use it.
Updated on December 12, 2009 to reflect new hosting company and update prices and urls for some services.
Updated on November 30, 2011 to remove a service I no longer use and make some changes to the Live Writer description.
Updated on December 21, 2012 to replace GoDaddy with Hover, as I had switched earlier in the year.