John McDonald

Blogging about politics, life, and the web

Webmaster Bookmarking Now Online

February 9th, 2010

Webmasters and marketers take note, I’ve opened up another social bookmarking site.  This one is focused on bookmarks related to the internet and business, and its just starting to build some momentum.

On-topic, seriously

Like any social bookmarking website, there have been some issues with spam and off-topic content being submitted, but rest assured that I’d rather have a lack of content than a flood of spam.  This particular community will be tightly guarded for relevance and submission quality, so in the long run this should actually improve the utility and reputation of the site.

Start Submitting

In the meantime, you can get in on the ground floor by getting started with registration so you can add your own submissions or vote on upcoming links.  requesting to have your site’s feed added to the bookmark’s automated import process. Please send any such requests to JohnFCB (at)

All the links are clean, and while the traffic is low it will only be going up.  At the very least, a PR and link building campaign is underway and some kind of juice will flow across the lines.  You get a link, I get a snippet of unique content, everyone is happy – as long as you stay on topic and don’t post junk!

About Social Bookmarking

Pligg sites are almost the link economy’s equivalent to the “leave a penny, take a penny” tray.  Anyone can register and submit, so you don’t have to go begging for links.  Just add it to the queue and let the power of internet democracy decide what is worthy of front page levels of attention. So, don’t feel bad about taking a few pennies, just try to help out by opening up your own and letting someone else get a little benefit from your domain and IP address resources.

Now, what are you sitting around waiting for?  You should be signing up to add your webmaster bookmarks, or you should be downloading Pligg so you can build your own bookmarking community!

A Free Dreamhost Trial – Then $75 Off!

December 19th, 2009

Merry Christmas, its time for sales and discounts, right?

75for1year – Click here to signup for Dreamhost with a $75 max discount

If you’re looking for web hosting, be sure to check out some of the deals I can offer for anyone who wants to check out Dreamhost.  Not only are they giving a free trial to anyone who signs up, but you can also get $75 if you decide to continue the service for at least a year.  Of course, even if you do sign up and pay for hosting time after the free trial, they’ve still got a money-back period of 97 days!  You know, just in case you change your mind.

So, without any further delay, check out the only link you need to save $75 on a year of quality shared hosting:


Just click on that link and you’ll be on your way!  First you enter a few details to get your trial account set up, and then in a couple of weeks you can decide whether or not this is something worth your while.  Of course, the $75 discount coupon will be attached to your Dreamhost trial account, so when it is time to pay the annual hosting fee, you’ll know you’re getting the best price around.  If paying out a year in advance is still too much of a commitment, you can also use the Dreamhost coupon this link activates to get $50 off the setup of a monthly payment plan.

So yeah, I do make some money when people sign up, but I also have my domains where my mouth is.  Yup, that’s right, this site right here and about half of the other ones I run are all hosted on a single Dreamhost hosting account.  If you want to know how it performs, just click around for a while and let me know what you think about the speed and the response time!

When Stuff Actually Happens, There’s No Time to Blog About It…

September 24th, 2009

Its been a busy few days, and I find it ironic that as soon as I have a lot of things going on that I don’t have any time left to blog about it.  What an extreme difference from the usual problem:  too much time and nothing to talk about!

First, I’ve got someone who wants to learn about building websites and making some money online.  Hopefully, I can help.  The process of teaching does a lot to cement your own knowledge and force your own advances in thinking.

Second, I’ve got a new contract job to prepare for.  Its nothing special, but I’ll get to do online work for a set wage.  A little bit of extra income and wage stability will be nice considering the rapid fluctuations in the hosting industry and online advertising rates in general.  Although my websites have continuously grown in traffic since they started, the average prices of advertising space has fallen in almost a perfectly proportionate amount.  Go figure, its like people don’t have as much money to spend!

Now that I think about it, the fact that I have more work to do doesn’t sound like that interesting of a thing to blog about after all.


Now where is all of this time supposed to come from…?

And Suddenly Dreamhost Speeds Up

September 16th, 2009

Oddly enough, the Dreamhost speed issue I had recently blogged about seems to have completely resolved itself.  Two or three seconds of extra time when you’re loading a page may not seem like a lot, but it is definitely noticeable enough to influence user behavior.  Its also a pain to go through submissions on a Pligg site and try to weed out the spam from the semi-legit contributions.

But whatever it was, a few days of an extra second or two of lag is still the worst experience during my time hosting sites on Dreamhost.  I’d say that’s a pretty good track record, and I’m looking forward to the next few years of speedy service 🙂

Heck, I still don’t even know that it was anything on the host’s end.  There very well could have been a problem with Comcast or any of the hops in between Comcast and DH’s data warehouse in California.  There’s a whole country worth of “internet tubes” in between us, after all. As with air travel, a lot of the internet data out of Jacksonville gets tied up with long lines and waits in Atlanta.

Slow Sites and No Hints

September 16th, 2009

The good news is that the air conditioner finally works properly again.  Not only does it work great, we also found a way to get it fixed for about a third of what the large local brand wanted.  So much for “branding,” all those billboards and advertisements are distracting from the cost-benefit of the product or service they provide.  I won’t name any names yet, because I don’t want to be one of those bloggers targeted for a lawsuit because some company doesn’t like the truth of their cost and quality to be revealed.  They spend big bucks to control the media conversation, so they have to employ judges and lawyers to fight some young guy like me with a personal blog and something to share.

Anyway, as soon as one problem is resolved, the next one will inevitably pop up.  And at the moment, my biggest problem in the website building biz is the fact that about half of my websites are loading incredibly slowly.  You can see it on this one here or any of the domains I’ve hosted on Dreamhost – the load time has just been painfully slow since the weekend started.  I was hoping for some relief, but there is no notification on the Dreamhost status blog.

For almost two years, I’ve been extremely happy with Dreamhost’s hosting services, so I’m a bit surprised to see this sudden slowdown across multiple domains.  These aren’t even high traffic domains!

I’m starting to wonder if one of my server-neighbors is hogging up the resources and lagging up our machine.  If so, I hope someone at Dreamhost realizes or else I’ll have to actually send in my first support request after 20 months of hosting!

Anyone else on the altair server noticing a slowdown?  Let me know!

An Icepack on the Computer

September 4th, 2009

Its been almost five days since the air conditioner stopped working.  Despite the last two days of continuous rain and dropping temperatures, I’ve reached the limit of my heat tolerance and the AC repair guy is on the way.  I hope they don’t give us any hassle, I could write a really negative review online and three or four people might actually read it some day!

Really though, anything beyond a few hundred bucks is going to kill the budget.  And I’ve got a sinking feeling that all of the AC companies in town are pushing for a record sales weekend.  Every website I’ve visited is promoting some new federal subsidy for brand-new energy efficient air conditioners, and it took a little extra digging to find even a little bit of information about their repair policies.  A lot of these AC repair guys work on commission and the competition for jobs has been particularly fierce, so I’m half expecting anyone who shows up today to claim our current unit is beyond repair.

Despite the cynicism, this lack of an air conditioner can’t go on.  Since it went out, I’ve been carrying an ice pack around in a shirt, and from time to time I’m forced to leave the ice pack sitting on top of the computer – next to where the power supply is situated.  My computer has been running hot since I upgraded the PSU and video card, and now without any sort of inside air control the thing is just burning up.  I’m really surprised that it hasn’t melted down completely yet, but I do need to keep it one once in a while so I can do some writing and work online.

I’ve learned that I don’t know the first thing about air conditioners.  Although Aisling and I somehow fixed the clothes washer and dryer, we haven’t even known where to start with troubleshooting the AC.

The absolute worst though, was going outside to cut the grass (I mean two-foot tall weeds) and coming back in to the stuffy house.  I was pretty confident that the cold shower would cool me down, but in a humid environment with still warm air, its hard to ever really dry out.  Next time I’ll try to stay dry when there’s no AC.  No, you know what?  “There ain’t gonna be a next time!”

Its 12:15 now – the repair guy is supposed to be here between 2 pm and 6pm.  I might have to wait around at the hottest part of the day, but he’ll have to actually fix the AC.

Need Hosting? Get a coupon for Dreamhost or Hostgator first

July 29th, 2009

If someone wants to get a website online, the most essential component (and the one that almost always requires some cash investment) is the hosting service.  The host stores the actual data of the website and connects it to the web, so the decision is an important one that will affect how fast your sites are and how reliable they are at staying online. In addition to physically connecting your website data to the internet, hosts also provide a lot of features designed to help you install website software and manage your domains.

One popular choice for non-commercial web publishing is free hosting.  This can be obtained at places like Blogspot, WordPress, or even Facebook and Myspace.  These sites provide the hosting for free and give you everything you need to publish content to the web, but with the exception of Blogspot they’re not interested in helping you build a commercial site.  They’d rather keep the profits your content generates to pay for their own hosting and promotion expenses.

Shared hosting – cost effective and business friendly

One step up from free hosting is shared hosting – a service that allows multiple webmasters to share the resources of a single server machine.  Shared hosting gives webmasters more control over the look and organization of their sites, and there are rarely any limits on commercial activity (other than legally prescribed regulations, of course).  Most hosting accounts also allow you to run multiple domains off the same service, so there’s really no external limit to the number of sites you can build.

Hosting coupons are available

Like any other business, hosting providers are competing for customers.  One way they do so is through coupons, promotional codes, and other discounts that allow the buyer to customize the service, features, and price they’re willing to pay.  To help get the word out, affiliates can also earn money when their personal hosting coupon or code are used to make a purchase.

Dreamhost Coupon Codes 2012:

Dreamhost is the shared host this site is published on, and its served me well for the installation of multiple WordPress and Pligg domains under a single hosting account.  They also have a huge selection of Dreamhost coupon codes to choose from, so there’s never a reason to pay full price when you’re signing up:

  • Saves50 – $50 off
  • 3free4life – 3 extra free domain registrations for the life of your account
  • BizAndBlog – 1 extra free domain registration and $30 off
  • BizCode – $20 off and a dedicated IP address
  • 218233078703 – use this code to get $150 off a 5 year plan or $200 off a 10 year plan!

Hostgator Coupon Codes 2012:

Hostgator is another popular web host, but I don’t have as much experience using the service.  Its highly recommended and I’ll probably invest in my next hosting account with them (whenever its time to diversify again.)  Hostgator coupon codes are also available to secure a discount on shared, VPS, or even dedicated hosting in case your site is already bringing in heavy traffic and you need more CPU time.

  • Green – 20% off the purchase of any new account
  • WordPress – 1 penny for the first month of service

There’s no catch, just pick your favorite coupon code and add it to the promotional code field during account registration.  Entering a code will give you a new cost calculation or upgrade your service – so be sure to take advantage of this discount opportunity.

Its 2009 and I still can’t get reliable internet here

April 15th, 2009

In 1995 I expected my internet connection to be slow and unreliable. 14.4k modems were rare, powerful, and expensive.  There weren’t even many ISPs that could handle such a speed on all of their dial-in lines.

High speed broadband is supposed to fix this, right?

The problem is those cable broadband lines that seemed cutting edge in 1999 are showing their age and years of neglect.  While the ownership of that network has changed hands and brands more than once, every company to come along and offer access has been gifted with a virtual monopoly over cable internet in Jacksonville.

Of course, AT&T provides a “choice” with their DSL, but let’s not even discuss that disaster.  At least the cable is good enough to pay for even if it requires complaining to get it to work half the time.

While the actual cable infrastructure hasn’t changed much, I’d say my experience over the last 10 years has been one of a steady decline in service quality.  There were simply fewer people on the network – and congestion hadn’t been a problem.

Nowadays, I can’t even keep a connection active for more than an hour.  Frequent outages are commonplace, and while they’re usually as brief as five minutes, they often disrupt file transfers and browser-based publishing.  Forget gaming – I can’t even run a stable AFK script in a text-based online MUD (The MUD I’m playing was designed in 1993 and Comcast still can’t deliver the kind of stable connection it requires)

That’s enough of a rant.  I probably just need to go pick up my third cable modem replacement for the year.  Ugh.

Pligg 1.0 released – building a bookmarking website gets easier, safer

March 23rd, 2009

Pligg is a popular and totally free piece of software that can turn any domain or subfolder into a full-fledged social bookmarking site. Its been around for a while now, and you can find multiple examples of such a site by simply googling for “Powered by Pligg.”

Basically, users sign up and then they’ve got the ability to post links to content they find on the web and find interesting (or, commonly, content that they’ve written and want to promote ;)) From there, other users can vote on the link or leave a comment about it in hopes of triggering a discussion.

Although Pligg has been available for a while, the 1.0 release (and latest 1.0.2) represents the first time Pligg has been released under a “final” version as opposed to a beta version. Some hosts don’t allow users to install beta versions of software onto their servers – and many webmasters don’t want to run the risks associated with beta software either. Good news for the reluctant, because Pligg 1.0 is safe, stable, and will probably be around in this basic form for many years to come.

One loss is the old templates that were released for beta versions of Pligg – many of the visual designs were built around very specific software functions and operational codes that may have changed in the release version. Older templates and visual themes, therefor, aren’t compatible with the current software.

This does create a great opportunity for those of you web publishers who are handy with CSS and reverse-engineering code. New Pligg templates are in high demand, and it can be a quick and easy way to insert your link into the footer of dozens or hundreds of domains.

If you want to learn more about Pligg or download the latest version, be sure to check out their homepage at

Working with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

September 13th, 2008

Lately, my main activity has been working with search engine standards in my website building process and acquiring more traffic for targeted keywords. By identifying profitable search terms and complying with SEO best practices, content writing can easily be converted into sales. With the right advertising program, a good percentage of these sales can be returned as a finder’s fee – making SEO a profitable, yet sometimes risky endeavor.

The risk is present when over-activity creates a possibility of a search engine penalty such as the minus 30 penalty.

My main projects and resources regarding SEO:

Website SEO – Links to articles about SEO written as a blog/journal style approach. A recollection of my discoveries as they are occurring and a helpful guide

Jacksonville SEO – Need SEO help for your website? Organic and search traffic just not living up to expectations? You can see I’m not much of a visual designer, but I can definitely help bring some traffic and bot recognition to a domain. Is there a risk involved with hiring an SEO consultant? Always. Efforts might backfire or they might pay off. Make sure they use good practices and don’t promise more than they can reasonably deliver.

Jacksonville SEO Blog – Articles about the potential utility and risks of SEO. Why search engine marketing can deliver better value to a business than traditional mass media efforts. Also, introductions to a lot of the vocabulary terms and jargon in the SEO business.

John McDonald, adding SEO to the resume because it pays the bills.