Website Hosting

Our goal is to “get the word out”, and so we want to create website that will allow us to communicate answers to the questions that people might ask about the team.  WordPress is a familiar and popular platform for building a website, so I did some quick searches and found there are plenty of options for free hosting – even without ads!!

I first settled on awardspace, and started working on the website (yes, this website). It took all of 5 or 10 minutes to sign up and get started – which was awesome.  However, over the next few days, as I am working on the website – trying to find the best theme, colors, starting to add some content – I was struck by the lack of speed from this free website.  While in the admin area, I would click to go to a new page (like the plug-in page, or to create a new website page), and it would often take 30-60 seconds before the result would show up!  Now, I know “you get what you pay for” and this was free hosting, but I was still wondering if there was something better. 

An additional problem I was having was emails.  I was going need the site to email me when a person filled out the contact form.  Free hosting on awardspace only allows for a very limited number of outgoing emails (I can’t find the exact limit, but it is something like 10 per month.)  WordPress will allow an option to send emails via SMTP through another email server, but when I tried to set up a plug-in to accomplish that, I was met with a block saying this was not allowed by the host.

So, I went back to searching for more free hosting options, and this time I focused on the email limit offered through a free hosting plan.  I eventually found AccuWebHosting.  Now, unlike my previous signup experience, this one was lengthy and involved.  I actually needed to send them a copy of my driver’s license to prove I am who I say I am!  At first, I was put off by this, but then I realized that their more detail-oriented signup process was probably intended to limit the number of free hosting accounts, and therefore provide better quality service.  After filling out and submitting my application, it was 2 or 3 days before they offered me a free hosting account, and another 24 hours before that account was set up – a big difference from the click-and-go available from other free hosting providers.  But, maybe this was the cost under the “you get what you pay for” mentality.

What a difference!  All I can say is that now, I do not even feel like I am working on a website hosted under a free account.  The speed, the features (100 outgoing emails per hour!), the support – everything feels as if I am on an entry-level paid hosting account!  I could not be more pleased.  I plan on using AccuWebHosting for any paid website hosting I may need in the future.

Carps Corner Plaza

From the beginning, we have had our eye on the little strip mall with Rick’s Local Deli. We have lived in New Kent for 6 years, and in that entire time, the two store fronts between Rick’s and the vet have been empty. We were hoping he might be willing to donate that space to our cause.

Armed with a business plan, I asked a mutual acquaintance to introduce me to Rick. I only got as far as a phone call. Rick was very nice, but said that he had plans to rent out those spaces again, and that he did not have any other space available that might suit our needs. So, I thanked him for his time, and told him I’d be back when we were looking for other types of support.

So, now is the time to concentrate on getting the word out – finding out what other families in New Kent might be interested in a robotics team.

RavenCon – NASA Engineers

Michael and I attended RavenCon in Williamsburg as part of Lord of the Bricks this past weekend. We were part of an event titled “Rise With the Machines: Saturday Morning Robotics Demo”. We met with attendees and told them what the team did this year, and gave a demonstration of the robot in action.

The coolest part was that we met three NASA Engineers. I’ve exchanged emails with them since, and they would like to schedule a Skype call or some other way to meet with our teams (New Kent Robotics and Lord of the Bricks, either together or separately). It will be very cool to have the kids meet and ask questions of these talented engineers!