Maintaining a website on the move is not necessarily easy so I thought I would
write a few notes about how we go about it. I carry a very small Windows 98
laptop computer which I use for work (I do tech support for the company I used
to work for) and this is of course very handy for doing the website and downloading
photos from our digital camera.
Creating the website
We use Macromedia Dreamweaver to create the website and SuperJPG
applets, front page extensions, etc. I chose to do it this way because I don't
have the connection bandwidth to spend a lot of time checking whether a feature
works correctly. Also I wanted the website to be accessible to everyone and
to be easy to download to a handheld device for reference on-the-road. I don't
see why it wouldn't be possible to write the website on a handheld, especially
one with a keyboard, if you didn't mind writing it in raw HTML.
I normally either upload just the files I know need updating, or use WS FTP
Pro to "synchronise" my local copy of the website to that on the web
server. Our copy of Dreamweaver is version 4, and the built in synchonisation
facility doesn't seem to work well.
If you didn't want to carry any sort of computer, it is possible to create
a website "on-line" in an internet cafe. Internet Explorer 6 has a
basic WYSIWYG editor built in, or write raw HTML with a text editor. To get
pictures onto the site you will need a USB camera memory card reader, see below.
Our web hosting company is www.modesthost.com,
they seem pretty good, charging $48 a year for a 500Mb site with 20Gb monthly
bandwidth allowance. There are nice web stats you can see which pages are the
most popular, email control and we've had no problems with them.
Uploading the website
Frequent updates are important to keep your audience's interest and to let
the folks back home know how you are getting on. There are five ways to update
the site that I have used:
- Post the updates home on a disk. While we were in Europe I posted
my Dad complete copies of the website on an Iomega
Clik disk. This was OK, but as got further from home the post got slower
and as the website got bigger it needed more of the disk (I posted photo backups
home the same way).
- Network connection in an internet cafe. This requires a computer
with a network card and a working knowledge of Windows networking. When you
have a successful connection it is great, but it can be hard to persuade the
internet cafe staff to let you try, and always needs a bit of fiddling before
it works. Typically I read the network settings off a cafe computer (you need
IP address, subnet mask, DNS address and gateway IP address to make it work)
and then enter those settings into my laptop, unplug the cafe's computer's
RJ45 network lead and plug it into my computer instead. You can usually switch
back and forth between the two computers without anything crashing. Sometimes
the cafe networks have extra authentication, web proxies or firewalls that
mean it just won't work.
- Landline modem connection. For this you need an ISP with global access,
such as Iberpass, and access to a telephone
line. There are a number of different telephone sockets in the world (many
hotel phones are wired straight in) but the socket at the modem/telephone
end of the cable is pretty standard and is the easist place to connect. If
you a long time in one country it is well worth getting a local ISP as the
likes of Iberpass are expensive.
- Mobile phone data connection. With a local SIM card this can be an
excellent if slow way to connect to the internet. In Russia for example unlimited
GPRS access was available for 50 cents a day, and in China calls to China
Mobile's internet service were just 2 cents per minute. Using a mobile phone
bypasses the problems of connecting to hotel phones. With your own SIM card
from home, calls are much more expensive, as much as $5 a minute, whether
you are calling an ISP in your home country or in the local country!
- Memory "dongle" or card reader. You can get very dinky
"dongles" that plug straight into a USB port and have up to 512Mb
of Flash memory (eg. Disgo and Attache),
or simpy carry a small USB reader for whatever card your digital camera uses.
Virtually all internet cafe computers have USB ports and the proprieters are
much more likely to let you plug in a simple USB device than they are to let
you connect to their network. Windows versions that are later than Windows
98 don't need drivers to access these devices, many internet cafes still use
Windows 98 though so be sure you know where you can download a suitable driver
from. I began using this technique halfway through our trip when my network
card failed, and have found it to be very convenient. The card reader is also
a useful backup to the camera's download lead, and in the event of computer
failure would be for backing up photos and doing the website. To upload the
data, either keep the installation files for an FTP program on the device,
or use Internet Explorer as the FTP program. If you enter an address of the
then it is possible to access a non-anonomous FTP site. You then simply use
Internet Explorer as a file manager for your website.
In addition I believe that in cities in the States WiFi wireless networking
is an option. Although I used an Iridium satelite phone extensively for email,
especially in Siberian Russia where the cell phone coverage is pretty hopeless,
I consider it too expensive for updating a website (approx $1/min for a 2400
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