Information Provider Haven
Hello! This is the first column written mainly for Information Providers, but hopefully there will be some ideas, hints, and suggestions that could be used by everybody.
This month we will focus on virtual domains. What is a virtual domain? Well, it lets you, the IP, have your own domain name (such as http://www.jasonsipcolumn.ns.ca) while still keeping all your files on the Chebucto server. That way you won't have to pay anything for a commercial Internet connection, commercial server space, or any extra bandwidth costs that the commercial company might bill you for (Bandwidth is the amount of data transfer from your site. If you go over a set limit, then extra costs are added.). You would still be able to edit all your files the same way you do now, by logging in to Chebucto. In short, your IP site would run exactly as is does now, but you would have your own domain name instead of the native Chebucto one. The difference between this and a proper domain name is that you do not have your own IP network number.
It is also possible for you to have your own e-mail address(es) from the virtual domain name (ah, the days I've spent dreaming of firstname.lastname@example.org... ). Besides the normal e-mail addresses, you can also have a listserv address from the virtual domain. A listserv can be compared with a virtual bulletin board. Subscribers send (post) one message to the listserv address, and all of the other subscribers receive it. They can be really useful in informing large numbers of people quickly. They are available as well from regular IP accounts, but not with the virtual domain address. It is also possible to set up a connection where you can connect to your site through the domain name itself. Unfortunately this is much more complicated to set up, and is therefore more expensive.
Using a virtual domain gives that much desired professional look (without needing the much coveted professional operating budget). It is well known that with Internet addresses, the shorter it is, the easier it is to remember and relay. Visitors will most likely be able to remember a domain name that is just by itself, rather than one that is contained within several subdirectories. Try comparing http://www.ip-sport.ns.ca with http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Recreation/Ip-Sport/ip-sport.html. One thing you do not want is someone who visits and says to his friend "I was at this really neat site today... Gee, it's too bad I don't remember where it was". Remember that the Internet is all about looks. The sharper, the smarter, the snazzier, the better.
The Chebucto Community Net has no set rules about what domain name you may choose. However, the Canadian Domain Registrar (http://www.cdnnet.ca/) does. They are the people that authorize all domains that end with the termination ".ca". If your domain name is okay with them, then it will most likely be okay with Chebucto. You can visit their website to check out all of the details. One important consideration is the use of dots to separate words. The CDR doesn't allow unnecessary dots (they should only be used to specify political divisions, such as provinces, and cities or towns). If you want to have spaces in your domain, try using the dash (-) character. When choosing your domain name, it is a very good idea to consult with all your IP members first. Once you register a domain name you cannot change it although you can deregister it and register another, but you would have to pay all the fees again. This name will be representing your organization, so be wary of any misconceptions visitors might get because of an easily confused address.
Although the Chebucto Community Net does offer the majority of its services for free on a donation basis, this one requires a fee. The price will usually be in the vicinity of $400 (a one time fee). The $400 would be well spent however. The Domain Registrar itself requires a fee, Chebucto needs to do some manual setup, it raises a bit of money for Chebucto and the price must remain (somewhat) competitive with the local commercial Internet providers. The entire process usually takes four weeks, from application to finish.
A virtual domain will add to any IP's site. They offer a simple, professional look at a low price. Not only does it make remembering the address of the site a snap, it gives it class. Besides, it just looks so cool, doesn't it?
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