I’m getting there. As I read through the material on network administration, I’m playing with various settings on our home server, making sure I understand how they work. It’s been years since I played bookworm. And while I find this stuff mostly interesting in the broad sense of helping other folks, I’m not a hacker who enjoys digging into cool computer tools. My brain doesn’t seize upon this stuff with any kind of thrill, so it’s work. But I’m doing it as quickly as I can go. Yesterday’s study in Proverbs is much more my line of work.
At the same time, I’m performing due diligence in researching ways I plan to use this technology. I want to explain what I see. I’ve already noted that the simplest path is also the most expensive and easily least reliable: Switching my ISP service to a commercial account (Cox Business) so I can legitimately offer the services direct from this machine. I wouldn’t hesitate if I could afford it, but we would need some heavy sponsorship. It would be a miracle, indeed, because our national economy is tanking even as we speak.
But farming it out to a local company is looking less likely with each passing day. The few who don’t charge almost as much as Cox Business does seem wholly unsuited. I’ve contacted a couple of them and they appear to have no concept for non-profit site operations. Another flatly ignored a direct query. I have no doubt there is at least one or two operations in this big metropolis who would do it, but they don’t advertise it. Either their advertising ignores it or they simply don’t advertise much at all that search engines can find. I’m not through looking, but it’s time-consuming.
Going farther afield is easy and cheap, some cheap enough for my current budget (less than $100/year). However, I also tend to research reviews from actual webmaster types and cheap hosting typically means poor service or facing oppressive hassles. One promising direction is those who advertise specifically for non-profit hosting, but so far they all want an official charter and tax number from the IRS. Going that route — trying to incorporate and all — surrenders way too much and I’d be exposed to controls that would hinder what we do already. We could do it if some larger tax-exempt outfit offered coverage, but that’s another big kettle of fish. And I understand why those webhosting companies want that 501(C)3 code — it’s the easiest way for them to write it off on their corporate taxes so they can afford to make such an offer. Still, if there were some other way to qualify, some of the better hosting companies offer it cheap or free.
Meanwhile, I will try to offer some experimental “backdoor” connections to this machine that won’t violate Cox’s terms of service. They block some kinds of activity, but the main issue is generating enough traffic for them to notice. Bandwidth coming in is no big deal, but going out is where it costs. If you connect to this machine and request much more than a small file that loads in your browser or email client, that’s outgoing traffic they might notice if there’s too much of it. Yes, there are other providers in my area, but none at this price and all of them are an even bigger hassle. But I’ll do it some because it’s part of the learning experience for me and any of you who want to play along.
And with so much going on in the background with economics, government policies, etc., who can say what challenges tomorrow will bring?
Pray with me that I can see clearly the path God wants me to take when the time comes. At this point, I tend to think the ideal situation is not so much money but that someone out there steps in and offers the service on terms that blesses them, too. I cannot imagine being ready to use it before the end of this month and that would be quick, so we aren’t in a hurry.