Site hosting news, tutorials, tips, How Tos and more

Change is afoot


announcements

On November 11th, 2013 we are introducing some plan changes. Check your email for details. To summarize what’s happening:

Quota increases!

These increases will take place automatically on November 11th.

whatsnew

Changes to payment plans and prices

In order to make the plan changes, we are updating the pricing and payment options. You can find details in the plan change email.

While the quarterly and yearly payments will increase slightly, we have introduced a new two-year payment option that allows you to pay as little as $3.95 per month for the Basic plan. Even less than the old price.

The two-year payment option applies to every WinHost plan, so no matter which plan you use, you can decrease your monthly price by up to 20% by choosing the new two-year payment option.

And you can make the switch right now in Control Panel, before the new quotas and pricing go into effect on November 11th.

As we mentioned in the email, the price increase was a difficult decision for us. We never want to increase prices, but we want to continue to make improvements to the hosting services, and this will allow us to do that.

We hope the two-year payment option – which actually lowers current prices – and the quota increase will help ease the transition for some of you.



Google Checkout retiring November 11


announcements

Google announced that they would be closing Google Checkout over a year ago, but now they have announced the date when the service will close permanently; November 11, 2013.

If you use Google Checkout on your site they have a FAQ to help you transition to another system.

Google-Checkout



Fall Updates

announcements

Here’s our newest round of updates for our App Installer tool in the WinHost Control Panel:



Customer Spotlight: DataMine Internet Marketing Solutions

customerspotlight

datamine-logo

Today, we’re talking to Ron Gholson of DataMine Internet Marketing Solutions. DataMine is a web development company in Indiana. Ron Gholson implements marketing strategies for clients.

Hi, Ron! Tell us a bit about DataMine.

DataMine builds websites and web applications for clients across industry segments in both profit and non-profit sector, right here in Gary, Indiana.

DataMine is an internet marketing solution provider. It is our mission to establish a long-term relationship with each client, so that as our clients grow, we grow with them. Ongoing consultation, targeted online reporting and long term market planning are part of our services as well. We empower our clients by sharing our expertise and experience. Our willingness to serve and educate our clients sets us apart from other web developers, consultants and solution providers.

In addition, we offer licensed standardized software applications for content management, scheduling, membership, fundraising, and online marketing. Unlike many firms that outsource services offshore and domestically, our in-house team provides all services and is accessible directly for training and support. We can customize any of our standard solutions to suit specific needs, as well as develop proprietary solutions.

Since 1996, we have developed over 500 solutions across all markets.  Examples of our range include: garychicagoairport.com, countylineorchard.com, circlecityclassic.com, indianaparentinginstitute.org, chicagocrusader.com, regionalfcu.org, foxrentacar.mx, ibeonline.com, marquetteparkgary.com, garycsc.k12.in.us and chestertonchamber.com.

There seem to be quite a few non-profit sites in your client list. Do you do something to attract these clients?

As part of our mission of giving back to the community, we offer discounts (50% to 75%) to 501 (c)3 and 501 (c)6 organizations.   These clients range from small community development corporations and churches to national membership and event driven organizations.  It is our experience that many of these organizations do not have the support staff and funding necessary to develop a high-quality, effective internet presence without additional guidance.

Our experience with NPO’s has enabled us to grow our level of service and commitment, streamline our processes in production and customer service, and better understand the relevance of the organizational conditions we face with each unique client and project, for all market sectors.

What is DataMine’s marketing philosophy?

We use the phrase “We Flex the Web.” Jason (Beres, co-owner of DataMine) and I, were working late one hot summer night in July of 2011.  We decided to take a break, drink a cold one and relax for a moment outside on the front steps.  Well, right in front of us was a beautiful banana spider spinning its web between our bushes in front of our building. As we watched for what seemed like hours (actually 20 – 30 minutes) this spider meticulously and precisely  spun its web (service and attention to detail). We were wondering and contemplating how can we improve our system, our processes, and our company.

Well, lo and behold, just when we thought that the spider was finished after it anchored itself in the middle of the web to certain web lines (touch points of communication), it started to pull on these main web lines (core services) and then released them all of a sudden.  The spider did this numerous times.  We were wondering what in the hell is this spider doing?

Well, this spider was bending its web in the reflection of the outside porch light.  It did this to reflex the light within its web to attract more prey (customers). It worked.  The web became inundated with all kinds of insects.

So we decided to “Flex the Web” with our core services to attract and retain customers. We used to host client sites on our own servers, but decided to move our hosting and email services because of the time lost in troubleshooting and managing our servers.  After looking at a few companies and their service lines, we decided that WinHost would be our best fit. We moved 60% of all of our websites to your service (roughly 175).

We were then able to concentrate on SEO, which contributed to our growth.  So freeing up our time lost in hosting and email management services allowed for us to do what we do best – web design, mobile applications, and branding design. Since then, we have grown 3-fold.

Why did you choose WinHost as your web hosting solution? 

Your service lines are similar to ours (hosting platforms, compatible application hosting, SmarterMail, Google Analytics, etc.). Other reasons include:

  • Affordable ASP.NET hosting
  • Using the latest Window and SQL versionSQL
  • SmarterStats
  • Easy to use Control Panel
  • nopCommerce compliant
  • SiteLock

What do you consider to be the key benefits of using the WinHost web hosting solution?

WinHost is affordable, scalable and support-driven.

Which future technologies or trends are you most excited about?

Custom mobile applications. We are seeing more and more of our clients wanting to reach and target all aspects of their perspective audiences.

What do you do outside of DataMine?

I love golf. I’ve been playing for 4 years and I shoot in the 90’s. I love going to church and participating in the service and the community based ministries. I serve on numerous civic organization within my city (as a board / executive member). I mostly enjoy being with my family (wife and 3 daughters). we travel a lot and enjoy one another’s company. And I’m expecting my first grandchild! And yes, it’s another girl!

That’s great, Ron! You must be very excited! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXLLl4Pexhc&rel=0]


Joomla security threat

announcements

One can never underestimate the importance of upkeep and routine maintenance, especially when it comes to web sites and applications. When we do not practice due diligence or neglect our web applications, hackers can find holes, weaknesses, and exploits in our so-called “secure” sites.

That holds even more true when it comes to “canned” applications such as Joomla. We have learned that Joomla version 2.5, and 3.1.x have a security hole that can allow anyone to upload malicious files through your application.

The malicious files can perform cross-site scripting (injecting a string of code to your web pages, which can redirect users to a phishing site), or distribute malware or Trojan files that can affect your visitor’s computers.

The security hole in Joomla is its Media Manager, which offers you a tool to upload files to the website. This is a necessary function in a CMS such as Joomla. Joomla comes with its own filtering mechanism that prevents anyone uploading files with specific extensions that can be malicious in nature. Files with extensions such as .exe or .php should not be uploaded as they can infect your web application.

However, the bug is that a trailing dot on a file name can circumvent the filtering mechanism. Normally Joomla will prevent the upload of files with a .php extension such as document.php. However, include a period at the end, such as document.php., and the file no longer fits the .php criteria.

Nasty bug to say the least. What is more frightening is that you do not have to be a registered user or have administrative privileges to the application to exploit the bug. If the Media Manager was set to be available to the public, anyone can inject your site with a malicious file.

The simplest way to solve this problem is to go to Joomla’s website, download the most recent version, and upgrade. This should have the latest patch to this security threat.

http://joomlacode.org/gf/project/joomla/tracker/?action=TrackerItemEdit&tracker_item_id=31626

http://www.joomla.org/announcements/release-news/5505-joomla-3-1-5-stable-released.html

If an upgrade is not an option for you, you can manually add the code that will prevent users from uploading files to your application with a trailing dot.

Navigate to /Libraries/Joomla/Filesystem and open file.php. Scour the code to find where the makeSafe function starts. Add the line:

// Remove any trailing dots, as those aren’t ever valid file names.
$file = rtrim($file, ‘.’);

If this line already exists then your Joomla application is immune to this specific security hole.

That doesn’t mean that you should not routinely follow up on the most recent news concerning your web applications. To really secure your site it is important to stay informed of the most recent patches for your web application.

Here are links you may want to check to stay up-to-date with Joomla’s security fixes. Keep in mind that some security patches may not apply to you depending on the version you are running.

http://www.cvedetails.com/vulnerability-list/vendor_id-3496/product_id-6129/hasexp-1/Joomla-Joomla.html

http://docs.joomla.org/Vulnerable_Extensions_List

Let me lastly say that we here at WinHost take this threat seriously. As of today, we have updated our App Installer to the most recent Joomla version (3.1.5) with the security patch installed. If you installed your Joomla application with this newest release, you are protected from this specific threat, however if you have installed an older version from us you may want to check file.php within Joomla and make sure the appropriate line is added.



War Thunder: Flying the Bell P-39 Aircobra

War Thunder is a free to play online WWII Air Combat Simulator, developed by Gaijin Entertainment and release for Open Beta in 1 November 2012, this game has quickly consumed my free time. WWII era aviation being one of my personal interests and free-to-play always being a plus, I quickly feel in love with the game.

It has several different game types to choose from, all of them team based, with differing levels of historical accuracy and realism.

You can find out a lot more general information on the game as well as the free download at warthunder.com.

This article focuses on my current favorite plane to fly, the Bell P-39 Aircobra.

P-39N

In Real Life:

Introduced the P-39Q was a solidly constructed craft with an innovative feature of placing the engine mid-ship, under the pilot. This was done in order to make space for the massive 37 MM cannon that sits in front of the pilot and fires through the propeller hub. This was backed up by two nose mounted .50 caliber machine guns and four .30 caliber machine guns in the wings.

While moving the engine back did favorably change the center of gravity for the plane and offer the pilot increased forward visibility it unfortunately placed the engine in a cramped part of the fuselage.

Bell P-39 Airacobra

With little room left the design choice was made to forgo a turbo-supercharger for the engine. This one design choice kept the Aircobra from achieving great success and prestige.

Without the turbo-supercharger the plane was restricted to low altitude work less than 5100 meters. This being unfortunate because the slow firing 37 MM cannon was best suited for large and slow targets, like the high altitude bombers of the 3rd Reich.

Unable to engage in high altitude air combat or perform bomber escort duties and only capable of carrying a meager 500 Kg bomb-load the P-39 was not suitable for the war in Europe. Without an arresting hook and with only moderate range and endurance the plane was also not suitable for combat in the Pacific.

It was through the lend-lease program that the Aircobra was able to find its niche.

In the Eastern Front combat took place at much lower altitudes, the lack of a turbo-supercharger was not an issue, Russian pilots had no problems bringing the 37 MM cannon to bear on German ground targets as well as dog fighting with the Fw 190 and Me 109’s of the Luftwaffe.

In War Thunder:

shot 2013.08.12 00.49.00

Being a level 6 plane the Aircobra is the go-to choice for arcade and some historical battle missions for mid-level players. I have access to level 9 planes now and I still include the P-39Q and P-39N in my arcade line-ups and regularly use them in historical battles. The machine gun armament is sufficient to take down other interceptors or single engine attack craft with ease and the 37 MM cannon is absolutely devastating against all aircraft, from smaller planes all the way up to 4 engine heavy bombers. The lack of turbo-super charger is much less of an issue in game than it was in real life, especially in arcade mode. This is because most air combat takes place much lower than 5100 meters, usually below even 2000 meters.

In game the plane is a stable weapons platform, at speeds exceeding 600 KM there is minimal turbulence or jutter, so once you are on-target you will stay there, lining up and putting down targets is a breeze.

The 37 MM gun IS hard to aim correctly against maneuverable opponents, it has a slow rate of fire and the projectiles themselves seem to move a lot slower than standard machine gun bullets, but with a lot of practice and some luck you will find yourself “one-shotting” (one shot fired, one plane downed) in almost every match.
The downside to such a heavy armament is that the P-39 is very fragile.

shot 2013.07.12 19.58.53

It does not have an armored cockpit, and the engine being placed in the center of the fuselage means that more shots are likely to hit it.

I often find my control surfaces being completely shot out after just one pass by an enemy fighter.

The lack of armor means that gunners on the bombers you are hunting can disable you in just a burst or two, so care must be taken to always present yourself as a hard-target.

Thankfully due to the responsiveness of the planes controls this is not hard at all.

The Aircobra is by no means or dog fighter or an energy fighter, in any kind of turning match you will find yourself with a bogie on your tail 9 times out of 10.

The plane does not retain speed or energy in a turn, after a 1000 meter dive one turn is all that it takes to reduce your speed from 600 Km to just 300 Km, and this is a death sentence if any of the enemy are around to take advantage of it.

Coupling this with the planes generally weak armor most new pilots will not last long unless proper tactics are employed.

Proper Tactics:

I fly very conservatively.

I like to imagine the pilot in the plane is really me, and dying is the last thing I personally want to do, so I try to do everything in my power to ensure I will come out on top of a fight before committing. In the beginning of a match I will generally take 5 to 10 minutes to gain altitude while flying perpendicular to the enemy.

shot 2013.08.12 00.59.12

The advantage of this is 2-fold.

1. The enemy does not get within striking distance of me, and I gain the altitude advantage.
2. My team mates generally rush in and occupy the enemy, allowing me the ability to attack from the side or above.

I generally stop gaining altitude around 5000 meters and then scan the horizon for bombers.

If I see a lone bomber trying to make a pass on our airfield or a remote column of tanks I will pursue it and try to bring it down with my heavy cannon. Bombers with escorts are not a viable target unless I know for sure the escort has high-altitude difficulties as well. Bombers themselves are hard targets to hit, they are fast and will be shooting at you with their gunners, and anything else to worry about, like a Bf 109 escort, will make getting the kill shot with your cannon much harder, if not impossible.

Also, you cannot even dream of dog fighting at this altitude, your plane will take almost half a minute to turn in a circle and your engine will be so choked for air you will be struggling to keep speed.

So let’s say that there are no viable high-altitude bomber targets, what do you do then?

The key to playing as the Aircobra is to realize that you are not in an “honorable” plane, you do not fight the capable members of the enemy team, you look for those in a bad situation, wounded, alone, or a severe positional disadvantage.

Ideally all 3.

shot 2013.07.13 05.10.40

While the Aircobra cannot keep energy in a turn it can dive at incredible speed without fear of breaking apart, in arcade i personally have dove as fast 850 Km and in historical battles 700 Km before my plane started to experience any noticeable turbulence. Using this to your advantage you will stay on the edges of a fight, several kilometers above and wait for someone to wander off or try to escape. Then you pounce on them and unleash a massive barrage at high speeds, then after you pass you use as much of your gained speed to gain altitude back up to your vantage point, rinse and repeat.

Some will recognize this tactic and the boom and zoom, this is how you fly an Aircobra.

In Summation:

shot 2013.08.12 00.49.11

The P-39 is a ideal fighter for those who don’t mind taking some time to plan a route of attack, its high maximum speed in a dive and fierce armament mean that if deployed carefully no target is out of reach, but it’s lack of armor and poor turning characteristics mean that it cannot be flown without thought.

It is one of my favorite planes for its potential to kill quickly, but it is also one of my frustrating to fly because of its potential to die just as fast.



New Application Installer Updates

announcements

WinHost is pleased to announce that the applications offered through our App Installer tool have been updated.  Here’s a list of the changes:

Some of the newer versions require the ASP.NET 4.5 Framework in order to run.  If you have a hosting account that is on the Windows 2008/IIS7 platforum and want to install one of these applications, please open a support ticket to have your account migrated to Windows 2012/IIS8.



New domain pricing

announcements

We are always looking for ways to offer more value in your WinHost account, and we think that we deliver the highest quality hosting in our price class. But (you knew there was a “but,” didn’t you!) unfortunately there are some costs that we cannot control, and domain registration and renewal is one of them.

We are subject to ever-increasing domain registration and renewal prices, and while we have absorbed those increases up to now, we find ourselves at a point where we are charging you less for domain registration or renewal than we are paying for those services.

inflationSo in order to continue providing the service, we have to raise domain name registration and renewal prices. On August 30th the price will go from $10 to $12.95. We sent you an email notification of the increase and changes to our terms of service that are now required for domain name resellers.

So why are we mentioning it again here in the blog? Because we wanted to let you know that there is a way to save some money on your upcoming renewals. We have updated the Control Panel so we can now offer multi-year renewals – up to a maximum of 10 years. So if you love your domain name (and who doesn’t?) and want to secure it for a long time to come, you can do it now at the current domain renewal price of $10.

In the past you could only renew for a year at a time, but in anticipation of the price increase, we wanted to offer you a way to renew for a longer period at the current price.  Remember, on August 30th that price increases, so if you want to lock in the lower price, you have to make your move in the next six weeks.

We know you have a seemingly infinite number of choices for domain renewal (and web site hosting), and we really appreciate that you have chosen WinHost. We work hard every day to earn your loyalty. Thanks!



WinHost customer spotlight: David Harney

customerspotlight

obr-icon

Today, we’re talking to David Harney, who created the Ozaukee, Wisconsin bike routes site bikex.net.

Hi, Dave. Tell us a bit about yourself and your site.

My name is David Harney and I’m a retired software developer who recently volunteered to create a website for our local county  government – Ozaukee County, Wisconsin.  The mission of the site is to encourage local citizens and tourists to travel by bicycle when  visiting our many villages, parks and nature preserves.  Our county has 30 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, historic villages, and numerous  other scenic attractions.  The website is Ozaukee Bike Routes (www.bikex.net) and features bicycle routes that use trails and quiet country  roads to visit our attractions.

What was your career in software development like?

I was hired in 1968 for my first programming position and retired in 2003 as a software development manager in the transportation logistic  field.  I was an early adopter of using a PC frontend for UNIX servers.  In the mid 90s I started with Win 95 and IE 3 for some limited  business applications.  When I retired, I was using XP/IE6 for many business applications.  After that, I only programmed a small personal  website until I was approached last year to create the Ozaukee Bike Routes website.

Trike

What are you using to run bikex.net now?

Visual Studio, ASP.NET, VB, Javascript, JQuery, MSSQL with Entity Framework and LINQ

Why did you choose WinHost and what do you like about our hosting?

The hosting service I used for my personal website did not stay current with the MS technologies I needed for my new project.  I evaluated  several alternatives for MS technology availability, support and cost.  WinHost was the clear choice.

WinHost is sincere with its commitment to current MS technologies and support.  The cost is also a major factor for me as I foot the bill for  this volunteer project.  Also, my site does not use a lot of storage nor does it have a high transaction volume – I didn’t want to pay for more  than I needed.  Support is also a delicate balancing act at the low price point of my plan.  I fully understand the business economics involved  and appreciate the need for limits to the scope of support services provided at this price point.  However, my experience with WinHost  support for startup and a few other issues has been very positive – really an excellent value.

What do you when you’re not working on the site or biking around Ozaukee?

Besides bicycling, I have an interest in passive solar housing and might someday do a website of my experience in that area.

Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

I would just encourage anyone with a passion in some area to share their experiences in a website.  Chances are that the rewards in terms  of new friendships will greatly outweigh the effort to build the site.  My site has been a very rewarding experience.

Thank you very much for your time, Dave. Happy riding!


Dave is committed to updating his site each winter (not much cycling in January in Wisconsin). He welcomes comments and technical suggestions to improve his site, so if you have any, please leave them in the Comments section below.



How to use SmarterMail to migrate your email messages to your new WinHost account

howto

In this tutorial I’m going to show you how to migrate your email messages to WinHost using the SmarterMail’s Mailbox Migration tool.

Prerequisites

Let’s Start

Log in to your SmarterMail interface via Control Panel.

You will need to use our mail server’s URL to access the email system since your domain name isn’t pointing to us yet.

How do I get my email system’s URL?

First log in to the Control Panel on WinHost.

Next you will see a link on the Email Manager page called SmarterMail Manager. Click on it and it will automatically log you into the SmarterMail interface. This step helps you complete two things:

After you’re done creating the email users using the postmaster email account, log out at the upper right hand corner and log back in with one of the email users you just created, one of the addresses whose mail you want to migrate.

Once logged in on SmarterMail with the new email user

SmarterMail_Mailbox_Migration

This will pop up a new window for the Mailbox Migration.

As you can see you have different options to choose from but in this tutorial we’re going to use the option Other.

SmarterMail_Mailbox_Migration_Account_Type

Remember that you will need to log out of SmarterMail and log back in with each user you wish to migrate. It would be very unfortunate to migrate all the email messages from all the email users on a single email account on SmarterMail. So please be careful when migrating and make sure you migrate the correct email messages to the correct user.