Upgrading from Shared Hosting – Part 1 – Deciding on a plan

It’s pretty inexpensive and easy to set up a website these days. Companies like Hostgator and Dreamhost have you search for a domain name, fill out a couple forms, enter a credit card and congratulations. You now have a website. After a while, you may feel that your needs have outgrown your account, or that the service is not up to par or that your website is too slow. It’s obviously time for an upgrade, but from what to what?

From What?

Chances are you originally signed up for what is known as “Shared Hosting”. On a shared account, you share the server (computer hardware) with up to several thousand other users. If you get lucky, most of the websites are barely used at all, and your performance is decent. If you are unlucky, you may share the server with several other high traffic websites, which may impact the speed of your own site. Additionally, you share an e-mail server with several thousand other accounts, so if one account is flagged as a spammer, it may prevent you from sending any e-mail at all to some domains.

To What?

You essentially have three choices. You can upgrade to:

  1. a bigger shared hosting account and hope you have better luck. Sometimes these will be called premier or business plans.
  2. a Virtual Private Server (VPS).
  3. a Dedicated Server.

Shared Hosting

If you don’t need the additional bandwidth or storage space of the premium shared host, then you are really just paying for a fancy name most of the time. You are not really paying increased performance. But what about “unlimited plans”? To quote the T-Mobile Commercial, they’re more like Um…Limited plans. They’re just hoping you’ll be lured by the word unlimited but not take them seriously. If you do take them at their word, you may find that you account is suspended.

If you do opt for a shared hosting plan, you should get a “metered” account that has an allotment of a specific amount of hard drive space and bandwidth. Companies with such plans are generally less likely to oversell their servers.


A VPS is similar to a shared account in that multiple accounts are on the same server (computer), but in this case, the server is divided into several virtual machines. You have complete control over your virtual machine, so that you may customize it however (mostly) you like. VPS’s can be used to host website, e-mail servers, ventrilo (online gaming chat) servers, and even Minecraft.

There are two basic types of VPS—mananged and unmanaged. Managed accounts are very similar to shared accounts in that the webhost company takes care of most of the chores of managing the server, but you pay for the privilege; usually $25 or more per month compared to a comparable unmanaged account. In an unmanaged VPS account, you are solely responsible for installing and maintaining your server. The webhost will install a barebones operating system, and you will get to do everything else. The benefit is more control and a deep discount.

In a VPS, whether managed or unmanaged, you will also get to choose your operating system, usually Windows or Linux. Typically Linux accounts are much cheaper than comparable Windows accounts.

Accounts are usually priced based on the amount of disk space you are allotted and the amount of memory you can use. VPS servers can be oversold, so it’s a good idea to test your new VPS quite heavily while you are still in the money back guarantee period. It’s also a good idea (no matter what kind of plan you have) to pay month by month rather than yearly.

There are several virtualization methods available, such as OpenVZ, KVM, Xen, and “Cloud”. OpenVZ often gets a bad rap as being “easy” to oversell, but in reality, any VPS can be oversold, so choosing a reputable company and testing your VPS is still the best way to go. In many cases, upgrading your shared account or going with a better company may be a better option than VPS.

Dedicated Server

Dedicated servers are similar to VPS in how they run (managed or unmanaged) but instead of sharing a computer with other users, you get the whole computer to yourself. Dedicated servers are generally much more expensive than VPS. Personally, I think that unless you are making enough money to justify the cost of a dedicated server, you are better off going VPS (or even shared).

Bottom line

  • Know why you want to move webhosts. You are more likely to choose a more suitable webhost.
  • Balance your needs with you budget. Do you have thousands of active members in a forum or are you running a blog that not even your mother reads? Do you have half a dozen websites that you maintain? Are you making money off your website? How vital is it that your website not go down?
  • How adventuresome are you in terms of learning new things? How much hand holding do you need?
  • Check your current website’s statistics and see how much disk space you are using and how much bandwidth you used each month in the last year.
  • Ask yourself if you could save disk space and bandwidth by moving video files to Youtube or Vimeo
  • Do some research on a forum like LowEndTalk or Web Hosting Talk to find a reputable company.
  • Pay monthly so it is easy to walk away if you are unhappy.
  • Make a back up.

In future installments, I’ll talk about

  1. Some general best practices no matter which kind of account you use.
  2. Steps to take in preparing to change webhosts
  3. Considering Google Apps
  4. Setting up a Linux VPS
  5. Making the move

Testing out of College Courses — AP, CLEP, and DSST

There are basically three traditional ways to get out of college courses. All three involve taking a test that shows basic competency in the course material. Many high school students are familiar with AP (Advanced Placement) courses. You take a course in high school, then at the end of the school year, you take the AP test, and if you score high enough on it, you get college credit.

The main problem with AP courses is that they are only available to high school students. Once you’ve graduated, it’s too late. Another problem is that it takes a whole school year to get your credit. This is where CLEP (College Level Examination Program) and DSST (Dantes Standardized Subject Tests) come in.

Both of these can be taken any time before or after college graduation. Better yet, you study at your own pace, so you can knock out two or three in a very short time if you put your mind and effort to it. There are some limits. Generally speaking:

  • You can only test out of 60 credits total. Most people will never reach this limit.
  • You cannot test out of a class you have taken, even if you withdrew. You can however sign up for a course, pass the test, and then drop the class if it has not yet started.

Which one should I choose?

Some subjects are covered only by one of the companies. In that case, you choose what is available. If both companies have the test, do some reading on forums and choose one.

How do I do I sign up for one?

Find a DSST test center.
List of subject tests
Find a CLEP test center.
List of subject tests

How should I study?

Generally speaking, you get a text book and study it. Many subjects have dedicated CLEP study guides or CLEP text books. For math tests, I would highly recommend Khan Academy.

It would also be a good idea search online forums for other people’s recent experiences with the test. For example, the Public Speaking test requires you to submit a video taped speech. Apparently one of the most important things is that the speech be within the time limit.

Additional tips below under specific tests.

Which courses should I take?

Here is a PDF document of the exams that most Florida colleges and Universities will accept. However, just because a school will accept your credit does not mean that it will help you graduate.

The following recommendations are specifically for Palm Beach Atlantic University (because that’s where I work) nursing students:

  • Composition I
  • Biology
  • Public Speaking
  • General Psychology
  • Lifespan Development
  • Algebra
  • Statistics
English Composition
You absolutely cannot go wrong taking this one*. Practically every school requires it. You need to take the test in the Summer before you start as a freshman, because it is almost always taken in the 1st semester. It is almost impossible to get out of taking Comp II. Your best bet is to CLEP a literature course and see if your school will count it, however, if your school also requires a literature course, you can’t have the CLEP test count for both Comp II and the literature course. You could CLEP two literature courses.
*Actually, if you’re planning on doing the Honors Program at PBA, then it won’t matter if you take this or not.  You’ll still have to take the Honors version.
Western Civilization I and II
This is a safe bet for most schools as they require Western Civ I and II plus a literature course. PBA is not most schools, and requires “Humanities I, II, and III”. They will however accept Western Civ I as Humanities I. Unfortunately, they will NOT accept the Western Civ CLEP for Humanities I. You’ll have to take this one through dual enrollment.
Biology I is required at PBA for A&P I and II and Microbiology. By taking this before you start as a freshman, you can get a jump start on these science courses.
Public Speaking
Oddly enough you can test out of public speaking, but you can’t get out of giving a speech. You have to submit a video of yourself doing one.  If you’re planning on doing the Honors Program at PBA, then it won’t matter if you take this or not.  You’ll still have to take the Honors version.
General Psychology
Students have told that this one is fairly easy. Here is a student’s experience with the test:

“I bought an AP Psychology prep book, and read it diligently while also taking notes on it. I then got on quizlet.com and used the flashcard for the Intro to Psychology Clep Test to practice my vocab. I studied about 2 hours a day for 2 1/2 weeks. I scored a 53 on the test.
As far as the test is concerned, a majority of it was giving you a scenario and you are asked what psychology concept is being used in the scenario. If you understand the vocabulary for Psychology, you should be able to successfully take the test. After taking the test, I reviewed what I studied, the only other thing I wish I had done, is there is a plastic card sold at Barnes n Noble for Intro to Psychology, it has every psychology vocab word used on the test.” — C.B., 2012, Freshman Nursing Student

Lifespan Development (Human Growth and Development)
Opinions vary on this one. Students that took General Psychology at PBA have told me that it is not a difficult test. It is essentially General Psychology with an emphasis on developmental theories/theorists, such as Erickson. Students who CLEPed both General Psychology and Life Span Development have told me that it was harder (but they still passed it.)

“The Lifespan Psychology test was quite simple for me to study and pass. I bought the review guide for this test and read the book in about 3 weeks. It was an easy read because the previous fall I had taken General Psychology which was a solid foundation to Lifespan. The material was not too difficult to understand and majority of it was interesting for me. I passed this test with a score of 59, in which passing is 50.” –T.M., 2012 Freshman Nursing Student

Almost everyone has to take “College Algebra” these days, but let’s be honest. It’s more like 9th grade algebra. You should be able to do this one in your sleep. Interestingly, PBA nursing does not require College Algebra, but does require Statistics. You could just go straight for Statistics, but if you change majors, you’ll probably have to go back and take College Algebra.
Required for just about every nursing program out there.

“Principles of Statistics however was much more difficult for me [than Lifespan Development]. I had never taken any statistics classes and therefore I was not able to understand it as well. Not having a teacher or tutor for an unfamiliar subject can be very frustrating at times. I researched the test and found many people suggesting “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Statistics” as a good research that simplified the material. I found the book to be very helpful despite the difficult content. I passed the DSST test with a 447 with the passing score of 400. –T.M., 2012 Freshman Nursing Student

American Government
NOT RECOMMENDED for PBA. PBA requires its own course “Freedom in American Society.” This CLEP will not help you at PBA, but should at most other schools.

Close Quarters Tactics (CQT) with Randy Cain

This past weekend I joined thirteen others in taking a Close Quarters Tactics class at Southern Exposure Training in Lakeland with Randy Cain.

The class has two major focuses (foci?):

  1. Some hand to hand techniques to retain your firearm or disarm an opponent.
  2. Incorporating the hand to hand techniques into the overall firearm system.

Training Days

Each training day began and ended with live fire shooting with the hand to hand techniques taking the balance (and bulk) of the time. (The amount of shooting will depend on the level of the class. Classes with better shooters will tend to shoot more as Randy doesn’t have to spend as much time correcting errors.) The first day’s morning shooting was primarily a review of Randy’s Tactical Handgun 101* and Randy made adjustments to individual shooters as needed. As the days progressed we incorporated some of the hand to hand techniques into the shooting. Randy explained how things we learned in TH101 were now made important in light of the CQT techniques–in particular, step 2 of the draw stroke (retention). Randy stressed that hand to hand techniques must not only be effective but must fit into the overall system.

*TH101 or a similar class from someone Randy respects is a prerequisite for the CQT course.

The major hand to hand skills taught in the class include:

  1. Basic movement and positioning
  2. Buying time to draw a gun against a basic knife attack (not against a skilled knife fighter)
  3. Preventing someone from taking your gun out of the holster.
  4. Preventing someone who has a grip on your gun from taking it.
  5. Taking a gun from someone else.
  6. Preventing a gang banger from drawing on you.
  7. What to do when you run empty at CQT distance.
  8. Randy also demonstrates how these same techniques can be applied to long guns.
  9. Some “parlor tricks” (You’ll think twice about using Sul once you see how easy it is to disarm.)

You don’t need to have any martial arts training to be able to learn the techniques, although it would certainly be helpful. The techniques are very forgiving and will often work even if you don’t execute them quite right. The class is somewhat demanding physically, and everyone broke a sweat despite the perfect 70 degree weather. Expect to get a little banged up (you’ll be slamming your shoulder into someone’s arm A LOT), however, you do train at your own level, and if you follow Randy’s instructions and advice, you won’t get hurt. If you’re sedentary, I’d recommend being able to walk at least a mile without getting winded to get more out of the class.

Randy is a both a very patient and demanding instructor. He’ll take the time to help individual students fix shooting problems even though that’s not the focus of this class. Once he knows your level, he’ll push you to continue to improve.

Before you come to the class, I’d also recommend de-horning your practice (blue) gun. Take the sights off, round the sharp edges (including safety, slide lock, take down lever, hammer, and beavertail).

It was a fabulous class, incredibly eye opening, and highly recommended.

The Work–Ideas Matter

Ideas Matter. What you believe affects what you do.


Welcome to “The Work.” I am not yet sure what the end result of this effort will be, but I invite you to participate along the way. The idea for this blog series was originally an effort to improve my teaching. At Palm Beach Atlantic University, our Provost, Joe Kloba, had the wild and squirrelly idea that a Christian university should not merely provide a Christian atmosphere but should provide something uniquely Christian in terms of intellectual life and ideas.

Lacking a better plan, the Provost asked that faculty use worldview thinking (**write a worldview article later and link here) as presented in James Sire’s book, The Universe Next Door, as a way to bring Christian thought to the traditional university curriculum and material. Naturally, this caused a bit of controversy. Some faculty embraced the effort, many tried the best they could to bring Sire into their course material, and some rebelled.

Over time, the de facto policy became to have one or two courses in a major introduce and discuss Worldview and then ignore it for the rest of the curriculum. In the School of Nursing, I became the go-to person to provide the Worldview lectures, but I became more and more dissatisfied with both Sire and the Worldview approach as a whole. The season of my discontent came to a head Spring 2011, when I heard nursing seniors discussing The Universe Next Door, completely bewildered by what it meant and confused as to how it could it possibly have any impact whatsoever on their lives.

I first thought about redoing The Universe Next Door, addressing its perceived inadequacies, however, the problem goes much deeper than Sire’s work. The problem is in our culture. For better or for worse, as a society, we have abandoned philosophy to professional philosophers. We have divorced thought from reason. We have isolated technology from science. Science has been rent asunder from the arts. We have no historical perspective, and when we do, more often than that we fall into the twin traps of disdain for primitives or ancestor worship. No. The work I intend to write goes far beyond revising and systematizing Sire’s worldview questions. I will settle for nothing less than understanding why the answers to these question matter, how the answers to these questions have affected the course of history, how they color the pursuit of science and politics.

In some respects, I am writing this book for my son, Logan as a guide to what he should get out of high school and college. Personally, I believe that our education system does us a great injustice, filling our children’s minds with facts and information, much of them quite vital and important but without any understanding of how the ideas interconnect, why they are important, and why they are worth remembering. It teaches them that science is copying the results of an “experiment” in a text book.

As I begin to write, I am heavily influenced by two historical scholars. The first is Murray Rothbard, who’s Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought was mind blowing. I am amazed at how much epistemological perspectives have influenced schools of thought. The other scholar is historian Ralph Raico, who’s podcast lecture series History: The Struggle for Liberty shared one of Rothbard’s insights, that one of the great tragedies of the English (language) dominated world is that more English and American scholars do not speak French. Otherwise, they might have known that the French economists Cantillon and Turgot were far more cogent and developed than Adam Smith (Rothbard’s insight) and they might have known that the French Liberal class warfare analysis predated Marx’s Hegelian analysis of class struggle. I, however, do not speak French, but I will try to step out of my anglocentrism for a few moments.

I have also been tremendously influenced by Richard Feynman, the Nobel laureate physicist. He truly understood science in a way that I believe most scientists today do not. Despite his protests that he did not like the humanities, I think that he understood the humane tradition and its relationship to the sciences better than most liberal arts professors. What he did not like was the formal study of humanities…and who can blame him?

Richard M. Gamble, a former colleague helped open my eyes to the need to study history, art, and politics together through reading Dante’s Divine Comedy. It has taken me years of post school study to begin to glimpse how the broad web of history is integrated with philosophy, history, economics, science, art, and religion. Hopefully, this work will help others to get to the glimpse faster and with less effort than I have expended.

In this work, I will attempt to answer the philosophic “worldview” questions mentioned above and show that how they have been answered throughout history has had enormous impact on history, science, religion, and on our culture today. It is an enormous task to do all that and wind up with a readable book. I may not be up to the task. We shall see.

Google: Evil of Incompetent?

I recently purchased a Samsung Captivate. It’s a smartphone that runs on Google’s android operating system. The phone itself is very nifty, and Android is mostly fine, but Google—in the stupidest, most idiotic, boneheaded move ever—decided that you absolutely must have a gmail account to use the phone. In order to install apps from the “Market” you must enter a gmail account. All apps that you download or purchase are tied to this account forever. Moreover, when you purchase an app, it sends your receipt to the gmail account.

This is a problem, because my wife and I use a special e-mail account for all our orders. As she keeps track of our finances in Quicken, she can see online purchases that we have made, but now thanks to the evil incompetence of Google, Market purchases don’t go to that e-mail, and since I’ve already purchased an app, in order to change the e-mail, I would have to reset the phone (lose all data and settings) enter a new e-mail address. Oh, but wait, the previously purchased app? Gone. It’s associated with the despicable gmail account and cannot be retrieved. The internet is rife with stories of people inadvertently putting in their work e-mail first, and now that they’re changing jobs, they want to transfer their apps to a new e-mail. Can’t do it. To quote the evil insurance company from The Rainmaker, Google must be stupid stupid stupid.

But wait you say. You have a Google checkout account with a different e-mail address. Oh yes, there’s another e-mail address associated with the account, but no e-mail gets sent there. Here’s the not helpful at all Help Answer from Google:

Will I receive receipts for my mobile purchases?

If you already use Google Checkout on your computer, then you will continue to receive receipts for your mobile purchases.

You will also be able to view your mobile purchases on the Purchase History page of your account.

If you’ve only ever used Google Checkout from a mobile device and you’d like to receive email receipts for future Google Checkout mobile purchases, visit the Settings page to enter the email address at which you’d like to receive the receipts.

Here’s how:

  1. Click Settings along the bottom of the Buy page.
  2. Enter your email address in the Change Email Address field.
  3. Click Save.

If you’d like to change the email address at which you receive receipts, simply visit the Settings page to enter the new email address.

It’s a complete sham. First of all, do they mean the settings page from the Market in the phone or Google checkout? Guess what? There is no settings page in the market. There is no chance EVER to change the e-mail in the Market app. So perhaps they mean within Google Checkout itself? No, there is no “settings” link in Google Checkout; only a My Account link, which takes you to an overview of all your Google Accounts. (There is an e-mail preferences link in Google checkout, but do not be fooled. All it does is let you “opt in” to merchants’ “special offers.”

The bottom line is that the Captivate is a fine phone marred by Google’s utter incompetence, but even that can be mitigated if you know understand the issue. The moral of the story is be extremely careful with what e-mail you put into the phone before you make any purchases. Forewarned is forearmed.

Basic Gunhandling – Loading and Unloading

Here are some basic techniques for loading and unloading a gun. While you practice these, you will want to practice the four laws of gun safety, particularly focusing on 2 and 3: 2) Never let the muzzle cover anything you don’t want to destroy (including your own body parts); 3) keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.

You’ll also want to obtain some snap caps (fake bullet cartridges) to make you practice session safer.