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What's up with the weird address?


Yeah, what's up with that?

I know. I know. You typed in "www.PantherComputers.net" and you wound up here at "panthercomputers.webhop.net" "panthercomputers.dnsdynamic.net". Now you're wondering if this is a mistake, a scam, a phishing site, or some such. Not to worry. This is the real thing. All thanks to the magic of dynamic DNS.

So why did it happen?

Short answer:

I'm cheap.
Well, more broke than cheap.

Long, involved, boring, technical answer:

I wanted to put my genealogy data on the web and serve it up using Active Server Pages(ASP). Problem is the data is in FoxPro format. And while FoxPro is a serious database development tool (and older than Access), most hosting companies tend to only support the latter since it's so common. My ISP/host here in Atlanta (Abraxis.net) supports FoxPro.

Sorta.

The tech support staff leaves something to be desired there (kudos to Arlene in sales though - she was a great help). Three weeks and several phone calls later I had working genealogy pages.

For about three months.

And nobody can tell me why it just broke one day.
Three weeks and several phone calls later(again), a patch had it working - for about four days. It can, however, be fixed for good - if I buy a domain name and upgrade($) my hosting plan. So off I go in search of what is known as "budget" (that means less than $5/month) hosting.

After weeding through a list of about forty hosting companies I got sick of the whole process and decided to do it myself.

So I
1) Installed a webserver (IIS 5.1 since I need ASP and FoxPro via ODBC)
2) Downloaded and installed the FoxPro ODBC drivers (Microsoft doesn't tell you that they're missing by default. What's listed in XP are "placeholders".)
3) Registered my domain($10) with GoDaddy (but I'll never use them as a host - bad experience)
4) Set up email with Google Apps($0)
5) Got an account("panthercomputers.webhop.net") with DynDNS($0)
6) Configured the router to work with DynDNS (I've since had to reconfigure the server to use the software update client instead of the router - much more stable now)
7) Told GoDaddy to Forward "www.panthercomputers.net" to "panthercomputers.webhop.net"
8) Sat back and enjoyed hosting my own website with practically unlimited space on an old AMD K6-500 with 384MB of RAM and XP Professional sitting in my bedroom.

And to answer the original question, DynDNS charges for "Custom DNS" service. With custom DNS service, typing "www.panthercomputers.net" takes you to it. Without it, you can only go to the DynDNS account address. And with "Hostname Forwarding" you can get here typing either one.

And Bob's your uncle.