Brother, can you spare a dime?

Miles Ahead has now been on the internet for more than 21 years. The first mostly-plain-text version was "published" in the spring of 1995 at netcom.com, written in emacs and pico while connected by telnet to a Unix shell account. Our first modem was a blistering 28.8 kbps U.S. Robotics model, which seemed perfectly adequate at the time -- after all, you didn't need much bandwidth to write shell scripts, or to send/receive plain text e-mail, or to do Veronica or Jughead searches of Gopher sites, or to browse the web with Lynx; and besides, the whole Miles Ahead site fit easily on less than half of a 3.5" floppy disk. (Our family had a dial-up internet connection, so any time spent working online meant busy signals for incoming calls and impatient family members waiting for an open phone line.) After a year or so at Netcom, I moved the site to the University of Maryland Unix system and converted the data files from plain text to HTML (still written using pico, with brief flirtations with the amazingly primitive first-generation HTML editors). That was all right for a while, but it didn't scale well; it became clear that a site with a database behind it would be a lot easier to maintain than 400+ HTML files. So in the fall of 1999 I spent several weekends importing the Miles Ahead data into a Microsoft Access database, and I decided to try my hand at Microsoft's Active Server Pages (and later, Microsoft's ASP.NET) to display the data, allow for queries, etc. That meant moving the site again, and for the first time I had to find a Windows web provider. Over the years I've had a several web hosts, but for many years Miles Ahead has been hosted by a terrific web provider called DiscountASP.NET. They don't give this service away, of course: the yearly cost of maintaining Miles Ahead has been about $150 -- that's hosting fees plus the price of registering the plosin.com domain.

Several years ago I abandoned Access and moved to Microsoft's SQL Server as the database behind the Miles Ahead web forms. The paltry amount of data in Miles Ahead and the modest traffic on the site obviously do not require an enterprise-level database, but the performance and reliability of Miles Ahead improved with a more robust database behind it. Of course the folks at DiscountASP.NET don't give SQL Server away either. The decision to move to SQL Server increased the cost of maintaining Miles Ahead by $120/year.

This, you might say, is the cost of doing business. And an additional $10/month is not going to break the bank. Still, if anyone would like to make a small donation to help pay the bills for Miles Ahead, I've set up a way to do that via PayPal. Just click on the "Donate" button below and you'll be taken to the PayPal site where you can donate whatever amount you'd like. (Of course PayPal doesn't give this away, either: a small percentage of your donation goes to them -- the cost of doing business again -- but most of it is deposited in my PayPal account.) And if the sum of people's contributions comes close to the maintenance costs for Miles Ahead, I will disable this form -- at least until the next billing cycle.

Thanks in advance.

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