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Brother, can you spare a dime? (The long story)

The first mostly-plain-text version of Miles Ahead was launched in 1995 at netcom.com, where I had a Unix shell account and was learning how this internet thing works. I connected via telnet through a dial-up internet connection, and any time spent working online meant busy signals for incoming calls and impatient family members waiting for an open phone line. 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 and receive plain text e-mail, or to do Veronica or Jughead searches of Gopher sites, or to browse the emerging "World Wide Web" with Lynx; and besides, the whole Miles Ahead site fit easily on less than half of a 3.5" floppy disk. (This was in the early days of graphical web browsers: NCSA Mosaic had appeared in late 1993, Netscape Navigator in fall 1994, and Microsoft would release version 1.0 of Internet Explorer in August 1995.)

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 writing and testing scripts to copy the Miles Ahead data from text files 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 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 $130 -- 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 a lot 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.

All original content on this website is licensed by Peter Losin under a Creative Commons License