In March 1997 I bought the domain name firstbite.co.nz. At the time my business was called First Bite of the Apple, because I was doing a lot of Macintosh support and training, especially for beginners. My main email address uses that domain, and has been published far and wide in various parts of the Internet: Usenet newsgroups, mailing lists, forums and bulletin boards, websites …
In more recent times I’ve stopped doing the one-to-one support and training. The training I still do is through the medium of blog posts, weekly MacTips, articles, books, websites and so on. MacTips has become my primary ‘business’ website, while the FirstBite website held an increasingly out of date and inappropriate Portfolio cum CV, displayed images from my webcam, and became the place where I did a few things behind the scenes, such as putting up temporary files for clients or experimenting with web software and the like.
Several things happened that triggered a big change: a visitor to the site pointed out a broken link, I bought a new secondary computer, the web hosting is soon to be up for renewal. What’s more, my focus these days is on writing — I’ve pretty much stopped the web design, so should downplay it in the portfolio — and I have a separate personal website at Oddity 59 for photos and blog posts that are unlikely to be interesting to the audience here. The FirstBite website really only needs to be one, or perhaps two pages of information. I don’t need 100Mb of hosting for that.
Gmail crushes Horde and Squirrelmail
I didn’t want to end up with some email on the new computer and some on the old so decided that while on the new Mac I would check emails for my two main email addresses through the web interface — either Squirrelmail or Horde. I reserved downloading for the MacBook Pro and my current email client, Mulberry.
I’ve used Google’s Gmail a lot, and while it has some failings, it certainly provides an excellent web interface for email. After one day of reading and handling dozens of messages via Horde I was yearning to be able to handle my FirstBite email with Gmail.
What’s more my web hosting has 100Mb of space, while Gmail allows 2 gigabytes of storage — you can store emails forever. Then there were the blooming attachments: Gmail lets you view Word and Excel files, and PDFs right there online, without downloading, though you can download if you wish.
If you’re going to use webmail at all then Gmail wins out over both Horde and Squirrelmail in terms that would only be viewed as hyperbole.
How to get the best of all worlds
After some thinking and exploring I signed up for a free 30-day trial of Google Apps Premier Edition. Now, some 5 days later I’m converted. I’ll be handing over my US$50 per year and cancelling the current hosting package. And best of all: it’s cheaper than renewing my hosting, gives me a massive 10Gb of space and Gmail, as well as Google Docs, a calendar, some web pages, and sundry Google goodness.
I get to keep my domain name, use Gmail for my email, and enjoy that whole integration with the ‘Office’ applications. If you don’t have great website needs — a simple few pages would suffice — then consider the Google Apps solution.
In another post I’ll write more about Google Apps, and how I moved FirstBite.