Thursday, January 29, 2004

Not quite ready... (by Alex)

LEXINGTON, Jan 29th, 2004

I have a lot to do, ""a lot"" might be an understatement...My parents are telling me to do all of this stuff, and i'm just too busy to do it all.  I'm sure that in the end everybody will be finished with everything, and I'm going to be left running around finishing my packing.

What Does it Take to Build a Website? (by Steve)

How hard can it be?  Well, it turns out, for your basic web site with static information, it's not very hard.  Even I was able to do it with a little help from Hutch in a few hours.

There are basically three steps:  register a domain name, find a computer to host your site and then associate the name to the computer.  Although I have been using Internet technologies as tools and building Internet products since 1996, strangely enough, I have never done these simple things.  As it turns out, they are neither hard, nor mysterious and at this point, are unbelievably cheap.First, I got a domain name.  A domain name is an address.  It is part of the address of a web page.  This content, for example, has the following address:  [Now moved to] 
Within this page address, also known as a Uniform Resource Locator or URL, the domain is   (The term domain comes from the Latin word domus meaning house, the same root of ""domicile"" and ""domestic"").  Think of it as where this content is ""housed"" or who is responsible for its publication.

We might have used our ISP to host our content.  In our case, the domain would have been and the entire address might have looked like this:

There are three problems with this approach, however.  First, the address of my content would be owned by my service provider, not me.  But it is better to associate the address with the content than with the service provider.  Can you imagine if you had to get a new phone number every time you wanted to change long distance carriers?  Pretty inconvenient, no?  Another reason to avoid hosting content with your primary ISP is cost and flexibility.  RCN is more expensive than many hosting services and would not provide some of the more advanced features I was interested in exploring.  And third, it's not as gratifying to the ego as having your name out in front.  :)

So Hutch helped and we acquired  We went to a site like, paid them around $15, and they registered our domain.  I call this class of companies domain registrars.  Then what?

Then we needed to find a computer to host our content.  We needed a computer that was always on, that we were prepared to leave out in the open, exposed to anyone on the Internet, and that would be monitored for problems and malicious attacks.  For as little as $4/month, you can rent shared resource on someone else's computer instead of your own.

Sounded like a fine idea to me.

Hutch is reselling these services so he agreed to help us get started on one of his servers and it took all of about 5 minutes.

The last step is to associate your name with your computer.  Every networked computer in the world has at least one IP address.  And IP address looks like this:

This particular address is the address of the computer that served you this web page.  When you typed the address of this page including the domain name in your browser, it formatted and sent an HTTP message into the Internet.  Nodes in the network look up this address in a table as they pass the message along from node to node until it reaches the computer hosting this content.

Cool.  But how did every node in the Internet find out about my address?  Because the Internet was designed to survive a nuclear war (or even a ""nucular"" war these days), this lookup is based on a highly distributed table that begins with a simple transaction that I did myself (with Hutch's help, of course).  I told a my domain registrar (remember them?) that messages for should be routed to my hosting company which in turn will send it to my computer.  Within 24 hours, this little piece of information, the association between my hosting service and my domain name, is propagated throughout the world, completely automatically.

Unbelievably cool.

The last thing I did is put a web page on that server.  It said: ""Hello, world"" of course.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Now There are Images Too (by Steve)


I have integrated an application called Gallery with the Nuke content and community management software with mixed results.

The good part is that we can now upload images in a controlled way to the website from any computer. You can all enjoy the first album I created with of the Ducci/Giallombardo family in Touisset several years ago. [This was linked to /italy2004archive/homeimages/Italians-in-America/|images]

In general, I have been very pleased with the Gallery software.  It was quite amazing how it integrated with the extensible security and user management capabilities of Nuke.

On the other hand, the basic news facility managing the content you are reading now, based on Drupal, cannot handle images.  I am looking for a more integrated authoring environment.  One possibility is to use the Content module which basically exposes a web page to the author.  Another possibility is to investigate other modular extensions like Gallery, even writing our own.

COMMENTS from the original blog

2006-10-21 14:47:37 stefano
Updated from Nuke to Drupal
I have completed the upgrade from PHP-Nuke to Drupal.  The images are still in Gallery but a newer version.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

A Test Post (by Doreen)

LEXINGTON, Jan 27th, 2004

I've been patiently waiting for this site to open up.  Steve has been amazingly focused.  Maybe now, he'll be able to think about packing.  Well, just testing the system so far.  I have accumulated some entries and will submit them after I return from my second to last day at work..maybe last, depending on the snow fall (6-12 expected).  TTFN

Monday, January 26, 2004

Welcome to Quatrano News! (by Steve)

LEXINGTON, Jan 26, 2004

This is the web site with the stories and journals documenting the adventures of our family in Siena, Italy.

This is an experiment.  We have put this together very rapidly and it is constantly changing.  We ask for your patience and hope that you find it worthwhile.

We are using some open source content management and ""on line community"" software which assumes you are familiar with some pretty advanced dynamic web news services such as slash dot.  For many of you, however, we know that this assumption is false.

For those of you in this group, and you know who you are, be advised:  some additional patience and background is essential.  Start by reading this.

Sites like these typically provide a means for a group of authors to publish stories easily, using the web itself as an authoring and content management tool.  They typically enable readers to comment on stories, search through and organize the content, and otherwise personalize their reading experience. Finally, it provides a way for registered users to interact with one another around the specialized content that brought them to the site in the first place.

Sound like fun?  A virtual open house for friends and family?

Once you register and login to the website, the writing is organized by author, length and topic.  (NB. REGISTERING is creating a new account and LOGGING IN is required each time you access it). There are journal entries, articles, and longer stories.  We are still working on ways to integrate art and photography.  You can contribute too!  Please feel free to comment on what you find and reach out to our community of friends who are interested in sharing our experiences.

However, we ask that you identify yourself by registering using the login panel on the right of the home page. And -- although what you write is beyond the reach of search engines like Google and restricted to our extended community of family and friends-- please keep in mind that what you publish is public.

If you forget your password but have a valid account, you can request that the system assign you a random password.  But you cannot ask for a new password if you have not yet registered initially.

Here is a quick test:  Can you explain the difference between creating a new user account and logging in?  What about the difference between entering a password on the initial registration, changing the password on an existing account, or asking for the system to generate a new password on an existing account?  If you can't, try and read this article again from the top.

[Instructions for creating an account and logging in have been omitted].

Sunday, January 25, 2004

1/25/2004, Lexington -- My First Entry (by Sarah)


Heyyyyyyyy all! Today is sunday, the 25th (exactly six months til my birthday!!!) So many things are coming up that are symbolizing our trip and that we are actually going!  We sent boxes of books and what not to the Duccis. Hutch is all set up in Rhode Island. Orna came for dinner to see the house here in Lexington, Friday night.

I just got home from our LUSY event, woo hooo! And I got like one hour of sleep (possibly) - props to ja and ari, thanks guys haha! Italy is so near - only a week left of school.

Also on Friday night, was when Kari, Izzie and Jesse threw a huge surprise party for me! I had absolutely NO idea (holaaa chicaaaaaa)! I was so glad to see so many of my friends (there was like 35 of you?!?!) from various places - all getting along great! It was amazing, and meant so much to me! (Thanks again guys!!!!!!!)

As well as a really fun night, it was also an enormous reality shock.  Its really happening! We are actually leaving for 5 months to have an incredible adventure! But I'm beginning to see how much I will miss my friends here, you know who you are guys.

Nothing much else to say, we're just keeping busy prepping and such. yeah.

COMMENTS from the original blog:

1/26/2004 10:48 PM Steve Quatrano:  Some Background

Some background may be useful here, Sarah.  Hutch, who Sarah mentions in her article, is my friend John Hutchinson.  He is doing a huge favor for us staying in our place in RI and caring for Annie.

Orna Granot is an Israeli, a friend and cousin of Cathy Gildesgame, who is living in our house in Lexington.  She is using it as a base to begin her graduate program at Simmons College and a search for more permanent quarters.  She will be joinded by her husband, Ofer Nivy, a software engineer."

1/28/2004 10:22 PM Steve Quatrano:  What does 'props' mean?

So I had to look up the definition of 'props'.  Turns out, it is a word and Sarah used it correctly in a sentence.  No surprise.  See definition at

Alex is the Coolest (by Alex)


Io parlo itliano. Homestar runner, SWEEEET.

COMMENTS from the original blog

2004-01-28 22:17:53 stefano Re: Alex is the coolest

Io ho qualche domanda a proposito di questa storia.  Prima, l'autore dice che e' "cool."  Va bene.  Ma non c'e' nessun argomento per soporre questa posizione.  Ma piu' importante che il contenuto e' la forma.  E' scritto in inglese, non italiano!