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  1. #1

    First Website, First Host

    Hello,

    I'm just about ready to start marketing a new (first!) website that I've created. Through development I've been using GoDaddy, but the horror stories that I've heard on-line make me think it prudent to search around for a better host. I'm a bit of a newbie, so I'm not sure what actually matters and what doesn't matter, but from what I THINK I know, I'd like to look for a host that:

    1) is a Linux Host (actually I have no idea why! what's the difference between Linux and Windows, anyway? This was my GoDaddy Host)
    2) No more than 10 mySql Databases needed --- but, my site could be very database intensive with one of the databases so I'd like to make sure that I either have an unlimited size OR I can upgrade as needed. Is this possible?
    3) I have no idea how many users will be on at the same time. What would be the difference if I have 100, 1000 or 10000 users at the same time on my website? I've heard horror stories of hosts canceling your account if you have too much traffic. How can I minimize my worry?
    4) Should support PHP --- could someone explain to me what would happen if the server's version is more recent than the one that I used to program?
    5) I use the Zend Framework --- I upload my own version but want to make sure that there would be no problem (I guess I'm nervous again about the php version)
    6) I've read horror stories about transferring sites. If my own site is just 1 MySql database and the webpages, what could go wrong? Maybe I'm naive, but don't I just have to change my config files to point to the right db?

    If anyone has any advice, or thoughts on each of the points above, and/or can direct me to a reliable host, I'd really appreciate it. And, since I'm in investigative phase of something that I'm new to, please feel free to inundate me with you wisdom.

    Thanks so much,
    -Eric

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by kreut View Post
    1) is a Linux Host (actually I have no idea why! what's the difference between Linux and Windows, anyway? This was my GoDaddy Host)
    It would really depend on the type of site your going to run. In most cases linux would be just fine.


    Quote Originally Posted by kreut View Post
    2) No more than 10 mySql Databases needed --- but, my site could be very database intensive with one of the databases so I'd like to make sure that I either have an unlimited size OR I can upgrade as needed. Is this possible?
    You will probably hear people say you need a VPS so you can upgrade easily. However, if your site is going to grow like you think it will, a VPS isn't going to do any good. From what you are saying you just need a dedicated server, however, if your just starting out maybe go with a quality shared host that offers dedicated servers so you can upgrade when the time is right. No need to pay so much while growing.


    Quote Originally Posted by kreut View Post
    3) I have no idea how many users will be on at the same time. What would be the difference if I have 100, 1000 or 10000 users at the same time on my website? I've heard horror stories of hosts canceling your account if you have too much traffic. How can I minimize my worry?
    With high traffic as your suggesting then you would need a dedicated server and possibly the ability run on a cloud. A cloud VPS isn't something I would suggest with a site that big.


    Quote Originally Posted by kreut View Post
    4) Should support PHP --- could someone explain to me what would happen if the server's version is more recent than the one that I used to program?
    If your on a dedicated server you can install whatever version of PHP you want. If your coding using PHP 5.3+ and using OOP then you shouldn't have any worries. If your coding in PHP 5.2 then you are still fine so long as the server is not running PHP 6. PHP 5.2 will still run on a server running php 5.3. You may get depreciated errors which only mean the functions are no longer supported, however, until PHP 6 they will still work.


    Quote Originally Posted by kreut View Post
    5) I use the Zend Framework --- I upload my own version but want to make sure that there would be no problem (I guess I'm nervous again about the php version)
    Again, if your on a dedicated server it will not matter. You can install whatever version you want. However, even if you start with a shared host it should still function. Depending on what your coding you may need to make some adjustments.


    Quote Originally Posted by kreut View Post
    6) I've read horror stories about transferring sites. If my own site is just 1 MySql database and the webpages, what could go wrong? Maybe I'm naive, but don't I just have to change my config files to point to the right db?
    You will probably have to change the config files. In the case that your hosted at godaddy and your sql database is not hosted on the same server the database host name won't be the same. You will also have to create a new db and user which is easy and that can remain the same. Transferring sites is rather simple and in most cases you shouldn't have any issues. The only issue you may have is domain propagation time depending on the type of content you have on the site.
    Last edited by killigan; 05-30-2011 at 11:02 PM. Reason: Left something out.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by kreut View Post
    Hello
    Hey Eric,

    1) is a Linux Host (actually I have no idea why! what's the difference between Linux and Windows, anyway? This was my GoDaddy Host)
    For web hosting, Linux servers are the most common and offer great stability. If you aren't using some type of Windows application or programming language, then I'd suggest to stick with a Linux host.

    2) No more than 10 mySql Databases needed --- but, my site could be very database intensive with one of the databases so I'd like to make sure that I either have an unlimited size OR I can upgrade as needed. Is this possible?
    Generally you won't be limited by database size, so this shouldn't be an issue. As your traffic and resource usage grows you may need to upgrade. Usually for a heavy traffic/database intensive site you will eventually want to upgrade to a VPS or dedicated server.

    3) I have no idea how many users will be on at the same time. What would be the difference if I have 100, 1000 or 10000 users at the same time on my website? I've heard horror stories of hosts canceling your account if you have too much traffic. How can I minimize my worry?
    A high amount of concurrent connections(active requests to your site/server) are what most hosts will limit or suspend you for. I wouldn't be too concerned about this now since your site is fairly new. For example, you can have 100 users browsing your site with only having a few concurrent connections at any one time. Down the line you can avoid causing problems or hitting certain limits by upgrading to a VPS or dedicated server.

    4) Should support PHP --- could someone explain to me what would happen if the server's version is more recent than the one that I used to program?
    If the PHP version is more recent it really shouldn't be a problem unless you were going from php4 to php5.

    5) I use the Zend Framework --- I upload my own version but want to make sure that there would be no problem (I guess I'm nervous again about the php version)
    This is where you will run into some issues at, or it will at least limit your options down. Not too many shared hosting accounts come installed with Zend Framework. There is a list of supported hosts on the Zend website at http://framework.zend.com/wiki/displ...work+Web+Hosts

    6) I've read horror stories about transferring sites. If my own site is just 1 MySql database and the webpages, what could go wrong? Maybe I'm naive, but don't I just have to change my config files to point to the right db?
    Most hosts will perform free site transfers for you. Once the database is imported just make sure that the name of the database and the database user/password is the same as it was set at your previous host, or alternatively you can update the information in your code.

    If anyone has any advice, or thoughts on each of the points above, and/or can direct me to a reliable host, I'd really appreciate it. And, since I'm in investigative phase of something that I'm new to, please feel free to inundate me with you wisdom.

    Thanks so much,
    -Eric
    If you have any other questions other than the above that I have already covered, feel free to ask. Lots of people around this community that will be willing to help.
    Last edited by eLief; 05-30-2011 at 11:06 PM.
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  4. #4
    Thank you for a very detailed and clear response!

    -Eric

  5. #5
    Because you're using PHP based website, linux hosting is definitely the primary consideration. you can take a look at the offer section for some nice service providers.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by kreut View Post
    Hello,

    I'm just about ready to start marketing a new (first!) website that I've created. Through development I've been using GoDaddy, but the horror stories that I've heard on-line make me think it prudent to search around for a better host. I'm a bit of a newbie, so I'm not sure what actually matters and what doesn't matter, but from what I THINK I know, I'd like to look for a host that:

    1) is a Linux Host (actually I have no idea why! what's the difference between Linux and Windows, anyway? This was my GoDaddy Host)
    2) No more than 10 mySql Databases needed --- but, my site could be very database intensive with one of the databases so I'd like to make sure that I either have an unlimited size OR I can upgrade as needed. Is this possible?
    3) I have no idea how many users will be on at the same time. What would be the difference if I have 100, 1000 or 10000 users at the same time on my website? I've heard horror stories of hosts canceling your account if you have too much traffic. How can I minimize my worry?
    4) Should support PHP --- could someone explain to me what would happen if the server's version is more recent than the one that I used to program?
    5) I use the Zend Framework --- I upload my own version but want to make sure that there would be no problem (I guess I'm nervous again about the php version)
    6) I've read horror stories about transferring sites. If my own site is just 1 MySql database and the webpages, what could go wrong? Maybe I'm naive, but don't I just have to change my config files to point to the right db?

    If anyone has any advice, or thoughts on each of the points above, and/or can direct me to a reliable host, I'd really appreciate it. And, since I'm in investigative phase of something that I'm new to, please feel free to inundate me with you wisdom.

    Thanks so much,
    -Eric
    ipage is a good host

  7. #7
    Thank you....

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by IMGlocker View Post
    ipage is a good host
    I am guessing you host with iPage?

    Also, iPage is an unlimited host with limits. Just make sure you read the TOS before making that move.
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  9. #9
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    Should support PHP --- could someone explain to me what would happen if the server's version is more recent than the one that I used to program?
    There are differences between 5.2 and 5.3. Some less secure functions are now disabled. If your host has a money-back guarantee, in the worst case you can bail out. I'd find the right host in other respects, tell them the version of PHP you created the site with, and ask them what version they are running.

    I've read horror stories about transferring sites. If my own site is just 1 MySql database and the webpages, what could go wrong? Maybe I'm naive, but don't I just have to change my config files to point to the right db?
    One other thing that could apply: Some website frameworks store absolute paths to resources such as images. They generally only do this if they are doing some kind of internal caching. But occasionally you get an entry in a database table that tells the website that a resource is located at /home/username/files/images/foo.jpg. If there's a chance this could be the case, I'd open a ticket with your prospective new host (before signing up) to ask if you can have the same username as you had on godaddy.

    That said, I don't know what control panel godaddy use. If their directory structure is different from the /home/username/... that I gave above, keeping the same username won't help. Whoever you move to, you'd have to find those references in the database and change them. If that applies, come back here and ask, as I've found an easy way in the past.

  10. #10

    Images

    Thanks for the PHP clarification and your willingness to discuss possible database/image issues. I was thinking that what I could do is throw the database into excel and then do a "find and replace" --- but I very well may bug you in the next 2-3 weeks for additional thoughts.

    -Eric

  11. #11
    Hello, ammm, nevermind me .
    Last edited by Vimanager; 05-31-2011 at 12:42 PM.

  12. #12
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    Arrow

    Quote Originally Posted by Vimanager View Post
    Hello, we have a reliable hosting in Netherlands, if you choose to use it we will help you install your website.

    I think you are making offer that is not allowed here. Also netherlands hosts are never reliable as you can read lot of horrible stories of OFFSHORE hosts from NL.
    Modelwebhost.com
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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by jamshed_11946 View Post
    I think you are making offer that is not allowed here. Also netherlands hosts are never reliable as you can read lot of horrible stories of OFFSHORE hosts from NL.
    Is it? I supposed that i can answer on a reguest for services, well i modify it, nevermind then. As for a that horrible stories we haven't been experienced it so far

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamshed_11946 View Post
    <SNIP>

    Also netherlands hosts are never reliable as you can read lot of horrible stories of OFFSHORE hosts from NL.
    It depends. The best Netherlands hosts, which are generally located on dry land are extremely reliable. We cannot really comment about any Netherlands hosts whose datacenters are floating offshore .

  15. #15
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    As others have said cPanel is a way to go. Only one person on here has said otherwise, and they are the owner/representative of a host that has a proprietary control panel.. go figure. I don't believe that to be a coincidence. cPanel is the industry standard and it is worth going to if you have the option. It isn't just about having a host willing to move your site to their proprietary software or DirectAdmin.. it is also about what happens when you leave your host. If you expand, grow, or feel the need to change hosts at any time it is best to be using cPanel. This allows you to move to virtually any Linux/cPanel host with a simple and quick import/export function.

    Secondly, avoid the offers section for any decision making when choosing a host. Most of the hosts in the offers section will not be in business long. Too many people take bad advice, head into the offers section, grab a host based on price then come back here complaining their site/domain/web host have disappeared.

    Instead, find a host you like THEN check the offers section to see if they promote themselves on here and have any discounts. Also, I would ignore anyone who recommends a specific host who has less than 10 posts on this forum. They are likely a spammer promoting their own services and the mods will deal with it in due time.

    If you truly believe you have the potential to have 10,000+ visitors on a heavily MySQL driven site you may want to start off with a top tier provider now that offers scalable resources/packages.

    I would make a list of all the things you must have and all the things that are nice to haves for your hosting (phone/ticket support, caching software[LiteSpeed/Varnish], server location, etc). Also be sure to read EVERY terms of service contract completely. In this you will likely find an acceptable use policy that dictates server resource limits. The more specific they are about their resource usage the better as you can use this information to compare to other hosts you are looking in to.

    Keep in mind that providing quality service/support has a price. Any hosts who promises the world for a too good to be true price is probably promising more than they can deliver. With hosting it isn't always about finding the best price for the stated resources, it is about knowing what you have to pay for the services you require and then finding the best host for you in that stated price range.
    Last edited by JaJae; 05-31-2011 at 03:12 PM.

  16. #16
    JaJae,

    Thanks so much for such a detailed response. Basically my site is an online textbook where my users both use the text book online and submit their homework to a database; the textbook itself is dynamic and so every page that a user goes to will have a call to the database. If one school district licenses the book, all of a sudden, I could have 1000 new users. I don't need any fancy support or caching software; my main concern is if I have a bunch of users at the same time trying to access the book and/or submit homework.

    I've gotten lots of great advice here, but I still fear that with my new knowledge, I still don't know what hosts there are out there to trust.

    Since you don't seem tied to any host....do you have any recommendations?

  17. #17
    You should check out the hosting companies listed here in the forums offer section.

    I wish you the best of luck on your first website and web host!

  18. #18
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    Yikes, I can now see why you are finding it hard to find the right host. With your particular use, it sounds like everyone could submit homework in the same 2 hour window of the day as well.

    You're asking JaJae, but I'd second him on cPanel, and on the need for wariness with starting with the offers section.

    I'd say one of the most important things is to find a host with a large range of different packages, so that you can upgrade whenever you need to without hitting their ceiling. Preferably find one that also hosts VPS / dedicated servers, because if the day comes when that's what you need you can upgrade to those with less hassle if you choose to.

    Also be sure to check that they will let you upgrade without penalty, letting you carry over pro-rated credit from your old plan.

    Then, start things off small. As your number of users grows, watch what bandwidth you are using. That way, if a big provider signs up and your user-base grows tenfold, you can scale the requirements. Harder is to judge your CPU use, and how that might scale.

    I'd look at MDD Hosting, amongst others, if I were you. The customer support there is excellent, and so you'll get good help handling these questions. Fire off a support ticket to them pointing to this thread, and ask his advice. It'll either rule them out, because they genuinely aren't right, or confirm they're right. I am generally happy to recommend them, but the CloudLinux setup they now have will give you some help monitoring the CPU side of things too.
    James

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by kreut View Post
    JaJae,

    Thanks so much for such a detailed response. Basically my site is an online textbook where my users both use the text book online and submit their homework to a database; the textbook itself is dynamic and so every page that a user goes to will have a call to the database. If one school district licenses the book, all of a sudden, I could have 1000 new users. I don't need any fancy support or caching software; my main concern is if I have a bunch of users at the same time trying to access the book and/or submit homework.

    I've gotten lots of great advice here, but I still fear that with my new knowledge, I still don't know what hosts there are out there to trust.

    Since you don't seem tied to any host....do you have any recommendations?
    This forum only allows members to recommend services from hosts you have used. And unfortunately out of the hosts I have used and am currently using I would not recommend them for your needs. Although they are good providers at what they do, I do not think it would be your best fit.

    For what you have said here I would look to start with a low end managed VPS. As you pick up schools/contracts you can upgrade your VPS or possibly to a dedicated. Will your site be producing PDF files to the user? I work in the education sector and we have a lot of online textbook resources and they seem to love using the PDF structure. This can add to the server load.

  20. #20
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    For what you have said here I would look to start with a low end managed VPS.
    If you were to do that, I'd add KnownHost to my list of companies to look at.
    James

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesOakley View Post
    I'd look at MDD Hosting, amongst others, if I were you. The customer support there is excellent, and so you'll get good help handling these questions. Fire off a support ticket to them pointing to this thread, and ask his advice. It'll either rule them out, because they genuinely aren't right, or confirm they're right. I am generally happy to recommend them, but the CloudLinux setup they now have will give you some help monitoring the CPU side of things too.
    To the OP: MDDHosting is very popular on this forum. Mike is a corporate member who is on this forum often. Now that his company name has been mentioned he will be alerted to this thread and I'm sure he will respond with whether or not he feels he is a good fit for you. He is pretty blunt (for better or worse) and I'm sure he will give you a no-BS assessment.

    Because of his popularity he seems to draw a good chunk of WHT business and the users who select him seem to be very satisfied with his services. From what I can tell he is also one of the more knowledgeable hosts on this forum. As I said earlier, I'm not allowed to recommend his company, but I think I'm allowed to throw ya a bone as to his reputation on this forum...

  22. #22
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    I'm not allowed to recommend his company
    I am allowed to. I have hosted with him, no longer do, but would still gladly recommend him.
    James

    Interested in which hosts I'd recommend? Unmanaged VPS Reviews | Managed VPS Reviews

  23. #23
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    I won't break out the Linux Admin Bible and start reading it to you. I'll just say pick a reputable host with outstanding reviews and start with their shared plan. Move up to VPS, then dedi, as required by site traffic and resource usage.

    Don't go too cheap and don't go with the big boys who advertise all over TV and highway billboards because you can get far better performance and support. And I would advise against the guy who has rented a VPS or single dedi, but that's just me.

    I currently host with HawkHost. They have fast servers and good support. It was a coin flip between HawkHost and MDDHosting. HawKhost won only because they have a Dallas data center. I have also used Rochen and KnownHost. You won't go wrong with any of these hosts.
    Last edited by TheJoker; 05-31-2011 at 05:59 PM.
    Hosting is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by kreut View Post
    If one school district licenses the book, all of a sudden, I could have 1000 new users.
    In these type of situations will you have advanced notice of this happening, or is it more of an automated process? The best thing to do would be to notify your host ahead of time so that they can help you plan for the expected traffic increase.

    Just starting out, a regular web hosting account should be fine. Down the line you will most definitely need to upgrade to a VPS or dedicated server, so to make things easier, it would be a good idea to go with a host who offers all of these.
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  25. #25
    Guys,

    I can't thank you enough for all of this valuable information! I think that I'll spend a few days mulling it all over and then send out a post with why I chose what I chose...I'm sure that I'll get a straight-up assessment of both the host and whether I've thought through all of my needs. I hope that you all have a great day!

    -Eric

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by eLief View Post
    In these type of situations will you have advanced notice of this happening, or is it more of an automated process? The best thing to do would be to notify your host ahead of time so that they can help you plan for the expected traffic increase.

    Just starting out, a regular web hosting account should be fine. Down the line you will most definitely need to upgrade to a VPS or dedicated server, so to make things easier, it would be a good idea to go with a host who offers all of these.
    This part will be in my control...but homeschoolers can become "members" of my site without my control.

  27. #27
    Amazon Cloud (although I don't use them) is known for it's ability to scale quickly, and even automatically, which seems to be exactly what you need. You'll have to hire a systems administrator, or see if the school district has one on staff already who can administrate the system for you.

    My advice would be to pass hosting and administration costs to your client, and let them deal with the hosting and administration (just about every school board has an IT staff).

  28. #28
    Question Everything,

    Thanks for yet another option! I think that it's a great idea to pass the hosting cost on. Two questions if I went this route:

    1) Is this something that I could do down the line?
    2) I expect to be changing my online book pretty regularly as well as the HW questions available to teachers. If each school "deals with the hosting" is there a way that my changes automatically get affected on their servers in the same way that if I upload my site to my server the change is instantaeous? (Sorry for what's probably a SUPER newbie question)

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by kreut View Post
    Question Everything,

    Thanks for yet another option! I think that it's a great idea to pass the hosting cost on. Two questions if I went this route:

    1) Is this something that I could do down the line?
    2) I expect to be changing my online book pretty regularly as well as the HW questions available to teachers. If each school "deals with the hosting" is there a way that my changes automatically get affected on their servers in the same way that if I upload my site to my server the change is instantaeous? (Sorry for what's probably a SUPER newbie question)
    Working for a public school district I can tell you that most schools will have someone on hand who is capable, but they will likely be unwilling. They would prefer to pay for a service. There are so many internet/technology based services school districts use (library card catalogues, lunch programs, student records, IEP resources, transportation routing/tracking, special education programs, etc to infinity) that it becomes a chore to deal with and a single e-book will not be worth their time. Also, if you give the school access to the hosting of your product they will in a sense have complete control of your product. I would not recommend this for multiple reasons, but most importantly you cut yourself off from an avenue of profit.

    Public schools do not function like corporate entities. They use public funds and have little accountability for the spending of those funds. Because of this vendors tend to be liberal on their charging to educational entities.

    For example, there are some popular custom content management systems for school websites. These vendors charge for the setup/software, but then also charge over $100 a month to host the website.

    The amount a school district will spend on a service is related to how important it is though so they will not pay the same amount for an e-book service, but you get the idea...

    School districts tend to not have credit cards so they will most likely prefer an annual bill and an invoice where they will send a check. Each year their budget is renewed/revamped and you will have to earn their business again. If you are going to market yourself to them try to hit them prior to changeover of their fiscal year so they have you on their radar for when their funds become available. For many American school districts this is in the beginning of the summer some time after the school year has ended (IE- beginning of July).

    I think you will have better success if you bill them for their fiscal year. You will have a lot of competition if you only have an online book without a hard copy because a lot of hard copy books offer their books online nowadays. Also, many school districts are moving towards grading portals which accompanies all subjects and books. The idea of an individual book would have to be very good and specialized for it last. But yea, sell your product as a package including the hosting. You will increase your profit margin and you will be more likely to make the sale.

    Also as a tip to help with marketing. Make sure to hit the poorer school districts for sales. They often have the most money to spend on technology. It may sound counter intuitive since they have less students with internet access, but they are the ones with the most funds. In the public sector most of school money is earmarked. School apply for grants at the federal and state level and many low end districts (or departments within) have more money to spend on technology than they know what to do with. I've actually seen a foreign language department send their staff overseas on vacation because they were starting a teleconferencing program in India and they had to spend money by a deadline before it was gone. Yet they already had all the computers/projectors/etc that they needed. So they just took an all expenses paid trip overseas to spend a week in the country and one day meeting the teachers they would be teleconferencing with.
    Last edited by JaJae; 05-31-2011 at 07:28 PM.

  30. #30
    JaeJae,

    Thanks for the additional "non-host input". My "book" does have differentiating features (including a grading portal inherent in it and some interactive aspects which aren't part of the norm). The overall plan was to market more to colleges (it's intermediate algebra), and the homeschool crowd, and I was hoping to apply for some sort of grant myself to get into some high schools. However, I hadn't thought about the fact that some of the less affluent districts may actually have some type of funding in place. AND, I hadn't thought about charging a "hosting" fee to the district. Interesting...

    Cheers!

    -Eric

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