Making a private website

Genealogy applications like myblood-line store all kinds of information, some more private than other. In Belgium all information of a living person is considered private, as is all personal information that is not 100 years old. As long as the information is on your PC or Mac this is fine, but most of the time you want to share information with family and friends. The best way to do that, is to put the information on your website, but that makes it available to everybody, search engines included. Simply search yourself on Google or Bing, and you’ll be surprised what’s available about you on the internet.

So what can you do? Basically there are only two options.
The first is not to put the information on the internet. You can do that by marking the information (a photo, an event…) as private in myblood-line, and select not to export private information when you create the website in myblood-line.
The second option is to make a private website. By that I mean that you can only get to the website (your website) if you know the login and password. Search engines can not search the contents!

How do you make such a private website? There are several possibilities available on the internet which you can divide into two groups. The client solutions and the server solutions. The client in this case is your internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox…). The server is the place your website is hosted on the internet.
Client solutions tend to be not 100% secure. They can be secure enough for basic security but you trust your browser to handle all the security, and the server is not protected. If you know where to look, you can still access the server and get to the information.
Server solutions are the most secure solutions because they block any application that doesn’t know the login and password.

How to you setup a server login and password? Well that depends on your internet  provider. With your internet connection you get your email account(s) and diskspace on their servers. On this diskspace you can setup/upload your website by using a FTP-application like the free Filezilla (Mac, PC, Linux).
The best thing to do, is to mail the support department of your internet provider and ask them how to setup a login and password (on the server side) for a private website on their servers. The specifications will be provider specific.

To give you a feel of what this could be like, I’ll explain in short what needs to be done for UNIX based servers.
The login and password protection in UNIX/Apache is done with a .htaccess and .htpasswd file. The .htaccess file specifies which folder (and subfolders) need to be password protected, and the .htpasswd file contains the login(s) and encrypted password(s) for the specified folder(s). These files need to be upload to your upload folder (using a FTP-application like Filezilla) and voila everything is protected. The next time somebody wants to access a page on the private site, a dialogbox is shown to enter a login and password.

Comprehensive guide to .htaccess

Access and password generator

Access and password generator for one.com

First Belgium postage stamp: 1 or 8 July 1849

There used to be a time there wasn’t email or the internet and the only news we got was days, even weeks old. Letters had a postage stamp on it, but nowadays we only use stamps for Christmas or birthday cards. Children can not imagine a world without internet of computers, and I have to admit that I couldn’t imagine a world without mail, newspapers or TV. But if we look a the timeline, postage stamps are only 170 years old. The first postage stamp in Belgium was available by law on the 1st July 1849, but the first one really used was on the 8th of July 1849. Postage stamps have a historical relevance because they often depict Kings and Queens, Presidents and important political figures. They can provide a relevant context of the world our ancestors lived in.

Postage history of BelgiumPostage stampSmithsonian – National Postal Museum