Friday, May 22, 2009

Selecting a Domain Name

An important step in making a site is picking a web domain. 

One factor in choosing a name is whether you intend to grow the site through word of mouth and referrals, vs. search engine optimization.  If your site is viral, you want a catchy word that rolls off the tongue.  The fewer syllables, the better.  Some entrepeneurs like to pick a nonsense name that can grow to embody their product.  On the other hand, if you expect most traffic to come from SEO, you'll want a descriptive name, to encourage users to click on your search result.

If you are on a budget, there are tools for finding what is still available.  Our favorite is  You enter a sequence of words, and the site will show you compound-name domains that are still available.

If you are willing to spend money, many domain owners are willing to negotiate.  To lower stress on yourself, you may wish to contact several owners instead of pining all your hopes on a single domain.

As is the case with most negotiations, some domain owners are interested in non-monetary as well as monetary offers.  We've heard of domain owners who exchanged their domain name for introductions to influential contacts, or for famous guest speakers at their company.  Be creative!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Server Hosting

When choosing the server hosting option for HotelFoo, we faced the typical array of options.  From most expensive / powerful, the typical choices considered by server developers are:

1. Dedicated physical server (starts at $100 / month).  
2. Web service such as Amazon EC2 (starts at $72 / month).
3. Virtual Private Server (starts between $20 to $50 / month).
4. Web hosting such as HostMonster, SliceHost (can be as low as $5 / month).

Our considerations were: a dedicated IP that would not be blocked in China, the ability to run long-running scripts, no CPU throttling, and enough memory and bandwidth to handle traffic spikes.  The top three satisfied these constraints, and #4 did not.

We ended up going initially with option 3.  A good place to read reviews for web hosting providers is the WebHostingTalk forums.  

We wanted a VPS with good uptime, and technical support who were responsive and competent.  After reading a number of reviews, we ended up with FsckVPS, which has satisfied our requirements so far.

Questions?  Or want to share your own server hosting stories?  Leave a comment.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What does the name "HotelFoo" mean?

The name "HotelFoo" is a joke for computer scientists.  The word "foo" is a placeholder name in computer programming, much like "John Doe" might be used to refer to an anonymous person.

For those who prefer to remember it as "fu" like "kung fu", will also go to our site.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Welcome to the HotelFoo blog!  Here we will write about new features on HotelFoo, as well as interesting learnings we come across during development.

We'd like to give a shout-out to TravelPod blog "Happy Sheep" for a well-written write-up about our site!  

Happy travels, everyone!  Please use the gadget on the right to follow our blog if you're interested in our updates.