What’s happened to Rootsweb?

At about 1:30 p.m. MT on Monday, June 16, 2014, attackers targeted Ancestry with a Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS),’ wrote Scott Sorensen, chief technology officer for the site.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2661791/ancestry-com-hit-hackers-site-goes-offline-two-days.html#ixzz35N28c161

As of today, Sunday, June 22, 2014 Ancestry.com and  Find A Grave are again working although they may be slow. Apparently NONE of the websites hosted by RootsWeb/Ancestry are back up. With some of them you will receive the following screen


With some of them including the freepages sites, you get no notice and just the connecting from your web browser. How long will these sites be down? No one seems to know and these sites are evidently low priority to Ancestry.

I am assuming the various mailing lists are also down since there has been no traffic on the ones I am subscribed too.


Hackers can use a network of ‘zombie’ computers to sabotage a specific Web site or server.

The idea is pretty simple — a cracker tells all the computers on his botnet to contact a specific server or Web site repeatedly.

The sudden increase in traffic can cause the site to load very slowly for legitimate users.

Sometimes the traffic is enough to shut the site down completely.

RootsWeb FreePages Banners and XHTML Doctype

UPDATED: February 2013

RootsWeb masthead banners are displayed on all free hosted websites. If you are using the HTML Transitional doctype and your pages already validate, you should experience no problems with the banner validating.

If on the other hand, your account is hosted on any of the Rootsweb servers and you are using the XHTML doctype, your pages will NOT validate because of the banners. Good News, there is a “fix.”To change the banner code so that it will validate if you are using the XHTML doctype create a file named “banner_select” containing only the text: XHTMLNeutral and nothing else. The file should be a plain text file and the file name must NOT include a file extension, i.e. do NOT name it banner_select.txt or banner_select.html

  • Upload the file to your misc_html directory for FreePages server.
  • Upload the file to the public_html directory for www, homepages and virts accounts.

If you are using the File Manager –

  1. Sign in to your account with FileManager
  2. Enter your username and password
  3. Select the misc_html directory for FreePages sites Screenshot RootsWeb File Manager.
  4. Click Enter File Manager
  5. Scroll down to File Upload Utility
  6. Browse to the banner_select file on your computer > Select It
  7. Click Send Files

This will change the banner code for your entire Freepages account, e.g. family_html, genealogy_html, military_html, etc. as well as misc_html. If your system will not allow you to save or upload a file without a file extension, upload the file with the extension as required by your system, then rename the file on the server. File Manager can be used to rename the file without the file extension or your ftp program.

XHTMLNeutral is actually just one of four banners you can choose from; you can use any one of the four following words in your banner_select file to choose different banners.

  • BasicNeutral [the default; it validates as HTML 4.01 Transitional]
  • XHTMLNeutral [validates as XHTML 1.0]
  • BasicGreen or XHTMLGreen [as above, but with green backgrounds]

If you are using one of the specialty banners (USGENWEB WORLDGENWEB CANADAGENWEB, or USGWCENSUS), these have not changed. You will have to decide between the specialty banners and XHTML validation.

Limiting Window Size

A recent question on the RootsWeb Freepages Mailing list was:

For some files on a Freepages site I’m in the process of developing, I would like to restrict the size of the page window to a fraction of the normal size. The problem is whether this is possible and, if so, how to accomplish it.

Barry Carlson, a frequent contributor to the list, proposed the following with examples.

The Pseudo Window is totally generated using CSS, and though more complex to get going is faster and doesn’t need a call to the server each time a link is clicked.   Both versions use JavaScript, but those familiar with commerce on the internet will know that you can’t do anything without JavaScript enabled.  Both versions work down to and including IE5.01, while Firefox 3.5, Safari 4 and Chrome 2 will show rounded corners for the Pseudo Window version. ~Barry ~

Creating and Validating a Rootsweb Guestbook

If you are using the RootsWeb guestbook, you already know that it does not validate. And it does not matter if you are using an HTML or XHTML doctype. Would you like to know to remedy that? Follow this step-by-step tutorials for both creating and validating your RootsWeb Guestbook.

You can also make your Rootsweb guestbook accessible by following the tutorial Making the Guest Book Accessible.

How Would You Recommend a Novice Get Started Using CSS?

I just finished reading the article How Would You Recommend a Novice Get Started Using CSS? by Chris Coyier on CSS-Tricks. He says:

I get this one a lot and it’s surprisingly difficult to answer. The problem is that the question doesn’t include the persons background, which will in many ways determine the best course of action.

  • Are you literally just getting started in web design? As in, you have never designed a website before?
  • Have you designed web sites before, but never with CSS? As in, you are coming from a table-based mindset?
  • Have you designed sites (graphically) before, but never done the actual coding?

My favorite analogy is that learning web design is like learning to play the guitar.

Read the entire article How Would You Recommend a Novice Get Started Using CSS?

He suggests jumping right in and getting started by going out and get yourself a domain name (from NameCheap or the like) and get yourself some cheap hosting. I would suggest a 1and1 account on their Linux servers. Then you get yourself a template. I offer a number of free ones on Expression Web Tips, Tutorials, and Templates as well as Genealogy Web Creations. You can also Google for CSS Templates. One word of advice is before you start to use the template, make sure it validates. Mine do.

Chris further states: “Now you have the ultimate learning environment. Start poking through that code and making changes and seeing what happens.”

Those of you with genealogy websites that are currently using the free servers on RootsWeb, you can also use the free templates to learn CSS. As you are aware, Rootsweb will add banners to the top of your page. All of my templates are written using an XHTML doctype which will NOT validate on the Rootsweb servers as is. Read RootsWeb FreePages Banners and XHTML Doctype.

Chris ends with: “That is how you learn CSS. Experimentation. THEN, you go buy a book about CSS. That book will make 10x more sense now that you have something to relate it to.”