Update, August 2016: I joined A Small Orange just before it got acquired by the Evil Hegemonizing Swarm that is EIG (a pox upon them). This post was written back when they were good, and they really were very good. Really above-and-beyondish support. They have since spiraled into a vortex of horror, as good people left or were laid off, and service levels and support cratered.
I no longer recommend A Small Orange, and I’m in the process of moving away from them to a new host (founded and staffed by EIG refugees, as I understand it), whether or not I get a refund. I’m DONE.
I started with the logging of the webs back in ye olde 2000. Like so many, I started on Blogger. Blog ontogeny recapitulates blog phylogeny — in anticipation of my current welter of wonderchicken websites, I started (and abandoned) a whole bunch of Blogger sites in those early days, most of which are happily lost to the sands of time (if not to Google).
In 2002 or so, Shelley Powers generously offered to host the newly-minted Emptybottle.org, and not knowing a damned thing about anything including a) birthin’ no babies and b) wranglin’ no webservers, I took her up on the kind offer. A year or so later, I signed up for a cheapo shared hosting account at Dreamhost, the training wheels were off, the good hot salty wonderchicken blog gravy was flowing, and metaphors were being mixed all up and down the lines.
Over the next 5 years, I launched a bunch of new sites, and ended up killing off most of them. Dreamhost actually served me pretty well. My expenses were next to nothing, and even when I got massive traffic spikes (like when /bullshit or Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Wonderchicken blew up and got Dugg and Slashdotted and pointed at by all the rest of those previous-web-gen traffic firehoses), everything worked without the poop hitting the Apache fan.