Personal web hosting on G4, Apache


First off, I hope I'm posting this in the right place.... if not, I do apologize.

I actually have a few questions. I'm pretty new to all of this Apache stuff, so please bare with me here.

I would like to host a simple web site on my G4 using Apache. I have turned on Personal Web Sharing, so that much is done. I have also tried doing the whole port forwarding stuff too, no luck there. My ISP is Earthlink and apparently they block this whole process. SO, the only thing left for me to do, I guess, would be to purchase a static IP from them, which isn't that much thankfully. If I do purchase an IP from them, what is the process from there? I would like to register a domain name, so would it mean me just pointing that domain to the IP address? Where do I store the html files so that they are visible from the IP/domain, the site folder? I'm just not real sure what to do here.

Second question.... I have learned the whole process of protecting directories via .htaccess and have set it up on sites hosted elsewhere. I would like to do this on a directory hosted on my machine with Apache. I know that the OS doesn't like to have files that start with a . (dot). So what do I need to do to allow this type of protection using Apache on my machine?

Last question... If I get this whole thing set up and working, how secure is it? I mean, if I have a static IP and run Apache, can people outside get into other parts of my machine?

Thanks in advance for the help. It's much appreciated.