Cannot write to newly created file

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http://serverfault.com – I have an ubuntu server. I created a simple index.html file using touch. and tried to use nano and it turns out the permission is denied. Why is this? If I just made the file on the server why wouldn't I have write access in the first place? My second question is if I wanted to change the permissions to the number format 644 (is that what a html file on the server should be set to?) how do I view what it currently is how do I convert -rw-rw-r-- to the numeral format? I want to view -ls -l with the numeral permissions format rather then -rw-rw-r--. The index.html file is running on the server a (HowTos)