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31.12.09

My last post for this blog on Blogger (fingers crossed) 

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/jbiljr/Folks, this is the last post of 2009, and I might see you here in 2010.
   When I asked if there was an easy way to shift from Blogger to Wordpress at the same domain, no one had any clues, apart from our usual go-to web guy, Nigel Dunn.
   Nigel’s thought was I could create a new domain: instead of blog, maybe I could use wordpress. I could use the Wordpress import, get the old posts into the new directory, and then rename the Wordpress directory. Simple.
   I dug around a little bit today and I might be in luck: I do not need to do any of this.
   Because I never hosted any of these entries on a Google or Blogspot server—which means that Google can’t go around wiping anything and pretending that the blog never existed in the first place—Blogger actually published every one of these pages in full on our server.
   No databasing, no PHPing, nothing—they exist as fully fledged pages, with the entire CSS stylesheet, the meta tags, everything, on each page. Even the month pages are not database ones: they replicate every single post, in full. Blogger’s only record is keeping an index of my posts and maintaining some drafts.
   Needless to say, this is a terribly inefficient way of storing data, although it is remarkably safe—I am not subject to the whim of a database crash because the posts are all here in “longhand”.
   There are some problems with Blogger. It won’t allow us oldies to have the simplest things, such as a ‘Previous page’ and ‘Next page’ link. New users can get these, but if you have a custom template—as I do—and started in the early days, then Blogger won’t supply you with some easy code that you can plug in to your blog.
   Also, as mentioned, it republishes every single tag page when one enters a new post—even when that particular tag has not been used. This is also terribly inefficient and, as I discovered when poking about on our server, unnecessary.
   All told, the shift to Wordpress is on principle. Google has proven itself to be highly untrustworthy and has engaged in deception when it came to deleting Vincent Wright’s Social Media Consortium blog. I had also discussed this shift many years ago with readers, all of whom encouraged me to make the change.
   If all goes well, I will start 2010 with a new blog at this same location. The home page will look rather empty initially, because I will be starting fresh. However, the entire archive of posts from 2006 to 2009 will remain, hard-linked from the new home page, to pages that Google has published in full.
   I will keep the old Blogger account in case I need to make template changes, which are very likely. But no new posts will go via Google or be managed by the company. See you in the Gregorian New Year.

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29.12.09

Any how-tos on shifting to Wordpress? 

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/kasia_rogowska/Before you answer that, I know there are heaps on going from Blogspot to Wordpress or to a self-hosted domain.
   I wouldn’t mind finding one which allows me to go from a self-hosted blog run on Blogger (this one, residing at jackyan.com/blog) to a self-hosted blog run on Wordpress that has to reside at the same URL.
   Does, for example, installing the Wordpress blog to jackyan.com/blog tamper with what exists here now?
   Will I expect to have down time?
   You see, I’m sick of Google. I believe, that if things were to go awry, no one will help. No one helped when Google deleted the blog home page at Beyond Branding for three years. And, as you’ve read, Google has engaged in obstruction and censorship in our latest battle, learning a few tricks from Red China.
   Technically, since I started using the labels here at Blogger, which I assume to be tags, the publication time is immensely long. It seems Blogger has to republish every single label page, regardless of whether that label was used in the most recent post or not. That sounds like a recipe for disaster—and I’ve had more than my share of long-loading tags.
   There are now over 1,100 posts here, and while Wordpress certainly is buggy, at least Wordpress geeks, judging by their forums, tend to be far more intelligent than Blogger ones.

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12.12.09

My blogging goes back to the future 


Above: What the Vox compose screen looks like. Viewing the source reveals an equally blank code screen.

I’m very likely returning to Blogger for my own posting, after the failure of Vox.
   The Six Apart people, who run Vox, have been amazing in trying to help me figure out my issue, but despite eliminating dormant neighbours and about 7 kbyte of tags from the blog—which should make it more trim than it was before the site ceased to let me compose readily on October 28—I’m still at my wit’s end.
   As I removed today’s set of neighbours, I discovered many who had left Vox after being fed up with its various bugs. However, only author Patricia Volonakis Davis has exactly the same symptoms as me, and she has relatively few tags to her 50 or so blog posts. Whether it’s down to the tags, dodgy neighbours or a corrupted Vox database is anyone’s guess.
   The compose screen takes anywhere between two seconds and two days to emerge, and generally takes between 15 minutes to six hours. I have put up with this for nearly two months.
   Another possibility is shifting this entire blog on to Wordpress, which remains an option, since Blogger itself has been shown to be horribly unreliable on numerous occasions.
   I will still have to go on to Vox to moderate some of the groups I run. Another down side to the site is the number of sploggers who create fake accounts and overrun the groups. (That’s right: sploggers can create posts where I can’t.) I left one yesterday, on social media, after finding it overrun by sploggers: the site owner herself had left, so there was no one to take care of business.
   I’ve prided myself on running very clean groups there, where members can operate in a spam-free environment.
   It looks like December 2009 is when I might undo the split between a work blog and a personal blog. Back in 2006, as a Vox beta tester, I liked the site but could not see myself abandoning this blog, which is, after all, at a domain named for me.
   It’s lucky I kept this going, otherwise, I’d face the difficulty of building an audience here back up from scratch.
   Vox offered numerous advantages, including storage space for images and videos, which suited my forays into digital photography nicely. I was able to share some work-related videos there. It’s something I’m going to have to do without (YouTube is too unreliable, and Vimeo too strict, even for licence holders of videos), although I do have a lucire.vox.com blog there where some of these things can still go. (My hesitation is that it is branded with the Lucire name, so it limits what I might like to put up.)
   I also enjoyed having the luxury of tags, and I am not sure about whether Blogger labels are related. It might be time to find out.
   So for three years, the trivial, throw-away comments, clips from favourite TV shows and other non-sensical items went to Vox, and this space was left to more “serious” matters (with some exceptions along the way).
   All this is, of course, moot. I don’t know if I will enjoy returning to Blogger, for starters. I have to hack in HTML because the compose screen here will not allow hard spaces for paragraphing, and I don’t believe in having line breaks between paragraphs. Tumblr has proved to be a fairly good platform if I don’t want comments—but what is the point of a blog, and the engagement that they should have, without them?).
   There is no point forcing myself to adapt to a technology when the opposite should hold true. But right now, this looks like the way forward, so expect less work-like items surfacing back here from time to time.

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