I’m back in Ireland and, given the apalling absence of summer, I’m settling down to the grim and tedious business of migrating my blog to WordPress. It’s been a decision made reluctantly, as Blogger is easy and reliable. But I’ve tinkered with the pre-beta template there so much that upgrading to a new layout will be a pain, and users like myself who publish by FTP from Blogger to my own server have been poorly served in the transition to beta. And I’m tired of the design now, I want something fresher, brighter, crisper. So drudgery is on the cards, whatever I do.So, I’ve a few choices. If I upgrade to full Blogger beta, things might be a bit easier, and there are a few Blogger gadgets and gizmos that look appealing. But in the full transition to Blogger beta, I’ve a backlog of a year’s old posts that need labels (categories) added, as prior to that I was using del.icio.us tags on each post thanks to a natty Firefox extension, which no longer works with Beta. It doesn’t make sense to have labels on only a few of the posts in the blog. So I’ve been adding them to each post all day today. It’s been a nostalgic trip, seeing what I was up to on sabbatical and how immersed I got into my business plans. (For anyone who wonders what happened to it, it got parked for a while – I was too busy trying to get established in this town, trying to get work and earn money, rather than investing a huge amount of unpaid time in a speculative internet venture, no matter how good I know the idea is. When I’m more settled, I’ll revisit it. Too much time in front of the computer is not good for me, I find it isolating.)
But I’ve gotten to know WordPress fairly well, having played about with it on a Blacknight.ie host for a while, (it was a freebie for having been nominated for the first Irish Blog Awards in 2006). Then I helped a friend get going with his blog. But it wasn’t until he tried to move servers and got into trouble with it that I got to know WordPress in a scarily Biblical sense.
The main advantage at the moment of moving “a bit of bonhomie” to WordPress is that there is an RSS feed for comments on each post. Blogger claim to do this in beta, but it’s not available to me at the moment unless I upgrade to beta fully. This didn’t really bother me much before, but since I started doing theatre reviews, comments have increased. And since those comments are highly specific to each post, and are (satisfyingly) turning into public debates on the merits and demerits of the relevant productions, not having an RSS feed for each discussion is frustrating. But the main reason I like WordPress is its configurability.
WordPress now offers the possibility, through The Sandbox theme, of allowing me to configure a new theme and tinker with it as much as I like (almost always) just with CSS, meaning the often treacherous experience of upgrading WordPress should be relatively painless in future, avoiding the misery of having to mess with PHP and templates again. But I love the style of the Hemingway theme, and until there’s a Hemingway-esque skin available for Sandbox, (which might crop up in some variant as a skin in the forthcoming Sandbox Designs Competition, according the reply to my query on the sandbox forums), I’ll probably start with it or a variant of it.
But it’s not necessarily going to be smooth sailing. I’ve gone to the half-way house of a temporary blog at wordpress.com for testing purposes, and used the blogger import tool there. After a false start, I had to “withdraw” my blogger blog away from ftp-ing it to my own server, then publish it on blogspot.com, and then the import tool worked. The comments and labels were correctly imported, but the podcast enclosures failed to make it, as well as the mp3 player iframe widgets I use for playing my podcasts in each post. WordPress.com then told me in their forums that their service is very different to the WordPress that is for use in own-hosted servers, which was news to me. Due to security issues, wp.com don’t permit the import of iframes or mp3 enclosures.
So I am ready to try out the own-server installation of WordPress, and see if I can import my podcast enclosures there automatically, all 37 of them. My ISP, IEInternet, told me a couple of weeks ago that WordPress wasn’t available yet, but that it was on its way hopefully by the end of June, subject to their servers being upgraded. I was prepared to wait, even as it’s July now, but then I noticed today that Blacknight’s price for blog hosting is a fraction of what I’m paying now, and Damien Mulley was singing their praises recently, so I signed up for the package today, and hope to get log in details soon.
It appears that not only am I switching layouts and platforms, I’m also switching ISPs and servers, all at the same time.
I do like to do things the hard way, don’t I? Will keep you posted.
(… See the bottom line.)