Goodbye MovableType, hello WordPress

Finally I’ve got around to updating my blog from MovableType to WordPress.

Steves original movable type blog
How the old blog looked

If you’re looking at this today (and maybe for another month.. or year) you’ll see the template is still the default WordPress template. Eventually I’ll update it but for now at least the content from all the old posts is still visible.

The move has come about because of a number of reasons:

1) Spam. There was too much comment spam. Most didn’t get past the spam filter but every attempted post was a load on the server. At times the server was overloaded by spammers trying to post.  The anti-spam features stopped almost all of them but it was annoying me.  I say this knowing there’s probably even more spammers trying to break WordPress….

2) Server Migration.  The old server is being retired.  My web host gandi.net has introduced a new service where instead of having a fully managed ‘virtual private server’ (VPS) they run a ‘platform’ they call ‘simplehost’.  Simple host has a number of advantages

  • It has a built in web cache for performance
  • They keep all the software up to date (PHP, Mysql, etc)
  • It costs less than their VPS (less than half for roughly equivalent performance)
  • It scales easier than a VPS (in the unlikely event one of my posts becomes popular I can up the power for a short time to handle it and lower it once the world moves on)

It has a number of disadvantages

  • I don’t get full control. Limited control of PHP settings, limited Cron options, no Perl, no Ruby, no Nginx.  It’s just plain LAMP (Linux Apache Mysql PHP)
  • Each vhost can only have one domain pointed to it. Although I’ve got the WordPress Network working by using symbolic links and actually this might make my spread of domains and subdomains being used somewhat neater (I have lots of vanity domains pointed here, steveroot.co.uk/com/sroot.eu).
  • I only get one login (so where I used to host a few friends and gave them SSH access to upload their files, I can’t do that any more because they could access all the sites and accidentally break something. Note that only applies for those that need to upload things, where they login through a web interface like with WordPress I can still host that for them, or they can send me the files they want uploaded like my sister in Australia does.).

3) If I put my blog on the simplehost service I no longer have Perl which is the software MovableType runs on.  Wordpress uses just PHP so that’s another motivator to switch

4) A lot of friends are using WordPress for different things.  I’ve had to use it for a couple of community/charity projects I’ve been involved with so I thought I might as well learn how to use it full. I actually had it running on the old server too but just as an experiment a year or so ago.

Which is best?  I honestly don’t find much difference between them so far.  Although any code alterations I want to do should be easier in wordpress (I’ve coded PHP in the past but never Perl) I found there was always an open plugin that did the job and that’s been good enough for me.  After all, I’m just typing rubbish for my own benefit anyway 🙂

Next post – some notes on the migration method.

My name (root) – most dangerous word in computing?

I haven’t posted for a while, I know. I’ve been busy doing other things is all. Some of which you may hear about soon, others only if I get around to posting about it.

One thing I have done recently is set up an http://about.me page. For most people, that’s a very easy thing to do. If the name you want hasn’t been taken you’re good to go. For me, picking the name sroot turned out to be quite a challenge!

I’ve always had problems with my name and computing. On unix and linux, ‘root’ is the name of the super user. ‘root’ is god. ‘root’ can access anything, do anything, delete anything. When a server gets hacked, the last bit you want hackers to get access too is the ‘root’ account. Many services often prevent anyone registering the name root. Many prevent people registering anything that contains the string ‘root’. I first remember noticing this when I tried to get a hotmail account. ‘steveroot’ and ‘rootskitchens’ were simply not allowed.

When I tried to sign up for an about.me page, I figured the failures being displayed were because of my name. I like the about.me site, so I persevered. I emailed their support and they helped! It turns out the name was blocked by the AOL namespace. I don’t really know what that means, but I guess their usernames connect with AOL services in some ways and my name failed to be accepted. What’s most impressive, is that for this FREE service, they actually took the time to find a solution. I genuinely expected to be told, ‘you can’t have a name that contains root, try using a nickname, or maybe remove the last letter like steveroo’.

Having had them go to so much effort just for little old me, I hope my about me page http://about.me/sroot does them justice.

By the way, I’ll keep that page up to date with things like my twitter name, social media spaces and any other big projects I may be working on.

5 and a bit years of blogging… just

So I may have been quieter than usual over the summer, but the blog still goes on. What visitors are reading though has changed since last year when this post gave the top 4 posts. Now they are:

1. Useful Windows Shortcut key to show Desktop is still number – This was written for XP but the shortcut works in Vista too.
2. Margins and Markups – what the difference is and how to calculate them.
3. Red mushroom with white spots – a photo I took while walking
4. BBC iPlayer and it’s built in Kontiki software – though I must make a new entry about this, as the iPlayer has moved on since 2 years ago. We’re now watching iplayer via our Ninendo Wii! Nicola used it to watch Gavin and Stacey for the first time to see the kitchen I designed (it’s the maple one, in the house set in Essex).
5. Welcome to the Christmas Party season – a review of our 2007 works christmas party.

4 Years of blogging

Wow. 4 Years. Amazing. Amazing I can still type so much waffle. Amazing to me anyway.

Last year’s comments are still valid. Statistic wise, page views grew to over 26,000 this November (10,208 Nov 2007, 6,024 Nov 2006)

My backlog of unposted things is growing longer by the week but I don’t mind, it’s because I’m busy with other things. Eventually I’ll tell you about the Australia Photo used in a CGI competition and the reply I wrote to a trade magazine that became a full page article in it’s own right. Some things though will never see the electrons of publication, despite my lack of writing ability, waffle seems somewhat thereputic.

Most popular pages are:
Useful Windows Shortcut key to show Desktop – This was written for XP but I’m told works in Vista too.
BBC iPlayer and it’s built in Kontiki software
My Best PDA Phone Ever (which I still rely on every day by the way)
Margins and Markups – more relevant than ever as the whole country get’s used to the new VAT rate.

3 Years of blogging

Wow! That went quick. It was just over 3 years ago I installed some blog software called “Movabletype” onto my web server to run my personal playspace. I guess blogging is a phase of life that’s still in me, though several things have been and gone. My running phase never quite restarted after “je suis tombe“. Speaking of which, The French lessons I began in January finished and I haven’t been able to get on the next ones (the teacher’s great, but the course is over subscribed again and I wasn’t quick enough to book in). I still get tears in my eyes when I read this post.

Onto happier things, someone other than me visits these pages. The server log shows that in November 2007 there were 10,208 page views. That compares to 1,599 at the end of the first year and 6,024 a the end of the second year.

Most people still look for this page on what the shortcut key is on Windows to show the desktop and minimise all the open programs (Windows key & D at the same time, at least for XP, I’ve not tried Vista enough to find out). That’s not so closely followed by people searching for “steve root”, I wonder who he is? After which, How much do books weigh? and how to know that shelf you are putting up is strong enough. I’m also not the only one to wonder “is damn a swear word?“.

Almost two years! – Say hello everyone

Did you know it’s been almost two years since I created this site? Well, it has. About a year ago I revealed some of my top secret* page view statistics. Then the monthly page view totals looked like this:

Month: Pages Viewed
Nov 2005: 1599
Oct 2005: 1180
Sep 2005: 676

Compare and contrast the following then:

Week: Pages Viewed
17/Sep/06 1989
10/Sep/06 2053
3/Sep/06 1929

Yes, you read it correctly. There are now more visitors each week than in a whole month from last year. Another example from the logs is that 821 “Distinct Hosts Served” during the last week – say hello in the comments everyone! (see this entry for more detail about what web site stats mean).

What are you all coming here for? Well, according to the search logs – most of you are still looking for this entry although flavour of the month is Steve Irwin – he got a mention in our holiday photos. For those who don’t know, Steve Irwin became famous from his TV programmes on wildlife (he became known as “The Crocodile Hunter”). He had a Zoo near Brisbane but was killed recently by a Sting Ray while filming a new series.

The question you’re probably all desperate to hear the answer too is “How much have you earn’t from the Google Ads?” (written about here). Well, it’s safe to say that I haven’t even reached two significant figures. That’s another way of saying less than US$10.

*OK, they’re not that secret it’s just I don’t process the log file often.

New experiment – googleads now on the site

Well, traffic levels here are increasing regularly. Guess either a) I have a lot of friends b) Theres actually some content here people want to read c) Lots of people are getting lost and ending up here.

I’ve decided to try hosting some googleads here. The theory is if you are reading one of my pages, google will put some relevent adverts alongside the page. If you happen to be interested in that companies product (it’s almost always going to be a product) then you can follow the link. The company pay google a few pennies for every person that follows the link, and google pay a (no doubt) miniscule percentage to me. Be interesting to see if it provides any holiday spending money.

Before you ask:
1) no, it doesn’t work if I click on the links to earn money for myself. It also recognises the same person following the link, so don’t bother clicking on an advert 30 times – computers can be clever things and will simply not count you.
2) Yes, if i do actually ever recieve a cheque from google for this, I have to pay tax on it 🙁 For me, that will simply be a case of raising a corresponding invoice to cover the reciept and it will be part of my business accounts. I guess other people have to register with the tax office and start doing a tax return.

One whole year!

It’s been a whole year since I started this blog. I’ve managed to write at least one post each month, although somtimes the gaps between entries have been quite large.

Visitor numbers have been quite impressive – more interested than I would have guessed:
Month: Pages Viewed
Nov 2005: 1599
Oct 2005: 1180
Sep 2005: 676
Aug 2005: 434
(I accidentally deleted the log files from before July)

anyway, I’m out of time again – more to write later!