Saturday, December 13, 2008

Migrated from WordPress to Blogger. Good Lord.

When I created this blog, it wasn't possible to host your blog under your own domain name using Blogger like you can today. That was a big turnoff for me, so I decided to host my own blog using WordPress. I also liked the idea of being able to do whatever I wanted to my blog since the source code was living on my server.

As it turned out, having total control was never that interesting to me. As I noted when I started the blog, I didn't want it maintaining it to feel like a job, so I never made many changes to the PHP. I made a few tweaks to one of the default templates instead of trying to create my own, and I may have installed a plugin or two, but I didn't really touch those very much either.

Now consider the downsides of hosting your own blogging software:
  • You have to be aware of security vulnerabilities that arise in the software and update the system yourself when they happen. (My WordPress blog was hacked and spam links were inserted into my posts.)
  • You have to stay on top of the world of comment spam (which my WordPress blog suffered from) and patch your system accordingly (if patches are available) if you want to keep it out of your blog.
  • Your readers have to create separate accounts (as opposed to their Google Accounts, which I expect most of my readers to have) if they want to comment on your blog.
  • Your WordPress username/password is just one more thing you need to remember.
A friend pointed out the spam in my blog, and I knew that my version of WordPress was outdated, so I decided that I would finally tackle the migration. This turned out to be about as much fun as I expected it would be:
  • The migration required me to upgrade WordPress (just what I was trying to avoid!) because my existing version of WordPress (1.5?) didn't have the export feature that the Internets recommended I use.
  • I tried to upgrade WordPress on, but that turned out to be impossible because doesn't have PHP 4.3 (it has 4.2.2), and from past experience, I know that trying to upgrade PHP on Redhat 9 (yep, that's what currently runs on -- clearly I have another migration in my future) is its own disaster, so I didn't even try.
  • I ended up doing a mysqldump of my Wordpress database and installed a new version of WordPress on a separate (more modern) server. (This required updating the siteurl and home options in the wp_options table to match the new server; otherwise, I couldn't load upgrade.php which runs the upgrade process.)
The one thing that shocked me while I was doing all the Googling to solve this problem were the number of people who are trying to migrate from Blogger to WordPress rather than the other way around. Sure, Blogger has its share of things that annoy me (I have to manually edit the height of the Compose box in Firebug to make it a reasonable size, and the HTML it generates for my post is completely unlike anything I would write had I done it by hand, making it hard to clean up), but WordPress has most of the same problems and requires so much extra maintenance!

What is wrong with you people?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Fixed up iGoogleBar

It turns out the iGoogleBar needed a one-line fix to address what I can only assume was a recent change in Gmail. I updated the code in the Chickenfoot script wiki as well. Version 0.5.2 is now the latest version, so go to Tools -> Add-ons in Firefox to see if you have the latest version -- hit the Find Updates button if you don't!

Monday, February 4, 2008

iGoogleBar: Just because I haven't released a Firefox extension in awhile

iGoogleBar is my latest Firefox extension that adds Google Apps favicons to the Google Apps Bar, using them as triggers for the Apps' respective iGoogle Gadgets. As a courtesy to some of my colleagues, I included their projects in the bar so they’re easier to get to (or just preview) from Gmail and Calendar.

I built this extension using Chickenfoot, which hit version 1.0 recently. Part of that release included improvements to the extension-packaging tool, which made it much easier for me to convert my iGoogleBar prototype into a full-fledged Firefox extension!

The iGoogleBar page acknowledges that there are some missing features from the extension, so I put the source code in the Chickenfoot Scripts Wiki. That means, if you’d like to see a new feature added, please go and update the Wiki instead of just nagging me :) If I like your patch, then I’ll make a new release. And if I don’t like your patch, then you can at least install your modified version of iGoogleBar as a trigger in Chickenfoot.

Will this method of software development actually work? Probably not, but it should be fun to try!