The Blogification of the Web

Blogging is all the rage, even for folks like the Unix Curmudgeon, but largely blowing in the wind. The only comments we get are from WordPress blogspammers who troll the blogstream for new posts, to which they comment with praisebabble in hopes of getting their advertisement page cross-linked for search-engine cred.

But, blog we must, and link at least to our own websites.  The basic problem with web sites this this: custom ones are expensive and hard to change without calling up $CONSULTANT and paying big fees.  Custom sites with backend content-management systems are even more expensive.  So, most folks craft or commission a nice front page, maybe a sample of their portfolio, and there the page sits.  How to keep it fresh and current?  Enter the blog.

As you, dear constant reader, know, the Unix Curmudgeon is charged with the care and keeping of the Nice Person’s artful web sites, but they are oft-neglected in the rush to chase after the whims of $CLIENT (for $$, naturally), on the part of both of us, one too busy to anticipate the needs and the other too busy to articulate needs in sufficient detail. No surprise, then, that the Nice Person requested a blog of her own, complete with a short tutorial on the care and feeding of same, the feeding part being where the main web sites get neglected.

So, it launched yesterday, a painful process, in light of the semaphore flag and signal mirror speed of our Internet connection while we wait for the phone company to liberate some of the cash we’ve been feeding them on the promise of much better service and put it into actual hardware that can handle the load.  But, there it is:  The actual installation was a bit smoother than the user tutorial, since most of the work took place on the remote server using a light-weight text session between our balky connection and the server.  It is truly amazing how much advertising, cookies, cross-linking, flash and static images, and other commerce-driven traffic goes on when you load a simple web page, all of which grinds to a halt when the network is overloaded to begin with.

We now have multiple blogs hosted in our stable of webs, and associate them with different domains, so some additional PHP programming was needed to steer the curious to the proper one, with a minimal URL specification.  While our web hosting provider, Modwest, offers one-click WordPress installation, we prefer to manage our own.  Even so, adding another blog site was relatively easy, by downloading the latest version of WordPress and installing it in a separate directory, taking care to assign a different prefix for the database tables.  Because of the slow web connection, I chose to directly edit the configuration file, but the web setup is the normal way to go, and WordPress defaults to the setup page when first accessed.  As content management tools go, WordPress is easy to set up, easy to use, and easy to customize, as long as you like the basic layout and presentation model.  It’s great for blogs, and an inexpensive way for folks who are savvy with content but don’t want to learn HTML or PHP coding to run entire web sites.

Teaching the Nice Person to use the image upload and edit features was a snap, much easier than going through the intricacies of The GIMP to crop, size, rotate, and otherwise tweak photos.  Though, I did use The GIMP to prepare a header photo from our personal collection.  WordPress comes with a nice set of images, but nothing puts your personal brand on a site than using your own graphics. And, a WordPress site has so much more depth than a Facebook stream (and, unlimited character and photo count), though we do also use Facebook to link to our other web products.  

There is a simple procedure for adding a “like” button automaticaly to posts, but the rather frequent WordPress upgrades blows away any customized code: caveat emptor.  It may be possible to add buttons inside a post.  Hmm.  But, a bother, even if you have to have the code handy to paste in… Oops, it didn’t work–can’t embed an iframe in an iframe… Well, just have to remember to add the code each update..