Category Archives: Blogging

How to Transfer a Blog from WordPress.com

If you are thinking about setting up a blog, there are many good options out there. However, it is my opinion that WordPress is the best blogging platform currently available. It is also one of the most widely used due to its robust features, extendability and ease of use.

If you decide to use WordPress, there are 2 ways you can do it. You can use the free hosted version of WordPress.com, or you can host it yourself. Both versions have their pros and cons. Ideally, you want to host your own copy of WordPress to have the most flexibility. This is not for everyone though. If you are not up to the task of running your site yourself, the hosted version is the way to go.

Also, when you are starting out with a new blog, WordPress.com is a big help due to the automatic domain authority you get from having a subdomain of WordPress.com. This means you can instantly get good search engine rankings which drive traffic to your site. This is the main reason to set up a hosted version and quickly build up some decent traffic.

Let’s say that you do decide to go with WordPress.com. What happens if you one day want to host your blog yourself? In that case, it is possible to transfer your blog to your own hosted version of WordPress without losing any data or traffic.

The key to this is having your own domain. When you sign up for a WordPress.com blog, your blog address will be a subdomain of wordpress.com, as in yourblog.wordpress.com. What you want to do is buy your own domain name and point it at your WordPress.com blog. WordPress.com allows you to do this for $10 a year, plus the cost of your domain. This works no matter when you set it up because WordPress.com automatically redirects traffic from your wordpress.com subdomain to your custom domain, without having to do your own redirects.

Once your links and search engine results are pointing to your new domain, you should be able to transfer all your files to your new host. The second important part of this is importing all your WordPress data into your new custom WordPress setup. With WordPress, this is very simple to do, and it will keep your url’s the same on your new site as they were on your old site. This is critical to making this work. You will also want to keep the same template so that your site appears to change as little as possible.

After your files and data are transferred, you can point your domain back at your new host. Also, WordPress will redirect any traffic to your old blog to your new one as long as you have the custom domain active in your WordPress settings. It’s that simple!

Tumblr, Twitter and the Social Web

Tumblr is a new web service similar to Twitter. When you set up an account, you create a tumblog. Anything you post to it, then gets posted to your tumblog. It’s similar to other blogging services in that, your account can be hosted on their site, or you can purchase a domain name and point that at your tumblog.

What makes it different from Twitter is that you can post more than just text. You can post a photo, a quote, a link, chat excerpts, audio or video. It is different from a blog, in that there is no way to comment on posts. There are also no other bloglike features like categories or blogrolls.

So if you already have a blog, Twitter account or a Flickr account, why do you need another service to post your stuff to? Well, you don’t really. But what interested me in Tumblr is aggregation. You can import posts from other services into your Tumblr account. Services that can be imported include Del.icio.us, Digg, Twitter, WordPress, VOX, Blogger, LiveJournal, YouTube or any RSS feed. So rather than post the same info to different services, you can post to each service, import to Tumblr and display everything in one place. What this means is that you can track me on all these other services, or you can track me in one place on Tumblr.

I created an account to try it out. You can see my tumblog here. I am still trying it out, but my first impression is that the import feature doesn’t work like I hoped. It does import posts to Twitter. I added this blog’s RSS feed so it should import a link to each post. I also added my Flickr feed to it. It doesn’t import any old info, only new posts, but it takes a really long time. It took over 6 hours to import the Twitter posts.

So my advice is just to keep using your other services, unless you want to aggregate all your stuff like I am doing. You might want to try making this your primary blog if you aren’t using any other services, but be aware that it lacks important blogging features. I do hope they will continue to work on Tumblr and improve it. I think it has a lot of potential to be a really good service.

Successful Hosting Not Successful at Keeping Their Websites Online

My web sites were down twice this week, and I had to contact tech support to get them back online. This is not a usual occurrence, but it was very annoying. This week I got an e-mail from my hosting company, Successful Hosting, entitled “Notification of Scheduled Maintenance.” Here is what the e-mail said:

Dear Valued Customer,

This is to inform you of a change window scheduled on Sunday October 28th, 2007, starting at approximately 3 A.M Eastern Time, and ending Sunday October 28th, 2007 at approximately 10 P.M Eastern Time. During this change window we will be moving all clients from Baltimore to our new Andover MA, Data Center. Please be aware that this is a client impacting event and there will be downtime during this move. We will make every attempt to get servers back online quicker than the window and will keep you fully informed during this move process.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this move. We are confident that this move will result in an increase to your overall client experience. Along with being hosted in world class data center in our Andover facility the new platform will offer greater stability, flexibility and extensibility to your hosted applications.

So yesterday, which was Saturday, I woke up to find all my sites were down. My guess was that they started the server move a day early, but I had no way of knowing because I never received any notification of this. I went to the company forums to find out, but I had to have an account to view the forum and to post. I registered for an account, and then received notification that a moderator would have to approve my registration. So I waited for for my registration to be approved.

Once my registration was approved five hours later, I was able to login to the forums where I found the posts stating that they decided to move the scheduled maintenance up one day to Saturday instead of Sunday. This notification was not posted until 1:30 PM on Friday, October 26th and no e-mails were sent out, so if you do not check the forums you would have no way of knowing this is the case.

So to recap, they notified us that our sites that were hosted with them would be down for 20 hours on Sunday, then they decided to change it to Saturday one day before without notifying anyone. So their plan for the move is to unplug all the servers, move them to a new data center, plug them back up and turn them on, while all the sites and e-mail on those boxes is down. WTF? Isn’t there a better way to do this? I don’t know much about hosting, but it seems that would be the case to me.

Well, once their clients started to complain in the forums, they decided to moderate that thread so that no one could post in it unless it was an update on the status of the move by one of the mods or it was a client saying something positive. Again, not a good decision in my opinion. I understand the need to keep the forum productive so that updates can be posted, but it is not a good move to piss your clients off and then censor the negative reactions.

So I resigned myself to the fact that my sites were down, and there was nothing I could do about it until 10PM. Throughout the night, the mod kept posting updates saying that everything was still on track to be back online by 10PM. I questioned that after this status update that was posted at 6:55 P.M EST.

1)the truck is currently located: 1-2 hours away

2)approximate time it will take to arrive and unload: 1 hours

3)approximate time it will take to re-assemble/re-rack the servers?
2 hours

As far as I can tell, we’re still on schedule to meed the 10:00 P.M deadline.

So if you add this up, they are saying it will take 5 hours to complete the process. With 3 hours left, how could they be on track for 10PM? Well, as it happened they weren’t. I checked up until 12AM, and things were not back online yet, so I went to bed. When I got up, things were back online, but not until 2:30 AM apparently, going by the posts in the forum.

So things being as they are, there is not much to be done at this point. I am extremely displeased with the way this went. I don’t think it could have gone worse. But they have said this is a one time move that will greatly improve performance, so what can you do? Well, we will see if things improve. If my sites continue to go down like they have this week, I will be looking to move.

Twitter Tools = Awesome!

Okay, I really like WordPress, and I really like Twitter. Which means, I love Twitter Tools! I decided the other day it would be awesome if someone created a wordpress plugin that showed my latest tweets on my blog. Twitter Tools is exactly what I was looking for. It not only shows your latest tweets on your site, but it can also create a tweet whenever you update your blog, letting people know that you just updated your blog!

Other options include Twittering from the WordPress admin or the front end and creating a blog post every time you update Twitter. The cool thing is you can set it up anyway you want. I really gotta give credit to Alex King. The man creates some awesome WordPress plugins.

Update – 10/28/07: It looks like the Twitter updates in the sidebar are showing the blog post links. Something is wrong because Twitter tools is not supposed to be showing those. I will turn off the auto Twitter updating for the time being in the interest of not cross posting. I will contact Alex to see if there is a solution for this.

WordPress.com Stats Plugin

You may or may not know that I use the WordPress blogging software for all my blogging needs. I really cannot say enough about the WordPress team and their blogging tool, not to mention the Askimet comment spam blocking tool. I would recommend WordPress to anyone looking to start blogging.

One of the nice features of WordPress is the openness of it and the plugins that are freely available. I have been looking for a good stats plugin for WordPress since I started using it. The one that I started using a few months ago no longer works with the latest WordPress version, 2.3.

I also use the WordPress.com platform for blogging, and the other day I was asking the question, why isn’t the WordPress.com stats software available for the non-hosted WordPress software. Since they already have the code, it seems like it would be easy to include in the standalone version of WordPress.

It turns out that it is available. After doing a little searching, I found the WordPress.com Stats plugin which looks like exactly what I asked for. I must say I am ecstatic over this. How often do you ask for something like that only to find it so soon? Anyway, I haven’t tested it yet, so I don’t know how well it works yet. But, if it works just like WordPress.com, it should be the only stats plugin that I need.

Update: It is not showing any stats as of yet. However, a quick look at the FAQ shows me that you need the tag <?php wp_footer(); ?> in your footer.php file. I have added that tag and hope to start seeing stats soon it is working.

Secure Contact Form for WordPress

I love wordpress, but one of the things it lacks is the ability to add a contact form. As a result, I have been looking for a way to easily add a contact form to wordpress. Today, I ran across this contact form plugin that seemed to be what I have been looking for.

It was created by Mike Cherim and Mike Jolley. It was a snap to install, and once I installed it, it works great. It requires a minimum of setup, and you will have a secure contact form running in no time at all. This is the wordpress contact form plugin you’ve been looking for.

It is secure in that it adds a CAPTCHA which prevents automated submissions to help combat spam. I recommend installing this today if you require this functionality on your blog. I am installing this on all of my sites that use wordpress. Dowload the plugin here and check out my contact form here.

Now if I can find a stats plugin for wordpress that would really rock!