Four year blogaversary

It’s been four years and a few days since I started writing this blog. It’s been a great experience. I’ve had good months (15 posts) and bad months (1 post), but I’ve written 352 posts over the last four years. I’ve learned a lot from this blog–how to shoot my mouth off, how to acknowledge mistakes in public, and how to write a post that gets hijacked by others for their own purposes. I thought I’d take the opportunity to highlight four of my favorite posts.

  • Business Process Crystallization: This is a nice little post about how software is both shaped by the business process it will assist and shapes that same process. It’s one of my original thoughts–at least I haven’t seen too much literature taking this view of software.
  • Installing the median user defined function on MySQL: I always enjoy step by step tutorials, and this is one of the better ones I have written. I also enjoyed the challenge of making a mysql user defined function work when I’d never done any significant C development.
  • The Social Life of Information: This book was a slow read, but explains a fascinating concept–that much of the information we receive is contextual and connotative. This was a revelation to me, since I’m more comfortable with denotative, explicit information.
  • Step By Step: A Mortgage Calculator using GWT: I enjoyed this blogging experience, the entire series. My client and I worked together to release a site repeatedly over a week, as well as releasing the source code and documenting the entire experience of learning, developing and deploying a new technology.

Marc Andreessen considers his blogging

Well, Marc Andreessen has been tearing up the blogging world, with prolific excellent writing including his series on the truth about venture capitalists and his ongoing series on startups, among others. But after 5 weeks of blogging, he has written about 11 lessons he’s learned from blogging. It’s an interesting read, and I think every blogger wants to be a little self referential, as the feelings tha blogging evokes are powerful. Heck, I did it myself. I hope he proceeds back to regular content, as opposed to blogging about blogging, quickly, but I do think he makes some strong points, especially #5:

Fifth, writing a blog is way easier than writing a magazine article, a published paper, or a book — but provides many of the same benefits.

I think it’s an application of the 80/20 rule — for 20% of the effort (writing a blog post but not editing and refining it the quality level required of a magazine article, a published paper, or a book), you get 80% of the benefit (your thoughts are made available to interested people very broadly).

I encourage everyone who is interested in not being a commodity to blog (and that pretty much means everyone!). Because of the widespread distribution, if you have something interesting to say (and I believe pretty much everyone does), you can quickly gain readership. It’s the best form of marketing for individuals that there is.

That doesn’t mean blogging is easy–there are posts I’ve written on this blog that, as I read back over them from a few years on, are rather embarrassing (technical mistakes, pompous pontifications, etc). But the benefits to having a nearly four year public collection of my thoughts and interests including some very useful and articulate posts, outweighs the less than stellar bits.

Does any other blogging platform approach WordPress?

This person’s answer is ‘No!’. Looks like someone in the blog platform world has declared that the WordPress community has learned the lessons the Struts community learned a few years ago: If you document an open source system, provide plenty of examples and a supportive community, you can distance yourself from your competitors. Make it easy for the developers (QT) to choose you!

He states:

…the blogging market is c.l.o.s.e.d. – as in no more room, and most importantly, no more competition… [emphasis his]

(Regarding the strength of Struts, as of today, Dice has 1965 jobs matching ‘struts’, versus 176 for ‘rails’, 1481 for ‘spring’ and 493 for ‘JSF’. Now, it’s been a while since I commented on web frameworks, but it’s a pleasant surprise to see Spring approach Struts. Yes, yes, my methodology for documenting the ‘distance’ of Struts from its competitors is somewhat suspect. I don’t have access to book trends data, and what I can find doesn’t break things down to the framework level. Thanks for caring.)

However, Spring looks to be on the rise; even the most popular packages and/or platforms can fall from popularity. Especially in technology, where “new” is often a feature. Hence, I disagree with the statement that WordPress has locked down the blogging application market. My point is not argued from a knowledge of WordPress, but rather a knowledge of technology and tech trends.

Via sogrady.


Moving to WordPress

Well, I finally decided to move to a more modern blogging platform. I have used Moveable Type 2.64 for almost three years, but it was time to move on:

* I had turned off comments because of blog spam. But I’ve recently heard from several folks that they’d wanted to comment. I love comments and the discussion that ensues, so I wanted a more sophisticated commenting workflow.

* I wanted easy support for tagging posts. How Web 2.0&#tm;!

* General cruft from a 3 year old program: MT is well designed and I have had few problems with it, but I wanted to see what the current state of blogging software was.

I don’t know whether I could have had such features with a more modern version of Movable Type, but it certainly seemed to me that WordPress has more mindshare, plus it’s open source. And it is supported by my ISP. So, I moved from Movable Type 2.64 to WordPress 2.0.2. I followed these fantastic directions. and, for importing my 350+ entries with correct permalinks, I followed these directions.

I ran into only a few problems.

* The directions on appear to be for a slightly different version of wordpress and reference import-mt.php, rather than mt.php

* I ended up having to edit my php.ini file to up the memory to import my 1.5 meg MT export. 10M wasn’t enough, 50M was plenty.

* The directions for preserving your MT search engine entries are great, but I ran into one problem. Because I have an old version of Apache, this RewriteRule did not work:

RewriteRule archives/0*(\d+).html /uri/to/blog/index.php?p=$1

Instead, I had to use plain old character classes:

RewriteRule archives/0*([0123456789]+).html /uri/to/blog/index.php?p=$1

Her’s my entire RewriteEngine entry:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule weblog/archives/0*([0123456789]+).html wordpress/index.php?p=$1
RewriteRule weblog/index.rdf /wordpress/index.php?feed=rdf
RewriteRule weblog/index.rss /wordpress/index.php?feed=rss
RewriteRule weblog/index.xml /wordpress/index.php?feed=rss2
# to

RewriteRule weblog/archives/([0123456789][0123456789][0123456789][0123456789])_([0123456789][0123456789]).html /wordpress/index.php?m=$1$2

# to 3
RewriteRule weblog/archives/cat_books.html /wordpress/index.php?cat=3
RewriteRule weblog/archives/cat_java.html /wordpress/index.php?cat=5
RewriteRule weblog/archives/cat_mobile_technology.html /wordpress/index.php?cat=7
RewriteRule weblog/archives/cat_programming.html /wordpress/index.php?cat=6
RewriteRule weblog/archives/cat_technology.html /wordpress/index.php?cat=4
RewriteRule weblog/archives/cat_technology_and_society.html /wordpress/index.php?cat=2
RewriteRule weblog/styles-site.css /wordpress/wp-content/themes/ocadia/style.css
RewriteRule weblog/ /wordpress/

* Users I imported, even if I gave them the Editor role, weren’t able to edit posts they owned. I may figure this out later, but right now I just made every user an admin.

So far I’ve been very happy with my decision, if for no other reason than the built-in comment moderation and the UI advances. Let’s see if WordPress lasts for three years.

[tags]wordpress, weblog migration, moveabletype,[/tags]

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