The Independent Web

Remember the good old days of blogging? Or even before that when it was just called updating my site frequently? It was a simpler time without walled gardens or the need to have an account on a service just to leave a comment. Information was free, open, and easily consumable.

(Takes in breath of fresh nostalgia)

Andy Baio recently redesigned waxy.org and penned an excellent post lamenting the state of independent blogging. He puts it far more eloquently than I ever could.

But there a few reasons why I’m sad about the decline of independent blogging, and why I think they’re still worth fighting for.

Ultimately, it comes down to two things: ownership and control.

Last week, Twitter announced they’re shutting down Vine. Twitter, itself, may be acquired and changed in some terrible way. It’s not hard to imagine a post-Verizon Yahoo selling off Tumblr. Medium keeps pivoting, trying to find a successful revenue model. There’s no guarantee any of these platforms will be around in their current state in a year, let alone ten years from now.

Here, I control my words. Nobody can shut this site down, run annoying ads on it, or sell it to a phone company. Nobody can tell me what I can or can’t say, and I have complete control over the way it’s displayed. Nobody except me can change the URL structure, breaking 14 years of links to content on the web.

Yes. That.

I wholeheartedly support all those that still run their own sites and haven't moved to Facebook/Tumblr/Medium.

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Photography Things

Back in 2010 I added a photography page here. Nothing fancy really, I just wanted to display the latest photos I've uploaded to Flickr. So I wrote some rather dodgy PHP that utilized the Flickr API and phpFlickr. Over the last few years it's started to look a little dated. Flickr has a really nice justified view and I've wanted to do something similar.

I started hacking on some jquery code a while back to do just that but didn't get around to finishing it. And now I really don't need to. For the rather lovely Flickr Justified Gallery plugin takes care of all the things. Up and running in less than 5 minutes.

So now the photography page looks exactly like I've wanted it to for a while now.

(I'd be remiss if I didn't tip my hat to Adam Bowie for the nudge to use WordPress itself)

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WordPress So Far

I've been using WordPress for a little less than a week and I really like it so far. Super easy to install and configure. Really nice looking dashboard with everything organized well. Adding plugins a breeze and changing themes simple. And the fact that there's a living breathing active community of developers and theme authors out there is really a breath of fresh air.

What Plugins I'm Running

Akismet – because who likes blog spam really?

wpuntexturize – because WordPress unhelpfully turns single and double quotes into some unicode nonsense. Stop that. This plugin stops that.

WPtouch Mobile Plugin – to make your site look relatively sane on mobile devices.

Limit Login Attempts – does what it says on the tin, helps to prevent brute force login attempts.

I also had the Movable Type importer installed for a bit but obviously that's a use once and delete kind of plugin.

What's Not Running WordPress

For aggregating online activity, I've yet to find anything as nice as MT's Action Streams plugin. So much so that it's still running in cron driving my stream page. So I can't quite say that I've completely replaced Movable Type yet.

What's Not To Like

There's something to be said for the speed of serving up static HTML. Out of the box WordPress dynamically serves up your pages each time a page is visited, so it's a little slower than the old Movable Type site. I suspect I'll get used to that in time.

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End Of An Era

It is with a teeny measure of sadness that I've made the decision to move from Movable Type to WordPress. This is probably the last post I'll make from my old stalwart system.

So why move now? Well, two reasons really.

Firstly my hosting provider Pair, while excellent in every way, don't like mt-comments.cgi at all. Their system reaper process will kill anything using up system resources on the machine. So adding comments to any of my posts was always a bit hit & miss, sometimes it would work, sometimes you'd get the lovely internal server error. All a bit frustrating really.

Secondly, my version of Movable Type went end of life a while ago. No more security updates will be produced and you're basically on your own and good luck with that. Further, there's no upgrade path even if I wanted to continue with MT. The free single user license is no more. Sure you can get Movable Type 6.0 but I'm not shelling out $595. I'm funny like that.

So, it seems the choice is obvious as there is really only one game in town these days. I installed WordPress the other day and have been tinkering and tweaking and it's almost at the point where I'm ready for it.

So, you WordPress users out there, what plugins would you recommend I install?

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