About that Header Image – Overlooking Luggala

When I launched this new WordPress-powered version of my blog over the weekend, I quickly looked through some recent photos to find one that would be suitable for use in the header image. The one I picked, which I’ve loosely titled “Band on the Run!“, was taken on November 19, 2010, in County Wicklow in Ireland. Seems like a near perfect shot for an album cover, doesn’t it?!

We’re standing on a cliff overlooking Luggala – the Guiness estate. We had just jumped out of our tour bus (Wild Wicklow Tours – highly recommended!) and were headed over to capture the views when I snapped this photo with my Canon PowerShot S95. My Glenbrook partner Carol Coye Benson and I were in Ireland teaching our Payments in a Mobile World workshop earlier that week. That’s Carol out in front of the band in the photo!

Here’s a page showing all of the header images that I’ve used over the years on sjl.us.

Thoughts on Migrating from TypePad to WordPress

Since 2003, this blog has been hosted by TypePad. They’ve provided excellent service – I have no complaints in that regard.

So, why did I decide to migrate from TypePad to WordPress?

Basically, the TypePad version of this blog had been put together (by me) using Advanced Templates and a bunch of hacks. It worked – but even I couldn’t figure out how to maintain it going forward.

So, I decided to migrate.

Over the last two years, I’ve launched several other blogs based on WordPress – and have become more familiar with the administrative aspects of WordPress. WordPress has just become more comfortable. That’s not to say it’s simple. WordPress is complicated – especially with respect to themes, plug-ins, etc. Be careful.

That said, while the posts export and import readily, there are many other issues – like image libraries that don’t export/import cleanly, category archives that have different permalink locations, and photo albums that simply don’t migrate. Not a pretty picture – but no surprise given the current state of the blogging art. Cruft. Crap.

I stopped using the TypePad photo albums a few years ago – when I became such a Flickr fan. But, there earlier links are still around, in the search engines, etc. Want to view my photos? Checkout my Flickr site!

Among other things, my migration initially screwed up the images displayed on another of my TypePad blogs. We’ve figured out a clever workaround for that – but it’s dependent on both the old and new sites being available. No way to cut the cord between the two without a lot more work. We’ll deal with that eventually.

Tonight, I spent time adding a bunch of redirects for the TypePad category archives – to their new locations on my new WordPress instance. This was just another giant hassle – but, with only about 30 categories, something I could get done without a lot of pain. Luckily, .htaccess provides a lot of power for redirection of URLs – but it’s still a giant PITA.

Tonight, I think we’ve got most of the conversion issues resolved. I’m watching the logs to see what URLs from searches aren’t resolving correctly – and may need to add a few more tweaks. Such is the life of the aging sysadmin…

Dealing with the Interwebs!

So, last night I rolled sjl.us over from TypePad – where we’d been since 2003 – to a hosted WordPress.org site. All in all, took about an hour to do the work – and then another couple waiting for the DNS change to propagate.

All of the old post content is now on this site – although almost all of the URLs have changed as a result of differences between TypePad and WordPress handling of permalinks. Unfortunately, the import/export process doesn’t support all of the images in my historical posts either – so we’ll be manually sorting through those over the holidays and trying make things presentable again. Such is the nature of things.

Hopefully, Google will begin making sense of this new site in relatively short order – although at the moment I’m frustrated with Google Webmaster Tools and an inability to force a refresh of the site’s robots.txt fiie. Apparently this only happens on a 24-hour cycle.

What happened to the “real-time web” anyway?!

[Update: I decided to change the permalink settings in WordPress to mimic the permalink format that TypePad used. So far, so good. Some of the archive and category pages aren’t mapping – but the individual post pages are now working nicely.]

Happy Birthday – Celebrating Nine Years of Blogging!

Turns out yesterday was the 9th birthday of this blog – with the earliest posts being made back on November 25, 2001. Next year, we’ll celebrate 10 years of personal blogging!

There actually were earlier posts – a quick look at the Wayback Machine shows an early page on October 19, 1998 – just a placeholder with no content! So the November 2001 date is really just a placeholder for the content I was able to bring across on to whatever platform I was using back then.

A page from August 1999 shows the actual beginnings of the blog – created back in those days using Microsoft FrontPage! So the true birthday was more likely back sometime in 1999 – but the cruft gets the way of actually seeing it!

Over Ten Years Young!

If you look in the right sidebar of this blog, you’ll see a link to November 25, 2001 – as the “founded date”. Turns out that’s not quite right.

I took a walk back in time this afternoon – exploring what the Internet Archive had to say about my presence on the web. Here’s an example of an early page from my initial web presence – with the oldest entry on the page dated Sunday, June 20, 1999.

So, we’ve been around these parts for over 10 years.

Those early pages were “written” in Microsoft FrontPage – what an arcane experience that was. Later on, we used Radio Userland for some stuff – before eventually migrating to TypePad when it launched circa 2003.

What a strange trip it has been!

Should You Move Your Home Page to Facebook?

This afternoon Palo Alto’s Bling Nation began redirecting its home page on the web to its Facebook page instead.

I asked Co-CEO Meyer Malka “what’s up with that?” He replied:

“Our Facebook page has real users experiences and content and not some corporate vision or messages. Facebook allow us to show the real Bling, all good and bad things are there for anybody to read. We are fortunate to have customers. Who better than them to say what Bling is all about?”

Is there anyone else you know using their Facebook page as their home page?

Moving Everything from Skype to Google Voice?

Last November, I wrote about the configuration for voice calls that I’ve been using at my office. That setup involved using a headset on my MacBook Pro along with Skype – with a Skype-In number being used to receive calls I’ve forwarded from my iPhone.

This way, if somebody calls me on my iPhone number (different from my “public” number which is Google Voice-based), it rings through to Skype and I take the call in my headset.

I also have been much preferring doing conference calls etc. using my headset and Skype. In fact, I don’t even have a traditional landline phone in my office – just my iPhone and Skype on my MacBook Pro.

Skype has been setup to show my iPhone number on caller ID – so folks know that it’s me calling – even when using Skype.

Recently Google announced the addition of voice call in Gmail – including an integration with Google Voice for receiving calls to your Google Voice number in your browser. Instead of call forwarding my iPhone to a Skype-In number (that I have to pay an annual fee for), I can now just forward the iPhone to my Google Voice number and have it passed through to Gmail where I can answer it on the same headset I’ve been using. If I don’t answer, Google Voice takes the voice mail, emails me a transcript and sends an SMS to my iPhone.

What’s missing from this setup is an ability to selectively set outbound callerID on Google Voice to my iPhone number. Skype provides that capability – but near as I can tell Google Voice doesn’t. I can understand why they might not want to allow that – and I’m not sure it actually matters. Folks that know me by my “private” iPhone number won’t see it when I call via Google Voice – instead, they’ll see my Google Voice caller ID – which is exactly 1 digit different. If I care about it, I can call them using Skype where I can set my caller ID – assuming I renew my outbound calling subscription. On the other hand, maybe I’d just prefer that everyone (beyond family) just call my Google Voice number anyway – so if they store that one away I’ll be just fine.

Bottom line: seems like I no longer need the Skype In online number. Skype’s fees for that number are something like 50 Euros for 12 months. With Google Voice, I also now don’t need Skype’s unlimited minutes subscription to the US and Canada – which costs about 20 Euros for 12 months but is free (at least until year end) with Google. So, for now, it looks like roughly a 70 Euro savings moving my voice configuration from Skype to Google Voice.

Is there any reason I should be paying Skype anything at this point? The only reason this is interesting is that my Skype annual subscriptions are up in about 10 days!