Sunday, March 20, 2005

Blogging Software

I remember now why I decided not to stay in CS and be a programmer!!

I've been trying to set up a dedicated blog, so I signed up with the host Parcom.net,, since they were recommended by someone at Kane's company. I was planning to use Wordpress, since its open source and a lot of bloggers out there go on about how great it is.

So of course, I didn't read the fine print, and basically you can't generate permalinks without the Apache function mod_rewrite. Apache is run on linux. Parcom does all Windows 2003 servers. Oops.

Blah, so I spent many hours trying to figure out why I couldn't get permalinks to work, including changing this option or that option and searching through the Wordpress support forum (this forum is sort of sparse, in my opinion). I mean, the people on the support forum seemed nice and everything, but I didn't see a good solution for an IIS platform other than installing some functions, which would then involve my webhost and it just gets all complicated. Blah!

So finally, I just gave up and downloaded Movable Type. They do have a free license, and since my blog is going to be non-commercial, its not a big deal.

(There's a whole debate on static versus dynamically generated pages... personally I can't decide which one is better. MT and Blogger are static and Wordpress is dynamic. While its true that doing static pages results in a huge server load every single time you create an entry, at least you do it once, and its over. With dynamically generated pages, you have to query the server and generate the page every single time you go to a page. So if people keep going to the same page, the same effort gets done over and over. So, I dunno. But with MT you probably waste a lot of space since you store the data in the database and you also have statically created pages.)

Anyway, this is probably more than you want to know, and honestly, its really more than I want to know!

So I installed Movable Type yesterday, and the installation was actually really easy. I was sort of excited to have a working blog -- seeing the "input file not specified" error over and over with Wordpress got sort of frustrating.

But, now comes the issue of templates. With Wordpress 1.5, they have an awesome system for generating templates. They have "skins", so basically you just download/upload a theme that you like (that someone made), and just activate it. That's it!

With Movable Type, nothing easy like that exists. There are like 20 files that you have to deal with to generate the index pages, generate the archives, etc. etc. And you have to go in and edit the files manually. Its horrible! I mean, its not that hard, but honestly, I didn't want to spend that much time messing around with this. So now I have this boring template, and I have to change it! But its so hard and now I have to learn CSS and I'm just wondering, what is the point???

Maybe I should switch webhosts. Sigh. I think I'd rather use Wordpress. The system is so easy and user-friendly. No waiting for rebuilds, and you can preview things pretty much instantly. I really like that about it.

--
BTW, the reason I chose Parcom in the end was low commitment. Their starter plan is $3.75/month and you can pay in 3-month increments. And they have a 45-day money-back guarantee and a "family-friendly" culture. So, I think that's good. One annoying thing is that you have to generate three separate user id's to use the stuff in their system. One ID to get into your account, another to generate support tickets and another to get into the forums. Of course, my id's ended up being all different, so its just too many things to remember. Why can't it be seamless?

With the other hosting plans, you either had to sign up for a year of service, something I'm not ready to commit to just yet, or they have "rude" customer service. I think nice customer service is important. I mean, why be rude to your customers? Maybe they are stupid, but they are paying the bills (ultimately). That sort of makes me wonder, does the management treat the employees poorly? Why are the employees so mean? So... I am still unsure about which host, etc. etc.

This is waaay too much work.

Maybe I should just stick with Blogger.