If you’re still perusing this site every so often, you’ve likely noticed that there hasn’t been a whole lot of any new stuff for over a year. Some of that was technical, but much of it has simply been life. Of course, in the time, I would need to make sure the server stayed up, and that the software behind it stays updated, to keep up with security and such.
As I was working on another project, I had some experience with Jekyll, a package that generates plain old HTML files. This means that there doesn’t need to be any special server software or database backing the site; once it is generated, the files are just served statically. As there is no dynamic aspect, there are no lurking security holes or constant updates. There also, as of now, are no comments, either those from the old pages, or new ones that can be entered. There are different techniques for that, but with the advent of social media interactions, blog comments may not be worth the spam-fighting efforts it takes to support them, or the time it takes to moderate them.
The site is now being generated using Jekyll. I won’t say that it will help me be able to post more; while I have some ideas of things I’d like to write, static HTML files don’t add hours to my day. :) But, the site generates on my development machine in about 30 seconds, and the job that checks for updates runs every 5 minutes, so we’ll see. It even produces an RSS feed, so you’ll still get updates that way.
When I started this blog, I was using static files; I’d update them and replace them when I wanted to make a post. Back in 2004, I moved it to a database-backed system that I was writing myself. I guess you could call today “back to the future,” because I have moved the site from Orchard to MyWebLog, a solution which I am in the process of writing. It is designed to be very lightweight on server resources, while having the ability to serve multiple sites from a single instance of the code. When I get it to a more releasable state, it will be hosted at CodePlex; I already have the project there using a prior attempt I made at this.
Why change? Orchard is great, it just wasn’t the best fit. I think it was overkill for my little ol’ blogs. There were also a couple of annoyances, the biggest of which is that it wasn’t running the comments through Akismet. A 10-year-old site gets a lot of spam, and I don’t want to have to deal with it. There were also some hit-or-miss connection issues with the back-end data store, which (to their credit) the developers helped me try to resolve.
It’s still a little rough around the edges, more so in the admin section than this part. And, while it does not (yet) allow new comments to be made, it does display existing comments. Once I do get a bit further into this, I’ll do a write-up on my tech blog detailing the technology behind it.
This site is now being served by Orchard, an open-source Content Management System (CMS). It runs under the .NET framework (version 4.5 as of this writing), and the main reason I switched is its ability to run multiple sites with one installation. (Yes, I know WordPress says they do it too, but I never could seem to get that working correctly.) None of the public URLs have changed, so all the links should still work. And, while the posts still have tags, the theme isn’t showing them yet; that should be an easy tweak.
Speaking of the theme, it is called Raptor.Ericka. I’ve already done a little customization; mainly, shading in the sides beside the content to help guide the eyes down the page. I wasn’t sure how much I liked the main page not showing full posts when I started, and that was one of the things I was going to change. Now, though, I think it’s grown on me. I still have a sidebar on the front page, but the actual articles now do not. A lot of the stuff from the sidebar is still in the footer, though, and it’s on every page. Another cool feature of this theme is the fact that it’s mobile-responsive. Try resizing your browser, or looking at it on a phone or a tablet, and you’ll see the difference.
If you find anything weird, just let me know. Otherwise, enjoy your irregularly-scheduled programming.
Today marks the 1st day of the 11th year of the existence of this blog; my first post, the oh-so-cleverly-titled “The Blog Begins,” was posted August 4th, 2003. Over the past 10 years, I’ve shared a good bit, but there’s also been a ton of thoughts that I haven’t shared. That’s OK; life gets busy, plus I end up sharing some other thoughts on social media where they used to go here. Those places are listed over on the “Other Places to Find Me” section; most of the stuff I share is publicly available.
It’s been quite an experience. My first few posts dealt with issues that are still being discussed in different forms today. I do find it interesting that, reading some of those older posts, I may notice areas where I wish I’d phrased things differently, but the core point of each post is still the one I want to get across. From a technology standpoint, it’s had 5 different ways of running it, 5 different themes, 3 different web URLs, and has birthed 2 other blogs for different topics. When I started, “blogging” wasn’t even recognized as a word; now, there are companies whose sole business it is to offer blogging services, and the concept has enabled the citizen-journalist movement that has drawn attention to stories the legacy media would rather have gone unnoticed.
For those of you who read (or have me in your feeds, so you see when I update), thanks.
After moving to BlogEngine.NET 11 months ago, things started off great. Then, around the first of the year, I started running into some problems. The details are probably more geeky than you really care about; if you do, you can check them out on the tech blog. The biggest problem here was that, after a major upgrade to the runtime environment, the categories weren’t being saved.
So, the short version - the blog you’re reading is once again running WordPress. The only thing that’s a little odd is that BlogEngine doesn’t track the user agent from the browser; so, if you left a comment between October 1, 2010 and August 31, 2011, when you look at the comments here, it’ll say you were using Google Chrome on Linux. (If that bothers any of the 4 of you, just let me know what OS/browser you used, and I can change it.)
I’d also had the current theme for more than two and a half years, and while I liked the minimalism, I wanted something a bit brighter (but not too much). The theme I’m running now is called “Green Hope” and I was happy to not have to change it around a whole lot; it pretty much worked the way I wanted out of the box. The category and year/month archives that used to be in dropdown menus are now located on the “Archives” page, linked in the green bar just below the heading. “Daily Reads” and “More Sites” are now in the sidebar, and there’s a tag cloud just below the Verse of the Day in the upper part of the sidebar.
I have two pretty good-sized drafts in the wings, and ideas for several more. Let’s do this!
After months of on-again, off-again work in my “spare time” (heh), I have converted this WordPress blog to BlogEngine.NET. I’ll have a post up at some point in the future, probably over on my tech blog, that goes over what I think are the technical advantages of this platform.
In the course of the conversion, I spruced up some of the standard-as-of-two-years-ago things on the site.
The ShareThis area at the bottom of each post now requires no navigation if you want to share content to Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, or via e-mail.
The theme switcher is gone, as this is the only theme I converted; the others will live fondly in our memory. (Maybe I’ll put screenshots on the “About This Blog” page.)
The “History Repeats Itself” and “Verse of the Day” items will only appear on the front page.
I’ve implemented redirection on all the old posts to their new URLs, so the internal links should be good; if you click something and get a 404 (“Page Not Found”), let me know. Also, I preserved the directory structure that WordPress used for images, so they should all be there. Finally, all comments have been migrated from the election of our current administration forward; the others will come along, but they are single comments on older posts; it won’t hurt them to take a break from the Internet.
One interesting side note - over the course of this conversion, I ended up writing some code that was accepted into the project. I’m not just a user, I’m a contributor!
Well, the big push for the Not So Extreme Makeover: Community Edition is complete. While one of our homes still needs some work, the every-day “work, work, work” has been finished. It was a wild two months - the only thing “not so” extreme was the amount of work that went into some of the homes. However, with our extreme efforts following God’s leading, we saw extreme results - physical needs cared for, relationships formed, and a ministry that will live on for years and years.
Now, I’m looking at this blog. “Fred Thompson for President” - heh… Seems it’s gotten a little bit out of date. I notice part 1 of a 3-part “2007 Year in Review” series - this won’t be finished. There is the conspicuous absence of a Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday post and a Sanctity of Human Life post - these will probably go undone as well. Feel free to browse the archives and remember what I’ve said in previous years - I still feel that way. :) (Of course, with Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright out there, we may still have a race-based post before the year is out.)
The blog is now running WordPress 2.5, so it’s up to the latest and greatest version. Coming very shortly is a huge “Plagiarism Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery” post, which will catch up with all the interesting stuff we missed over the past several weeks. I’ll also get around to replacing Fred’s button with one more timely at some point.
It was about five months ago that I put the NightLight Idea theme out here, but I wasn’t really crazy about it. I decided to look for a one-column theme, without a sidebar taking up space the whole way down the page. I found this one, a very minimalist theme, with nice background images, which I customized for use here. It is called “Mimetastic,” and it is now the default theme here for my blog. Since it’s somewhat different, I thought I would take a minute to let you know where all the goodies are…
Archives, Categories, Daily Reads, and Search are now in drop-down menus on the top of the page.
Verse of the Day is now the first “entry” on the main page. It isn’t shown on archive, category, or individual pages.
Theme Switcher, Spam Count, Standards, and I Support are located at the bottom of each page.
Feed Links and Blog Info are also in the footer of each page.
Log In and Register can be obtained by clicking the “Admin” link.
As I did with my previous theme switch, the NightLight Idea theme will remain in the theme switcher. So, if you prefer it (or the Pool theme before it), you can view the blog with those themes. They continue to be supported, so if anything looks funky with any of the themes, just let me know. (I don’t do anything with the “WordPress” themes - they’re shipped with the software, and I upgrade them whenever a new version comes out.)
UPDATE - 14 Jan 08: If you’ve ever used the theme switcher, you may not be seeing the new theme. Just click “Mimetastic” from the theme viewer to see it.
You may notice something new in the header of each post on this blog. Native tagging support is new to WordPress 2.3, but most themes didn’t support it. I have added it to the “NightLight Idea” theme, and 2.3 added it to the “WordPress Default” theme. Clicking on a tag will show you all posts that have been tagged with the same tag. Of course, since it’s new, most of my old posts aren’t tagged. I’ve tagged the ones back about six months, and I’ll get to the others as I have time. Enjoy!
If you don’t care about the difference between tags and categories, you can stop reading now…
One reason it’s taken me so long to add tags to this theme is that I had a hard time wrapping my head around the concept of a tag versus a category. It may not be scientific, and there was no one moment where a light bulb went on above my head and I said “wow - that’s it!” But the way I understand it (and the way they’ll be used in this blog) is this; categories are broad and should be few, while tags are narrow and may be many. Basically, a category is where you would file the post, were you to print it out and put it in a filing cabinet, or make a card for it in the card catalog of a library - for this post, the category is “Site Info”. A tag is more a collection of keywords or topics that may appear or be referenced in a post. Look at the tag list for this post, and you’ll see what I mean.
And, by the way - I know I have some readers who are WordPress bloggers. Here’s how I did it - it was a piece of cake!
Today, I’m trying something new. One of my friends, Nick, will be joining the blog authoring team (well, I guess that would be creating a team, since it’s been a solo effort up to this point). He’ll be putting thought-provoking information from a viewpoint other than that of us in the VRWC.
I’m sure you lurkers will welcome him the same way you welcome me. And remember too - this is my house. G-rated language and civility on both sides will be unapologetically enforced. :)