Movable Type 3.31 and Ubuntu 6.06

So there’s been a lot of extensive, yet subtle change over the last few weeks here at the mighty, mighty Farlops Industries:

  1. After a period of stasis for 7 months, I moved all of my site’s legacy content into Movable Type. MT now manages nearly every aspect of my site.
  2. I’ve spent the last 7 month’s working almost entirely within the Ubuntu distribution of Linux.

Anyway, there are a lot of implications that stem from these two points.

Full Migration to Movable Type

Jason and I spent the last week or so adjusting and tweaking his installation of MT, to accommodate my site, his site and one or two other sites. I’ve yet to migrate Toby’s site but that’s in the works. I also have plans to host Milo’s site on Jason’s server with MT as well. All this sits behind the encryption of the Baka SSL certificate. One content management system to rule the all. One CMS to find them. One CMS to bring them all and, in the darkness, bind them!

Migrating my site was hardest for me. I had lot of old content that was generated and maintained with Greymatter and other methods. I had to decide on a future-proof URL scheme (MT still doesn’t do a good job of this out of the box.) and then move all my old content into it. This lead to the installation of a few plug-ins, a lot of broken links and a tedious amount of file renaming. Luckily Jason came to the rescue for my page renaming troubles by using MT with SQLite. MT, as of 3.31, still doesn’t allow for the text exporting of customized page basenames. Now he and I can make SQL queries and commands directly to the database–much nicer and more flexible.

Anyway, what I’ve learned in migrating my site should make the migration of Toby’s site easier.

There are other little pluses and minuses to these changes.

One minus is that many of my oldest pages are now somewhat anachronistic. They refer to things and point to things that didn’t exist at the time of their creation. Compare my oldest page, my site design manifesto, with the copy the Internet Archive has. I do have a few archived incarnations of my site sitting around on disks somewhere but, I’m too lazy to pull them out and make them work. Historians can grit their teeth. All the more reason to invent time travel.

One plus is that a lot of spamdexing sites that linked to my site, which has been mostly stable and well designed for seven years and thus has lot of credibility in the eyes of search engines, will suddenly find a lot of broken links. Hooray! My tiny blow against junk data!

On the other hand, the minus is, I had to mail a handful of legitimate site owners that pointed to one of my pages to update their links. Luckily for me, this number was small–just five. All the other links that point to me either point to my root domain, I put on other sites myself (Usually I took care only to point to my root.) or are spamdexing.

Another plus is that MT’s search tool now queries nearly all of my content. Before I had to resort to a stopgap using Google–and all the advertising and usability problems that entailed. Now everything is ad-free and looks like my site at all times.

Most of this doesn’t matter to my tiny audience of readers but, now that this site is within a modern, frequently updated CMS, a lot of potential options open up for us. I have news feeds now. I have trackback. I have tag clouds. I have XMLRPC. I have good cleaning and authorization functions for visitor input. Some of these new functions I’ll use and some I won’t. We’ll see what the future holds.

Switched to Linux

More than eight months ago, I started to slowly upgrade the hardware of one of my desktops. This was mostly to silence it so I could leave it running all the time without going insane. It’s now very quiet if not very smart.

It’s running a CPU and GPU that were the state of the art back in 1998. It’s powerful enough to run XP (with service pack 2) and Ubuntu 6 without noticeable delays–once I turn off the useless dancing baloney put there to disgust the Apple-freaks. It’s a meant to be a test and development server and an Internet terminal to placate my guests.

This brings me to comment about Ubuntu. The Linux desktop and productivity applications have advanced enormously since my days with Red Hat 6 back in 1998. In 2003 Knoppix was a sign of things to come.

Things are good enough now that I can switch from XP to Linux without losing much. The keyboard accessibility of the Linux GUI and the zillions of graphical applications the open source world offers is still not as uniform and predictable as Windows but, it’s close enough. Open Office is clever enough to handle most of the small amount of MSOffice content I have or that people send me. I think I’ll manage.

Linux also offers a lot of very powerful web development tools, for free. Similar stuff in Windows, if you can’t find open source tools ported to that platform, costs a lot of money, more if you want hand holding. Hand holding in the Linux world can also cost money but, the tools and source itself are free. If you’re self-taught, you don’t need the hand holding anyway.

Anyway here is my substitution list (Since everyone who migrates to Linux seems to have a list these days.) to show how little I’ve lost:

  • I’ve migrated the last four years of e-mail and contacts from Outlook into Evolution. I have to move my earlier e-mail archives there as well.
  • Now I’ve got to scour all my archive disks for old MSOffice content and move it into Open Office.
  • I’ve migrated to GAIM from proprietary IM tools. Now if only these damn services would just interoperate!
  • I use Liferea
    to substitute for SharpReader.
  • I can use regexxer or shell scripts, grep and sed for Funduc’s SR.
  • I can use Terminal Server Client for RDP.
  • I don’t need PuTTY or WinSCP because these things are in the bash prompt of all recent unices anyway.
  • I don’t need PFrank because shell scripts in the bash prompt are more than powerful enough to handle recursive, batch file renaming.
  • I don’t need FrontPage or Dreamweaver, I’ve got NVu, cssed, gurlchecker and a host of other editors and tools I haven’t tried out yet.
  • Don’t need PhotoShop, I’ve got the GIMP. It’s hard to use but it’s pretty powerful. I’d argue it’s nearly as powerful as PhotoShop once you ken it.
  • I guess I can use Mono instead of Visual Studio .NET but since I’ve already bought a copy of VS.NET at the MS Company Store (One of the advantages of being a Seattleite of my generation is that you have lots of friends who work for the Colossus of Redmond.) I think I’ll do all IIS web development in that platform.

There are a zillion other little tiny things that I have to convert and move before the planned obsolescence of proprietary software locks me out of my old data.

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