Blog Transition Notes

Motivated by Rich, I am finally moving A Little Ludwig Goes A Long Way off my own server and onto a hosted service. Back when I started this thing, it was fun to have it on my own box and twiddle directly with the bits. But I am past that, and doing my own MT and OS upgrades has become tiresome.

I am trying out SiteGround and wordpress as my new alternatives. I’ve duped all my content to a new shadow site, and am tweaking that. Seems to work OK, soon I will flip the domain to point to the new site.

Grabbag of software links

* Switch Between Your Gmail Accounts — hmm this has been an impediment to spawning more accounts
* Paypal toolbar gens one-off credit card numbers — always liked the one-off credit card idea; at one point some ecommerce sites didn’t deal well with
* Generate blogrolls from google reader — need to reinstate my blogroll someday
* See if your windows box has stealth connections to the net — i’m clean
* Use Colr.org to plan out a color scheme — love color scheme tools
* AnyTV player — tried this one, actually seems to kind of work
* Visual exploration of medical terms — didn’t learn anything new but maybe useful
* Photomatix for HDR photography

MT Tags, Keywords, Categories

Prior to MT3.3, I was using a plugin to automagically convert keywords into categories, and basically using keywords as tags. now I am trying to switch to the mt3.3 official tags feature, but i’d still like the feature that autoconverts tags into categories. i just want one set of descriptive words which gives me the features of tags and categories. is there a plugin that keeps tags and categories in sync?

Innovation in blog posting clients

Boy this space seems to be heating up.  RocketPost is doing great things as far as simple usability — I’ve been trialing for a week and am really impressed with how easy it is to create links to websites, old posts, etc.

Elicit which I’m also trialing has a great calendaring interface and some neat ways to integrate commerce/affiliate programs.  And Qumana looks like it is doing some cool stuff for ad insertion.

It is nice that we are moving past simple wysiwyg editting and really trying to make the blogger’s life better.  Great innovation. 

Elicit from BingoBangoSoftware

Testing out yet another blog posting tool — elicit from bingobangosoftware.  A very unique take on blog posting — very focused on helping semipro bloggers manage their posting rate and their affiliate income.  Easy to add affiliate links, easy to manage your stream of posts thru a calendaring interface.  I don’t know yet if I like the tool but I admire the inventiveness.

UPDATE: OK on initial testing some goods and bads:

* Good: the scheduler worked perfectly. You can create posts for arbitrary times and they will be posted at that time. I realize there are many other tools to do this, but the outlook-like calendar interface is very nice.
* So-so: doesn’t respect mt text processing plugins like textile 2 — but has a full wysiwyg editor and html editor so maybe that is ok
* Bad: doesn’t seem to post keywords correctly. Wraps the entry in tags. and most strangely, enters the post body in both the entry body and extended entry fields — not helpful!!

Entry renumbering

OK I screwed up a little bit on my move to MT3.2. My archive naming scheme changed because I blew away my old blog. And I exported and reimported all my entries. As a result I was left with a lot of old archive entries, expecting my old CSS, but getting my new CSS so they looked like crap. I forced a rebuild of all the old pages but because of the entry export/import, all my entry numbers were different.

As a result, search engines are now pointing to pages that look ok but have the wrong content. Sorry. If you use the searchbox on this page here you will find the right content. Search engines will eventually catch up.

Blog changeover

I’ve upgraded to MT3.2 and decided to blow away all my templates in the process. Because they were old and funky and corrupted and it was just easier to start fresh. In fact I completely blew away my old blog, and reimported all my postings into this one. And just republished over the old one. I am sure there are old files left around from the old blog, that is probably good for google indexing and searching purposes.

Over the next few weeks I’ll start selectively adding back features to the template like my Judy’s Book posts, Ohio State football status, blogroll, etc.

Per Category XML Feeds

I’ve added per-category XML feeds to my blog — helpful guidance at Learning Movable Type. They are all at www.theludwigs.com/archives/.xml.

So what? Well now I can create meaningful tagclouds for my categories. I’ve got one for the most recent posts for the whole blog. But more interestingly I’ve got one for just my halloween postings — this gives a great sense of what topics dominate my halloween category, what themes are most popular. And is a nice way to autogenerate tags and hierarchy for the category — I don’t have to do any work! I’ve just added one for my book posts as well (not yet updated) and my software posts (also not yet updated).

Now it would be even cooler if i could yoke tinyurl functionality to this, so that you could ask for the page www.theludwigs.com/faulkner or www.theludwigs.com/books/faulkner and my site would find the tag in a tagcloud and return the relevant page. Some people have posted sample tinyurl clone code in response to ed’s posting, in my copious free time i may look at this. I want my own tinyurl functionality anyway for other reasons.

Tagging evolution

I’ve been pretty skeptical of tagging. There is a lot of evidence that most people don’t bother to associate keywords with content, no matter how easy the software makes it. And tags drift over time, and people disagree on the meanings of individual tags. And search engines make it easy to search the raw text of sites, so why bother with adding keywords? If I want to annotate a site with keywords, well I can just create a blog entry that uses those keywords, and I will be able to find it later on my own blog, or on Google.

But I am intrigued by Tagcloud, thanks Phil. And by the Tags Power Tool for movable type. These both make it way easier to automatically create a category hierarchy for my own site. I try to use categories today but they have all the problems of tags; these tools would perhaps help me to automatically create tags and categories.

I guess I am still skeptical about tagging schemes that require people to explicitly tag content, but tools which smartly autogenerate tags seem interesting and possibly useful.