Wednesday, April 13, 2005

[blog software] - which one to choose?

My food blog lives only in my brain at the moment because I haven't determined which software I want to use to publish it. I'd love to pick the collective brains of my classmates here and figure this out ASAP. Here's what I know that impacts my choice of software:
  • I have a (Windows NT) web server, which is currently hosting a parked domain for the site. Yep, you read that right: NT. (So nothing that requires *nix or Active Directory ,please.)
  • My server is parked behind a DSL connection that has reasonable bandwidth but if it becomes hugely trafficked I might have to reconsider the location...or generate enough income to offset the increased bandwidth costs.
  • Once my blog is going, my partner wants to host a few others (not at my site, but we only want to learn this once)
  • It will eventually be supporting a business associated with the blog, which eliminates blogging tools that are hugely expensive for multiple business blogs. (MT for example seems to get spendy if you have a multi-biz blogging venture)
  • I am an IT professional, so am not intimdated by code. :-) I do Perl so Perl-based blogging is extra cool.
Now here's the kicker...my server is in another city, and getting to it to install all the software required for this isn't happening this week. But I'd like to get my blog going in the meantime...so if anyone has hosted a blog somewhere (preferably free/very cheap) and then moved it to their own server, I'd really love to hear from you.

What's the downside to Blogger? There must be one somewhere, but I searched the TOS and can't find anything too egregious...they aren't claiming ownership of material or anything. And I see they let you host on their site or your own server...is anyone redirecting their domain to a Blogger server? Switched back and forth between where it's being hosted? Run into trouble? Loved it?

Help!

17 comments:

Fatemeh Khatibloo-McClure said...

There are LOTS of people who have blogger or typepad blogs who have them set up to redirect to a hosted domain... myself included.

I am not code-savvy at all, and can only comment on one thing:

Get your domain name registered first, and don't publicize your blog until you have the redirect working to your satisfaction - my domain is very infrequently pointed to by other bloggers and services since I initially started publicizing the blog w/the typepad URL.

drbiggles said...

Hey man,

You have too much spare time.

You may want to consider blowing the 17 dollars a month to host a domain on someone else's hardware and bandwidth. Since you're in the business, you are well aware of the work & time involved in maintaining your own web server. The upgrades to firewalls, Os, blogware, anti-spam for your comments section take a lot of valuable time that could be spent in other arenas. Such as cooking, shopping for ingredients, visting restaurants, visiting farmers markets, visiting local chef happenings and so on. You're going to need time & money for cookbooks too. Check out what Sam lays down in a week. You think you could keep up? What with your full time job, sleeping and maintaining and upgrading all your hardware? My point here is that your time would be better spent with your blog rather than worrying about doing everything yourself. Something else to consider is that food blogs have absolutely taken over both in cyberspace and in the real world. We're getting in magazines, newspapers and teevee. Once you get your blog up, you're going to have more traffic than you know what to do with. I don't consider Meathenge a high traffic site and I receive an average of over 1480 visits a day at 76716 KB transferred. Add that to what you're doing with cruising the web, online game playing & file swapping software. Your bandwidth has been long swallowed.
If you're looking for blog sofware to run, check in to Movable Type. It's supported by SixApart and they are hands down, one of the best groups I've dealt with over the years. It's a solid piece of code you can count on. They've hired the guy that did Blacklist (anti-spam comment plug-in) and integrated it nicely. Meathenge every 3 days or so will receive over 400 attempts at comment spam, only a few get through to me and I remove them promptly.
I say, be an executive and hire someone else to do the grunt work. You have better things to do with your time.

Biggles

sarah said...

i use blogger and so far, it's fairly easy and works for me. they have css templates that are super easy to change. there are some things i wish i could do (like that collapsible/expandable post thing, and have not yet figure out how to do, but *eh* such is life. you can't have everything. :)

good luck!

Ugo said...

I second drbiggles' comment. We decided to rent a "virtual" Linux machine from a hosting provider. It is "virtual" in the sense that a single physical server can host many virtual machines and each one of them appears as a dedicated server to the user. You are root and have full control over your host.

The advantage over a dedicated server is that it is much cheaper. Managing Linux remotely is of course much easier and safer compared to NT. Another advantage is that you are paying by the month and if you aren't satisfied, you can move out whenever you like and lose only one month's worth of fees, at most.

As for the blogging software to use, I recommend WordPress.

ejm said...

My only arguments against blogger are that 1.) there doesn't seem to be a "recent comments" section in the menu, and 2.) it is sometimes very slow.

I run a wordpress blog. Support is pretty good for the simple stuff. And seeing as how you are comfortable with coding, you shouldn't have too many difficulties with more complicated fixes. I would recommend either wordpress or Moveable Type. (I'm a little sorry that I didn't go with Moveable Type but I'm too lazy and too much of a skinflint to move now.)

And I echo DrBiggles and Uno's comments to "host a domain on someone else's hardware and bandwidth". You can pay as little as $12.00 a month by chooseing crosswinds.net as your host.

Owen said...

It also pays to shop around. I host virtually at an ISP in Singapore. It is $65 a year ($5 per month) and they will also register a domain name (at setup time only) for $5 per year. You get a pretty hefty bunch of features for that including 1 MySQL database and unlimited web-based email accounts, 5GB per month bandwidth, etc etc

95% of my blog is run off blogger and just hosted there. I added a seperate page recently for the list of food blogs I started - and that was easy enough - I copied the blogger template page into a file and then pasted the content I wanted in the appropriate place

kitchenmage said...

wow, ask and ye shall receive... food bloggers are the coolest people, every single one i have dealt with has been generous in sharing information, encouraging, and provided useful data... and coming from an industry (IT) where this is less true, it's a welcome change... (i think i am going to like it here... grin)

let me run through some answers and what i am currently thinking and then you all can enlighten me more...

Fatemah (nice to put a face to your blog), the domain is registered and I think it currently resolves to a placeholder (my DNS server just died and it's being rebooted... server maintenance, argh! quit laughing, dr biggles)... i can redirect it to a hosted site (typepad, et al) via my current server, and i appreciate the reminder about not publicizing the blog til it's really ready. (fyi, i have you bookmarked at gastronomie-sf.com, which must prove i am a geek)

dr biggles, you are a troublemaker... sigh i was blowing away your arguments easily:
* the server has to exist anyway--and is maintained by my partner--so it's just the blog that's extra
* my food time is largely at home because i live in the middle of nowhere, there's not a decent restaraunt in the county (i kid you not, i've been here six months and have had multiple people ask me multiple times to open a restaraunt,... heck, there's one for sale just up the road, if i had an extra half a mil, i might...), my shopping is highly consolidated (it's 45-60 min to "town"), the farmers here are my neighbors, and from what i can tell, i am the local chef... :-)
* sam, how much are you spending? i need a challenge...
* full time job? don't hate me for this, but this is my full time job... i am a writer (have a few books out so i am familiar with the business and have been doing it a while) and decided to finally write about what i care about... there are books being worked on behind the scenes...

see, i had all the answers...then you talked about bandwidth... ouch! i started working through our current web server/hosting/ISP mess (and it's a mess currently) and talked with my partner a bit, and now we're reorganizing everything...

so i think i am going to do something simple like typepad, redirect my domain once the blog is ready to go, deal with all the hosting reconfiguration and then, once everything else is settled, look at WordPress or MT...

sarah, i also really like the in-place collapsible/expandable post feature... i've only seen it in WordPress blogs, but i'll be looking for it in Typepad...

ugo, ejm, owen, i am looking at server hosting now; other than crosswinds.net, thoughts on who i should look at? i've got probably 6-8 domains i need to handle web and mail services for, less than 50 email accounts (although more addresses would be good), so a virtual server deal is probably about right...

i think that does it for your first round of suggestions... thank you all so much, it's truly a pleasure to be part of this community...

one more question, anyone know if moving a blog from Typepad to either MT or WP is closer to a walk through one of the circles of hell or the park? i am hoping for the latter and fearing the former...

drbiggles said...

Hi,

YES !! I am a troublemaker. I hold back when I'm online.

I think many of us have had offers and people wanting us to open a restaurant. That's another bag of worms entirely. I'm horrible at business & planning, not for me.
You didn't blow away my arguments easily. You didn't offer up the circumstances you were in. That isn't playing fair. And it sounds as though you'll be starting with a hosting service to begin with. So, nyah.
As far as which to start with in regards to moving over to another hunk of sofware later on, MT & Typepad are authored by the same group. I don't know specifically how the move would go, but you may want to contact the fine people at Typepad and ask them directly. I do know that MT has a nice import & export function, not sure how Typepad deals with it.
Since you've already registered your domain, Typepad is just a few clicks away. You gots any artwork and layout ideas down yet? What's on your mind?

Senior Biggles

Owen said...

I host with www.icdsoft.com

$65 per year, $5 to register a new domain and a $20 break per site if you are already a customer (in other words, set one up, once it is done, come back and set another up and claim the $20 off...)

They are fast (ten minutes to up and running if you pay by credit card). Tools are easy to use. But support is online only and slower (I have only needed it in transferring a domain for a friend where the other ISP was unresponsive). I know they are not the only one like this. A friend and I got into a my ISP is better then yours discussion but when we looked carefully at it they were about the same. His gave you a little more and cost a little more - and he wanted the little more it gave...

I would switch from Blogger to something else if I had the energy to redo everything, but it isn't that strong a passion. What I really want is some photographic skills, some artistic sensibility and some design sense!

I too am a writer (profesionally - have been for twenty years - but now I write dreck for corporations - it pays better) and now a publisher. The book is due back from the printer any day now and I have a tentative spot for a launch and I am working on the really annoying hack that it will take to get the few of you (dr biggles only in fact) the code so you can sell the book from your site and make yourself some money...hi dr b..so if anyone ever wants to get into any of that we can...

Owen said...

that is professionally of course...food writing is notoriously hard to break into by the way. I'm not sure why - I think it is because there are so many people eager to work for free or almost free - but a blog seems to be a great way to go down that route - much better than trying to write restaurant reviews for your locla paper

kitchenmage said...

dr. b., what do you mean "You didn't offer up the circumstances you were in."? i'm trying to play fair... and you're right, im going with hosting...because you are a troublemaker! LOL

as far as design, i am still working on it, which is part of why i haven't gotten there yet... i have a draft of a logo i am debating, am trying to work out how to use the (dark) colors i like, and working on some of the infrastructure and writing... i've been collecting blogs i like the look of, now i need to go signup and look at Typepad's templates to see what's there by default... i am hoping it gels more once i start the hands on part... (this is complicated by our recent move and consequent redecoration of the whole house, all done in saturated colors and with lots of artistic work on the walls... i keep seeing these sweeping brushstrokes of copper glaze... and the walls with 15 shades of mostly blue...)

owen, congratulations on getting your book done! that's such a huge undertaking, albeit a rewarding one... i don't know about you, but i always spend the time between when i hand off a manuscript and when i hold a book in my hands half-thinking it'll never happen... btw, i'd be happy to help you sell yours, i'll email you... i still do occasional corporate work, but i've managed to arrange a life where i don't have to do it either FT or in an office... i'll check out the hosting service you mentioned, thx...

drbiggles said...

Hey Kitchenmage,

You didn't mention you get to sit at home all day out in the middle of nowhere. I was right, you do have too much time on your hands. Time to fill that time up pally boy.
I've seen some pretty nicely modified Typepad blogs. I'll bet you can do more with them than we're aware of. As far as MT is concerned, here is my sister's blog:www.blastmilk.com. She uses a little inexpensive coolpix rig for her pictures. Many of her photographs are absolutely stunning. Oh man, go look now. She's got some nice ones up.

Biggles

kitchenmage said...

hey now dr. b, i work really hard to appear to have too much time on my hands... :-) and the middle of nowhere can be quite distracting, i have elk across the street, deer in my yard, and everything from heron to eagles flying around... in fact, a deer just went by my window... (odd, it's still daylight)

i started playing with my typepad blog last night, some of the templates seem limiting--i want space between m columns, or example--but i am working through how it works and i am mostly liking it...

btw, heard today that dreamhost has WordPress available with the click of a button and their rates are cheap... they do have this seemingly pyramidesque referral payment program that makes me wonder... anyone used them?

Elise said...

I ran a survey of web hosts for Movable Type last fall in my other non-food blog - Movable Type Friendly Web Hosts. Many of the points covered would be appropriate for other blogging tools. Dreamhost is listed, though they don't score as highly on support responsiveness as the average of the others. Total Choice Hosting has been highly recommended, they have active blogging forums, and they are only $4/mo.

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