On Switching from Movable Type to WordPress

The spam was ridiculous — that was my initial motivation to switch. Even with the blacklist plugin, I was still getting hammered. I didn’t want to make folks register to comment, and I didn’t want to close comments. Then I started having some problems with my MT install. I didn’t want to pay to upgrade to 3.0, and one of the blogs I was running stopped rebuilding properly. I ignored the warning signs until something got really broken, and I decided it would be better to port to WP than troubleshoot MT, as I don’t have Perlfu skills.

I don’t really know PHP either, but I think I’m more likely to pick some of that up. It is true that WordPress installs in under 5 minutes. The gotcha is that it takes considerably longer than that to get everything configured so that it works and looks like something I wanted. I was able to resolve most all of my issues by googling for answers and playing around with the files with minimal profanity. Here are some tips if you are thinking about switching or starting to use WordPress:

  • I run three blogs, so I did three separate installs. It is free, quick, and this way if or when I have a problem with one, all three won’t go down. My host allows enough myql databases, so I hooked up each install to its own database. You don’t have to do this, but again, after issues with running 3 blogs off one MT install, I decided better safe than sorry.
  • The default template is hideous, so I took Kubrick as my design base instead.
  • Spam counterattack measures: 1) renaming the comments file to make it a bit harder to find; 2) a captcha system plugin by Coffelius; 3) the ported Jay Allen blacklist; and finally 4) a moderation system to catch obvious crud generated by humans not bots that slips past everything else
  • Plugins (don’t be scared — just php files you drop into the right directory and then click a link to enable) helped get things looking the way I wanted them to: excerpt reloaded and Customizable Post Listings made things more manageable
  • .htaccess files make life easier: set them up to be editable by the WP system and generating permalink structures and 301 redirects isn’t hard
  • WordPress Wiki and the support forums have the answers, or links to the answers.

Now that I’m not spending time deleting obnoxious comment-spam ads or struggling with my blogging software, I will be resuming what passes for normal posting around here. I’ve even got a few polaroids from Disney scanned and posted.

If you notice something broken, or you can’t find something you could before (but hey, I have search enabled now!) drop me a comment or email and let me know. Maybe I will even be able to fix it.

Thirty People and a Monkey

I was at the Lego store in Downtown Disney, and found two amazing things.

The first was a series of bins on a wall filled with special-parts Legos — fence pieces, trees, purple bricks, little black steering wheels, blocks slanted on one side, translucent green blocks — the kinds of pieces that you usually have to buy a kit to get. And for a fixed price, you could get whatever you wanted from the bins if you could fit the pieces into a plastic cup with a closed lid. I mean, how cool is that? Of course I spent some time figuring out the optimum placement of parts in the cup. There was a small bubble-space on top, I squeezed two trees in that.

But there weren’t any of the Lego people in the bins. I always liked the minifigs, but never had many. I had only one as a kid. He had a red torso, pants, and helmet. I didn’t see any of the minifigs around, so I decided to ask a staff person. All the employees at Disney (“cast members”) are really, really helpful, probably under penalty of termination. This guy clearly recognized a fellow nerd when I asked him if they had any of the Lego people. His answer was the second amazing thing.

“Have you seen our big kit?” he said, “it has thirty people and a monkey.”

Thirty people and a monkey! I knew in that instant what Lisa was going to get me for my birthday.

She knew it, too. She is very understanding of my quirks.

So not only do I have thirty minifigs and a monkey, but I have little Lego people accessories: a pizza, a stretcher, bicycles, helmets, tools. I know they will show up in digital photos soon. Because once I build bizarre Lego scenes with my little yellow plastic people, I’m going to need to take pictures of them.

12 frogs 2004 Top 12 Media

The third annual list, a day late but not an item short. Same rules apply: new to me media this year, has to be something others can go see (so live shows and museum exhibition are generally out) and no blogs because hey, there are enough of that kind of thing already. In alphabetical order, here are the 12 frogs top media bits for the year:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Thanks to Netflix, I watched all seven seasons this year. Though I skipped this when it was on tv, I now see that Joss Whedon is a genius.

CivilWarLand in Bad Decline
George Saunders is one funny, warped writer.

Beautiful cinema storytelling.

The Incredibles
Pokes fun at superhero comic conventions, insurance companies, and lawyers. Plus, there is the fabulous Edna with great lines such as “ask me now before I become sane.”

The Lost Thing
Intricate visuals communicate a story about alienation, hope, and depression. Shows what a children’s picture book can be.

Monster of God
Meditation on what predator animals (lions, tigers, bears) mean to people.

Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder
Lawrence Weschler takes the Museum of Jurassic Technology as a starting point to write about the strange truths, unusuals fictions, and the concept of wonder.

The Octopi and the Ocean
Dan James created an amazing underwater fable: octopi vs. shark, the true story. Plus there are disguises, evil parents, and a bug for a pet, all printed in deep blue ink. This was the most fun I had reading a comic all year.

Set in a near-future world and populated with real characters to care about, Kelley Eskridge’s first (I hope there will be more) novel tackles issues of authenticity, power, identity.

Ever wanted to know what happens to bodies (or parts of human bodies) after death? Makes for fascinating true stories, about things like human tissue simulant.

Who Owns History?
Essays that look at history as a process, written by a historian who has a passion for his work.

Why People Photograph
Writing that looks at how photographer’s create images, and why we are enthralled with them.

Past lists: 2002, 2003

I’m Outta Here — For The Next Week, Anyway

I’m unplugging for vacation. (I’ll be at Disneyworld.)

This means I will not be able to combat spam comments — so this site will probably get overrun because the directions to turn off comments just don’t work, and I can’t tell you how much this pisses me off. The blacklist plugin doesn’t catch everything, unfortunately. And one of the three blogs I run off this MT install won’t rebuild anymore. Grrr.

I’ve been thinking about switching to WordPress for awhile now, and this just pushed me over the edge with MT. If you’ve made the switch yourself, let me know how it went, and if you have used the spam karma plugin, tell me how it compares to mt-blacklist.

Regularly scheduled programming — including the third annual 12 frogs media bits post — will resume on December 12.

What to Expect When Teenagers Aren’t Taught How to Avoid Expecting

We are a nation of idiots:

Evolution is a “theory, not a fact.”

Marriage is between a man and a woman, not two individuals.
Abstinence is contraception.

Maybe you are thinking, hell, that is Texas, that is the south, what do you expect?

Well, here is what we know: “Texas has the nation’s highest teen birth rate among girls age 15 to 17…” And because Texas is the second-largest customer for textbook publishers, their standards “often affect many other states that receive the same books.”

So I think we can safely expect that other states will start producing more teen parents who can’t understand biology.