March 2009
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Goodbye WordPress.com, Hello Freedom

Ah, my friends from the prison, they ask unto me,
“How good, how good does it feel to be free?”
And I answer them most mysteriously,
“Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?”
- BALLAD IN PLAIN D

So, as you can see we’ve moved. About two weeks ago I decided to start this blog. A few hours and a few beers later, I was up and running on the hosted WordPress.com site. Picked the theme that I disliked least from the 17 or so available, and sprouted my first post. A couple of days later people that I didn’t even know started reading it, which was all very exciting.

It was about that time I realised that although WordPress.com is easy, it also sucks the big one if you want flexibility. The things that annoyed me in a week included:

  • I have to pay to change the CSS. Probably a good things as my CSS is terrible and I’ll just make things worse, but I demand the right to change my CSS anyway.
  • I have to pay to remove adverts. Fair enough I guess. In a moment of purity, I paid this for a year. Which was $30 down the toilet in retrospect.
  • The built in analytics are horrible. I’m not actually sure what they mean. Of the 3,500 “Page Views” I’ve been told I’ve had since this has been live, I suspect 3,450 were from me, and the rest from me mum. Not even close to Google Analytics on the functionality front.
  • The themes are inflexible. For example, I wanted to show only excerpts on my home page, not full stories. No-can-do with the theme I chose, I’m afraid. And the one line PHP change was beyond my control.
  • I started to discover lots of cool plugins written by clever people, but I couldn’t touch them.

Migrations from .com to hosted

So yesterday we moved everything. I hope the migration has gone okay. I’ve chosen a theme I prefer. I’ve lost one comment, and it seems all the nesting of the existing comments. I’m going to see if I can h4x0r those back. I think all the existing deep links to the old jonontech.wordpress.com domain will actually still work. And the RSS feed is fixed with the auto-discovery feed matching the advertised feed. Thanks a million to James for helping me with this, seeing I couldn’t CSS or PHP my way out of a brown paper bag.

We had a few issues. My current hosting provider, it turns out, can’t support multiple host headers to my Linux VM, so that attempt failed. Then I tried my free GoDaddy hosting that came with my domain registration. Turns out that my account was incompatible with WordPress because “WordPress can only run on a paid hosting service”. Bastards! So I’ve coughed up my few dollars a month and, in the end, it was all remarkably easy. I also had to buy another WordPress.Com add-on so I could set up the deep link redirect to my new domain. Ching ching. That’s now $45 to WordPress. About a year’s hosting cost.

To be honest, I do think WordPress.com is pretty good. But, if you want flexibility and like WordPress, don’t be lazy like yours truly. Make the effort to host the thing yourself. Biggest blogging mistake I ever made.

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