Category Archives: The Big Project

Holy mama! I've got Dreamhost invites!

I don’t know if anyone from Dreamhost noticed my recent promotion for Self-hosting WordPress, but I’ve just been handed special 5 promotional codes to give around and boy are they a doozy.

  • You will get four (4) times the normal disk and bandwidth!
  • If you choose our five-year plan, you’ll get $150 off.
  • If you choose our ten-year plan, you’ll get $200 off.

Now, 4 times 500 is 2Tb of space. 2. T-e-r-r-a-b-y-t-e-s (I don’t get to say this word often enough) and quite a lot of bandwidth as well.

The only problem is that this is valid for 2 weeks only so I need to give these out quickly. If you were thinking of taking me up on my self-hosting proposal, then there’s no better time than now. Once this is gone, you can’t get this offer any other way, short of stumbling on someone who got this invite as well.

So step up. I don’t have anything else to do with these so I might as well give them out. If you’re interested just email me or leave a comment and I’ll give you the 12-digit code of your dreams (pun intended 😉 )

UPDATE: I just noticed that If you go and sign with Dreamhost now, you get unlimited bandwidth and space for life, just because it’s their birthday. You don’t even need my invites, unless you want to save the money that is. Hurry up. Only 30 places left

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Slap in the face

This mountain bicycle features oversized tires...

I’ve been trying to control and introspect my feelings lately, after the recent event where the Barefoot Bum abruptly terminated his self-hosted blog. This sudden turn of events left me stunned and hurt, very much like a slap in the face.

Thus, I’ve been waiting for the last few days to get an explanation, a reason or something anyway to understand what led to this. But after my emails were ignored and my IM attempts were shot down, I’m starting to believe this is for him, somehow personal.

But why is this a slap in the face for me? Let me give you an analogy.

Lets say that you have an old fashioned bicycle which does not have any speed control but always moves at the same old speed. This bicycle does not have anything fancy but it takes you where you want it eventually but like all bikes missing speed control, when the road gets upward, it makes you struggle and when it goes downwards, your pedaling becomes useless.

I see this and I explain to you that there are new types of custom bicycles with speed control. They takes a bit of time to setup and get used to but give you much more power in your rides. You’re sceptical at first but once I explain the rest of the features and widgets that a custom bicycle can have and that I’ll be glad to set it up or you as a gift (once you buy for the material) you’re sold.

I also explain that I’m trying to convince more people to try these out as I think it’s worth it.

So I spend some time to setup this bicycle and you start using it. The first week goes just fine and while you don’t yet have the perfect understanding of speed control, you can ride it. Sometimes it gets a bit harder as you’re not used to switching the speeds but nothing serious. As far as I know, everything seems to be going fine until…

One sunday, I wake up to find you shouting how much these bicycles suck. You start calling them an absolute piece of crap that only bike mechanics could ever setup and ride, regardless of the fact that many non-mechanics are doing exactly that. Not understanding what changed, I try to explain that this criticism is a bit harsh.

And the next time I wake up and find that you’ve smashed your new bike into millions of pieces. This bike which as a gift I helped you setup, without any expectation of reward and with the best of intentions, is now scrap metal.

How do you think that makes me feel?

All along you knew that as my first attempt to setup a custom bike for, you are the first sample people are going to look at as an example. And yet, you now start saying that custom bikes are not working and that you can’t remove those dynamos I suggested for your old bike either.

You don’t consider that custom bikes may not fit your style. You don’t give me a chance to fix any problems. No, you smash it and then say that they are crap. As if you’re trying to deliberately turn people off and sabotage all I’m trying to achieve.

How do you think that makes me feel now?

If you thought hurt and surprised, you’d be spot on.

Like a slap in the face.

And here I am now. A few days after the “slap”, and I still do not know the fuck happened. I’ve been patiently waiting to see if anything will be explained but in vain. I’ve also been trying to suppress my outburst but I’ve had enough.

All I know is that from one day to the other a succesful migration was trashed and I’m reading impressions that I didn’t expect. At least not from someone I respected. And make no mistake. The migration was succesful. All the posts from the old blog were moved. All the comments, from both blogger and IDC were moved1. Everything was working. The only missing was the moving of the old blogroll and widgets to the new blog, and the only reason I did not do this as well, is because I was not given access.

There was absolutely nothing more complex left to do, than going to your dashboard and clicking on “Write new post”. Others agree.

As for the setup difficulty; do not be confused by my step-by-step process. In that, I went into excruciating detail in order to make it as easy and fool-proof to follow as possible. I could have easily shortened it to half the size.

That’s it then. This post was mostly a rant to take this stuff out of my chest before it easts me up and burst out like an alien of bitterness and anger. I cannot claim to know why BB acted the way he did but for me, it was certainly the wrong way.

For me, it is especially troublesome when we’re talking about atheist activism, solidarity and cooperation to have my first attempt to help others, pissed on like that from the get go.

UPDATE @ 02/11/2009: This post was never posted publicly until now. As a result of recent developments with the Barefoot Bum, I’m making it public as I see no hope of salvage. Make of it what you will.

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  1. Save one post with ID Comments []

Barefoot Bum's New Slum

So, Barefoot bum’s new shiny, wordpress-powered self-hosted blog is now ready. I’ve finally finished with all the imports and the thing is ready to use. Of course the layout might change if Larry wishes but the thing is ready to be used.

Here’s a step-by-step summary of the setup process, just to get an overview of what was required. Keep in mind that for a new blog, you don’t need more than 10 or so of these.

Day 1

  1. Setup the domain to use php5 and not to use the needless www. prefix.
  2. Use One-click install to setup wordpress and wait 5 minutes.
  3. Setup WordPress password.
  4. Install One Click Plugin Updater through FTP.
  5. Deactivate Wp-Cache.
  6. Acticate the plugin Wp-Super Cache (Installed with wordpress).
  7. Delete all other plugins except Akismet and Hello Dolly (Just in case he likes it).
  8. Go to Settings > General and copy the blog desc from the original blog.
  9. In Settings, Go to Writing and add http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/ to the ping so that the Atheist Blogroll is pinged.
  10. In Settings, Went to Discussion and deactivated the option to require one approved comment before posting it. Increased the number of links before moderation to 3.
  11. Updated the admin password to a temp password from the default of WP.
  12. Added a new admin user for me and Larry and deleted the default admin to avoid 0-day attacks.
  13. Went Manage > Import > Blogger. Sent email to Larry to authorize wordpress for his blogger account.
  14. Downloading some themes closer to the original blog style.
  15. Larry started the import procedure. It finished in about 10 minutes for 1200+ posts and 3000+ comments.
  16. Installed a cartload of plugins. Activated them.
  17. Set Permalinks to /blog/
  18. Setting up feedburner.
  19. Setup Yadis for blogger
  20. Setup Photodropper
  21. Enabled wp-supercache and .htaccess settings.
  22. Added Similar & Recent posts to sidebar and feed.
  23. Added Socrates Image to right sidebar.
  24. Extended sidebar size.
  25. Added We-Op-Ed image and rss for larry.
  26. Added Atheist Out Scarlet A.
  27. Added more wigets.
  28. Got stuck on how to import the IDC comments from blogger

Total time to setup all these, from start to finish, while also doing other stuff (like chatting on ICQ and reading blogs): 5 hours.

Day 2

  1. Finally received some help from Intense Debate on how to import IDC comments from blogspot to WordPress. I got a plugin which automates this in the mail.
  2. Plugin did not work as my host does not support a php function for security reasons.
  3. Contacted the Josh Fraser, the author of the plugin for help. He was amazingly responsive and helpful and provided me with an updated version of the plugin that could work around the php restriction. Josh you rock!
  4. Import went perfectly and all comments were back into wordpress. Unfortunately one post did not get them as the title has italics which wordpress stripped and they names did not match. Nevertheless, the rest worked. (I will do a follow-up post on this later)

Total time for this part: 1 hour.

Thoughts

Of course this process was a learning experience for me as not only did Larry have a pretty customized blog with widgets, images, etc) but he is also subscibed to a lot of services I do not have access (Feeburner, Scoutle, etc). Finally this was the first time I was trying to migrate ID comments from blogger to wordpress sso this took some extra research as well.

For someone who has a very simple and uncustomized blog, the migration time can be cut to 1/3 easily.

Nevertheless, this first experience will now allow me to know what I need and streamline the process. Specifically, there is the issue that I cannot setup a lot of stuff without access to one’s accounts, while other times I may need feedback.

This is the stuff I need to know in order to bug people less:

  • Feedburner password: In order to setup your blogspot feed to redirected to your new blog
  • WordPress.com password or API: So that I can setup your stats
  • Blogger password and username: So that I can start the import process and see the codes for any widgets you have on your sidebar (Mybloglog, scoutle etc)
  • If the codes are not visible through the blogger gadgets, I need to have them so that I can put them in the sidebar.
  • How do you want your tags and categories? As blogger only supports the generic “labels” which gets translated to wordpress categories, I need to know which ones (if any) to turn into tags
  • How do you want your permalink structure to be? By date (as in blogger, like a newspaper), with categories? with a custom text (like here under /blog/ ?)

All of these are information that I will need to set it up with the minimum of input from you. If any of these is missing, unfortunately I will have to ask you or you do it yourself (for the last two options I can just make a choice myself which you can change later on).

All in all, it went quite well and nothing horribly broke. So I’m quite glad. This will go much faster for someone with a more simple blog (as in, one hosted in wordpress.com, or not very customized blogspot)

I’m only a bit saddened that Larry chose not to start using it yet. If he keeps using his old blog, new comments and posts will be more difficult to transfer over as it cannot be done as part of a mass import.

Anyway, so what do you think?

And it begins

The Barefoot Bum has accepted my offer. I now have my first…guinea pig 🙂

That was quick 😀

So I’ve now started setting up the Larry’s new home. I will attempt to log and blog my progress to that hopefully others who might want to follow, but doing this themselves might be able to do so.

Stay tuned 😉

As for the others, I still haven’t heard from Alonzo and unfortunately Vjack is preoccupied with Hurricanes and the like so it’s not really feasible for him at this point (and best of luck to him). In any case, I have some time until I’m finished with the Barefoot Bum.

PS: Fuck, I now need a new category to post these types of blogposts under.

Still wary of self-hosting? Then here's my ultimate proposal.

Right, so here we are, after one full week of me trying to convince you that self-hosting is the superior choice and most probably, you still have the same opinion as before I started.

That’s ok, I didn’t expect 6 simple posts to create a stampede of people falling over each other to take control of their own site. What I did hope to achieve is to dispel some of that wariness so that I don’t have to counter all these arguments in this post.

So here’s my cunning plan:

I’ll do it for you.

What will I do specifically? I will setup your wordpress installation. I will use all my experience in the platform to configure the most useful plugins, your SEO, your backups, your performance and importing your previous blog. I will take your wishes for your blog and attempt to make them come true.
You will not be required to spend any time in setting anything up, other than buying your new hosting plan and putting your new password once I’m finished. Hell, I’ll give you 30 days support while I’m at it.

And I’ll do it for free.

It is at this point that most sensible people would ask: “What’s the catch?”. Well, there’s no catch, but there are…stipulations:

  1. The people eligible for this offer will be personally chosen by me. I will only help people who have proven to hold values at least a bit similar to mine. This means no Ayn Rand Objectivists and no libertarians: These true believers in the free market can go pay for it.
    Initially this offer will be extended by invitation. Depending on how well received it is, I may allow people to request it. I will investigate and veto requests on ethical grounds.
  2. You will have to use Dreamhost and you will have to use me as a referrer. The reasons this are:
    • This is the provider I use and know pretty well by now. I do not know the admin panels of the other hosts and nor do I care to learn them. By using Dreamhost it means that I’ll be able to work very fast.
    • I will receive 10% of whatever you pay as a referral reward. This will be less than 5€ if you go for a yearly plan so don’t assume I’ll be earning a fortune. Furthermore, since by using my promo code dbzer0 you will pay 20$ less, I will not get anything for a while.
    • If you pay by credit card, you can cancel your contract within 90 days. This gives you ample time to abort if you don’t like it anymore and saves me from nagging. It gives you the peace of mind that I will not scam you as soon as you give me access.
    • It is cheap. You can pay from 9$ to 6$ per month, depending on how much you prepay. While this is more expensive than some, it more than makes it up for quality and support.
    • It is scalable. If you find that shared hosting is too slow, and you will only have that if you have too many plugins or too many visitors, you can request private server hosting for an extra 15$ per month which will dramatically improve your speeds. You can then further increase your speeds depending on your needs.
    • It provides overwhelming amounts of space and bandwidth. The initial plan will give you 500Gb of space and 5Tb of Bandwidth which will increase weekly. You will find it practically impossible to use them all, which means you can start hosting stuff for your friends, or special projects (say, online backup of your home PC).
    • You will certainly find naysayers of Dreamhost and I’m certain they have valid points but I’m quite satisfied myself and I believe you will be too.
    • They’ve been recognised as one of the only twenty five companies in the world to have a democratic workplace. I’ll gladly promote and pay a bit more to make sure that their employees are not abused and give an example for other companies. Plus, they are one of the few companies that don’t take themselves too seriously and their newletters and blog are actually worth reading.
  3. You are not required to give me any reward for this. That does not mean I would not appreciate any way you might deem to repay me and I will accept anything you believe my work deserves. This can be a linkback from your new blog, a permanent or prominent place in your blogroll, donations, a good word and generally anything else you might think of.There is only one catch:
    Any kind of reward you provide me for this work will be shown publicly.I will have a special page for this project and I will list all the people and sites I’ve created through it and all the rewards each has provided. Of course, on stuff that it is not easy to figure out if they are a reward or not (like a linkback), I will only require you explicitly mention it somehow.

So these are my only stipulations. I believe they are reasonable but if you disagree, I’m open to discussing it.

How will this work?

Simple. You follow my link and register to the only plan there is (I told you it’s simple). This will automatically set me as your referral so don’t go surfing around before registering. If you want to make sure, use my email dbzero@gmail.com
Alternatively, you can use the promo code “dbzer0” (minus the quotes) to get 20$ off. Alternatively you can not use the code which means that at some point in the future I’ll receive those 20$ extra 😉

Once your account is ready, you give me your new admin code for your dreamhost panel.

I ask you some information like “What domain name do you want” and “This domain name is not available, choose another”.

Once I have all the information I need, I tell you to wait.

At some point in the near future I get back to you and tell you that your new blog is ready and provide you with a new username and password.

We spend the next month telling me what else you would like you blog to do and I try to make it do it.

Once the month is past, I keep supporting you only on a best effort basis as I attempt to help someone else. Hopefully by then, you’re once again to the stage where you’re happy to leave your configuration be and simply post new stuff.

Why do I do this?

I do it because I’m honestly disappointed to see so many good people not doing the smart choice because of time or skill constraints.

I do it because I find it a pity that these people cannot shine as they could, as they are moored in the limited free hosting.

I do it because I want to help fellow Atheists (with correct values) to become better.

I do it because I like attention.

I do it because I have free time and enough skill that won’t hurt me to put to good use. It’s either that or simply read more or watch some series.

I do it because I had a dream.

I do it because I think gathering goodwill is worthwhile.

I do it because I hope it will inspire others.

The first invitations.

So, to get things started, here are my first invites.

I will start on a first come, first serve basis. If more than one of you guys accept, I will do it serially.

If none of these three accept the invitation, I select the next batch of invites. If none of the next batch accepts, I will attempt to select one from the comments (so if you want me to do you, please leave a comment stating so along with who you are, in case I don’t know you already)

If I have no acceptances and no comments to select from, I will consider this experiment a failure and stop asking.

Personally, I’m hoping it does not fail.

As for the rest of you. I hope to hear your opinions on this. Speak up!