Tag Archives: blogger

How to migrate step-by-step from Blogspot to Dreamhosted WordPress

In this article I want to write an easy, step-by-step guide on how you can transfer your blog from a free account hosted in Blogger to a Dreamhost powered WordPress installation. I’m writing this now as my memory is quite fresh from my recent migration and hopefully this will come useful to others who might be thinking of doing this themselves.

Registering a new Dreamhost account

  1. Follow this link
  2. Press the “sign up now”
  3. Select “Host a Domain” as the other choice is just to get a new domain name through Dreamhost
  4. In Step 2 Select the yearly option as it’s the most sensible for someone with a low budget.
  5. In Step 3 You don’t need to select anything unless you plan to run a lot of heavy scripts and have a bit of traffic.
  6. In Step 4, Uncheck Google Apps if you want to use Dreamhost’s custom options. This is a good option if you just a WordPress blog for now. You can always turn it up later.
  7. In Step 5, leave it as it is, and type the domain name you would like and a username for your ftp access.
  8. In Step 6, fill your information in.
  9. In Step 7 type dbzer0 to get 20$ off or dbzero@gmail.com if you want to be extra nice to me ๐Ÿ˜‰ Check the Box and go to Payment
  10. Go through the payment stuff and wait until you receive the “DreamHost Account Approval Notification!” email.
  11. Follow the email link and put your credentials to find yourself in your Panel.

Setting up your domain

You’ll find yourself in the Overview pane. From here you can follow various links to manage your stuff. Start by clicking the Manage Domains button (Also found in the sidebar under “Domains”)

If you created a new domain in the previous part, you should see it now in the list. Press the “Edit” Button next to the “Delete” button in the middle.

In the next screen the only things you should change are the following

  • Switch your PHP version to 5.x. PHP 4.x is obsolete and you’ll run into problems with plugins and the like if you keep using it.
  • Further down where it says “How do you like the www in your URL?” don’t leave it as “both”. Select the “remove www.” as this will help Search engines find you better.

Press “Change fully hosted setting now!” to complete this step.

Installing WordPress

Now that our domain settings are ready, lets go ahead and setup our WordPress installation. Start by heading over to One-Click installs (from the sidebar it’s under “Goodies > One-Click Installs”

  1. Click “Install new software (Advanced Mode)” (Easy mode is similar hosting it on wordpress.com)
  2. Preparing wordpress to be installed
    Preparing wordpress to be installed

    WordPress should be already selected so simply scroll down. You should see an image similar to the screenshot on the left.

  3. In “Install to” you should see your domain. Leave it as it is, unless you want your wordpress site to a subfolder of your domain (ie /blog/). However I don’t recommend this. First because you can later on configure wordpress to show your posts under something like that and secondly because you’ll have to create some kind of splash or home page on your domain root for people falling there. This will probably be different from your site and won’t be counted in your wordpress stats.
  4. In “Select database to use” you should have the option to write your own database name. The default probably will not work so change it to something obvious for you. An example is yourblogname_wp_db
  5. In Hostname, you can just leave it as it is.
  6. In Creating a user for the database, you can simply create the same user as for your ftp access so to cut down on things you have to remember. You’ll probably never use this anyway so it’s easy to forget if you put something new.
  7. Press “Install it for me now”. it will load for a bit and then the page will reload and on the top you should see something similar to this:
  8. Within 5 to 10 minutes, you should receive an email telling you that your installation is ready.

Setting up your WordPress and importing from Blogger

Our Blog Waiting
Our Blog Waiting

Now that you’ve received the funky Dreamhost email follow the handy instructions within.

  1. Go to the install link and create your first user.
  2. Login to your site

That’s it. Your first wordpress site is now ready ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lets proceed to import your blogger site now

  1. Go to Import (follow the link in the email or in the admin panel head to “Manage > Import”
  2. Click on Blogger
  3. Click Authorize
  4. Click “Grant Access” in blogger.
  5. You will now see all blogs you are managing in blogspot. Click on the “Import” Magic Button and wait a few seconds to minutes (depending on your old content)
  6. If you’re using feedburner (and if you’re not, why aren’t you?!) go to your feeds, then to your blogger feed, and click “Edit Feed Details”. In the “Original Feed Location” replace your old blogger feed location with the new wordpress one. This is always in the form of http://yourblogurl/feed.
  7. If you’re not using Feedburner, first go and create a feed for your wordpress installation. Then go to your old blogger blog settings > Site Feed. In the “Post Redirect Feed URL” put the new feedburner feed you just created which has your new wordpress feed as its source. This will transparently migrate all your old readers to your new location
  8. Write a new post on your blogspot blog that you have moved and point to your new location. Once we setup your plugin installer, we’ll set up your blog to automatically redirect each post to your new location.

That’s it. You have now successfully migrated from Blogger to WordPress ๐Ÿ˜‰ In a next post I will explain how to migrate Intense Debate Comments as well, since the wordpress importer does not grab those automatically.

There’s one last thing that you might want to do which is to inform your readers that you’ve changed location

Finishing touches

Currently you should have created your wordpress site and migrated from blogger but you are probably at a very basic state. You should at this point configure a few options to make your life and look easier.

Settings

  • Settings > General
    • Put a Tagline for your site. This will both be shown on your theme but also probably be seen by search engines as well.
    • Configure your time so that the times you schedule and post are the ones you expect
  • Settings > Discussion
    • Under “Before a Comment Appears”, uncheck “Comment author must have a previously approved comment” This will reduce your management overhead.
    • Under “Comment Moderation” increase the number of links to 3 since it is not uncommon for a non-spammer to include to links in the same post.
  • Settings > Permalinks
    • Here you should set your permalink structure. That is the way your posts will look at your blog. While you can leave it as the default ?p=123, this generally looks ugly, is not rememberable and search engines don’t like it.
      Many people select the date based permalinks but I personally do not like that choice. This kind of setup is only appropriate for newspapers really. The only ones who should be using this are the ones who are writing an actual journal.
      My advice to you is to use a either a custom structure or a category based one. In a custom structure, you can use the simple /%postname% option which will make all your articles show on the root (ie http://dbzer0.com/this-is-a-post ) or put something in front to make it differ from pages. I prefer /blog/%postname% but it’s up to you.
      In a category structure, your posts will show under each category which is nice but if you tag sometimes in more than one category, an article may show under an undesirable one.In any case, whatever you choose does not need to be permanent. Even if you change your permalink structure in the future, wordpress will automatically redirect links going into a post that has changed location correctly so don’t agonize on making the perfect choice now.

Plugins

Plugins are the most exciting part of having your own wordpress installation. I’m not going to go into much depth but I want to mention how to set your installation up to allow you to install and manage plugins from the wordpress admin interface (instead of setting up ftp connections each time). Unfortunately we cannot avoid using FTP the first time.

  1. Use your favorite FTP client to setup a connection to your server. I recommend the excellent fireftp which you can use without installing software on your PC.
  2. Setup your connection in your ftp program of choice. In Fireftp:
    1. Select “New Connection”
    2. Find your webserver name in the "Machine" column or under "Account Status"
      Find your webserver name in the

      Find your server name. You can find this in multiple locations:

      • In the automated emails your received
      • In your dreamhost panel by going to Users > Manage Users and looking at the “Machine” column
      • At the dreamhost panel, clicking on “Account Status” on the top and looking at “Your Web server”
    3. In server name, put your server name followed by .dreamhost.com (e.g. dodo.dreamhost.com)
    4. In user name, put the user your created for your account
    5. In Password, put the password you created. If you do not remember it, you can change it from Manage Users again by clicking on “Edit”
    6. Press OK.
  3. Connect to your server. You should now be in a folder where your domain exists as a subdirectory. Enter that directory and then navigate to Wp-content > Plugins.
  4. Download the One-Click Plugin Updater and extract its contents somewhere on your PC.
  5. Using your ftp program, upload the plugin directory into your wordpress Plugins directory we navigated before.ย  In Fireftp:
    1. On the left-hand side of the split-screen, navigate to the place where you’ve extracted the zip file.
    2. Make sure that your right screen is showing the contents of youblog.com/wp-content/plugins (you should be seeing other folders and .php files like wp-cache/ and hello.php)
    3. Select the directory and click the little arrow pointing to the right between the split-screens.
    4. Wait until the job is complete.
  6. Go to your plugins admin page (Top right)
  7. Scroll down to where it says “Inactive Plugins” and activate the One-Click Plugin Updater. This will make your plugin page show a little differently. Namely you should see yellow bars next to various plugins.

That’s it. Now you have the ability to install new plugins and themes without using ftp and without even downloading and extracting files on your PC. Just follow the instructions that you can find in the “One Click Updater Miniguide” in your Dashboard.

So that’s it.

Hopefully this guide will help any of you who are thinking about self-hosting but don’t want to trust me or want to learn to do it yourselves.

If you see anything I forgot or something I should include or make simpler, let me know.

So you don't want to be a pro-blogger eh?

yesterday and todayOne of the most popular reasons for which bloggers avoid getting their own hosted account seems to be that they assume that this is something appropriate only pro-bloggers. About half of the responders until now have expressed this sentiment and I can understand that as it was my impression when I started blogging back in livejournal.

The reasons we turn to blogging are numerours. I won’t get into specifics but I believe that each of us needs to introspect and distill the exact reason(s) they is doing this. My own, for example, are (in order of importance)

  1. To express my philosophy and hopefully make someone’s life better.
  2. To write down and spread my knowledge and experience to others.
  3. To serve as my personal soap box where friends and family can come for news.

In all of these reasons, pro-blogging (having money as your primary reason) never appears in any form. Indeed, in the Division by Zer0 you will not find evenย  a single advertisement as of this moment. Money is simply not my target.

And I’m not the only one. If you look around, you’ll see quite a few people with self-hosted blogs that have very little to do with pro-blogging. Many of them don’t have ads. Many of them post quite irregularly.

And yet, we all went with self hosting. Why? Control.

WordPress is a brilliant CMS and If you think blogger is good enough, it is just because you have never seen what is possible if your have this power.

Do you want a simple blog where all you want to do is write a post now and then, manage your comments, see your stats and not much else? Why not have a choice of hundreds, if not thousands of themes, easily customizable (much, much more easily than blogger, believe you me) and with perfect control of every aspect?

How about using hundreds of widgets for anything you might think of, where before you might either have to rely (and pay) a third party or not have the choice at all (as in the case of wordpress.com and livejournal)?

Total control and oversight?

It has it all.

What if you change your mind down the line and decide to actually make some money of your blogging? As humans, we change all the time. I went from the default livejournal account to self-host in one year. I went from posting mundane life stuff to posting primarily philosophically and tech in the next year. As a result I’ve seen my readership quadruple in a very short amount of time.

Thus, even though I am still not even close to being a pro-blogger (nor do I plan to be one), It would be a nightmare for me now to go back to free hosting. Having to wait until blogger codes a needed feature that’s been around for ages everywhere else? Having to beg wordpress.com to allow a simple script? No thanks.

Self-hosting is not for making money. It’s all about retaining control of your own little place in the internet and doing anything you might want to without relying on a third party in any way. If your reasons for not doing it is because you’re not aiming for success, then you’re not only missing out but you may end up regretting it later.

Intense Debate Comments > Blogspot/Blogger Comments

Dear Blogspot/Blogger users, I can see that unfortunately my previous arguments for switching to a better free blogging platform has not convinced you. That is unfortunate but I however have another request to make of you.

As I mentioned in the previous article, the blogspot commenting system sucks donkey balls. It pains me every time I have to leave a comment and I have to suffer the horrible captcha and interface (among others). It honestly deters me from leaving the occasional comment as I can’t be bothered to go through all this hassle.

You may have also noticed that I have recently taken a liking to Intense Debate Comments and I have already installed it on all the wordpress blogs I manage, even though the wordpress commenting system is quite adequate for most.

Thus I would like to ask you all blogspot users for a small favour: Please, please, switch to the IDC system. It is painless and it will also grant you so much of a better way to handle them than before. I don’t have to list all the features here as you can easily check the website itself for that but in short, what you will get over blogger is:

  • Comment writing on the same page of the main post (no need to open a new one)
  • Comment editing
  • Much more ajax-y, web 2.0, sleek look. That way people find it easy to leave a comment
  • A greater management of comments (reputation, threading etc)

Screenshot of Evolved and Rational with Blogger comment  systemScreenshot of Evolved and Rational with Intense Debate comment systemFor Comparison, on the left you can see how Evolved and Rational looked before, and on the right, you can see how it looks with IDC

So, dear Blogger/Blogspot users, please listen to my appeal and give it a try. Do it for my peace of mind. And if you have any problems I’d be glad to give you a hand.

WordPress.com > Blogger

Can someone please explain to my why people are still creating blogs on blogger when they can use WordPress.com?

I mean, seriously, not only is the feature superiority of the later platform staggering but, after having to use blogger for the last few days now (mostly as a commenter), I can honestly attest, that it’s a pain it the buttocks!

Let me just list…

The things I’ve grown to hate in blogger

The list, looking back at it, is quite large. I’m surprised how someone who is funded by the bottomless pockets of the likes of Google can just be so bad at innovating and usage.

No trackback features

The only way you can see who is linking to you through blogger is to wait until google crawls through the site in question and discovers the link and then creates a “backlink”. If that site happens to be pretty obscure, then good luck.

Also blogger will not send a trackback or pingback to your own blog. I don’t know how many times I’ve been linked from blogger sites and I only discovered it when I checked my incoming links in my dashboard.

On the other side, wp.com not only handles trackbacks appropriately, placing them in the comment field at the time they were written with a small excerpt of the are around the link, but it also does not need you to manually specify trackback urls in your configuration. It will just send a pingback to any link you have automatically.

Comment handling

This is my biggest annoyance to tell you the truth.

  • You are always redirected to another template in order to comment. Why they cannot just place the comment field below the entry, I do not know, but it’s horribly annoying. That damn template is so thin that I always have to scroll down 10 times to find what I want to reply to
  • The captcha sux donkey balls. Not only are the letters ridiculously hard to read sometimes but apparently It will randomly deny the authentication.
  • If your authentication is denied, then you have to decipher the next letters. Also, you cannot preview without correct captcha inserted.
  • At random times, my OpenID will not be accepted (even though it’s always the same). When that happens, I have to re-enter the damn captcha always.
  • No quoting mechanism or tags. I mean, seriously, how fucking difficult is it to allow the blockquote tag which has been defined in HTML for ages now? As a result, everyone just uses their own damn quoting style which is annoying as you have to figure out how each commented decided to quote today.
    Granted, people use their own quoting style in WordPress comment fields as well but I can then blame it on their own ignorance/incapability to read and I’m hoping that an eventual upgrade will allow TinyMCE editing.
  • I’ll grant that blogger provides a preview feature which is useful but the rest of the comment annoyances just bury it.
  • After you submit a comment, your permalink is some crappy blogger code which you cannot use to link to (if you want). In order to link to your comment (or use it in some other way), you need to go back to the original post and click on the date of your comment below your name.

Templates

80% of all blogger templates suck. They suck so hard it’s difficult to explain their suckiness.

  • Fixed Width at 640 pixels or whatever which leads me to have 50% of my monitor empty with a tiny column of text in the middle.
  • No avatar support. On the other hand, WordPress.com just added support for avatar collections and gravatars. This just make it more easy to tell the commenters apart.

They only thing saving the template issue of blogger is that they can be hacked, while you can’t do that in WordPress.com unless you pay. However,ย  most people who like to hack are more likely to host their own WordPress sites. Also, the widgets of WordPress provide a much easier way to add banners and other random stuff to your sidebar instead of editing raw html.

Admin

WordPress.com provides you with a dashboard with many useful features like statistics, overview of your comments in all of wordpress.com, tag management etc. Blogger has, frankly, jack shit.

Community

The only community issue that blogger has is the top navbar which allows you to jump to another random blog. Not very useful

WordPress.com has the exellent possibly related posts feature, the classic navbar, tag surfer and tag subscription. If you want to find related stuff in the blogosphere, it is much easier. Also, by supporting trackbacks correctly, you actually see who is linking back at you immediately and it can actually act as a comment (as is the point of trackbacks).

They’ve already included a way to track your self-hosted wordpress blog through wordpress.com so I’m eagerly waiting for the plugins that will allow me to become a member of the wordpress.com community as well.

Btw, the profile setup of blogger leaves a lot to be desired for.

Features

Not only does wordpress.com seriously out-gun blogger in turns of features, it also has the extra benefit or being free software. That means that the quality of the service not only increases but that speed accelerating with the more people that join. What this means is that the rate that new cool features are being introduced increases exponentially.

On the other hand, blogger finally managed to allow scheduled posts just this month. A feature that has been standard for ages everywhere else.

Also, the fact that WordPress.com is open sourced means that, if for some reason, you wish to leave, you not only have the option of hosting it yourself (since the administration is identical) but you can bet that you can easily find alternatives as well that may fit your needs better.

Finally, I mentioned that wordpress.com is based on free software. This makes it superior ethically as well. While if you pay for features in blogger, you just hand more money to the ultra rich google, by supporting wordpress.com, you are paying the developers who in turn can use their time to provide a software that anyone can use.

So what are you waiting? Just give it a go and see if it works. It’s as painless as it gets.

You’re not certain how to do it? Let me give a hand:

How to migrate your blogger site to wordpress.com

Feel free to link to this section

  1. Create a new wordpress.com account and blog
  2. Go to Manage -> Import
  3. Import from blogger
  4. Admire how much better it looks.

If you have an already established user base, in order to avoid losing the users who read you through feed or bookmarked you you can do the following:

Feed

  1. Create a feedburner account and a feed for your blog (just follow the instructions)
  2. Redirect your blogger feed to the feedburner feed. This can be done though your Blogger Dashboard -> Settings -> Feed. In all honesty, If you have not done this already you’re missing out.
  3. Once all your users have moved to the new feed, perform the migration to wordpress.com and then edit your feedburner feed so as to draw the wordpress.com one instead of blogger.
  4. Done and none’s the wiser

Ninja Site redirection

This is just a way I thought off the top of my head. Unfortunately you might have to crack open your wallet for it to work. If anyone has a better idea, lemme know.

  1. Pay blogger to allow you to use your own domain name.
  2. Wait until everyone has updated their bookmarks.
  3. Migrate to wordpress.com
  4. Pay wordpress to allow you to use your own domain name.
  5. Redirect the domain name from blogger to wordpress.com
  6. Done and none’s the wiser

Alternatively, just make a final post and inform people to visit and bookmark the new site, you cheap bastard.

New bloggers

Why are you even using blogger anyway? If you’re reading this you should have deleted you blogger already and preparing a trackback from your new wordpress.com or baywords blog to tell me how right I was.

As new users, you have nothing to lose and, hopefully I’ve convinced you, a lot to gain.

Now, Git! Save me from having to use the crappy blogger comments again.