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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Watch this space 

Ever wanted a peek behind the scenes at Wired Cola LLC, where all the magic happens?

I didn't think so.

However, you may accidentally get one fairly soon. I may soon make some changes to this site which will be fun for me, and hopefully fun for all 28 of you. If you've ever heard of Drupal, you have an idea of where I'm going.

Unfortunately, the way I've organized (ha!) this site virtually guarantees that the changes I have in mind will cause some transitional headaches. This post is an attempt to explain how to minimize the damage.

For those of you who read this site via a bookmark, or by just typing the URL into your browser, there's an easy route to happiness. Just make sure your bookmark (or URL) reads http://wiredcola.com. If you see "blogspot" in the url (as in "wiredcola.blogspot.com" I predict future pain.

The good news is the wiredcola.com URL works right now. Type that in, you'll just see this blog. If I make any changes in the future, you'll still be pointing at the right site, because I own that domain.

I'd explain the technical background what was going on, but you either already know what the problem is, or you'd be bored by the explanation. It's not especially interesting, and I probably should have fixed it long ago.

For those of you reading this blog via a feed, you may reading a URL that will break, and that's my fault. The good news is that by changing your feed URL to wiredcola.com/atom.xml, you should be future-proof. It looks like the feedburner feed (whose URL is ugly) should also work fine through this transition.

The rest of this post is technical details, so I'll reward those of you who got this far with a funny picture:

Maoist vases! Yours for a competitively low price, I'm sure.

As to why I'm doing this, the short answer is that I've outgrown the Blogger structure. I've talked before about reducing friction, and thanks to Blogger's aggressive (but sadly necessary) anti-splog captchas, it's a pain to post here. The email interface is also hobbled to uselessness.

I could get around some of this friction by just hosting the blog somewhere other than Blogger's servers, but as long as I'm going that far, I think I'll do a bit more work and go to the all-singing, all-dancing Drupal CMS. The advantage is that Drupal not only allows for blogging, it also allows other forms of content, astounding levels of configurability and expandability (Drupal has lots of switches and buttons, and I like switches and buttons), and it is well-supported. I get the impression after Blogger's most recent software update (Blogger 2.0 or whatever they call it) that blogs hosted off of Blogger's site will now be second-class citizens. It's not that they hate such things, but self-hosted blogs don't have access to some of the features of the Blogspot-hosted blogs, and I suspect that this situation is not especially temporary.

In fairness, I haven't taken advantage of all the features of Blogger. I still think it's a really good service, and would happily recommend it to people thinking of starting a blog. There's no shame in it, and the price (free) is about what most people should put into their first blog.

But Drupal does stuff that Blogger can't dream of, and as far as I can tell it also does stuff that even Wordpress and Movabletype aren't well-positioned to do. I'm not sure how much of that power I will take advantage of, but I already have plans to do so.

I'm also open to suggestions on hosting. I'm strongly leaning towards Dreamhost, because they're fairly cheap ($8/month or so), and they allow good stuff like free-and-easy shell access (useful when you're, say compiling ffmpeg; I've had some pretty bad experiences on a phpwebhosting-hosted project, as that site does not allow access to gcc, which makes installing ffmpeg incredibly painful). If anyone has suggestions for a hosting service, my requirements are pretty vanilla other than that.

* * *

Hey, how about an update on that DVD-commentary project? The short version is that Apple's DVD player has enough limitations that implementing my idea will be, at the very least, hard. The next best (maybe even better than that) is probably to use VLC, which has so much configurability that it may be a matter of choosing among several possible ways of making it do what I want.

Further research is required.

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