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Monday, August 17, 2009

The most important day in the history of the Morgan Wick Online Universe since the launch of Da Blog, and a day never to be matched in importance again.

The day has arrived that I knew would come ever since I launched the web site.

I have moved the web site from morganwick.freehostia.com to morganwick.com.

Morganwick.com will be the new home for all aspects of the Morgan Wick Online Universe, from the seemingly-stalled comic strip Sandsday to the 100 Greatest Movies Project to the street sign gallery to my sports projects. That includes Da Blog. Effective immediately, all blog posts will be hosted at morganwick.com, and the Blogspot account will stop updating. (Some dummy posts may start appearing next year.) Please update your bookmarks and RSS feeds to point to morganwick.com.

I've made my frustration with Blogger and Freehostia clear over the past several months. Blogger was clunky and prone to problems. Freehostia had a clunky file manager in IE, a frustrating FTP, and only one MySQL database on the free plan. Both of them, however, should be commended for getting me a head start in building the content that will now make the move to Morganwick.com. In fact, the problems with Freehostia have been sufficiently mitigated that I might be tempted to continue housing the new web site on Freehostia, especially since my ads pay for my domain but not my hosting.

However, that's only possible in the short term, and it's not really possible. I'm only allowed one MySQL database on Freehostia and it pretty much has to be used by my blogging platform; while the blogging platform is robust enough to handle a lot, I kinda need to at least have the freedom to create a second database for certain purposes. And as long as I'm moving to my own domain and moving up to paying for the hosting, I should get the best domain, hosting, and blogging services there are out there, and get the most bang for the buck for them.

For me, and for those particular fields, that means moving to Namecheap, Hostmonster, and Wordpress.

For most people, GoDaddy is the only domain registrar they've ever heard of. I decided very early on in the process of finding a domain registrar that I would not use GoDaddy. By all accounts, they're all T&A (literally), no substance (or customer service), and possibly the worst domain registrar on the Internet, used only by amateurs who watch TV to find an Internet domain registrar and don't really know what they're doing. Namecheap was one of the most commonly cited and praised names that came up in a search for good domain registrars. I found Hostmonster the same way I found Freehostia - by looking at sites that would compare hosting services side-by-side for me based on other people's reviews. Hostmonster came out on top on multiple such comparison sites despite some tight competition, especially since Wordpress didn't include a link to Hostmonster that I could use to support Wordpress, but did contain a link to Hostmonster's sister service Bluehost.

That might be the last time I mention either service. You don't need to know who I paid for the domain or who's hosting the site. It's my very own domain now. I mention them in case I ever have problems with either service, or in case I ever move from either and have to shut down the site while the move processes. If there's a quibble with Hostmonster, it's that they've been known to shut down sites without warning for violations of Terms of Service, which basically comes down to backing up the site and not getting the domain and hosting from the same place lest you become unable to leave.

Chances are if you've ever heard of any of the three services, you've heard of Wordpress. Even in the unlikely scenario you haven't heard of it, you've seen it. Adherents to Movable Type would proclaim its superiority, but by many accounts Wordpress is the best blogging platform on the Internet, and certainly the best free one. It's fitting that there are three major blogging platforms and they all appeal to different people. Blogger is the quickest, dirtiest way to start a blog if you don't want to pay any money and don't know anything about the Internet, especially if you want to start building something big. (Both Wordpress and Movable Type have hosting services using their infrastructure but Wordpress' functionality is extremely limited - ads aren't even allowed. Typepad is a pay service, which makes me wonder why anyone who could afford it wouldn't just start their own Movable Type site.)

Wordpress is the best service if you have your own hosting and don't want to pay, and Movable Type is best if you believe "you get what you pay for" and can afford to pay the price to get better than a volunteer effort - though depending on your philosophy on the Internet and your exact needs, Wordpress may still be best. (No less than the government of Great Britain uses Wordpress to host its site.) It may be ideal to take the path I took - build an audience on Blogger and take it to a self-hosted Wordpress site when it gets big enough.

Honestly, not only did I grow frustrated with Blogger over the years, I've started to distrust it a little; use of Blogger has started to throw up a red flag of amateurism for me, especially the use of variants of the default Minima template, which is used by some of my favorite blogs. The effect is mitigated with the use of templates that at least look original, and when people have their own domain it reminds me less that it's a Blogspot blog, but there's still that niggling feeling in the back of my mind that I can't shake while reading something like Awful Announcing: why aren't they at least using Wordpress?

I saw why Wordpress is so beloved shortly after starting experimenting with it. It was loaded with so many features that I could use. It wasn't so clunky as to eat the code I tried to feed into it (see: my first attempt at Da Countdown). Some of the problems surrounding draft posts, such as the matter of finding them if I stopped working on them and wanted to come back to them later (something that led me to start scheduling unfinished posts), as well as some of the patches Blogger tried to put on, such as the inaccurate post time for all unscheduled posts that led Blogger to tweak the posting settings, as well as some of the quirks of scheduled posts, aren't an issue with Wordpress, which has a "last saved draft" field allowing you to schedule a post without making it leave draft mode. And Wordpress' "pages" allows me to create my own, custom, "about me" page.

More important to you, Wordpress doesn't make it complicated to post a comment - you won't be tempted to post as "Anonymous" anymore when you wouldn't normally do so. Just fill out your name, e-mail, and if you have a web site a link to it, and you're all set. And because of the Akismet spam protection system you don't have to fill out a CAPTCHA anymore either, which is really more trouble than it's worth since it only protects against automated, not human, spam, and automated systems can easily crack it. (If your comment doesn't show up, don't panic; wait 24 hours to see if it shows up. After that, contact me with a copy of your comment; there is some anecdotal evidence of Akismet eating comments without the capability of accessing them, but if so it's so rare that on the thread I looked at, WordPress couldn't even reproduce it.) Tomorrow I'll launch the new MorganWick.com forums to complement the site and the comments, which I'll have more detail on then.

And perhaps most of all, Wordpress has a robust system of "categories", including the ability to make subcategories. Wordpress also has "tags" and my initial instinct was to make all of my labels tags, since that was what they seemed to resemble, and only make those labels that bore the most resemblance to subsites into categories, so I was a bit frustrated when Wordpress wanted to convert them all to categories by default without giving me a choice. But after reading up on the distinction between the two (it seeems tags are mostly a search engine helper) I decided that the way I use labels, it made the most sense to convert all labels into categories.

Because of my various interests, I always intended to create various subsites once I moved to morganwick.com to house my various projects in various fields. Because of that, because of the presence of subcategories, because of the decision to make Da Blog the front page of morganwick.com, and because of the intricities of the move itself, I have made several changes to the category structure, with virtually all categories affected:
  • All categories are now properly capitalized.
  • The "100 Greatest Movies Project" label is now a subcategory of "movies".
  • "About Me" remains as-is but may, in the future, be split into multiple categories.
  • "Advertising" is now a subcategory of "Web Site News". As I've said before, most important information about ads will now come via Twitter.
  • "Astronomy" is now a subcategory of "Science".
  • "Blog News" is now a subcategory of "Web Site News". The exact role of both "Blog News" and "Web Site News" given the merger of the two, the further splitting of the blog into subsites, and the role of Twitter, is undetermined at this point.
  • Because not all formatting was preserved when importing all the old posts from Da Blog, and because comments will not be associated with any other comments you make going forward, the "Classic Da Blog" category will be extended to include all posts before last week, and will no longer be just a quick way to get Technorati to update correctly. (By the way, 5vjhdtuzmg.)
  • "College Football Lineal Title", "College Football Schedule", and "College Football Rankings" are all now subcategories of "College Football".
  • The just-launched new category "Constitution" is now a subcategory of "Politics", as are both the Democratic and Republican Platform Reviews.
  • "Election 2008" is also now a subcategory of "Politics", and "Election 2008 Live Blog" is in turn a subcategory of "Election 2008".
  • "Education Policy", "Foreign Affairs", and "Health Care", all categories used solely in the platform reviews, are now subcategories of "Politics".
  • "General TV Business" is now just "TV Business". See below.
  • "Human Nature" is now a subcategory of "Philosophy", two categories neither of which with very many posts.
  • There is a new "Random Internet Discovery" subcategory of "Internet Adventures".
  • "IRL" and "NASCAR" are now subcategories of "Auto racing".
  • "Microsoft" is now a subcategory of "Computer geekery", two categories that may never be used again.
  • "MLS" is now a subcategory of "Soccer".
  • "News You Can Use" is now a subcategory of "My Comments on the News"; both its posts were members of that category already.
  • "NFL Lineal Title" is now a subcategory of "NFL". "NFL Superpower Rankings" has been deleted, and all the posts it contained moved to "Superpower Rankings" which has been made a subcategory of "NFL".
  • "Non-UFC MMA" has been renamed "MMA" and "UFC" has been made a subcategory of it.
  • "Fantasy Football" is now a subcategory of "NFL".
  • "Simulated CFB Playoff" is now "Golden Bowl Simulated CFB Playoff" and a subcategory of "College Football".
  • "SNF Flex Scheduling Watch" is now a subcategory of "NFL".
  • "Sports in general" is now simply "Sports" and all sports categories have been made subcategories of it, as have "Sports TV Business", "Sports TV Graphics" and "Sports Watcher". "NFL" and "College football" are now subcategories of a new "Football" category, and "NBA", "College basketball" and "WNBA" are now subcategories of a new "Basketball" category. All my sports posts are available at sports.morganwick.com, as are the old Morgan Wick Sports features.
  • "TV Upfronts" is now a subcategory of "TV Business".
  • "Webcomic news" is now "Sandsday", a subcategory of itself, and a subcategory of "Web site news". (To clarify: "Web site news" now contains a subcategory "Webcomic news", which contains a subcategory "Sandsday", which contains all the old "Webcomic news" posts.)
  • "Webcomics" is now hosted at webcomics.morganwick.com and is loaded with new features, including an index to reviews, tags for each webcomic mentioned in a post, new categories for full-fledged reviews and reviews of webcomics blogs, a new "Webcomics' Identity Crisis" category for both the series itself and the ongoing blog thereof, and an index to said series, with potentially more features to come.
In addition, all web site features have new addresses, and may not be immediately accessible:
  • morganwick.freehostia.com/greatestmovies (the Greatest Movies Project) is now at greatestmovies.morganwick.com.
  • morganwick.freehostia.com/sports (Morgan Wick Sports) is now at sports.morganwick.com. It may be a while before this section of the site returns to full functionality, and when it does everything will be at a new URL. Watch the Twitter feed to find out when everything is restored, and where to find it.
  • morganwick.freehostia.com/streetsigns (the Street Sign Gallery) is now at www.morganwick.com/streetsigns.
  • morganwick.freehostia.com/webcomic (Sandsday) is now at sandsday.morganwick.com. I'm still trying to translate the PHP from PHP 4 to PHP 5, so it won't be linked to there until then.
For the time being, the Premier ad is being shut down, as it doesn't translate easily to the new site. morganwick.blogspot.com and morganwick.freehostia.com will remain up, but not maintained; in a year my Freehostia account will lapse and that site will no longer work.

It's a new day on MorganWick.com. Let's go boldly forward into the future.

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