Moving Right Along

Moving Right Along

I’m an IT guy.  I build, maintain and support networks for a living.  I’ve been doing it since 1999.  This blog journey, like most any endeavor I have undertaken, came with related, peripheral work that had nothing to do with the goal of the project: getting me to start writing.  I wanted to start a blog.  Doing so, however, meant much more than just writing.  I had to register a domain name (justwritesomething.com), figure out the best place to host that domain (I chose godaddy.com), decide on a blogging platform (I picked self-hosted WordPress) and then configure the blog with a theme, and widgets and custom layouts.

The easiest part for me was choosing the domain name.  I wanted the name to remind me of the best piece of writing advice ever given to me. The domain name was available, and choosing GoDaddy as my registrar was not a difficult decision.  I started using GoDaddy after having some difficulty in 2002 with Tucows and Network Solutions.  At the time, there MIGHT have been 50 employees at GoDaddy.  It was easy to get support, and registering a domain name with them was cheaper than at Network Solutions.  At the time, dealing with Network Solutions was not unlike dealing with AT&T at the peak of their monopoly.  They were a bloated and arrogant bureaucracy with little interest in helping newcomers to the internet set up a bit of web real estate in the form of a domain name.  There is a great article, full of citations and excellent writing over at CPSR (Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility) if you want to know more about the birth of the domain name model for the Internet and the giant Charlie Foxtrot that ensued in the years after Network Solutions took over the six original TLD’s (Top Level Domains: .com, .edu,  .mil, .net and .org).  It wasn’t pretty.

One of my  IT business’ specialties is setting up Linux servers to perform certain roles for clients.  With this in mind, I initially set out to build my own LAMP Server to host the blog.  I started with a simple test platform – a virtual machine on my Windows 8 workstation, just to make sure I had all of the steps down, before bringing it live on an Amazon EC2 server or a VPS from GoDaddy.  It turned out to be too much work.  All I wanted to do was write a blog – but this hobby based on my avocation was quickly turning into just another time-sucking task from my vocation.

Eventually, I went to WordPress.  The interface was appealing, and there were thousands of stock and customizable themes available.  But the process of attaching my domain name to one of their hosted blog spaces looked dauntingly like work.  And I was getting tired of doing work.  In fact, there was so much work involved that I almost gave up on the entire adventure.  I remembered seeing a “Managed WordPress” menu option over on GoDaddy while I was setting up the domain name. Poking around the Product section, I found the option again.  Within 20 minutes, I was presented with my very first “Write Post” button, and the blog was functional.  It was ugly.  It was missing features that make other blogs more functional.  But I had a platform finally.

My sister-in-law Sarajean, immediately upon my posting the link to my first blog entry to my Facebook page, made some very helpful suggestions: Add a Subscription Widget and ditch the default Meta Widget on the sidebar.  I dug around in the bowels of the configuration for a while, trying to figure out how exactly to do this, and by midnight I had only accomplished removing the default Meta Widget.  Apparently, to add a Subscription Widget, I needed to add Jetpack – a WordPress native application that is tied to their site.  Again – it looked a lot like work, and I was tired. I gave up on the subscription link and decided it would be better served after a good night’s sleep.

This morning, I setup the Jetpack Widget.  Unfortunately, right out of the box, the Jetpack Subscription widget will not work on a GoDaddy self-hosted WordPress site.  There were steps – things I had to do (read: more work) to make it function on GoDaddy’s spam-paranoid server platform.  First, I had to use the free-to-GoDaddy-hosted-domains feature called E-Mail Workspace Control Center to create an email address for justwritesomething.com.  Once I did that, I followed the instructions here for setting up SMTP to work via GoDaddy’s smtpout.secureserver.net mail egress point.  As it turns out, this is the ONLY  way to send email outbound from a GoDaddy-hosted WordPress site.  Tech support explained to me that this was by design, to keep spammers from setting up bots on the GoDaddy network.  I can see their point.  For hosting providers, the anti-spam struggle is real.  But the end result was yet more work for me before I was able to set up what might be considered a fully-functional blog.

I have a few other things to do, but they are mostly cosmetic.  I haven’t yet settled on a theme, but the blog is moving right along now, and I am looking for a way to incorporate my other avocations – photography and digital painting – into the site as well.  At some point, I hope that the only thing I really need to do at justwritesomething.com is Just Write Something!

 


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