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8 December, 2003

Blog migrated successfully - at last

I didn't want to announce it until I knew it was working, but I've spent far too much time over the past fortnight setting up a blog here at the Ministry domain itself, replacing the remotely-hosted Blogger/Blog*Spot one.

The choice of Movable Type software was straightforward; it's a market-leader with excellent features, user support and a fine logo ;)
Digression: yes, the logo matters - when browsing through the various blogging packages on the web, the Movable Type logo stood out and immediately predisposed me to favour that publishing system.

I knew almost nothing about perl and MySql when I started (and still know little), but the documentation included in the MT download allowed me to follow line-by-line instructions. The instructions did seem to be written for someone with a little more experience, and I struggled in some places, but the problems were almost all with the specific settings of my server space rather than MT itself, which the MT instructions can't realistically be expected to have covered.

I was doing rather well initially; I downloaded MT on Friday evening, 21 November, configured and uploaded it to the server space, then tried to run the installation script. Nothing happened, apart from error messages claiming I was using the wrong password for my MySql database, though the ISP's website (no, I'm not going to promote them with a link) claimed the MySQL password was the same as my usual server login password - I was successfully accessing the server space, so the password was obviously correct. I couldn't see the problem, so contacted the ISP's tech support. The reply was prompt (within 24 hours), but seemed to totally miss the point. Several e-mail exchanges (with a 24 hour delay each time) involved my telling the anonymous support person my login password (very reluctantly - one should never have to reveal a password), to be told they couldn't tell me my password. Eh? I didn't request that - he/she had asked me for it. Confusion ensued, and I finally had to reveal my password again. I was told it was correct - which I'd known from the start - and tech support stopped answering my e-mails. Very poor.
Meanwhile, I'd scoured the MT support fora and studied the documentation, then started to just experiment - it was looking like I'd be unable to use MT unless I changed ISP, so I wasn't too worried about ruining the installation. Luckily, I found that the MySql database was on a different server than my ordinary web space, so I'd been using the wrong address. Okay, an experienced user might have realised that earlier, and would be able to guess the alternative address, but it still should have been documented somewhere.

Once that was sorted, everything else was straightforward - I ran the installation script on 29 Nov (i.e. Day 9 of the process!) and spent much of that weekend configuring the blog settings and CSS/html page templates. Migration of the content from Blogger to MT took a couple of evenings in the week, and I've been tweaking details since then. I still need to learn and implement a few features - pinging blog directories still somewhat evades me as I don't fully understand how it works, nor the specific server addresses I need to ping.

Any thoughts/suggestions about work to date?

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