4 Years of IT, WordPress

I made some IT changes in the past few years.  I bought a used HP desktop in 2011 – a 64 bit machine-  and put Windows 8 Developer edition (free at the time) on it.  I have stayed with Windows 8 – using the desktop interface. I have an iPad – a gift when I was sick.  But I tried to I stay out of the Apple universe except for iTunes and an iPod to play podcasts and music.

I tried out different browsers and by last year had gone back to Firefox – I was on the Nightly releases for 64 bit machines – which seemed to work fine.  I never liked MS Internet Explorer.  I started to use Chrome when I moved to an Android phone last summer. I chose to submit to Google rather than Apple or MS. Privacy is hard.

At work, we have had an IT “refresh” last week (finally) and moved to Windows 7 Enterprise for workstation OS and MS Office 2010 for tools. Goodbye to Vista.  MS had a good idea – an OS with security, but a slow and difficult program. MS is still selling desktop Office to enterprise buyers, but it is pushing the cloud-based licensing model for the “365” product for consumer buyers. Eventually we will all be tenant-serfs in someone’s better IT world.

I had kept up with Movable Type updates, but MT stopped providing updates to old purchasers (and a shrinking user and support community) so I made the switch to WordPress.

The Movable Type editor has 2 screens to compose entries as a body and an extended entry.  The MT export and the WP import put the 2 part entries into single entries.  “Pages” and tags did not convert. Links to photos and other “assets” in entries may point to addresses in my old MT static directory, but they work. Good enough.

MT 5.01

I haven’t been writing much since 2006, with nothing to say for several months. When I tried to enter some posts and clean up some presentation issues, MT presented some odd behaviour. In fact I was unable to write or edit entries in Opera (which has become my browser of choice) which was probably related to the way Opera handled Java scripts. That seems to have gone away with an Opera upgrade and a reinstall of Java.
MT had been upgraded in the last year, including the release of version 5 in January 2010. I began the upgrades a couple of weeks ago. This was a more demanding upgrade. I installed MT 5.01 by a clean install. At that point I got lost on the upgrade path until I remembered – basically learned again – some of the server side file structure. Once I figured out which folder was my Web Root, I got the uploaded files in the right directories and CHMOD-ed and got the mt-configure.cgi file reading right.
MT tried to supersede many plug-ins and to revise the handling of templates – basically allowing for the incorporation of some pieces of the old templates in new widgets or template modules. I refreshed MT templates, lost some of the features in the sidebars on my old templates I have to go back and edit some templates to get some content back on line but it’s on track again. On the positive side, this brings a lot of old files up to date and gives me a lot of new options. Assuming that I start to write again.

MT 4.1

Back in January, I ran the upgrade to Movable Type 4.1. The developers made a number of moves to make MT more attractive to personal users including changes to let personal users migrate from Word Press and to port Word Press Styles to MT. The management of pictures and content has become easier with the ability to upload and manage “assets” and then use the assets in the blog.
I haven’t used it much. I have been busy at work, and spent more my personal time reading and pursuing other things.

About AL Daily

Art & Letters Daily has one of my favourites for as long as I have been writing A Sea of Flowers, largely for the reasons mentioned by Robert Fulford in his columns in the National Post January 22, 2002 and June 27, 2007.
On any given day, it is the gateway to well-written, reasoned commentary about things that matter in the life of the mind – language, literature, and thought. Over the course of few days, the editors added links to stories and essays about the decimation of book reviews from American newspapers by Steve Wasserman, the decline of literary journalism by Morris Dickstein, and James Wood’s move to the New Yorker.
The Wikipedia Entry spends some time on the question of whether AL Daily is conservative, as that term is understood in America, or libertarian. I think the editors like to report on the ideological or culture wars but are detached from the passions that drive the debate. I wouldn’t say that they are independent, but I am not sure what constitutes bias in the study of facts and events. They are loyal to keen observation and sound argument.

Upgraded to MT 4.0

Another half a year, another upgrade.

The installation instructions suggest untarring on the server and installing the files on the server.  I know how to install by FTP, and that’s what I did. 

MT says it has the best documentation of any blogging software. I
suppose it does, given how sparse the documentation on Open Source software can be. They still take things for granted. Thousands of users may know how to untar on in the server, and where to unpack the files, and how to move them to the mt-static and cgi-bin/mt folders.  Thousands must know how to effect a fresh install on the server.  It’s still all geek to me.

I have started to use the new features, and started to change several templates and then to apply a new layout and style.  A few hours later, I think it’s working decently. The style (at this moment) is called Portland.

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I learned how to create thumbnail links to the photos in my Gallery site. I loaded the photos that I had used in this blog into the Gallery, and then edited the articles, replacing the photos with links to the Gallery versions. This works better. The blog loads faster, the pictures are visible in the blog, and then scale up to 2 viewable sizes. The Gallery program is nicely supported collaborative freeware. I upload the full image file to Gallery, and let Gallery create thumbnails and two prints. Gallery can process several images on one upload, and then I just past the links into a block of text. I have a couple of old stories left, but the process is largely done. I have started to shoot more pictures and to load them to my Gallery.
Update: June, 2010. Administering Gallery turned into a chore. With the upgrades this year MT got better for saving and managing photos and other “assets”. It now has a convenient way way of uploading and saving images and other “asset” files. It makes thumbnails to embed into entries. I started to remove the links to my Gallery installation and install the images in this blog, with a view to deleting the Gallery database and removing the installation.


It’s time to shake up the category list. Social Practice becomes Zombies. In the next few weeks Culture will be folded into Zombies. Politics is Liege & Lief, which is obscure but accurate, with an arcane folk music reference. The old names were too formal, and I had too many subcategories. I will phase out some subcategories, add MT tags to my entries and let the tags lay the trail.
Why Zombies?

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Spam & CCode

I have not been posting regularly since the end of 2005, but I have kept up with Movable Type upgrades. The upgrade to 3.33 or 3.34 involved new features that had previously been implemented by the BigPAPI plugin, and made BigPAPI and plugins that depended on it stop working. I had been using CCode and TCode. I had not installed the new versions of CCode properly. It has to do with adding a script to the head of a template and adding a tag into two or three templates. Registered commenters were getting an error message, as I found out yesterday.
Once I turned off CCode, my junk comment folder began to fill up. That’s not a problem – it doesn’t get published and I just delete it. It looks like CCode plugin was working and doing its job, which is hiding the blog from spam comment bots. Giving the bots a false return must put a load on my bandwidth, but saves me from having to clean out the junk folder.

Upgraded MT 3.3

Another new release of MT, another upgrade. The FTP chugs along, the upgrade is easy. Once again, some little surprizes. The new online manual is clear enough, but the installation documents were not. There was a plugin for MT 3.2 called BigPAPI, which has been superceded by functions in MT 3.3. One of the instructions missing from the installation Doc was to turn off BigPAPI and plugins that used it. So I had some interesting error messages when I tested the new installation.