Upgrading to WordPress: the Good, the Blog, and the Ugly

WordPress 2.5 was released about a week ago, and it looked absolutely delicious to me. Seriously, I salivated. I was using Movable Type at the time, but it was extremely old (Perhaps four or five years old! Software! Web software!) because I had neglected to upgrade it. I should also point out that, having worked for years in a group whose sole purpose was to facilitate the updating of software, this is the height of irony. And yet I trudged along with MT 2.64 (or whatever) for years.

May I tell you what I’m getting out of this upgrade? Please? That would make me happy. Note that these aren’t necessarily new things in WordPress 2.5, they’re just new to me in terms of blogging software. These are mostly older ideas.

  • Blogging via email. I did this post almost entirely from an email message! It’s like the blog software just disappears and I’m just writing email. That means I’ll probably post more frequently, and it’s more likely I’ll do so while I’m on the road or away from a regular computer. I can do email on the iPhone just fine, but I don’t want to write 500 words in a textarea in Safari Touch.
  • Akismet spam blocking. Anyone who followed my old comments feed knows that while I often crowed about blocking so many thousand comment spams, quite a few still got through every day. For every fifty I would block, five or ten would sneak through and hang out for half an hour before I noticed and removed them. Still, I’m not one of those people who wants to moderate every comment and only show comments I approve. This is the Internet. It’s supposed to be a little Wild West. That’s a strength, not a weakness. I want you all to be able to have a little comment party with each other when I’m not around. I can’t do that if I’m playing monitor. I’m hoping the algorithmic brain in Akismet will work its magic so I won’t have to, and we can all feel satisfied knowing our comments are published immediately.
  • Friendlier archive URLs. When my tracking software tells me someone went to /archives/001545.php, what does that tell me? Nothing. That’s what. And that URL doesn’t tell you anything either. But if I see someone visited /2008/03/26/bus-etiquette/, I know exactly what that is. And so do you. It’s nice.
  • The rotating tag line is back. See, up there at the top? Yeah. Don’t get too attached: it could disappear just as easily. Just enjoy it for a little while. Also, it doesn’t change every time you reload the page. It’s something like every 5 minutes. So don’t drive yourself nuts. Just read early and read often.
  • No more “rebuilding.” Movable Type 2.whatever always made me rebuild my blog. Perhaps because it was created before the widespread dissemination of PHP and MySQL on small-time hosts? I don’t know. Either way, rebuilding is a dead concept. Yay!
  • A huge plugin repository. If I want to augment the functionality of my blog in any way, it’s likely someone else has already written it, and it’s up there now. Sometimes the quality isn’t what you’d want, but it’s all open source, so I can geek out on the code and fix it if that’s needed.

The design you’re seeing on this blog (shown here for posterity) is temporary. It’s really just a half-hearted attempt to get things looking somewhat normal (without looking identical to the default, that is) before I have time to redesign the thing. Hang in there. I don’t like the way it looks now, but I’ll be making tweaks over the coming weeks, and steering it towards where I want it to be. I’ll keep the archives and search functionality this time.

Enjoy! And thanks for reading.

9 thoughts on “Upgrading to WordPress: the Good, the Blog, and the Ugly

  1. Nice change. It’s very… blue.

    Like the “about” page too. 🙂

    Can’t wait for your changes over the next few weeks. Make sure you blog something when you change the site so I know when to check it.

    See ya!

  2. I’ve actually changed the template I’m using since posting this entry, as you can see in the difference between the picture from the entry and the live site. Again, it’s temporary, but it’s a little better than the default. Maybe I’ll change the look a dozen times, each one a tiny bit better than the last, until I end up finding one I really like and just making minor tweaks to it. I don’t know.

  3. I’ve been enjoying WordPress over Movable Type lately as well, though I should point out that many of the features you mention were available in Movable Type. Perhaps not all of them were available in the version you were using, but many of them were (friendly URLs for example, I used since I started on MT in 2003).

    As for spam blocking, I’ve found it’s pretty decent so far. Nothing that was actually spam has been posted so far–but I did have to moderate them (bleh). When I was on Movable Type I had a captcha thing that stopped virtually all spam–I had to deal with it maybe twice (I suppose I out-sourced my moderating to my users). But now I’m moderating spam usually once a day. Not a huge deal since I can ignore it and it’s not live on my site, but still a nuisance. I probably need to monkey with the settings.

  4. I’m a big wordpress fan… except on my current setup. There’s a bug in that version and it reordered all of my entries in reverse order. I have to backup my entires and upgrade it. So much for the rebuilding concept being dead eh?

    I like the current wire-frame stargate looking image.

  5. As I slowly draw out the inner nerd of Nicole, which I can thank all of you for helping with, I’ve gotten her asking when we will update to WordPress and how that will be different than Movable Type. That, and she says she’s ready to start BSG.

  6. I thought you said you were going to change it? Still the same (as if you didn’t know). I’m just posting to give you a little extra push to get it done. Maybe your spending all your time with the pony and don’t have time for the other stuff.

  7. Josh, I saw your remarks through someone’s Twitter to Drew_Barrymore. I followed your link here.

    Welcome to the land of Word Press. 🙂 I’ve been using it since it was Beta 5 years ago and never looked back. Let me know if you ever need any help with it, okay?

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