Posts tagged: blogs

Dec 29 2008

The moral is, Backup! Backup! Backup!

I discovered that Sooz Nooz had vanished on 26th December 2006.  All entry files and templates had disappeared from my web folders.

I still haven't had any reply from the web host intimating how this might have happened.  I think it may be time to consider moving my domain hosting elsewhere. 

There's a strong possibility that the site was hacked.  Or it could have been a security issue.  Following discussions with the web host, I did try installing a .htaccess file using a different FTP client called SmartFTP, which turns off an unsafe php setting, and that does seem to have worked.

Meanwhile, Pivot has released an updated version of its software.  One of the reasons it's taken me this long to get back up and running is that I had to compare old files with new.  The template layout and CSS values had changed very significantly.

I'm reasonably satisfied with my efforts to restore the look and feel of Sooz Nooz.  I still have problems with CSS values for container width in IE 6 and earlier, but that is comparably a minor irritation.

By great good fortune, Google had spidered the website just three days before I discovered it had gone.  As a result, I have been able to restore all the entries from Google's cached versions of the blog.  I would have been quite devastated if I had lost everything.

So now, all entries are being copied into files on my PC as well as into the blog, and backups of the database and configuration files are being rigorously applied.

First published 14th January 2007

Dec 28 2008

Free blogging tools

This entry was first published on 6th August 2006. I moved over to WordPress in December 2008, and am currently loading all previous entries.

Welcome to Sooz Nooz, the blog accompaniment to Sue Hutton, which enables me to share information with you more speedily, to update articles from the past, and to present new articles relevant to my professional interests.

The tool that I'm using for the blog is an open-source (free!) program called Pivot, which I have been able to configure to echo the layout of my main site.

It requires PHP to be installed on your web server, but unlike other software, does not require MySQL, which saves you having to set up a database in which to store the entries. The postings are stored in a flat file.

It's appropriate, I suppose, for relatively light use.  The developers believe that the maximum number of postings can be 6,000 to 8,000 increasing on a fast server to around 12,000 postings.

However, you can create different user profiles which facilitate searching for individual contributions, and also several blogs in the same account, each stored in its own flat file, which will increase the maximum number of postings accordingly.

I've seen a query on the forum about using the software for 800 different users on an intranet.

I use NucleusCMS, another open source software, on my newsBriefsOman website. It uses both PHP and MySQL.  This software was very easy to set up and configure.  There are lots of templates, and I found that it was easy to hone the display.  It's a breeze to use, although I'm still stuck on getting an include file to display on single-entry pages.

Another very popular blog software that I have considered using is WordPress, which also uses both PHP and MySQL.  

But it requires your server to enable mod_rewrite, so that you can use easy urls.  This is supposed to make it easier for Google and other search engines to find your entries.  My current webhost does not permit mod_rewrite, so I've had to look for alternatives.  WordPress is now offering free hosting to get around some of these problems.

Postings on the NucleusCMS forum suggest that they haven't been able to configure the easy urls extension totally reliably, so I've chosen not to use that extension for the time being.

A tetchy little problem I've come up with web servers, is whether they will accept .htaccess files which can override some server settings, as well as enabling you to redirect, and to install custom error 404 pages.  I've tried to install a .htaccess on two different servers now, and the file simply disappears once it's renamed.  That's something that has to be resolved with the webhost.  (I resolved this problem by using a different ftp client.  SmartFTP can rename files .htaccess on some servers).

Given the flexibility and power that these tools offer, you're almost beholden to donate to the projects, although no-one will force you to.  I usually find all the support that I need from the associated forums.

And of course, there's all sorts of free blogging tools out there now which require hardly any tech knowledge to use.  Think of Windows.Live, on which I post The Kitchen Drawer, Live Journal and My Space and Blogger.  Yahoo! has just started Yahoo! 360 degrees.  The focus of these sites is social networking and staying in touch with friends.

You can even contribute to your blog with your mobile phone.

Happy Blogging!

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