more fun with WordPress

One more quick WordPress-related post. I just added a sitemap to this blog, using the “Google (XML) Sitemaps Generator” plugin. This is one of the plugins that was included in the default set provided with the 1&1 install. A number of those plugins seemed to be out of date, or of questionable usefulness, but this one was updated just a few days ago, and looks to be fairly professional. I’m not sure how much a sitemap really helps, but what the heck, might as well give it a try.

Also, JetPack 3.0 was just released, so I updated it and poked around a bit. I still need to learn a bit more about some of the modules, and mess around with them on my test site, but overall, it’s still a really nice collection of miscellaneous stuff.


WordPress themes and plugins

After the three posts I wrote up yesterday, I think I’ve covered most of what I wanted to cover, regarding my move from Blogger to WordPress. But I also want to write up an initial post on themes and plugins. I actually haven’t quite figured out exactly which plugins I’m going to use for everything, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t settled on a final theme yet, but I want to write up some initial notes.


The current default theme for a new WordPress install is “Twenty Fourteen“, which, I was pleasantly surprised to see, is actually a really nice, modern, responsive theme. I haven’t liked most of the older default WordPress themes, for various reasons. But, even if it’s a good theme, it’s always a bad idea to stick with the default, since it really doesn’t allow your site to stand out in the crowd. For now, I’m using the “Responsive Theme“, which was one of the pre-installed themes. (I’m not 100% sure if it’s part of the standard install, or just part of the standard 1&1 install.)

Looking around at different themes, I think I’ve figured out what I want in a theme: I want something responsive, that can look good on the desktop, and on mobile devices. And I want something that’s not too fancy, that looks good on a mostly text-based blog. Many of the commercial themes that I see out there are oriented towards a particular type of site, and it’s usually not a standard blog style site. I have found a few candidates that might work well for me, including “Responsive Pro“, the paid version of the free theme I’m currently using. Before I spend any money on a theme, though, I want to learn a bit about creating child themes. I may be able to jazz up my current theme enough, via a child theme, that I won’t feel like I need to buy a commercial theme.


The standard 1&1 install of WordPress included an interesting array of plugins, most of which seem to be fairly useless and/or out of date. The one major plugin that I’ve activated so far is Jetpack. The main purpose of this plugin is to give self-hosted sites a lot of the same bells and whistles that are provided to blogs hosted on This plugin bundles up quite a few bits of functionality, some of them major, and some minor. I’ve activated some of the sharing and publishing functionality, so I’ve got the usual “share this” buttons on my posts, and so that I can push notifications to Twitter and Google+ when I publish a new post. And I enabled the enhanced commenting functionality, so that people can leave comments on this blog via their, Twitter, Facebook, or Google accounts. So, basically, social networking obnoxiousness all around! There’s quite a lot of other functionality in Jetpack; I won’t get into all of it, but some of it is really useful.

As to other plugins, I’m not sure if I really need much more. I’ve been looking at a few backup plugins, but I can probably handle that via a shell script and cron job on 1&1. There’s a backup service called VaultPress that’s available via JetPack, but it costs $5 per month, minimum, and I’m not sure I really need to pay for backup.

Analytics and Adsense

One more topic for this post: I have added my Google Analytics code to this site, via a little text box that is (I think) provided by my theme. There are plugins specifically for Google Analytics, but I don’t think I really need one of those. I also get analytics through the JetPack plugin, and those look interesting. I won’t really get a good picture on those until the blog has been up and running for more than a week, but honestly I could probably remove the Google Analytics code and just use the JetPack stuff.

And I’ve gone ahead and stuck some Adsense code inside a text block on my sidebar. I have mixed feelings about that though. I had Adsense ads on my Blogger site for several years, and I still haven’t broken $10 total in ad revenue. I think I average 2 cents per month. I really just put it on the site out of curiosity. Looking at the ads I’m getting, some of them are reasonable (Verizon, Aereo, and other tech stuff), but some are a little skeevy. I think I’m probably going to drop the ads, unless, for some reason, the revenue picks up, and/or I stop seeing the really questionable ads.


Migrating from Blogger to WordPress

Ok, here’s my third exciting post on my Blogger to WordPress migration. After failing miserably with my attempt to migrate from Blogger to Drupal, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the WordPress Blogger import tool.

Drupal’s importer is a third-party module that hasn’t been updated recently. (There might be another one out there that I don’t know about, but I never found one.) It imports from an XML file that you export from Blogger. WordPress, on the other hand, uses Google’s API to connect to Blogger directly, and read all your posts. It pulls in posts, comments, and images. My old blog had about 1600 posts, and it pulled them all in, pretty quickly.

After importing, I used this guide to help me figure out how to set up my permalinks to (pretty much) match Bloggers, then run a PHP script to fix up the permalinks to exactly match Blogger’s. I also had Blogger putting a “.html” at the end of the post URLs. (I’m not sure if that was standard, or if that was an artifact from when I switched from Blogger’s FTP publishing, where I was actually creating HTML pages for each post.) So I had to create a rewrite rule in my .htaccess file to deal with that. Now that I’ve done that, I’m pretty sure most individual post URLs from the old blog will redirect correctly to the corresponding pages on the new blog.

In terms of the DNS stuff, I had to change Blogger to point to a new subdomain (“oldblog” in case you’re curious), so I could free up “” for the new WordPress install. I hit a slight snag there, as I deleted the “blog” subdomain in 1&1, with the intention of letting the “click & build” install recreate it. But it turns out that deleting a subdomain in 1&1 can take a while, and the subdomain is basically locked while you’re waiting for it to happen. So I got an opportunity to run out for an iced coffee.

One other minor snag I hit involved DNS. I’ve had my router configured to use Google’s DNS servers for a while now. Well, Google didn’t quite want to let go of “”, and got a bit confused about it, so I had to switch to using my ISP’s DNS servers, so I could actually reach the new blog. (Weirdly, it had worked fine for a while, then just stopped, and started returning errors. At first, I thought there was something wrong with the WordPress install, but then I found I could get to the blog on my phone.) At some point, I’ll switch back to Google DNS, or maybe OpenDNS.

I plan to write up at least one more post on my WordPress migration, covering themes and plugins. Maybe tomorrow.

Update: I spoke too soon!

I just figured out that the Blogger importer stripped out all JavaScript embeds in my posts, or at least certain ones. The end result of this is that all my GitHub Gists are missing. So any posts with source code now have no source code. So the most useful posts on my site are now kind of useless. Great!

Finding all the posts with Gists is proving to be a bit of a challenge too, since I can’t search for text within script tags via the Blogger interface, so I can’t just search for “” or anything obvious like that. But I think I’ve found most of them now.

Oh, and in WordPress, you can apparently reference a Gist simply by pasting the URL to the Gist in, and it gets magically expanded. Which is nice. (It looks like this is part of Jetpack, rather than core WP. And there are a bunch of other cool shortcodes you can use.)

But I’m also seeing now that my current WordPress theme isn’t the best for rendering Gists. But one thing at a time. Let’s try to get them all back in there first, shall we?

Setting up WordPress on 1&1

I just want to get down a few notes on setting up WordPress on 1&1, my web host. 1&1 has something called “click & build” that lets you do a quick setup of WordPress, or Drupal, or Joomla, or a bunch of other stuff. First, I should say that there’s no reason I couldn’t have done the setup manually — creating a MySQL database, then unzipping the WordPress files into a folder in my web space, and running the regular WordPress install. I’ve done that before, in other environments, and I don’t think it would have been hard to do with 1&1.

But I decided to try the click & build option. When you first go into that section in the 1&1 admin, you have options for three kinds of installs – basically an eval install, a “safe” install, and a “free” install. I skipped the eval install. I had heard that it wasn’t terribly useful, unless you just want to set up a simple temporary install that you’re going to tear down later. So I started with the “safe” option. In that option, 1&1 locks down a few things, and gives you a basic WordPress install that will (supposedly) be automatically kept up to date. Poking around a bit, I didn’t see anything too unusual about it. It includes a special WordPress module that, I guess, is used to handle the automatic updates. After messing with that for a little bit, I went back and converted it to a “free” install. This wasn’t too difficult, but it did involve moving the SQL data to a different database. (I guess it was in a shared database before.) So, with that done, I had an unlocked WordPress install that was pretty reasonable. I used that for testing, and still have it set up, but I decided to start fresh for my “production” install.

For the final install, I went straight to a new “free” install. With a new “free” install, you’re prompted for a lot of the same things that the normal WordPress installer prompts for, but it’s all done in the context of the 1&1 admin interface. Once you’ve answered all the questions, then 1&1 chugs away for a few minutes, and, at the end, you’ve got your WordPress install.

I think it worked out pretty well, and I have a reasonably standard and up-to-date WordPress install in place now. If you go out to Google and look for opinions on the 1&1 click & build experience, most of what you’ll find is pretty negative. Many of the posts I found on this were pretty old, though, so I’m guessing that 1&1 has improved the experience over time. And some of them were just expressing frustration with the “safe” install, in cases where that obviously wasn’t the right choice. The one fairly balanced, and fairly recent, review I found is here. A lot of what he writes doesn’t really apply to me, since I’m a long-time 1&1 customer, on a plan that’s probably not available to new users. So, as long as things keep working for me, there’s no compelling reason for me to switch to anyone else.

So that’s my long and exciting post about the experience of setting up WordPress on 1&1. Next up, I want to post some notes about my experience with the Blogger importer.


Hello from WordPress!

I’ve just switched my blog from Blogger to WordPress. I’ve been using Blogger since, oh, 2001, so switching to a new blogging platform is not something I’d do on a whim. I originally started thinking about moving to WordPress in 2010. Then, since I was doing so much work with Drupal, I started thinking about switching over to Drupal instead. But I could never get the Drupal Blogger import module to work right. I messed around with that for a while, put it aside, came back to it once or twice, and eventually gave up. I’m no longer doing any professional work in Drupal, and I’ve been stumbling across some WordPress stuff lately, so I decided to give WordPress a shot. I have done some work with WordPress at my last job, so I was already familiar with the basics, from an end-user perspective, and some of the internals, from a developer’s perspective. I’ve never messed with WP themes though, so that’s something I need to learn more about.

Well, I have the basics of this blog set up now, and it should be available at my usual address,, so I’m going to post this now, and take a break. Later, I plan on writing up some more notes on WordPress setup, which I’m sure everyone will find very exciting. 🙂