Hello, Again, WordPress.com Goodbye WordPress.org

Yay Me!
I’ll repeat that, Yay Me!!!
Why the self-congrats you may ask?
Well, finally, FINALLY, I have made the complete switch of all my sites (and several freeloaders that I felt sorry for and set up sites on my server because I’m such a nice guy 😐 , really, I am) from my Slicehost slice over here to WordPress.com.
I hear you whining already, “But James. I thought you were like Mr. WordPress.org? I thought you and your friend Joseph Cizek were among some of the first dudes to manipulate a single WP install to power many individual sites, even before WPMU had been released? I thought you had been tinkering around with self-installs since the 1.2 release? WTF dude?”
LOL! Quiet down. A friend of mine recently asked me if I was “out” of WordPress now that I was shutting down my server. I told him about transferring everything to this behemoth know as WP.com and that I’d still be following the community. His response, “Oh, okay. You’re still into WordPress, just on the other side of the fence.”
His observation actually seemed acutely interesting to me. Short of a few of the heaviest duty stuff when it comes to WP dev work, there’s probably not a lot I couldn’t do (as long as it didn’t have to happen for a paying client. Shit, any client for that matter 😐 )
Now, however, I’ve taken the reckless abandon that I used to devote to WP.org edition, and have dived off the deep end with my new WP.com sites (ugh, and those few stragglers whom I felt too sorry for to just set up accounts for themselves and send them packing off into the night. I could always reconsider…)
One of my first discoveries was that somehow, some way (Joseph will tell you he is responsible, though he has no way of proving it) I actually set up a WP.com blog & user account back in August of 2006. Yikes! Even more astonishing was the fact that I remembered the password I had been using back then. Hint: it’s not the same as the ones I use today.
So, now I had “JamesDKirk” and a second, newer account, “AreYouBG”. It was the second one which I’d been planning on adding blogs for all the sites I would eventually transfer from my server. In fact, I didn’t remember the JDK account until I tried to add that blog to my AreYouBG account and it told me what I loser I was, someone else already owned that site/account.
So, now 2 accounts and 4 blogs. Great, more places to sign in, check up, maintain writing, etc. Surely there must be a way to merge multiple accounts, yes? Where is the codex?
See how I threw in that reference to the WordPress.org knowledge base? Yeah, I’m in the know πŸ˜‰ (I know what you’re thinking!)
Well, WordPress Support rocks and in case you don’t know, is NOT the place to ask questions about its cousin WordPress.org (but that last link is, in case you just have to leave and check it out. If so, go. Go now!)
Took a bit of searching, but not much. Once I wrapped my head around the concept of making my desired main user account (JamesDKirk) an administrator on the blogs of my second account, I easily had them all lined up under the “My Blogs” dropdown you see at the top of the browser window.
Well, now I was also able to make myself still in charge of those other freeloaders, but instead of me being responsible for paying the OUTRAGEOUS(ly low price) of $1 (yeah, look at that again, $12 for a year of domain name mapping) those cheapskate friends of mine would have to pony up and pay their own way (for a change!)
But, softy that I am, they’ll still be able to depend upon good old (quasi) expert, James to hold their hands and take care of things should (when) they get in trouble.
Just so you know, there are some differences in this field versus self-hosting. You can’t insert certain things into a page or post. No flash. no tags (i.e. all those damned Picasa slideshows were out πŸ™ ) But for just about most things, there’s a way you can use a built in WP.com solution to replace (mostly) the lost functionality.
Uploading media to the WP.com blogs is just as easy as it was with the self-hosted sites. And there are slideshow and gallery insert options. And they work. And they are free. Quit whining (this is what I told myself after realizing I had to download the individual pics from the Picasa account and upload them to the new site, but whatever. I got over it.)
Sure there are no plugins that can be activated on a whim to get extra functionality. But there is a lot functionality those Automatticians are constantly stuffing into WP.com under the hood (where do they find the room?) and if you can’t get it done with what’s here right now, do you really need to do it at all?
I think there were about 15 sites on my slice and while I just deleted some of them, those I want/need made the transfer with absolutely no challenges whatsoever. I would recommend that when you do an Export of your data that you DO NOT choose the “all dates” option, but instead manually choose the earliest to start and the latest for end date. For some reason that seemed to consistently get me all the data when I’d do the export.
The only thing I wish I hadn’t started doing a couple of years ago was placing certain post images into another domain I own (JDKRK.com) for parallel serving. I have all those images, but they are showing up 404 on my sites right now. If I decide I cannot live without them being back in their original posts, I’ll have to manually upload them to each post. We’ll see about that.
To sum up, you might be wondering why I’ve posted this under the “Minimalism” category. Well, I’ve successfully done away with several more things in my life as a result of finally finishing this transfer project. And they are:

  • No more server to maintain, update, upgrade, worry about, spend hours and hours learning how to do stuff (though to be fair, I spent the bulk of that time a few years ago when I wiped Apache and installed NginX & FastCGI. That was tough, but fun.
  • No more paying $38 a month for the server that was not bringing in anywhere near that amount of revenues. But I will wholeheartedly, and completely recommend the folks at Slicehost. I think I had about 20 minutes of downtime (very early on in my account’s and their existence) in nearly 4 years of service with them. Uhm, that’s good.
  • More waste cut this week because I was so giddy about getting rid of the server? Cut back on my cell minutes. Much as I despise the coverage Verizon Wireless “provides” me at my house’s location, I did an analysis of usage for the past 3 months and decided I just didn’t need the unlimited talk option. $30 dollars saved (so don’t rush to start talking to me on the phone. You know who you are!)
  • Finally, and you’ll probably think this one weird, but do I really care what you think? :p I discontinued the luxury of trash and recycling pick up. WTF? No, I’m not letting it build up in the back yard. They just installed a drive through recycle place a couple of miles from me.
    You know the type where they have the various dumpsters with “clear glass, colored glass, flattened cardboard (apparently unflattened is not recyclable), plastic, aluminum, and something else I always forget. Well, by separating ourselves, and making the trip over there every few months, we are stuck with only true garbage. Even that’s not as stinky and gross as you might imagine since I have been composting for a couple of years now.
    All that’s left is the true garbage (i.e., a lot of litter box refuse. Damned cats!) Of course, I’m able to fit most of the true garbage into the left over cat food bags, so I kind of get my revenge in a way. And when I go on a home & pet sitting gig for my Mom, I make sure to take any garbage to place in their cans. Why? Because we provide the extra service of making sure their cans are put out for pick up while the home/pet owner is away. Pretty smart, eh?
    Savings? Another $25 per month. Yeah, baby!

The coolest thing is after a while most of these things are not missed. But the money saved is very much realized and appreciated. Even more than the money is the time savings. And the worry and responsibility of not having to be yakked at every time the server hiccups and someone’s precious website isn’t showing to the 4 people a year that might come and look at it (wait, those are my sites. Never mind on that last one 😐 )
In true Zen Habits fashion I continue to forge forward getting rid of more and more, and somehow getting more and more in return (time, money, peace of mind!)
Wishing the same for you my friend.

More Downsizing: Less Waste & Expense

As I get further down the road of understanding and accepting the concepts of what it truly means to minimalize, or downsize my life, I find myself coming up against questions that are a bit tough to figure out answers for. Whether or not I needed 25 pairs of socks was actually one of the easier answers. NO! Do I need to live in a 12’x13′ bedroom, plus a 10’x13′ office? Apparently, I am able to consolidate down into not only one room, but a room that I’ve further shrunk to a paltry 8’x13′.

Then there are the various living expenses. Since my roommate is away from the house up to 75% of the time, I usually don’t run the AC or the heat. Sure I keep the thermostat at a minimum level so I don’t fail to wake up some morning here in the Northern Arizona wastelands frozen to death. Not sure that I’d actually be waking up if that were the case! Plus we have cats in the house, and besides the fact they are freeloading dead beats who only provide the occasional leg rub when they expect to get fed, I don’t feel comfortable leaving them when I’m away in a veritable ice box of a house. So, the temp gets set about 58 degrees F or so. The cats feeders seem to diminish during these cold days, so I guess all is working along those lines.
Same goes with water usage. Having started to capture the cold water while I’m waiting for it to warm up saves gallons of water that we are able to use on plants, pets, etc. Actually, I’m quite surprised at how much water just runs down the drain while we wait for it to heat up. Similarly, I’ve discovered I’m able to use less hot and cold water in the shower if I do a couple of things. One, I make sure the door is closed completely so as not to permit the warmed air to leave the bathroom. If it’s warmer while I’m in there, I have less need to use the hot water to keep warm. Two, once I get water all over and have the shampoo going in the hair, I turn off the water completely.
Since the room is relatively warm from the hot water steam, I don’t feel terribly uncomfortable taking my time lathering up and cleaning my body. When it’s time to rinse, the water is turned back on and the soap all goes down the drain. I’m sure this won’t save the planet, but every bit definitely helps. If everyone in water starved areas like here in Northern Arizona took these steps, we’d definitely have plenty of water to go around.
In addition to consuming (and wasting) less water the bills have shrunk dramatically. To be honest, these water saving habits haven’t negatively impacted my lifestyle that much. Better for the earth, better for my pocket book.
Another round of cost cutting considerations deals with entertainment and Internet services. At nearly $140 a month, I’m wondering what I’m truly getting from Dish Network. That amount doesn’t even get me every movie channel, and no pay per views or movie rentals. Yes, I have HD, and admittedly it is very pleasant to watch. But in the spirit of all the great stuff I’m learning from Leo Babauta I have seriously been questioning the amount of time I spend watching all that high def “entertainment”.
More often than not, I’m finding myself not watching a lot of the shows, movies, etc that I used to not be able to live without. Still though, way too much of my time is getting wasted in front of the screen doing nothing enriching. So I ask you, is it worth spending that much money on something I know is not really that good for me? What are my alternatives?
Well, there’s my Netflix subscription. I think they just raised their prices a buck and I might spend like $19 or so for Blu-ray discs and streaming via the Internet. I’d have to check, but I probably watch 5 to 8 discs a month. Clearly from a rental perspective that’s a great deal.
But their streaming service is another story. Though I have to say, not Netflix’s fault. My ISP, NPG Cable out of St. Louis, I think charges me $65 a month (and I own my modem πŸ™ ) for a reported 10Mbps connection. Well, I do several Speedtest’s every week, and the only time I get in the mid 9Mbps range is from my computer to NPG’s server up in Sedona. Anywhere else on the planet is in the 2.5 to 3Mbps range.
If you’ve tried to watch online video of any quality, you know that 3Mbps is not nearly enough bandwidth. So, I end up paying way too much money for less than sub par performance. The challenge with living in a semi rural area, however, is there are few other competitors. Qwest Communications offers DSL, but only at 1.5Mbps. How pitiful is that?
Here’s the kicker to the ISP thing. I just purchased a Droid X for my Verizon Wireless service, and was able to drop my Broadband Connect service. I think that saves me like $20 a month or so. Yes, I was using BC to bluetooth tether my BB Storm to my netbook when I was away from home. And that allowed me to go away for several days to a couple of weeks at a time and maintain all I do online.
Now, however, with the Android OS, I am able to tether my device to the computer and use a program like Easy Tether to provide Internet services to my computer through my unlimited data plan for the phone.
The speeds?
Well suffice it to say, on one tethering test, I was able to watch a Netflix stream on my computer at an acceptable viewing quality. Much of the time, NPG Cable doesn’t even provide enough bandwidth for me to watch acceptable video. Unreal.
So, in addition to saving the $20 on the wireless data plan, I’m seriously considering ditching the BS $65 I spend on home Internet. Haven’t made the decision just yet, but am seriously considering it. Will let you know when I make that choice. It should be soon.
Okay, enough of this rambling on Thanksgiving Eve (is that an actual term?) Trusting you are all grateful for the amazing people and things you have in your life. Don’t worry about the less than satisfactory stuff. Keep pushing through and going for what you know to be good. All that noise will be left by the wayside.
Happy Thanksgiving to those who observe it!