from wordpress.com to wordpress.org

For some, this post will be a look at the magic behind the scenes. For most, though, it will be like seeing how the sausage is made. If you are in the later category, please skip this one and never think on it again. ; )

First, an explanation of WordPress. WordPress is a free (free as in beer) and open source (free as in freedom) blogging software package that is very popular. There is an entire community around the project contributing free support, plug-ins, themes, and more. The software is downloaded from WordPress.org and installed on a personal web server or at your web hosting provider. It is fully customizable and there are virtually no restrictions on what you can do with it.

Some of the developers of the open source project got together and started WordPress.com. It is a hosted version of WordPress where users can get up and running with a free blog with almost no technical expertise. This is wonderful tool for bloggers who do not need the flexibility (or headaches) of managing the software themselves. In fact, WordPress.com has hosted our blogs for some time now. Unfortunately, there are many limitations to the free hosted version.

For one, there is limited storage space for files related to your blog (unless you pay). Also, you can’t use your own domain name (unless you pay). I have been getting around this by redirecting our domains to our WordPress.com blogs using the forwarding option at GoDaddy (my favorite domain registrar). For example, when you type in thedailyflashkube.com you are actually being redirected to flashkube.wordpress.com. This presents a major problem with statistics because I can’t see any of the referring site information. Another major limitation of a WordPress.com hosted blog is the inability to embed certain content in your posts. For example, I can’t use the <embed> tag that is needed to embed videos from most video services. To their credit, they do allow the posting of YouTube videos through the use of a special WordPress-specific tag. But, many videos and other content out there are not allowed. Probably the largest drawback to the service is the inability to install plug-ins or additional themes. You are limited to a handful of themes that are not very customizable (unless you pay). And you can’t install any of the plethora of plug-ins available for the self-hosted WordPress software.

I feel that we have outgrown the free, hosted version of WordPress. So, I have pulled the trigger and signed up for my own web hosting with Dreamhost. After installing WordPress there, the first blog that will move over is this one. I have much work to do to get it set up properly. So far, I have only transferred DNS services from GoDaddy to Dreamhost. I will continue to use GoDaddy for domain name registration but they will no longer be used for DNS. They seem to have much better prices on registration than Dreamhost. The reason I did not use GoDaddy for hosting is that their user interface is atrocious. I have worked with Dreamhost before in my capacity as an IT consultant and have found it to be quite intuitive and fast. The only thing missing from Dreamhost that I enjoyed with GoDaddy is URL masking. Right now, with Dreamhost, when you visit http://thedailyflashkube.com it will redirect you to https://flashkube.wordpress.com but it will also change the URL seen in the address bar. GoDaddy was able to hide this even after redirection.

More tours of the sausage factory will come as I make this transition.

NOTE: I’d like to throw out an idea for you to ponder. The thought occurred to me yesterday that this site could eventually become a kind of micro community of amateur photographers. WordPress supports creating user accounts for contributing bloggers. If this were to occur I would, of course, cease writing politically charged and personal posts. I would also actively promote the site online so we would actually get some traffic. If there is the slightest possibility that you would be interested in contributing posts and articles, please drop me an email or comment here. Thanks!


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