Technology Weblogging

Self-hosting continued

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Considerable discussion related to my assertion that Radio and Blogger are centralized web publication systems.

First, a caveat — the use of decentralization that I made yesterday had to do with web publication without dependence on a centralized tool-specific server that you can’t, personally, control. It had nothing to do with the P2P concept of decentralization, and it had nothing to do with the fact that you can host your individual pages on your own server. It was specifically related to the web publication tool, itself.

Based on this, further clarification on my statements from yesterday:

Any publication system that requires that one aspect of it be centrally located — such as Blogger — is a centralized publication system. Yes, you can host your published pages on your server, but you still have to use the centralized Blogger system to publish these pages. This makes Blogger a centralized rather than a de-centralized solution.

From my understanding, Radio also requires access to what Userland refers to as a “cloud” to manage part of the publication process. And my understanding is that all or part of this cloud exists on the Userland servers. It is very simple to post pages to an individual server using Radio; I’ve done this myself. However, you’re still dependent on a Radio cloud.

Am I incorrect in this understanding? In other words, if I host my Radio pages on my own server and Userland’s servers all go down, will any part of my publication process be impacted? I’m not talking about — that’s not the point. The point is, is a centralized Radio cloud necessary at some point for the publication process?

I have to think it is when I read something such as this:

Radio UserLand implements a powerful feature called upstreaming which mirrors the contents of the user’s www folder in a folder on, which is a 24-by-7 public Web server at a fixed location. When a file is changed it’s automatically copied to the server through XML-RPC. This makes it easy to publish static content to the Web even if you don’t have a full-time net connection, or if you move around. The url of each user’s folder is included as an attribute in the users.xml file.


When Radio UserLand launches and as it’s quitting it sends a hello or goodbye message to OurFavoriteSongs.Com. This sets the user’s signed-on flag true or false and records the users TCP/IP address and port, so that it knows how to communicate with Radio UserLand. (The chat facility is an example of the use of the IP address and port.)

However, perhaps all these centralized aspects of Radio — aggregation, upstreaming, logging on, etc — can be turned off to the point where you can totally decentralize your publication process from Userland. If this is so, then I apologize to Userland for making the statement about Radio having centralized tool dependencies.

Technology Weblogging

Self-hosting of weblogs

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

If you’re a Radio weblogger then you’re aware of the problems that Userland is having with its static server (see this brief mention). You’re probably pretty frustrated at this time because you can’t post, and even if you could post, your weblog isn’t accessible.

Those of us who have used Blogger can empathize with you because we faced daily frustrations with problems in Blogger and server problems with Blog*Spot.

Personally, I’m very glad I made my move to Movable Type, and I imagine that Jonathon is glad he’s moved, also. And now I’m hearing rumors that other folks will be making the move to self-hosted weblogs sooner rather than later.

Centralized weblogging. The concept sounds good — have others handle all the hosting details and all you have to worry about is writing something worthwhile or posting your recent “I’m a _____ quiz”. However, as we’re finding, what sounds good on paper isn’t necessarily effective in implementation, especially with the increasing numbers of people who are joining the weblogging ranks.

If you want control over your weblog you have to decentralize not only the postings, but the tool, itself; and this means hosting your weblog publication process. However, the problem with this is that it invalidates the principle behind weblogging — a personal publication system that enables the non-techie to publish content without having to fuss with the technical details.

What can a weblogger who just wants to have fun do?

Well, you can start by asking yourself if the centralized weblogging system downtime is a problem. In other words, how truly frustrating is the experience for you? If you find you can live with the system, the problem really isn’t that bad or doesn’t re-occur that often, then keep your weblog where it is, continue posting, and have fun. Here’s a hint for you: there is no such thing as problem-free technology.

(There’s a rule all technologists are required to follow stipulating that we can’t create perfect technology. If we do, everyone will think techies are inhuman and either start worshipping us or stone us to death.)

If you’re frustrated with the centralized systems, but it really doesn’t matter anyway because you’re finding you’re not having as much fun with weblogging as you thought you would, then consider stopping. Unlike a book, dear boys and girls, weblogging doesn’t have a final chapter other than the one that says “I’m sick of this shit. I quit”. And if you do quit, we’ll miss you but we understand.

(However, this doesn’t doesn’t apply to my Plutonians. If you quit, I’ll hunt you down and run you over with Golden Girl)

If you fit the third category of weblogger — you hate the frustrations associated with a centralized weblogging system such as Radio or Blogger, but you love to weblog — then you should consider moving to a self-hosted system such as Movable Type or Graymatter or other similar systems.

My choice was to move to Movable Type because I’ve found it provides exactly what I want and is intuitively easy to use. The kicker, though, is that Movable Type isn’t necessarily the easiest system to install. Especially if you’re unfamiliar with web site hosting.

So back to the question: What can a weblogger who just wants to have fun do?

You can ask for help. You can pay a small amount of money and get loads of help from Ben and Mena at Movable Type, a contribution that also helps to fund their continued efforts on behalf of MT. In addition, talk to the people who’ve made the move. If webloggers truly are the happy band of brothers and sisters we say we are, then we should be willing to help each other.

If you have a question about hosting companies, server types, weblogging tools, installation, whatever — ask. Ask at other weblogs, in comments, at your own weblog.

Send emails. Call a person on the phone. Chat in person. Ask about a person’s karma, and then, when they draw breath to answer, slide in a MT technical question. Remember that human axiom: there’s nothing we love more than to respond, successfully, to a question about how something works. It gives us a warm, cozy, smug glow.

Whatever you do, don’t sit there fuming in silence, getting more and more frustrated. If you do, eventually the pressure will build to the point that steam will come out of your ears, your eyes will bulge, your face will turn beet red, and the top of your head will blow off.

And that will scare your cat.

Update Discussion of Radio’s centralization — or not — is continued here


Get this man a weblog

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

As if you don’t know from previous entries, I am a huge SF Gate fan, reading it every day as well as subscribing to several email newletters. One of the main reasons why I like the publication so much is writers such as Mark Morford. If there is anyone in mainstream journalism who should have his own weblog, it’s Mark.

In today’s SF Gate Morning Fix Mark expresses his opinion about a new hair storage company, that will store hair samples until science invents a method of hair cloning and a cure for baldness. He writes:

In related news, another startup, Getoverit, Inc., will begin storing samples of semen, blood, lace lingerie, the menu from that cool little Thai place, and old photographs of slightly drunk couples smiling at that guy’s birthday party that one time, all stored in old loosely sealed yellow Tupperware containers and stacked in the back of founder Susan Barricelli’s garage under some old paint cans and her ex-boyfriend’s golf ball collection until modern technology finds a way to uselessly revive old relationships so you can have your heart wrecked all over again. “It’s only a matter of time before someone finds a way to efficiently re-drag your heart through the emotional mud and make you feel like a leftovor corn dog and leave you crying in your Raspberry Ginger Detox Yoga Tea,” Barricelli sighed, sipping her tea.

In his regular column last week Mark wrote about the current situation in the Middle East, the War on Terror and the general level of warmongering that seems to exist:

No one is preaching peace. No one striving for genuine camaraderie or balance or compromise. And too few of us seem willing to believe that 9/11 has mutated into a brutish hollow excuse for the Bush administration to perpetuate a war for oil and to proclaim new enemies and to chip away at the Constitution and your civil liberties in the name of increased federal control and fewer dissenting voices.


Warmongering — discussions occurring with an almost obscene glee every time another atrocity in the name of “peace” is committed. Compromise is for the weak, the evil, the lost. A quick look at all the new “warblogs” in should refresh your memory if you don’t know wherefore I speak.

But I digress. Speaking of little green worms in sour black apples, as Mark would say if he were me but he isn’t me so he hasn’t said it, read his columns and subscribe to his newsletter — it’s worth the inevitable but barely noticeable increase in spam.

(Thanks to Stavros for reminding me to share Mark with others.)

P.S. Check out another person’s view of Mark — from the Christian Resource Net.