In the insane asylum that is my life, I forgot to mark September 18, 2005: the day I launched jaredwsmith.com on WordPress 1.5 after a few failed attempts at writing a custom CMS from scratch and then running a mostly unfocused community here. I would never have known it then, but WordPress was a big reason why I finally learned standards-based design (I had still relied on tables until early 2005) and was a vehicle for giving my career a journalistic bent (even if my paying jobs haven’t always reflected it). Incidentally, I chose WordPress mainly because of the book I helped write, Building Online Communities with Drupal, phpBB, and WordPress. Little did I know that I would never launch my planned phpBB-based forums (sorry, old-school The Realm/jaredwsmith.com forumgoers) and simply stick to the blogging route, but that’s exactly what happened. Since relaunching the blog, I’ve gotten an opportunity to meet many wonderful people and find community well before “social media” was a household buzzword. Lately the blog has been more neglected; the convenience of Twitter and other outlets takes time from traditional writing. I have a few changes in mind (including a fresh coat of paint; I haven’t redesigned in almost two years) that I hope will motivate me to post more things here. What I’d like to know is: How are you maintaining your blog?
WordPress 3.0 is now live with nary a hiccup on jaredwsmith.com. It was mostly very smooth, though I did have a CSS change to make to my theme (looks like there was a small output tweak to the_category() that broke something — and I could have avoided it had I coded better). I’m also using W3 Total Cache, and while I can report that everything mostly works, I’m having some trouble uploading via FTP to my “CDN” — which, in reality, is just another account on another domain on my shared host. However, everything else is looking pretty good so far. Fingers crossed!
Note to self: Stay away from the PHP4/5 toggle in the Media Temple Account Center. Sorry for the broken site, everybody. We’re back now.
March 31, 2010 marks ten years more or less “blogging” (the term had not yet taken off in 2000). On March 31, 2000, I decided to restructure the front page of my high school personal site, The Realm (of Jared Smith), and start posting more or less daily updates on the things that really mattered. You know, such as the strange people I talked to in class, how NSync was a major threat to America and that my generation should be listening to Van Halen and Extreme instead, and little snippets about the doomed dot-com I wrote tech articles for (yes, at age 15). It was juvenile and definitely written from the perspective of an extremely socially maladjusted teenager. It was a series of good times that I maintained for about three years until I entered a hiatus from blogging as my college years really kicked in.
How’d I do it? Every day after school, I’d pop open Microsoft FrontPage 2000, open main/index.htm (the main homepage inside the frameset — yes, a frameset!), tack on the day’s updates to the top of the page, and FTP upload to Freeservers. Bam, update done! At the end of each month, I would manually create the month’s archive page, cut from the homepage, and paste into the archive page, leaving a blank slate for the next month’s worth of updates on the homepage. There were no permalinks, there were no trackbacks — just static pages with completely unnecessary, IE-only animations on load. I don’t know how I kept it up, but I did.
It’s amazing how things have changed in ten years — I’d like to think I write less cringe-worthy material, and I have vanquished lime green from my designs. That’s improvement, right?
What’s been the most fun, though, is that I still talk to a lot of the people who were there from the beginning — especially Patrick O’Keefe, Brad Kelly, and Ray Angel. It’s been fun trading laughs with them today and every day over the last 10 years. Here’s to ten more!
In addition to applying the WordPress 2.8.1 upgrade, I’ve also upgraded to the Carrington-based WordPress Mobile Edition by Alex King, which provides a VERY slick interface for mobile devices to browse posts and pages. I do think the out-of-the-box styles could use some tweaking (particularly on iPhone, where the interface widgets are there but the fonts are Verdana rather than Helvetica Neue), but editing the Carrington theme is fairly straightforward. Regardless, it’s a great plugin to have (even though it’s probably overkill for a personal blog such as this) and I recommend it.
Thanks to the comment-aggregating masterminds at BackType, your tweets, FriendFeed comments, Digg comments, and other mentions of blog posts here at jaredwsmith.com will appear among the comments. I’m tweaking the look some and working with a few things to meld it better with the design, but it’s very cool. How am I doing this? It’s a neat plugin called BackType Connect for WordPress. I definitely recommend checking it out especially if your blog manages to garner a lot of discussion on other sites (FriendFeed support is what dragged me in, really). I like what BackType is doing to tie together the scattered fragments of blog comments throughout the Web.
One of my focus areas in the early parts of this year has been to extract some of my side projects, such as Serious Business and Charleston Weather, out from under jaredwsmith.com so that I could give them some room to breathe and take on lives of their own. This process has largely been completed for Serious Business, as I was able to move it to a Tumblr site (which has worked well so far). Establishing Serious Business with its own branded site and Twitter account have been useful in forming a stable audience.
Now that Serious Business is done, it’s time to give my weather efforts the same treatment. The work on that started very, very early this morning, culminating in a somewhat buggy rough draft of the beginnings of a brand new Charleston Weather site at charlestonwx.com.
So I’ll set the scene for you:
Disgruntled College of Charleston fan, home after witnessing a loss to Elon of all teams, wants to sit down, sip on some Gatorade, and work on his Facebook “25 Random Things” meme post because seven of his friends have now tagged him and he just wants to END IT (and terrorize additional people with said meme).
So, he sits down and begins writing his post, when he wants to refer to a post on his blog for some of the answers. He finds a strange white space in his layout that makes zero sense whatsoever. He goes and checks the source code…and OMG. Keywords. Lots and lots of keywords. Viagra, tablets, medicine — you name it, it was there. Site: Compromised.
Oh, and that guy? That was me.