Web publishing and a new blog.

This week has been an interesting week for me and web publishing. I have been recently encouraged (read: flames under my ass) to start blogging about data storage and all things technology by my good friend Stephen Foskett who’s a most prolific writer, blogger, tweeter, etc. Admittedly, I’d been hesitant to broadcast my thoughts, rants, raves and other musings into the ether but the time has come and I can’t hold out any longer. So here I am.

As I began my journey into blogging I started to think about the platform and infrastructure that I should use for my new founded blogging efforts. I’d like to say that it was a huge waste of time but it was a part of the learning process that I had to go through.

First of all, I already have a web site that I’m hosting on a linux box at home running on Plone. Plone is a ready-to-run, open source content management system that is built on the Zope application server which is the content management framework for the site. The underlying code for Zope/Plone is primarily Python. In its present state, the hardware that the web site is running on is a run of the mill, Linux kit I built around 2003 in a cool AlienWare case running CentOS. For a short while, I used to run the site on a borrowed (thanks Jeff!) Power Mac G4 Cube which is running OS X Server v.10.4. I’m actually pretty blown away that it’s able to run Plone and serve up content as well as it does being an 8 year old computer, circa 2000. The Plone/Zope/Python community as a whole is just great but one of the drawbacks that I found with Plone is that there weren’t a ton of hosting options. Additionally, while Plone has a lot of blogging products you can install into your Plone instance, none seemed to be quite as robust as the already established ones that already exist with most hosting providers. That’s not to say that Plone isn’t a robust platform. On the contrary, I think it may be overkill for what I’m trying to accomplish at this time.

Go back a few weeks and that’s when I was playing around with my new copy of iLife from Apple which includes iWeb. iWeb is a product that makes really great looking web sites and it’s ridiculously easy to use. While using iWeb, I learned that it was designed specifically to publish web sites to MobileMe. Convenient coincidence, I already use MobileMe to sync my iPhone and my Mac data. Ok, well I’m already paying for MobileMe and I’ve already purchased iLife. Additionally, my favorite journaling software, MacJournal, has a blogging component that interfaces directly with iWeb and tons of other blogging systems. Seems like a done deal, right?

While the iLife/iWeb/MobileMe (a.k.a. Apple Package) and MacJournal solution seems to work out just fine, iWeb isn’t quite as flexible an application as I had hoped it would be. For example, I tried to insert a block of javascript code into an iWeb web site I created and it totally hosed the style sheet of the site. That’s not to say that I couldn’t get it to work without banging on it for a while but let’s face it, I’ve already wasted enough time trying to figure out what platform to use.

Finally, I already have several domains managed and hosted by GoDaddy. They have very well priced hosting plans and great software available including WordPress which I can install for free. So what’s a n00b blogger to do?

For the time being… I’m going to stick with the Apple package with MacJournal until I find it too limiting, that, or Stephen tells me to. 🙂 Fortunately, I’m composing all my entries with MacJournal which means I always have a local copy of all my entries on my Mac which will make it easier to migrate down the road. Another great feature about MacJournal and the MobileMe subscription is that MacJournal regularly backs up its data to my MobileMe account in the Apple ‘cloud’. Built in data protection for my blogging and web sites? Yea, I can live with that.

Addendum: I’ve already found some limitations in MacJournal and iWeb while attempting to publish my first entry. MacJournal is not ‘fully’ compatible with iWeb. When I published the entry to iWeb via MacJournal, it omitted all the links from the body. So, I simply copied and pasted the entry into the body of iWeb which preserved the links very nicely. However, the default link state is to open in the same window and I want it to open in a new window. So I had to change the links by hand after pasting them into iWeb. This isn’t looking good for iWeb and MacJournal. I suppose I can just skip MacJournal all together and work right from within iWeb.

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About Brian Greenberg

Brian Greenberg is a senior strategy consultant specializing in whole systems design and leveraging technologies to advance the goals of organizations in the public, private, academic and not-for-profit sectors. An information systems and technology leader, Brian has 20 years experience in information systems design, architecture and business operations.  Brian holds a B.S. in Philosophy & Applied Computer Science and a M.A. in Whole Systems Design – Systems Theory. As a frequent industry speaker, Mr. Greenberg addresses how organizations can better align legal and business requirements with IT and has presented several papers and participated at conferences. Brian also sits on the Board of Directors of EcoMyths Alliance, a consortium of environmental education partners.