Let’s be friends right here.
I’ve got a website and I’ve got a feed reader. That’s how I “publish to the world”. See, all Twitter and Facebook really are is a way to post and get a feed of all the things your friends are saying. But someone is selling your friends to you.
You can get a website for free. You can get a feed reader for free. Google Reader or Bloglines or net news wire – etc. There’s tons of feed readers out there.
I like google plus, and yup, I’m on google plus. It’s got the same privacy concepts as diaspora, but unfortunately centralized.
I’m on twitter and identi.ca. But they are just microblogs. Oh – they also have direct messages! That’s micro-email!
So just email me. Just get a WordPress or Blogger blog. And when you want to step up to your own website, I’ll help you set that up and import all your old posts in. It’s super easy. No one will sell your friends to you and someone else’s website going down won’t blow up yours.
The good folks over at Wild Bee have an excellent article about how you can use your computer to help the world while you sleep. Lotsa people run SETI@home – I think it is because of the screensaver. Instead of a looking for aliens, you could help political dissidents in repressive regimes, protect anonymous whistleblowers, and even protect our intelligence agents overseas. Install TOR and volunteer your computer for global privacy.
The problem with Software as a Service is you don’t own it.
You get it for free, but you don’t have a stake and you don’t have negotiating power. Instead, try to work with services that give you an exit plan or that have the safety stamp of an aGPL license.
Let me back up and tell you a story about a social network I created. Two big-time development bloggers, Jeff and Scott, were writing posts back and forth about how what colors they liked in their text editors and what fonts they used.
I’m not kidding, this is important in a job where most of what you do is sip coffee and type. I’ve certainly killed some time messing about with how I color my source code. Continue reading How Ning made me a chump and how you can avoid it
- The Autonomo.us project has a great list of alternatives that either AGPL or CC or something you can use. Check out this guide to replacing what you are using now with services that keep you free. (back)
ordpress.com is great. They’ve got a great freemium model that allows anyone to get hooked up with a blog with the swiftness. I’m a huge fan, but of course there are limits in what you can do when you don’t have your own hosting. They have limitations on plugins and themes and so on.
I recently helped my friend Tove Hermanson migrate her thoughtful fashion blog to her own hosting. I recommended she choose Dreamhost, as I’ve had a great experience with them.
We had a few setbacks when we did things out of order, so I’m writing up a short guide to doing this so it will be easier for other folks. If you still are unhappy after following this guide, you may need a different hat.
First things first, you will want to export information out of your old blog. Log into your blog and do the following:
- Note your theme so you can install it at your new hosting
- Note what plugins you are using, and any widgets or whatnot you’ve got on your blog.
- Note your link structure. How are your posts organized? You definitely want this so you don’t break any old links to your content.
- Log into your blog at wordpress.com and export your blog contents to a file.
- Get your images. WordPress.com says that you can import your images and such at your new blog, but we didn’t see the full sized images getting downloaded. Hence, I’ve written a script to get all of your full sized images from your wordpress.com blog.
- Download and install Python and BeautifulSoup.
- Use my python image spider to collect all of your images from your blog and put them into a neat little bundle for you.
- Do a find and replace on your export file to change all your img tags from “yourdomain.files.wordpress.com” to “yourdomain.com/oldimages”
- Buy your domain and hosting. As before, I really like dreamhost, as they are cheap, cheerful and easy to use. For a personal site, those are the factors that matter. Clicking those links will give me a 10% kickback, but I’d recommend them even if I didn’t get a taste.
- Switch your domain nameservers to point to your new hosting. When you are buying your hosting, they will have instructions on how to do that. The place where you bought your domain name will also have a way for you to switch where your nameservers point to. If you are using dreamhost, you’ll be using NS1.dreamhost.com, NS2.dreamhost.com and NS3.dreamhost.com.
- Install wordpress at your new hosting. If you’ve chosen dreamhost, they will do it for you.
- From your control panel choose “Goodies”
- Click “One-Click Installs”
- Advanced Mode (It isn’t all that advanced>) and follow the instructions.
- Log in to your new wordpress installation and import your blog export file
- Configure your themes, widgets, url structure and so forth through the wordpress settings.
- Use an FTP client like Filezilla or FireFTP to upload your “oldimages” images folder to your server, right under your new domain’s root directory.
- Take a look at the new blog and test! You should be good to go.
That seems like a lot, but you can probably accomplish all of this in an hour or two. You’ll spend some time waiting for DNS changes to propagate, but it should be fairly seamless. The key is to extract all of the information you need from your old website domain before you change your domain url to point to your new hosting. We made a few mistakes doing that and it just takes forever to switch back and forth.
Good luck, hope these instructions help!
- Tove had Chaotic Soul which seems to have major problems and differences between the official version and the one wordpress.com uses. (back)
- You could always register with dreamhost without my referral as well. (back)
This sounds complicated but it is really simple. That it is so simple is why the internet is amazing and awesome.
Proxies are used by people in positions of authority who want to control what you view on the internet. Such groups include the governments of Turkey and China. Also, the internet security team of most major corporations. Some of these motives are good:
- Blocking you from visiting websites that will infect your computer with spyware.
- Blocking you from looking at naked people at work and totally creeping your coworkers out.
- Blocking you from using webmail or instant messaging to communicate with customers in insecure ways or in ways that can’t be audited for a lawsuit.
Some of these motives are bad:
- Blocking you from learning about problems at the group.
- Blocking you from “wasting” company time or resources.
Generally you will eventually find a situation where you want to look at a website that has been blocked improperly. I’ve often seen sites that discuss internet security vulnerabilities classified as “hacking” – but I need to know if those sites affect my work.
Whether your intentions are pure or not, here is a simple way to give yourself internet freedom.
Download CGIproxy and install it on something that faces the unfiltered internet. This might be your web host if you have one. If not, you can install a web server on your home computer. It is easier than you might think, and with DynDns, you can have your own domain name for your home computer.
You are done. Now you can navigate in your browser to where you installed CGIproxy. It will surf the sites you are blocked from. Doing that is a hassle, though. You have to go to CGIproxy when you want to go to a different site. Lame.
Let’s make it easier through the magical power of bookmarklets. We will put two little buttons in your browser that let you proxy blocked sites and unproxy them when you are somewhere safe again.
I wrote up a little page for you that generates proxy and unproxy bookmarklets for CGIProxy. Go there, put in the URL of your CGIproxy, and choose your options. I’ll automagically generate the bookmarklets for you. You just drag them up to your browser quick links and now you have the keys to the kingdom.
Let me know if anything isn’t clear – I did the extra work so that it could be useful for you.