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Last post on the old FRL installation

Sometime today or tomorrow (the weekend of April 28/29, 2007), this blog, Free Range Librarian, will disappear, then… hopefully… reappear.

Subscribers, note that I am going to do everything possible to redirect the feeds to the new feed URLs (which, WordPress-style, will be two feeds, one for posts and one for comments… though I’d like a third feed for both). However, if you don’t see a new post in your favorite reader at least once a day for the next week, effective Monday, April 30, 2007, check the blog itself, or at worst, contact me at kgs at bluehighways dot com to ask what the heck happened.

I spent most of last night and this morning in that happy zen heaven of iterative testing. Today I noticed I was having trouble logging in to the Movable Type installation and that, once in, everything was very slow. I don’t know if that’s coincidental (MT has become more and more sluggish the larger my blog has become), or it’s related to the WordPress test blog running on a subdirectory. In either case, it’s clearly time to move (especially since Sandy is away at a conference and therefore not able to grab me by the scruff of the neck and make me go outside into First Life…).

The WordPress theme I’m going to use is a very plain three-column liquid layout with Widget support. I saw other layouts that had more “shazamm,” but they required design changes that would have held up migration while I fiddled with replacing images and so forth–all the skill sets I’m not that motivated to develop. I decided to live with a plain design for now (even if it invokes the mocking scorn of some functionary at the Big O, as happened some time ago), and hope the right theme comes into my life later on. (The theme looks less than wonderful on IE7, but it’s not hideous, just a little stupid-looking.)

I concentrated instead on learning how to configure WordPress and testing plugins for functionality I want available on rollout (with sidebar Widgets primary, since fiddling with sidebars was a timesink on Movable Type I knew I didn’t want to get into). Out of the box, I wanted easy-to-read URLs, a clean, plain print-page function, a Flickr display, “Now Reading” plugins, recent comments, social bookmark links, and a few internal thingies related to caching and whatnot.

I have all the plugins ready to reinstall into the “real” installation, I know how I want them configured, and I am hip to any little tweaks to make them work better. So instead of importing posts and THEN adding plugin on top of plugin, tweak on top of tweak, the order of battle is:

* Make sure I have one full MySQL backup of my posts and two MT export files, one full and one split*
* Set up new, tasty, fresh MySQL database and user, just for this installation
* Install WordPress (thank you for one-click installation, Dreamhost!)
* Upload .htaccess file with new archive and feed paths
* Configure URLs, admin users, other basic tasks
* Select theme
* Add and configure plugins
* Test posting, commenting, editing
* Import old posts
* Test feeds and archives
* Test all functions
* Announce and pray
* Celebrate with a chocolate-covered marshmallow heart and a wee tot of Glenlivet!

* I had already exported my FRL posts last week and successfully imported them into a test blog, and after exporting twice and doing a MySQL backup, will follow Jay Datema’s advice and also export FRL’s data as split files, Just In Case.

As an aside, backing up MySQL is one of those things I can do much easier from a shell command, simply because I have a tried-and-true cheat sheet from which I just copy and paste, whereas in PhpMyAdmin, I have to figure out what the commands Really Do.

It feels good to be puttering with this task. I had made the decision to move to WordPress some time ago, but other things intervened last November, and once I fell into the rabbit-hole of FPOW, I did not have the sustained quality time, energy, or intellectual focus to plan and test a migration. My personal life was a bug caught in amber. This time around I’m going to acknowledge that whatever new work I get will keep me extremely busy for a while–maybe a very long while.

Busy, I can do busy: as Sandy observed this week, I was perfectly happy while balancing an MFA with the demands of my Former Place of Work Minus 1 (FPOW-1). If you’re not doing what you love, every minute is slow agony. If you’re doing what you love, it feels like play. (Remind me of that if I’m up at 3 a.m. trying to get this blog working again, all right?)

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