Saw the offer from 1and1.com on the Penny Arcade forums. Three years of professional webhosting for free? Way too good to be true, right? I usually never go for these freebie offers since the catch is almost way more trouble than it's worth, but I'm getting pretty tired of paying $10 a month to the entity formerly known as CTS for a lousy email address and crappy personal webhosting. Did a little research and found that at least the company isn't a small fly-by-night operation, but didn't we decide that giving stuff away for free isn't a great business model? They don't even ask for a credit card up front, so there really wasn't a catch, far as I could tell. Signed up for an account and jumped through a few hoops (a computer calls you to give you a PIN to complete the process), but I was up and running by the end of the afternoon. Sure, the control panel webpages were terribly slow, and I'm probably crammed onto the same machine as 189037101 other accounts, but all the features are there, and I got Movable Type up and running lickety-split, which is a good way to shake out all the hosting features (database, scripting, and so on). No emacs in the shell, but I guess if everyone on the server all were running emacs we'd bring the machine to its knees. Had to put up with vi for a while before I decided to give joe a try. It's not emacs, but it's close enough.
Imported all my Blogger entries into Movable Type without too much trouble, and found a web statistics package to parse the access logs. Had to install a CPAN package to get the XML-RPC features going on MT, but now I can edit the weblog via the OS X goodness of Kung-Log instead of editing via crappy browser interfaces. It was suprisingly painless to get everything going, but then I'm a sooper-genius (at editing text config files). I can see why $99 a year for .Mac isn't totally ridiculous, given the ease-of-use for basic tasks. They're even giving away iBlog, if you rather click a button than wrestl with CGI scripts. I still have to wrestle with MT's CSS templates. To bring back the lime-green goodness of the original layout, if nothing else.
Futzing with all these open-source and free software packages was a glaring reminder of the 80-20 rule. Movable Type produces remarkably pretty and robust output right out of the box. There's solid instructions for installation, importing entries from other systems, and support forums that'll answer questions. But you're still wrestling with Perl scripts, file and folder executable permissions, editing config files by hand (using vi, blech) to put in proper Unix filepaths and other necessary incantations. And in the end, the fucking weblog still doesn't show up. Of course, that guy is a moron, when I look through my Condescending Nerd Glasses, but even the friendly and helpful nerds don't see that the process wasn't that easy, even if it was. At least the Movable Type developers are smart enough to try to monetize the morons of the world. Most open-source developers can't even be bothered. Who's the moron then?
Now to think of a clever name for my website... Even if s87667177.onlinehome.us does sound kinda catchy, in its own way.Posted by mikewang on 01:22 PM