Changing Themes After Three Years

After upgrading Wordpress to the latest version, I figured now was the best time as any to change my theme. The Mac-looking theme served me well for a while. Old Theme

But it was time for something fresh. There haven't been many updates to the old theme (Librio) since I first downloaded it. And Wordpress has been steadily moving along. The funny thing, though, is that I chose the current Wordpress default theme (Twenty Ten). It looks good. It is very customizable. And will be updated, as needed, along with future Wordpress updates.

We'll see how long this theme can stick. Right now, it seems to fill the niche just fine.

Installing LAMP and Wordpress on Slicehost (or elsewhere) Redux

[Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any mishaps that may occur by following these steps or advice because you follow them out of your own free will.] — I figure I better put that up-front, again.
:)

My original post on installing a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) server with Wordpress seems to have helped at least a few people.

I have since come up with a few more random, but I think helpful, tidbits since writing that post. I will list them here.

Basic Commands

'ls -alR' for a recursive look at all owners and groups, etc.

Transferring your Blog to Wordpress.org

If you are importing your blog from somewhere else and the upload doesn't seem to be working (e.g., when you click the "Import" button you see no screen changes and/or you the browser is just "spinning"):

  • create uploads directory in wp-content
  • you may have to set wp-content to chmod 777 permissions for import
    - first try 755 on uploads. If it doesn't work, then
    - then try 777 on uploads. If it doesn't work, then
    - then try 777 on wp-content
  • revert everything back to 755, or what you had it before

If you are moving from wordpress.com to wordpress.org and you need your blogroll, you need to export this separately (it is not included as part of the normal export from wordpress.com). You go to http://your-wordpressDOTcom-domain.com/wp-links-opml.php and save the XML you see and then import via the blogroll/import capability (or you can just enter the link to the opml I mentioned before right in the blogroll import). Note the export only seems to work in Firefox and IE. Safari gave me a blank page.

SSL

If you want SSL for Apache - sudo a2enmod SSL (see article)

If you want SSL for your Wordpress administration areas, enable SSL for wp-admin (See documentation)

For SSL resolution -- if you are only using SSL on one site and you have other sites, see this forum post.

Final Setup Steps for Wordpress

Make sure www-data has write access to the following --- Do a 'chmod -R g+w' on wp-content/themes,wp-content/uploads

For final permissions:

  • find public -type d | xargs chmod 0755
  • find public -type f | xargs chmod 0644 (files)
  • find public -type d | xargs chown username:www-data
  • find public -type f | xargs chown username:www-data

If testing your wordpress.org somewhere besides the live domain, make sure to remember this article before going live.

If you find images to be funky after going live -- like still pointing to your old domain or testbed site, you can manually do a search and replace in the database or use a plug in from here.

If file types should be working that aren't working (xsl, html), maybe add to the sites-available vhost the allowed file types for the certain directory in question. For example, I added xsl because of Google Sitemaps and wanting to view my sitemaps in the browser.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics code goes above the tag in the footer file of your Wordpress theme (see article)

WP Super Cache

If you are looking for a plugin that might speed up your blog by serving static, cached HTML instead of processing PHP constantly, then look to WP Super Cache. If you set up your LAMP server with Worpdress like I explained in my original post, then instead of using .htaccess, you will be putting any rules in the vhost -- especially in steps 7 and 8 in the installation instructions.

Exim

Maybe replace exim with an external smtp server.

'sudo /usr/sbin/exim4' to get access to exim commands (like seeing message queue -- exim4 -bp)

If exim4 is not working for Google Apps for some reason, check this out.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Company Spam and Scam

At 8:44 PM last night, I get this email in my Apple Mail inbox from someone named "lisa rey" with the subject "Idea for [joelmarcey.com]". Hey somebody has an idea for my blog!! Great! ;)

Ding! Obviously spam or a scam, without even opening the message. How do I know? Well, first the sender's name has no capitalization. What kind of professional uses a name without capitalizing the first letter of their first and last name? Secondly, the subject screams out programmatic email with the brackets being used as a key to insert website names.

So, what other giveaways are there? I decided to open the message:


So here is what I see

  1. Message was dated 6:46 PM and I got it 2 hours later. Not sure that means much.
  2. Email address has about 10 digits after the name ellie. So, there is obviously a program generating email addresses. I mean, come on, at least have lisarey123456789@gmail.com ;)
  3. The greeting addresses me as "Website Owner". Another indication of automation and spamming is not addressing you by your real name.
  4. An address, but no company name or link to company website. They even say "Our company is on the first page when you search on Google for our primary search term 'SEO Company'". REALLY? But you won't tell me what the name of your company is, huh? (btw, here is the search result for "SEO Company" on Google.
  5. They say "Simply reply with opt out if not interested to hear from us". Not very good English, if you ask me.
  6. I also did a search on Google and found other people seeing these types of emails.

So I wonder what would happen if I replied?? Not sure I am going to try to find out :-)


Go Daddy Discount Domain Club

I got an email from Go Daddy asking me if I wanted to join its discount domain club. I read the email trying to think if it is worth it and my initial impression is --- no, at least not for me. Here is the email:

Dear Joel Marcey,

How would you like an extra 15%, 30% or even 63% off new domains? Our Discount Domain Club is designed for customers like you who have multiple domains — and right now, you'll SAVE 20% on your membership, just $89.99/yr $71.99/yr! This offer expires December 24, 2008, so act today!

Your Discount Domain Club membership includes:

  • The best domain registration, transfer and renewal prices in the industry -- no minimum to buy ever!
  • FREE CashParking Premium (a $107 value)! Earn 80% of the revenue from ads placed on your parked domains.
  • FREE Go Daddy Auctions Membership! Take advantage of the Web's premier auction house, including 15% OFF premium listing fees.
  • Discounted Domain Buy Service! Let us help you negotiate a deal on the pre-owned domain you want and SAVE 33% off our standard rate.

  • Deep Domain Discounts! When we say the lowest-priced domains in the industry, we mean it. Here are just a few of the discounts you'll enjoy as a Discount Domain Club member:

  • .COM domains for 31% OFF — Just $7.29/yr*
  • .NET domains for 53% OFF — Just $5.99/yr*
  • .ORG domains for 51% OFF — Just $7.29/yr*
  • .US domains for 63% OFF — Just $7.29/yr
  • .INFO domains for 90% OFF — Just 99¢*
  • And MUCH MORE!

  • Don't pay full price for another domain! Join the Discount Domain Club now for just $89.99/yr $71.99/yr with your special 20% OFF discount. But hurry, this exclusive offer expires December 24, 2008, so sign up now!

    Thanks as always for being a Go Daddy customer.
    Sincerely,

    Bob Parsons
    CEO and Founder
    GoDaddy.com

    So, for $71.99, I get an automatic discount on domain names and some cash parking and auction stuff that I have yet to use and am not sure if I will.

    So let's just say, for simplicity, that I am paying $71.99 for 31% off of .COM domain names. I am sorry, but I just don't buy that many domain names -- and I can always use coupon codes when I do buy a domain name.

    Don't get me wrong, Go Daddy is a fine domain name registrar that I exclusively use, but I think something like Amazon Prime for free 2-day shipping is a better deal.

    Change is, um, err, good?......

    Well, I have completed my migration from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. I think it went well, but I will continue to have trepidation until things settle down a bit. I love this new theme. Good work, deniart. I think I will stick with it for a while (assuming it remains stable of course). Let me know what you think of it.

    Anyway, I have learned a lot during this process. And, I am going to create an updated post to the one that proved to be relatively popular that talked about installing LAMP and Wordpress on Slicehost. There are a few things to add to that step-by-step guide, and believe me, I know that first hand. :-)

    Movin' On Out

    MMj02135350000[1]

    I have finally re-established my relationship with Slicehost (oh, you didn't know I left. Well, it had nothing do with them; it was a personal decision on my part to leave temporarily). And now that I feel that this time I will be sticking with Slicehost more permanently, it is time to do some housekeeping.

    One item on the agenda is to move this blog from wordpress.com to Slicehost.

    There may be some intermittent downtime, but hopefully I can get this all up and running by the end of this week.

    As I understand it -- joelmarcey.com will remain, but be stale (with this as the last post). That is, of course, unless I delete the old blog.

    joelmarcey.com will be transferred to the new host where you will see all of my previous posts, including this one, and all new posts.

    We'll see how it goes!

    See you on the flip-side.

    Back From the Dead

    Well, back at least from a blogging perspective. It has been a long time since my last post. What to say about why that is – well, mainly I was taking care of some personal work and also finishing up a consulting gig.

    It has been a successful first “out of a corporation” year for me. I have made some money and made some great contacts.

    So where do I stand right now?

    I am in a state of flux. I am between consulting/contracting opportunities and I have not made much headway on any micro-ISV product (mainly because of the consulting work, but also for some other reasons).

    I have some decisions to make.

    Here are my current options:

    • Flesh out 1 or more of 5 possible product ideas, if for anything to get me back in the programming “spirit”
    • Do some side, primarily non-programming work that has been offered to me, more for the experience and satisfaction than any monetary reason.
    • Work on some technical articles or books that I have been floating around. as possibilities I have some possible leads for publications, but some other things have to fall into place, which I am working on.
    • Look for some more consulting work – I may have a possibility in January, but I am not sure I can 100% count on that.
    • Go back to school to earn my Masters in Computer Science or MBA or, at the very least, take some courses to get the brain juices flowing
    • Look for a full-time job

    Now, the options above are not necessarily exclusive, but I do need to prioritize and make a decision. And make a decision is exactly what I am going to do now…..

    ……well, after I watch my Buffalo Bills hopefully beat the Browns tonight!

    Go Bills!

    Buffalo Bills logo

    UPDATE: The Bills lose on another "wide right" field goal. Bills fans know those are the two most dreaded words a Bills fan can hear :-(

    Installing a LAMP Server, with Wordpress, on Slicehost (and maybe elsewhere)

    [UPDATE: April 19, 2009: I added a follow-up post to this article with some more tidbits]

    [Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any mishaps that may occur by following these steps or advice because you follow them out of your own free will.] -- I figure I better put that up-front. :-)

    Someone wrote me an email today asking me how to get a LAMP server up and running on a Slicehost VPS (...in Slicehost land, your VPS is called a "slice").

    During the time when I was setting up my slice, I made a little personal document on how to set up a LAMP server with Wordpress (I used Ubuntu Hardy as my base Linux installation).

    While this is by no means anything official or 100% complete, I figure when I need to set up a LAMP server again, it will serve as a great starting point for me.

    Like I insinuated in my disclaimer, I cannot guarantee the accuracy  or the 100% "foolproof"-ness of these steps. I am by no means an expert at this stuff, but, hey, they worked for me.

    Below are the contents of that document in its raw form. Feel free to ask any questions, although I cannot guarantee I will know the answer. Feel free to correct any mistakes in comments, although I cannot guarantee I will fix them.

    Ubuntu Linux (Server): Setup @ Slicehost

    Basic Commands and Instructions

    • sudo aptitude install <package1> [package2]
    • sudo aptitude purge|remove <package>
    • whereis <program> (to find out where something is located)
    • root shell: sudo –s (get out of the root shell by ctrl+d)
    • ps aux (to find out processes running) (ps aux | grep <process name> to narrow --- e.g., ps aux | grep httpd)
    • apache2ctl configtest (to make sure your Apache configurations are ok)
    • Apache logs are at /var/log/apache2 (Must be in a sudo shell -- see above)
    • sites-enabled is a symlink; make vhost changes to sites in /etc/apache2/sites-available
    • Don’t worry about .htaccess and httpd.conf files. Use vhost config files instead.

    Server

    1. Get bare bones install
    2. Log on as root via ssh ( ssh root @ <ip address> )
    3. Use provided password and immediately change it via passwd.
    4. Change time zone
      • sudo ln –sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/US/Pacific /etc/localtime (replace US/Pacific with what your timezone is)
    5. Follow these instructions for security http://articles.slicehost.com/2008/4/25/ubuntu-hardy-setup-page-1
    6. Backup the private (and public if you want, but especially private) key from your local machine! (preferably in a couple different places)
    7. Continue with these security instructions http://articles.slicehost.com/2008/4/25/ubuntu-hardy-setup-page-2 (add \u@\ before \h\ to add user name in front of hostname in PS1)
    8. A good package to install would be unzip for downloads (only tar is available at this point): sudo aptitude install unzip (http://codeghar.wordpress.com/2007/12/08/zip-files-in-ubuntu-cli/ )

    Setup Domain via DNS Manager

    1. Log into the slice manager: https://manage.slicehost.com/
    2. To configure the DNS records for your domain, go here: http://articles.slicehost.com/2007/10/24/creating-dns-records
      • Make sure you have set the nameservers properly on your registrar (e.g. ns1.slicehost.net)

    Setup Domain Email via DNS Manager

    1. I use Google Apps for email. The next steps are specific to that. If you don’t use Google Apps, just make sure you set the MX records properly in the Slicehost DNS manager, otherwise you may be without email if you have completed the “Setup Domain via DNS Manager” step.
    2. If you haven’t done so already, set up Google Apps for your domain (www.google.com/a)
      • For verification, you can use the HTML method since you can control your website
    3. Set up the MX records like described here: http://articles.slicehost.com/2007/10/25/creating-mx-records-for-google-apps

    Apache/PHP

    1. Start here: http://articles.slicehost.com/2008/4/25/ubuntu-hardy-installing-apache-and-php5 (making sure you use your own server name and user names)
    2. Read http://articles.slicehost.com/2008/4/28/ubuntu-hardy-apache-config-layout to understand enabling/disabling sites and modules
    3. Follow these instructions: http://articles.slicehost.com/2008/4/28/ubuntu-hardy-apache-configuration-1, and at least change the Timeout and KeepAliveTimeout to something much lower.
    4. Follow these instructions: http://articles.slicehost.com/2008/4/28/ubuntu-hardy-apache-configuration-2
    5. Read these articles about virtual hosts before setting things up: http://articles.slicehost.com/2008/5/28/how-to-serve-multiple-domains, http://articles.slicehost.com/2007/9/17/introduction-to-virtual-hosts
    6. Read this article to understand how you are going to layout your directory structure for the domains you are going to host: http://articles.slicehost.com/2007/9/13/multiple-hosts-layout
    7. Secure virtual host permissions and create skeleton virtual host directory: http://articles.slicehost.com/2007/9/18/apache-virtual-hosts-permissions
      • For all new domains, just follow the following command:
        • cp –a /home/<user>/public_html/skeleton /home/<user>/public_html/<new domain>
    8. Create your first virtual host: http://articles.slicehost.com/2008/4/29/ubuntu-hardy-apache-virtual-hosts-1 (remember to change domain1.com, domain2.com to your own domains in the examples AND 'demo' to your username) (note: search and replace in nano is “ctrl-\”)
      • Remember that if they navigate to the IP Address, they will most likely get the “It Works!” message for the default Apache site. You can change this.
      • Change DirectoryIndex to “index.php index.html” if you are going to be using WordPress
    9. Change and add settings in your domain virtual hosts file: http://articles.slicehost.com/2008/4/29/ubuntu-hardy-apache-virtual-hosts-2
      • Make sure you set some directory options – one I would for sure do is turn off directory browsing

    MySQL

    1. Follow the instructions here: http://articles.slicehost.com/2007/11/23/ubuntu-gutsy-mysql-and-ror. Only do the MySQL part and make sure you do not put the Ruby option in the install string (unless you want Ruby of course)
    2. Follow post setup instructions here: http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.0/en/default-privileges.html to secure your initial mySQL accounts
    3. After I am done, I like to clear the mySQL console history. Exit mySQL and at the command prompt do 'rm ~/.mysql_history'
    4. Setup DNSUtils (for dig especially): sudo aptitude install dnsutils 

    Set Up Sending Mail From Slice

    1. You need to change “exim” settings on server to send email from Wordpress
    2. For Google Apps, see this thread: http://wiki.debian.org/GmailAndExim4. Follow the instructions all the way down to Run # chown. I didn’t have to do this.
      • Also, accept all defaults for questions after the DNS-queries minimal question. There are more than the thread instructions let on.
    3. See this thread for more general info: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=196112 (don’t need sendmail after all, exim is already installed so try that first, see page 2 of thread for meat)
    4. Now for multiple email addresses (when you have more than one blog, for example, each representing a different domain), you will need to follow some different steps. This might be a good place to start: http://www.debuntu.org/2006/05/17/52-how-to-exim4-virtual-host-on-debian-etch.

    WordPress

    1. Load mod_rewrite for Apache
      • Sudo a2enmod rewrite
      • Sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 reload
    2. Follow instructions here: http://codex.wordpress.org/Installing_WordPress (especially Detailed instructions)
      • DB Name: wordpress (or whatever)
      • DB UserName for wordpress: wordpress (or whatever)
      • Append table names if (1) you want more security (2) going to have more than one Wordpress blog using the same database
    3. Probably don’t want to put on google and technorati until you are done with the blog design
    4. Make sure to change admin password after first log in
    5. Change the “admin” user in MySQL to something else:
      • Mysql> use wordpress;
      • Mysql> UPDATE <wpTableName>users SET user_login=’admin’, user_login=’<new admin name>’;
    6. NOTE: Many instructions say to add things to “.htaccess” or “httpd.conf”. Since you have root access, don’t worry about these files. Make your configuration changes to the vhost file (or maybe, sometimes, the master apache2.conf file).
    7. Add Rewrite Log to vhost file
    8. Turn off directory in “public” browsing in the vhost
      • <Directory /home/<user>/public_html/<domain>/public>
        • Options –Indexes
      • </Directory>
    9. Put wp-config.php database and key info into another file and put that new file in /home/<user> (outside the public_html). Then put an include to hat file in wp-config.php. This is for security (http://danemorgan.com/blog/wordpress/wordpress-security-secure-your-wordpress-wp-config-info )
    10. Log into the Wordpress admin panel (http://<domain>/wp-admin/) and go to Settings/Permalinks. Set the permalinks to something like “Day and name” and click on Save Changes
      • Then, assuming you don’t have an .htaccess file, go to the bottom of the page and copy the code in the text area and paste in your vhost file (within the <Directory></Directory> for the top level directory (usually /home/<user>/public_html/<domain>/public)
    11. Do some security around the wp-content, wp-includes and wp-admin directories.
      • Only allow access to images and javascript to wp-includes and wp-content
        • <Directory /home/<user>/public_html/<domain>/public/wp-includes>
          • Options –Indexes
          • AllowOverride None
          • Order Allow, Deny
          • Deny from all
          • <Files ~ “.(css|jpg|jpeg|png|gif|js)$”>
            • Allow from all
          • </Files>
        • </Directory>
        • ….and do the same for wp-content
      • Either restrict access to wp-admin by adding a password layer or by IP address
      • You might also want to do the same as you did for wp-asmin for wp-login.php at the file level since going to http://<domain>/wp-admin redirects there (see: http://www.reaper-x.com/2007/09/01/hardening-wordpress-with-mod-rewrite-and-htaccess/
        • <Files /home/<user>/public_html/<domain>/public/wp-login.php>
          • …..
        • </Files>
    12. Install login plug-in @ http://www.bad-neighborhood.com/login-lockdown.html. Copy the download link and use ‘wget’ to get it from the command line (instead of FTP)
    13. Activate the akismet plugin in the admin panel.
      • You need a Wordpress.com account so you can get an API key. This key is found in Settings/Your Profile
    14. Install WP-Super-Cache plug-in

    DIDN’T INSTALL

    phpMyAdmin

    This is a MySQL front-end that is more user friendly than the default mySQL client

    1. sudo aptitude install phpMyAdmin
      • IMPORTANT: Make sure you press the space bar when selecting the web server you are using
    2. Go to /etc/apache2/conf.d/ and edit phpmyadmin.conf
      • Change Alias from phpMyAdmin to something more obscure for security purposes
    3. Change the /etc/phpmyadmin/config.inc.php file to support https: http://forums.vpslink.com/security/2282-do-you-use-phpmyadmin-2.html#post11246
    4. Then go to https://domain.com/obscureToPhpMyAdmin

    My Web Host Is ...... Slicehost

    Amazingly, I have finally settled on a web host. For all intents and purposes, this is the first time I have ever personally signed up for a web host. To choose one was a long and arduous task of research, research and more research. I really hit a paralysis analysis wall. Choosing one finally is a relief. I am signing up with a web host because I plan to first host some blogs. Then, down the line, I plan to host some other web sites.

    I knew I was either going to go with Shared Hosting or VPS Hosting -- I don't need dedicated yet. Shared Hosting would have been easiest for me because I could get blogging software up and running very quickly, it would have been cheap, and I wouldn't need to know much Linux (or Windows) if I went that route. VPS Hosting is more expensive and requires command line knowledge of Linux (oooohhhh, command line), but you are guaranteed a set of memory, CPU and resources (albeit not as much as some of the shared hosts *claim* to give you). Plus, you are in control of everything from the OS perspective -- you get root access.

    I decided to go with a VPS solution (to tell you how close this decision was -- this morning when I woke up, I was *sure* I was going with shared hosting). At the very worst, I learn a little bit of Linux and understand how to run my own LAMP server (LAMP = Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). At the very best, I am able to successfully host everything and anything I ever need to host, all under my control. In the end it will cost me $10 a month more than shared hosting would have. But that is OK. I am excited about the process.

    So, the host I decided to go with after much deliberation is Slicehost. I had two VPS providers in mind, and I chose Slicehost because of what I considered its great website, excellent tutorials, community support options (chat being one of them), and the recommendations from many at the Business of Software forum. The last one was the tipping point.

    So I am excited to try this out. I have already signed up for a new account and got the LAMP server up and running. Their tutorials helped out a lot here. It is important to note that this is an unmanaged hosting environment, which means, other than hardware failures, I am responsible for everything. There are no traditional support mechanisms other than the community.

    In case you are interested, I signed up for the smallest package of $20/mo which gives me 256 MB of deddicated RAM, 10 GB disk space and 100 GB bandwidth/mo. You can upgrade/downgrade at anytime and I have 30 days to try this out to get some of my money back (You have to pay for at least 3 months of service initially - this was the only "downside" I saw about this)

    My first major project is to move this particular blog over to the new host. I figure that should inundate me in the whole hosting process, real quick. That will be the topic of a future post.

    I had 5 web hosts in mind; if you are interested in the other 4 that were on my short list, let me know.

    That's all for now.

    State of the Me - Quick Hits

    It has been a while since I have given a progress report of where things stand for me professionally. Back when I worked for Intel, I was mandated to give monthly status report. I am feeling nostalgic today.

    Here is  quick bulleted list.

    • I am still consulting, but, unless I am told otherwise, my current work is ending fairly soon here (maybe in the next couple of weeks).
    • I told you about a month ago that I figured out the product I was going to develop to start my micro-isv. My progress on that front has been limited. However, I am fleshing out a new idea that would make that product a subset of this new, what becomes an overarching, idea. I won't say much now other than say I am looking for a couple of partners and it includes, but goes beyond, software development into the world of internet media and other information dissemination mediums.
    • I am exploring the options for a webhost. I believe I have narrowed my choice down to 1, but I have an outstanding question to their sales department before I can say for sure. The hard part was to choose to go with a Linux based host over Windows because Windows is what I know.
    • When I choose my new webhost, I believe I am going to move this blog from its current home (Wordpress.com) to the new webhost via Wordpress.org. The reason for this is two fold - (1) Consolidation of all blogs and websites at one place (2) A learning experience about Wordpress.org and the migration process. I have never self-hosted a blog before.
    • I have gone totally Mac. Well, that is a little disingenuous, I suppose. I am running Mac OS X Leopard as my primarily operating system and running Windows Vista via VMWare Fusion (primarily because my current consulting gig requires it). This configuration is just awesome!! I love it!!! I am beginning to love Mac OS X as much as Windows. Also, I just bought a 20" Apple Cinema Display on Ebay that I expect to get today or tomorrow.
    I will provide more detailed posts on any of these bullet items as warranted.

    Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

    It has been a while since I have written a post. So as to not disappoint my one reader out there ;-), I am making time to do so today.

    I have been really busy actually - to a point where creating blog entries has fallen below the ZBB line. (Now, I am pretty sure ZBB is a foreign term to many -- it is an acronym used at my old company that stands for Zero Baseline Budget. Actually I don't know what that means, per se, but the gist is if something falls below the ZBB line, it doesn't get done for that quarter).

    So what has kept me so busy. Let me give you an idea of my daily schedule.

    • 6:30 AM Wake-Up
    • 6:30-8:00 A little email, eat breakfast, get the boys ready for daycare
    • 8:00-12:00 After seeing the kids off to daycare, I work. I have the fortunate opportunity of having another consulting effort, this time where I am the lead editor on creating a technical specification.
    • 12:00-12:30 Take a walk around the block
    • 12:30 PM -1:30 Pick up the kids from daycare, put them down for their nap
    • 1:30-2:00 Eat lunch
    • 2:00-6:00 More work after spouse comes home and watches kids
    • 6:00-8:00 COMPUTER OFF LIMITS, spend time with the family
    • 8:00 Put the kids down for bed
    • 8:00-10:00 Eat dinner, down time, relax
    • 10:00 PM Bed time

    So between my consulting job and my family, I am kept super busy. The weekends are generally kept for family time and some outdoor adventures.

    The bigger question for me is how the work I am currently doing affects my overall sole proprietor / Micro-ISV plan. I am using this technical editor opportunity to decide if this is something I would like to do long term. What this has going for it is:

    1. Flexible hours
    2. Good pay
    3. Interesting (at least for now) work
    4. Oh, and did I say good pay (i.e. a real paycheck)

    If I decide I do want to continue down this career path, my plan for starting my Micro-ISV may indeed change. I know I will have some downtime where I will need to be doing something. The well will run dry for short or long periods of time. In fact, I do have an idea that I have been throwing around in my head (I have the domain name reserved and the software idea floating around). But being a "full-time" Micro-ISV has now not a certainty.

    We'll see. Stay tuned. I will keep you updated.

    Until then, best wishes!

    When Is It Inappropriate To Blog?

    I came across an interesting blog post today about Google's Intranet infrastructure. You can read the post for yourself, but let's just say it gives what appears to be inside information about how the Google intranet is structured, some of the interesting internal applications, etc.

    Now, I said I found the post "interesting". The content is interesting on some level, I guess. But what is more interesting to me is whether the post should have been written at all.

    Let me set some context.

    After reading the article, I starting reading some of the comments. Here are three that stood out to me and made me think about writing this post.

    • From Alex: I am a googler and its disgusting to see this. This is privileged company information and its sick that a website is willing to post confidential information like this and more sick is the person who leaked this. This is what Google gets for all the trust it places in its employees. Truly pathetic!
    • From Stephen: Alex, We are investigating this leak. You can be assured the employees responsible for this will be dealt with appropriately.
    • From Tim: What a lame example of "paparazzi journalism" but I suppose it was to be expected. You may think that by finding someone willing to violate the trust and openness that Googlers enjoy that you've captured some of the magic of what goes on at Google, but you've only titillated yourself and are no where close. If you think the write-up was "interesting" and "informative," then you would really enjoy images of my drawers, complete with skidmarks and IP verification.

    Of course, I am not sure whether any of these three are "googlers" (i.e. work at Google) or not. And I will probably never know. But, I got to wondering if these guys had a point.

    Is it inappropriate to blog about a company's internal structure based upon "leaked" information (i.e. information not provided for public consumption)?

    The bloggers were given information from what I assume is an anonymous Google source(s) and posted that information. If you grant me that blogging is a form of journalism, then this has been done by many a journalist. Now, I am not equating the severity of this situation to Deep Throat, nor am I saying they are necessarily apples to apples comparisons. What I am saying is that journalists are given anonymous tips and information all the time, and it is up to the journalist whether to go public with it.

    I am a strong advocate of free speech/first amendment rights and all the good, and bad, that comes with those. So I am not so quick to judge that the bloggers in this case were wrong to publish this post. After reading the post, I did notice that some care was taken intentionally not to reveal certain pieces of information -- notice some of the grayed-out and blacked-out text in some of the images.

    Do I believe the source of this information was in the wrong? I am going to assume that the source of the information was one or more Google employees  (current or former). If my assumption is correct, I have to imagine that a contract was signed by the employees in which it was stated not to reveal company information. So on the surface, maybe it was wrong. However, if all of the information posted on the blog can be found publicly somewhere, and, when you piece all of that public information together, you really don't have any inside information after all, then maybe the source was not so wrong. I did notice links in the post that took you to "official" posts about some of the internal working of Google. And what if, at a public conference, some Google executive mentioned other Google Intranet information? That is what I mean about piecing together.

    The one sticking point that tends for me to believe that you can't piece together the information in the post from other public information are some of the images. Some may have been offered to the public, sure, but I can't imagine the Trax image or even the blacked-out employee information image is supposed to be in the wild. Maybe I a wrong? However, the blog post even has the following sentence: "The photo is used with permission from Zach at HannaCabana.com, though Zach tells me it had been anonymously submitted to him..." When I see the words "anonymously submitted", then that is one tip-off, in my opinion, that something probably isn't meant for the public.

    So when is it inappropriate to blog about a topic? Never? Sometimes? That's a tough question that I am not sure I have the answer to. In this specific case, my gut tells me that an argument can be made that the post is borderline inappropriate; but not wrong. There is a difference. To me, inappropriate implies discretion while wrong implies falsities. I don't see anything here that is necessarily false.

    Would I have made the blog post? Probably not. But, I don't fault the bloggers for the post. And, then again, I am indirectly blogging about it now with this post, aren't I?

    Thoughts? Am I missing something from the post that would make my post here unwarranted?

    P.S. Now, it is very possible that one of the following nicknames for a Google employee might be inappropriate :-) I let you figure out which one it is. Here is the quote from the post:

    • A “Googler,” as you may know, is what Google employees call themselves (they have other nicknames for specific roles; a noogler is a new Google employee, a gaygler is a gay one, a xoogler is an ex-one, and so on).

    Is Changing the Look and Feel of a Blog a Good Idea?

    If you have kept up with my blog with any regularity, you will notice as you read this post that I changed the look and feel of the blog(this assumes you are reading this at http://joelmarcey.com and not from an RSS Reader).

    I use Wordpress.com to host my blog. You are given the choice of 60 or so presentation options. I have been using the default presentation ever since this blog's inception.

    This is Wordpress' default presentation, and the one I was using until today:

    Capture

    You can pay $15/year to customize the presentation, but I am not a big CSS guy and have decided to go with what is offered to me by Wordpress.

    Anyway, given that I am relatively new to the blogging world, I got to wondering whether it was a good or bad idea to change the presentation (look and feel) of your blog? Will you lose readers because they don't like change? Or may you gain readers because your blog looks better? Or does it not matter a single bit?

    My theory is that it doesn't matter what your blog looks like if you have interesting content that people want to read (well, I guess I can concoct some images in my head that would make people shy away -- plaid background with yellow polka dots come to mind).

    Any expert bloggers out there have an opinion on this?

    Feeling Small in the Blogosphere

    Ok, maybe being happy with my 1000th visitor was not such a big deal after all. I was reading Robert Scoble's blog today and he, coincidentally, advertised his current statistics. When your (0,0) coordinate on your stats graph is 6000, you are probably getting a bit of readership. Can you guess which graph is mine and which graph is Robert's? Hey, I must be doing something right as he does use WordPress too :-) 

    rs.jpgjm.jpg

     

    I Hit the 1000 Blog Visit Milestone!!

    OK, it is not a defined milestone. I am sure that is not such a wonderful feat, and my hope is that 1/2 of those aren't my own visits ;-) , but according to my WordPress statistics, I have had 1002 visits to my blog. I am hoping the next 1000 comes much quicker. My blogging is going to change gears a bit from my previous topics about leaving my former company to now starting my own business. After a lot of thinking, and a couple of possible opportunity requests, I have made the decision to go it alone (for now) and try to become a Micro-ISV. I will continue to contract as good opportunities arise (I am currently doing one now), preferably part-time, but my main focus over the next 6 months is going to be getting my Micro-ISV started.

    My next post(s), which I expect to today, will be about the methodology I am following to start the business.