Setting up WordPress

This all started when my wife suggest I use some of my extra time to start blogging and maybe, just maybe, both be useful to the world and make a little cash.

So, step one was to Google “How to make money blogging” just to see what the world had to say.  No surprise, found lots of hits from people trying to make money telling you how to make money (similar to life in the real estate world, but that is another post someday).  Many had deals (e.g. special discount offer codes) with web hosting sites.  I scanned these for awhile and found one suggesting their web host, and to use the tool called WordPress.

Our servers are based on the Gentoo distribution, so a quick “emerge -s wordpress” revealed support for the tool, although it was masked.  I unmasked it and merged it in.  Took maybe an hour to do the reading, setup the database (found great instructions AFTER I remembered how), and have a webpage to start playing with off our main domain.

WordPress uses “themes” – these are free plugins that pretty much define the personality from a look perspective of your website.  The default theme was Twenty Eleven (2011).  Pretty, but not exactly what I was looking for.  Played around downloading themes and various plugins for a few hours.  WordPress makes that super easy, its all done from the Admin account.  Finally found tpSunrise which I liked.  Note – changing themes is easy, setting one up takes a lot longer!

A few hours into the effort and we realized it was doable.  The next question was where to go from here.  We could either support it ourselves, or get a web hosting account and let them support it.  Using a web host meant we would need to register a domain name.  I thought about “kevinsworld” but somebody had already parked that one.  “kevinsthoughts” on the other had was free.   I host several domains, so it was no big deal to pop over to www.godaddy.com and register one more.  Another hour or so later and I was receiving mail to kevinsthoughts.com on my host, and the website was responding. So now we are supporting it ourselves.  No additional monthly fees and total control (and responsibility) for our system.  Think its time to start making backups to an external USB disk we can grab and run with if needed.  Yet another project.

Being masked under Gentoo with no unmasked version, I realized support was going to be minimal.  I also didn’t want the blog showing up as a sub-directory of our primary domain, so I copied the files from /var/www/localhost/htdocs/wordpress over to its own directory, went into the admin interface and pointed to the new home, and it worked!  Well, almost… there were two places where the new domain name needed to be entered.  Strange how close “kevinsthoughts” and “kevinsthougths” look to someone slightly dyslexic.  Some stuff worked, others didn’t (lots of page not found not surprisingly).  Spotted the error on my 5th review and voila!  things were up.  This approach of cloning the Gentoo install turns out to have another advantage.  WordPress has its own update manage, and presuming its as trivial to use adding themes and plugins, it will be a breeze to keep it up to date (caveats later).  I’ll just use WordPress for updates now and not worry about a host OS upgrade changing or back-leveling me.

About plugins:  these chunks of code often define a widget – a small tool you can add to your blog theme.  Widgets are those things you see to your right on the website:  the Calendar, the Meta data, the support buttons.  Plugins create widgets, but not all plugins have them.  Others do things like provide the [translate] feature (love that one!), the Google Plus 1 buttons, the Share/Save button, the hit counters, you get the idea.  Some don’t even show on the webpage, they just provide useful administration features like tracking hits.

Alas (and here is the caveat I promised), everything seems related to everything else.   Apparently I needed to add “Curl” support to my PHP environment in order to support the Google Verification plugin.  No biggie, added “curl” to my USE= setting, and recompiled PHP.  Trivial, and Google Verification was happy.  However, noticed this morning (or should I say later this morning…), that the WebMoney plugin was now complaining and displaying ugly errors on our home page.  Turned if off for now.  Maybe just need to update Apache?  Not sure…  Still, its clear that this is good stuff, but not 100% bullet proof – upgrading one piece apparently may break others.

That pretty much brings us to where we are now, less than 24 hours since I started probing into what it would take to do this.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

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