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A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

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Lockhart Steele:

Saturday afternoon, I wrote a blog post! For anyone who’s checked this space in the past six months, you know that’s a surprising development. But Saturday marked the final day that Curbed would be published on Movable Type, the blog software that Eliot set up for me way back in 2004.

The new Curbed looks rather awesome – I’ve always hoped they’d bring it to the UK eventually – but I can’t help marking the passing of another Movable Type site. That venerable blog platform was the first home of so many great sites, and even though I abandoned it myself, seeing others do so fills me with a certain melancholy.

Introducing the New CurbedIntroducing the new Curbed, a letter from Editor-in-Chief Kelsey Keith: http://www.curbed.com/2016/2/22/11079204/introduction-new-curbedPosted by Curbed on Monday, 22 February 2016

Onwards, though. It’ll be interesting watching how Vox Media continues to develop this site.

If you’re reading this, I’ve pulled off a technical challenge I’ve been putting off for years – literally years – now. This blog is now running on WordPress, rather than Movable Type.

It’s not been an easy move – and I’ll outline the process in another post – but it’s now complete, and this site is living on a new host, running new software in the background. And I’m excited to get blogging with the new setup.

Here’s why I moved.

Movable Type: big in Japan

Movable Type, contrary to popular belief, is not dead. It’s alive, well and still being developed by Six Apart – which is now a Japanese company. However, in the English-language world it’s largely being targeted at the corporate and professional market, with a price tag to match:

Movable Type price

So, I’m not moving because it’s dead. But I am partially moving because I don’t want to pay more than £300 every couple of years for a new version of the software. The advantages MT offers don’t outweigh the price difference between free and £300.

The need to experiment

I’m also moving because my web host was getting more and more grumpy about me running it on their servers, and I came to the conclusion that if I was going to go to the bother of shifting hosts, I might as well shift platforms as well. Because, as alive as MT might be, it’s not well-supported. Try finding themes for it. Or new plugins. Or even other web services that support talking to its API. They’re becoming vanishingly rare.

Increasingly, being tied to MT was stopping me experimenting with new tools, and I don’t like that feeling. Part of the joy of blogging for me has always been in the experimental aspects of it – playing with new pieces of software, and figuring out how they might help me publish better. To keep that feeling, I needed to move on from the comfy familiarity of a blog platform I’d been using for over a decade.

Five years ago, much of my working life centered around MT. No more. I have no clients using it, and a whole bunch of them working on WordPress. I really need to understand it much more deeply than I do – which is why my most-used blog needs to be on it. If nothing else, that will force me to explore its quirks and advantages.

And I’m just one of many sites making the move.

My Ghost-ly future

That, incidentally, is why I’m on WordPress rather than the platform I suspect I’ll move to next – Ghost. Ghost is still very young, and needs some more development before I can switch. But I value this time getting to know WordPress, too.

So, there we are. New One Man & His Blog, living in WordPress and hosted on WPEngine.

What do you think?

Movable Typ 6

Jason Snell:

So does it matter that I use Movable Type on this site? Probably not, since the entire point of the site is the content on the pages, not how it was made. It strikes me, though, that the analogy of software being like pop music is even more apt than I thought. In the App Store, we see apps that become hits and climb the charts. Is this because it’s a natural way to think of software, or because the iTunes infrastructure was built for music sales and then adapted to cover software too?

I was flabbergasted to learn via an excellent recent episode of The Talk Show that Jason Snell, late of Macworld, had launched his indie site Six Colors on Movable Type, the all-but-forgotten blog platform that runs this site. But he makes some excellent points, not least that:

  1. It still works great
  2. If you know how to use it, why shift?
  3. It has a database format that makes it relatively easy to get content out, if you ever do need to move.

Old software has its place, within limits. I can’t help loving this analogy, though:

Not only is Movable Type uncool (the equivalent of ’80s hair metal), but the language it’s written in, Perl, is supremely uncool. Like, New Kids on the Block uncool.

Well, that explains it. It matches my taste in music perfectly…

servererror.png

I started this daft writing project with ideas of fighting complacency. It’s too easy to slip into habits in your blogging, to just keep doing what you did before, without any serious attempt to keep pushing yourself forwards. And, in a sense, I’ve been scuppered for two days by taking exactly that approach to my technology.

I’ve been using Movable Type to blog here for over a decade now, and I’ve been on a single webhost for the majority of that time – since 2007, in fact. Now, I’m seriously reconsidering that decision. The past 48 hours have not covered my webhost in glory. They killed my blog software – and then my whole account – with no clear explanation. It took them 24 hours to resolve a photo uploading problem once the site was restored – and they broke the site several times in the meantime.

And, to cap it all, they gave me utterly wrong information at one point – telling me that I was using very old software (which is true, if your definition of “very old” is two months), which is unmaintained (not true) and therefore my site was “probably hacked”. Well, suspending my account because it was “probably hacked’ is one thing, although the “probably” is a bit worrying; surely you should check before pulling down sites? Doing it without notification is another.

Migration Labour

So, now I find myself wondering if I should migrate this blog to another of my hosting accounts – and that’s another level of work that’ll consume time I can ill-afford right now.

But then, I’ve also been reminded today how much technology does move on when you’re not paying attention. It’s been over a decade since I bought a printer. That one was on its last legs back in 2008, so I switched it for my late mother’s printer when she passed away. That printer has been faithfully serving us every since, but I finally made the decision to do away with it earlier in the year, as the ink prices for it were getting out of hand. When the current cartridges died – it was being replaced. And that happened earlier in the week. This morning, a Canon Pixma 6450 arrived – and it has been a revelation.

Two become one (tech edition)

canon-printer.jpg

First of all, it’s replacing two devices. Both my old printer and scanner are exiting, with one device taking their place. Welcome back, desk space.

Also, it connects to my wireless network – and, joy of joys, it supports AirPrint, which means I can print from my iPad and iPhone. It was quite something to tap the sharing button I’ve never used on my iPhone – the one marked “print” – and see a page pop out of the printer a few seconds later. What was more impressive was loading up some 6×4 photo paper and seeing a perfect little print popping out.

And then I realised how much time I wasted getting prints from Boots and those little printing kiosks when sending letters of thanks to people who bought Hazel clothes. This printer is capable of producing just as good results, faster, and without leaving home. The price is not much different. Sticking with that old printer was a false economy, in terms of the time/money trade off. I should have done this a while ago.

Time poor, cash… OK

Mentally, I’ve never quote made the journey from “time rich, cash poor” to “time starved, cash comfortable”. I still make decisions based on saving money not time – but since Hazel came along, time has been at an absolute premium, and I’m not yet making sensible decisions about how to deploy my money to ease that time pressure a little.

Am I paying too little for my web hosting – and suffering huge losses of time as a result? Would some sensible investment in hosting and a managed move to WordPress pay off in the long run? Where else in my life is corner-cutting costing me precious time? These are questions I need to be asking with more rigour – and focus.

Movable Type 6 logo

I’ve just done what I suspect will be the last major upgrade to the Movable Type system I use to run this blog. While MT itself seems to march along merrily, it’s clearly targeting large commercial users (I paid for the software upgrade that I’ve just installed), and I’m ready to jump ship to something else.

That said, having taken a long look at migrating to WordPress, I’ve decided to hold fire for a little while, to see how Ghost comes along – its 1.0 release is a way away yet. If I end up going to that system, then I’d rather only do one migration, and its focus on Markdown looks handy, given that I mostly blog using that at the moment.

Movable Type 6 (which is what I’ve just installed) is the fifth version of MT I’ve used, since I switched from Blogger a very long time ago…

I seem to have spent much of the last three years on the verge of migrating this blog off Movable Type to another blog platform. Just as I’m about to do it, the new, Japanese incarnation of Six Apart pulls something out of the hat to make the gain of moving less than the pain of the process.

The latest version of Movable Type has done it again, adding a new, usable version of the interface for smartphones and tablets, and a second responsive design theme. The first I’m using right now to quickly post from my phone. The other I’ll implement sometime over the summer.

How long will this keep me happy?

All change! This blog has a brand new look, and for those of you in RSS readers, here’s a screengrab of it, with the explanation and thinking behind it afterwards: 

The new-look One Man & His Blog

Today is nominally my first day back off paternity leave – as far as the self-employed can ever have paternity leave. How do I decide to celebrate? By completely revamping the look and feel of this blog. Back in the early days of One Man & His Blog, its theme changed every few months. But some time around 2006, it ossified into the design it’s had ever since. I’ve been dissatisfied with it for at least a year, and the time has finally come to bring it into a more modern form.
I wanted to achieve a number of things:
  • Radically simplify the design – all that multi-sidebar stuff is so mid-2000s. 
  • Clear away a lot of the links to pages that are rarely visited – category archives, for example. 
  • Experiment with better web typography through Typekit
  • Give images – always a bit part of this blog – more room to breathe on the page
  • Give a much clearer focus on the content – and give comments more prominence
  • Create something that would work particularly well on mobiles and tablets. 
Some things haven’t changed:
  • Taupy the reptile is still the blog’s mascot, but in much reduced form. It’s a touch of continuity with the old design.
  • It’s still Movable Type under here. Maybe one day I’ll make the move to WordPress, but it doesn’t feel necessary right now. 
  • It’s still being heavily cached and minified and CDNed through CloudFlare. The page load times were pretty good under the old design – hopefully I’ve driven them even lower with the new look.
This design isn’t complete – I’m trying to get myself back into the mindset of the blog being in perpetual beta, so expect to see tweaks, changes and alterations for the foreseeable future. For now though – what do you think? 
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Saying goodbye to LewishamIt has been a week of changes, which is one of the reasons for my silence on the blog. The big change came on Monday, when we finally completed the sale of the flat I’ve lived in for the last decade and a half. For a short while, I am no longer a property owner. Instead, I’m a happily renting with my wife in a town on the south coast, and positively relishing not having a home in London for the first time since, as far as I can recall, 1990. After two decades I am officially no longer a Londoner. And yet, I’m not tired of life. 😉

And that means some changes for this blog. During 2004 and 2005, this blog was often focused on Lewisham and its surrounds. That phase has long passed, and apart from some recent quick flings with my past, it’s not coming back. This blog is now firmly around the intersection of journalism, social media and technology, and I have other places for other subjects. Most particularly:
And there’s assorted other stuff, too, but those are the blogs that have inherited what were once parts of this blog’s remit. So feed free to dump this feed if you don’t care about journalism/social media/technology and pick up one of the others instead…
And, as the week was already one of adapting to change, I made the decision to change the software running this blog. The last time I mentioned this, I was choosing between Movable Type 5, Melody and WordPress. I dismissed WordPress first. Although I create the majority of new blogs I set up on the platform, the effort of migrating the 3000+ entries on this blog, plus all the assets, and then getting the URLs all lined up just didn’t seem worth the benefits I’d get. Melody fell next – I like and respect what the team behind it are doing, but they haven’t yet persuaded me that they’re in it for the long-haul. Perhaps if version 1.1 was out by now, I might have chosen differently. But it isn’t, and I didn’t. 
One Man & His Blog on Movable Type 5
And so, this blog continues its eight year history on Movable Type, finally hitting version 5 with this software upgrade. (5.12 for the pedants). 
A new start this week, on lots of levels. And lots of stuff to talk about. Onwards, to the future… 😉
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