Software

Drupal to WordPress? Use a Service!

Drupal to WordPress? Use a Service!

I had no idea it would be so painful to convert my site from Drupal (6.x) to WordPress (3.x). A web search returns many solutions to the problem. The post I finally used was this one from Scott Anderson. It worked ok but it did not bring over any of my attached images and I had to assign categories and add some menu and page items.

I was grateful for what it did do (including dates, posts, and tags) and luckily I haven’t written many posts so it was not too bad. But if you had 100’s of posts I think I would choose a service like: gConverter – for $75 it is hard to beat.

WordPress for Blogs

WordPress for Blogs

So even though I rarely post on this blog, which I’m hoping to change, I have decided to switch to WordPress. Drupal is still an impressive CMS but if all you want is a blog, I believe WordPress wins hands down.

  • It is more robust. Frequently when I update Drupal things break. This very rarely happens with WordPress.
  • Writing posts with one or many images is much easier.
  • Many more plugins to choose from. In Drupal when you are looking for a feature there might only be one option, that is in beta. In wordpress there could be 10 or 50 and most of them work fine.
  • Configuration is easier.
  • Upgrading is easier.
  • Security is easier, if you don’t have many roles to deal with.
  • WordPress appears to be faster and requires much less DB resources.
  • WordPress has better Mobile options (one of the reasons I decided to switch).

This is not to say that Drupal is not useful. It surely is. But unless you are in need some of their more complex features, e.g.: Views, CCK, Panels, Workflow, Permissions, Forms, etc, it is not worth the pain. There are certainly areas where Drupal shines, but for this blog I’m pleased tha I’m using WordPress now.

Who knows, maybe in three more years I’ll move back!

Ubuntu

Ubuntu

With so many Linux distributions out there it gets tricky to know which is the best one to use. Of course “the best” depends on what you are looking for, but in our case ten years ago we were looking for a stable server platform which really didn’t change much, so we chose Red Hat Enterprise. However about four years ago when Red Hat was becoming expensive to maintain and painful to update we moved to CentOS.

It seemed perfect at the time. However, these days I am working on a few more technologies that have changed frequently in the last 3 years (including Django and Python) so having a system that appears to be almost always 2-3 years out of date was painful. You’d find yourself constantly hunting down packages that you have to build yourself or from repositories that are questionable. Which of course starts to defeat the point of having a stable distribution.

I recently switched to Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, and I now can pretty much get all that I need from the main distribution. The “LTS” in the name is important and it stands for “Long Term Support”, and versions are supported for a full three years after they come out. The tools are a bit different, but it is really refreshing to be able to use the system without constantly having to go off to the internet to find some recent patch.

Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt

Fifteen years ago I built my first web development platform or framework called SAGE that was used by garden.com to go public. Nine years ago I built a new platform called The Universal Web Engine (UWE) that we have used at Digital Cheetah since its inception. About three years ago I mapped out a new system that was going to replace the UWE. I actually began to implement it in 2008, but was forced to shelve it’s development due to the economy. This month I began looking at starting this new platform in earnest.

My plan was to use Python as the primary development language and I was going to take all of the ideas from the last fifteen years and develop the “perfect” system for the creation of 1000’s of custom websites. Luckily before I had really started I rediscovered Django.

Django, named after the legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt, appears to be the perfect place to start to develop a new framework. It doesn’t do everything the way I had planned, but it does so much more and is flexible enough to allow me to augment it with at least a few of my own ideas.

To the many happy developers and designers already using Django this is probably no big surprise. But for someone who has been used to developing his own frameworks from scratch this is a huge departure. I for one am really excited that I can start building at a much higher level.

I believe using Cloud Computing and Django I will truly be able to deliver a platform that will allow Digital Cheetah to continue to provide world class custom solutions for the next ten years and beyond. And just maybe we’ll be able to build a new website for ourselves too, instead of the eight year old one we currently have!

Unix License Plates thanks to David Brooks

Unix License Plates thanks to David Brooks

It should be obvious based on my worship of Bill Joy, but with a number of postings on Windows I wanted to make it clear:

When it comes to web servers and production environments I always use *nix and would never consider using Windows to run my enterprise.

I’m very happy with Windows 7 as my desktop I just wouldn’t want to build my server rack using anything but some form of Unix. These days I favor the CentOS distribution. For years I was a BSD guy of course, then an AIX guy, then a Solaris guy, and these days I’m happy with CentOS Linux.

Photo Credit goes to David Brooks, read his blog here.

Dell Precision T3500 Computer Workstation

Dell Precision T3500 Computer Workstation

I recently upgraded my development PC to a Dell Quad Core T3500 and in the process went from Windows XP to Windows 7. Upgrading is always a painful experience because I have installed so much software over the years, and getting it all to work on a new platform can take months. I took the opportunity to upgrade most of the core tools that I use and thought it would be revealing to list them here:

Many more random packages to add, but these at least allow me to work. So far I have been very happy with my upgrade. What I find interesting is that every 3 years I buy a new machine and it always seems to cost around three grand. Why is that?

iTunes

iTunes

If you have ever tried to move iTunes from one computer to another and at the same time change the drive or location where your store your music files – good luck! It is amazing to think that for such a sophisticated company as Apple there is no easy way to do this. Things get worse if you don’t let apple automatically rename files for you. There are a number of systems that are designed to restore from your iPod (e.g. MediaWidget and CopyTrans) however these also rename your files.

I have only used iTunes for a couple of years and before that had many years of using other systems where I chose a different file naming strategy to one provided by iTunes. The last thing I want to do when I recently upgraded my PC was to change all of the names.

After a lot of trial and error and with some less than fruitful web searches I came up with this approach that worked perfectly for me. It is from a PC running XP to a PC running Windows 7. It assumes that you have shared both the music and iTunes folders from your old PC to your new PC and have turned off iTunes on both PC’s.

  • Copy your music folder from your old PC to your new PC. For me this was from:
    \\oldmachine\c\My Music to F:\My Music.
  • Copy your old itunes directory from your old PC to your new PC. For me this was from:
    \\oldmachine\c\My Music\iTunes to C:\Users\andy\Music\iTunes.
  • Empty the iTunes Library.itl by typing:
    copy /Y nul “iTunes Library.itl”
  • Edit the “iTunes Music Library.xml” file by globally replacing the old location with the new location.
  • Turn on iTunes on the new PC. It will complain about the .itl file being corrupted and rebuild from the .xml.

At the end of this process you should be back in business and your playlists, ratings, play counts, etc. should all be restored.

Eudora

Eudora

Today I switched from using Eudora, which has been my trusty email client for over twelve years, to the industry leader Microsoft Outlook. Since Qualcomm officially stopped developing Eudora in 2006 it has slowly fallen behind with current email and web standards.

The end of my Eudora years? I never thought I’d see it happen, but I guess all good things must come to an end. I felt some sadness as I imported over 111,000 emails all the way back to 1997 into Outlook. So the first thing I did was change the email notification sound to the familiar Eudora one, as a reminder of simpler times.

I’ll miss those Chilli peppers!