The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Moving

I got my own blog on a Saturday afternoon.  R decided to gift me my own blog, so we signed up with BlueHost and it went like a breeze. They even called me a few minutes later to confirm my website url, which I thought was rather nice..

Next, I had to migrate my old WordPress.com blog to WordPress.org.  So I happily went to WordPress to read the instructions.

First, I had to install WordPress.  I read about the famous five minute installation and thought, gee, this can’t be hard.. then I read some more.  It seemed easy going until I started seeing words like phpMyadmin and MySQL.  My eyes started to glaze over and I started to panic.

I would say WordPress is doing the instructions all wrong. There are only two things it should have said about the install process –

First, in big, bold letters, it should say “DON’T PANIC“, like in the cover of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Second, WordPress should tell you that if you are a non-geek blogger, and do not have any masochistic tendencies, you should just sign up with a half-decent hosting service and use their software. It should also list some of the typical software used.

For the rest of you, WordPress should say, if you are into this sort of thing and have a lot of time on your hands, you can read on about myPhPadmins and SQLs and other code words in some arcane language.

Not only did WordPress not do this, but BlueHost, which had a page full of icons, each pointing to some feature, had no obvious link telling me which feature to use.  Their startup tour only involved trying to get me to sign up to all kinds of email..which was clearly not very high on my list of priorities right then.

Then I remembered Patrix had mentioned sometime back about some software which automates the installation process.  I went back to read it (I had, with some foresight, filed the link away) and found it was Fantastico.

It lived up to its name.  All I had to do was click on the “Fantastico Deluxe” icon on my Bluehost control panel, and then proceed to click on “Start” and “Finish”.  That was it.  I would now see all my posts on the new blog, Fantastico told me.

I checked, and there was no blog.  So I did what I was getting very good at by now –  I panicked.  In a few moments, after a few frenzied refreshes, my blog was online.

But my old theme was gone! WordPress.org had switched to the default Kubrick theme, and all my widgets were gone.

So to get back to my old MistyLook theme, I had to install it as a new theme, and then copy my widgets (some of them custom) to my new blog. That only took a few minutes, and wasn’t too bad at all.

But I had issues with my theme – I found that many features that my old theme had on WordPress.com (like Category Clouds) did not appear now. Plus, Identicons did not appear in the “Recent Comments”, my own logo was missing, and so on. When I did manage to find a plugin that added identicons, I found that it was actually adding them too liberally  – two for each comment 😦

I wondered whether I could resolve all this by changing the theme, and started searching for other themes.  I had bookmarked a lot of themes I had liked earlier.  But when I looked at them now, I realized that none of them would suit.  Then I started trawling through more websites to find themes.

I discovered what I shall call Lekhni”s Two Rules of Themes:

(i) How a Theme looks on the website has no relation to how it looks on a Demo;

(ii) How a Theme looks on a Demo has no relation to how it looks with all your widgets after you have installed it on your blog.

So after a really long and fruitless search that spanned many hours, I was back to trying to fix the old theme. I was now adding and removing themes and plugins in my sleep – because even after I gave up (around midnight) and went to sleep, I continued to add plugins in my sleep.

My dreams were filled with plugins that kept sending me mysterious error messages and wouldn’t talk to each other, and themes that all looked like the “Blue Screen of Death”.

In the morning, I decided to roll out with the new blog, warts and all. By now, I was feeling confident enough to add little tweaks like adding favicons (that little logo you see near my url on the address bar) and things like that. I was, in short, feeling rather proud of myself.

I still haven’t ironed out all the comment glitches (and yes, I’d love any advice on that) but hey, I thought to myself, this wasn’t all that bad..

Then I looked at my dashboard.  There was a message there from WordPress, telling me there was a new version available, and I would have to immediately update to version 2.5.1.  I now have version 2.5.  I found dire warnings about bugs in the old version which pose security threats and so on..a lot like the things that Microsoft says when it sends out Windows updates.

But I am not sure what will happen when I update WordPress – will it go back to Kubrick? What if I don’t update – will hackers take over my blog and start blogging? Not that I would really mind that..

But WordPress doesn’t say what happens if I don’t update – it only warns me darkly of the consequences. Unspecified threats are, of course, the scariest.

So, ladies and gentlemen, if you allow me, I will now panic.

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22 thoughts on “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Moving

  1. congrats on a new domain, I know how it feels….

    I think you might need to fix the feedburner icon on the sidebar so that it points to your feed, But then you already have it on the top…

  2. maxdavinci; Thanks for the tip off It’s fixed now, and yes, I don’t really need it as long as I am use my current theme…

    Btw, I am not sure why I cannot see your logo. I am guessing it’s not a gravatar?

  3. Fret not. FSM had made plugins for all WordPress needs. All you need is the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin. Installation and the process is quite intuitive and easy. And you are right about demo theme and the final outcome but then customizing a theme is more fun. When you get more comfortable, ditch widgets and tweak the PHP code. WordPress Codex has tons of tips and help for all conceivable customizations.

    Always take manual backups through myPHPadmin every week. Otherwise there are plugins for everything else. You may want to populate your blog with all sorts of plugins and it is expected but eventually you’ll have to keep what you need. More plugins, slower the load time for your blog.

  4. hahah…hope by now you have panicked enough to come back here!…thats a cool account, very helpful when we need…do you think I can use the same hosting ?

  5. ” How a Theme looks on the website has no relation to how it looks on a Demo; ”

    It never can, since all this is being done in HTML(Hanging Tedha Medha Letters) 😛 . Add to it each browsers own interpretation of how the world should look !

    Anyway congrats , you deserve your own domain.

  6. Patrix: Thanks! The Auto upgrade plugin should be a great help!
    Weekly backups through MyPhPAdmin? Looks like I can run but not hide from these MyPhPs 😦

    Kamini: Thanks! I agree on moving being painful, and I’m glad at least this move does not entail any packing and unpacking of cartons!

    Srivalli: So far, my experience with BlueHost has been good (though I did get a 2-hour window when they had server overload and someone let me know that my blog was slow to load)…

    Vishal: Oh yes, I forgot to mention the browser variable! Given that my knowledge of HTML is practically non-existent, I can see a steep learning curve ahead 🙂
    To show your support, you can donate in cash (always welcome) or in kind (hypertension pills) 🙂

  7. Pingback: Panicky Hitch-hiker on the Information Highway | DesiPundit

  8. You can use one of those auto-backups plugins but I’ve heard horror stories of people losing two years worth of posts coz they thought their content was being backed up. Weekly is just a suggestion; if you aren’t a regular blogger and willing to lose some posts then, monthly backups will do too. After doing it a couple of times on myPHP, you do it with your eyes closed although I suggest you don’t 🙂

  9. Patrix: Oh yes, now that you mention it, I remember reading that particular horror story somewhere too – was it Manish Vij? Put that way, I have no choice but to do weekly backups now 🙂
    The eyes-closing is the difficult part – I am too scared to press any key without reading what I am agreeing to, but reading the stuff sometimes makes me even more scared 😉 Do they hire lapsed horror story writers to design these software, I wonder ?

  10. Completely empathise with you. Have just shifted all my posts related to law to a new place and even though a friend I’m setting the site up with is taking care of all the techie stuff, there are times when I’ve wanted to scream.

  11. Quick Question:
    How did you manage to retain the subscribers to your previous blog ?
    (I haven’t followed your blog before this) Suppose it was on blogspot – the feed link would have been different.
    How do you handle that transition ?

  12. For non-geeks with a wordpress.com I urge to use Custum Domain solutions from WordPress (from your wp-admin page click on upgrades and domains)… of course custom widgets and stuff gets difficult then, but wordpress changes urls and stuff much more painlessly 🙂 And no moving back to default kubrick theme

  13. nandita: I know, surely there must be a more painless way to do it? I wish the hosting providers would also take care of installing themes and plugins that you specify 🙂

    Arvind Iyer Actually, it’s easier for you if you are on blogger – since blogger lets you redirect your Blogspot feeds to your new account with one click – so subscribers to the old feed will automatically get the new feed.

    Gautam: Yeah, I briefly considered that option..maybe I should have tried that..though in the end the shifting to wordpress.org itself wasn’t so painful, it’s the tweaking that is..:(

  14. Pingback: move from wordpress.com | amreekandesi.com

  15. I like the way you have written your experience, tinged with humor. But yet it scares me to have my own-hosted blog. I find little time to write, to think of having web site nightmares is fearsome (is there a word like that? ) 🙂

  16. Poonam: There is certainly a word called fearsome, though I hope your moving experience doesn’t have to be like that. If it helps, I don’t spend any time on website maintenance these days. It’s only the first few days that you spend downloading plugins and so on. Once I decided I was happy with my theme, I quit tweaking.
    If you want to, you can run both blogs in parallel for a few days before announcing to the world.

  17. Lekhni: Following my question the other day, it is fortuitous to find this post through your response to Poonam. I will read this first before bugging you.

    I am thinking of hosting my own professional website and my 2 professional blogs (1 yet in planning stages) so a lot of stuff has to be taken into account. A friend, who hates providing telesupport, is taking pity on me now and may help me but I am yet to find a designer who is affordable enough. Oh decisions!

  18. Pingback: Welcome to KiranDhanwada.com | Kiran Dhanwada

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