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.