Let's bring this blog back!

This blog goes nowhere. It’ still here, still up and running, but I realized that there is no single post in the last… (almost) two months. Not to make any excuses, but I think I was busy. I’m still updating my other blog, though.
Few days ago, when I was working on some WordPress-powered blogs, I found that there are some changes. I upgraded some blogs — including some installed plugins, and I also found problems. But, the problems had been solved anyway. I logged in to my dashboard, and run some upgrade processes. One of the problems I found was a WordPress plugin called “Jetpack”. Anyway, if you haven’t heard about Jetpack, here is a little bit detail:

Jetpack is a plugin that connects to WordPress.com and enables awesome features, powered by our cloud infrastructure.

There are already some features included, but I think I only use of: WordPress.com Stats. Previously, I have WordPress.com Stats plugin installed, after having my blog upgraded to Version 3.1, the statistic plugin stopped working and left this message: “Your WordPress.com account is not authorized to view the stats of this blog”. After searching some answers, most of the solutions mentioned about having Jetpack replaced WordPress.com Stats.
But, when I tried to activate Jetpack — by authenticating to  WordPress.com account — it didn’t run smoothly. I got this error:

Your Jetpack has a glitch. Something went wrong that’s never supposed to happen. Guess you’re just lucky: xml_rpc-32601Try connecting again.

I tried again and again. I searched for a solution and the problem was because I have a cache plugin installed. By the way, I use W3 Total Cache. So, I disabled the cache settings, sent an authentication request, and voila! Problem solved. If you find problem just like what I had, now you know the solution.
I also made some theme modification here. I removed some features I considered as “not-too-important”. More importantly, it’s a matter of having some articles posted here. Shoot!

After using DISQUS for a month

A month ago, I migrated this blog commenting system to DISQUS and I notice that I got zero spam. Great! Previously, I used Akismet and it also worked great. Akismet can identify comment spams but the they still entered the system database.
I know, this blog doesn’t have a huge amount of traffic. But for a low traffic website, Akismet detected hundreds (and sometime thousands) of comment spams — according to the Akismet statistics in my blog. Not good. Thinking of using DISQUS for my other blogs I maintain.

Now, this blog is using DISQUS

I decided to switch the commenting system for this blog, from WordPress’ built-in commenting system feature to DISQUS. I was not sure which hosted service I wanted to use — DISQUS and Intense Debate came into consideration. Here are some reasons why I use external commenting system service right now:

  • DISQUS provides integration with other services like Twitter, Facebook and also OpenID. This features can be activated on WordPress-powered blogs using plugins. But, if DISQUS already has this feature, why not?
  • DISQUS also offers spam filter mechanism. I’m tired of spam. Akismet and TypePad Antispam plugin did a great job. Right now, I rely on DISQUS spam filter. And I have Akismet activated also.
  • I’m happy with how DISQUS display blog comments. Options can be managed directly from the dashboard.

The migration process was easy. It took less than 30 minutes to import all my comments (there were around 3,100 comments), and I got zero problem. It just worked.

How to Merge Two Blogs Using WordPress 3.0 Multi-Site Feature

Now, WordPress installation in this domain (orangescale.com) powers my other blog — in Bahasa Indonesia, using WordPress 3.0 Multi-Site feature. I decided to use this method so that I don’t have to manage two separated WordPress installation. In short: orangescale.com and thomas.or.id are now using a single WordPress installation, using orangescale.com as the primary blog.
This method works on my blog, but I don’t guarantee that you will have the exact process depending your own installation:

  • First, enable WordPress 3.0 Multi-Site feature
  • You should have access to modify domain DNS record. If your webhosting provider provide “Add-on domain” feature, it should work.
  • Create a new site under First Blog, you can use any address first.
  • Export contents from blog you want to move using WordPress export feature.
  • Import the export file you have to Second Blog.
  • Copy all media files from Second Blog to firstblog.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/files/X/ (Note: “X” is the Site ID).
  • Check all settings, escpecially the image locations in your posts. Later, the uploaded media files will use this path: seconddomain.com/files/path/to/image.jpg (the path might be different). If you have broken image path, check the settings and paths again.
  • Install WordPress MU Domain Mapping plugin. Follow the instruction. It’s easy.
  • Modify Second Blog DNS settings. Basically, you need to create an A record. Point your Second Blog domain to an IP address used by First Blog.
  • Check all plugins, blog settings, and permalink.
  • Enjoy!

I don’t know whether it’s an easy process or not, but here I want to show you that WordPress 3.0 Multi-Site feature can be useful. If you’re still comfortable to manage multiple blog installations, you don’t need to use this method.
It’s not a problem-free solution, of course. And it might be tricky sometimes. For example, about the plugin activation. Which plugins should be installed ‘globally’ or ‘locally’. Some plugins might work without any modifications. Here, I still have a plugin that does not work on my Second Blog. It works well on my primary blog, but not on the secondary. So far, I’m happy with the result.

Some Notes About Enabling Multi-Site option in WordPress 3.0

After upgrading my blog using WordPress 3.0, I was thinking of taking the opportunity to have the multi-site option. Previously, I played with WordPress Multi User. So, I think it would something I’m familiar with. If you’re not familiar with WordPress 3.0 features, you can check WordPress Codex first. You can find lots of useful information there. It’s a good place to start.
Currently, this blog is already using Multi-Site feature. The setup was easy, but I want to share few things I had during the ‘migration’. By default, this feature is disabled. So, you will see no settings/option under your WordPress Dashboard menus. If you’re ready to enable this feature, the first thing you need to do is to modify WordPress configuration file (wp-config.php). Add this line of code into wp-config.php:

define('WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true);

WordPress 3.0 Error: Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance

I have upgraded this blog to WordPress 3.0 not long after it was available for download. Everything went without any major issues. I only use it without special hacks. One thing that makes this version a little bit different is that WordPress will bring your site offline if there is/are something not working. For example, when you’re upgrading your plugins. WordPress will temporarily bring your site under maintenance mode.
If all process were completed, you should be happy. Otherwise, you will need to do some extra works. WordPress will display this kind of error message: “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance.” You will be locked out from your admin area. Your website will be inaccessible. Solution? Easy. You need to go to login to your webhosting server, and remove .maintenance file. You can find it in your blog folder — the same location with your wp-config.php.

WordPress Blog WordPress 3.0 "Thelonious"

WordPress 3.0, code name “Thelonious” released.

3.0 is faster, stabler, and more secure, so you can focus on what matters (your audience) and let the rest fade to the background. Custom post types, MU merge, menu editor, Twenty Ten theme, over 1,200 bug fixes… there’s so much to enjoy in this new release, we’re really proud of it. It’s the best WordPress yet, and available for a limited time for only free ninety nine. ;)

WordPress 3.0 Installation Process

Today, I tried the upcoming WordPress 3.0 distribution. It’s not yet released. I installed WordPress 3.0 Beta 2. I do this because I want to know whether I will have some WordPress installations upgraded or not, to find the possibilities and considerations.
The installation process is similar to the previous versions, but I think it’s improved now. After you fill in the database information, usually you will need to provide website name/title, and email address. The installation process will create “admin” as the first user, with randomly generated password. Here are some new fields during the installation process.

Better? Better. Previously, I usually modify the “admin” username directly from database manager — I’m using phpMyAdmin. Some people think that it’s a good practice to remove/change the default administrator login in the system. Now, you can have whatever username for the administrator.
Previously, the first thing you will need to do after you have your WordPress installed is changing the randomly generated password, since it’s not easy to remember. Setting up password during installation should be a time saver.
I haven’t dug any other features like the multi-site, custom menus, and other things offered in this distribution. Later.

Amazon CloudFront has an edge location in Singapore

Today, I got an email from Amazon informing about new location of Amazon CloudFront. Now, it has a new location in Singapore. Previously, Amazon only has its CloudFront server located in Tokyo and Hongkong. Here’s the news delivered in the email:

Starting immediately, Amazon CloudFront will begin using the Singapore edge location for requests for your content. There’s no need for you to change anything in order for this to happen — Amazon CloudFront will automatically route requests for your content to the Singapore location when it’s appropriate to do so. Prices for content delivered from the Singapore location are the same as prices for content delivered from Hong Kong; you can see these at http://aws.amazon.com/cloudfront.

Is it a good news? Of course! About the prices, content delivered from Singapore location has the same prices like from Hongkong: $0.190 per GB — first 10 TB / month data transfer out and $0.012 per 10,000 GET requests. Compared with Europe or US prices, it’s a little bit higher ($0.150 per GB – first 10TB / month data transfer out). But still, the price is still reasonable.

Will you downgrade your Flickr Pro account?

A simple answer: You can, but it might be a bad decision.
This month, I renewed my Flickr Pro account for another one year. The main reason is that I already have more than 6,000 photos. If you use Flickr and you’ve upgraded — and also have hundreds or maybe thousands of photos — I think you have two options: renew or leave your license.
I have to agree with what Matt said about this:

My Flickr Pro account is about to expire, I don’t really see any value in renewing it, and I’m also pissed off they only show the latest 200 photos for free members, which means if I don’t pay a $25 ransom more than 800 photos going back to the year 2003 (6 years!) are going to be hidden from the world. That sucks.

But, he is lucky since he has the solution for his problem. But, I don’t think I can do the same. For me, $25/year is still reasonable. Downloading all photos and move them somewhere? Not an easy job.

My Flickr Pro account is about to expire, I don’t really see any value in renewing it, and I’m also pissed off they only show the latest 200 photos for free members, which means if I don’t pay a $25 ransom more than 800 photos going back to the year 2003 (6 years!) are going to be hidden from the world. That sucks.

Automatic WordPress Backup (to Amazon S3)

Today, I tried another WordPress plugin called “Automatic WordPress Backup”. This plugin will help blog owners to create backup remotely to Amazon S3 service. Since I’m using it and pretty satisfied with the billing usage, I installed it at some WordPress-powered blogs I maintain.
I use one of the available buckets under my account. For this bucket, I set its ACL (Access Control List) to private, of course. After this plugin installed and activated, I only needed to put my Access Key ID and Secret Access Key.
I decided not to include all files for my backup. I only need the database and uploaded contents. After the settings were saved, I simply hit the backup button. The process depends on the disk and database usage. I found that it was pretty fast. One of my backup files was around 300 MB, and it only took less than 5 minutes to complete the process. Also, the backup file was compressed. This should be useful to cut the usage process as you only need to store a single file for each backup.
The backup files will be automatically delivered to my Amazon S3 bucket and when the process completed, I can see the backup history. To download the backup, I only need to click on the backup links.
The backup links are built using pre-signed URLs so that only the account holder (or someone who knows the URLs) can download them.

Amazon S3 Billing Statement Sample

In last September, I started to use Amazon S3 for some experimental purposes. And, it’s not that difficult — of course, I only use some basic action. CloudBerry Explorer and S3Fox are really helpful. Now, if you want to know the billing calculation — just in case you’re interested to try Amazon S3 (also with CloudFront), I have uploaded a sample billing statement from Amazon (click the thumbnail to enlarge).
For me, I think the price is still reasonable. Anyway, CloudFront service is optional. Of course, this billing statement is not only based on my blog usage. I have multiple sites and accounts there. Not all of my backup files are also available for public.

Getting Started with Amazon S3

Amazon Web Service Logo
After I signed up for Amazon S3 and CloudFront last week, I started to use it right away. Before that, I tried to get as many information as possible. It seemed easy. I had to deal with some new words like “bucket“, “Access Key ID“, and also “Secret Access Key“.
Amazon S3 — just like its name — is a storage service. What makes it different from “storage” in webhosting is that there is no FTP access. But, the mechanism of “moving your data to a storage server” is similar to FTP. In FTP, we will connect to your server using some basic information like hostname, username and password. In some cases, we will need an FTP port. And we can do it easily using FTP clients like Filezilla, CrossFTP,  WinSCP, etc.
amazons3_keyid
Amazon S3 uses a little bit different process. Just imagine “Access Key ID” as “username”, and “Server Access Key” as the FTP password. Both information are generated by the system and they’re not easy to remember.

WordPress, Amazon S3 and CloudFront

Amazon Web Service Logo
In the last two days, I was working on an experiment to use Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) and Amazon CloudFront together with WordPress. It’s not primary for my blog, but for my friend. There are many tutorials and good recommendation on this. Since my friend using WordPress as the publishing platform, and it is easy to integrate with S3 and CloudFront, I gave it a try. But, what is Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)?

Amazon S3 provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers. (from Amazon S3 website)

Actually, using Amazon S3 might be just fine. Since I want to make experiment, I decided to subscribe to Amazon CloudFront, too.

Amazon CloudFront delivers your content using a global network of edge locations. Requests for your objects are automatically routed to the nearest edge location, so content is delivered with the best possible performance. Amazon CloudFront works seamlessly with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) which durably stores the original, definitive versions of your files. Like other Amazon Web Services, there are no contracts or monthly commitments for using Amazon CloudFront — you pay only for as much or as little content as you actually deliver through the service. (from Amazon CloudFront website)

This is my first attempt using those two service. The subscription is easy. Create an account at Amazon, fill in the billing information, and start subscribing. That’s all. After few attempts, I finally have it working. I hope it’s working without any issues. Anyway, for WordPress integration, I use Amazon S3 for WordPress plugin. Let’s wait until the end of the month to get the billing statement.

Haikumattic

I think I like the concept behind new Automattic’s website. The products and descriptions are haiku-powered. This is how they explain about WordPress.com service:

Hassle-free blogging
Even with your own domain
Freemium model

About Akismet:

Remember the days
Innocent inboxes gleam
Be spam-free again.

For complele list, go to Automattic’s site.