Website Upgrades Coming

Since I’m waiting for both my line edits on Untimed and my proofreading on The Darkening Dream, I’m researching website construction. I have to morph, upgrade, or supplement this blog with a genuine author website and I can’t bring myself to hire someone to do it given that I’ve written far bigger and more complex websites and apps. It’ll just annoy me to no end to not be able to control it all myself. But at the same time, old school coding the whole thing manually (I’d probably use Ruby on Rails for that) is overkill and probably too much work.

So I read this Professional WordPress book yesterday and today to see if it would be reasonable to just extend WordPress. I think it is. A few plugins and some custom theme programming will probably do the trick. The problem is that I host on wordpress.com and they don’t allow you to install extra plugins (they have some installed by default) or add any PHP code. So I’ll have to migrate to a self hosted server. Maybe Media Temple VPS? Rackspace? Research. Research. Research. Anyone have any suggestions/experience with the good hosting platforms?

And I have to teach myself PHP, so I grabbed the bird book. PHP is one of those popular but slightly icky languages like PERL and JAVA that I’ve never been very partial to. It’s like Ruby, but 100x uglier and more primitive. I am a LISP (and Ruby) guy after all. Oh well. This is easy peasy programming, so I’ll just suck it up. Using something like WordPress will make my life much easier maintaining the site as it’s choke full of content management features. If I program it myself I have to go and code everything manually, which really isn’t very efficient.

I even wonder if one of these newer WordPress themes/frameworks like PageLines Platform isn’t a good idea. Anyone use one?

More to come as I get into it.

8 comments on “Website Upgrades Coming

  1. I’ve 110mb.com and I really like it’s FTP File Manager to put files up. I don’t think much is charged either ( I just use it for free). I just use that because I’ve put the most work into that host, though.

    These might not be what you’re looking for but http://www.000webhost.com/ is probably the best. It supports Ruby on Rails (for a teensy price), Python, Perl, PHP, unlimited FTP accounts, unlimited data transfer and all that jazz. I’ve never bothered with it’s $4.84/month deal, but I hear a lot of good things about it and I guess it’s a pretty good start.

    • agavin says:

      I can sometimes get 50,000 hits in a day (not usually, but always 500-1000) so I don’t want a free/cheap shared platform, it will crumble under that.

      • I see. In that case, my money goes on something you already mentioned here, and that’s Media Temple.

        I’ve read some reviews lending all sorts of praise on that platform, and because of the fact that it’s been around for quite while.

      • agavin says:

        So your media temple experiences have been good? It’s pretty mixed on the web. You use grid or vps?

        Sent from my iPhone

  2. Will says:

    I can’t comment on hosting, because I’ve never actually tried it myself. I have however tinkered with PHP in the past.
    You probably already know this, but I feel I should stress it any ways(maybe other people could benefit?):
    PHP(and other languages I’m sure) don’t automatically escape troublesome characters like double and single quote, etc. This leads to problems like SQL injection, execution of arbitrary code, etc. As a rule sanitize every input. Generally instead of removing characters like “‘* etc you’d just replace them with their HTML encode equivalents. (< for <) Replacing will disable everyone from posting HTML code. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because it keeps people with less than your best interest in mind from posting script, frame, and iframe tags. I’ve found that it takes less work to disallow all HTML and then allow a few harmless back in. (like and ) I also disallow * because it’s a MYSQL operator. These are just a few that I disabled, there were others as well, but I can’t think of them at the moment.

    On a side note, if you’re running your own server you can use whatever language you want. You don’t absolutely have to use PHP. You are proficient at LISP and Ruby, so there’s not really anything saying that you can’t use them in place of PHP. Just so long as your language performs all the functions as well or better than PHP I don’t really see a problem in using it. I heard LISP has no problems with the contents of strings. You’d still have to do some mop up with the HTML encode characters, but… It’d probably be a lot more trouble than it’s worth doing it this way, but you could if you got too annoyed with the syntax.

    Best of luck!

    • agavin says:

      Yeah I learned all about injection when I did Flektor.com. If I was going to write the site entirely from scratch I’d use Rails, but I don’t want to have to do all that work. I think I can use WordPress to do most of it — and for that it will be easier to just use PHP as it’s a PHP framework. Even if PHP is a kind of ghetto language.

  3. Victor says:

    Andy, I want to know what you think about this book called “Land of Lisp” (http://nostarch.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/product_full/lisp.png). Have you ever heard about it? I’m a level 0 13 year-old programmer that has never seen anything at all about any type of programming at all. What would you suggest to me if not this? Sorry in advance for taking your busy awesome-being time.

  4. Jenn says:

    I’ve had a mixed experience, I run a html site, never had the slightest problem, but maintenance takes forever, built my own PHP ‘apps’ into my pages, using only o’reillys php book. I also run several blogs with wp. Had many problems with hacking, the worst 2 years ago, when despite the great help I got from Hostgator, I could not stop the iframe injections , they just kept coming, the only solution to stay online was to move to another host. But I went back eventually ,I now carefully select my plugins and keep everything up to date following the advice on the hosts pages and everything is running fine again. The business side has to come first so I have to come down on the side of simple wp blogs.

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