It all begins with a blog

My birthday is coming soon. I don’t like birthdays much, and I just figured out why. It’s because I don’t like cake. Cake is full of sugary sweetness and it’s fattening. Not that I worry much about getting fat. It’s just that with most of my family being overweight and at risk of diabetes, I don’t believe that a cake would really help us avoid that consequence.

However, if instead you were to pierce my candles into, for instance, a really long dragon roll—one of those delectable sushi numbers that usually involves a lot of raw fish wrapped in seaweed and rice and covered with eel smothered with bbq sauce—now you’d be speaking my language.

To celebrate my birthday, I decided to start a new blog. Though, in a little while the casual reader wouldn’t know, because this post eventually will appear to be buried in amongst the posts. I plan to consolidate all my previous blog posts into this system under the original posting date. Thanks WordPress, for helping me to keep a sense of my blogging history.

If I already know how to design websites and program web applications, why did I choose to build my site with WordPress? The answer is simple: Since I designed my own version of a CMS, the social networking sphere has gotten more complex, with more varied tools available to the average user than before. Rather than continue down my solitary path, I would rather join others in their quest to develop the über system. There is a lot more fun to be had in doing so.

But why WordPress? Frankly, it’s because I could get it working out of the box quickly. As a married dad with two busy kids I don’t have time to wade through lines of code to figure out how to break something in order to change its design. I’ve worked under the hood of commercial CMSes professionally: I volunteer with the STC Canada West Coast Chapter, which uses Expression Engine, and I recently wrote a developer guide for NetReach cmScribe, a .NET CMS which proves to be quite promising.

I recently installed both Drupal and Joomla and found both of them to be powerful, but customizing them would take more time than I could afford. That said, I would work with them in a heartbeat if I were paid to do so.

Contrast this experience to a DocTrain presentation on WordPress: From Novice to Geek, where Tom Johnson, who blogs and podcasts at I’d Rather Be Writing/Tech Writer Voices, ran through all the relevant features of WordPress blogging in under an hour. As he walked us through his pre-installed demo blogs, I saw that under the hood, WordPress works pretty much the same way as the CMS I designed, only with a flashier, AJAX-powered back end. He showed us how to download, install, post, and theme our demo blogs, and I have to admit it was dead simple.

While sitting in the DocTrain presentation immediately following Tom’s, I logged into my web host, installed WordPress 2.3.2 using Cpanel’s Fantastico, and upgraded to version 2.5.1 via FTP. Including the time spent downloading the update software and reading the manual that Tom wrote, the whole process took under 30 minutes.

While I appreciate that other systems may be more powerful, being able to balance the load of several server requests to minimize database hits, the fact remains: ease-of-use sells. This product took me less than half an hour from install to first post. I spent the rest of the week customizing my permalink and privacy settings and experimenting with themes. I look forward to playing more with this system as I build my own personal look. For now, the content is king. I can always fix the presentation later.

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