Getting Started

So… lots of ideas for posts then?
Actually I started with two ideas, one based on something I’d done a while back, and the other something that just came up recently. However, since those starter ideas, I’ve had a few more, and for one a week, I guess I don’t need much more than a trickle. There’s also exploring deeper into the topics I want to post about which will take up the time between posts.

Where do you go to start blogging?
Once I had my initial ideas and enough inertia to start, the next thing to do was pick a blogging engine. For features, I had a really minimal set of requirements: a simple theme, a post archive directly accessible from the front page (since I hate catching up on blogs that only allow you to go backwards and forwards one post at a time), a spam filtered comment system and on the backend a nice rich text blogpost editor and stats system. I’m under the impression that all of these are standard features of a blogging engine.

To be honest, I didn’t think there was an alternative to WordPress. The only other blogging site I found (after wondering what Google did for blogs) that could be a WordPress alternative was Blogger which was previously bought out by Google. Although most of the guys I know personally are using WordPress, looking at my Google Reader subscription list, a quick search found twice as many blogspot addresses as wordpress addresses (obviously ignoring domains hosting their own Blogger/Wordpress software based blogs or redirecting to a Blogger/Wordpress page). So before taking the leap, I went to see what Blogger offered.

Blogger eh?
Going to the Blogger front page immediately distracted me with the “Make money with Adsense” bullet point. Now I can’t say that I’m expecting enough visitors to retire on the advertising income, but this does lead to an instant daydream of fame and riches! Thinking back though, I’ve previously seen a blog with context-(over)sensitive Adsense that led to comically mistargetted adverts, and although it would be funny to see the results in the context of my posts, I’d just be laughing at myself. However, as a blogging platform I still wanted to get a better idea of what it could offer. I started by following the Blogger quick tour (ignoring the perpetually distracting “Create a blog” button), reading some comparison pages and watching the video tutorial. I came to the conclusion that Blogger was easier to use at the expense of minimizing the possibilities for customization.

Seeing WordPress in action
What really convinced me to go for WordPress instead was an over the shoulder demo of a free WordPress blog, its interface and configurability. With that decision made, the next step was to decide whether to have WordPress host it or manage my own hosting and although I wanted some configurability, I was very happy to skip installing my own and would rather get a free one with the work done for me and enough configurability to get started.

Creating the blog itself was incredibly easy. I already had the blog name and my initial post ready – I think the hardest part so far was chosing the theme, which is more a question of recognizing the themes used by other blogs that I’ve already read while picking my favourite. The editing can be a bit chuggy, initially I was using Google docs for compiling ideas, and I might go back to that in future, if anything, the automatic saving makes me feel more comfortable than a Save Draft button.

The future of me and WordPress
Most of the things I wanted to do with the blog are already handled by WordPress. Planning for future posts, one thing I do want is the ability to reference external static HTML pages, since some of what I want to post about is HTML5 related, and I want to be able to share the basic HTML pages and related javascript files – so there’s something more to investigate there.


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