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Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org September 2, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Blogging, Misc, Technology, Websites.
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1 comment so far

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I’m finally doing it. At last. Well, not me specifically, but someone at WordPress.com is doing it, for a handsome fee.

What am I talking about?

Well, in Feb this year, after consulting my blogging guru friend, I purchased my own domain name at pacejmiller.com. This friend told me that my blog had potential but was been kept in shackles because it was being hosted by the free and wonderfully user-friendly WordPress.com. However, being a free blog, there are of course restrictions on what you can do with it, including how it looks and operates, and the big killer, the inability to advertise. Accordingly, it was time for the blog to break free and soar to new heights.

So I purchased a domain (on special) at Siteground for a very very cheap price and it appeared as though everything was ready to go.

However, being a complete tool at the Internets, I got a bit overwhelmed by the numerous step by step instructions (which weren’t step by step at all!) on how to migrate my current site over to the new address. After all, my current blog is where everything is at — I lose the content I have on it and I lose everything. It was, frankly, a tad frightening.

I tried to use the supposedly simple migration process stipulated in the help articles at WordPress.com, which involved ‘exporting’ everything on my blog into a single file, which I would then take over to the new blog and ‘import’. Sounds easy enough, right?

Not quite. I made several attempts to create the export file, but perhaps it was because I had too much content or something, the system kept crashing. After a frustrating struggle, I finally obtained an export file, but the import process just wouldn’t work. The export file was corrupt or incomplete or just plain evil.

And even if it was successful, I’m not sure if everything could be moved over smoothly. For starters, I read somewhere that the embedded videos will not make the migration. Secondly, is it just the posts or do my numerous pages get moved over as well? What about all the custom drop down menus I painstakingly created? What about all the widgets (including the text ones I created myself)? Do I have to do everything again myself? And more importantly, what about my existing visitors and my Google rankings and what not? Will they become innocent victims in this seemingly innocuous move?

It was blowing my mind, and in any case I wasn’t in any particular rush. I also had a bunch of other things I had to take care of, so the migration almost entirely slipped my mind.

More recently, I started getting quite a few requests for advertising, which rekindled my passion for the migration. I had already wasted 6 months and who knows how much that has already held my blog back? But with a massive move on the way, job applications, freelance work, freelance work seeking and other crap, I just wasn’t prepared to go through all the time and effort of relearning how to migrate the blog and doing it myself again.

Thankfully, WordPress.com offers a ‘Guided Transfer’, which can be found in the ‘Store’ tab towards the top of the left side menu when you log in to the WordPress dashboard. In short, it’s $119 bucks and you work with an expert to do everything for you — seamlessly, of course. You agree on a date and time for the migration and they even stick around for a couple of weeks afterward to answer any queries and guide you into the world of WordPress.org.

Anyway, there’s no turning back now because I have just purchased the Guided Transfer, so the move will be imminent. I’ll keep everyone updated and informed on how things go, but in hopefully it will all go smoothly and visitors to the current address will automatically be redirected to the new one.

Moving forward, I think I will start a series of posts on the actual experience of migrating from WordPress.com to WordPress.org — including whether this Guided Transfer was worth it, any obvious differences between .com and .org, the impact of the migration on my visitors, rankings and stats, and (fingers crossed) my foray into running advertisements on the blog, in particular the best options for bloggers and the effectiveness they have in generating revenue.

So if you’re interested in any of that crap (told from a web moron’s perspective), stay tuned, and if you haven’t already, subscribe!

On a final note, having tried a couple of other blogging platforms, I can honestly say that WordPress.com has been absolutely fantastic and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone thinking of starting their own blog.

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I love Questacon! August 19, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Canberra, Technology, Travel.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
2 comments

I’ve always loved science museums.  In fact, a visit to a science museum as a child may have prompted me to tell everyone that I wanted to be a scientist when I grew up.  Having the worst science teachers (one threw a metal dust pan that narrowly missed a student’s head) and performing poorly in science during my formative school years (I was told to stand in a corner after tracing light rays on the table instead of my workbook during an optics experiment) quickly put those dreams into a permanent coma.  But my passion for science museums remains alive.

And so during our recent trip to Canberra, my number one must-visit was Questacon, Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre.  Questacon is located at King Edward Terrace, home to a bunch of other galleries and museums such as the National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Australian Democracy, and is adjacent to Parkes Place, which is where the High Court of Australia current sits.  By the way, Australia’s highest court of law is a dump.

Questacon is undoubtedly designed for curious children, but that didn’t stop me and many other adults from trying out the 200+ interactive exhibits across the 8 galleries in the museum.  The layout is uniquely designed.  You start off on the first exhibition hall on the top floor, then slowly make your way down the circular walkway through the various halls until you reach the eighth and final one on the ground floor.  Reminded me a little of the astoundingly good aquarium at Osaka (Kaiyukan), which has a similar design.

Burn your shadow onto the wall!

For us, we started off with a dry ice show in one of the theatres on the ground floor (there are a few throughout the day, and this one was supposed to be the best), which was very cool.  I learned a few things and was surprised by how many children were willing to volunteer to answer questions they clearly did not know the answer to.

The famous free fall slide!

I’m not going to bother going through all the exhibits they had — you can check them out for yourself at the Questacon website.  For me, the coolest were the ‘Perception Deception’ gallery (especially the ‘phantom limb’ — that was freaky!), the ‘Awesome Earth’ gallery (where you could experience earthquakes and massive lightning strikes) and the ‘Sideshow’ gallery (like a free theme park with those rotating clowns, roller coaster simulators and a six-metre free fall slide!).

The only clowns that don't scare me...ok, maybe just a little bit

Questacon was a lot of fun.  It was hygienic too, with free hand sanitizer pumps in every gallery.  We went during school holidays, so there were a lot of kids (though I imagine not as many as there would be on the weekend), but the good thing is that as an adult you can just shove them out of the way.

Questacon is open 9am-5pm every day except Christmas Day
Adults $20, Concession $15, Children (4-16) $15, Family (2 adults+3 children) $60 + $7 for each additional child. 

Farewell, Borders June 5, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Blogging, Misc, On Writing, Social/Political Commentary, Technology.
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2 comments

I had been wanting to write about this ever since news broke a few days ago but for whatever reason held off — maybe hoping that it wasn’t true or that it was a mistaken report.

Oh well.  There’s no use denying it anymore.  The last remaining nine Borders bookstores across Australia will close down over the next six to eight weeks.  The fate of the Angus & Robertson chain, also owned by the in-administration REDgroup, remains uncertain at this point.  The only good news is that its online bookstores will remain open.

I still remember the first time Borders opened up in Australia years and years ago.  I loved them.  They had the broadest range of books and I could spent literally hours and hours browsing from one end of the store the other.  It was perfect for people with short attention spans like me, who just want to read the back cover, maybe read a few pages, and move on if it doesn’t interest me.

When I was living in Cambridge (which had all the big booksellers such as Waterstones, WHSmith, Heffers, etc), I pretty much camped out at Borders.  Nothing to do?  Let’s go to Borders and read all afternoon!  Books, comics, manga, magazines, whatever.  It was better than any library.

But that was the problem.  People loved to browse Borders but not buy from them because their books were so bloody expensive, particularly in Australia (I’ll get to that in a sec).  If they were on super duper special, then maybe, you’d consider buying a book or two, but everybody knew that Borders was a place where you went to do your research, not the place you’d ultimately purchase the books from.

These days, especially, it’s all online.  Not just e-books but also paper books from places such as The Book Depository and Amazon.  Yes, if all things were equal, Australian consumers would no doubt want to purchase locally — but when prices were, excluding GST, 35% higher, or in many cases, 50% higher, financial considerations always trumped loyalty.

No wonder Borders struggled so much.  The stores tended to be in areas where the rent was ridiculous.  They required loads of staff and the wide range meant stacks of inventory.  Without competitive prices, they really had no chance.

Interestingly, the online chatter that has come out of the closures have been similar to my sentiments.  Most bemoan the loss of a terrific place to ‘browse’ books, but not much more than that.  Some were even glad that these evil big book chains which bully the independent booksellers have gotten their comeuppance.

Does this represent a fundamental shift in the publishing industry?  If supposedly mighty bookchains such as Borders are collapsing, it makes me wonder what the future holds for other chains such as Angus & Robertson and Dymocks, and to a lesser extent, Kinokuniya.

Is it finally time for the parallel importing restrictions to be lifted?  For those who don’t know, Australia has in place restrictions intended to protect local publishers and writers.  If an Australian holder of publishing rights to a particular title decides to publish it within 30 days of the book becoming available elsewhere in the world, then Australian booksellers are prohibited from importing the title from overseas.

A Productivity Commission report in 2009 recommended that these restrictions be lifted, partly because the bulk of the benefits stemming from the restrictions flowed to offshore publishers and authors, rather than local ones.  The recommendation was never acted upon because of campaigns from domestic publishers and authors, who also have very valid arguments.  Opening the already fragile Australian book industry to the rest of the world has potentially frightening consequences for everyone.

No easy answers, unfortunately.  I just hope the remaining bookchains in Australia have enough support to keep battling on.

Farewell, Borders.

Dictating a novel? May 20, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Misc, Novel, On Writing, Study, Technology.
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4 comments

I’ve really been struggling trying to get my novel project into shape the last few days.  When I’m away from the computer I have a million thoughts running through my head, and I feel like I am ready to write the best shit ever.  But as soon as I sit down and start typing, I’ve got nothin’.

The other day, just before heading out, I was taking a shower when I pretty much planned out an entire chapter of my novel in my head, or so I thought.  I was really excited, but I didn’t have time to write anything down because I had to head out immediately.

I was driving when I had an idea.  Using the recording app on my iPad, I started dictating the chapter to my novel that was in my head during the shower.  It was surprisingly effective.  In about 25 minutes, I had more or less dictated the entire chapter.

That night I went home and transcribed it.  It wasn’t great, but at least I got it out of my system and it allowed me to fix it as I went along, almost like editing a rough first draft.

All of this amazed me, considering as a lawyer I never used the dictation systems they had in place because I found it all too hard and awkward.  I also wasn’tMaybe it was just because I didn’t know what to say.

Could this be a new way for me to write?  Has anyone else tried it?

Unfortunately for me, writing first drafts of chapters is no longer my concern anymore.  I now have to actually shape the drafts into good shit, which I have discovered is even harder.  D’oh.

Stop this 3D madness! December 13, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Entertainment, Movie Reviews, Technology.
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1 comment so far

I’m so sick of watching a promising trailer for a new film, only to see in big letters at the very end, “Coming to you…in 3D”!!!

Here I go again.  I have been consistently vocal in my objection towards this current tidal wave of 3D films hitting our cinemas.  Sure, there are some movies that provide an enhanced experience in 3D — for example Avatar, or dare I even say Resident Evil: Afterlife, but ther vast majority of 3D films out there charge a hefty premium and give you a shitty time with the uncomfortable and darkening glasses and pointless 3D effects.

Worst of all, 3D films aren’t discounted at all, even on cheapo days, and even those that use movie money have to pay a few dollars extra.  For instance, if you go watch a 2D movie on cheapo Tuesday (in Australia), you can catch a film for around $10 (or less if you use movie money on any day of the week).  But if you watch the same movie in 3D, you can fork out up to $24 for an adult ($17.50 + $3.50 for 3D + $1 for Vmax + $1 for internet booking) and $19.50 for a child.  Enough said.

I thought after films like Clash of the Titans (where the 3D actually made the film worse) , the backlash against 3D will make studio execs think twice before making their latest release in 3D, but it hasn’t appeared to slow the trend at all.  According to this article from the Economist, 3D is relatively inexpensive, adding only a 10-15% to the cost of production, with a huge upside and low risk of piracy.  No wonder they’re even trying to re-release a bunch of old films in 3D to cash in.

Much of the blame of course rests with moviegoers that continue to go to 3D movies.  These days I choose 2D whenever the option is available, but I admit there have been times when I have wondered: will the 3D finally be good this time?  Needless to say, it never is.  I’m a frequent visitor to the cinema, but with a lot of people or families who only go a handful of times a year, 3D can seem like a real treat, especially if you haven’t experienced it before.  So I guess as long as people keep paying up to 240% the price of what they ought to be paying, the 3D rush will continue.

It was interesting, though, to see this New York Times article that discussed the backlash against 3D films in Hollywood.  Perhaps it is filmmakers who will take the charge to stop this 3D madness.

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