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Posts tagged ‘wordpress’

Migrating my blog to wp-engine

I setup this blog a long time ago. Back then, the best option I could find was the infamous GoDaddy … I registered a domain there, and installed their WordPress offering.

For the past five years, it worked rather reliably, but now I’ve come to want more from my blog host. I don’t want just a dumb PHP host, I want a managed platform. After hearing about WP Engine from Oren, I finally decided to migrate. While the migration process wasn’t 1-click-migrate, it was well documented and simple, and their support helped me make it a smooth one.

Some of the features that I’m getting on WP Engine, that make it worth switching to:

  1. Automatic updates. Core wordpress is managed by WP Engine, and not me, and they will update the core whenever a new version is released.
  2. CDN support – the blog’s content is automatically hosted on CDN servers. This feature costs extra, but it’s essential for anyone looking for a good pagerank.
  3. Support – I trust that gone will be the days when I install a plugin, accidentally break my blog, and then scramble to get it to work. WP Engine seem to have top notch support, and if and when stuff will break, I trust they will be there for me.

It’s also worth mentioning that wp-engine aren’t the cheapest option. You can host your blog at, without your custom domain, for $13.00 a year. I do think you’re more limited with the type of customizations you can do, so it might not be a good fit for everyone. As for me, I just prefered to pay for the higher quality WP Engine service and get my peace of mind.

One last thought I had before committing to the yearly plan (there are monthly plans as well) – I really want to host my blog on Quora instead of WordPress. Quora is such a great platform, and there is a very good reason to host your blog there, but ultimately it’s not worth losing control of your content.

OK, so how do I start blogging?

OK, so you’ve read my previous post about why you should start blogging today, and you want to give it a spin. What’s next?

Let me give you a very quick getting-started guide from my angle, along with a few tips for those of you not afraid to get their hands dirty.


You have two options – buy your own top-level domain (e.g., or use a “subdomain”, under some company (e.g. or I highly recommend going with the former option and buying your own domain from the start.

Even if you’re just experimenting with blogging, and not sure it will stick, the cost for using a custom TLD from the start is so small ($5-$11) that it’s not worth the trouble. The big win about using your own domain is that you own 100% of the content down to the URL structure, and you can start building good, long term SEO for your site (essentially, start accumulating good page rank in Google). If you start your blog on a on someone else’s domain, and two years afterward you want to switch to another provider, your links will have to change (e.g. to, and this might affect your Google ranking. There are workarounds for this, but it’s better to just do it right from the start.


There are a lot of blogging platforms out there, but IMO there is one clear winner, popularity wise, which is wordpress (5 million wordpress sites, much more than the alternatives). WordPress has gotten to be real easy to use in the last few years, with one click updates, improvement on its editing and plugin mechanisms, and just overall richness of the ecosystem.

WordPress is open source, so even if you don’t know PHP, there are a lot of coders out there hacking away, fixing bugs, submitting new features (mostly in the form of plugins), and you can rest assured that whatever feature you need from your blog in the future, someone will add it sooner or later.

I migrated my blog from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress blog about four years ago, and never looked back.

Self-hosted vs “Hosted”

I recommend you start with opening a Hosted solution on, and register your own domain. This will cost you around $20 a year total, and you get all the advantages of a custom domain. You will not have the full customization/plugins options of a self-hosted blog, but when you start out, you won’t need it … there are plenty of customization options given free, out of the box (check under Appearances–>Widgets).

Sooner or later you might discover that you need your blog to do something that is not supported in the Hosted option, like automatically push your posts to Facebook/Twitter, connect your blog to Google Analytics to see powerful data about your visitors, post code snippets in Java, or have automatic backups of your blog sent to your email. For these, you’ll have to migrate off the comfort zone of, and into a more professional hosting. This might cost a bit more (you can get decent hosts from $5-$10 a month), and won’t be covered in depth in this post.

If you’re willing to pay extra for the comfort, you can get the best of both worlds – a fully customizable blog, with almost zero maintainence and setup time. Check out WPEngine … they’re rather expensive (starts at $30 a month, not including the domain name), but at least they have a 60 day free trial period.

Ask Questions!

If you have any question about WordPress blogging, go to and fire away, there’s a community of professional bloggers ready to assist you.

Speed up your blog with three easy steps

Recently my blog started behaving really slowly, and I finally got down to do an optimization session. There are a ton of wordpress optimization guides out there, and I see no reason to write another full guide. Still, I think it’s worth it to share  how I cut a good deal of my blog’s load time using three simple steps:

Step one – measure it. I used Website Optimization for the comprehensive measurements (there are a lot of other options out there!), plus a local “timethis wget” to get a subjective feel.

Step two – reduce clutter. In the report I got from Website Optimization, I noticed I had a lot of objects. Nowadays with Facebook Like button, rating widgets, and other gizmos, a lot of pages are loaded with baggage. However, I didn’t find anything specific I’d like to remove, so I went for another easy solution – simply reducing the number of posts on my main page from 10 to 8 – this cuts down a lot of the load time. The exact timing varies by connection speed and other parameters, so let me just say that the total size of objects on my main page went down from a whopping 1,032,328 bytes to 742,197 – almost a 30% improvement! (obviously, this depends on post size distribution, but I imagine it will be significant in most cases). Let’s face it, your readers won’t really miss those last two posts that you dropped from your main page.

Step three – start actually using a cache plugin! I did have WP Super Cache installed a while back, but I never got down to tuning it. When I checked out the advanced tab I noticed that my blog wasn’t compressing pages (off by default). This alone shaved off another 25% of the total objects size, now down to 557,199 bytes.

Overall, Website Optimization claims about 40% improvement in page load time over a theoretical T1, I believe that the actual improvement in page load time in reality is larger, especially for users behind crappy Israeli ISPs.

I know there are a lot of other optimization techniques and measurement tools out there. Still, remember that the purpose of this post wasn’t to be a complete optimization guide, but rather to focus on the “easy and dumb optimizations” that have greatest ROI.

When your OpenID provider crashes

Today, I installed Windows 7 RTM. Trying to login to StackOverflow, I found that Verisign’s login portal crashed.

This locked me out of all my OpenID enabled websites (effectively, the StackOverflow trilogy). Luckily, my OpenID is really my blog’s URL, just delegated to Verisign. After spending a good fifteen minutes just finding where to disable the delegation, I finally found and disabled it, regaining the ability to log on.

Hello Worldpress 2.7

I was waiting for such a post to upgrade. Took 6 minutes, including this post, using WordPress Auto-Upgrade plugin. Still need to explore the new version though. And I still need to tweak Simple Tags plugins.

Update – Things I like:

  1. I finally found where to manage spam comments. I accidentally marked a bunch of legitimate comments as spam the other week, and for the life of me, just couldn’t find how to undo it. In 2.7, you can access all comments from the dashboard.
  2. Finally, built in Ajax

A few blogging tools

Since I moved to my own host I played with a few useful tools.

  • I already commented on the wordpress plugins I use. Today I’m adding OneClick – single click plugin installer & updater – it makes it really easy to install a plugin by a URL). It also has a Firefox extension, which I didn’t install. I just revisted Moti’s comment on the above post, and saw this was one of his recommendations. The other recommendation I accepted is FeedBurner FeedSmith, although I already implemented itse functionality with the redirect plugin.
  • A handy tool (depending on your hosting solution) is PHPShell. It uses the provided PHP to give you an easy shell, if your provider doesn’t give you one.
  • Finally, Google’s webmasters’ toolkit is a good tool for analysing your blog/site – recommened.

What tools do you use?

Also, I just saw my old pagerank of 4 is gone now, because I have no direct links to this blog, just to the old Blogger one (well, was to be expected). I’d appreciate it if any of you with incoming blogroll links update to the new website (yeah I know, I should start a blogroll as well … someday).


Heroes season 3 appears to be less bad than season 2.

Hello WordPress!

I’ve been wanting to do this for sometime now, and just now got the will & time to move from my old blogspot blog.

I don’t like Blogger anymore. They do not respond at all to support questions, and the automatic method of transferring my blog to a purchased domain failed miserably, even though I bought the domain through Blogger itself!

I contemplated between WordPress and dasBlog as my blogging platform. dasBlog is written in ASP.Net / C#, which is inherently better (and more familiar to me) than PHP, in which WordPress is written. However, I already installed and customized a WordPress installation, and I found on Google 220M references to wordpress vs only 790K references to dasBlog. A rich user base is often reason enough to choose a product over a similar competitor, and since it works rather well and has tons of plugins I’ve decided to stick with it – I don’t think I’ll be spending huge amounts of times debugging and customizing my blog anyway (besides stealing Eli‘s simple anti-SPAM challenge).