Making Progress, Loving WordPress

There are two upsides to our site’s recent setback. I am now basically a pro at installing a WordPress Network. More importantly, having our site nuked reminded me that I need to keep working on it, not leave it half-baked and floundering in the ether. So aside from getting things off the ground and functional again, let’s talk about what’s going on with blackhallfamily.com.

First, we’re sporting a fit new version of WordPress. Aside from the basic Network installation, which allows multiple separate blogs to run inside one site, I’ve enabled a bunch of WordPress plugins. I grabbed an Akismet API key and automatically enabled it for all blogs on this site; now we’re much less prone to comment spam. I also enabled PuSHPress, which adds PubSubHubbub push notifications for every new blog post on this site. That means all your favorite feed readers get a nice tap on the shoulder every time we publish a new post. Google Web Fonts are now available to everyone, which means that visitors with modern web browsers no longer have to stare at drab old “Times New Roman” and “Arial” when they read.

When I created this site, I did it with the intention of not only making a nameplate site for myself but also for migrating my current blog into its infrastructure. With that in mind, I also enabled the fantastic WordPress Importer plugin, which will help me easily migrate all of my old content to this new site. Donncha’s Domain Mapping plugin allows me to keep my current domain name while running my blog on the Blackhallfamily.com Network. In other words, I can keep using encephalosponge.com and not have to switch to encephalosponge.blackhallfamily.com. Migrating my site has also forced me to audit my current blog’s plugins, looking for new ones to try and outdated ones to remove. To that end, I enabled the OpenID plugin on this website, and I plan to try out Simple Facebook Connect soon. I’m also trying out a new, more secure contact form and a new Twitter widget. Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, recently announced a new plugin package called Jetpack, which may help me replace a few of these plugins in the future.

Since I got a free SSL certificate when purchasing the blackhallfamily.com domain from Namecheap, I decided it was probably about time to start sending my login credentials (username and password) over a secure, encrypted “https” connection to prevent people from stealing my information. Setting up the SSL certificate was relatively painless, and enabling SSL on WordPress was about as painless as you can get. Unfortunately, the free SSL certificate only works for a single domain. I was worried that since this site is set up as a Network with sub-domains and not a single blog, I would start getting all sorts of SSL security errors. WordPress’ design really impressed me though. It handles everything exactly as it should, and now my login credentials are safe from prying eyes on the interwebs. Ideally, all of the administrative tasks on this site would occur over SSL, but unfortunately a Wildcard Subdomain SSL certificate is about 10 times more expensive than my current one. Still, it’s something to consider for the future, and enabling it on WordPress is as simple as changing an option.

I have a number of other things planned for this site, but the biggest thing is finishing the process of moving my current blog under the blackhallfamily.com umbrella. I’d also like to take the time to teach some family members about how to use Google Apps effectively and maybe give them a few tips about how to better surf the Internet. All in good time. For now I’ll just keep having fun, making progress, and loving WordPress because it makes running a website exciting. Maybe once I start residency I’ll have a more interesting site to run!

6 thoughts on “Making Progress, Loving WordPress

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