Please note: This blog is now hosted at LoneStarOnALark.com
this backup blog will not remain as-is for very long, so please visit the new site instead!

29 February 2016

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Within the next month or so, Lone Star on a Lark will be moving to a new online home.

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What does this mean for you?


Not much, maybe


If you're just a casual visitor to LSoaL, you hopefully won't notice much at all, other than some design changes. I'm doing a lot of back-end set up stuff first, and then when the time is right I'll just have the main blog and a few other important pages redirect to the new site.

Depending on how long it takes me to get everything set up, I may or may not continue posting during this switchover process. I don't want my blog to go "dead" and I have a few posts in the pipeline, but I also don't want to worry about adding content while dealing with structural issues? So please, bear with me if this blog goes silent while this is going on. I'll be back, I promise!

Unless...


If you're subscribed to this blog via RSS or email, though, there MAY be a point in the near future when you'll need to change your subscription to point to the new site. I'm exploring my options as far as domain mapping and that sort of thing. In any case, I will try to make sure that anyone following this blog will be able to continue doing so in the same way.

Help me?


If you've done a blog migration before and you have any advice for me (especially in regards to the whole RSS thing, but really any advice is welcome), please leave a comment here or email me at louise [at] lonestaronalark [dot] com ... see below for more details about this process.

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What exactly are you doing?


Back-end changes


I want to move to a "self-hosted" environment. Unfortunately, I'm on a platform that doesn't make this switch particularly easy. Not only will I have to change up hosting arrangements, but I'll have to change my blogging platform as well.

MIGHT also be changing to a new domain name (web address). There are several reasons for doing this, and several reasons not to! Suffice it to say that I'm giving the problem a lot of thought.

Front-end changes


Another big change will be more superficial but very noticeable to site visitors -- the design is getting an upgrade. I haven't quite settled on a final design plan yet, and in all honesty it might not end up looking drastically different (I like my Texas-ish star motif!), but this is definitely a thing that is happening.

Since I'm moving to a different blogging platform, my current custom theme from this platform isn't going to work anyway. There may be some awkward-looking growing pains.

There might be some archiving issues, and I'm not quite sure yet what will happen with all the comments and links and stuff, but for the most part I don't think any visitors will even notice that there's been a change (other than the new design, of course)... except for the whole RSS/email subscriber issue. /sigh

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Why?


It's the circle of life


A few months ago, I started thinking about my online presence and how I want to present this blog to the world. My life has changed in many ways since I first started LSoaL back in March of 2011 (that's right -- it's been nearly 5 years) and this website has changed with it... and in this case, the change is gonna be kinda huge.

For one thing, my career is now on the kind of path that makes it beneficial for me to be more easily findable on the web, under my real name (or something like it). That means I have to reassess my online presence a little bit, and maybe put up some fences between things that can be public and things that absolutely must stay private.

I've also learned a bit more about web development and blogging (book blogging in particular) and I'm finally at a point where what I want to do and need to do have kind of outgrown this particular space.

Platform issues


In case you can't tell (and I've tried to hide it a little bit, with mixed success), LSoaL is on Google's Blogger platform. I started using Blogger because I wanted something super easy to manage for a casual user, that integrated well with some other platforms and was at the right price -- free. But things have been changing at Google, too. First, Google Reader, my BFF RSS reader was put down and buried with little ceremony. Then there was a big push to get bloggers to use the Google+ platform, which I didn't really care for because it's more social media-y than blog-y.

Now it turns out that Google is retiring Picasa and Picasa Web, their photo organizing services; the web version allows Blogger users to add photos to posts directly from Picasa albums, so it's been my image hosting choice for years. They already tried to push Picasa Web users to Google+, which again is not super blog-friendly. Now they are forcing a migration to Google Photos, with no official word on whether this new platform will continue to integrate well with Blogger.

(In fact, there are rumors that Google is drastically downsizing their Blogger support/updates, possibly in prep for eventually retiring the service altogether... but I'm not sure how far to trust these rumors or what that kind of move would mean for existing Blogger blogs, so please take this info with several big grains of salt.)

Even though free, easy-to-use services are nice, the downside is that they can be messed with at any time by the service providers and the users really just have to accept it. I'm at the point now where I want more control over my stuff than Google is willing to give, and the Picasa issue was just the spark that made me move from "thinking about it " to actually DOING it.

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So, again, I welcome advice on this subject in the comments! 


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