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About This Blog

I am pretty surprised at how little effort it took to get this site up and running.  From start to finish, including research, set up, and deploying took a Sunday afternoon.  Here are a few notes about the site.

Why?

Well, having your own blog with your own name in the domain is pretty cool. It's a great place to express ideas, share information, and generally be utterly self-absorbed.  ;-)

Blog Software

The blog engine I use for nickhodges.com is BlogEngine.net.  I chose this for a number of reasons:

  • Steve Trefethen recommends it and Steve is a pretty smart guy.
  • It appears to be a fairly robust community of developers, but not so robust that there isn't room to do something of my own.
  • It's written in ASP.NET, and thus I feel confident that I can update it, add to it, and fix it if need be.  That relates back to the point above; since there aren't too many plug-ins for it yet, it leave rooom for me to do some work with it. 
  • It's a good vehicle to hone my C# skills.  Plus, I bet I can figure out a way to integrate Delphi Prism into the mix as well.

Hosting Service

 

The hosting service I chose was DiscountASP.NET.  The reasons I chose them are as follows:

  • Steve Trefethen recommends it and Steve is a pretty smart guy.  Plus, I could help Steve out by signing up through his referral link so that he gets a kickback.  Sweet!
  • They are obviously very ASP.NET friendly, and my blog engine uses ASP.NET.
  • They are pretty cheap, and they have a really nice set of features.  
  • Their administrative interface is really easy to use. 
  • It was pathetically easy to get my new email address (nick at nickhodges dot com) up and running.  Very nice.
  • It was clear that I could be up and running in no time.
  • The support is very good.  They were really helpful when I had some initial snags, solving the problem on a Sunday.

Please note that I am also part of the referral program, and so if you decide to use  DiscountASP.NET, please feel free to click through on this link, or the banner above.  I'll get a referral fee, and you'll have my eternal gratitude.  

Theme/Layout

This was actually the hardest part.  (For the record, Steve Trefethen had nothing to do with this part. Tongue out) BlogEngine.net provides a few themes, but I poked around and soon found a large collection of BlogEngine.Net themes generiously donated by the community.  Someone kindly put them all together on CodePlex.  I downloaded them, and then loaded them all up.  Then, I went through them one by one.  It was a lot of work, actually, but basically I deleted the theme that I knew right away I didn't want, and then slowly got more critical until I arrived at the Vertigo2 theme. At first I was looking hard for a three column feed, but I liked Vertigo2 so much I decided to forgo the three columns and go with two. This decision was mitigated by the nice footer area.  By the way, the "big N" on the site is a result of "N" being the first letter of my name -- it is placed there automatically.

Process

The actual process of getting the blog up and running was pretty easy.  I first set it up locally, got IIS going, and then looked at it on http://localhost.  From there, I tweaked things a bit, got it set up like I wanted, and decided on using XML as the datastore.  BlogEngine.net can use any number of databases, but XML is the simplest and cheapest.  I've used XML-based blogs before and they've worked out really well.  .Net's XML handling is really good, so it's pretty staight-forward to use it.

Once I got things set up like I wanted, it was just a matter of using Filezilla to move the files over to ftp.nickhodges.com, and that was pretty much it.  My domain name is managed by EasyDNS.com, and so I simply used their online interface to point the domain to the DiscountASP.NET name servers, and that was it.  Once the site is up and running, it can be totally administered within itself.  I can still pull a complete copy and play around with it locally if I want to try something new out like adding a widget or an extension.  But generally, any changes like adding posts, etc. is all done within the site itself.

And finally, I am using Windows Live Writer to write most of the posts for the site.  I like it because it allows me to keep and work on drafts offline.  

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The views I express here are entirely my own and not necessarily those of any other rational person or organization.  However, I strongly recommend that you agree with pretty much everything I say because, well, I'm right.  Most of the time. Except when I'm not, in which case, you shouldn't agree with me.