Feb 152010

Google recently revealed the pitch-black nature of its evil heart when it suddenly announced that it was terminating its Google Blogger FTP service.  We currently use that service to publish our website to our Tera-Byte server in Canada.  Google is clearly doing this to coerce these high value blogs onto their blogspot servers where Google can control all of the content.

Fortunately, it is not an insurmountable task to migrate to the superior WordPress blogging system.  Unlike Google’s Blogger, WordPress is an Open Source solution that fully runs on your web server.  In other words, no one is going to yank the rug out from underneath you like Google just did.

We are currently in the process of migrating to WordPress.  To use WordPress, your server or hosting service must support the following:

  • PHP 4.3 or greater
  • MySQL 4.1.2 or greater
  • The mod_rewrite Apache module

To begin your migration, we strongly suggest that you obtain a secondary hosting account where you can build your new site and experiment with WordPress before pointing your URL to the new server.  A good and inexpensive web host is Blue Host, a company recommended by WordPress.  The basic Blue Host service offers unlimited hosting space and unlimited file transfer.  Blue Host also provides an outstanding control panel, called “cPanel,” to administer your site.  Blue Host even keeps your WordPress installation up to date (you will receive an upgrade alert when you visit your cPanel which you will have to approve).

Additionally, Blue Host is currently offering a free domain.  This makes it trivial to set up your secondary website for the transition from your current Google Blogger site.

However, before purchasing your Blue Host service, visit this site first: http://www.bluehostreview.org/

By visiting that link, you can save up to 43% off the regular hosting price of $6.95 / month.  In either case, you will have to pay for a full year when you set up your hosting service.

Once you purchase your new hosting service (and new domain, if necessary), you can install WordPress by simply clicking on the “Word Press” icon under “Software / Services” in cPanel.  Be sure to set up WordPress using your secondary domain, otherwise your installation won’t work until you point the WordPress specified domain to your Blue Host account.  It will be easy to change this to your primary domain name once you are ready to do so.

Once WordPress is installed, you’ll want to choose a theme for your new blog.  There are many free and attractive themes available on the WordPress site here.  You will need to download the theme as a zip file and then upload it to your server in the WordPress administration page, usually set to “wp_admin” from you root site (example: http://myNewWordPressSite/wp_admin) .  You will then need to activate the new theme.

Changing from one theme to the next only takes seconds, so experiment freely with different themes.  With Blue Host, you have unlimited storage space, so you can upload as many themes as you want.

If you host advertisements on your site, you’ll then want to load a WordPress plugin that makes adding ads easy.  A decent one is AdSense Manager which supports not just Google AdSense but other types of ad services as well.  AdSense Manager makes it easy to place ads in the header, sidebars or even embedded into articles.

Once you have your theme chosen and your ad plugin set up, it’s time to migrate your Google Blogger site content to WordPress.  WordPress has support to directly import your Google Blogger account if it resides on BlogSpot (Tools | Import | Blogger).  I temporarily activated our site on BlogSpot (it only takes a second to toggle from FTP to BlogSpot from the Blogger Dashboard: Settings | Publishing | Switch to blogspot.com), but WordPress was unable to import our site due to timeouts from Google’s servers.

Instead, I was forced to export (Settings | Basic | Export blog ) our Google Blogger site to a local XML file formatted in Blogger’s Atom export format.

Unfortunately, WordPress can’t read this file, so it must be translated into WordPress WXR format.  I used the Blogger 2 WordPress conversion application here.  You can then upload the file in WordPress: Tools | Import | WordPress.

This process is good but isn’t perfect.  All of the comments and tags appear to have been preserved.  Some of our posts needed to be edited to reestablish proper formatting.  A few embedded videos are not showing up.  However, the WordPress editor is as least as good as the Blogger editor, so fixing these problems is not too hard.

You will also need to copy any extra files that are not part of the Blogger system to your secondary site before pointing your primary URL to your secondary site.  You will probably want to copy all of the Blogger files over to ensure that all of your old links continue to work.

Of course, any edits that you make to your original site after the import will have to be made to your transition website.  However, you can simply delete all of your posts on your secondary website and import the last version of your original site immediately before pointing your primary URL to your secondary website.

While Blue Host is fantastic in many ways, its servers do not appear to be nearly as fast as our Tera-Byte server.  We will be transitioning soon to Blue Host.  Depending on how well the Blue Host server can handle the traffic, we might be on Blue Host for just as long as it takes us to install our new WordPress site on our old Tera-Byte server.

In the meantime, you can view our Blue-Host secondary site here.

Feb 022010

In an astounding, disruptive, indefensible and perplexing move, Google sent out a termination of service email today to all current users of Google’s Blogger FTP facilities.  We use that service to publish Van’s Hardware Journal to our Tera-Byte server located in Canada.

The Google service will end March 26, 2010, giving bloggers less than two months to migrate to another blogging service or to follow Google’s solution which is to upload all external Blogger databases to Google’s servers and then point associated blog URLs to Google.

In other words, if you have been using Google’s Blogger FTP service, which has been around for several years and is used by many now very irate people, Google is holding a gun to your head in order to take control of your content.

Here is a comment I posted earlier on the Google Blogger site:

I do not understand why Google is terminating existing FTP blogging services. Why not simply remove the FTP/SFTP option from new blogs while maintaining current support for existing FTP blogs?

At the very least, why doesn’t Google release an open source blogging tool (either web-based or standalone) that allows current FTP bloggers to continue to maintain their sites?

Giving less than two months formal warning to current Google bloggers that their publishing service will be cut off unless they migrate their blogs to Google’s servers is a lot like placing a gun to our heads. This is one of the more “evil” things Google has ever done.

There is no valid technical reason for Google to suddenly pull the plug on all external, existing Blogger websites.  This is an outrageous act of Internet piracy in what appears to be a play to take control of hundreds if not thousands of valuable blog sites.