All change!

As I’ve said, following the abortive WordPress move, I decided to spruce up the site. 2½ years ago, I started the site off with a pretty orangey theme, which must have appealed to my Dutch sympathies. Because I hadn’t been blogging for long, this was all pretty much out-of-the-box, I fiddled with things like fonts over time.

I then decided to spruce things up again, a very sepia theme. Sufficient deviation from Blogger’s “factory” theme that I took care to keep a backup, just in case.

Since the wordpress episode, I’ve decided to change once again. In fact, the base was just one of Blogger’s minimalist templates, which I subsequently customised into a kind-of “After Eight” theme. For those of you who aren’t UK, a dark green theme. Right now, it looks elegant, but I expect I’ll tire of this, sooner or later. but being able to take something barebones and customise fonts and colours, that was a big win for Blogger over WordPress.

When I moved back from WordPress, I checked all the post-to-post links were working. I think “all” in any case. There were akmost 400 posts to go through, so it took a while! I’ve also tried to rationalise the labels of each post. I kind-of work on the basis that I want to have as few labels as possible, provided I have a label to cover the post. If not, I’ll create something new. Certainly with some of the early posts, there was a lot of label-editing happened, just because the blog grew organically into what it is now.

So, new theme again. I hope you like it! You can, of course, use the buttons below the post to tell me!


The experiment is over. My daliance with WordPress is over. I fiddled around with it yesterday and Tuesday, but… it felt a bit like wearing a straitjacket.

I went through the subscription process, having justified to myself that the price of a subscription would be worthwhile I forked out the cash on Tuesday morning. My Blogger site imported nicely, seamless so far. Posts, pages, media, comments…the lot! I then wanted to set up all my domain credentials. With Blogger, I set up the domain, configured the name servers and DNS settings. Blogger said, if you want your domain to point here, just add a few domain prefixes in the DNS. Just like “www”. I added these and, bingo! With, it was a little different. A bit easier, I guess, for a novice user, but less control. just said, “point your name servers to us”, and they took over from there. I did find a way that I could subsequently manage settings through their site, but by then I’d made my decision.

I’m trying at this point to find an article which clearly explain what name servers and DNS are, but failing miserably on the “clearly” front. If you imagine you have a bunch of phone books covering a big city. Do you remember phone books? Well the name server is which one of the phone books you use, and DNS is your phone numbers in that book. A real-world example of DNS is where you type “www” in front of a domain name, to signify world-wide web.Against this record, is the address of a computer, the domain’s web server. Another typical value might be “mail”, say, which points to the mail server. I’ve been brief rather than acurate, but it is near enough.

When you buy a domain name, some companies (e.g. the company that I use) have their own name server (phone book). You use this by default. But you can also change to a different name server if you like. If you choose to stick with their phone book, you can set up whatever DNS entries you like. Like I say, this is your actual name and address. Full control, that’s why I use them. Beyond that, there’s basically a trade-off between control and ease of use. When I signed up with, I said I had the domain name already, and wanted to maintain ownership. You have the option of transferring management to them, but again you surrender control. The solution was for me to keep ownership of the domain, but to reset my name servers over to them, thereby surrendering control of the DNS entries. Obviously, they’d set the ones critical to the blog!

The blog it created looked decent, but I couldn’t configure the appearance anywhere near as much as I can with Blogger. It was frustrating, having this page in front of me, wanting to tweak it, and being unable. I mean, I’ll say early on that if you have no html experience, WordPress is probably easier to use to build a slick-looking web site, but it does that by hiding a lot of things away from the user. You might feel that if you’re starting a blog, you’ve got enough on your plate creating content as it is, but I was unimpressed. I tried to customise something called CSS, which are the instructions they send to a browser, to tell it how to display your page, but I was told that I needed a more expensive plan to do that. Having come from a free platform to start with, to one that cost £48 per year, you can imagine how happy I was to have to pay yet more! Getting cooler!

I did actually create a post in wordpress, although again there were fewer options than in Blogger. They had a nice effect where you could make the first letter of the paragraph bigger. This looked good, but posed problems when I subsequently tried to copy/paste the text into Notepad. Funny, one of the things that was missing, that I find invaluable these days, was a spell-checker. You’ve seen how badly I type! Cooler still.

I also found a funny where it looked like I couldn’t set up my email. An existing mailbox, an existing server. When I hit the links, it wanted to sell me a Gmail address, at more money per month. When you set up a Gmail address through Google, it’s free anyway. These guys were out to get every penny! Ironically, after I cancelled, I discovered a screen where this looked to be possible, but by then it was too late.

The last straw was when I attempted to contact their support team, to find out about this email business. I couldn’t actually get as far as making contact, merely looking at one page or another in their knowledge base. ‘Course, none of their articles covered anything as intricate as what I was looking for. I decided that a relationship with a company I couldn’t even contact was doomed to failure.

So, I’ve spend today putting everything back onto Blogger, including a bit of “rebranding” a new theme. I’ve even customised the CSS – in part, because I can.

There was one silver lining in the cloud – literally. Once I decided to stick with Blogger, I decided to do some tidying on I figured, I’d bought this hosting plan for two years, the least I could do was to have it point to my real blog. Instead I found a button which at first offered to cancel my subscription (i.e. to not renew it in two years’ time) but this led to a button which allowed me to cancel my subscription immediately, including a refund. So at least I have my money back.

As far as I can tell, everything is safely back on Blogger, looking good and in full working order. The experience has cost me nothing but time. but really having gone through the process I understand only too well some of the pitfalls associated with So, next time somebody tells me that they use, I’ll take note of their IT skill level!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure is appropriate for some users. If you hate the idea of going anywhere near html, you might like it, although with Blogger, you don’t need to write code either. Furthermore, with the core product, this gets rave reviews precisely for its flexibility, so I’m sure have taken a deliberate decision to eep things simple. And I’m told that wordpress has lots of shopping cart-type plug-ins (certainly with, more functionality equals a greater subscription cost) which are way beyond Blogger’s scope. Blogger is specifically written for blogging, no surprise there.

There is also a warning here. I was lucky to get the refund, but while I’m not earning I can’t really afford to spend that kind of money, without getting some kind of return. I must be more careful in future before committing myself to things.


Took the plunge

As readers will know, I have been toying with the idea of switching my blog from Blogger to “WordPress”.

I put that term within quotes, because the first thing I had to learn was exactly what WordPress is! As it turns out, that’s not such a daft question. The core WordPress is basically a content management system. I’m told it is very functional – you can customise most everything! The “pure” product is free, open-source… all the good things we expect from the internet. The product is based at, is written in PHP – a scripting language which is supported by absolutely everyone – and hits a MySQL database. MySQL is another ubiquitous product, traditionally with an “open” ethos, although I learned from my last project that they are now owned by Oracle. Oracle are a big, proprietary database company, so it puts into question just how “open” MySQL remain into the future. In any case, WordPress can work with other databases.  As you might imagine, this application is known simply as “WordPress”. As you might imagine, WordPress sticks all its content into this database, exactly as it should be done, and renders it on the fly to the reader.

So the raw product is just an application that you host somewhere. And that’s where the ambiguity comes in.  There is a host – – a commercial company, out to make a profit, who support this application, and who are also known as WordPress! These people host the application, provide a slick web-based UI to help you to create posts etc. There’s a trade-off, because in making it easy to create content, they also hide some of the detail.

So, I was looking at moving my blog from Blogger to a WordPress site. I’m still not convinced that either will beat the other with a knockout blow, but aficionados tell me that WordPress is ultimately the better platform. In terms of which WordPress host I used, it didn’t overly matter. The main requirement was that it import my existing posts in. was the front-runner, just because I already follow three blogs which are all hosted by, so it is just easier in terms of a single sign-on for all of it (you can read a post anonymously, but as soon as you wish to interact, you have to log in.) That’s who I ended up going with.

And yesterday, I finally bought a subscription. This is my first post using that platform. My initial impressions? Well, it imported okay. It didn’t get many of the inter-page hyperlinks right, I need to check them over the next few days (weeks, probably). I’ve found a “funny” with my email, which I need to try sorting today. In that respect, I have already seen the “dumbing down” effect, as previously, everything was under my control. Visually, they’re much of a muchness. offers a richer choice of templates, but once you choose a template, you’re quite tightly-defined. I always liked their themes, another reason for moving. Blogger has fewer templates, but has more choice exactly how you lay your page out. I’ve chosen a very minimalist theme, for now.

So, no firm feelings on whether I’ve made the right choice. I’m still in the have I / haven’t I made. I’m already missing the spellchecker that I used to have on Blogger. Worst-case, this is a few pounds down the drain.