David Louis Edelman David Louis Edelman

Behold, the New ISP

If you’re reading this article, then that means that you’re now viewing my blog at its new home of Bluehost.com. (And if you’re not reading this, then you have officially achieved a state of ultimate paradox. Congratulations.)

I’ve taken the opportunity of moving the blog to make a number of changes, which I list below:

  • Infoquake site is now on WordPress. The Infoquake website is now running on good ol’ WordPress (as opposed to ColdFusion, which is what I originally created the site in). This means it will be a heck of a lot easier for me to maintain, and will allow me to install nifty plug-ins and the like. imm-glossary-pluginPlus once I do the redesign in 2008, all I’ll need to do is modify the skin and I’m good to go — no need to reprogram the whole thing. But the coolest thing about moving to WordPress? I can use the IMM-Glossary plugin to give me automatic popup definitions for the terms in the book. Go look at the excerpt page and run your mouse over one of the words with the dotted underlines to see it in action. (Or just look at the screen cap to the right.)
  • The John Barth Information Center is also now on WordPress. Some of you may or may not realize that I’ve maintained a fan website devoted to the Postmodernist author John Barth for the past, oh, 12 or 13 years. (Go ahead, search Google for “John Barth” and see what comes up just below the Wikipedia article. I’ll wait.) This site is now running WordPress too, and seeing as I’ve been such a horrible steward of the site, I’m hoping to open it up to other John Barth fans to write, administer, comment, and manage.
  • All my personal websites are now running on LAMP. Yes, I do frequently defend Microsoft and have not always been keen on open source software. But I’ve decided to move to an all-open source LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) environment, because a) it’s cheaper, and b) WordPress runs better that way.
  • Cleaner permalinks. If you look at your browser address bar, you’ll notice that the “/blog” is gone. As is the “index.php” and the date-based URL. Why? Well, it’s cleaner, that’s why. Whereas the old WordPress installation had permalinks in the form www.davidlouisedelman.com/blog/index.php/year/month/day/title/, the new installation shows permalinks in the form www.davidlouisedelman.com/category/title/. Much easier to read, and much more search engine-friendly. (Yet thanks to the magic of John Godley’s Redirection plug-in, you can still follow old links to the new pages. Really, this thing is a miracle — regular expression-based redirection, just like in Apache, but you don’t have to leave WordPress or mess with .htaccess files. Plus 404 logging, and more.)
  • My old book reviews and interviews are now part of the blog. If you take a look at the full archives page, you’ll notice that I now have blog entries dating back to 1994. No, I wasn’t the most prescient individual in the world, I’ve simply moved all of my old book reviews and author interviews from the mid-90s into WordPress. This means they’re accessible through the search and the archives and get the benefits of tagging and all that WordPress-y goodness. You can read my Baltimore City Paper interviews with Tim O’Brien, Nicholson Baker, and Stephen Hunter here — still three of the most popular pages on the website — and more.
  • I’ve licensed the pieces on this blog with Creative Commons. The pieces on this blog now come with an Attribution-Share Alike Creative Commons license. Which means you’re free to copy them and remix them in any fashion you’d like, as long as you attribute the original to me and share your copies and remixes yourself. I really have no idea what this is going to do for me; I figure that it will either a) help, or at least b) not cost me anything.

So far the transition to Bluehost has been pretty smooth… with one very important, and very souring, exception. Go to the Bluehost home page and try to log in to the Control Panel in the top right. It doesn’t matter if you have an account, type in a bogus domain and a bogus password like 1234. What do you see? If you’re at all savvy about website security, you’ll see the problem right away. The password you typed is sitting right in the query string of the URL. (See below.)

bluehost-password-in-url

Why is this a big deal? Well, your ultra-secret password to all your web files, the one you typed behind asterisks, is now sitting right there for anyone to see. It’s also sitting in plain text in your browser history. It’s also been passed through dozens of routers on the Internet in plain text where any doofus can copy it down. It’s also sitting in plain text in Bluehost’s log files.

This is the kind of bonehead security mistake that they teach you in Webmastering 101, not long after they disabuse you of the notion that your computer comes with a built-in cup holder. Bluehost’s response when I opened a customer service ticket about this? Hey, there’s a secure login — just type the Bluehost URL with a leading “https://” instead of an “http://”. Shit, my ESP must be on the fritz, because your mental telepathy telegram warning me that your standard account login is insecure failed to come through.

This kind of carelessness doesn’t exactly make me feel secure about my choice of ISP. But I’ve learned the hard way that all web hosting companies suck.

Oh, and the last irritating factor? WordPress doesn’t let you migrate post excerpts. I’ve been very careful to create bite-sized summaries for every post I’ve written, so you can browse through the article list in the categories and have some idea what you’re about to read. No more. The excerpts are all gone, seemingly for good. (Sniff.)

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  1. Matt Jarpe on December 6, 2007 at 1:59 pm  Chain link

    Hey, the new site looks … exactly the same. But it sure feels more efficient. The redirect gizmo would be perfect for finally getting rid of my old web site, which still pops up first on a Google search of my name. Since you built my new web site, can you tell me if it’s something that will work for me? My old web site was made in Print Shop Delux (no, that’s not a misprint) and hosted on Comcast.

    (If it’s going to cost me more than $300 to answer this question, just pretend you didn’t see it.)

  2. David Louis Edelman on December 6, 2007 at 2:25 pm  Chain link

    This ain’t gonna cost you a penny, Matt. You don’t need a fancy redirect plugin… all you need is to add one line in the HTML, right before the META Generator line:

    <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0;url=http://www.mattjarpe.com">

    The “0” is the number of seconds before the user gets forwarded. So you could change it to “10” if you wanted people to see the old page before they’re forwarded.

  3. King Rat on December 6, 2007 at 3:37 pm  Chain link

    I’m using Bluehost too, and they are generally decent, though I have a few gripes. Nothing worth mentioning though. But, I have a solution to your login problem:

    https://box35.bluehost.com:2083/

    Box35 is the server I’m hosted on. Replace that with your server. That’ll use browser authentication rather than form authentication.

  4. Matt Jarpe on December 6, 2007 at 10:07 pm  Chain link

    Hey, it worked. I didn’t even know what a META generator line was. I took a stab at it and for once it worked out for me. Thanks, Dave.

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