Feb 10

Moving from wordpress.com to wordpress.org

 As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been planning a move from wordpress.com to my own dedicated server for a while now, not only for this blog but also for On Target and Wallpaper and herself’s book site. I said I’d write things up once I was done, so…

Step one in this process was local testing. I already had a LAMP stack running locally on the r61 so I just had to create a directory, download the latest wordpress.org tarball and untar it into that directory, then edit wp-config.php, create a database for the site to use, and walk through the automatic install. Very easy, very clean, and took about ten minutes all told. Got to hand it to wordpress there, the man-hours that have gone into streamlining and debugging the install process really shows. Once it’s installed, I went back to the wordpress.com site, exported the blog and imported that into the local wordpress.org site, downloading the images and uploads as I went. It worked almost flawlessly, let down only by timeouts as my typical Irish "broadband" proved to be more "slimband" once more. Afterwards, though, the local blog and wordpress.com blog were nearly identical. Now I could install every plugin and theme and play about with them.

Step two was registering domain names. It’s step two because wordpress will allow you to map a domain name to an existing blog, and I hoped that would ease the handover slightly. However, wordpress.com charge you per domain, so I just mapped one.

Step three was to get the dedicated server itself; the choice for me came down to either server.lu or Hetzner and in the end I chose Hetzner’s DS3000 server offer. I did try to buy Irish, but noone comes even close to the offers Hetzner and server.lu were offering at that price range (I didn’t look stateside but I’d be willing to bet that you’d get good deals; but I wanted to use the server on a project or two that might have live data on them at some point, so best to stay in the EU for privacy law reasons – the EU/US legal differences are just an avoidable headache). 

Step four was to repeat step one, but this time on the dedicated server (and prepended with the whole installation of Debian Lenny and the rest of the LAMP stack, and all the other stuff I’d be using like Python and Django and so forth). I could have just moved over the files and database, but the truth is, it was faster to just install fresh. WordPress is in fact that quick. 

Step five was to tidy up the DNS server entries, turning off the domain mapping on wordpress.com as well, and check that everything worked.

And step six was to replace the front page of the wordpress.com blog with a "We’ve moved…" page and to write this post. And that was it. Fairly simple, relatively inexpensive and really quite satisfying.

So, from now on, you can read this blog at:

Feb 10

Idle thought…

Zombie movies: the intersection of horror films and string theory?
“Branes…. branes….”

Zombie Branes

Feb 10

How long is an hour?

So on Saturday, the Minister for Education announced that he was very worried because two people had told him (possibly over coffee and some nice biscuits) that most academics only work for four hours a week. Now most of the time, with most people, that’d lead to someone looking up what the situation actually is and determining if there was a problem and so noone would be worried about knee-jerk reactions. Thing is, we’re talking about a Minister for Education who recently decided to abolish the NUI and didn’t tell anyone until the press conference (ignoring the point that abolishing the NUI does not abolish the work they are required to do; and that therefore abolishing the NUI means replacing a working system that’s been there since before the founding of the state with a quango whose suitability and efficacy will be utterly unproven). So it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that the Minister responded by calling in the press for a “forensic audit” (CSI has a lot to answer for with regard to the use of language in official statements) into third level spending with a view to changing teaching contracts.

Some academics are worried about this. I’m not. I think this is a great thing. I think it’s wonderful. Because now, when we calculate properly how many hours we spend on a course, we’ll be able to bill for all the time we spend on it. So in my case, for the CS7004 course, I could bill for the three contact hours a week I was paid for, plus the two-and-an-inevitable-half hours in labs (currently unpaid for), plus the three to four hours each contact hour took to prepare (currently unpaid for), plus the two hours each lab took to prepare (currently unpaid for), plus the twenty or so hours that were spent preparing the hardware for the course (currently unpaid for), plus the time spent marking and collating marks (currently unpaid for), plus the time spent drafting and checking and reviewing exam papers, plus the time spent correcting those exam papers and sitting on exam boards reviewing the results (all of which is, you guessed it, unpaid for).

By my count, under the Minister’s wonderful new system, I stand to be able to bill for about 236 hours for CS7004, as opposed to the current 36 hours. Granted, they might drop the per-hour rate a bit, but in order for me to make less money under the Minister’s new scheme, they’d have to slash the rate by 85%; and if they do that, who’s going to bother with lecturing at all when the average industrial wage per hour would be 50% more than that new rate, and for more sociable hours (there wasn’t a 3am on a Sunday night during the entire CS7004 course that I wasn’t prepping lecture notes, for example).

Of course, the Minister’s job is obviously secure, given his outstanding ability to locate the funds to pay for this massive pay rise for lecturers, and thereby respond to the criticisms that the government isn’t serious about supporting third level education in this country. I mean, if they’re proposing what is in effect a pay rise of over 500% for the lecturers on the front lines, they’ve got to be serious, right?