The Rarefied Air

That’s it, I’m really moving into the Cloud.

What am I moving from?

Currently, I have my website at emlynoregan.com . I rewrote it a year or two ago, after an earlier effort some years before that. It’s in C#, asp.net, database is SQL Server 2005. It’s hosted in a virtual host environment at webhost4life.com.

When I built it, it was to be my online home. I have 1 gb of online space, into which went all music and software I wanted to make available. The site has blogging type functionality (lists lists lists), which is used in various ways. Also, it has a secure part allowing me to admin the site, write articles, etc etc. It’s not very web 2.0 though, there’s nowhere for user comments and such. I did build a rudimentary user profile system, and users can sign up to it, but being a logged in user achieves nothing unless you are me.

Since then, the world has changed.

I think the most profound changes of the web 2.0 era are that you can do a lot more on the web, and the free services are no longer crappy substitutes for paid services. Ubiquitous streaming video blows my mind, google‘s alleged ongoing losses from youtube notwithstanding. On the topic of video, who would you trust to retain your online videos safely into the future? Some paid service? Or youtube? The same goes for documents (google docs), email (gmail, yahoo), photos (flickr, picasa), blogs (wordpress.org, blogger.com), etc.

So, the purpose of my site is now no longer relevant. The point was to give me a place to present myself, to blog, to put music and software, to organise music and software properly, and to write web apps where appropriate. Now, though, I’m better off blogging in wordpress.org, much better tools, much more comprehensively set up, probably a lot more reliable than my payed my web host. Music can go in the internet archive, or in youtube, or both, and is much more likely to survive in the long term. Distributable software is better hosted in sourceforge (where the code is usually hosted anyway).

I also have email, documents, photos, and social networking requirements, but they are in the cloud already (gmail, google docs, picasa, facebook, twitter).

All that leaves is “presenting myself” (ie: having emlynoregan.com point at some coherent starting point), organising the various music, software, and blogs, and hosting web apps.

All the presenting and organising would be easily managed with a simplistic site structure. I could almost do it with static pages (and v1 might be just that), although there is enough music, and enough versions of software, that some basic data driven functionality would help (ie: a little catalog).

As to webapps, I never did a lot of that in the past, but I really want to in the future. I’ve been learning Python, and really want to work with it. Also, I’m keen to write some facebook apps, particularly games.

There is another reason that I want to replace my existing site, which is that it is written in c#. I love the language, but the whole Microsoft stack comes with it, and I really want to move away from it. I’ve been solely in that world for most of my professional career, and it’s time to broaden my horizons, especially since I suspect we could see a wholesale shift away from MS in the next five to ten years, a collapse of their network effect. Best to be ready for that.

Where I want to go to is a google app engine based site, written in Python, storing data in the app engine’s data store. All my big distributable content can go into free services as above. The site can use google authentication where auth is necessary, and I can just have simplistic code to let me maintain a catalog of that stuff, and keep basic pages up to date.

With google app engine I can also do web apps, and I can do facebook apps apparently.

The code can all go into a free subversion (svn) service (google code looks like a good contender, or else maybe sourceforge or one of the others). I’m using Ubuntu on my laptop these days, and I’d like to develop directly in it (not in a windows based VM as I have done in the past), but I think that’s easily manageable. I already have Eclipse with PyDev running on it, and I have the google app engine developer sdk going with that, and I’ve managed to get a hello world level of site going, so that stuff all seems to work well.

I think my plan then is:
– Get an extremely basic site going (probably a one page “hello world” site), with my local dev environment sorted out
– Get that into svn somewhere
– Get a workable first site going
– Get all my software and music off my existing site and into free services as above
– Redirect emlynoregan.com to the new site
– Turn off the existing site
– Cheer!

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The Rarefied Air

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