Class web site with WordPress/Scary Crash Problem Solved/Future Mac-served CMS Projects?

This is kind of a “three-fer” message, as you can tell from my title here:

First off, I must say I’ve been pretty pleased with my use of WordPress to support the class web site for English 444: Writing for the World Wide Web this term. I’m running it on the computer in my office– an eMac– because no one here at EMU seems capable and/or willing to support software that requires MySQL or PHP (more on that later). While it was kind of a pain in the butt to set up in the first place, that up-front work has been paying off lately because it has proven much MUCH easier to update the content on this site than it is to update a normal web site. I guess that’s something I should have known before, but now I really know it now. This is especially true when I compare my 444 web site to the one for my computers and writing class, in which the web site is still out of date and incomplete (note to self: update computers and writing web site).

The only problems I’ve had in running this stuff myself on my office computer are a couple of power outages and what appeared to be a catastrophic crash/screw-up on my part. It’s kind of amusing in hind-sight, but it wasn’t at the time. What happened was I updated my OS to 10.4.4, restarted, and then went to the computer lab to meet my 444 students. I went to the web site to show students something and it wasn’t there. Instead, there was a scary-looking screen that said that WordPress couldn’t find access the database. So my initial thinking was that my system upgrade had trashed it.

Needless to say, the rest of that class didn’t go great.

But fortunately, my colleague Steve Benninghoff found the answer to my problem here on the WordPress support forums (and not a moment too soon, I might add– in my panic/disgust with the whole system upgrade blunder, I was this close to just figuring out how to just throw all of it away and starting over). And a big thanks to the folks who posted to that WordPress discussion forum; I would have never figured this out with my extremely limited (albeit growing) knowledge of working with the command line on my Mac.

Which leads to my last point: like it or not, it would appear that if I want to do anything that requires MySQL/PHP (WordPress, Drupal, MediaWiki, etc., etc., etc.), I’ll have to do it myself because the folks who should do this, ICT, won’t. I actually can’t be too mad at them because, while the original answer to my MySQL/PHP request was basically a rude “no, security issues,” I ultimately received a more full and polite answer, which was basically “no, thank you.”

Fortunately, my department head seems to on board with the benefits of this sort of work, which means that I will hopefully have something up and running soon. Unfortunately, it looks like one of my new hobbies is going to have to be getting myself a bit more schooled in MySQL/PHP stuff. I’ve been able to get by on minimal knowledge so far, but I’d like to be able to say with a little more confidence that I know what I’m doing, especially if I am going to be forced to be the support person for this stuff in the department.

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