Recently in nfoCentrale Status Category

[Cross-posted from Spanner Wingnut]

For those wondering if the now-dormant blogs will every see the light of day anew, here are the dreary steps that will be confirmed before going farther:

  1. The procedure for configuring and maintaining images uploaded via Windows Live Writer will be fully documented on nfoCentrale Status.  The accuracy and completeness of that procedure will be verified by adding the support to Spanner Wingnut and also maintaining it there..
      
  2. The next visible changes will involve learning to adjust the sidebars on the blogs, including customization of plugins, templates, and styles for individualization of the different blogs operated under the single MovableType engine.  This will also be seen on both nfoCentrale Status and Spanner Wingnut.
      
  3. There will be some invisible work to support how a blogs features are adjusted over time but a record of changes and the progression can be maintained.   This will be accompanied by infrastructure adjustment as part of the deployment model for the various blogs, starting with nfoCentrale Status and Spanner Wingnut, with the big test being restoration of an existing, now-dormant blog.  The prime candidates for first restoration are Orcmid’s Lair, Pursuing Harmony, and Kiln Sitter’s Diary.
     
  4. There is also more work to complete and stabilize the nfoCentrale site as the repository of all of the procedures and template-development work that is promulgated across all of the blogs and sites.
      

My current thinking is to have this completed enough by the end of the year that additional blogs start waking up and there are useful developments on those blogs and their related sites.

As I was setting up Windows Live Writer and the nfoCentrale Status blog site for uploading images, I realized that there were some useful adjustments I could make.

Previously, I had simply set up a single images/ directory per blog and allowed images posted through Windows Live Writer to accumulate there.  

A SLIGHT PROBLEM

Windows Live Writer creates a subfolder, with a name chosen by WLW, to hold the images uploaded for a particular post.  In looking for straightforward ways to back up these folders and images, I realized that it is cumbersome to have these images-per-post sets accumulate in an ever-growing, potentially gigantic single folder. 

ANTICIPATING BACKUP ARRANGEMENTS

To provide separate backups, I want to save compressed archives of the image sets.  The single archives will not reduce the space requirements by much, but they are easier to manage.  I can also include them in my source-control more easily than treating the individual folder sets as projects.  (This is a convenience for the continued use of Visual Source Safe; with other version-control systems, this part is easier.) 

The use of the source-control system is primarily a way to achieve versioned backup.  It is easy to expand a Zip archive back to the original folders.  And archiving the Zips as checked-in revisions provides a means for recovery in the event that older materials on the site are corrupted or lost in some way.

SUBDIVIDING BY YEAR

My initial solution is to annualize the images/ folder.  I will initiate that with images/2010/ and continue with images/2011/, etc. 

If even annualizing becomes ungainly, I am thinking that I will not drop down to a monthly level.  Instead, I will segment the year as needed.  For example, I might end up with the progression images/2010/, images/2010a/, images/2010b, …, images/2011/, etc.

ADJUSTING WINDOWS LIVE WRITER

For Windows Live Writer, I don’t need to change the FTP permissions I have already provided.  Those permissions already start at the images/ subfolder of the blog.  Any additional subfolders, such as images/2010/ are already accessible.

First, I prepare subfolder images/2010/ the same way I prepared images/ originally.  I will do this each time I need a new annualized folder.

Changing Windows Live Writer to use the new annualized image folder Secondly, I instruct Windows Live Writer to use the new location for all future image uploads. 

When I edit the blog settings for uploading pictures, I will need to provide FTP account credentials again.  Then I can browse to the new location on the server and confirm that new location.

At the time I did this, there was already an uploaded-image folder at the images/ location the FTP account starts at (and where ftp.nfocentrale.com is pointed in this case).  That folder is allowed to remain, since there is a blog post that uses images from there.

Once I selected the folder, Windows Live Writer confirms the settings it will be using.

There is no further action to take until a new annualized folder is to be started.  Every January 1, if not sooner, I will repeat this process to start the next annualized group.  I can also adjust the backup procedures to begin preserving the new folder at that time.

 

WLW Confirmation of the FTP Configuration for Uploading to the Annualized Folder

Additiional Category Hierarchy as of 2010-08-22

After extending the category structure for Centrale and sites, I decided to seed the web-development category in the same fashion.

Here the category for retired web-development categories is the {obsolete} sub-category.

I figured that as long as I was busy seeding categories, I might as well start this set as well.

One small problem.  Although I had gone into the Movable Type administration panel for the nfoCentrale Status blog, I could not do anything that had the expansion below the web development category show up in Windows Live Writer.

I tried all of the usual things, including having Windows Live Writer update from the blog theme, having Windows Live Writer re-publish he entire blog, and finally rebooting my computer.

Of course, if I had noticed the refresh button on the Windows Live Writer pop-up for the available categories, something I had done just the day before, I would have the problem solved, as the image demonstrates.

I also finally realized that I don’t have to wait to have something meaningful to say simply to seed each new category.  I can do it with this announcement.

There will be more about what these are when I have more to say about their role in the development of the web sites since the initial creation of InfoNuovo (and just slightly before).

[update 2010-08-23T04:14Z I realized, when posting about additional web-development categories, that I can seed the unseeded subcategories simply by using the seeding post: this one.  This repost is strictly to accomplish that.]

As part of the nfoCentrale anchor-site stabilization, I am seeding all of the new categories I have established.  This will cause each category subfolder to be created and populated as part of the nfoCentrale Status blog structure on the hosted site.  I will then bring those folders under the construction-structure management of the nfoCentrale anchor site.

I have been quietly repaving the nfoCentrale anchor, as part of bringing a systematic sites cleanup and repaving under a single coordination point.

I will also be experimenting with alterations of Movable Type templates here and on Spanner Wingnut in preparation and confirmation of the stages to be undertaken in the systematic re-animation of my now-dormant blogs.

Although this seems to be a diversion from the task of restoring blogs, and I have this pent-up urge to be posting anew on them, this repaving work is crucial for providing me a place where I capture my experience and arrive at a guide that I can follow systematically.  This is also a precaution against any future situation where I need to do more of this, whether because of upgrading to new releases of Movable Type, porting to a new hosted site, simply adding more blogs, or integrating with new, now-unanticipated content-management facilities.

Windows Live Writer can upload pictures using the upload features of some blog-publishing services.  It will do that with Blogspot and Windows Live Spaces, for example. 

If you are hosting your own blogging engine, such as Movable Type, or have your own web site where you want blog posts and the images they use stored together, there is an option to upload images via FTP (File Transfer Protocol).  This does not require any cooperation of the blog-publishing engine.  Windows Live Writer posts the images independently, incorporating them in the post that is then submitted to the blog engine.

Another way to incorporate images into blog posts is to have them somewhere else on the Internet.  I often have photos and images on Flickr that I then include in blog posts.  I use this method occasionally, but not for images such as screen captures that are meaningful only in conjunction with a blog post.  Even when there is a Flickr version, I may want to resize and crop differently for the blog version.

Aside from using photos that are already on Flickr, FTP is my chosen method for all blogs that are published on nfoCentrale sites.  I did this when I used Windows Live Writer with Blogger to publish to nfoCentrale sites (also via FTP), and I am creating the same procedure for using Windows Live Writer with Movable Type.

PREREQUISITES

Configuration of Windows Live Writer for FTP transfer of images to a web site is in four steps:

    1. Connecting Windows Live Writer and the Blog.  The blog must already be set up and Windows Live Writer configured to post to it.  If Live Writer can’t log into the blog-publishing engine for your blog, it can’t be configured to upload images.  This step can be performed any time prior to step (4). 
       
      This part of the setup depends on the blog-publishing engine and how accounts for automated publishing through it are managed.  I use a Movable Type configuration on an Apache-based hosting-service account.  The user identification and password that Windows Live Writer uses to deliver posts is determined by that configuration and custom setting under my control.
        
    2. Preparing a Place for the Images.  A web-server location for the images must already be created for use.  This can be accomplished by using web-development software that publishes to a web site.  It can also be done using FTP access to the full web-server account and creating the necessary directories and any initial content.  The result will be a structure such as the one for nfoCentrale Status images described in Part I.
        
      If the site is already published via FTP, then providing additional FTP accounts for delegating limited access to Windows Live Writer may be relatively straightforward.   I use a combination of Microsoft FrontPage, Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), Visual SourceSafe, and FTP as part of a web-site development workflow.  While that’s more involved than many prefer, it also provides a backup and a restoration/migration mechanism for my web sites and the blogs that are part of them. 
        
    3. Creating a LImited FTP Account.  It is desirable to create a limited FTP account that can only be used to upload to the images location in step (2).  While there is little risk that the account credentials can be stolen and abused, I find it to be a consistent practice to create separate, limited FTP accounts that are easy to cancel or to change the password of without disrupting anything else.  This stage is illustrated in Part II.
        
      In my case, I also use computer-generated passwords that are definitely not memorable.  I remember these passwords in a digital safe on my computer.  This helps me to avoid using the same password in more than one place while also making it difficult to attack the password.  This, combined with the limitations on the FTP account limit the damage that can result from a successful exploit against the limited FTP account.  Along with the backup procedures that are kept in place, recovery from an exploit or other damage is also relatively straightforward.
        
    4. Configuring Live Writer for Photo Upload.  The final stage.
       

CONFIGURATION STEPS

Open Windows Live Writer and select Tools | Options | Accounts.  The account should already be set up for publishing to the blog without accompanying images.  (At this point, only images that are elsewhere on the web can be posted.)

Typical Live Writer Tools | Options | Accounts selection

On the dialog for editing the Blog Settings, select the Pictures option, select “Upload pictures to an FTP server:” and then click “Configure FTP …”:

Selecting FTP Configuration for Uploading Pictures

Moving the password from the safe to the clipboard for adding to the Live Writer FTP Account Parameters To configure FTP, I use the settings obtained when I created the FTP account.  I recover the password from its location in my password-safe software. 

This password is delivered to Windows Live Writer and I allow it to remember the account log-in for automatic use from my blog-authoring computer(s).

An interesting feature of Windows Live Writer is its provision for browsing to the FTP account.  This confirms that access works and it reveals what the access reaches.  Take that opportunity:

Browsing to the FTP location checks the FTP parameters

The option to Browse For Folder shows the achievement of access and the structure that is available at that point.  We are (we trust) looking at the place on the web server that corresponds to http://nfoCentrale.com/status/images and that is where we want Windows Live Writer to place the images it uploads:

The FTP access is limited to the folder set up when the FTP account was created.  Nothing else can be seen here.

Technically, the FTP account that I supplied has a base address at the server location publish_html/status/images/ and when we view the server via that account, all we can see is what is under that location.  Even that location is relative to my server-account location /home/orcmid/ but that is not part of the material displayed by the web server as http://nfoCentrale.com/ (although I can access it as part of working directly with software on the hosted account via logging into the Linux server through a remote console).

FTP Browse allows creation of subfolders.  I chose not to do that at this time.  My experience is that unless there is something already there, Windows Live Writer has difficulty confirming the setup.  I have already created an index.htm file in the images/ folder, although it is not visible in the Browse, and it will help confirm that I have found the right place.

After selecting that I want to use the folder that Browse shows me, Windows Live Writer fills in the appropriate base-relative location in its configuration:

The completed and confirmed FTP Server Configuration for Windows Live Writer uploading of images

The configuration is accepted.  Windows Live Writer has confirmed access to the place that pictures will be published to.  The validity of the URL has also been verified, although I do not know if Live Writer has any way to establish that the two places are actually the same.

In any case, the test, now, is to confirm successful upload of pictures inserted into a Windows Live Writer post and uploaded with the publishing of the post.  I accomplished that by writing and posting Part I.

 

[updated 2010-09-01T03:00Z Oddly, this post was not in the blog development/Windows Live Writer subcategory.  That rather interrupted the progression between parts I and III so I fixed that.]

To have Windows Live Writer place pictures and other uploads in a location that I own, I need to create an FTP Account that I will dedicate to uploads on behalf of nfoCentrale Status from Windows Live Writer.  The FTP Account will be to the http://nfoCentrale.com/status/images/ folder that I already created on the hosted site in Part I.

I must create the directory (done in Part I) and the FTP account next, because Windows Live Writer will verify that the account works and that the location on the server exists.

Creating an FTP Account on the Web-Hosting Account

I create an FTP account that has, as its accessible location, the web-server folder that corresponds to http://nfoCentrale.com/status/images.  This location is near the “top” (public_html) on my web-server account, where the material of the nfoCentrale anchor site is hosted.  You can also see that the CPanel administration tool furnished by my hosting service also seems to verify that the directory exists on the server already.

Other hosting services will have their own provisions for creating FTP access to specific web-site folders.  In this case, I am taking advantage of the opportunity to create an individual account that is only useful in uploading to the status/images folder associated with the nfoCentrale Status blog.

 Finding out how to access the FTP Account

On the page where I can review all of my FTP accounts, I can also find out what the correct FTP configuration is for accessing the server location associated with this new account.

The FTP Settings that I need to provide to Windows Live Writer

These are the settings that Windows LIve Writer will ask for.  I will also need to provide the account-specific password as well.

I use a password generator to create strong passwords that I never try to remember.  Instead, I keep the passwords in a safe associated with the name of the account and any other details that I want to have available for lookup.

The Password Safe Entry where I created the FTP Password

When I needed a password for the hosting-service to enforce for the FTP account specific to status/images/ I created the above new entry and generated a password to use.   That is now retained in the safe for use any time I need to provide the account to Windows Live Writer (or another tool) for its automatic use.  I can also create a new password if that becomes advisable at some future time.

 

Prepared folder for nfoCentrale Status  images For all of my blogs, I create a separate images/ folder in the blog directory on the web server that hosts the blog.

For nfoCentrale Status, I prepared the folder as part of my development web site for the nfoCentrale anchor site.  The folder is initialized with an index.htm that I use as a default to carry construction-structure information in the absence of any other default page.

It is useful to have the folder already on the site.  When I train Windows Live Writer to use this destination for new pictures that are used on nfoCentrale Status pages, it will verify the location for me.

I have already gone through the entire procedure.  This image appearing correctly on the blog page will be confirmation that my upload settings are working.

[update 2010-07-09T21:57Z I added the link back to the procedure that had the image on this page be uploaded successfully.]

As part of moving operation of the main nfoCentrale blogs to operation with Movable Type, the original blogs have been placed in various flavors of dormant state. 

Proof-of-concept confirmation of Movable Type workability has been completed.   Customization for the desired style and templates of the main nfoCentrale blogs is now under way.

Meanwhile, here is the the alphabetical run-down of the current status for all of the blogs.

Kiln Sitter’s Digest [Dormant: to be revived under Movable Type]

This blog is dormant pending introduction of a Movable Type version with comparable style.

nfoCentrale Status [Active]

This is a new blog created for confirming Movable Type installation and configuration.   It is now used to provide status information for nfoCentrale blogs and for the ongoing development of nfoCentrale sites.  It’s customization is only loosely-connected with that for the other blogs of this family.

Numbering Peano [Dormant: to be revived under Movable Type]

This blog is dormant pending introduction of a Movable Type version with comparable style.

Orcmid’s Lair [Dormant: to be revived under Movable Type]

This, my original blog, is dormant pending introduction of a Movable Type version with comparable style.

Orcmid’s Live Hideout [Unwanted: to be scavenged and then abandoned]

This blog was an experiment using Windows Live Spaces.  This blog is dormant pending its eventual retirement.

Professor von Clueless in the Blunder Dome [Dormant: to be revived under Movable Type]

This blog is dormant pending introduction of a Movable Type version with comparable style.

Pursuing Harmony [Dormant: to be revived under Movable Type]

This blog is dormant pending introduction of a Movable Type version with comparable style.

Spanner Wingnut’s Muddleware Lab [Active]

This is the first dormant Blogger-generated blog to be revived as a Movable Type blog.  Its revival confirmed the creation of multiple blogs under different domain names under the same web server account.  This blog is used to confirm blog configuration and template customizations before the arrangement is used to clone the revival of remaining dormant blogs.

Blog customizations continue to be explored using Spanner Wingnut.

[2010-07-04T21:26 updated to use blog development categories and provide more history for the Movable Type configuration effort.]

After a number of mistaken changes to mt-config.cgi that ultimately had my Movable Type dashboard fail to come up properly, I managed a set of changes that work for blogs whether under the main site, such as this one, and whether under other sites, such as Spanner Wingnut on orcmid.com.

Here are the final working settings:

F10xx96-2010-05-29-1948-mt-config-0.08.pngWhat I did was remove any ##-comments at the ends of non-comment lines.  Those are not recognized as comments.  I also shrank the white space between the name of the configuration settings and their parameter values.

Since I had attempted so many different changes before I figured out how I was going wrong, I don't know which of the mt-config.cgi changes were necessary to have comments working for Spanner Wingnut.  They appear to be sufficient and I am keeping it this way for now. 

I will also symbolically link at least cgi-bin/mt/ and perhaps mt-static/ into every domain in which I bring up other Movable Type blogs.

Having accomplished Plan B, for now, I will look at customization of templates for Spanner Wingnut.  I also want to see what it takes to hook up Windows Live Writer.

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My efforts to have comments working on blogs other than this one have been completely frustrated.

My suspicion is that the JavaScript that deals with comment registration and brings up the registration form is confused by the other blogs being under a different domain.  It is all right to reach the Movable Type code by absolute URIs of the different nfoCentrale anchor-site.  That is apparently not good enough for comment handling.

Plan B involves having each nfoCentrale-anchored add-on domain have its own cgi-bin/mt/ directory, and even mt-static/ directory, for the blogs that are operated under that anchored domain.

Plan B involves magical directory-linking, not by actually duplicating the installation (that being the much-despised Plan C).

The first problem is to learn how this is done in Linux, and to then see if I can actually do it with the privileges I have for manipulating the web-hosting account as the owner of the account.

So, first to hit the books and do some practice in SSH.  Then we'll see if I can make any improvement this way.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the nfoCentrale Status category.

Kiln Sitter's Digest is the previous category.

Numbering Peano is the next category.

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