Technical Changes at Frankly Curious

As many of you surely noticed, the blog was down for about six hours today. It was quite a complicated problem that more or less required that I create a whole new database and import the old data back into it. I’m happy it is back up. These experiences are frightening, because Frankly Curious uses Nucleus for its blog, and Nucleus is no longer supported. What’s more, the word is that once we upgrade to PHP 5.4, it won’t work at all. This thought weighs heavily on me.

The fact is that Frankly Curious has really been taking off. Its three-month Alexa rating is about 1.3 million right now, but its monthly and weekly rating are quite a bit lower still. That may not seem that great, but there are roughly a billion websites on the internet. Even if you take the active websites, our little site is well inside the top 1%. What it means in people terms is that the site tends to get about 500 people per day reading. (And about 1,500 spammers.) I think this is due to the fact that I create an enormous amount of content—roughly 3,000 words per day—a novel per month. And that means almost by random chance, there will be things that attract some attention. It also means that people know they can always stop by and I will be ranting about something—maybe even something they’re interested in!

As a result of this, I do not like down time. And the thought of the site being down for a few days is horrifying. But we are going to have to move to a different blogging platform. The problem is how I can do this while retaining the links that currently exist to the site. And I have an idea for how to do that! I think we will moved to Word Press. And I think I can move all of the current blog’s articles and comments to it. Once that’s done, I’ll create a simple PHP script that will detect whether an old style (Nucleus) or a new style (Word Press) request has come in. If it is the old style, it will change to the new format and send it to the Word Press blog. Otherwise, it will pass it straight through.

So this weekend, I am going to experimenting. But not on Frankly Curious. Andrea, who is very hot to move to Word Press, has graciously offered to left me monkey with one of her blogs, Nice Atheist Girl. That is much more manageable. And far less harm can be done. And if all goes well, next weekend, we may put Word Press up here. If everything works as it should, there really shouldn’t be any down time. Of course, my idea may not work out. If that happens, well, I’m sure other things will occur to me. I will be providing updates.

Update (15 August 2014 8:40 pm)

I’ve been working nonstop on this problem and it looks like my basic approach will work. I will be able to keep the old Nucleus stuff around as it is. This will probably require that I update to a new flavor of of Nucleus that doesn’t have many of the plugins that this version has, but at least will continue to work. All of these articles will be transferred over to the new Word Press site, but they won’t include the comments because that is just way too complicated to make it work. And then we will be running entirely on Word Press. This should allow us to add some things that people have requested like email alerts when comments have been made and maybe threaded comments. This will probably happen over the course of next weekend.

Oscar Peterson

Oscar PetersonOn this day in 1925, the great jazz pianist Oscar Peterson was born. He has an amazing back story. When he was very young, he played the trumpet. But he caught tuberculosis and so concentrated on the piano. Not that it matters. Had this not have happened, I probably would have started this article, “On this day in 1925, the great jazz trumpet player…” Because the instrument doesn’t generally matter.

He was trained classically, but naturally gravitated toward jazz, especially boogie-woogie. At the age of fourteen, he won a nationwide music competition put on by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. After that, he quit school and went to work as a musician.

I learned something new and charming about Peterson. I’ve always associated him with Art Tatum. Lot of people have. The influence is clear enough. But apparently, when he was still a kid, Peterson’s father introduced him to Art Tatum and the boy became depressed, thinking he could never be as good. He and Tatum later became friends, but Peterson would never play the piano around the older musician, such was his reverence and insecurity toward the older master.

Last year, I presented Peterson playing his own composition, “The Cakewalk.” I don’t want to repeat myself, but you really owe it to yourself to click over and listen to it. It includes Joe Pass on guitar, who is a marvel himself. Here Peterson is all by himself doing a beautiful version Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight”:

Happy birthday Oscar Peterson!