Kindness of blog servers

Week before classes start. Everybody wants everything, now. I’m still working on things that needed to be done in 2005. And so, my blog server dies. No, not this one, the one that I set up for the students. And early next week, 400 students in my class, and many others in other classes are going to need it working. No problem, it was an easy fix: my account ran out of disk space. But it was the last straw. I am (very, slowly) getting out of the blog-server business.

I set up the server initially as a bit of an experiment. Thanks to some funding from the Educational Technology Center on campus, I made the system a bit more robust, and user friendly. I’ve been keeping it up, and updating to new versions, and finally have the spam monkey mostly off our backs. However, the piece of the proposal that was not funded by ETC–a new server–is finally biting us. I figured that some good successes would ensure future funding for servers and support, but that seems unlikely now.

At the same time, some of the reasons I wanted our own system are now less compelling. This is particularly true now that wordpress.com offers free wordpress hosting. For the cyberporn course, this semester, I am pointing students toward weblogs.com, and then aggregating their posts centrally.

Trebor Scholtz is still using the schoolof server for his course, Technologies for Creative Collaborations, and it seems to be doing OK with Christopher Harris’s very popular infomancy blog, as well as several other active blogs. So, I will keep the server around as it is indefinitely. Or, perhaps I should offer some of the more power-users sublets on my webspace so that they can do what they like with it–with some collective work it could be made into something very solid. But then edublogs already provides much in this direction, I guess.

In the meantime, I’ve put together a quick screencast (SWF, ~6 Mb), walking absolute beginners through signing up for a blog at wordpress.com. More to come on this, as I do a quick weekend switch in blogging strategies for the huge cyberporn class. (Textbooks for that class are still AWOL as well. And I always thought of Friday the 13th as an especially lucky day for me.)

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4 Comments

  1. Posted 1/14/2006 at 1:39 am | Permalink

    Alex, what program did you use to record your narrated screen-captured swf? It’s very smooth and a great way to do a basic introduction to blogging and I’d like to give it a try!

  2. alex
    Posted 1/14/2006 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Just the regular old Camtasia. It’s pretty good for the basics.

  3. Cheshire
    Posted 1/15/2006 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I’m a student in your Spring Cyberporn class and noticed that the UB Learns portion of the course has disappeared and was wondering what was up with that.

  4. alex
    Posted 1/15/2006 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Cheshire: Sorry for the confusion, it will be back up on Tuesday. I just didn’t want to confuse folks. Email going out tonight to the same effect.

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