Walking in the Footsteps of Giants

I have a project at work I have been dreading. Our current wiki is running on Ubuntu JeOS and PostgreSQL, and we are moving to Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server. The move to Windows was frustrating, but pretty easy–to be perfectly honest, getting it to all work on Linux was a lot more difficult, but that was partially because I had no friggin’ idea what I was doing 2.5 or so years ago when I started working with Confluence. But I could handle that OK. Moving to MSSQL is a bit terrifying though. I’ve been avoiding it for a week.

Confluence was built to work with Postgre, and it works very well. There’s no configuration, no real tricks to it. You just drop the driver in the right folder, click the install button, and go. For MSSQL, though, there are a lot of hoops to jump through, both in regards to software configuration and the database setup. What’s more, the DB is running on Enterprise System‘s SQL Server, which is kind of a Big Deal. This isn’t me just playing around with a local toy anymore, so if I screw something up, it’s going to be a little more noticeable.

This afternoon when I began working on it, though, I had already spent about 4 hours researching the topic. I had read all the comments on different wiki pages and I had all my notes. I followed the directions Very Carefully.

And it worked.

I was pretty nervous when it took over two minutes to connect to the DB and get set up, which it did silently so I had no idea if it was about to stab me or not. But in the end, it did connect, and now I’m getting ready to push a ton of data to it.

That’s my next big hurdle: will the data pulled from PGSQL push into MSSQL without a hitch? According to what I read, it should as long as the DB username is the same, but I’m still nervous. Regardless, I want to offer public thanks for all those early adopters who blaze the trails I hesitantly step down.

Cleaning house

Though I am an avid collector of site statistics, spending hours playing with Google Analytics on both my personal website and the ones I run for the university, I don’t really do much with the stats. They don’t drastically shape the way I run my sites, and though I find them intriguing, I don’t do much beyond becoming intrigued. And because I have Google Analytics running, it doesn’t often occur to me to log into Google’s Webmaster Tools to see how things are going on that end. I’ve got a sitemap in place and everything’s solid, but until recently I never thought much about the health of my site.

Crawl
All 198 errors are 404s, for the love...

When I do look, however, I notice that things aren’t as wonderful as I’d like. GWT tells me that there are 198 errors, which sounds pretty serious, and I’ve read elsewhere that an abundance of errors like this can really hurt a site’s pagerank. What’s worse, that number (198) is pretty new. The amount of errors seems to be growing. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, what with the recent overhaul of SilverPen and all, but a lot of pages aren’t being found. Even more frustrating, a lot of the pages that can’t be found are ones that never existed to begin with. I also find it odd and rather perturbing that Google uses the sitemap as more of a handy reference than as the set of instructions I had intended it to be, so it is indexing some subdirectories and sites I don’t use or particularly want indexed. I’m not entirely sure what Google’s smoking.

I decided to clean things up a bit to see if I could reduce the number of errors I have listed. I didn’t hit all 198 issues, but the ones causing the most errors and some of the more obvious ones have been fixed, often with either a 301 redirect or by editing the page to fix whatever was wrong with it. I’ll know in a few weeks whether this helped or not–unfortunately, you can’t just reset Google’s findings and tell it to crawl your site again.

Remember back when SilverPen was actually five blogs (Reader, Writer, Tech, Theology, Main)? That was only 1.5-2 years ago (though it definitely feels longer), but let me tell you, it was a bad idea. The whole thing, total failure, shouldn’t be done again. As I have been wont to say lately, “If I knew then what I know now…” *shakes fist and waves cane in the air*. I have been slowly working to reintegrate the blogs back into one, because in addition to those five there was also a later poetry one, and one for stories about the elven character Arias Stormsworn, and one for entries directly related to being newlyweds (written by both April and me). At long last, I have all those shut down, cleaned out, and brought under one roof.

They were really bugging me, not just because of the page errors, but because they represented security risks. Because I wasn’t using or signing into them, the software and plugins got further and further out of date, and that is always a hazard. What’s more, I felt I had this creep of databases and RSS feeds that was getting out of hand. When I look at my DBs and I’m not sure which is which, that raises a flag for me. Now everything is pared down where I know what is what and it’s all solid. In addition to all this, I also signed into April’s site and added some plugins to manage her SEO and tighten everything up, which should help with SilverPen Publishing’s overall health.

I have discovered the wonder of how WordPress manages RSS feeds, so I have created a couple of specific feeds for the items that need them. If I’d known this was possible years ago, everything might have been different. Still, I won’t let that get me down. It’s nice to have everything cleaned up and ship-shape.