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Why I moved my personal domain to Google Apps and ditched my @gmail.com address

Back in May of 2010, I signed up for the free version of Google Apps (which I will refer to as GApps from here on out) for my personal, non-business domain onyxmueller.net.  There were many reasons to do this.  Kevin Purdy (of Lifehacker), pointed out some of his own good reasons not long ago.  For me, I saw the potential in having Google host my communication data & sharing tools (e.g., emails, address book contacts, documents, calendar, etc.) for my domain.  Some of the motivating factors were:

1) It’s free!  This speaks for itself.
2) Cloud-based storage and accessibility of my data.
3) Utilizing the previous factor, my data could be synchronized with my mobile devices (e.g., Android, iOS, Mac OS X).  I could literally have my data anywhere, as I wish.
4) Management & service tools that were intuitive and easy to manage (e.g., Gmail!).
5) The best email spam filter I’ve ever used.

So, I signed up and configured GApps core services for my needs.  This worked pretty well.  But I never thought my GApps hosted domain provided enough benefits to stop using my long-time, personal Google Account (and repective @gmail.com email address).  That wasn’t until I found out that Google was going to merge GApps accounts with personal Google Accounts.  When this became available and I had gone through with the merger process, a whole slew of services that previously required a personal Google Account were now available for my GApps personal domain.  Things like Google Reader, Picasa Web Albums, & Google Voice were all open to my GApps onyxmueller.net domain.

With this now possible, I recently I took the plunge to retire the use of my personal Google Account (including my @gmail.com email address).  I still own and access the account/email address, but it mainly only remains to forward emails still being sent to my old address and for other odds & ends.  My Google experience (if you will) & email from hereforth, is now being done with my GApps hosted onyxmueller.net personal domain.  So far, I’m enjoying the ride.

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WordPress Twitter Tools Shows Blank Page On Connect

A co-worker/friend recommended using Twitter Tools for integrating my WordPress blog with my Twitter account, so I thought I would give it a shot.  Twitter Tools makes use of a Twitter application that you need to create as a medium for your blog/Twitter communication.  After cruising through the process of creating a Twitter app and entering the consumer/access keys required to configure Twitter Tools, I ran into a problem.  Every time I would try to hit the ‘Connect to Twitter’ button on the Twitter Tools options page, it would lead to a blank page (and an indication from my browser that the server had returned a HTTP 500 error code).  Since there was no error message (of course!), I was clueless as to what was going on or what I was doing wrong.  Searching around, I found a WordPress Help Center article describing the same issue I was having and what the root cause was.

The solution was to install/compile cURL extension support into PHP5.  If your blog runs on a Linux VPS (virtual private server), you will probably run a command similar to this:

apt-get install php5-curl

If your blog is on a hosting environment (without shell access!), you’ll need to find a different way to have the extension installed.

Once cURL is successfully installed, restart/reload Apache.  One way to do that would be to run the following:

sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 reload

That fixed the problem for me.  I hope it helps someone out there that finds this post!

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A Blog Renewed

After a long hiatus from blogging, I’ve decided to give it another go.  You might be asking “When in the hell did you ever blog before?!”  Good question.

My first attempt was back in college, somewhere in the 2003-2004 time frame.  Back then, Blogger had grown in popularity and had been recently acquired by Google.  I thought if Google was this invested in Blogger, there must be some value.  So, I decided I wanted to find out what this blogging was all about.  But instead of using the Blogging service, I decided to roll my own home-made version.  I’m not sure why I decided to “re-invent the wheel”…perhaps it was because I wanted to see what it would take to build such as tool.  Anyway, I built my entire home-made system and was blogging in no time.  The core of the system was architected with Perl logic and a MySQL datastore.  It worked OK.  It was mostly a kluge, but it got the job done.  I was even able to re-use most that system for a baseball team site of a team I used to manage and play for during one summer in college (the 2004 MABL Northern Colorado Red Sox!).

But I digress.  I’m back to trying to keep a blog and be proactive with it.  This time through my blogging experience, instead of writing my own software, I’ve decided to use the current industry standard, WordPress, as blogging platform.  I like it so far.  It wasn’t very hard to setup and to customize, making getting a blog up and running a cinch.  I’m still not sure what exactly my blog is going to be about…probably a whole plethora of topics.  We’ll see.  Stay tuned for more, you non-existent visitor…you.