The thing about web technology - and computing in general - that continues to frustrate me, is that it forces me to rely on hardware and software that is often outside of my direct control. It's all very well embracing the server side and using browser-based products like Movable Type and Bloglines, as I do. But it does mean I rely on the people who control the servers I use. For example, I've been trying to contact my web server hosts for the past week. They're based in the US and I've sent them a flurry of emails... but no response. It's holding up the release of my new topic-focused blog. And then this morning I notice that my website is down due to a server issue. And I'm helpless, because I don't control the server.
The moral for living on the server side is always to Back Up Your Data. Even so, when you rely on services - it's about more than data. It's almost like the servers I rely on are a part of me. Like extra limbs. Except in the back of my mind, I know the limbs can go dead or start twitching uncontrollably at any time. Or even fall off!
Anyway there is a point to this macabre little rant (besides venting my frustration at my web hosting company). Radio Userland's just appointed Steve Kirks as Product Manager and Steve has written a promising letter outlining the actions he'll be taking to improve the Radio Userland product. This is great news for Radio users, even if it's at least 2 years late. Like Marc Canter, I used to use Radio - a desktop application - to publish my weblog. In May I swapped to Movable Type, a server-side app. The big advantage of a desktop app is that it gives you more control, or at least it is one step removed from the reliance on a server. If the server goes down, you can at least continue to run the product on your desktop even if you can't publish your content. So your extra limbs continue to work, albeit in a restricted manner if the server is down.
I liked Radio, but decided to undergo a weblog transplant operation in May - opting for a more flexible blogging limb with enhanced functionality. I wrote a long post at the time that outlined why I moved from Radio to MT, which would be a useful reference to Steve now.
But the flexibility I got out of my new blogging limb came at the cost of increased reliance on my web server, which I sometimes feel isn't attached to me as closely as I'd like. Radio used to be marketed as a "personal web server" (not sure if it still is), which implies that the server is attached to you personally rather than being something you remote control from afar via an Internet connection. I have to admit, sometimes living on the desktop makes your extra limbs feel more naturally a part of you.