Moving to Blog-City
One combination free/pay blog site available on the Internet is Blog-City.com. This site runs on a farm of Dell PowerEdge Blade servers, each with six dual-CPU blades running Red Hat Linux 9. Blog-City.com runs Java's JDK 1.4.x underneath BlueDragon (www.newatlanta.com/products/bluedragon). BlueDragon is the same ColdFusion Markup Language (CFML) application that runs MySpace.com. MySpace.com is the fifth largest Web site in the world.
Blog-City offers no static content. It dynamically constructs every page as it is requested by pulling it from a MySQL 4.1.x database that is replicated for both backup and administrative purposes. Blog-City uses MySQL 5.0 for a caching server to speed up access time, and it uses MySQL 4.1.x for all of the access and referrer statistics. These separate database servers keep the load for particular types of access from bogging down other types of access.
For Web service, Apache 1.3.x communicates with BlueDragon through mod_backhand (www.backhand.org/mod_backhand) with a Java library the company wrote and then released back to the community to make sure that the load balancing works properly for the application server. The mod_backhand module load balances only the Web server by default. Blog-City uses additional mini-farms to produce RSS feeds and answer search engine queries. There is also custom software for handling spam, denial-of-service attacks and a bug-tracking system. All in all, Blog-City is an operation that is spread over a number of time zones and multiple continents, just like its users.
Before trying to create a blog in Blog-City, try various URLs in the format of word.blog-city.com to see which ones are already in use (for example, kleekai.blog-city.com). Once you find something you think is available, go to www.blog-city.com (Figure 1) and find the Free Signup box. Enter the name you want to use for your blog in the text box. For the above example, you would enter kleekai. Next, click Submit to open the Create New Blog dialog box (Figure 2) and walk through the rest of the blog creation process.
Go to your blog's URL to log in to your blog for the first time. You also can click through one of the links on the creation page or click one of the links in your confirmation e-mail. When you do, you will see your initial blog page (Figure 3).
Enter your e-mail address and password in the Login Console text boxes, and then click Login. Once you reach the Main Administration page (Figure 4), bookmark it. This is where you need to go whenever you want to change something on your blog or check your statistics. Much like UNIX, there is often more than one way to get to a particular option through this interface. This article focuses on one path for each.
The tabs across the top of this page lead to:
Home: view Main Administration page.
Blog-It: create a new blog entry.
Entries: view and delete existing posts, and see how many times each item has been read and commented on. Blog-City supports a variety of entry types, including regular blog posts, reviews, photo albums, events and podcasts.
Look'n'Feel: control your blog's layout, themes, headers, menus and more.
Settings: alter your personal and blog settings.
Extra: access statistics, account details and more.
Along the left, what you see depends on whether you have a premium (paid) account or not. The top grouping of links leads to:
Home: the Main Administration page.
Write a new blog entry: the blog entry creation page.
View Latest Comments: the most recent comments made to your blog, the entry to which they were made, when they were made and the ability to delete, reply or report them as spam.
View Latest Trackbacks: premium-only—rather than replying in comments, some people create trackbacks, which are essentially replies made on their own blogs. By clicking this link and then Change Your Trackback Options, you can tell Blog-City to send you an e-mail whenever a trackback is made.
View Latest Statistics: premium-only—takes you to your Statistics page, where you can view the most-read blog posts, the most-commented, how many hits you have had per month and within a month, the browsers that have been used to access your blog, what pages referred people to your blog and which are your top podcasts.
View Podcast Statistics: premium-only—see which are your most popular podcasts.
Manage Your LinkBlog: a LinkBlog is a list of links with comments displayed for each. This link lets you create a LinkBlog and manage its contents. It also provides the URL and RSS feeds where you and others can find the content.
Beneath this group on the left are:
Hits since date: date is either when the blog was created or the last time you reset the hit counter. To reset the counter, click the date and then click OK. This action does not reset any other statistics.
Total Blog Entries: how many posts you've made on your blog, and a statistic of how many posts that makes per day.
Total Comments: how many comments people have posted.
Mailing-List Subscribers: how many people have signed up to receive e-mail notifications when you put up a new post. Click through the link to see non-anonymous subscribers.
There are many more items in the Main Administration page, including:
Recently Published Entries: the last five blog entries you published.
Entries not yet published: entries you saved as drafts rather than publishing.
My Notes: any notes you have created (go to Extra -< Your Notes to do so).
News: the most recent News posting from the Blog-City staff.
TimeZone: your local time for you to check.
Quick Tip: a tip that may tell you how to do something you didn't know you could do.
Additional information: includes pricing and availability of new features, such as podcasting.
You'll find additional options related to RSS, posting by e-mail and more by clicking the Settings tab. Also, note the link to your own blog in the upper-left corner. At any time, you can click this link to view your own blog. Clicking through here makes sure that your test views aren't counted among your viewer statistics, which is a nice way to make sure they don't get artificially inflated.