Why am I moving my blog?
I finally got around to sorting out my new 'Alex Barnett blog' on alexbarnett.net!
About my new blog
I'm using Telligent's Community Server (the recently released 2.1 version) and running very nicely thanks to the good folks at ASPnix (my new host - they know CS inside out, so *perfect* for supporting set up, and rectifiying my mistakes :-) plus excellent SQL Server support...I can even use SQL Server Management Studio to manage my own DBs (Express Edition here) hosted at ASPnix- sweet). Full FTP access to CS files, the lot.
The CS server has more than blogware (the same blogware running the blogs.msdn.com and blogs.technet.com blogs and the recently in-the-news Dell blog): it has forums, photos and files stuff and is used to run large community sites (e.g. ASP.NET, NetFx3 (btw, have checked out the new CTP release for .NET Framework 3.0?). CS is also used by a bunch of individual bloggers too, e.g. Larry Hyrb aka Xbox Live's Major Nelson and another blogger who's been in my OPML file for a while, Jason Knight.
Apart from the fact that you can customize (at code-level if you want) CS to you heart's content - no pun intended - the best part is that the 'Express' edition is free. Talking of customization, I settled on a pic I took in Yellowstone and got the blog looking pretty much as I want it (thanks to my sister Natasha who helped out on the CSS decyphering and styling). I'm using the 'Paperclip' theme as the base template - I might post up details later on how this was pimped. Anyway, what do you think?
I've also been able to use the new RSS / Atom / feeds syndication ('Mirror') features in CS 2.1 allowing the alexbarnett.net/blog to syndicate posts from my MSDN blog (more on this here). Hopefully once MSDN / TechNet / Communities team updates their instance of CS to 2.1 I can do the reverse (hmmm...need to think that one through though). In effect, my Feedburner subscribers don't have to change a thing (you see, there a was masterplan all along ;-)
Does this sound like an ad for Community Server and ASPnix?
I suppose so, but I'm just so pleased to be able to run my own blog as mine now. I'll be updating the MSDN blog from time to time for pure Microsoft releated stuff as I've still got a load of subscribers on the old RSS / Atom feed, so I'll have to provide those subscibers some gentle reminders to move over to my Feedburner feed. Plus the old feed is feeding the MSDN blogs aggregate feed that is syndicated pretty widely, so I should still use it to some degree.
Why am I moving my blog?
Well, there's something about knowing that your thoughts are hosted on your employer's infrastructure that I think has tended to constrain my writing somewhat - not much, but enough to be aware of it as I blog. And not because of company policy (i.e. 'blog smart').
While on MSDN, I always got a slight guilty feeling whenever I posted about purely personal or technical but non-Microsoft related stuff. I know there are bunch of posts I've written or wanted to write but didn't because I'm on 'official' territory.
Does that mean that my personal thoughts to be published on my new blog can't be intepreted as the words of a Microsoft employee, just because they live on my personal domain? No, I'm not thinking that at all.
If there's one thing we're all learning as 'Microsoft bloggers' is that what you write is considered a view of a Microsoft employee and therefore is quoteable and abusable as evidence of Microsoft's position on a matter. It doesn't matter how much you point out disclaimers (ah, that reminds me! I should add one to my personal blog...) that "your views are you own and not those of your employers' ", that fact it is that it is the perception that counts. Even as I write this post and know that I'm publishing from my new blog on a non-Microsoft-owned site, I am aware of my contractual agreement with my employer, I am aware the information that I know of but can't share publicly and the conversations with colleagues that cannot be made public. While at Microsoft, Robert Scoble and others regularly reminded us of that. This exit video of Scoble on Channel 9 is must-see viewing for any blogger in my view (most people are employed by somebody) - he talks about the fact that everytime he blogged he was very aware of the associated risks. I was sad to see him go - he taught me and the rest of us a lot about this topic. The fact that you might think that I'm writing 'on behalf of Microsoft' (which is not the case :-P ) is a fact that any blogging employee of any company needs to be mindful of. Blog smart in other words.
I've been blogging on MSDN since December 2003 (and on other blogs before that). It has been a great platform to get the feet wet on the 'corporate' blogging front and the Community team as well as the MSDN team that orginally got things going have been amazing in supporting the Microsoft blogging efforts, and they still are. As I say, I'll still be blogging there occasionally (on the Data Programmability team blogs (Data, ADO.NET, XML Team and SQL Protocols).
All the pieces of me
So here I am...in another part of cyberspace, playing with yet more stuff.
But at least this place, I hope to call home for while at least, is my place - where I connect all the distributed pieces of me. So it's not an MSDN gig, it's not a Live Space, it's my place. Let's see where I end up, here.
There is one downside though, a minor one, but only because I'm a competitive moron (but I'm not the only one...). You see, the blog traffic numbers at Microsoft are published each month internally and there is a little friendly competition among a few on the monthly numbers (most, quite rightly, don't care about these pv's and aggregate views and rankings), so, alas, I'm giving that game up. A good thing I'm sure...
Eeesh...I'm writing this as if I'm making some kind of major life change! But blogging has been a big part of me for some years now, so moving from one blog to another feels like major deal to me. Anyway, enough of this nonsense! Enjoy the new blog!
P.S. Feel free to update your blogrolls :-)