I spent all day Monday — seriously, like 11 hours — troubleshooting our website, which I had migrated over to an upgraded server with the latest version of Centos. It had been loading slow, probably because of some plugins I had installed on the WordPress side to customize the RSS feed.

If you had asked me about any of those things three years ago, I would have chased you out of the room. But now maintenance of the hardware in the office, the software on the site and the programs we use to put out the paper all fall squarely within my purview.

Here’s how it came to be that one of the oldest guys in the room became the tech department for a small media startup.

In the initial business plan I had a web guy penciled in on staff, but before we got off the ground he took a better offer in the responsible pornography industry, for which I could not blame him. Before he did, though, he set me up with a WordPress site and a dedicated virtual server located in some warehouse in Seattle: three terabytes of muscle that for years swallowed everything we threw into its gullet — photos, video, maps and more than 3,000 posts since we launched.[pullquote]Here’s how it came to be that one of the oldest guys in the room became the tech department for a small media startup.[/pullquote]

In the ensuing months the guys and I taught ourselves how to use it, and I picked up a few things on optimization and widgetry as the body of work — and demand to see it — grew.

One might think that some of the whippersnappers running around our offices would know more about the technology that drives our industry than the 46-year-old dinosaur wallowing at the desk in the corner, but that is not the case with our flock of millennials, who can post something to Instagram literally one second after it happens and tweak stuff to the top of the Facebook and Google algorithms but don’t know how to access the server from home.

And though Jordan Green can find a campaign-finance report or a relevant statute faster than a library gnome, he is something of a technological jinx. Sometimes I think he’d be more comfortable with a typewriter.

And so it was that I spent Monday tied up in knots with a crash course in server-side dynamics and the slow creep of the status bar as I indexed and optimized and called the support department again and again.

By sundown it was all over. And I’m swearing off plugins for good.


  1. Way to go, Brian — site’s lookin’ sharp! I especially like seeing the authors’ names credited for the posts and the new front page. Even this Disqus commenting thingy is slick. Well done.

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