Sunday, June 22, 2014

A major blog upgrade is possible, but *only* with your help!

Dear friends,

You have seen me complain and moan about the fact that this a one-man-blog and that I only have 24 hours in a day for everything.  I won't repeat it all here, but the key problem is this: blogger does not allow for anything but a one-man-blog.  Let me explain

The current situation and the problems it creates

In order to have somebody helping me moderate comments, I would need to give this person my full credentials (username and password) to this blog.  To do so would be irresponsible not only because I never met any of those who kindly offered their help, but because even sending that kind of info by email is asking for problems.

I have the exact same problems with this blog's backups: at least two people have very kindly offered to help with this ( and ) but it is a pain to do for them because I cannot share my full credentials with them.  If I did, such a process could easily be automated.  I have also reserved several spots "just in case" (;; but they are all dormant because of the same problem: credentials.

As long as this problem is not solved, this blog will remain at the mercy of the good folks at Blogger/Google who could at any time receive a complaint from some less than well-intentioned people which would result in a shutdown.

Not good.  Not good at all.

A possible solution

I was recently contacted by 'M' who urged me to move my blog away from Blogger and to have it hosted on a Drupal server.  He wrote:
If you went with a Drupal based site, you could really streamline your posting process, incorporate other volunteers, and best of all, is page translation, so you can have the same site, with multiple different languages.  In addition, you could incorporate a monthly subscription, and maybe stratify the content, so paying members receive a first look, or have access to additional posts/material.
Now  while I do want to keep everything I do free and only rely on spontaneous donations, I do like the other ideas very much.  What I would really need is a system (WordPress or Drupal or any other as long as it is based on free and open source software) which would allow me to hand out limited credentials to other volunteers.  For example, it would be a HUGE help if, say, 2 persons took upon themselves to moderate comments.  Of course, such an upgrade would require the assistance of one (more more) webmasters to set this up and keep it running.  'M' already offered to do that, but I would feel better if this tasked was spread amongst at least 1 or 2 more webmasters who could help 'M' or replace him if he is sick, too busy or otherwise unavailable.  Or think of Mindfriedo's fantastic SITREPs.  Don't they deserve a better place than always squeezed between Ukrainian news?

When I look at the fantastic job of the French-speaking folks who are running the French-language version of this blog (at - check it out, they even are adding their own articles!!) I see how much can be achieved in a collaboration.

So I am extremely interested in exploring that option.  But, that entails the following decisions and means:

How you can help

First, I need help in finding servers willing to host this blog.  Ideally, it would be in a country as safe as possible from imperial censorship.  'M' and I are thinking about Iceland (But that is not the only option).  'M' has found this:

Which for for 400 GB/ month, it is 7800 kr a month, which equates to about $70 a month.  Bandwidth appears to be a little more expensive over in Iceland. 

I am not sure in terms of GB/Month but in terms of hit per day I am steady at about 25'000-35'000 depending on the day (and the events in the Ukraine).  I would expect that number to substantially grow if this blog became more flexible and feature-rich.  In other words - we have to assume that bandwidth usage will be high and only grow.

What I have already done is purchased a domain-name for this "new and improved" blog just in case you - the readers - want it and want to help me make it happen: (-: I chose the .net extension because I hope to turn this one-man-blog into a network of collaborators :-)

Such an upgrade would free time for me from administrating a blog to researching topics and writing analyses.  It would mean being able to accept the many offers of help I already have from volunteers which, so far, I had to turn down.  And it would mean offering a much more mature and feature rich blog to all of you.

Finally, I have also been getting some truly excellent submissions (and the amazing editors of the French mirror of this blog are now even offering to write and/or translate articles back into English for publication here!) and these submissions also would deserve better than being squeezed between a flood of other posts.  I would love to have a dedicated "SITREP" page and a dedicated "Guest post" page.

So here are my needs at this moment in time:

1) Servers: if you can host or pay for hosting a server in Iceland (or elsewhere) please let me know.
2) Webmasters: if you can help 'M' (with Drupal/PHP/Apache or other tasks) please let me know.

If you can help with any of this, please email 'M' at (with, if possible, a cc: or just so I know what is going on).

Donations - an idea on how to bypass PayPal

Also, I wanted to the following mention donations

First, I apologize for my delays (usually about one week or so) in replying and thanking for donations.  As usual, I have to chose between updating the blog with "hot" news or replying to donations and I always think "I will do that tomorrow".  I am sure you know the dynamic.  Anyway, I am truly immensely grateful for these donation which really help the blog, me personally and my family.

Second, it occurred to me that that those who hate PayPal (which I fully understand!) could send me an Amazon gift card by email. I could then use it to purchase items not only for my family, but for my frankly very outdated computers: at the very least I would badly need a new desktop (I wish you could *hear* the sound mine makes to see how close to "death" he is...) and a new laptop as mine are not only old, but also over-used.  I have an excellent monitor, so all I need would be the "tower" (the desktop itself) and a halfway decent laptop to use when on the go (which I do a lot). 

=>Also - you do not need to be in the USA to send me an Amazon giftcard<=  (just connect to from anywhere in the world!)

Also, if somebody wants to donate a specific item, you can send it to this address:
The Saker
PO Box 711
Edgewater, FL 32132-0711
That's it for today.  The ball is, as they say, in your court.  If you can help me and 'M' make this blog a better source of information and, which is almost as important, a high quality and sane place for the free exchange of views and discussions - please do.  And if I am being too ambitious here, then I will continue to do the best I can with the means I have.

A huge and heartfelt "THANK YOU!!" to all of you and, especially, those who help me on this frankly difficult road.

Kindest regards,

The Saker