A number of people have asked me about what platform and plugins that I'm using on Whizzbangsblog so I thought that I'd let everyone know.
I have my own personal server running Debian with Apache web server, MySQL database and PHP all running. Let me say that running your own server can be a pain with working out the security etc. I so this so that I keep my technical skills up to date so that I can contribute in a much more informed manner to the ParkLogic development discussions and any issues that clients have.
I'm running Joomla 3.2 for the content management side of the site with the following plugins:
1. Admin Tools - VERY important as it has a built-in firewall.
2. Akeeba Backup - for regularly doing any backups. I also do both hot database backups and file backups every day via a script in CRON (time system for doing stuff in Linux). You can NEVER have too many backs. All the backups go to a completely separate physical drive.....so fingers crossed if anything breaks then there's always a fallback option.
3. EasyBlog - Stackideas have created a great multi-user blogging platform that I'm actually typing this into right now.
4. JBolo! - really simple to use real-time chat system.
5. Komento - for managing comments on blogs and articles.
6. Jomsocial - this is the heart of whizzbangsblog.com and has all of the social aspects of the websites wrapped up into a single package.
7. jNews - I use this program for sending out emails. I must admit that setting up an email template is a PAIN (not because of this program) because all the different email clients interpret the coding in a completely different and sometimes stupid manner. So stick to something REALLY simple.
That's about it. I've done quite a bit of customisation but that's the core application in the site. I would recommend that if you haven't done development before that you get your hands on Joomla (it's free) and have a play. There are a number of hosting companies that have specialised in Joomla hosting (siteground.com) and they will be able to help you out. I should mention that the total cost of all of the plugins etc. is about $250.....so hopefully that won't break the budget.