victories in website crafting

Today, I attempted to fix the rss feeds. I could see the solution, glistening on a third story windowsill, with me out of reach below. I looked around for a ladder- and found one in the fixrss plugin. However, this ladder was in pieces because it only came in a rar format archive. On downloading it to my computer I found I could extract it and repackage it as a tar format archive, thus fixing the ladder. However I then found that I could not easily transport my ladder back to the tall building as the Rsync truck was inexplicably broken. I uploaded my tar file to a free hosting service and used the wget truck to transport my ladder back to the tall building. I leaned the ladder up against the wall, and discovered it only came half way up the second storey. I wasn’t going to change the permissions of every file on my server as that was inviting more breakage. So, I put down the ladder and read up about the problem. Then I found the solution, I needed to scramble up the last few feet, manually editing the wp-rss.php, wp-rss2.php, wp-atom.php and wp-config.php files to remove whitespace from the end of the file. Success! I was at the third window sill, and I reached the solution. The subscribtion feeds should work fine now.

The next thing I tackled was the About Page, which I copied and pasted over from a google document to a new wordpress page, which was very painless.

After that, I implemented a new plugin (Contact Form 7) on the contact page and started to update the links across all the pages that had the menubar on them, all 5 or 6 of them. “Hang on, this is silly.” I thought. I read up on a bit of php, and put my links in their own php file, (lets say menu.php) and changed all the other pages to reference that:

<?php include("menu.php"); ?>

Now when I want to update the menu, I only need to do it in one place and not in many.

Now I went after the broken archive and useful links pages. This proved to be more elusive. Apparently you can’t put php in a page and expect it to be executed. I have decided to call it an evening, with the links not broken, but not exactly finished yet.

Edited to add:
I found how to add a template to a wordpress page, on the quick edit of a page, you can change the page template. To get a new template to show up, you need the following type of code on the top of the template php file:

Template Name: Archivalist page

(thanks WP, which also has the relevant code for the archives page.) I found that I needed to name the template page archivalist.php, not archive.php, because otherwise the regular functionality of the archives and categories was broken as it tried to use the new template. Now I just have to add my links page, and improve the regular archive and category pages to link to the original posts.

End of insert

What are your website headaches? Victories? Have you seen something that I really need to fix because it’s annoying you? :) Leave a comment in the box below, they are always welcome.

January 27, 2009 | 2 Comments |

vintage sesame travel

Early Sesame Street was green! In these two youtube clips, they talk about the bus and the subway! I take the train and bus when I’m commuting to my university (where some of my friends look like the blue character in the bus video) so I think they are all the funnier for being relevant! Enjoy.

At the Bus Stop

The Subway

January 8, 2008 | Leave a Comment |

clever tactics, ABC

I watched and enjoyed The Abbey, and Australian made reality/documentary where 5 everyday women from different walks of life go and live with nuns for a month, getting up really early, go to all the church services and adopt Benedictine practices such as silence, humility and hard work. The goal (besides good TV) is for a spiritual experience, whatever that means.

However, this isn’t a post about monastic living, but of clever TV tactics. You see, the ABC (Compass runs the timeslot) screened this program, which was made in late 2006/early 2007, in mid 2007. This is before they screened the “original” British program on five 21st Century men in a monastery (2005), now showing Sunday nights in late November.

The reason this is clever is this: There is funding for Australian made television, also showing a new idea to the local audience will be good for ratings. That is, if they had showed the British version first, some people wouldn’t have bothered watching the second incarnation of the idea.

Well done ABC, this was intelligent.

More info:
The British version (men)

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 of the Australian The Abbey (women)
There is also an American version (both men and women.)

November 26, 2007 | 2 Comments |

heh. archive cartoon

I found this old cartoon on my hard drive recently- thought I’d share it. :)


Of course, sniffer dogs are really very well behaved!

October 3, 2007 | 4 Comments |

how I use facebook

Chris Brogan says that there are too many things he wants to blog about, so he posted a list of 100 Blog Topics I Hope YOU Write – this is one of them. (Found via Josh’s blog.)

What is facebook?
Facebook is a social network. Ha. Ok, so what is it really? Facebook is a web site that lets you maintain a profile of yourself, viewable to who you choose- your friends. You can see your friend’s profiles, and see what they’re doing and keep in touch with them. The idea comes from facebooks used in US colleges. They are directories of names and faces, often distributed to students so they can get to know each other better. This is that, just in online format.

Messages can be exchanged, photos can be shared, events can be publicised, personal tastes in movies, beliefs and politics can be shared, birthdays brought to your attention, and much more.

The reason why it’s there: no, not just out of the goodness of the developer’s heart- facebook pulls a pretty penny from the advertising displayed (tastefully and unobtrusively) on it’s pages. But hey, I don’t have to pay for it, and it is definitely an interesting business model- it can be hard to effectively make money off the internet.

My facebook habits

I generally log in at least every week, if not every other day. I have a look at the news feed, which tells you the status of people who have recently updated that, new friendships made, photographs added, messages and more. If there is anything exciting, I’ll go and have a look at that, and after that I probably log off and do something else.

Features I really love in facebook
The personal contact- writing on people’s walls. Being able to send messages to people- these are not epic length- save that for email. These short messages are kind of like a time delayed instant message conversation. I really like this feature because I am hardly ever online on IM when my friends in different time zones are- unless we are keeping strange hours. I love that I can keep up with people that I otherwise would lose contact with. In fact, it was a bit odd that people I know locally are signing up to facebook- required some mental adjustments!
I also like the status feature- it allows you say how you’re going or what you’re doing. It’s a bit like twitter. (You can look that up yourselves.)

The changing face of facebook
Facebook used to be a place to catch up with friends, talk about common interests in the ‘groups’ and share a bit of your real life online with your friends. This changed with the advent of Applications. These little programs can be fun, handy or down right annoying. Of course, they are annoying because not everyone agrees on the definitions of “fun” and “annoying” are. The annoying part comes from “invitations” to use a specific application, which you really aren’t interested in using. Paul Stamatiou illustrates this point well.

I concede that applications aren’t all bad, but I wish there was a way to block invites and news feed items from applications that you choose to block.

Possible Problems with facebook
Facebook is there to make money. This may lead them to use information about you (such as your favourite movies) to target advertising, or sell the information as market research to some company. There is a potential for privacy issues- however your information is only available to those you let- your friends, etc. Care does have to be taken though.

Scary identity theft fears aside, facebook has a huge potential to be a time sink- procrastinators beware. You can read many humourous things, look at photos of your friends, write messages to people (either privately or on their ‘wall’) and generally surf around chewing up time. You can also be addicted to social networks, and facebook is no different.

facebook: yay or nay?
I would say yay. Like anything else in the world, it’s not completely “idiot-proof”, meaning that some care is required, you have to use it sensibly and keep your brain on “on”. Yes, there are some concerns, but overall I feel that it is a safe network as long as the user is safe. Just don’t fritter away the time you should be finishing your essay reading the messages in a hilarious group- but that is down to your own personal control, not facebook’s fault. :)

Some more resources:

So there you have it, how I use facebook. What do you think? Do you use facebook? How do YOU use it? You are most welcome to drop a comment in the box as usual… please do!

September 22, 2007 | Leave a Comment |

private messages

Paul Stamatiou obviously dislikes private messages. He complains that since email obviously isn’t dead, why different websites insist that you use their own messaging system. (Mainly, it’s for exposure- more page views yadda yadda.) Paul concedes that private messages have some uses, and I’m going to expand on that.

I may be weird and unique, but I tend to have multiple personas on the interwebs. For reasons of privacy, I generally use a variation of titanium_geek or titanium for my name, and with a name change, I find that the roles that titanium_geek plays on the web is a bit different to the me of real life. As a moderator on a small forum, I appreciate that the messages to do with that are kept in the PM inbox, and don’t clutter up my personal emails. I have at least 3 email addresses as well- my personal one, my web one, and my university email. This helps me to separate out my different online ‘lives’.

However, I do agree that it can be annoying to click through and see what the private message is, especially when the message isn’t really worth the effort of clicking through. Perhaps if I had a higher traffic online identity, I would appreciate PM to email functionality.

September 18, 2007 | 1 Comment |

will it blend?

Blenders. They have some negative connotations (in movie Father of the Bride the marriage is almost called off because the groom-to-be buys the bride-to-be a blender.) But overall, they are positive things- there are books written about all the yummy smoothies you can make using a blender.

However, the guys at take blending to a whole new level of fun- with a catchy theme tune. As one of the commenters on one of the youtube videos said: “I want this blender”. They divide things into “Do not try this at home” and “do try this at home” – a blended big mac meal. Cokechicken. Can you blend magnets? A broom handle?

It’s also going to be my new critique for any new product that anyone is raving about: “yes, but will it blend?”

Check out their website, but you need Adobe Flash to watch the videos- but then there is always youtube. (Apologies to anyone out there who is trying to avoid youtube for procrastination reasons. :) )

September 15, 2007 | Leave a Comment |

silent sunset

I have long been frustrated with being on a moving bus, witnessing a beautiful sunset, but being unable to capture a decent photograph of it. Brainwave: use the movie capabilities of my camera to get more visual information, and hopefully a decent image. This is my first attempt at the sunset, over the Monash Freeway.

I hope you enjoy it- it’s silent, because it was captured on a regular camera, not an (audio)video camera.

September 6, 2007 | 2 Comments |

reading again!

I have started a reading revival. It’s only a personal thing, but boy, is it great! It is all the ‘fault’ of my English Fantasy Narratives class. I started by re-reading some old favourites: The Hobbit, Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, A Wrinkle in Time. I went to the library and got some more books on the reading list out: The Princess Bride, The Amulet of Samarkand, and Anansi Boys. I read them in that order- FANTASTIC.

I’d forgotten the thrill of wanting to flip to the end of the book to make sure everything is all right, and not wanting to because I’ll hate myself for spoiling the ending… Dramatic Tension, in other words. These are well written, entertaining books.

Perhaps it is the format as well- books are real, you can hold them and curl up with them. (Sure you can curl up with a laptop, but it’s not really the same.) The other difference is that books are polished, with text drafted and re-written, in a way that perhaps blogs are not. (Especially small, amateur ones like this one!) Books have solid ideas, not half-collected outbursts. Books are refined.

I had a conversation with some friends about the amounts of reading we did- and it was pointed out that an otherwise not-very-much-book reader actually did a lot of reading of things online. Yes, that is reading, but I don’t think the absorption, the can’t-put-it-down quality isn’t there. I need to find more books to read, and not take up reading time with surfing time. Both are good, but I don’t want to neglect reading any more.

Real paper books are magic. And I’ve rediscovered that I love reading them.

August 25, 2007 | Leave a Comment |

religion’s very own f word

Last night I watched the second episode of a two part documentary on fundamentalism , religion’s very own f word, by Mark Dowd.

Fundamentalists emphasise the fundamentals of their belief, to counter what they see as a dangerous new world that is trying to wipe them out- the modern world. With fundamentalism, religion has gotten mixed up with politics, and with politics, violence.

At one point in the documentary, one of the authors/experts states that all those who are religious should be fundamentalist- that is, well versed in the fundamentals of their beliefs. It is the fear and violence, however, that is the problem.

Mark Dowd interviews leaders of different religious faiths, regular every day people living out their lives according to their beliefs, and authors on fundamentalism and religion. He examines what makes a fundamentalist, and what rules their actions. The five major faiths he covers are Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism (surprisingly), Judaism and Islam. He visits the USA, India, Sri Lanka, Israel and Gaza.

At the end of his report, these are his points:

He raises an interesting point about the availability of sacred texts- any one can pick a verse out of context that justifies what they are doing. Being able to read the text for your self and make up your own mind, to experience a personal faith, is something that I hold as important- I don’t think it is a good idea to lock away texts, and I don’t think it is possible to put the genie back in the bottle in any case. However, interpretation is a skill that is important.

I enjoyed this documentary, it has given me some great brain food to mull over. What are your thoughts? As always, drop a comment in the box.

August 13, 2007 | 2 Comments |
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