blog post every day?

So, on a whim I started a “blogtober” challenge, where I aim to write and publish a blog post every day for the month of October. Today I am realising just how difficult this challenge might prove to be. You see, to write a good blog post, you need more than just an idea or some event to write about. You need a little bit of time to craft the words and ideas together, and it also helps if you can add an image or graphic to add some interest. This requires a bit of time.

Hopefully this month of blogging won’t be one of whinging about how hard it is!

October 2, 2010 | Leave a Comment |

blogtober

 [ xkcd's blogger re-enacter from the future ]
Even though the best month of the year (and other months also) have plenty of cheesy modifications of the name, I’m inventing a new one: Blogtober. This means that I will try to blog every day of this month. This challenge might be a struggle as I run into the last few weeks of the uni year, but it will be a good excuse to get away from the studies. I was inspired to start this as I saw midnight roll over on my clock and noticed that my next blog post would be the first one for October- sorry, Blogtober (eww!) and not the last of September.

October 1, 2010 | Leave a Comment |

WordPress 3.0

Hi all, I’ve upgraded the blog to WordPress 3.0 Thelonious and so far it looks like everything has gone smoothly. Please leave a comment on this post if you see anything weird or not working.

The new theme looks nice, I’m looking forward to having a tweak and a play with my own theme.

June 18, 2010 | 2 Comments |

fluid.app and wordpress

I was finding it frustrating finding the wordpress dashboard tab in firefox as I was browsing the web, looking for solutions, or simply wanting to credit my sources properly. I remembered something about being able to run a web app as a separate application, and set out to find it. fluid.app is the program I was looking for. Cocoa based for smooth integration with macintoshes, fluid takes the url, an icon (if not the website icon itself) and makes an application that you can launch on it’s own. The biggest advantage I find is being able to use the apple-tab keyboard shortcut between my wordpress dashboard and firefox, my web browser.

[wordpress fluid.app preference pane]

To set it up, I downloaded fluid.app and ran it. It asks for the url of the web app you would like to run, the location it should install (Applications is the default), and the icon. (You can set this later.) Now, I was at the wordpress dashboard log in page. It wasn’t working quite as I expected, so I checked the password, yep, it was the right one. Still no go: a new tab would open in firefox with the log in page, and not log in on the fluid.app. I found what was the problem, under Preferences -> Advanced -> Allow browsing to any url. Make sure this is set, otherwise you won’t be able to progress beyond the log in page. “Remember me” is a handy to have checked too.

Making it pretty: I downloaded my wordpress icon from WordPress Logos, go for the biggest of the sizes so your dock icon doesn’t look stretched, pixelated or both.

Minor gripe: the speed doesn’t seem to be the same as firefox, it’s a bit slower. I’m going to install gears and see if that helps. There are also no specific “back” or “forward” buttons, but these can be reached through the “history” menu.

 [screenshot of wordpress fluid.app ]

Apparently there is Mozilla’s Prism for non mac users, or Adobe Air for a proprietary product that is similar.

January 27, 2009 | 7 Comments |

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:

<?php
/*
Template Name: Archivalist page
*/
?>

(thanks WP Hacks.com, 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 |

success installing WordPress

I’ve finally moved my blog onto a current blogging platform.  While there are some detractors, wordpress is a current and active project, with lots of options for hacking the code about to customise it a lot.  I’m excited about the options for widgets and other fun things, as all the tutorials you tend to run into online are all about wordpress.  If you can’t beat them join them I guess.

Thank you for your patience as I fix up broken links and add features. If you see anything missing, have any ideas or any comments, as always, leave a comment in the box below. :)

January 13, 2009 | 14 Comments |

skribit?

As you might have noticed, I’ve added a little box (called a widget) to the right side of my website, just bellow the calendar. (Click through, RSS readers) This is Skribit.

What’s it for? Well, it’s so bloggers have a way to beat writer’s block, and so readers have an easy way to let the blogger know what they want to read about. They can do this by making new suggestions or by voting for existing suggestions.

Where’s it from? Skribit was created as part of a “Startup Weekend”, a 54 hour event that gets together a group of people, they come up with an idea for a product (a web based one) and try and launch it. I found out about it via a blog I read- PaulStamatiou.com was one of the participants.

What I expect? I hope this tool will encourage people who read my site to suggest stuff they want me to post about. I tried this sort of idea before, but it was hidden on another page of my blog. Now, with it on the front page, maybe people will be able to interact more. Maybe even other people will adopt skribit on their blogs- that would be cool.

April 18, 2008 | Leave a Comment |

twitter bar

I’ve wanted to get a twitter bar (see just under my site heading/title, rss readers can click through) for a while now, and finally tweaked it to where I’m happy with it- for now. (After wading through scads of CSS code, I settled on a table, boo hiss and all of that.)

Of course, if you notice anything out of the ordinary, borked or not working, please let me know, comments always welcome.

Ooh cool, my 400th post. Yay!

April 10, 2008 | Leave a Comment |

I’m invisible!

The Google people have decided to bestow the population with super powers. While I hear that x-ray vision, echolocation and plain-old flight were on the drawing board, they have opted for invisibility.

[ the google chat invisible status ]
This new feature can be harnessed using google chat, the messaging program used in Gmail. What it does is allow you to be online while appearing that you are not to others. (offline.)

I find this feature handy as I currently live in a different timezone to the majority of my gchat friends. It can be awkward to get a message from someone when you have to do other things. Sometimes I just want to check my email, especially when I’m pressed for time. Previously, I would just sign out of chat, but the disadvantage of this is that I might miss someone I really want to talk to, when I’m sitting right there at the computer. (This is silly.) With the invisible mode, I can feel more in control of my IM.

Of course, super powers and super heroes face problems because of their abilities, and this is no different with gchat invisibility.
It seems a little selfish (and a little stalkerish) to see everyone who is online without them seeing you. Perhaps people might have a feeling of “Don’t you want to talk to me?” if they know that people may be invisible. Invisibility effectively wrenches the ability to start conversations away from others, because if they think you are offline, they won’t try and talk to you. There is also the rhetorical question: “What if everyone is invisible?”

Just like chocolate can be bad in excess, so might be this new-found superpower. I’m going to make sure my gchat status properly reflects my availability, and try to not be always “invisible”.

While “invisible” sounds way cooler than msn’s “appear offline”, it is only available to some gmail users, as google rolls out features slowly, not to everyone at once.

April 1, 2008 | Leave a Comment |

what are you doing?

Twitter is the new “yes mum I’m still alive” tool. Remember when blogs came out, people were saying that instead of emailing people about what you were doing, you could blog it and tell them to check your blog? Twitter has taken that over and made it better.

I don’t think blogs are dead or on their way out. Twitter messages are restricted to 140 characters or less, so for more lengthy articles another medium is needed. That said, twitter messages can be pretty meaty:

writing: email. blog. planning: girlsBrigade. travel. uniWork. examStudy. but sleepy. need mo’ coffee!

It’s amazing what you can communicate in 140 characters. I find with a blog post I like to write a few paragraphs at least, and so don’t blog when I can’t write that much- the same goes with emails. Twitter allows me to update as I have something to say- not when I have an essay to share.

The reason twitter has replaced blogging as the medium to let your friends and relatives know what you are doing (aka “yes mum, I’m fine”) is that it is mobile, quick and easy. You can send a text message update, send from IM or one of the many twitter programs available, or use the twitter website itself. On the road, especially on the greyhound in the middle of the night, I could reassure my loved ones that I was going fine- or let my friends know that I was having an awesome time on the road, all with a (hopefully) pithy short message.

But it’s PUBLIC Alison!
Sure, you post twitter stuff and anyone on the web can read it. Same with your blog. Some people get the “privacy shiver” when they think about this, but all it takes is some intelligence. Looking over my twitter feed, it gives a fair representation of my life- if you know me and what I’m doing. “chilling with elle and matt” – unless you knew who they were, you would just be able to think “that’s nice” with out knowing exactly where I was or what I was doing.
Don’t post private addresses, full names or heaps of detail- and for private stuff, email still exists- you can still use it. Twitter is just like anything else- safe if you’ve got at least half a brain.

Twitter is fun- and combined with it’s features and ease of use, makes it a great tool that won’t be going anywhere any time soon. And yes, mum, I’m doing fine. ;)

You can check out my updates at /twitter or my username is titanium_geek.

November 15, 2007 | 2 Comments |
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