Posts tagged ‘blog’

Blog tinkering

IMG_4216Over the last few days I’ve added a few features to my blog which other blogs have had for ages…

  1. Comments subscription. Get email updates to post’s comments. I’ve never quite understood why this isn’t a standard feature of WordPress. Does anyone ever subscribe to an RSS feed of comments? I don’t think I ever have.
  2. Gravatar. Updated my theme to include comment author’s gravatars
  3. Tag cloud. Seemed an obvious thing to add to the side bar, given the time I’d spent tagging old posts.
  4. Clustr maps. A little sidebar widget to show where the site visitors are coming from.

As, I assume, most people will be reading this through a feed reader, all of my tinkering will be irrelevant/invisible. Which means you won’t see the long (pointless?) sidebar of widgets now on display.

Does anyone ever look at these sidebar widgets? I’m sure when I view others’ blogs/sites I tend to block out anything down either side of the page assuming it’s peripheral, unless it looks like a menu for navigation. So why should I expect anyone to look at the ones on my site?

On the OpenLearn project the number of Moodle blocks (down either side of the page) grew to an unmanageable number. Deciding which (or rather whose!) block should be removed or put at the top was a tricky task. Though, this problem has now been solved by moving all the tools into one block.

[The photo above, which I took yesterday, has nothing to do with this posting, other than to show I have done something else over the last few days apart from tinkering with my blog.]

Using WordPress categories or tags?

tagsWhilst I have the time I’ve been fixing a few little things on my blog, as well as doing some tidying up. One thing I wanted to do, but wasn’t really sure whether or not it was worthwhile, was look at adding tags to my blog postings. Plenty has already been written (start here) about the difference and where and when you should use each.

When I’d started the blog only categories were available, so I’ve just continued with this, almost ignoring the tag facility, despite the fact that tags seemed a more flexible approach. Using the categories, with their hierarchical nature, felt as though you ought to come up with some big taxonomy for organising blog categories.

I’ve now severely trimmed the number of categories, whilst created umpteen tags – so is that an improvement for my blog? will it help people (including) find what they want? I’m not sure!

An interesting side effect of tagging (nearly) all my blog postings, was that I got to look back through what I’d written years ago and remember some of the projects and problems encountered – fixing many of the numerous typos on the way.

I also noticed how tweet like some of my early blog postings were, e.g. here and here – OK, maybe not 140 characters, but close.

Blog on the move!

You may have just been redirected here from the previous location of my blog (at http://kmi.open.ac.uk/people/alex), if so then please update your links πŸ˜‰ – though hopefully the redirectors will remain in place for a little while! I put a handcrafted rss and atom postings so those of you accessing via rss readers etc should also find out that I’ve moved the site.

Moving over to my own domain is something I’ve been meaning to do for ages, but have never quite got around to doing it until now. It was relatively painless to move over from one wordpress install to the other, the main problems were references to images and other postings (where the full URL is embedded) – this was additionally complicated by the fact I changed the formatting of the URLs, so rather than use “/?p=123” it’s now “/2008/03/26/mypost”, so much more user friendly!

Please let me know if you spot anything that isn’t working correctly (links going nowhere etc!), cheers πŸ˜‰

New personal site…

Hi, this is my personal blog site where I’ll be posting my photos etc – as an alternative to using my work site.

New blog design

You may or may not have noticed (depending on whether you’re using an RSS reader to read this) that I’ve updated my site design. Apart from the new colour scheme, I’ve tried to trim down the sidebar by not showing quite so many links! Anyway, any feedback, especially if you find any quirks in the new design, is much appreciated πŸ™‚

finally fixed character problem

I’ve finally got round to fixing the issue I had with the character encoding on my photo pages. Whereever “MΓΌnchen” was printed, what actually appeared on the page was a question mark on black diamond rather than the u umlaut.

After bit of messing around I fixed the problem – turned out to be to do with the connection between PHP and MySQL, all I needed to do was add the command:
mysql_query(“SET NAMES utf8”);
before I did the query to extract from the database.

Previously I was looking as issues with the character encoding in the header, meta tags etc and couldn’t find anything wrong with these. Though not entirely sure exactly what this SET NAMES command actually does – will need to go & ook it up ….

Website moved!

I’ve just moved my website over to the server here in KMi, so the url has changed – but redirects from the old site are all in place. Was fairly easy to get everything moved acrosss – though my old site was running ColdFusion and MS SQL and this new site is on WordPress (so it’s MySQL and PHP) so I’ve had to rewrite parts, eg the photo pages as I couldn’t find a WordPress photo plugin that did exactly what I wanted!

Saturday 28 January 06

Have just added the commenting functionality I mentioned a couple of days ago, using a little AJAX application. Seems to work pretty much ok, but there are a couple of little things that I’d like to tidy up – for example, when you post a comment the comment listing doesn’t update with the new comment (could get the page to auto refresh, but that defeats the point of making it an ajax application!). Also not sure whether it would work very well (if at all) for people using screen readers etc. I’ve only tested it using IE6 and FireFox (both on Windows), so not sure whether it would work fine on a Mac, or with other browsers. If you find it doesn’t work or have any suggestions for improvement, please just let me know πŸ™‚

Tuesday 24 January 06

Have just applied the new design to this website – so it now uses CSS instead of tables for the layout. There are still a few pages that I need to finish off and tidy up, but it’s pretty much done. I’ve tested the site with IE6 and Firefox and it seems to work fine with both of those, but if you see any ‘odd’ behaviour/layout using other browsers, then please just let me know πŸ™‚