After trying out a few new Wordpress Themes over the past week, I've finally settled on Mystique. It's quite attractive and very easy to customize. I'll still be tweaking the stylesheet over the coming days. I've also implemented the WPtouch widget to facilitate mobile browsing. Be sure to check it out on your mobile device!
It looks like I'm not the only one combining an interest in music and cooking. I give you... Cooking With Coolio on My Damn Channel. Featuring mood music, disco balls, dancers/ho's and recipes such as Soul Rolls and Swashbucklin' Shrimp, how has this priceless piece of entertainment passed me by until now? My favourite touch is Coolio's eschewing standard cooking measures in favour of 'half a dime bag of Seasoning Salt'.
I've had to disable comments for the time being. My site has been getting bombarded with comment spam over the past week or so. My Akismet spam filter and Wordpress moderation settings have been catching it all, but it's getting a bit ridiculous. I'll turn comments back on in a while. Hopefully things will calm down in the meantime.
I was so consumed with the site redesign that I nearly forgot what I was doing when I stumbled upon the andreas04 template. In fact, I was looking for a way to get my journal entries on Last.fm appear as regular blog entries here, or vice versa, or automatically duplicate them, or something. If I write about a new musical discovery, I'd like to have it appear in my reglar blog rather than languishing over at Last.fm (which offers some cool markup for artists, albums, tracks, genres and the like in its journal tools). Making my Last.fm journal entries appear in the sidebar is quite trivial using RSS, but I want them to be fully integrated as regular blog entries. A quick search didn't get me very far (although it did lead me to Blaze, where I discovered my new design). But then I came across Simon Wheatley's site, where he's done exactly what I wanted using a plugin called FeedWordPress. Beyond just Last.fm integration, this amazing tool can take any RSS feed and integrate it as blog entries directly in your site. I'm sure I can think of a few other uses for it. So now you'll see that my only Last.fm journal entry is now part of NorthSpace. Coolness.
The only glitch so far is that relative links from the original posting now point to 'northspace.com' instead of 'last.fm'. This is really all Last.fm's fault. Links in RSS feeds must be absolute, since they are supposed to be portable and platform-independent by definition.
Any better? Since Jay and Teemu both gave the thumbs down to my last redesign, I promised myself to have a new design up by the end of my holidays. Today I just happened to stumble across Andreas Viklund's nice designs and settled on andreas04. The design was turned into a WordPress theme by Tara Aukerman. So I'm going from an Ackermann to an Aukerman. Weird. Although I was ready to adopt any design I found to my own colour scheme, as it happens andreas04 uses almost exactly the orange-blue combination as my header photo. I only needed to modify the entry background image slightly. I really like the full-width design, as I was really tiring of the basic WordPress middle-column style. The overlapping cool blue-grey gradients give it a pretty modern look, I think. And my photo header fits pretty well, though I might still tweak it a little.
Seeing how it's spring, I felt like a bit of a fresh look for my site and one more in keeping with the 'north' theme. At the same time, with so many high quality Wordpress themes available I didn't really feel like developing a new design from scratch. It didn't take me long to find Kai Ackermann's Northern-Web-Coders theme at AlexKing.org. Though it was probably the word 'northern' that first made me check it out, it has a nice clean design and the colours worked well with the image of an iceberg I took in Nuuk that I wanted to use as the header graphic. I'm still fixing some little things to get all the little tricks working like they did in the previous theme, but all in all a relatively painless experience. Let me know what you think, or if something isn't working as it should.
I noticed only today that Photospace isn't really working. It seems that Flickr went and changed the format of their photo URLs and totally screwed up the Flickr-Gallery plugin for Wordpress, which I also discovered is no longer being developed or supported. Instead, the author recommends the FAlbum plugin. Alas, there is some problem with the initialization of the plugin that I can't figure out, and it's not working either. So for the time being, just check out my photos at their original Flickr home. Sorry for the inconvenience (not that anyone else had actually noticed). UPDATE: Ok, I should have read the requirements more carefully. I needed to upgrade my WordPress installation, and now things seem to be working. The template style sheet is a bit borked right now, but you can at least see all the photos.
In case you didn't notice (since they're probably the worst positioned ads on the Internet), I'm trying out Google AdSense, more out of curiosity than a real expectation of actually making money. So I haven't really become a blood-sucking money-whore overnight. If I ever get more serious about this, there's some decent advice available on how to increase your ad revenue. Let the capitalist experiment begin!
Kun aiemmin kirjoitin, haluaisin joskus blogata suomeksi. Miksi? Siksi, ettÃ¤ osaan (vaikka huonosti). Ja lisÃ¤ksi koska asun suomessa, ja minun pitÃ¤Ã¤ liityy myÃ¶s suomeen kuin kanadaan ja muihin kansainvÃ¤lisiin asioihiin. Joten asentin uuden BasicBilingual plugin. En aio ettÃ¤ blogaan koko ajan kaksikielisesti, siis BasicBilignual sopii hyvin tarpeekseni. Kielen koodi nÃ¤yttÃ¤Ã¤ otsikon alla, esim. FI (suomi), ja myÃ¶s lyhyt ingressi toisella kielellÃ¤.
What the hell happened? Well, my patience with Movable Type or at least my own installation of Movable Type finally reached breaking point, and I've "upgraded" to WordPress. I really never thought I would, but after enough farting around trying to get my broken MT installation to work like I wanted it to, I gave up and opted for a solution that should just work. Don't get me wrong, I really like Movable Type, and wished we could have made our relationship work, but frankly it was getting way to bloated and confusing to manage. I won't go into all of the differences between WordPress and Movable Type, because others have already done that. Turns out it is fairly trivial to move from one to the other, and WordPress installation really is dead easy. So now all my blog entries are in WordPress, and all the old permalinks from MT should also be intact. However, you'll note that the old NorthSpace we all knew and loved is missing. This is clearly the biggest hurdle in the migration process, converting my old MT templates into WordPress. Hopefully this will get done gradually in the next week or so, so thanks for your patience. I'll update more as I go along.
As I had managed to break my Movable Type installation a little while ago, and never quite got it back to 100%, I jumped at the chance to upgrade to the new Movable Type 3.2 Beta. So far, so good. Installation was a breeze, and I haven't encountered anymore Internal Server Errors, which is nice. I'm still trying to figure out the new feedback rating and approval system. It seems to be based on MTBlacklist, so I guess I can delete that installation now. In other site news, I'm planning to finally migrate to a new more logical and verbose permalink style, but I haven't quite settled on what format this will take or how to manage old links. All in good time.
My installation of Movable Type has been plagued with intermittent Internal Server Errors over the last few weeks. Apparently this is a known problem resulting from buggy Perl modules being automatically installed as part of a cPanel upgrade. What I have found is that entries or comments with quotes or double quotes will produce a runtime error and the resulting server error message. It should get fixed soon, but if you've tried to add a comment and received the error message, please email me at scott(a)northspace.com.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
Since using cron jobs to hourly refresh my MTRSSFeed-based news feeds was a bit too last year, I decided to modernize things by using a PHP-based solution. So along comes CaRP, which is one of those amazingly powerful sets of code that let you manipulate almost anything, but leave quite a bit to be desired in terms of usability. The other option I looked at, zFeeder, was the exact opposite. Very easy to use, but almost no control over feed output or customization. One really cool thing about CaRP is that it can aggregate feeds on the fly. So far, the most useful thing I've been able to do with that is merge posts from both Jay's blog with my own (see Friendly Connections, right). I know there's plenty more useful to be done with this, especially when combined with the filtering function. I could conceivably search a whole swath of feeds for any news about the Arctic and serve it to my page. Hey, that's not a bad idea...
On the down side, designing output templates using CaRP is a real chore. Instead of just chugging through an array of feeds that I list and outputting a nice set of PHP variables for me to layout and format, and I have to specify weird global settings like
bcb ("before channel before")
to add any code that will be placed before those channel items that are outputted before the feed items. Give me a break.
Still, I managed to get my previous news feeds working in some fashion for now. Improvements to come. My supreme ambition is to pull pictures from Flickr tag feeds around the whole 'northspace' theme. Streaming other peoples photos from around the Arctic would be dead cool.
Since Jay threw down the gauntlet regarding the look of my site, I felt a wee CSS makeover was in order. Inspired by the earth-tones and splashes of red of a particular clothing line, I'm pretty pleased with the results. I had to change a few images, and I'll be updating a couple snippets of HTML so that I'll be able to change the look of the site in future just by swapping stylesheets. No coding required. Not sure if I'll implement one of those user-controlled stylesheet options, but this will at least give me the... option. Let me know what you think!
A short bout of insomnia has resulted in a major overhaul to the site. Thanks for being patient while I get everything back up to normal working state. Most of these changes were made to make comments easier and more secure to support comments on entries. Rather than go into details, here's a list of the changes:
- upgraded from Movable Type 2.6 to 3.1
- added support for TypeKey registration
- added support for "nofollow" href tags
- installed MT-Blacklist comment spam filter plugin
- installed MT-SimpleComments plugin (unifies comments and trackbacks)
- upgraded to a Flickr Pro account
- switched PhotoSpace fom Gallery to a Flickr Gallery 0.6
Future changes checklist:
- fix WAP support for WAP browsing
- add Flickr photostreams as a sideblog and PhotoSpace extention
- update menu and entry navigation (future proof urls)
- comment entry and display improvements
The best way to take advantage of the new changes is simply to register for a TypeKey account. It's very easy and will let you post comments not only on my site, but any TypeKey-enabled blog. No more filling out your name, email, and website each time.
Unfortunately, either the new MT3.1 or Blacklist has made my site very slow, or there is a problem with my host. Please be patient while I try to fix this. I just hope I don't have to do a full reinstall.
Like many out in the blogosphere, I was an early convert to Flickr, particularly when I discovered how easy it was to post photoblog messages from my phone with it. Since then, I've been experimenting with it a bit, using it as an image server, and for uploading some files. The one thing holding me back getting a full Pro account was that I want people to see my photos on my site, not the Flickr site. So after spending all day searching for something that would integrate with Movable Type (there's a fine plugin, but it doesn't quite do what I want), I realized that what I wanted was a PHP solution like Gallery, but that used the Flickr API to pull the images from my Flickr account instead of storing them locally. It turns out that the "plugin" Flickr Gallery 0.7 that I kept dismissing because it was for WordPress not Movable Type is exactly what I was looking for. That's because it's not really a plug-in, but a pretty-much stand-alone PHP module. Super stuff. And unlike Gallery's bloated PHP installation and headache-inducing configuration, this is needs only two files. Brilliant. So I guess I'm one of those clever people who can figure out how to make it work without WP.
It's still in an early test phase, but seems to work well so far. You can check out the beta version of the new PhotoSpace. Once all is working, I'll switch over my existing albums from Gallery as well as some other collections of photos I've been too lazy to upload.
Update: While I had initially installed version 0.4, when I upgraded to 0.7 it broke. Silly guy went and added some feature that required WordPress. So I downgraded to 0.6, and it's working fine again. See, I am smart people.
I've now simplified my "Media Consumption" sideblog somewhat. Originally all entries, including those to put new media in my reading, listening, and watching lists were all put in my main blog. This meant I could talk about the latest Coen brothers film at length (not that I ever did), or just put the title in the keywords, and it would pop into place in the sideblog. So that the "blank" entries for media rotation only didn't appeared only in the sideblog in the main blog indexes and archives, I employed a rather clumsy set of MTCategory plugin includes and excludes. Sure, it did the job, but something more elegant was called for. Of course, I knew that I could use the MTOtherBlog plugin to do the trick. So now I've created a separate weblog for media consumption, but instead of using MTOtherBlog, I've just used a simple server side include to stick in the index generated from the new blog. Where OtherBlog does come in handy is allowing me to include entries from my main blog in my sideblog. A bit backwards, I know, but it works to good effect. This way if I do make a full entry about a book, CD, or movie it will get picked up in media consumption without having to create a duplicate sideblog entry for it. Class.
UPDATE: Or not so class. It seems MTOtherBlog doesn't behave well with
when I select multiple blogs. So when I want to get one (1) entry from two (2) blogs I instead get one (1) entry from each, for a total of two (2). Not what I wanted, but I can see how a silly PERL script could get confused. Switching around the nesting order doesn't seem to make any difference. Back to the drawing board. Any ideas?
Well, isn't this cool. Thanks to the great SongWriter plugin for Media Player, my mediaserver jukebox is now broadcasting it's playlist to my website. Not quite as good as having the thing stream audio over the net, but I'll get into less trouble this way. With Brandon Fuller's PHP script, the currently playing track (and album art, god willing) appears in the right menu column, under Now Playing (soon to be differentiated from my current album picks "Listening"). I have a few tweaks in mind, such as displaying the last 10 songs, and linking to Amazon, instead of Barnes & Noble, but otherwise, this RAWKS!
Well, after bringing back my phone from the dead (twice in three months!), I'm ready to start moblogging again. To tell the truth, writing blog entries from my camera phone has never worked that successfully. Probably a combination of the fact that I don't "blog" that often, so there's no pressing need to submit an entry during those extremely rare occassions when I'm away from an internet connection. The other difficulty is that MFOP refuses to add the title to my entries. Something about the formatting that gets stripped away when I send from my phone. So just ignore the entry below. I'm hoping MFOP's creator, Kevin Cameron, can check things out and set me straight.
For now, I'm using another of Brad Choate's excellent MT plugins, MTIfEmpty to generate a fake title, but it's far from a perfect solution as it doesn't actually create a value for $MTEntryTitle, but just puts something else where it would otherwise go.
You may have noticed the little sad smiley :-( in the last entry. I've been playing with Brad Choate's MT Macro plugin for Movable Type. Thanks to MT Hacks all seems to be working, including having clickable smileys available while adding comments. At the same time, I've also managed to add automatic link formatting, so that offsite links always open in a separate window. (I think the internet jury is still out on this one. Some consider it a logical way to let the visitor 'wander' offsite, while still keeping them rooted where they were browsing. Others consider it rude and unnecessary page clutter. Let me know what you think.) Offsite links also appear with a little icon: .