On Tumblr and my iPhone Blog Redesign

    9 March 2010, terribly early in the morning

I have been running I’ll iPhone You for quite a while now. The site has always been a bit of an afterthought. Even if you were interested in iPhones and smartphones and all that junk, I don’t think it was a particularly interesting a place to visit. The site had no personality.

Tumblr makes it very easy to set up a site. The sorts of sites that it is best suited for are those that are about consuming and sharing content, not producing it. I suppose this is the very nature of the tumblelog. The tumblr ecosystem is all about liking posts and reblogging. There are a few sites making content, and that content gets dispersed throughout the network. What makes tumblr so compelling can also make it so boring. There are plenty of good tumblelogs on Tumblr, but my site wasn’t one of them.

I see two problems with the site as it existed. First, it used a theme someone else made. Second, it was almost completely devoid of anything I had to say. There is nothing wrong with using themes, but I prefer sites that look unique, or at least make some attempt to try and stand out. I hadn’t edited the theme for my site at all. There were probably thousands of sites on tumblr exactly like mine. Because I hadn’t spent any time at all working on the site, I also didn’t feel compelled to post anything of substance there. The site was supposed to be my iPhone blog, but It was really nothing more than a link dump. Most of the text on the site came from the titles of the articles I linked to. I’m not an iPhone, so it’s not like linking to lots of stories about iPhones gives you any insight to who I am or what I like (besides iPhones). There was really nothing about the site that made it my own.

I’m not entirely sure why I decided to redo the blog. I suppose I have had a lot more free time these past few weeks. I added a little header to the site yesterday, and I think that will be that. I used the CSS from 1kbgrid as the basis for my own sass script, which I used to generate the layout grid CSS for this site and my new photography site. Otherwise it’s a pretty simple and plain redesign. I’ve definitely been posting more since making the change, in part because I’d feel like i’m wasting my new theme if I didn’t. Whether it’s actually a better site remains to be seen. I think it certainly looks better, anyway.

Comment [2] |  

ATOM/RSS Update

   16 August 2007, mid-afternoon

I finally got around to fixing my ATOM and RSS feeds for my link posts. When I link to another site, the link you click in the feed will take you to the site, not here. I think this makes more sense. The ‘#’ at the end of the link description will take you to the post about the link on this site.

Comment [4]  

No www

    6 February 2007, late morning

I’m redirecting any hits to this site at www.funkaoshi.com to funkaoshi.com, dropping the superfluous www. I’ve been meaning to do this for ages, but just read an article on the topic, and it seemed as good a time as any.

Comment [4]  

Mint 2.0

   29 January 2007, terribly early in the morning

Little shot of Mint 2.0

When I bought Mint a year and change ago it was a decision I put a fair amount of thought into. When I noticed late last night that the software had been updated I upgraded almost right away, vaguely aware of what the new features would be. This isn’t a good way to buy anything, but I figured the new Mint would be at least as nice as the old one. The set of new features is fairly terse. I don’t think it’s worthwhile buying of upgrading software based solely on its immense feature list. You want to buy stuff that works well. It looks like the way Mint works has been improved upon a fair amount. A lot of things have been cleaned up nicely. There is a new feed reader pepper by Shaun that looks promising, though its installation is a bit more involved than that of normal peppers so I haven’t had a chance to give it a run. The way the panes in the interface stack is a big improvement over the old layout of the interface. I’ll have more to say after using the new Mint for a little while I suppose. Of all the software I’ve bought, Mint is probably the one I use the most — next to World of Warcraft I suppose.

Comment [2]  

Lightbox Put To Good Use

    5 June 2006, early morning

When you try and do something in Reddit that requires you to be logged in, Reddit will overlay a login/sign-up window over the page you are viewing. (Go to their page and try voting on a link to see what I am talking about.) This is the first, and only time, I’ve been impressed with a Lightbox style effect. Reddit doesn’t do anything flashy. It’s a quick and efficient way to get you logged in and working with their site.

Comment  

Building a Link-Log in Textpattern 4.0

   23 March 2006, early evening

While upgrading to the latest version of Textpattern, I decided to clean up the way I implemented my Link-Log. The goal was to minimize the number of hacks needed to get things working. This article should explain what I have done, and should be as terse as possible.

Read the rest of this post. (168 words)

Comment [1] |  

37signals are getting really real while doing less, which is more, which is actually less

    5 March 2006, mid-afternoon

A review of Getting Real by 37signals

37signals are a design firm turned web application studio that get on my nerves more often than not. (Saying they get on my nerves is infact an understatement.) Despite the more aggravating posts on their web site they remain to this day a good source for insight on modern web development and web design practices. I like reading about the entire software development process. This is one reason I enjoyed Joel on Software so much. Last week 37signals put out a book compiling their manifesto on web application development entitled Getting Real. If you read the 37signals blog Signal vs. Noise you will have heard the term countless times. (It can be grating to hear over and over again.) Still, a few days after the eBook came out I bought it. I’m not entirely sure why. I think the $19 price tag, just shy of $20, and the fact they make it very convenient to buy, were two contributing factors. I enjoyed the book. I am by no stretch a rabid 37signals fan-boy; I sincerely liked it.

Read the rest of this post. (546 words)

Comment [1] |  

The Upgrade

   25 February 2006, late at night

I finally upgraded to the latest version of Textpattern, 4.0.3. (I remember when I used to be so cutting edge when it came to all things Textpattern.) If you see anything that seems wrong on the site please post here.

Read the rest of this post. (491 words)

Comment [13] |  

What did they do to Kinja?

   22 December 2005, the wee hours

Shima uses Kinja to see when her friends have posted new articles on their blogs. I use Bloglines for this purpose, mostly because it works a lot better. Kinja is nice and simple, and I always thought that was its edge. I made Shima a Kinja digest because I thought it was simpler than Bloglines to use (I don’t think this is the case anymore). Today, a new version of Kinja was rolled out; this new Kinja is ugly. Now, that’s not a real criticism of the new design, that’s my subjective opinion on its aesthetics. Here are a few, real, criticisms I have with the new system:

  1. There are no direct links to the sites you read on your digest page anymore, only links to the individual article entries. To find a link to a site you subscribe to, you have to go to the site’s summary page first, which has a link to the actual subscribed page on it. (Sometimes a site might have several new entries in a row. I used to just go to the sites themselves to read all the new entries, rather than open up several tabs to read each one.)
  2. The links on a web site’s summary page open in a new window—come on, what year is this?
  3. You can tag your digests now. What value does a tagged digest provide? I haven’t a clue. What exactly would Shima tag her digest? Is she supposed to describe herself or her friends? Or both?
  4. The site takes up more screen real estate now (although the actual content of interest is small and on the left-side of the screen)

Before the roll out, service was out for several days. No one seemed to notice; people with blogs like to bitch—a lot—and yet no one seems to have complained about Kinja being down for a few days. I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions as to what the radio silence means.

Update: It’s the morning now, and reading this post again, I can see it is quite snarky. Sorry about that. Also, the irony of me saying no one bitches about Kinja online, while bitching about Kinja online, is not lost on me.

Update Jan 18 2006: Well someone fixed the no direct links to your subscribed homepages problem—good job!

Comment  

Comments - Part 3

   20 October 2005, early morning

I’ve changed the way my comments are displayed—again. Let me know of any visual glitches. the comments should display like they have been thus far, except the comments are now surrounded by a faint orange border, and all have an even fainter orange back ground. I think this is actually how they looked the very first time I changed things, only the backgrounds were brighter then. I plan to have my comments display differently again, once I get around to figuring out how to do so in Textpattern. If you hate the new scheme, or see any visual glitches, please leave a comment.

Comment [3]  

Non-breaking Space

    6 October 2005, mid-morning

I have ‘fixed’ the way my link log entries display slightly. The final hash mark (the permanent link to the entry) should never appear alone on a line anymore. This was done by using non-breaking spaces carefully. A non-breaking space (NBSP) is a space that should not produce an automatic line break following its position. For example, if you didn’t want the number 10 000 to be displayed with the 10 on one line and the 000 on another, you would separate the two components with a non-breaking space. In HTML, this usage is sometimes forgotten, as most people use non-breaking spaces to simply produce more than one consecutive space between two words. In HTML, consecutive white-space is stripped, so, if you really do want two spaces after a sentence, for example, you would need to use two non-breaking spaces. The character code for a non-breaking space is  . Use it wisely.

Comment  

Hot Linking

    8 August 2005, evening time

”[Hot linking] is the placing of a linked object, often an image, from one site in a page belonging to a second site”. When someone links to an image I post here for the purposes of using the content on their own site, they are essentially stealing my bandwidth, since it is 1&1’s web servers that are serving up the image, not their own. Nevermind the fact that people shouldn’t be using my photographs without my permission—especially on ugly-ass web sites.

So how do you stop someone from linking to your content like that? Well, if the site that hosts your web site lets you use .htaccess files, you do so with the following snippet of code I found at the comprehensive guide to .htaccess.

  1. RewriteEngine on
  2. RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
  3. RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www\.)?mydomain.com/.*$ [NC]
  4. RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg|js|css)$ - [F]
  5. Download this code: /static/code/10.txt

That should refuse access to your images from pages that aren’t hosted on your own site. (That said, if people notice anything broken here, please let me know!)

Some of the people at myspace.com need to learn some internet manners.

Comment [2] |  

My Most Discussed Posts

    7 June 2005, late at night

I’ve added another listing to the archive page; you can now browse the top 20 most commented on posts at this site. I don’t think these posts contain the best comments I’ve received here, or are in anyway the most interesting things I’ve posted here, but for whatever reason they generated the most disucssion. I will continue to add little listings like this to the archive page in the hopes that it will be of interest to people who stumble on this site and want a quick primer on what the site is like.

Comment [2] |  

Comments - Part 2

   10 May 2005, evening time

So, as you may recall (probably not) I mucked around with the way comments are displayed here many months ago because the way they were being displayed bugged me. Frankly, the way they are being displayed now still bugs me. That said, Shima approves, so I think I’m at a point where I can leave things alone. I’m back to using ordered lists again, behind the scenes anyway. Some time last night, I had a version up that used definition lists. It looked a bit strange. Please comment here if you can’t stand the new scheme. There are so many sites out there that do a great job with displaying user-feedback. One day, I will copy one of those sites. Till then…

Comment [7]  

Usability and my Photoblog

   29 March 2005, early evening

I wrote this on May 5th, 2004. I don’t know why I didn’t post it then.

My old roommate Alex is one of the few System Engineers I know that can build stuff. That’s a whole other post. When I showed him my photoblog last term, he made a suggestion which I was too lazy at the time to make. If you look at where I placed the previous and next links, every time you click on one of the links, your mouse will probably not be over the links on the new page. The size of the photo and the size of your browser window will determine where the links go. I didn’t think this to be much of an issue, because I assumed most people would read the blurb, and then click on the links. He suggested that if you wanted to quickly scroll through the images, the links I had would be a nuisance, since you’d need to reposition your mouse on each new page. So, my site now has navigation links at the top of the page.

Comment |  

Archive Page

   13 January 2005, late at night

The archive page is now complete. You can view older articles on this site by date, category, or popularity. As I think up more exciting ways to let you browse old posts I’ll update that page. Let me know if there are any problems.

|  

Date Based Archives

    6 January 2005, late at night

This article at Pixel Meadow got me started on finally trying to implement a proper date based archive at this site. You can check out the archive page which now features links to my posts in a given month. I think adding date aware navigation at the bottom of each archive page would be handy, but I am not sure when I will get around to doing it.

Dunstan’s idea of making all dates links got me started on taking my changes a little bit further. So, you can also click on the various parts that make up the date of a post to go to a page that contains all the other posts made on that particular day, month, or year.

I will probably write up what was involved in getting this working shortly. The short version of what you need to do is: change the doArticles() function, modify your .htaccess file, rewrite the posted() function, and write a function that generates the archive table. (I had some other complications because of the changes I made to display my link-log inline.) If you see any problems please let me know.

Comment |  

Referrer Spam

   15 December 2004, late at night

In an attempt to clean up my referrer logs which have become inundated with spam, I have blocked requests to this page from referrers with at least 2 dashes in their name that are .info domains. If you notice any problems please let me know. Of course, the problem here is that if you do have any problems, you probably won’t see this post.

I am blocking the spam using the following commands in my .htaccess file:

  1. RewriteEngine on
  2. RewriteBase /
  3.  
  4. RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^.*(-).*(-).*(-).*$
  5.  
  6.  
  7. Download this code: /static/code/5.txt

This will turn on mod_rewrite, check if the referrer URL has 2 dashes and ends in .info, and if it does send back a forbidden error.

Comment [1]  

Boring Comments

    1 December 2004, mid-afternoon

I’m not one to erase comments, but I will if someone posts something I think is thoroughly uninteresting, on a post I made several months ago. For example “o brother where art thou wasn’t that good either” made by an anonymous coward on my post about the Ladykillers qualifies as a thoroughly uninteresting comment made on a post I made several months ago. You can’t find the comment itself anymore because I erased it.

Comment [4]  

Internet Explorer

   16 November 2004, mid-morning

Sometimes I wonder why people who visit my site are still using Internet Explorer. Of course, not everyone out there is aware that Netscape has been reborn as Phoenix Firebird Firefox. However, I expect people who read this site must be aware of Firefox’s existence; I’ve mentioned the browser several times here. There are of course plenty of reasons why people are not using Firefox: people browsing at work who are not allowed to install Firefox; people who love getting spyware; people who aren’t allowed to install new software on their own computers; I actually can’t think of other reasons.

I have noticed the following bugs in the way my site is displayed when viewed in Internet Explorer 6:

  • Margin/Padding at the top of each link-log entry is too big. I suspect this is a first-child bug.
  • Dashed borders instead of dotted borders separate posts and link-log blocks. Internet Explorer can’t display dotted borders.
  • There is no margin at the bottom of the page. The box white box my posts are all inside rests right against the bottom of the browser window.
  • There are two borders displayed at the top of the definition list used to display my archive listing. This is another first-child bug.
  • The way the lists display on my links page is strange.
  • The way recent comments display is ugly to say the least.

I hope to fix these bugs shortly. Have you noticed any other quirks? No, of course you haven’t, because you use a good web-browser; Nice job!

Comment [11]  

Comments

   28 October 2004, evening time

I usually promise people I will start working on various hacks or plugins for Textpattern, but then promptly forget what it was I am supposed to be doing. So, instead of working on such a request I fixed something that has been bugging me about my site, which is how comments are displayed.

Read the rest of this post. (187 words)

Comment [2]  

Shima's New Look

   20 September 2004, late evening

I redesigned Shima’s web site. I think it suits her character more now—at least in my opinion. Things aren’t as perfect as I would like just yet. The URLs for all her stuff bug me to no end, and the archive page needs to be made more informative. Nevertheless, the look of the whole site is more or less done, and I am quite happy with it. There are some quirks that sometimes creep up because I am displaying the ‘shimoticons’ as background images; sometimes they get cropped if the post for the particular day is short. Shima emailed me a picture of herself with her hair in buns some time ago, which were the inspiration for the whole site. Opinions and suggestions on her new site are more then welcome.

Comment [3]  

Building a 404 Error Page in Textpattern

   29 July 2004, late afternoon

This is a concise outline of what I did to get a custom 404 page working with Textpattern. You can read my earlier post on such pages for background.

Read the rest of this post. (550 words)

Comment [6] |  

I Am An Amazon Associate

   29 July 2004, mid-afternoon

My friend Dave displays the album covers of the CDs he is listening to the most on front of his web site. Amazon’s little pictures are useful. I stole the HTML code Dave uses, swapped the ASINs and everything seemed to work. You can see a little picture of the Signs DVD in my review of Signs. Clicking on the picture takes you to the Amazon page for the Signs DVD.

Now, here is where things get corrupt. All these people on the Textpattern forum were going on about wanting a plugin to access the Amazon API. MTAmazon is a very popular plugin for Moveable Type. I never understood the appeal of such plugins till I realized all these people are probably members of Amazon’s Associates program. In a nut shell, Amazon gives you a commission from the stuff they sell when people get to their site via yours. So, the way I see it, if a billion people read my site, and they each buy 5-10 copies of Signs, I will be a millionaire. And I didn’t even do anything. I’m a freaking genius.

If you ever link to Amazon, you may as well take the time to sign up for their associates program. When you link to Amazon you are basically advertising for them. You may as well take whatever form of reimbursement they are willing to offer.

Comment [3] |  

Building a Links Log in Textpattern

   23 July 2004, late evening

Here are the very gory details on how I went about merging my del.icio.us links into my textpattern site, and how I intend to post links hence forth. A horrible account of what I did follows…

Read the rest of this post. (1437 words)

Comment [23] |  

← ← ←