Archive for the ‘General’ Category

General

Firefox tab position redux

FirefoxI heart Firefox. It’s quick, has a slew of add-ons that make my browsing a breeze and I’ve got it set-up just how I like it. But those crazy developer types think they know better and in the last 3.6 update, they decided that new tabs opened from a link should appear directly to the right of the parent tab instead of at the end of the list as in the past. Pretty logical but grumpy old me can’t get on with this change.

For a start, it’s not consistent. Opening a previous or next page in a new tab (by middle-clicking on the back or forward buttons) doesn’t follow the new to-the-right pattern but instead opens the new tab in the old place, right at the end of your current tab list. Also, if you open a child tab, click to view it and then close it, you’ll now be viewing the page to the right of the parent tab rather than the parent itself. It’s a small annoyance but one that doesn’t gel with my ‘how it should work’ world view. So rather than put up with these (admittedly tiny) niggles, I figured I’d just switch back to the old system.

After a little searching, I found the fix. Open a new tab and put this in the address bar…

about:config

…and tap <return>. Click past the “I promise not to go in like a bull in a china shop!” warning and you’ll be presented with a loonnngggg list of settings. This is basically all the stuff you can tweak in Firefox but the devs would rather you didn’t in case you bugger something up. Simply scroll down the list until you spot…

browser.tabs.insertRelatedAfterCurrent

It’ll be set to ‘true’. Right click the entry and select toggle so it reads ‘false’. You can close that tab and now, when you open a new child tab, Firefox will respond as it used to. Of course, if you get sick of trawling to the end of your tabs for new pages then simply open the config again and toggle it back.

And… if you’re still using that ramshackle stack of bugs commonly known as Internet Explorer, then please (insert stream of insults veiled as a recommendation to switch to another browser, here).

General

PNG me?

Wordpress 2.7I mentioned updating my theme in my last post and while lack of time is a pretty big hurdle for building a new front-end for Skoardy.com, another problem is an iffy design choice I made when I first created the site.

Originally, I wanted the images I used in posts to blend smoothly with the background. GIFs give a simple level of transparency but it’s an on/off deal – hardly what I was looking for. PNGs are the other option but when the format first appeared they were barely supported and even when they became more widespread, a few dopey hold-outs still handled them badly. So I created images with the background colour blended into them. Looked good, nice small file… but an absolute pain in the chuff to re-do any time you moved to a theme with a different background colour.

Hopefully, these days, browsers have come a little further and the chance of encountering some backward, hill-billy software that can’t handle a simple PNG image correctly should be pretty slim. By converting images on the site over time to PNGs, I at least remove that stumbling block for when I do have some time for a proper shuffle.

The images will be bigger, unfortunately, but that’s okay, right? You’re all on beefy bandwidth connections, yeah? No? Oh well, sucks to be you.

General

Twitter buh-bye!

TwitterMmmmm. Okay, so on reflection I’m not particularly happy with just blatting my Twitter updates straight into my site’s feed. Don’t get me wrong – more content on here, no matter how puerile and flimsy is always going to be the goal but the problem was that my current theme isn’t particularly conducive to small scribbles of info as whole posts. The date and category boxes demand just a touch more meat on each bone and frankly, having the first 30 characters of the tweet as the title of the post looked downright naff (and damn hard to orchestrate into something meaningful when trying to already condense your thoughts into 140 characters). So for now it’s tata Twitter.

I did try out a number of different Twitter widgets which, I must say, on a different theme would be great but mine just tends to either break them or look remarkably wonky. If I had more than five minutes here and there free on such a problem, this might have pushed me over then edge and caused a whole new theme revision. But as it stands, I’ve simply not enough time so I’ve stripped out the plug-ins altogether.

One day I’ll revisit the whole situation but for now, if you want my Twitter-shaped bullets of bullshit, you’ll just have to get them from the source.

General

Twitter Amalgamation – Super Special Bonus Banality!

TwitterFor a while now I’ve been wondering how I could possibly make my site even more tediously inconsequential while still giving it the façade of a throbbing hive of activity. It was quite a head scratcher. Luckily, and as is usually the case, the intaweb was there to steal from inspire me! Twitter, of course!

A few months ago I laid claim to my very own Twitter account, protecting the ‘Skoardy‘ brand on yet another digital frontier, and had been dropping 140 character lumps of wisdom on a (very small) circle of people far too kind to unfollow me.

But it’s time to further utilise that stream of sh… um, conciousness and feed it directly to this site. You might have spotted two remarkably short posts directly below this one, already. Yeah, that’s the new plug-in (Twitter Tools by Alex King) hard at work. The short nature of the posts highlighted a couple of flaws in my year-or-so old theme but they’ve already been fudged fixed.

So look forward to a bright future full of 140 character long posts detailing things you probably never even knew you didn’t want to know until you came here. Right… how do I funnel my Facebook crap onto the site…?

General

Greetings from the hand

Long time, no post! Yeah, things have been a little ‘distracting’ lately and I’ve found myself with little I wanted to warble on about. Still, better late than never, eh? And I’ve found some to mention (or at least something to try out).

You see, I’ve recently gotten hold of one of those iPod Touch doofers and while tootling around the app store, came across a WordPress app that allows you to edit/create entries. I could probably do it via the built-in web browser (though the interface might be a bind to wade through), but I thought I’d give this a bash instead.

All in all, it’s pretty easy to use. The usual fat-fingers problem with the on-screen keyboard but I’m getting a fair pace out of it. Daft thing – I’m sat right in from of my desktop PC while tapping this out but, like I said, I wanted to give this a try.

So that’s that for my first ‘mobile’ update. Who knows, maybe I’ll do more like this – maybe even while out and about… like on the loo or something!

(Joking!)

General

Bleaurgh… IE

Pretty much just a follow-up to one of my earlier posts (‘Skoardy v3.0‘) where I unveiled/announced my revamp of the Skoardy.com theme. I was pretty happy with the results as I’d almost managed to achieve everything I set out to with the new look and also added some elements I’d overlooked the first time I switched everything over to WordPress.

Of course, I have little-to-no faith in my skills with CSS, hence the comments about not coughing. It’s a rickety set of stairs, the outer shell of Skoardy.com, and give it too much of a hammering and it’s likely to fall apart. But, it looked okay and everything was where it should be… or so I thought.

In comes Microsoft’s Internet Explorer with it’s size 9 clod-hoppers and its own unique take on what things should look like. Normally, I use Firefox as my default browser. It’s small, fast and best of all, with the right add-ons, you’ll never need to see another advert again. It looked fine on that. I even tried the site with Google’s Chrome – the new kid of the block that’s also small/fast. Also, looked fine. And with IE? Yeah…um, well, it was borked on IE.

I don’t usually like booting IE up. These days it seems there’s always some kind of new exploit being reported and death from within for anyone foolish enough to take it for a spin on the intahwebs. Eventually, I worked up the nerve to have a look. Things were misplaced, oddly positioned and some bizarre gaps were appearing. One by one, I managed correct the flaws, writing in more specific code so that even IE couldn’t get creative with my instructions. Everything was fixed, except for some gaps in the sidebar. I know IE users take up the market share of web tourists (seriously guys, switch to a new browser already!) so I wanted to fix it but nothing I tried could get rid.

So every few days I’d get a new idea and try it out with the hope that it’d fix the problem without breaking the site for other browsers. Every time, same result. Nada.

Tonight, however, the new fix worked and everything fell into place. Better still, it’s something that other browsers appear to care little about. Of course, this is just with version 7 of IE. If it’s broken on older versions, screw you. Upgrade… or better still, switch to a new browser already!

General

The definition of optimism…

…is perhaps trying to sell ice-cream from your cheery little van on the street when the temperature outside is reading a mighty 0°C.

I really couldn’t believe it when I heard that instantly recognisable tinkly tune but yes, lo and behold, some enterprising ice-cream seller is hawking his wares in weather that could quite legitimately be called ‘a tad chilly‘. Just thinking about actually consuming ice-cream on a day like this sends a shiver to my core. Well, I assume he’s selling ice-cream. There were no customers so I never actually saw a transaction take place. Maybe he’s retrofitted the van and was actually flogging kebabs and other more suitably seasonal (and namely hot) consumables. Who knows.

But if not, I guess his actions also pass for a pretty good definition of stupidity as well.

General

Skoardy v3.0

Don’t make a sound! Don’t cough. For heaven’s sake don’t sneeze, whatever you do! I’ve just rebuilt the website’s theme and the slightest jostle could bring it crashing down around your ears.

I thought it was about time for a change and doing so has allowed me to fix a couple of oversights I made when I first put the WordPress website together. The first thing that got sorted was being able to show more than one category at the same time. While I could define my posts as have multiple categories, my first theme couldn’t display them (it’d only show the first one). That’s sorted now. I can go category buck-wild… er… not that I plan to. But I could!

Second was a better integration of the tags. I’ve been adding them to the posts and had that chubby tag cloud in the old footer so it seemed daft not to list them in the posts. Well, there they are. The tag cloud itself has gone, replaced with a list of the top 30 tags over in the side bar.

I’ve binned the comments.  They weren’t getting used – though I never really expected them to. No, scratch that. They were getting used but there’s only so many hours in the day you can devote to marking bot-seeded porn site advert comments as spam.

And what have we learnt from doing another theme? Mostly that creating images for pretty much every post and blending them to the theme’s background colour is going to bite you in the ass somewhere down the line. Yeah, recreating all those was a mind-numbing excercise in tedium fun.

Anyway, enjoy. Mind what you touch, though. The paint is still wet in a few places.

General

WordPress 2.7

Wordpress 2.7Another three to four months go by and time for another painless website back-end update, this time from WordPress 2.6 (aka ‘Tyner’) to 2.7 (aka ‘Coltrane’). One of the additions to this version is the ability to automatically update WordPress without needing to sweat over accidentally deleting your entire website, so this might actually be the last time I get to feel like a superstar for not buggering the whole process up.

Okay, fair is fair – that’s probably more a comment about my complete lack of skills rather than the embarassingly straightforward update procedure but when it comes to any kind of task like these, if it can go wrong, you’ll probably find my grubby fingerprints already all over it and smoke pouring from the back.

So what is new with 2.7? They’ve given the dashboard another new lick of paint and versatility seems to be the order of the day with a ‘however you like it’ vibe to the whole process. All the content on the main page can be re-arranged (even to the point of switching from a single column layout to a double column one and vice versa). You can quickly add a post right from the main page, track draft posts, and also sort & answer comments… if unlike me, you have visitors to your website.

The customisation follows through to new content sections, allowing you to set your post/page editing layout how you like it, minimising or even removing altogether any feature you hardly ever bother with.

On the plug-in front, they also can be added and updated without stepping away from the comfort of your site admin, browsing the plug-in directory through a handy list of tags. Yep, soon enough your site will be groaning under the weight of countless unneeded (but must have!) plug-ins.

One of my personal bugbears is also fixed – the way that adding images used to default to having a pre-defined URL and how they insisted on being thumbnail size. Both gone, I’m happy to say.

Yeah, I’ll miss the manual update procedure but given how the package keeps improving with each iteration, I’ll definitely be looking forward to what WordPress 2.8 brings!

General

WordPress 2.6

Wordpress 2.6Another patch rolls round and again it’s pretty painless. I might even start believing I know what I’m doing if things continue to work as expected like this. WordPress 2.6 has been released and along with the whole avalanche of regular under-the-hood fixes and tweaks, there’s a couple of nice additions probably worth mentioning – at least in relation to this site. Seems only fair to get some pimpage out of the update considering it makes this website possible.

The first addition is ‘all for me’ as in my imaginary readers don’t get to feel the benefit directly. It’s the ‘Post Revisions’ feature. In short, every time I change a post, it’ll keep track of the changes and if I ever find myself deleting a chunk of text and regretting it down the line, I can simply call it back into existence. There’s even a lovely comparison function so I can view the differences between various saved versions.

The ‘Press This!’ feature, gives you a bookmark link that you can drag into your browser to help you steal… *ahem* …sorry, I mean ‘blog’ about things you encounter while you’re browsing. Grab stuff on your travels and post about them straight away without that annoying ‘pasting it all together yourself’ roadbump.

‘Captions’ is a new feature which is pretty nice. I’m not sure how much mileage I’ll get out of it myself as apart from the image in the top-left of the posts, I haven’t really gone to town piccie-wise as of yet. Maybe eventually but not something I need right now.

‘Theme Preview’, as the name suggests allows me to check out how my site would look with a different theme applied without having to apply it (and probably break the website in the process). Good, but as I’d already got an add-on that let me do that already, it’s not a huge bonus for me. I can get rid of the add-on (and not worry about it going out-of-date with future WordPress versions) and having the whole thing tied together is a plus.

There’s also some caching gumpf called ‘Gears’ which I doubt I’ll be using, a word count feature (woohoo?) on the post page (this post contains 459 words, fact fans!) that doesn’t really set my world on fire, gallery sorting (no galleries so again, not a biggie here) and the plugins interface has been spruced up and is now better organised. That last one is cool but it’s not like it was an horrific mess beforehand though.

As per usual, the continued updates to WordPress bring some funky little additions and gives existing features a pleasing tweak. Overall, it’s a great package that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone wishing to talk complete arse to a non-existent visitors.