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August 3, 2011

Do People Still Use Blogrolls? And Would You Want To Be In Mine?

Image by Mike Licht,

This site started out on Movable Type years ago .. When they changed their licensing I switched to WordPress.. And it was on WordPress for a couple of years.. until it wasn't anymore.

So when I switched it to MovableType back in 2007 the "blogroll" I'd been maintaining disappeared, as MT didn't really have a way of handling it (well it did, but it was messy) so I had a couple of links in a widget and that was it.

Now I'm back using WordPress which ships with the option to publish a "blogroll" or any set of links into the site's sidebar. (I've currently got a very very small one .. )

But is there any point?

Do people actually look at them?

Do people want to be included in them?

If I published one would you want to be included? (Assuming I have some idea who you are and actually want to link to you .. )

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July 10, 2011

Site Revamp (Sort Of)

Due to the lack of ongoing support with MovableType I've decided to move this site back to using WordPress as it's backend.

As I said elsewhere earlier today, I'm still not 100% convinced about WordPress' security etc., but it is being actively developed, which is more than can be said for MovableType.

Moving from MovableType to WordPress is an "interesting" process, so I've documented it and will share my "process" when I get a chance (it's far from perfect!)

If there are broken links or anything on the site at the moment I apologise, but no migration is ever perfect - something will have broken and it will take me some time to fix all the bits that have, unfortunately, broken

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May 10, 2009

Playing With Lifestreams and SweetCron

sweetcron logoA few months ago Stewart mentioned Sweetcron as a "lifestream" solution (You can see his here).

A "lifestream" basically acts as an aggregator of all your online activities, as many of the online services that people use, such as Twitter, Flickr etc., publish your activity via RSS.

I'd already been experimenting with Movable Type's Motion, which is a pretty cool addition to an existing MT powered site, however having a separate, standalone, solution was not without its attractions. I registered a few months ago, but apart from using it to test our Exchange mail hosting I hadn't really done anything with it.

So last night (and very early this morning) I decided to setup Sweetcron on one of our shared hosting plans. Our hosting system allows you to split your domain up across multiple hosting plans and platforms, so while the main site is now on a Linux web server the email is still on Microsoft Exchange.

I chose to setup the webspace to use PHP5, since PHP4 is defunct. In terms of the database I opted for MySQL5, since it's also the more recent version.

I'll have to admit that I hadn't used FTP for a long time. I have a habit of just doing things from the command line, but once I'd got over that it was easy enough to setup.

The documentation for Sweetcron is a bit sparse, but the basic install is easy enough. On our system you just need to remember that the MySQL database server is NOT "localhost", as the basic configuration file assumes that you're running everything on a single server.

The one step that isn't documented clearly is how to setup a simple cronjob to automate it for you. Fortunately someone else had done that already, so adding the cronjob via the hosting control panel was fine.
You just need to execute the following command every few minutes (or hours):

curl http://your/true-cron/url

You can find the actual URL in the Sweetcron admin panel. So just set that command to run via the cronjob manager and off you go.

The basic install ships with two themes, but there are several other themes available which range from the very simple to the incredibly complex. I still haven't settled on which one I actually want to use, as they all handle parts of your "stream" differently. In order to avoid duplication issues I think I'll stick with a theme that doesn't pull in the full content from blog posts and just provides a link to the original source.

So if you're bored and want to know what I'm up to you can head over to my new personal space and see!

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December 25, 2008

Moblogging Software For Nokia E71?

Nokia E71

Image via Wikipedia

Since upgrading to the E71 I've found myself using online services on my phone a LOT more. There are two reasons for this:

  1. The data plan we are now makes it a loss expensive to use and abuse web services
  2. The full QWERTY keyboard

One of the things that I would love to be able to do is blog directly from my E71.

For some odd reason Nokia did away with the LifeBlog application in their newer phones, so I haven't had much luck finding a usable replacement.

Most of the Symbian software options for blogging are either ancient and don't work with MovableType 4.* or simply are not compatible with MT at all.

There probably are some wonderful software tools out there that are compatible with both the E71 and Movable Type, but I haven't had much luck in finding them.

If anyone knows of any solutions please let me know!

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December 16, 2008

Playing With Movable Type Motion

Six Apart launched Motion last night (Irish time), so I setup a test install to play with it.

If anyone wants to play around register for an account on the site and let me know - I may have to give you author rights

I'm currently using the default templates that ship with the release, so you'll see plenty of "weird" stuff from my "stream" interpolated among the few test posts I've put up.

NB: It is beta software and the test install is literally a "test". Please don't post anything vital on there as it may get nuked!

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August 19, 2008

RSS Working Again

I really should not be allowed operate electronic equipment at the weekend!

I discovered a short time ago that I had managed to remove my RSS feed entirely!

Now that takes some doing.

I'm almost impressed with myself...

It's back again now, but I really do need to put aside some time to work out what I've managed to accidentally nuke.

On a side note, I have to say I am impressed with the widgets in MT. They're finally making sense to me, so I won't be editing the main templates as much moving forward - widgets are the way to go!

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August 17, 2008

Post-Upgrade Oddities

Movable Type 4 - logo

I upgraded this site's backend, Movable Type, to the latest version earlier today.

While the upgrade itself went pretty well there seem to be some really odd issues affecting this site. All the other sites running of this MT install are behaving fine, but this one is having issues with templates.
I'm currently trying to work out what the best course of action is, so please excuse the really ugly search results pages if you conduct a search.

I'm considering nuking the templates entirely and reverting back to a default template set before re-adding any of my own minor customisations (and they really are quite minor)

I suspect that I have some old template code floating around that is causing conflicts, but whether I will be able to isolate or not is doubtful - especially as it hasn't happened with any of my other blogs, which is truly bizarre!

Thanks to Donal for highlighting the issue for me.

Update: Nuking the template seems to have solved the problem. Of course I've now got to go back and customise them ... or maybe I can just wait as someone promised me a new design!

Update 2: Due to my own stupidity I managed to disable the single entry archives, so they weren't being created! That's now fixed.

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May 21, 2008

Testing Zemanta On MovableType With Swiftweasel

I enjoy playing around with new "toys", so I was delighted to get an email earlier this evening from one of the Zemanta team earlier this evening to let me know that they'd added support for Movable Type.

The concept behind Zemanta is intriguing. It's a browser plugin that integrates with serveral of the more popular blogging platforms via your browser. Once you've composed a blog post of 300 characters or more it will make suggestions for images, links and other content.

As they describe it themselves:

Have your browser understand what you are blogging about and suggest
pictures, links, articles and tags to make your posts more vibrant. We are making blogging fun again.

The images are pulled from a variety of sources, but they assure users that they are all copyright cleared ie. you won't be getting any nastygrams from people's legal teams asking you to remove them!

Although the people at Zemanta only officially support Firefox I'm working away quite happily using the plugin on Swiftweasel, which is a derivative.

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April 22, 2008

SixApart Expands Services and Acquires Consultancy


Blogging company SixApart announced a major expansion earlier today. (They also quietly unveiled a new look for their main corporate site)

The company announced its acquisition of New York based Apperceptive  who will  form the core of their new services division. Apperceptive's team have not only worked on a lot of very high profile projects but have also developed quite a few extensions for Movable Type (I think I've a couple of them installed on this site!).

They've also announced a new advertising solution for both bloggers (publishers) and media buyers. As this is a new service I'd expect there'll be a delay before we start seeing it "in action".

Anil Dash's post on their main site covers their vision in some detail.

Earlier in the day Arvind posted an interview with Anil on the Blog Herald

The services side of the company will probably meet with a degree of criticism from some quarters, but it's not uncommon for software companies to handle a certain amount of this type of work inhouse.

Will this have a negative impact on the developers and consultants who work closely with SixApart?

Judging by reactions on the mailing lists probably not, though the company's detractors were vocal as usual.

What is interesting to see is the range of services that they are pushing. These range from basic installation and tweaking to a full migration and upgrade service.

While the $199 price tag may put off some people I can imagine that a lot of small businesses might be attracted. With the current rate of exchange it equates to a mere 125 euro for a blog "tune up".

They don't seem to be offering design services, which is a pity as I'd love to give this site an overhaul!

EDIT: Fixed a typo spotted by David Raynes' eagle eyes!

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April 9, 2008

Minor Change To Comments Policy

In order to preserve what little sanity I have left I've changed the way comments are handled on here slightly.

Since comment and trackback spammers seem to target old posts I've decided to automatically close comments on posts that are 6 months old or older.

The old posts that were attracting the odd comment were mainly to do with older versions of Ubuntu etc., so there's not much point in accepting new comments since the software has changed in the last couple of years.

The other reason why I'm doing this is because I made a boo boo the other day and turned up the spam checking a little too high. This meant that I may have blocked several legitimate comments and had to spend a couple of hours trawling through about 20k+ worth of spam comments to rescue them.

I'll update the comment policy of the site shortly to reflect the new "regime"

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