Adam Rice

My life and the world around me

Tag: blog

Butterfly garden blog

butterflygarden

Gwen and I were walking home from the gym, and swinging past the neighborhood greenbelt when we spotted the sign above. I’d noticed the sign before, but not the URL. We exclaimed and laughed that the butterfly garden—a tiny, improvised corner of something that can’t even be called a park—had its own blog.

A couple of guys were walking a dog behind us, and one of them said “Hey, that’s my blog!” He apologized for the fact that both the blog and the butterfly garden were looking sorry because of the drought.

It’s great that one of the neighbors has stepped up and decided to do something interesting with that corners, and it’s great that he’s got a blog for it too.

Blog theme updated

I’ve finally finished the new theme for my blog. The name of the theme is “Harder Better Faster Stronger.” If you want to download it, here’s the official page for the theme.

I’ve been noodling around with themes in WordPress for a while, and it’s been a learning experience. Much of the inspiration for this came from Khoi Vinh’s Grids are Good presentation, though I don’t pretend this theme has anywhere near the level of polish found at Subtraction. There’s also a lot to like in Derek Powazek’s DePo Clean theme, though his is a little too austere for my purposes.

The name of the theme comes from the song by Daft Punk, a favorite of mine.

Wooly WordPress

I’ve been working on developing my own theme for WordPress, and the more I work on it, the more I learn how WordPress examplifies both the good and bad of open-source software projects.

The good is that a lot of people use it and develop for it. Problems seem to be patched quickly. There seems to be more innovation surrounding it than Movable Type.

The bad is that it feels as if there’s nobody in charge. This becomes acutely obvious once you start looking at the tag system. Even the tag nomenclature is not close to consistent, with some tags prefixed by “wp_”, some by “the_”, some by “get_”, some by “list_” and some with no prefix. There are some swiss-army-knife tags that can do many different things, with their output controlled by arguments, and there are some that are extremely specific, such as the tag that returns the blog author’s first name. Tag arguments are another area of inconsistency, with two completely different ways of expressing arguments, with some tags using one, some the other. There’s a lot of duplication of effort between tags, with one tag that returns a permalink formatted as a link and another that returns only the raw URL. And there’s inconsistency between the behaviors of tags, for example, the “wp_dropdown_categories” tag generates a dropdown menu of categories as a monolithic block of HTML; wp_get_archives, which generates date-based archives in a variety of formats can be used to produce a dropdown menu of monthly archive pages, but this is more atomic and makes it easier to tweak its output.

Perhaps some of these differences make sense to the programmers behind the project, but even so, they do not make sense to someone trying to write a template. I suspect some of the inconsistencies result from either lack of standards in the project, or lack of attention to standards if they exist. WordPress really should have someone stand up, acknowledge the mess, and lay down the law. I suspect if I delved deeper into the code, I’d discover more evidence of inconsistency.

NYTimes answers the cluephone

screenshot of NYTimes.com pagePerhaps everyone else knew about this and failed to tell me, or perhaps I knew and then forgot, but the New York Times is making permanently accessible permalinks available for their articles online.

This sounds obvious, but it isn’t. NYTimes.com charges for access to older articles, and up until this change (whenever it was), the only way to bookmark an article in such a way that you’d always be able to get through to it was via a hack.

But they’re getting hipper now, with buttons to directly bookmark to a few social-bookmarking sites (not del.icio.us, too bad for me), and also a “permalink” button. Clicking on that reveals the key to the kingdom, with the welcome announcement To link to this article from your blog, copy and paste the url below into your blog or homepage. Using this link will ensure access to the article, even after it becomes part of the NYT archive.

Why TNH Blogs

Set aside a few minutes and read this extraordinary post by über-blogger Teresa Nielsen Hayden. It’s long, and if you already read Making Light covers some familiar ground, but it’s worth it.

Old blog, new domain

I’m back to using Movable Type, although I’m intrigued enough with WordPress that I may continue fidding with it behind the scenes.

One thing that really is new is my domain name—it looks as if that deal is going through. My old e-mail address should continue working for a few months, and there should be redirects for this and a few other subdirectories that should also last for that period, but now would be a good time to update your address book and bookmarks. Wherever you see “crossroads.net”, change it to “8stars.org” (or “eightstars.org” if you prefer—they both work).

Why 8stars? It’s an obscure visual pun. The Chinese character for rice, 米, looks like an 8-pointed star (in fact, the Japanese nickname for the asterisk is “kome-jirushi,” or “rice-mark”). You can see a stylized version of this character in the header of this blog—I’ve actually been using that mark for some time. I would have registered 8star.org, but someone else already had. So I went with the plural. 8pointedstar.org is just too damn verbose.

It is with some regret that I part with the old domain name: I’ve had it since 1994, and really thought I’d have it permanently. As silly as it may be, that domain name had become part of my self-image. There’s also a practical reason to regret it: having a durable e-mail address has allowed some people to contact me at that address even after many years of silence. The flipside, of course, is that I get an ungodly amount of spam. So there’s a silver lining. Plus, well, there’s the money. Not enough to retire on, but enough to make a significant difference in my retirement fund, buy a few toys, and go on a trip.

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