Ch-ch-changes


Reconstructing The Past

ConstructionNow that I've made the move to Movable Type, I've got years of hand-coded archives I want to migrate over. This has to be done manually, one entry at a time. There thousands and thousands, dating back to November 2002.

My intent is to bring over one month's worth of entries every week. While this construction is ongoing, you might find an interesting discrepancy between the MT-generated archives and my old hand-coded archives. If you want to view a previous month, my old hand-coded archives will be your best bet until everything's converted.

So far, I've got all of 2006 moved over. Now, I've decided to start with November 2002 and work forwards until I eventually hit December 31, 2005. I suspect that will happen some time in the fall.

Tedious: (adj.) Tiresome by reason of length, slowness, or dullness; boring.

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New RSS Feed

RSSAnother benefit of moving to Movable Type is an automated RSS feed. I was manually maintaining the old one.

The new RSS feed for this site is at https://www.torontomike.com/index.xml. Now we're cooking with gas.

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Movable Typed

ConstructionI warned you more changes were coming. This is the biggie.

For years I fought the push to implement a CMS solution. I derived a great deal of pride from hand-coding this entire site and ensuring it successfully validated as XHTML 1.0 Strict. Even the CSS and RSS feeds were hand-coded and validated by the W3C. I wrote about my CMS resistance here, here, here and here.

Today marks a new era for this blog, powered by Movable Type. New entries will have Permalinks, Comments, TrackBacks and all that bloggy goodness. Big props to my pal Mark for giving me the final push I needed. I recreated February's entries in MT, but I've left everything previous in its old school state. If I ever find some free time I'll start recreating older entries as well. There are thousands, so it hurts to think about it.

Although I implemented the Guest Blog because I didn't allow comments, I've decided to keep it. Anyone can write one and I'll post it as I always do. On the right I'm using a neat little plug-in that displays the last ten pictures I uploaded to my Flickr account. Let me know what you think of the changes in the comments.

It's evolution, baby.

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It's Too Big

ConstructionJust last night I unveiled some changes to these pages. Judging from the immediate response, 12 point is just too big for you guys. Perhaps the jump from 10 to 12 was just too dramatic.

I've dropped her back down to 11 point. It's still larger than it was yesterday morning, but smaller than it was last night. I'll let it ride a little in this current state but you can continue to share your opinion with me.

More dramatic changes are currently in development. More on that, later...

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Web 2.0!

ConstructionNo, I haven't thrown a bunch of Ajax in the mix, but I did follow the lead of many so-called Web 2.0 sites and made a couple of changes to the aesthetics.

For starters, I changed the font family from Verdana to Arial. That seems to be the way the wind is blowing these days. More significantly, I've upped the main font size from 10 point to 12. Most of you are reading this on a 17" screen or larger and just about all of you are 1024x768 or greater. You've got the room for 12 and I'm sure you'll find it an easier read once you get used to it.

If you hate the changes, don't worry. I'm bound to get bored and change it up again soon.

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Back In Black

ConstructionFor years the central tones of this site were blue and white. My blue of choice has been #000080 and I've splashed it all over these pages. The header and main menu, the <H1> tag, the entry dates and titles, all borders, the footer bar and even the input buttons. Life was good.

I've weeded out all instances of good ol' #000080 and replaced it with #000000, better known as black. You might have noticed. I'm back in black, I hit the sack, I been too long I'm glad to be back. Yes, I'm dead loose, from the noose that's kept me hanging around.

Lemme know if you hate the black and white thing or if you just miss the blue. Also, if there's a colour combo you want me to try, spill it.

Still valid XHTML 1.0 and valid CSS, as if you give a damn. You should but you don't and I respect that.

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The Devil's Plaything

ConstructionSome say an idle mind is the devil's plaything. I believe it's more correct to say boredom is the devil's plaything. I woke up this morning, took a look at the layout for this site and was bored.

It's a fresh year and I'm thinking about a fresh presentation. I made a few minor tweaks today to get me over the hump and I'll be thinking about a more radical makeover over the coming weeks. I've only tested today's changes in Firefox 1.5 and IE6, so please let me know if things look hairy. You might want to reload the page <F5> first, to ensure you're reading the new style sheet.

As always, all code is valid XHTML 1.0 Strict and valid CSS and thrown together by hand in a simple text editor. Some things haven't changed.

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New Naming Convention

ConstructionBack in July, I wondered aloud as to whether or not I should alter the naming convention I utilize to organize my collection of MP3s. Should "The Flaming Lips" be "Flaming Lips, The"? Is "Neil Young" better sorted as "Young, Neil"?

I decided the answer to both question is yes and I've made the changes on this page. While I was mucking around in there, I took soundtracks out of "Various Artists" and placed them under "OST". I also took the Christmas discs out of "Various Artists" and now sort them by "Christmas Music". Should a Christmas album be from a single artist, like the Barenaked Ladies' "Barenaked For The Holidays", that remains under "Barenaked Ladies".

If you find any mistakes or have any further suggestions, please let me know.

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Enhancements Implemented

ConstructionYou know that "to do" list we mentally keep of things to bang off as soon as other stuff dies down? I keep one, and it had a list of things to do to this web site as soon as other projects wrapped up. This weekend, I finally found the time to complete everything on my torontomike.com "to do" list.

One thing I've been meaning to do for a while is clean up the way navigation is handled once you're in the Archives. For example, if someone is viewing the entries from March 2004, I wanted it to be simple to visit the preceding or following months. Sure, the main menu has links for the home page and aforementioned Archives, but I've always envisioned a horizontal band along the bottom above the copyright information. I've now done just that.

When I recently edited the CSS to change his site from navy blue to this new greenish blue, I quickly realized that the "more" button I had beneath the entries shortcuts on the right hand side wouldn't change because it was an image. I made a note to myself to delete the image and replace it with something utilizing my CSS so when I change the colour scheme I also change that button. Done, and done!

At the top of all the archived news pages there was a heading indicating what month of archives you were looking at followed by a "To visit recent blog entries click here" statement. It was totally redundant and therefore unnecessary so I blew it away. I mean, c'mon... there's a link to the home page of the blog at the top of every single page.

Finally, I got rid of all back arrows that appeared on the bottom of every page. This was just an image of a blue arrow pointing to the left that, when clicked, invoked a javascript that read the previous page in your browser's history. It died for several reason. It was an image and therefore hard coded to be blue, it was a javascript and I'm simplifying the code wherever possible and it's unnecessary. If you want to go backwards in your browser, you've probably got an arrow in your browser's toolbar and if you don't you can click ALT + back arrow on your keyboard. It's your web and you're in control.

Otherwise, I just did some spring cleaning in September repairing broken links, ensuring each page validates, fixing typos and cleaning the source code. Exciting stuff like that.

Before you mutter to yourself that this was one boring entry, remember, these notes are really here for my benefit so I know what I changed and when I changed it. I learned long ago that the target audience for these notes and ramblings is yours truly. It certainly works as my recent note to self has reminded me that I have a new "Curb Your Enthusiasm" to enjoy tonight. Giddy-up!

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Introducing the torontomike.com RSS Feed

RSSI finally got around to creating an RSS feed of this blog. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and you can read all about it here.

You'll notice I opted for the orange "RSS" buttons (check beneath the Recent Entries list on the right) instead of the popular "XML" buttons. I followed the BBC's lead on this one because I've always felt the "XML" buttons were confusing. Sure, it's an XML document, but it's only ever used for RSS readers and news aggregators.

My feed is at https://www.torontomike.com/index.xml.

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