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Retheming and Branding The Blog…

August 21, 2008 Comments off

Need a change?
My major (personal) project this fall is to rebrand the blog.  While I’m still sleepy and still ramble (or geek out), the tiredstudent persona isn’t really fitting since I’m no longer in school.  Not bad though—holding an alias for, well, 12–13 years.  When/if I go back for my doctorates, I’ll simply be the eye-twitching geek.

Which, brings about a problem-how does one rebrand a blog without totally breaking all links, ties, and such?

I’d like to:

  • Break away and start hosting the blog on my own or find a flexible host away from WordPress, the confines are driving me insane,
  • Retheme the site (the pantone cards looked cool to begin with, but I’ve found simply require explaination),
  • “Merge” having my CV site and the blog—IMHO, the blog (for better or for worse) speaks more than my CV for experiences, ideas, and opinions.  I might as well save people from hunting both down. πŸ˜‰

Any experiences out there?  I’d love to hear how it went and if the ends justify the means.

IE 8.0 – First Impressions and Rendering

Unfortunately, I’m at home nursing the flu rather than living it up in Vegas at MIX08 so I’ve had to experience the fun vicariously through the thousands of blog posts, twitters, and videos of nearly every second of the event.

A big kick off revolved around the first Beta release of Internet Explorer 8.  Being adventuerous and well, not having anything else to do, I downloaded the x64 Vista version and have been hitting various web sites that I frequent to see how things look.

The IE Interface

Overall, IE 8 currently looks a LOT like IE7.  In fact, it takes a bit of hunting to find any differences what-so-ever.

The new “Favorites Bar” (or was that old) seems to be built to hold the new WebSlices, which I haven’t quite grasped yet (I don’t use eBay, sorry).

The Phishing Filter has been renamed the “Safety Filter”, which was immediately turned off.  I’m assuming Phishing was too difficult to explain (which is OK).  The concept is cool, I’m just not sure I want Microsoft being the “safe site” police.

Beyond that, I haven’t seen any other “changes”.  Let’s hope the real excitement is in the rendering.

Rendering

The tout of IE8 is it’s successful passing of Acid2, a standards-based rendering assessment.  Sadly, this is just in time for Acid3, which it not only doesn’t pass (nothing passes right now), but it does worse than most other “current” browsers only scoring a 17/100.

So, what about real sites?

Here are a few of the more common sites I visit and the results:

iGoogle – Renders OK, albeit VERY slowly.  Accuweather.com and del.icio.us web parts require mousing over the empty boxes to display their contents.  There is also a bunch of odd spacing at the top of the Gmail web part.

GmailRenders OK, very fast.  I couldn’t find any issue with Gmail at all.

Microsoft Exchange 2003 OWAWorks great, very fast. 

Microsoft SharePoint 2003 (SPS)Works very well.  Renders extremely fast from page to page.  Mouse overs, context menus, etc. seem to work even better than in IE7.  Hah.

Microsoft SharePoint 2007 (MOSS) Works.  Still requires “accepting” the “Name ActiveX Control”, which is REALLY annoying, but the site renders just fine.  Also renders a bit slow, but that’s just MOSS2007. 😦

Weather.comWorks. A few positioning snafus, but everything is functional.  See image below.

Linkshell Fourms (built on VBulletin 3.6.8) – Works great.  The PHP-based forums work like a champ for my FFXI linkshell.  Thankfully!

Virtual Server 2005 R2’s Control PanelDoes not work.  Unfortunately, none of the menus work.  You cannot create/update/add anything or view the status of a running VM.  I can bounce back to IE7 emulation mode and it works OK.

MSDN Subscriber DownloadsSorta works.  I’m assuming the new version of this site will resolve these issues.  So far, the site “works”, but renders a bit funny when you move the frame bars around.

IE8 - FFXIAH

FFXI Auction HouseDoes not work.  The side navigation bar is covered up and inaccessible.  Without that, it’s almost impossible to browse through the site (searching for EVERYTHING gets a bit tedious). See image to the right.

Twitter.com – Sorta sometimes works.  The functionality of the site is there, but the background and themes to the site are a bit haywire.  And updates aren’t being processed without a logout/login.  Ehh, odd.

WordPress – Does not work.  For some reason, the wp-admin console simply blanks the page out.  There’s a brief flash of it rendering, and then poof, just white.  I can View Source and see the code, refresh and see the flash, but haven’t been able to fix this one without dropping back to IE7 mode.

My Blog (Freshy Theme)Sorta works. Well, this blog doesn’t render right either.  The Search bar at the top right of the screen is covered up and missing the [Search] button.  The right-hand bar no longer trails to the end of the page, but stops at the end of the content (assuming the height:100% failure), The main body footer is now the footer to the right-hand bar.  There are a few other z-index issues here and there, but those can be fixed (I’m assuming).

My Photo Site Does not work.  Hmm, sucks.  Unfortunately, the menus doesn’t work.  Well, let me reword that, they work, but if you try to move from the Parent Menu to a Child Menu item, the menu disappears.  I’m assuming it’s a spacing issue for the mouse overs, but I’m not sure.  Ugh.

Random sites – I noticed most sites that I authenticated to, the hash out for the password turned up as an invalid character.  See below.

Things I Wish It Had

NoScript.  I really like FireFox’s NoScript plug in—especially with all the shakeup and paranoia regarding compromised accounts in FFXI.  I wish IE had something similar built directly into the browser.

Built-in support for social bookmarking.  Does anyone use Favorites or Bookmarks anymore?  I totally rely on del.icio.us and would LOVE to see better support for that in IE8.  I don’t want an annoying button that was put out by Yahoo, I want to open an Explorer Panel (like my Favorites) and see the heirarchy of my tags.

Conclusions

Well, for Beta 1, it’s not half bad.  It starts up instantly, looks clean, and appears to integrate into Windows Vista just fine.  If a few of the odd rendering snafus can be addressed (either by releasing WHY it doesn’t work or tweaks to the rendering engine in IE), I look forward to the next release.

Technical difficulties at WordPress

February 12, 2008 Comments off

It appears WordPress is having “a moment”… CSS customization is down and our blogs have reverted to the OTB formatting.  Bleh.

More information at http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=22160&replies=31.

Fun times.

Update: Fix’d.

Tags: ,
Categories: WordPress

Migrating to a new Web Gallery

February 5, 2008 Comments off

I’m currently migrating to a new version of Web Gallery (code and such coming soon); so photos may be a bit screwy the next few hours. πŸ™‚ Thanks for understanding.

[Update: Everything’s up and running! 

Over the next couple of days, I’ll post up the code for the new v2.0 of the Web Gallery project as well as a quick walkthrough of what changed.  I’m still finishing the admin areas, but the “user” side of the site is up and operational.

http://photos.tiredstudent.com]

New Articles Section and AJAXing in .NET Article

January 11, 2008 7 comments

Last year, I had several requests to take my “longer” blog posts and series and make articles out of them.  I understand where readers are coming from and empathize—reading 4–5 posts that are 2–3 pages long across a week of entries can be… very disconnected.  In addition, code formatting, images, and such are difficult to get exactly right on a blog image (I tend to avoid capturing code in images so that it’s still searchable).

So, to that, I’ve added a new section to the blog, Articles.

In this, I’ll tend to focus on using the blog for short bits of information, key points, and summaries of various topics.  The Articles section will be for the longer, in-depth reviews of technologies, practices, and guides.

The first post in this section is from the recent AJAXing in .NET series

Creating a Countdown Image Handler in ASP.NET

November 11, 2007 Comments off

I love WordPress—it’s by far one of the best packaged blogging engines I’ve come across and has kept my DIY tendancies at bay for several years now.  With the structure of WordPress, however, comes restrictions.  My biggest complaint is that I can’t place JavaScript tools or components on my page. 

In the past few months, one thing I would have liked to have was a little “countdown” to graduation, the holidays, whatever.  That’s brilliantly simple with JavaScript.  Meh. 😦  I looked at a few other sources, but they required registration and made the images HUGE.

So, this afternoon while catching up on my Top Gear obsession on BBCA, I coded up a quick HttpHandler.

You can see an example of the image created by this on the right side of the blog—the Graduation countdown ticker.

Download Code: .NET 2.0

The handler accepts two optional variables, width and height, and two required variables, eventText and eventDate.

By default, the width of the image is 100px and the height is 120px—about the size of a standard small banner.

For this code, the most important namespaces are System.Drawing and System.Drawing.Imaging.

First, we need to create a new Bitmap image to hold our graphic.

Bitmap imageBitmap = new Bitmap(width, height);

Next, create a drawing pad, of sorts, in a Graphics object and associate it with our new bitmap image.

Graphics graphicObject = Graphics.FromImage(imageBitmap);

graphicObject.FillRectangle(

new SolidBrush(Color.White), 0, 0, width, height);

Since, by default, the background is Black, call FillRectangle (from 0,0 to the max width and height) to fill the background with White.

Our next task is to create a border around the image.  I chose a black border with a 2px width.  The draws are in order of top, left, right, and bottom lines.  Note: I’m sure there’s a better way to do this by creating an empty rectangle or something…

Pen borderPen = new Pen(Color.Black, 2);

 

graphicObject.DrawLine(borderPen,

new Point(0, 0),

new Point(width, 0));

 

graphicObject.DrawLine(borderPen,

new Point(0, 0),

new Point(0, height));

 

graphicObject.DrawLine(borderPen,

new Point(width, 0),

new Point(width, height));

 

graphicObject.DrawLine(borderPen,

new Point(0, height),

new Point(width, height));

Our final touch is to put the text onto the image.

Font textFont = new Font(“Arial”, 8, FontStyle.Bold);

SolidBrush textBrush = new SolidBrush(Color.Black);

 

string imageText = eventText + “: “ + countdown.Days + “d”;

 

graphicObject.DrawString(imageText,

textFont,

textBrush,

new PointF(2, 2),

null);

To “type” onto an image, create a “font brush” with the assigned color, font face, and size.  Instead of drawing a line or shape, use DrawString.  The fourth paramenter(new PointF(2,2)) specifies where to begin the text—you can get more creative than this and figure exact locations based on image size.

Finally, use the context supplied by the ProcessRequest method to return the image to the consumer.

context.Response.ContentType = “image/gif”;

imageBitmap.Save(context.Response.OutputStream, ImageFormat.Gif);

That’s it! 

If you’re interested in the source code, the link is at the top of the post—download and enjoy!  As I update the code, I’ll post it up.  This has lots of room for improvement, but is a nice starting point for those who want to put a dynamic image on their hosted blogs. πŸ™‚

WordPress Supports Code!

September 4, 2007 Comments off
<br />using System; /// /// Summary description for Class1 /// /// public class WPCodeTester { public WPCodeTester() { Console.Out.WriteLine("This is a test!"); } } 

The folks at WordPress now have special language tags for those of us who post up code.  This is just a simple post to show what C# code looks like.

As you can see the view and copy commands are pretty cool, but the formatting leaves MUCH to be desired from.  While the attempt is awesome, I think I’ll stick to what’s been working—copying from Visual Studio to Word 2007 and then to BlogJet.

Categories: WordPress