Using To Get My Browser Life In Order

Hi, my name is Doug, and I’m a tab-a-holic. I have a severe problem: I open stories in my Firefox tabs, usually from one of the RSS feeds I subscribe to, never fully read the stories and then leave the tabs open with the intention to one day read those stories. The only problem is that I rarely ever get around to reading those stories. This means that my browsing sessions get ridiculously large and consume massive amounts of memory.
Well, I’ve had enough. No more shall I be a slave to my tabs. Instead, I have installed the bookmarklet and have begun posting all those links to my feed. If you’d like to follow my vast and varied travels around the Intarweb, feel free to click that link.
Hopefully I’ll kick my habit.
UPDATE: Wouldn’t you know it – the moment I post this story, goes AWOL. Wait a bit if you can’t reach it – I’m sure it’ll come back sometime soon.

Feed The Burn

I started blogging back in 2001 primarily as a hobby and have continued doing so to this day. At times, I’ve considered adding ads to the site in order to try to recoup some of the costs associated with hosting fees, domain registrations, etc., but in the end have decided against it. While I primarily blog as an outlet for my writing instincts, I have often wondered who, exactly, is reading the wonderful flowing prose piffle I call “content”. I initially joined The Truth Laid Bear’s Blogosphere Ecosystem (and Sitemeter in order to meet the Ecosystem’s requirements) to see just how many people were linking to my site (answer: not very many). However, I felt as if I was getting an incomplete picture of my “typical” reader, so in the interests of finding out just such information, I’ve installed a couple of useful WordPress plugins in order to get a better handle on who exactly is accessing my site.
First off is this Google Analytics plugin which painlessly inserts the Javascript necessary to track visitor hits into my pages’ headers. Why did I join with Google’s stats program if I already had Sitemeter serving that function? Simple: Analytics provides a far more detailed breakdown of my traffic patterns than Sitemeter does, at least without my having to pay. I’ve left the SM stuff in place so that my Ecosystem rank doesn’t get affected, but for the most part, I’m going to be counting on Analytics to help me understand where my readers are coming from.
Feedburner logo
The second plugin is Ordered List’s Feedburner plugin, which allows me to seamlessly redirect all of my feed hits to my unified Feedburner feed. While Analytics tracks all hits made to my site via web browsers, it can’t track all the hits I receive on my feeds, nor can Sitemeter. Both rely upon Javascript to send stats back to their respective motherships and feed readers can’t be reliably depended upon to interpret/execute JS successfully, so I turned to Feedburner to help me get a better handle on my feed stats. The stats I get back aren’t as detailed as the GA or SM stats (no IP addresses or referrers, for instance), but they do give me overall readership numbers and an idea of the various feed reading tools that people are using to access my content. Additionally, whereas in the past, I had to maintain up to four separate feeds, the new Feedburner feed is a unified “intelligent” one, meaning that a web browser, an Atom-, RDF-, or RSS2-compliant reader or even a WAP browser can all hit a single URL and be served up information in a format that’s accessible from their platform, with no worries on my part.
I’ve tried running my own stats packages in the past – BAStats, StatTraq and WP-Stats, as well as all manner of Apache log parsers and, when it comes right down to it, the WP plugins slowed down my site and I was sick of walking through logs myself, so I’ve been more than happy to hand that off to someone else. Sure, I lose some granularity in stats, but I’m willing to do so in order to spare myself some headaches.
So what does this mean for you, good readers? Well, if you visit this site with a web browser, nothing. The site will remain the same to your eyes. To those of you hitting here via feed readers, you will notice the addition of email, and Technorati links to the bottom of each feed entry. Other than that, precious little will change.
Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

Testing Vanilla

Vanilla preview
There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Vanilla lately, including Michael Heilman moving his forums over to the Vanilla platform.
What is Vanilla? In short, it’s an Open Source forum framework that seeks to reenvision the forum/bulletin board concept. It has a lot of nifty AJAX effects and an extremely streamlined CSS-based design. It really seems to be a simpler take on forums and seems to be trying to match up to users’ workflows.
I decided to give it a whirl and grabbed the latest copy from the Lussumo svn server. After initially pulling my hair out in my attempts to configure the thing, I’ve finally got it working (as you can plainly see). I’m not sure if my site is big enough to require a forum, but I’ve started this as more of an experiment than anything.
All in all, Vanilla seems like a pretty cool app and a nifty take on forum software in general. I’ll post more as I find out more.
Tangential note: The Lussumo team also developed the excellently simplistic File Browser, which is well worth a look for those seeking a simple gallery program.

Penny Arcade – (CSS) Rebooted

New P.A. design.Congratulations to the Penny Arcade guys on their site “reboot“. The new layout looks to be a variation on the one first introduced over at the Child’s Play site and I must say, it’s a beauty.
Good job on the conversion guys, although the news post headlines overrun their alotted space, at least on Gecko-based browsers on Linux. Still, good on ya.

Web Geek Moment

If you don’t care about the nitty-gritty of CSS-based web design, please ignore the following blurb.
See below for an example of the error I’m talking about:
Gecko rendering error
This is due to the fact that they’ve statically defined the height of the containing <div>. As per their stylesheet:

.newspost .fullpostheader {
	color: inherit;
	background-color: #494949;
	border: 1px solid #F9A906;
	height: 60px;	
	margin-bottom: 0px;

They obviously did this so that the height of the <div> would be equal to the height of their avatars. This web design trick will work as long as the size of the fonts used by peoples’ browsers don’t exceed a total of 60px. If, as in my case, the sizes exceed 60px, you’ll see the error in question.
If I were the web guru responsible for the new layout, I’d look to statically define height of the author and timestamp elements – the postheader element is already defined as 18px – instead of simply styling them with font-size: smaller;. A glance or two at the line-height property of those elements might be in order as well.
Just my 2¢