In an effort to speed up the response time of my site when posting new articles, or when visitors leave comments, I’m experimenting with simplifying this page a bit. I think it’s working — things seem a teense snappier so far — but I’m still banging away at it.

Unfortunately, this means I’ve deleted the ‘Recently seen’ and ‘Recently read’ sections of my sidebar. Neither had been updated lately, so it may not be too big of a loss, but I’d still like to find a way to get them integrated back in later on if I can do so without impacting the server as much.

Geeky bits (and a question of written English usage) follow, if you’re interested.

I used to have the ‘Recent reads’ section (which listed books I was reading, along with reviews when I bothered) as a seperate blog, which I included in this page as an SSI.

(Quick unrelated question — when including acronyms in text, does one decide on using ‘a’ or ‘an’ before the acronym by the sound of the acronym, or by the sound of the meaning? Since ‘SSI’ is pronounced ‘ess ess aye’, that would call for using ‘an’, but when the meaning starts with the sibilant (Server), that would call for using ‘a’. Anyone know? I guessed and used ‘an’ on the assumption that most people would read the acronym rather than parsing the full meaning as they read, but I’m not sure if that’s correct or not. Anyway….)

The last time I redesigned The Long Letter, I incorporated the ‘Recently read’ blog into The Long Letter as a category, and added the ‘Recently seen’ category for my movie reviews. Then, in order to only display them in the sidebar and not in the main content area, I used a lot of ‘OR’ statements in my main content <MTEntries> tag, so it looked like <MTEntries category=“Books OR CSS OR DJing OR HTML OR Humor OR Internet OR Life OR Links OR Macintosh OR MovableType OR Movies OR Music OR PHP OR Politics OR Quotes OR Trek OR Website”>. The sidebar <MTEntries> tags were <MTEntries category=“BookReviews”> and <MTEntries category=“MovieReviews”>.

I’m thinking that this may have contributed to how long it took to rebuild when making changes, though. Anytime MT had to rebuild the front page — which it did both when adding new posts (obviously) and when a new comment was posted (in order to display the ‘Last 10 comments’ section of the sidebar) — it had to sort through and filter which posts were displayed according to what category they were assigned to.

So, for the moment, I’ve deleted the ‘Recently read’ and ‘Recently seen’ sidebar bits, and set the primary content area to a very simple <MTEntries>. Theoretically (in my brain, at least), this should speed things up.

As a last resort, I could take the ‘Last 10 comments’ section off, but I’d really hate to do that. It’s a really handy way for me to keep an eye on feedback on my posts, and a nice visual indicator that people are actually stopping by from time to time! So I’m hoping I don’t reach a point where I feel I have to lose that. Hopefully, simplifying the main content display will be enough to speed things up for now.