Twenty Years of Blogging

Twenty years ago today, I became a blogger.

Admittedly, the date could be argued a bit, as I’d had my own website since 1996, and even back then had been in the habit of making short, dated updates that were usually site-related, but sometimes just personal ramblings. And I didn’t come across the term ‘blog’ until a few months later in February of 2001.

But on November 25, 2000, I moved from hand-coding updates into a static HTML page to using a script called NewsPro to manage and automate posting updates. So that’s what I’ve been using as my “official” blogging start date.

In the past 20 years, my posting frequency has waxed and waned (waning more often than waxing, admittedly) but has never disappeared altogether. I’ve moved platforms from self-hosted (first NewsPro, then MovableType) to hosted (TypePad) back to self-hosted (WordPress). Sometimes self-hosted meant on a server in my apartment; these days I use DreamHost as my hosting provider, but I still use a manual installation of WordPress rather than using the WordPress.com hosted service. I don’t tinker as much as I used to, but it’s still nice to get into the nuts and bolts from time to time.

Most of the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve just been another one of the many random voices on the ‘net, never one of the Big Names. The closest I ever came to breaking out of that…well, you can look back if you want, but I’m just glad that it’s in my past. Maybe I’ll have more to say in another three years on that twentieth anniversary, maybe not. Generally, I’m fine with just tossing my occasional thoughts on Apple, Star Trek, politics, and whatever else pops into my mind into the electronic void to see if anyone picks up on it.

If you’ve been stopping by and checking out my ramblings from time to time over the years — thanks! If you’re a new visitor, thanks to you too, especially if you’ve made it this far through this post. You might want to check out this somewhat random collection of notable posts, or just see what was posted on this day in the past (which will work for whatever day you read this).

And, of course, there’s my alter-ego DJ Wüdi side project to be promoted: A weekly (except when it isn’t) Twitch broadcast where I play an eclectic mix of music (mostly focused on alternative dance genres like goth, industrial, EBM, and various flavors of electronica, but with a fair amount of other stuff tossed in as I feel like it). Tune in to Difficult Listening Hour on Saturdays at 1 p.m. Pacific time, or cue up my past archives (plus more mix sessions) on my MixCloud page.

Twenty years down — and hopefully, twenty (and more) yet to come!

Jumping Ship?

So…

…if, while moving over to my new digs, I were to take advantage of the one-click WordPress installation offered by Dreamhost and finally dip my toes in waters other than those of Movable Type, are there any pieces of advice I should know about? Plugins I should pay particular attention to? Tips or tricks I should know or avoid?

So far, I’ve managed to track down PHP Markdown and PHP Smartypants, and have activated Akismet, but that’s it (and all this is on a non-public test installation). I’m particularly interested in seeing if there’s a good (easy to implement) ‘tagging’ solution, such as I’m using here in lieu of categories. Googling for ‘wordpress tags‘ tends to bring up lots of information on the formatting tags used in WP templates, which isn’t what I’m aiming for.

Anything else?

iTunesWhat Is Life” by Mullins, Shawn from the album Big Daddy (1999, 4:09).

coComment Enabled

I’ve been seeing rumblings about coComment for a few weeks now, but finally decided to take a closer look when I noticed it up and running on a post at The Republic of T. coComment is a service that lets you track the comments you’ve made on other weblogs, keep track of when people have responded to them, and so on…basically, trying to make sure that those comments you leave don’t just disappear into the great bit bucket of the ‘net.

So, I’ve signed up, and have enabled coComment integration on this site (for all future entries, at least…all entries on the main page have been rebuilt, the rest of the 3801 entries will be rebuilt eventually) — Movable Type integration was a snap with their included instructions. I don’t figure a huge percentage of my readers will be using it, but it’s there for those who want to.

iTunesBring on the Dancing Horses” by Echo and the Bunnymen from the album Pretty In Pink (1985, 4:00).

Help: .htaccess redirects

Never having quite gotten the hang of .htaccess redirect requests, I’m hoping someone out there might be able to give me a hand with this.

I would like this…

https://michaelhans.com/eclecticism/tags/pickatag

…to map to this (though not wrapped onto multiple lines, obviously)…

http://www.michaelhanscom.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tags.cgi?
blog_id=1&tags=pickatag

Similarly, for multiple tags, this…

https://michaelhans.com/eclecticism/tags/pickatag+anytag

…should map to this (and so on, as more tags are added)…

http://www.michaelhanscom.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tags.cgi?
blog_id=1&tags=pickatag+anytag

Any ideas? Thanks much in advance!

iTunesMexican Women” by Throwing Muses from the album Just Say Yo (1988, 2:49).

TypeKey broken?

I’m not sure how I’ve managed to do this, but while disabling the OpenID Comment plugin (which was apparently causing issues with submitting comments, and wasn’t really being used anyway), I’ve managed to break the ability to log in via TypeKey for authentication. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what’s going wrong — all of my code looks like it should be doing what it’s supposed to — but for whatever reason, the link to log in to TypeKey isn’t showing up.

So no TypeKey until I figure out what I broke. Meh.

iTunesSweet Dreams” by Marilyn Manson from the album Smells Like Children (1995, 4:53).

Folksonomy tag support added

One of the things I’ve wanted to add to my site for quite a while now has finally been added: tagging, along the lines of del.icio.us or Flickr. Admittedly, I still have a ways to go in getting all my old entries correctly tagged, but that will come with time. For now, they’re showing up in a few places.

  1. On the main page of the site, the tag listings below each post that previously pointed to Technorati search pages for the individual tag now do tag searches internal to this website.

  2. Also on the main page of the site, there is now a ‘This Week’s Tags’ box just below the Table of Contents. This is a quick list of just those tags that have been used on posts within the past seven days…a handy overview of what I’ve been babbling about over the past week.

  3. On individual entry pages, the tag line below the post now searches internally (just as on the front page). There are also now quick links to search on individual tags on del.icio.us, Technorati, and Flickr.

  4. The main archives page now features a tag cloud listing tags used within the past month (31 days, actually). The tag cloud is also size-weighted by the frequency of each tag’s use.

  5. Lastly, I tweaked the tag search results to be a little more useable — rather than a simple listing of links to each result, I’ve added the entry excerpt for each result to give a little more context than just the headline.

All this is thanks to the excellent Movable Type plugin Tags.app.

As with everything I fiddle with around here, questions, comments and words of wisdom are always appreciated (whether or not they’re heeded is another thing entirely, of course…).

LJ-style links for Ecto

This is actually fairly simple, but you never know.

For ecto users who want to post LiveJournal-style links to LJ user accounts (such as [djwudi's info]djwudi) into a weblog entry on a non-LJ system:

  1. Open Window > HTML Tags.
  2. Click the + button to create a new tag set.
  3. Paste the following code into the ‘opening tag’ box (as a single line):
    <a href="http://www.livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=%*">
    <img src="http://stat.livejournal.com/img/userinfo.gif" alt="[%*'s info]" width="17" height="17" /></a>
    <a href="http://www.livejournal.com/users/%*/"><b>
    
  4. Paste the following code into the ‘closing tag’ box:
    </b></a>
    
  5. Assign a command key sequence (optional, of course — I used option-command-J).

Viola! You’re done. Now, just type someone’s LJ username into a weblog post, select it, and choose the new tag set (or type the command key sequence you set), and the LJ-style link is created.

Yet More Tweaks

A few more tweaks and oddments:

  • Re-worded the post metadata.
  • Added Technorati tags to the metadata.
  • Added pseudo-hidden ‘admin only’ links to all posts, comments, and TrackBack pings, allowing for single-click jumps to the edit screen for each item.
  • Used SimpleComments to combine comments and TrackBack pings into a single chronological list.
  • Added small icons (yanked right from the MT interface, actually) to comment and TrackBack listings to more easily visually identify which is which.
  • Added a :hover effect border to comment and TrackBack listings.
  • Comments I leave will display with a colored background to easily distinguish them from visitors’ comments.
  • Lots of templates updated so that all a links have an associated title attribute.

And…that’s all I’m remembering right now.

LiveJournal/OpenID Authenticated Commenting

So much for declaring a “no more tweaks” point. I just can’t resist the urge to fiddle around…

Thanks to Mark Paschal‘s OpenId Comments plugin (announced and described here, current release here), visitors can now authenticate themselves when leaving comments using a LiveJournal or OpenID account in addition to TypeKey authentication (or no authentication at all).

I’ve also increased the width of the comment entry field, as it was a bit cramped (thanks to mom for prompting me on this, as it was bugging me too).

Leave a comment, play around, and let me know if anything seems goofy!

(Update: Some goofiness exists. Generic, TypeKey, and LiveJournal options are working fine, OpenID comments are coming through as ‘anonymous’ even though the commenting UI reports that they’re successfully signed in. Something to fiddle with….)

Transitioned

There are a few benefits to being unemployed for a little bit. One of those is having more available hours in the day to spend tinkering around with some of my neverending PROJECTs.

I’ve just (mostly) finished converting all of my pages over to the new template styles provided by Movable Type 3.2. There’s a few tweaks that I didn’t bring over (multiple stylesheets, the live comment preview, gravatar support, and incorporating TrackBack pings and comments into a single list), and I’m still running over in my head which, if any, will be re-incorporated down the line.

For now, though, I’m declaring things done. Feel free to poke around, and as always, suggestions are always appreciated.

Here’s a brief overview of the changes I’ve made to MT’s default templates…

Read more