Making my blog more personal

Successful bloggers, and indeed writers in most fields, will tell you that the key to success is to pick your target market and stick to it.  No surprise, then, that the most read blogs are ones where their authors talk religiously about their chosen topic, whether that be a blog about programming methods or a blog about one man’s journey to become a vintage bus driver.

In spite of this well-acknowledged fact, you’ll notice that my blog is still littered with a whole plethora of categories, covering all sorts of topics and areas of life.  I have chosen not to focus on one target audience, but to write infrequently about everything instead.

Now, finally, I’ve got round to introducing a way for you, the reader, to take control of my blog and only show the articles you’re actually interested in.

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A few changes

A while back my blog decided, in its infinite wisdom, that allowing access to the control panel was in fact not what I wanted to do, despite my many attempts to do so.  I would go to the login page, enter my details, hit the ‘go’ button, and be instantly redirected back to the login screen.  Helpful.  I did some digging around, and it appeared that as far as WordPress was concerned I was actually logged in, it just wouldn’t show me the control panel itself.  That meant I couldn’t approve or reject comments, I couldn’t add new posts, I couldn’t update the templates, I couldn’t add or remove any plugins, and I couldn’t spend time tinkering with my blog.  Maybe it thought it was doing me a favour.

In any case, it’s taken me until last night to resolve the matter.  I had previously tried copying new files across to upgrade to the latest version, but that didn’t work.  So last night I took a full backup of everything, deleted all the core files from the server, and uploaded a fresh load of files.  And as if by some deep and powerful magic, my command over my online presence was finally restored.  With that liberation still fresh, I jumped on the opportunity to make a few changes.

The most obvious change you’ll see is that I’m now importing my Twitter feed.  When I post a new tweet, it’ll get displayed here on my blog too, appearing like a little speech bubble.  This is actually a category in WordPress too, so I can non-Twitter mini-posts too.  Like for those times when I really feel the need to say something to the world, but Twitter doesn’t give me enough characters, and a full-on multi-paragraph post isn’t necessary.  Of course, I understand that you may not want my Twittering to come up in your RSS reader, so if you want to continue reading my blog by RSS but excluding these micro-posts you can now use this new RSS feed URL: www.minipix.co.uk/?feed=rss2&cat=-342.

Other changes I’m bringing in include a mobile-enabled view of my blog, so that you can read my posts from your phone.  I’ll hopefully also figure out a way of updating my blog from my mobile too, so that I can blog on the move.

I shall also be adding a new ‘Family’ category, as I seem to be writing an increasing amount about our son Samuel, and it feels appropriate to recognise his significance with his own category.

EDIT: If you’re seeing the Twitter micro-posts but they’re unformatted (i.e. not in funky speech bubbles) you probably need to refresh your browser to reload the stylesheet.  To refresh your browser, click the refresh button in the toolbar.  Or press F5.  Or press CTRL-R.  Or CMD-R if you’re on a Mac.  Or ALT-CTRL-SHIFT-TAB-R-X-N-SPACE if you happen to have that set up as a custom keyboard shortcut.

The Competition

I remember when I first started blogging.  My friend Phill was responsible for starting me off, back when we were at uni together.  He had a blog, and said that I should have one too.  So I registered a free domain name – www.minipix.cjb.net – and pointed that at some free webspace that came with my Dad’s dial-up internet connection (with permission… I think), and wrote my first blog.  If memory serves, it said something along the lines of ‘hey, I’ve got a blog, not sure what to write here, but we’ll see how it goes’.  Once the bug had bitten, there was no stopping me.

That first blog was a straight HTML page.  I edited the HTML, probably in Notepad, put the latest post at the top of the page, and re-uploaded the file.  Simple but effective.  But over time it became a little unwieldy.  So Phill got me to beta-test his PHP-MySQL blogging system that he’d been tinkering with, and that opened up a lot more options.  Before long though I felt it necessary to migrate to something more substantial, made the move to WordPress (importing my old blog posts), and have been a blogging sensation ever since.  Well, maybe not the sensation bit.

But now, an ominous cloud hangs on the horizon.  A tiny ripple out at sea that has the potential to grow into a tidal wave that will rip through all that once was safe and secure.  My wife has a blog.

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New blog design

screenshotJust a quick note to say that my new blog design is finally live and kicking, with just a few technical bugs to sort out, most notably that comments aren’t working at the moment.  I’m trying to find a solution to that one, and then everything should be fine.  I also realise that the three latest comments have also been lost; I am aware of that, it’s because I’ve moved this site to a new server.  Hopefully I’ll figure out a way to reinstate those comments too.  So, sorry for the inconvenience of not being able to litter my blog with your own thoughts, but I’m working to resolve that!

In the meantime, please do enjoy the new look for the blog, in particular the header image which changes depending on the time of day, and time of year, so check back at different times during the day to see different images.  I’m also quite pleased with the comments post-it notes too, which work quite well.  The only caveat with that is that I have had to put a cap on the length of comments, otherwise it all started to look silly.

Once comments are up and running again, please feel free to let me know what you think.  In the meantime, twiddle your fingers, or if you really do want to tell me something send me a postcard, or a homing pigeon, or smoke signals, or something.

Blog update

Just quick note to say that I have updated my blog template to the new design I’ve been working on.  It’s not quite finished yet, and there are some links that won’t work yet, but I’m out this evening so those things will have to be added tomorrow.  The basic functionality is there though, and I’m much happier with this design than I was with the previous off-the-shelf one I tried a while back…

Anyway, once it’s all settled in, feel free to let me know what you think of it.

Missing media buttons in WP 2.5 – partial fix!

I’ve been hovering on the WordPress forums recently, keeping my eyes peeled for a solution to my missing media buttons following up my upgrade to WordPress 2.5 a week or so ago. Today, prompted by a post by jeenie involving looking at the source code, I had a poke around and managed to get half way there. As you can see from the attached screenshot (which proves it all works!!), I can now access the functionality, even though the images still don’t show. It’s a curious thing, given that it looks like a fairly simple bit of code that oughtn’t to have any problems at all.

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