Oh, Man. Is That Ever LAME, D&C!

Whoopha, talk about pathetic.

I decided to comment on an article and realized I would need to setup an account to do so.? That’s really stupid in the first place, but then I realized why, and OM-freakin’-G, is it lame:

The D and C is using phpBB to provide it’s commenting software.

Mind you: phpBB is a perfectly acceptable forum application that I used for quite a while on this website.? However, the fact remains that, of my two largest reasons for dumping it, the main one was that it can’t really be made to be really compatible with blogging or with commenting.? It’s just it’s own thing unto itself and will not be made a part of anything else without a ton of coding.

And after you’ve gotten done doing all that coding, you would have done yourself as many favours by simply creating the commenting code yourself.? Or found some way to integrate WordPress like half a million other commercially-owned news websites.? I’m guessing that there aren’t very many web developers over there at the D&C, or if there are, they’ve got one of those dumb-ass bosses that gets an idea sold to him and then acts as though he’s left The Mount with the answer directly from God.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that they have an utterly pathetic RSS feed such that it’s more sensible to go to the page than to check the feed; not bad enough that they use outdated, unordered and insecure query information in the URL; not bad enough that they have no perma-link structure to support referencing an article more than a few weeks old; now, they’re using ten-year-old technology to affect a three-year-old, long passed-over trend.

Maybe they should just stick to print.

Exiting Developments (Warning: Geeky Site Stuff)

I’m plugging away at the new version of the site, though in actual fact, surprisingly little has been done with the actual code.? So, what has been done?? Well, I’ve been checking out a few new options for the site, most of which rely on services and APIs provided by other sites.? Yep.? DFE4.0 is going *fully* Web2.0 on your ass.? Among the recent developments:

  1. Comments on Articles by HaloScan!? In the current version of DFE, you are able to comment on blog posts (obviously), but you are not able to comment on the full articles in the main sections.? In retrospect, it seems obvious enough to have had HaloScan do the comments, but for some reason this is only just now happening.? The new version will have comment- and trackback-ready articles, which I am hoping to have some fun with.
  2. Feeds by FeedBurner!? I’ve had feeds available for a while now, anyway.? However, the difference is what FeedBurner adds to the mix: “email this” links, del.icio.us links, application-aware feeds that provide just the right format for just the right application, and lots more.? All I need to do is provide a feed which will at least validate with an XML parser, and FeedBurner will do the rest.? Plus, if I can get some readership, I can advertise on the feeds as well.
  3. Blog Info by Technorati!? If you’ve been at the WaPo in the last six months or so (or a goodly number of other websites), you’ve no doubt noticed the “who’s commenting” boxes that show you blogs that have commented on a given article.? Well, Technorati has provided several methods in an API for the rest of us to do just such types of things!? I had to have it.

Yep, I’m gettin’ pretty ‘cited over here!? Beyond this, I am still continuing to work on an Upcoming.org events calendar and hopefully a combined “Prog Roc” RSS feed.? Anyway, the fiancee is out getting her hair done as a trial for the wedding (three weeks away, holy crap!), and I was supposed to be writing more stuff for the site and not blogging on writing stuff for the site!


WordPress Bug Patrol!

It appears as though the latest update to WordPress is coming a lot sooner than I might have anticipated, and to push it forward, the WordPress folks are going to use the Independence Day holiday to conduct a live bughunt.? How fun.? Mind you, I shan’t be attending, largely because tracking down errors in my own software is more fun than I can handle.? Still, the important thing to remember is that the 2.0.4 version is coming soon, so be ready to update your blogs!!

Bug Independence Day is July 4th! To help shake the bugs out of the upcoming 2.0.4 and 2.1 releases, we’re holding a Bug Hunt next week. We’ll be finding and fixing bugs and cleaning up the bug tracker. All are welcome to join us in the #wordpress-bugs IRC channel as we go on the hunt.

So, OK, version 2.0.4 of the home version and 2.1 of the WordPress-hosted version is being released.? We’ve been promised an effective spellchecker for a while now, as indeed they say they’ve been beta testing just such a monster on the WordPress site.? Thus far, it has not materialized, and I’m getting anxious.? No matter what they say, that damned spell-checking plugin for FireFox doesn’t do diddley-squat if you’re trying to use it with either WordPress or Performancing.? (In fact, the only time the context menu includes anything about spell checking is in Username/Password fields, like I really need it then?)

But I digress.? Let us hope that this latest version of the WerdPress thang is about making things stable enough to add on the spell checker.? I’m 33 years old, and apparently not capable of spelling “thier” right without digital assistance!

I’m Playing Catchup Again. . .

So, now that I’m starting to feel half-way competent with PHP, now I’m noticing that PHP programmers are using this new-fangled thing called “AJAX,” and now I want to do that, too.  Great.  Like I’ve spent so much of my time carefully studying JavaScript and can easily make the transition!

Well, thank goodness that as things develop, people are starting to put out more and more tutorials on the subject.  Right now, I’m just creating the basics of DFE4.0, and don’t have time to spend digging into the finer points of JavaScript, but that doesn’t stop me from occasionally looking.  At A List Apart, they’ve got a great new tutorial that carefully explains one of the more important concepts behind AJAX, which is the idea of “Unobtrusive JavaScript” which is akin to the separation of formatting done with CSS and in fact relies on it:

A List Apart: Articles: Behavioral Separation

Breaking up is hard to do. But in web design, separation can be a good thing. Content, style, and behavior all deserve their own space.

This is good stuff, right here, and you can bet your ass I bookmarked it.  I am thinking that in much the same way as the W3Schools tutorials have helped me with CSS (and continue to do so), this ALA site will probably be the key to my understanding AJAX.  This, of course, along with another recent favourite of mine: the podcasts on “Software As She’s Developed” which are verbose but informative.

Separation of content, style and behaviour is as imperative to webdesign as the separation of Church and State.  Not that this is entirely relevant, but I wanted to end this post on an interesting note. . .  And that was the best I could come up with.

powered by performancing firefox

Folding Categories List Widget

NEW AND IMPROVED VERSION AVAILABLE!!? You asked and I listened.? I have developed a new version of the “folding categories” variety and released it as The JavaScript Animated Collapsing Categories Widget.? This one bares no resemblance whatsoever to this older version, which is based on borrowed code.? The new versions is JavaScript-animated (duh), all original code and loaded to the gills with new options you asked for like choosing the sorting and style settings.? Bon apetit!

UPDATED! Per user request, this download is now available in both RAR and ZIP versions.

IMPORTANT!! Many users/potential users have written on this entry to say that they’ve installed both plugins and the code is not working for them. The simplest and most likely answer to this is you do not have parent/child categories, upon which this plugin relies. If you are unfamiliar with what a parent/child relationship between categories is, or not sure how to get your categories like this, please see the WordPress online documentation on the subject!

Also important: Many have asked if this plugin requires the page to be refreshed/reloaded, and yes it does. This is not an AJAX/JavaScript plugin, simply an adaptation of someone elses folding categories code that allows it to be a widget, nothing more. I am hoping to maybe develop another plugin in the future which *is* AJAX, but this one isn’t it!

I’m sure somewhere along the line someone has already done this. If so, I cannot find them in a Google search, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and create my first Widget.

This is based on the code found at WebSpaceWorks.com that creates a collapsible Categories list, and is merely modified from that to work with Widget-ized sidebars. To install:

  1. Download the Widget (RAR, ZIP)
  2. Extract both files and upload to your wp-content/plugins folder
  3. Activate the Folding Categories List plugin
  4. Activate the Folding Categories List Widget
  5. Go to the Sidebar Widgets Configuration page to set the options you like

That’s it! Nothing more to do except sit back and enjoy a slightly more compact Categories list. I hope that people find this plugin useful. Be sure to thank the guys at WSW for the original code!