Archive for the ‘Customizing’ Category

Subscribe to an email digest of RFB

November 13, 2005

Bloglet is dead, long live FeedBlitz. I’m trying out a new email-subscription service on this blog. If it works right I’ll probably add it to all my blogs. It seems pretty straightforward. If you’re interested, scan down the sidebar for the section called “Subscribe to RFB” and submit your email address. Then let me know if the service works for you. (I’m subscribed too, so I’ll see whatever you see.)
I discovered FeedBlitz via the excellent Blog Starter Checklist at Life Beyond Code, which I heard about via the blog conference on the Well, from a Technorati employee, who credits big cheese Dave Sifry with the find. There are some things on the list that seem head-smackingly obvious to me now but which I have myself not bothered to do yet (such as, register my fullname as a domain and redirect it to my – in my case, primary – blog).

Huge improvement to Drupal's nav scheme

July 4, 2005

Nick Lewis has unveiled a few tweaks to Drupal (which is also the basis for CivicSpace), which presents the navigation scheme as nested tabs across the top of the browser window instead of expanding and collapsing text links in a floating box in one of the margins.
I’ll be adopting this improvement for all my Civicspace sites as soon as I can get it working on a test site.
Meanwhile, I’m too scared to do the Civicspace 0.8.1 upgrade given the recommended process for doing so. Sheesh! This upgrade separates the men from the boys and sets me down firmly on the boys’ team.

"bookmark this" hack for del.ici.ous

May 22, 2005

Quoting from bookmark this:

I’ve added a little bit of code to add a “Bookmark This” link on every post, next to the Comments link, which allows you to kick the user over to to the posting page. There are two pieces to this little hack.

First, you can link to with a GET argument of “url” containing the URL-encoded URL, and you can supply a title in the “title” field, similarly URL-encoded. This effectively lets you put something equivalent to’s “copy this” link somewhere offsite. The final URL should thus look like:

Second, a bit of TypePad/MT hackery: In the appropriate place (I added it right after </MTIfAllowComments>) add the following to your Main Index and Individual Archive templates:

| <a href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>&title=<$MTEntryTitle encode_url="1"$>">Bookmark This</a>

Finally, a replacement for bloglet

May 5, 2005

This is what I’ve been waiting for: Rmail – subscribe to any RSS feed by e-mail

Reader John Tropea has pointed out a new RSS e-mail subscription service called Rmail.
I’ve set it up at right to replace the dysfunctional Bloglet. When you
enter your e-mail address in the box and click Subscribe, it will send
you an e-mail to confirm your subscription wish, and then each hour if
I have made changes it will send you an e-mail with the RSS version of
the changed posts. These e-mails all allow you to unsubscribe as well,
and contain a link to the original article on my home page. It seems to
work fine, but there’s not a lot of instructions, so if it looks funny
or doesn’t work for you, please let me know by e-mail. To add this
functionality to your own blog, just cut and paste the line starting
with <script on the Rmail page into your own home page template, and replace the {your feed URL goes here} with your RSS feed URL.

I just wonder how it deals with text formatting.

Alternatives to Bloglet

February 1, 2005

I’ve long thought that blogs/RSS and email need to interoperate more smoothly. The problems generally revolve around text formatting issues, but there’s no good reason why one shouldn’t be able to get RSS via email easily, post to blogs via email easily, etc. In fact, Blogger offers both email input and output as a basic feature.
There’s a semiuseless Bloglet subscription bloc on this page that I don’t trust at all. Recently, Blogging Blog looked at some alternatives (Notifying Readers of Updates):

Two other tools that I like quite a bit are Bot-A-Blog and Change Detection. These are both automatic and have nice unintrusive interfaces to put on your site (in fact, Bot-A-Blog is just a button that takes the reader to their site to subscribe.) I use Bot-A-Blog on Watermark and Change Detection on Abide. Another service that I’ve often seen used is NotifyList.

Read the whole post for some practical advice.

Scot Hacker's MTBlogMail plugin

August 18, 2004

My friend Scot runs a hosting service at and I’ve got a little skunkworks operation over there at
I’ve decided that I’m ging to use that domain name and server to begin with for my mailing list needs. I’ve got an list set up and soon I will offer a way for people to subscribe to all (or, later, just a subset) of my blog postings via email.
In order to make this work for me, Scot had to build a plugin, MTBlogMail.
So I’m not exactly a developer now, but more like a patron or requester or noodge of a developer.
Meanwhile, Six Apart released MT 3.1 and didn’t invite me to the party!

Paging Rogers Cadenhead

May 27, 2004

First of all, I am rewriting this because I drafted it yesterday and then needed to reboot my browser (it was Mozilla at the time) and forgot/failed/missed the chance to copy-and-paste the draft to a safer place. In the past I’d have used kung-log, now ecto, to keep the user experience a little more desktoppy, but I’m on a new machine and can’t find the serial number that unlocks ecto. Ironically, I paid for kung-log and I paid for ecto but I’ve basically thrown up my hands in frustration but that’s another story.
Since Rogers knows Radio so well and is now delving deeply into Movable Type for another book, I’m just going to lazyweb I’ll my pent-up 2.x-series customizations I’ve been wanting to make over to him, in the spirit of, if I want to do it, so may the readers of your book (which i will also totally buy).
So, Rogers, please give me a short step-by-step tutorial that will turn on the latent edit-this-page feature in Movable Type 2.661! Thank you.
Also, when is somebody going to build a nice PHP gui that can sit on top of databases created by Movable Type and mold them into, well, anything? I’m not trying to imply that Movable Type has jumped the shark here, but if Six Apart does see their business as TypePad hosting and professional publishing with MT platforms of the future, then their legacy will still be some reasonably well structured blog archives and a de facto standard.
I suspect I could kluge something by plundering the search-results-page template, since it produces edit links with the results automatically and I assume it checks the cookie and only shows them to you if you’re already logged in? (Actually, I’m not sure about that part – I recall Dori and Tom having visible Edit links on BackupBrain at some point)
I often think that more is made of my disputes with Dave Winer over various matters of pilpul but one way in which I am in total accord with him is on the power of “edit this page” (what a great meme – if Dave evers gets around to writing a book or finds a good collaborator he can work with, that might be a good name for the book, or maybe “Edit This Book?”
It’s also the beauty part that Manila and Radio share with wikis. What if each of my entries instead of having a comments section just had a wiki / whiteboard space and people could build an archive using any of my entries as a stub?
Just now I was scanning the egopendium that is my monolog and noticing various typos and other small errors. It’s ridiculous that I wasn’t able to edit them on the spot. What are we watiing for?

Now I have two problems

November 24, 2003

I’m trying to get the hang of the mod_rewrite module of my Apache web server. This enables me to trap certain URLs or patterns of URLs and rewrite them to point somewhere different on the back end. This has two practical benefits:

  1. It makes migration from an old path or permalink scheme much easier to handle. You no longer have to maintain duplicate content at outdated addresses, or manually redirect people. Instead, the old address seamlessly transports the user to the new address.
  2. It frees you from the URL scheme automatically generated by your content managment system, many of which are notoriously ugly or unuseful.

For example, I’ve set up a site using the DeanSpace software, which is a slightly modified version of Drupal. Drupal uses a “node” vocabulary that I find very geeky for ordinary users, and its URLs by default are of the form http://root.address/node/#### (that is, the base URL, a geek word, and an arbitrary number), sometimes with ?=variable a bit of database or PHP query jargon tacked on the end to transform the view of the underlying data.
This is a URL scheme only an engineer could love.
I’d much rather signal the nature of the content, the place in the hierarchy (or taxonomy, or ontology), or at least some key date related to the “node,” such as the date it was created or last revised.
With mod_rewrite, I’ll be able to invent any URL scheme I can imagine, and more importantly I can make database-generates pages appear to be static files in a stable directory hierarchy, so that Google and other search engines will feel comfortable indexing them.
Here’s my problem, savvy use of mod_rewrite involves learning something I’ve tried to avoid as long as possible: regular expressions. (Cue jwz’s famous remark about regular expressions.)
Can anyone point me to a good primer for moderately dense poseurs such as myself?

Template module tips for TypePad

September 23, 2003

TypePadista community catalyst and culture kitchen creator Liza Sabater is having a ball with TypePad and documenting what she learns as she goes on her TP blog, burudanga. In fact, I may have to add burudanga to my short sidebar of other metablog feeds.
I just landed on b u r u n d a n g a: template modules, in which Liza explains how to work with modules in TypePad and in doing so, realizes that she is learning more about Movable Type itself from mucking about in the templates provided with TP.

Making a blogroll with Movable Type

August 14, 2003

Dylan Tweney reports on his own fairly ingenious blogroll solution. He has set up his blogroll (with categories, no less) as a new blog in Movable Type and even used the extended-entry capability as an optional RSS-feed link field for his blogroll entries.
I like this approach and may adopt it! At this point you’re really building a directory, so maybe I’ll dedicate one of my stray domain names to a blogroll database blog. (Sure, think like that, say I to myself, Then you run into the one-level-of-categorization only limit in MT and start pining for FtrainKit all over again….)
Also, this reminds me that I am trying to come up with a canonical approach to doing a links sidebar. Anil’s is probably the best known model, though Kottke’s recently upgraded (comment and trackbackable) links sidebar is another good example.
The idea seems to represent the return to an optimized idea-capturing, instant blogging approach as facilitated by the BlogThis! bookmarklet. Sudden blogging, call it.
Blogger Pro, with it’s Title/Link/Description fields, provides possibly the best interface for entering these links, though Radio Express! would work well for Radio setups with title and link fields turned on.
Movable Type doesn’t have the idea of a master link associated with the entry (aside from the entry’s own permalink – this is one of the sources of confusion in weblog syndication to this day), so its bookmarklet isn’t optimized for entering quick links, but by mentally reassigning the fields (relabeling the text boxes), and including three in your (customizable) bookmarklet (the easiest might be Title for title, Entry for the linkURL, and Extended Entry for the description).
The vogue is to present the links in HTML in a minimalist style with the description embedded as the title attribute in the anchor tag, which is rendered as a floating “tool tip” in many browsers. It’s easy enough to put together a stripped-down, includable MT template to present your links this way.
The trick is that the RSS feed has to give T/L/D, so the same MT-database-hook tags show up in slightly different from usual positions in the RSS template. That is, the usual MT templates wrap the item’s permalink inside <link> tag and put the entry copy inside the <description> element, but in this model you’d want the entry copy (which will be just the URL) to go out as the link and the extended entry copy to go out as the description. Capiche?
No, probably not. I’m still working this out myself, and i’m tempted to use one of my legacy Blogger accounts to drive my quick links bar. We’ll see.