Interdum stultus opportuna loquitur...

Monday, May 04, 2009

NonRant: Housekeeping...

Note - from June 24th 2009, this blog has migrated from Blogger to a self-hosted version. Click here to go straight there.

Since I'm going to waste several additional hours getting the RantEngines properly squared away (having discovered that CRON_TZ will not work in the crontab for my server... gah), I've decided to dedicate the rest of this week to housekeeping. I hope to make one or two non-negative enhancements to the actual content as well, but mainly it's just to make things tidier.

There are a couple of intended results, and a need to furnish a warning about unintended results.

The intended results:

  • a little graphic in the right sidebar, promoting the boycott of 'Israel' - if you click through you will also be able to find a list of companies who do business with, or are supporters of, the tribalist psychos who are unwelcome in any civilised society;
  • a Google Search tool - meaning that you can make this blog your homepage and search from there (each search you do will then add a weensy bit to blog revenue);
  • a change to the feedhost for the RSS/Atom feed (I want to get the feed right, since there are more viewers through the feed than through the Blogger page); and
  • a change to the ads within the RSS/Atom feed (furnishing more ways for you to show the love without having to dip into your wallet).

I'm also toying with the idea of giving Forbes the flick - there's no content they have that I think is worth pinching, and I'm not at all sure that I am keen to be listed among 'their' bloggers. I've also got to work out why stuff that I've posted on Twitter doesn't seem to propagate through the Twitter applet onto the blog.

Among the unintended consequences (for feed recipients) of all this ginning around, might be feed reflux - when the same items are re-fetched by your feed reader simply because some part of the content has changed (e.g., a change to the blog layout causing the entire feed to be viewed as 'new content'). That's a bit of a pain, but there is no way around it.

Conversely, there might also be an interruption to feeds, due to the change of feedhost (from FeedBurner to Google... but the underlying architecture is still FeedBurner, I think). I am not sure whether the little 'chicklet' for the feeds, needs to be re-done (I think not).

And of course no week-of-housekeeping would be complete without me buggerising around with the layout of the blog. This always involves periods during which I completely stuff up the template, and I expect this time to be no different. Still, the layout has to be fixed: I have always eschewed the idea of 'custom' CSS based on screen resolution within Blogger, because the only methods that work consistently require Javascript. When the blog migrates to my own hosting (which will happen a bit later) I can use PHP to get browser and OS attributes, and build the appropriate CSS file on-the-fly (there will be some 'core' parts of any CSS file which will be invariant with respect to screen resolution).

The 'buggerising around with the layout' is to try to overcome a problem that I have discovered since switching to a wide screen (my new screen is only a 22" jobbie, but it made clear that problem).

Optimum column width - for reading with ease - is 30-35 ems (an 'em' is the width of the lower-case 'm', regardless of the font size). That will yield about 10 words per line; this makes concentration easier. If there are more than 20 words per line, the eyes have to do too much moving - and if a column is too wide then reading is like watching a tennis match.

I have also decided to do the 'vanilla' thing and switch the default paragraph font to Arial (it used to be Arial Narrow, which is my personal preference).