I noticed that a got a trickle of traffic from a URI @nytimes.com. It turns out that I provide one of their “Headlines around the web” for Massachusetts.

Perhaps I should change the post title to “the headline heard around the web.” Or perhaps I should click on the banner ad, since this blog is certainly not a profitable business.

The folks at PhotoJojo coined the phrase long portrait, Mashable Stan hailed the long portrait as a use for Flickr video, and Heather Rasley commented about the long self-portrait.

That got me thinking about an About video, in lieu of, or as part of, a blog’s About page. So I made such a video. There’s about a minute of About video.

I’ve Been Heralded

April 10, 2008

That’s the Blog Herald, not the Boston Herald. Lorelle linked to my post on how Automattic is making money from WordPress.com. In the same edition of WordPress Wednesday News, she links to dozens of other places as well, but she doesn’t describe all those other places as “interesting.”

Lorelle does mention the “issues on the WordPress.com support forums over the new Administration Panels interface.” But her emphasis falls on 2.5 features and security issues.

Hey, there are folders in Google Docs! There aren’t actually any folders in my Google Docs, since I haven’t created any. I think I can live without folders there, or in my Gmail. Tags and search seem to do the job pretty well. Having said that, as Gmail becomes my main email, I may see the case for folders there.

I think that folders or categories are useful for newcomers. That’s why there are seven fairly broad categories on this blog (plus Uncategorized). Those categories and their post counts in the sidebar should give a reasonable idea of the content here.

I emailed Ape Lad to tell him that Richard Thompson’s new album includes a song called “Bad Monkey.” He blogged his curiosity as to whether RT has any hobo songs.

One answer is that he doesn’t, because Hobo refers to an American subculture, and RT’s songs tend to be very British (even after all the years he’s had a home in California).

Old Kit BagBut, at the risk of giving Ape Lad more than he wanted (although no more than he asked for), the better and affirmative answer is that there are many RT-hobo connections. The cover of The Old Kit Bag is one example.

Then there’s the song from RT’s first solo album in which the narrator tells us that “We go where the work is… and we work where we can.” The song is “The Old Changing Way,” and yes, that does have something to do with the title of this very blog. The album is Henry the Human Fly.

My favorite of RT’s hobo-ish songs is “Al Bowlly’s in Heaven,” from Daring Adventures. A more general favorite might be “Beeswing,” from Mirror Blue. Here’s a video of RT singing the latter.

Next week will probably see the creation of the millionth blog at WordPress.com. Michael Arrington noted this, along with some other numbers. I won’t comment here about Michael’s numbers, since I want to move on to one of my own.

Last week saw the 100th day of this blog, which I created on Feb 1. It wasn’t my first WordPress blog, or even my first blog at WordPress.com, but it is my current blog, and it is only since Feb 1 that WordPress.com has been the home for my main blog.

So how is WordPress.com for someone who has previously used other blogging tools, including WordPress classic, and other hosts? It is excellent for my current purposes.

Right now, I want to focus my blogging time on blogging itself, rather than on running the blog. So, after doing the initial choice of theme, customization of CSS, and setup of sidebar widgets, I’ve just been adding content. At WordPress.com, I haven’t had to bother with installing new versions of the software, and the hosting has been robust.

WordPress.com is not for people who want complete control over their blog. It’s not meant to be. That’s what WordPress classic is for.

Having said that, I do have my wishlist for WordPress.com, and some of the things on it are there because I miss them from my WordPress classic days.

  • Tagging. I really miss the tags plugin I used to use. The case that tags and categories are different has been made by Lorelle, and by many others, so I won’t restate it here.
  • Easy links to, and images from, Amazon. Again, this is something for which I used to use a plugin. For example, when I blog about a book, I think it’s helpful for readers to see an image of the cover with a link to a page providing reviews. I understand WordPress.com’s policy against ads and the like, but it’s something I hope will become less draconian.
  • How about allowing links to approved affiliate programs, with a split of revenue between WordPress.com and the blogger?
  • I’d like more extensive support for OpenID. I made quite a few posts about this a couple of months ago. WordPress.com produces OpenIDs, but does not currently comsume OpenIDs (i.e. you can’t comment or post on WordPress.com using an OpenID produced elsewhere).
  • There are a bunch of other things, but they are less important. For example, I support the thumbnail and image resizing idea under consideration via the WordPress ideas forum, but it’s not nearly as big a deal to me as tagging.

To WordPress.com, thanks for the hundred days, and congratulations on the million blogs.

Side Notes

March 18, 2007

While wandering around the claimID site, I found the following: we are working to get the ClaimID widget integrated into WordPress.com. I’m not sure I’d use the widget, since I’m in to a compact sidebar these days. But I thought that others might be interested.

The wandering was a search for a smaller claimID badge. The page with links to the various badges proved harder to find than I expected. (Hint: look under Settings for your claimID account, rather than under FAQ.) I’ve also gone with a smaller feed symbol (under Subscribe).

Despite my previous doubts about AddThis, I’ve added it to the sidebar, under the new heading Share the Link. Creative Commons now has the heading Share the Content.

Thanks For the February

March 1, 2007

This blog is now a (short) month old, having been created on Feb 1. Thanks to all who’ve visited, and especially to those who’ve commented, revisited, or subscribed. Thanks also to WordPress.com for the hosting.

The most popular post in February was the one in which I wondered about Firefox on the Nokia N800. I’m still wondering, by the way…

Simpla Way: Widgets

February 9, 2007

SimplaWayThis is the third in a series of posts about the current appearance of this blog. The first post explains why I’m blogging here at WordPress.com, and using the Simpla theme. The second post explains the custom CSS I use.

This post is about the sidebar widgets I use. For example, there’s the popular Categories widget, which does what you’d expect: lists the categories in use at the blog.

Most of the widgets I use are what I would call “HTML widgets,” but which go by the official name of text widgets. Such a widget gives me a box into which I can type heading text, and a box into which I can type HTML.

At the top of the sidebar is a widget with the heading “My Identity” and HTML including an image from, and a link to, claimID. Rather than having lots of About and Profile pages for the multiple blogging and other web services I use, I want to have one main place, and claimID currently seems to me to be as good a host as any for that. I find it strange to call things like this “text widgets” because, apart from the heading, there is no text in this particular widget.

Right under the categories widget is… another text/HTML widget. Under that comes the Search widget. This blog is part of a family of blogs, and it probably makes sense to direct most search at the family rather than only at the currently active member. I’ve used Google to create a custom search engine to do just such a search.

Google provides code to include custom search engines on web sites. Unfortunately, this code includes javascript, and so is not allowed by WordPress.com. My workaround for this is to provide a link to my custom search engine page, and to put it in a text widget. There was a recent discussion about this at the WordPress.com forum.

Right under the text widget linking to the custom search is the Search widget, which provides search of the current blog.

The widget with the heading Subscribe and the feed symbol is another text widget. No, it’s not the RSS widget. You use a text widget to put your feed in your sidebar. Yes, I too was confused at first.

The Share heading and the Creative Commons license comprise the last text widget in the sidebar. There is a Creative Commons widget, but it’s not available at WordPress.com. I wish that it was.

So now we’ve reached the end of the sidebar and, for now, the end of this little series. There will probably be a fourth episode of the trilogy, especially if anyone actually reads the first three. Thank you for reading this far.

Simpla Way: CSS

February 9, 2007

SimplaWayThis is the second in a series of posts about the current appearance of this blog. The first post explains why I’m blogging here at WordPress.com, and using the Simpla theme.

This post is about Custom CSS. Although blogging at WordPress.com is free of charge, there is a charge for custom CSS. For me, control over my blog’s style sheet is well worth the ~US$1/month; for others, it’s not worth it. If you have a WordPress.com blog, you can go from Dashboard to Presentation to Edit CSS, and preview the feature.

Note that: “Your stylesheet will be loaded after the theme stylesheets, which means that your rules can take precedence and override the theme CSS rules.” Most of my stylesheet came from cutting and pasting from the Simpla stylesheet, and replacing values.

But the CSS for images came from the stylesheet for my previous blog. I like images at the right of posts, with a little room to breathe.

#content img {
float:right;
border:0;
margin:10px;
}

I wanted the main heading for the blog to be more prominent than the Simpla default, so I made it twice the size of the post heading.

#header h1 {
font-size:4.4em;
}

I wanted the date of each post to be formatted consistently with the post metadata that appears at the foot of the post. In fact, I think that the date is post metadata, and as such belongs with things like the category. But CSS doesn’t control the placement of text, just the style. So the best I could do was copy and paste the formatting from the post metadata to apply it to the date.

.entrytitle h3 {
font-family:Georgia, "Times New Roman", Times, serif;
font-size:0.9em;
}

Turning now from the content to the sidebar, the Simpla CSS gives too much separation between the items on the Blogroll list for my taste. So I took out the dotted line it uses as a separator. But I used it to separate sections of the sidebar from each other.

#sidebar h2 {
border-top:1px dotted #ddd;
}
#sidebar ul li {
border-bottom:0;
margin-bottom:0;
padding:0;
}

Mention of the sidebar brings me to sidebar widgets, and to the third post in the series.

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