Category Archives: Site News

News & updates concerning this very website.

Ten years of blogging

The first day of posts at The Realm.  (World, I am so, so sorry.)

The first day of posts at The Realm, the predecessor to jaredwsmith.com. (World, I am so, so sorry.)

March 31, 2010 marks ten years more or less “blogging” (the term had not yet taken off in 2000). On March 31, 2000, I decided to restructure the front page of my high school personal site, The Realm (of Jared Smith), and start posting more or less daily updates on the things that really mattered. You know, such as the strange people I talked to in class, how NSync was a major threat to America and that my generation should be listening to Van Halen and Extreme instead, and little snippets about the doomed dot-com I wrote tech articles for (yes, at age 15). It was juvenile and definitely written from the perspective of an extremely socially maladjusted teenager. It was a series of good times that I maintained for about three years until I entered a hiatus from blogging as my college years really kicked in.

How’d I do it? Every day after school, I’d pop open Microsoft FrontPage 2000, open main/index.htm (the main homepage inside the frameset — yes, a frameset!), tack on the day’s updates to the top of the page, and FTP upload to Freeservers. Bam, update done! At the end of each month, I would manually create the month’s archive page, cut from the homepage, and paste into the archive page, leaving a blank slate for the next month’s worth of updates on the homepage. There were no permalinks, there were no trackbacks — just static pages with completely unnecessary, IE-only animations on load. I don’t know how I kept it up, but I did.

It’s amazing how things have changed in ten years — I’d like to think I write less cringe-worthy material, and I have vanquished lime green from my designs. That’s improvement, right?

What’s been the most fun, though, is that I still talk to a lot of the people who were there from the beginning — especially Patrick O’Keefe, Brad Kelly, and Ray Angel. It’s been fun trading laughs with them today and every day over the last 10 years. Here’s to ten more!

Better mobile viewing through WordPress Mobile Edition

In addition to applying the WordPress 2.8.1 upgrade, I’ve also upgraded to the Carrington-based WordPress Mobile Edition by Alex King, which provides a VERY slick interface for mobile devices to browse posts and pages. I do think the out-of-the-box styles could use some tweaking (particularly on iPhone, where the interface widgets are there but the fonts are Verdana rather than Helvetica Neue), but editing the Carrington theme is fairly straightforward. Regardless, it’s a great plugin to have (even though it’s probably overkill for a personal blog such as this) and I recommend it.

Now sporting BackType Connect

Thanks to the comment-aggregating masterminds at BackType, your tweets, FriendFeed comments, Digg comments, and other mentions of blog posts here at jaredwsmith.com will appear among the comments. I’m tweaking the look some and working with a few things to meld it better with the design, but it’s very cool. How am I doing this? It’s a neat plugin called BackType Connect for WordPress. I definitely recommend checking it out especially if your blog manages to garner a lot of discussion on other sites (FriendFeed support is what dragged me in, really). I like what BackType is doing to tie together the scattered fragments of blog comments throughout the Web.

Archives Upgraded

I gave the archives a well-deserved spit-shine today in a couple ways. First, the archives page is far less fugly, complete with an AJAX calendar (here’s the plugin I used from Urban Giraffe) for browsing purposes. If you jump into a monthly archive (give January 2009 a shot), there’s a link to expand and collapse a large post calendar so you can jump directly to the day. You can browse between months with it, and it uses cookies to remember if you’ve opened or closed it. Now to salvage the rest of my day…I haven’t been outside yet, and I know it’s been great out.

New beginnings for charlestonwx.com

One of my focus areas in the early parts of this year has been to extract some of my side projects, such as Serious Business and Charleston Weather, out from under jaredwsmith.com so that I could give them some room to breathe and take on lives of their own. This process has largely been completed for Serious Business, as I was able to move it to a Tumblr site (which has worked well so far). Establishing Serious Business with its own branded site and Twitter account have been useful in forming a stable audience.

Now that Serious Business is done, it’s time to give my weather efforts the same treatment. The work on that started very, very early this morning, culminating in a somewhat buggy rough draft of the beginnings of a brand new Charleston Weather site at charlestonwx.com. Continue reading

Anatomy of a WordPress Hack

So I’ll set the scene for you:

Disgruntled College of Charleston fan, home after witnessing a loss to Elon of all teams, wants to sit down, sip on some Gatorade, and work on his Facebook “25 Random Things” meme post because seven of his friends have now tagged him and he just wants to END IT (and terrorize additional people with said meme).

So, he sits down and begins writing his post, when he wants to refer to a post on his blog for some of the answers. He finds a strange white space in his layout that makes zero sense whatsoever. He goes and checks the source code…and OMG. Keywords. Lots and lots of keywords. Viagra, tablets, medicine — you name it, it was there. Site: Compromised.

Oh, and that guy? That was me. Continue reading

Shakeup

Update: I completed the move last night (as you probably guessed by how much faster the site’s running). You shouldn’t find any breakages but if you do, let me know.

Access to jaredwsmith.com will be intermittent through the weekend as I’m transitioning over to MediaTemple for this and a couple other projects. I’ll discuss the whys of it at a later date (if you follow me on Twitter, you know why). The move will make things a bit hiccupy here as the transition is made, but once it’s done, performance should be a LOT better.

Thanks for reading, as always. :)

The Perils of Overthinking

I’m a chronic overthinker. I tend to really overthink a lot of things and drive myself insane in the process. This goes for matters of my personal life as well as my professional nerd life — especially as it pertains to websites, including this one.

A couple Marches ago when I was frantically reworking this site, I decided to split the homepage off from the blog in an effort to have a “full” website — somewhere to point people at projects, biographical stuff, and the ilk. I also wanted the opportunity to feature posts on the site’s homepage in an effort to be something of a gatekeeper over my material.

However, in this latest redesign, I noticed that the “homepage” concept was kind of a bummer. It was actually limiting what folks could see right off the bat (I’d write asides that would never see the light on the homepage, for instance). Beyond the filtered blog posts, it didn’t offer much besides a tag cloud for said blog, Twitter status, and what was playing via Last.fm (which was later axed in favor of a FriendFeed sidebar). Basically, I was trying far too hard to have a gigantic website when, ultimately, it should all center around the blog.

Thus, today, the full, unfettered blog makes a return to the root of jaredwsmith.com, because it just makes sense for it to be there. The old “weblog” link simply becomes “archives,” which must look better now that it’s a top-level page. The rest of the site (about, connect) stays the same. Good times.

Now, for hockey. $5 at the Stingrays tonight — sweet!