I’ve upgraded the site to run WordPress 2.7. The big deal about WordPress 2.7 is the new administration section, and wow — it’s a great improvement (if a bit gray — there are color schemes, if I remember correctly, so I’ll get some more color in here). But the UI is really well laid-out, and eliminates a lot of those menu crowding issues that come with a healthy number of plugins. The upgrade was, like pretty much every WordPress upgrade, smooth and effortless, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the product just continues to mature and evolve.
I just threw WordPress 2.3.2 on the server. It fixes a few potentially nasty security bugs, so it’d be smart if you run your own WordPress installation to upgrade to this new one. It’s a quicker upgrade than most WordPress upgrades, particularly if you were using 2.3.1 — no database changes appear to be needed.
That first point release is out, so time to upgrade. :) See you on the flip side.
Update: Looks like it’s up and everything is running quite fine. Word! I need to now get the new tagging system integrated…
I’m doing some upgrades to jaredwsmith.com this morning. (It sure needs it!) If things are acting or looking funny, then that’s probably why.
Hopefully this post will show up on LiveJournal — I’ve been having some problems with the LJ plugin as of late. I installed an upgraded version, and the only way for me really to know is to make a post. :)
Update — forgot to mention that Site News posts aren’t crossposted to LJ, because they really have nothing to do with anything here. :P It does work again, though, from my test installation…
Update 2 — maintenance is done. I’m running WordPress 2.2.1 now. It’s got some fixes and the new widgetized sidebar (though I don’t have that ported to my theme yet). As usual, it went without a hitch. :)
I’ve done a bit more work to the look, tweaking it up here and there. The home page saw the addition of the three posts prior to my latest, so you can get more of a read on what’s going on. Additionally, I’ve set it to where the date blurbs next to each post are clickable; clicking them shows you the posts made on that particular day. It’s kinda neat. :)
But yes, the work continues…and now to start studying for a test. I napped earlier and that’s the undoing of my sleep schedule (yes, sadly, so early in the week, too…)
No, this is not an April Fool joke, folks, this is for real. Welcome to the new JaredWSmith.com. :)
In the course of two days I have managed to code and draw up a brand new look for the entire site. I’m pretty pleased with this look. There’s still work to be done, and that work will continue, albeit at a bit of a slower pace. However, a full bio, full information about me, and all that fun stuff will be here in short order. As time goes on, too, more features will be rolled out that take advantage of the new interface. Go ahead, roll over the menu near the top; you’ll like it, especially if you use Firefox and IE 7. You’ll see a lush dropshadow with subtle transparencies…mmm, nice. This is definitely more graphically oriented than I have done in the recent past.
I’m using WordPress as the CMS now. It didn’t make sense to have one set of static pages at one subdomain and the blog at the other, so I combined the two. If you have bookmarks, links, etc., that go to blog.jaredwsmith.com, don’t worry — those will all still work. www.jaredwsmith.com is mirroring blog.jaredwsmith.com’s contents now. While blog.jaredwsmith.com will still function for things like RSS feeds and permalinks, I strongly, STRONGLY suggest updating your bookmarks to use www.jaredwsmith.com, as that’s where all the stuff is now going.
Drop your feedback in comments. I hope you all like the new look — and please be patient. I’m continuing to add more stuff and make fixes and the like. :)
So I’ve been thinking off and on about what a revised jaredwsmith.com will look like. This is always a point of self-conversation, but the discussion has kind of erupted in recent days, to the point where I am actually prototyping a new look in code (if the design makes it out of Photoshop, that’s typically significant). I’ve been pleased; the new look cuts down a great deal (try over 750 lines less!) on layout code and thus does a better job of degrading the presentation when viewed by a non-CSS or text-only browser. I also think the new look is generally cleaner than what’s running now. The current design has gotten incredibly noisy, I think. I also don’t think it’s as easy to use as it should be. Granted, there’s nowhere to navigate to right now, but I plan on rectifying that.
That’s where the other dilemma comes into play. I’m likely going to go the WordPress-as-CMS route and create specific pages for the about page, etc. However, it wouldn’t make much sense for it all to live under blog.jaredwsmith.com — so I have a decision to make, which may be incredibly dumb. See, a year ago, I originally ran jaredwsmith.com at the root (i.e., www.jaredwsmith.com) and decided to migrate it when I wanted to separate the main site and the blog. However, as you all have undoubtedly noticed, this “main site” I speak of has yet to materialize. WordPress 2.1 enables some new features that make it sweatless to implement WordPress as a CMS (you can see a great example of this on the CofC SGA site), so the natural route is to create the pages within WordPress and go from there.
It’s not that simple, though, because having a full website sit under blog.jaredwsmith.com doesn’t make a damn bit of sense to me. It makes much more sense at the logical spot, under www.jaredwsmith.com. This poses a major, major problem, though — if I move WordPress to www.jaredwsmith.com, then all the PageRank I’ve built over the last year with blog.jaredwsmith.com vanishes into thin frickin’ air. Sure, I’ll have a URL rewrite rule set up on blog.jaredwsmith.com to redirect permalinks to the new address, much as I have implemented with www.jaredwsmith.com…but still. It worries me a bit, at least right now.
One idea is to set up a second WordPress installation at www.jaredwsmith.com and administer the pages there, but that sort of redundancy is about as elegant as an elephant tap dancing to Trammell Starks. Another idea — the original plan, in fact — is to write up my own set of PHP pages, database, etc. and stick those on www.jaredwsmith.com, and hook into the blog database to show recent posts, etc. It also is very much like the secondary WordPress installation, except harder. No thanks. So, the poison will be relocating the blog and its associated pages back to its www roots, and hopefully for good this time…unless, of course, someone (or myself) comes up with an ingenious method of making it all work with the multiple subdomains and whatnot. I’ve heard WordPress-MultiUser mentioned as a solution, but that seems like overkill for what I want to do.
Technical matters aside, the new look will be nice. It’ll use popdown menus — automatically generated by WordPress, to boot — in the top bar for navigation. This is in contrast the current tree hanging out on the right (which I personally find to be tough to locate visually and a source of page noise). The right sidebar will continue to exist as an ad haven and blogroll location, and content will sit on the left. I toyed with the idea of a fluid design this time around, but I scrapped that idea because I believe reading is easier when there’s minimal need for eye travel (and a fluid-width design on a widescreen monitor can cause a lot of eye travel). Thus, this design will — just as past revisions of WordPress-based jaredwsmith.com have — fit in about 800 pixels wide. I haven’t determined whether to keep the serif Cambria/Georgia font for body text yet. I like the idea of differing the content font from the interface font (currently Segoe UI and Tahoma), but I may decide to relent and use a sans-serif face for body text this next time around. The only requirements for using the new site will be a standards-compliant browser. I’ll be doing most testing in Firefox and Internet Explorer, with some limited Safari and Opera testing as well. It’ll be perfectly usable in a browser that’s got no idea about CSS (Lynx, etc.) and will be tested for Section 508 Web accessibility, like all of my projects for the last two years have been.
One thing that will probably not make it into the next iteration of jaredwsmith.com is a full-blown discussion forum. I’m not sure I can dedicate the time and energy to the upkeep of a forum in addition to classes, work, and other Web stuff. I’m not 100% killing the idea of a forum, but I would not expect one at this juncture. Forums are beasts to run properly. I do believe, though, I may start the practice of having an occasional “open thread,” as seen at so many other blogs, which basically permits the reader to just go off on pretty much anything. Done right, I think open threads can be successful. I still have time to weigh this, though.
Now you know what a self-conversation about design is like. Hehe.
WordPress 2.0.6 has been released, which contains a security fix as well as a couple nice assorted things to keep things happy. I’m particularly intrigued by the comment filtering. I’ll have to look into that to see how that all works.
But yes, WordPress users should upgrade. :) I’m running it now on The Blog and so far, so good, but as with any upgrade, please let me know if there are problems. :)
Well, when I wrote last night that I went nuts on The Blog adding features and making many fixes, I wasn’t done. I’ve added two notable features to the site.
One of the lesser-known new features in Firefox 2.0 is something called Live Titles or, in Mozilla-speak, Microsummaries. What a Live Title does is basically take the last post title in the RSS feed and assign that as the bookmark title. Even cooler, Firefox goes out and fetches an updated title on a periodic basis automatically, so the latest post from The Blog or any microsummary-enabled site is always available. To utilize the Live Title feature on this site, or any site that uses Live Titles, press Ctrl-D to bookmark the site. You’ll see this:
Note the drop-down box, and the Live Title area. Click on the Live Title and send it wherever you like in your bookmarks. I decided to put mine on my Bookmarks Toolbar, as illustrated below:
Sweet, isn’t it? This title will change as I add posts, keeping you up to date on the latest in a very slim space. :)
The other feature I added is Gravatar support in comments. If you have a Gravatar account, and use the e-mail address that matches with your Gravatar account when you submit a comment (or register your username), your Gravatar will automatically show up next to your comment. I’m contemplating using Gravatar as the avatar provider for the forums, as well. If you don’t have one, a generic speech bubble will be displayed.
Anyway, I need to eat and watch some football. Enjoy, folks!
I’m going to be upgrading WordPress to version 2.0.5 — please bear with me for about 20 minutes or so. I’ll update this post when I’m done. :)
All finished! :) Let me know if you run into issues.