Archive for November, 2003

Off the Air

There seems to be a problem with my host’s email server. They are working on it, meanwhile I’ve gotten no mail in about 5 hours (and that’s just not right). This includes my mailing list subscriptions. Amazing how disconnected I feel right now, even though my connectivity is otherwise unaffected.

Your Zen is Slipping

Blosxom has a catchphrase, “The Zen of Blogging.” I’m not feeling very Zen-like at the moment.

Tonight, I helped a friend set up a new Blosxom install. He has been using Greymatter, but he’s had a few problems with it. I’ve been trying to convince him to use Blosxom, so he decided to give it a whirl. Installed the basic blosxom.cgi.

Now in his case, are bare-bones install is pretty close to exactly what he needs. He displays his blog inside a scrolling IFrame as part of a larger site design, so he doesn’t want any fancy flavours/themes. The default .html flavour would work well for him, except he needed multiple author attribution. He also wanted an easy way to post over the web, and he wanted to avoid writing direct HTML.

I assured him this was simple. Just add the author plugin for multiple authors; that requires the meta plugin, but so does wikieditish, which will let you post over the web. And grab Textile2 so you don’t have to write HTML in your posts.

Unfortunately, it didn’t go as smoothly as one would hope. I’ve been using Blosxom for some time, and knew the steps. I’ve also been working on a new project using Blosxom lately, so I figured I was up to speed. Yikes. After an hour and a half, it’s sort of working. Textile is still busted, and I don’t know why. Got authors working, after a half hour of problems, in the end it seems I’d forgotten that meta has to load before authors, so meta has to be renamed. This isn’t really an onerous requirement, and it’s one that I knew of, but it wasn’t actually documented in any of the stuff we downloaded. What a pain.

Also ran into the wikieditish date-preservation bug which is still present (Note to self: keep blogging bug fixes… never know when you’ll need them again). Also, the default .html flavour (that no one uses) is kinda buggy. I ended up making an external verion of it, using the 1993 flavour from the flavour sampler. Still need to send him some improved RSS flavour files; the defaults aren’t that great. I’m sure there were a couple of other gotchas, but I’m tired now and not remembering everything.

All in all, Blosxom is a great, highly extensible tool with a great community around it. But the overall ‘new user experience’ is still too… Zenless. I hope we can improve that.

Picture This

My good friend Sean Rivinus recently got a new toy, the Canon Digital Rebel. It’s a 6.3 Megapixel true SLR camera; and it uses the same lenses as the traditional (35mm film) Rebels. He’s been taking some great photos; including this creative shot at the Columbia (NC) zoo. You can check out more of his photos at Sean and Marlene’s personal website, and soon you’ll be able to purchase some of his work at his upcoming stock photography site, which I am helping to set up (still under construction; more info soon).

moreentries 0+1i

I’ve created a new plugin for Blosxom, called moreentries. It creates ‘Next’ and ‘Previous’ links when there are more entries than allowed on a page (as determined by the Blosxom config variable $num_entries). This doesn’t affect date-style urls, since Blosxom ignores $num_entries for date urls.

Please note this is the first version. It’s been tested (with thanks to Fletcher T. Penney), but it may have bugs. Please Note: it probably won’t work right with static rendering, since it will require additional pages to be created. I’ll look into this if there is interest.

You can see it in action here on this site.

Download link: moreentries

Update: Fixed download link.
Update #2: Fixed the other download link (in the first paragraph). D’oh!
Update #3: As I stated in the perldocs, this could be done much more efficiently if blosxom.cgi were updated. Lars has suggested an elegant way of doing just that. If you’d like to patch your blosxom.cgi, check it out. If Rael releases an offical update to blosxom.cgi to include such a change, I’ll release a new version of the plugin to take advantage of it. This version will remain as well, for those using the current Blosxom version.

Show Me More

One limitation of Blosxom, the blogging software this site is run on, is how it handles a large number of entries. Blosxom lets you determine how many entries to show on a page (by setting the $num_entries configuration variable). This site is configured to show 10 pages at a time. This works when you view the main page or any of the categories (via the links in the Categories boxlet); if you view by date (via the links in the Calendar boxlet), the limit is ignored. This allows you to view, for example, all October posts at once.

But what if you want to view all posts in the WebDev category? At the time of this posting, that category contains 34 entries. But if you go to that category you only see the first 10. Of course, you can navigate sub-categories and see more, or view all posts (regardless of category) a month at a time, but Blosxom provides no way to jump to the next 10 (or 20, or however your site is configured) posts. Until now.

I’ve just written a plugin for blosxom called moreentries to do this. It’s in place now on this site. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see a link to the next 10 entries (assuming you are viewing the weblog homepage). If you click the link, you’ll notice the next page tells you you are viewing entries 11 to 20, and the bottom of the page will have Next and Previous links. This also works within categories (those with more that 10 entries, of couse).

I’ll be posting the plugin to this site, and to the plugin registry, later today. It’s still undergoing some additional testing. In the meantime, try out the new feature, and let me know what you think.