One of my photos

Big Pimpin’

August 6th, 2008 · Posted by Skuds in Life/Music/Technology · 6 Comments · Life, Music, Technology

I have now finished (for the time being) a spot of minor tweaking and renovation of this blog: what Westwood would call pimping my blog…  nothing major, just tidied up a few things that have been bugging me for ages.

The recent upgrade to WordPress 2.6 meant that I had to do some changes anyway, and while I was at it I downloaded a slightly newer version on the Cutline theme.  I had done all sorts of customisation to the theme and to a few of the core WordPress php modules so I had to re-do all of them, and I figured I that I would take advantage of that momentum to try and do a few of the things I couldn’t work out how to do before.

All of which reminds me of a theory of mine.

Like many of my theories it doesn’t bear close examination.  In fact many of my theories are inferior to the  Theory of Dinosaurs by Anne Elk (Miss) but that doesn’t stop me.  The theory is that there is a tendency towards a correlation between the technical quality of a singer’s voice and their lack of anything to say with it.  In other words, the singers who have something of substance they want to say tend to not have the greatest voices.   All those singers with pure voices who can hit notes spot on just sing whatever someone else writes, which is normally trivial – while singers with opinions who write their own stuff have the most unconventional voices: Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Ian Dury, Billy Bragg, Johnny Rotten, Jarvis Cocker, David Byrne, Rachid Taha.

Anyway, before letting anyone have time to spot the many flaws in that theory, I think it applies a bit to blogs too.  The more I have been delving into the code of cascading style sheets, templates and php modules, the less inclined I have been to actually write anything.  It appears that I can’t concentrate on form and content at the same time.

For the record – and for my reference so I can have a checklist the next time I do an upgrade and need to remember all the bits I tweaked – the main changes were:

  • Replacing the masthead text with an image
    My favourite change.  I reckon it looks much classier.
  • Making several alternative images which appear randomly
    I always wanted to have a random tagline plugin but could never find one.  Re-using the header image code and having a set of alternative masthead images gives the same effect.
  • Putting a title on the search box widget
    A bit of a bugger as this is in the core WP code but needs variables defined in the theme templates.
  • Putting a title on the Links widget
    Doing that gave me the confidence to have a crack at the search box title
  • Fixing the problem on the Recent Comments plugin widget so I can use that instead of WordPress’s built-in one.
    Temporary fix only.  It turns out that the bug in it can be worked around by turning the caching for the widget off, loading a pageand turning it back on again. Really glad about it though – I much prefer the plugin over the built-in one because it shows the start of the comment text.
  • Putting a tiny bit of colour in the sidebar titles
    I hope its subtle enough to not detract from the overall purity of the design.
  • Sorting out the alignment of the left sidebar
    Never noticed it before, but the left sidebar had left padding.  Justhad to change that to right padding and then change the body from having left padding to equal amounts of left and right.
  • Changed the style of blockquotes
    Trivial, but this time I actually used the custom.css style sheet so if I upgrade to a later version of Cutline in the future it will keep that change.
  • Fixed the problem with photo captions so they work in posts, and so that the alignment works OK.
    Harder than it should have been because the feature was added after the theme was written so the styles didn’t exist in it.  Had to whip bits from the default theme’s css to put into the theme’s css

Apart from that, I tweaked the style in the random quote widget a tad, andhad to re-do all my customisations to the header, footer, comment form, and main page templates. At the end of it I am unreasonably pleased with the results, and too busy admiring the end product to write anything.  Perhaps not to everybody’s taste, but I like it and that’s the main thing.

All very timely though – I was starting to forget what little I had learned empirically about php, html and css syntax.

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6 Comments so far ↓

  • Rob Glover

    You music theory is interesting. My mate Brian had a similar theory occur to him – after several pints in the pub – it went like this:
    The more mainstram a band, the mode bland it’s music, the closer to the beginning of the alphabet it’s name starts with.
    So, you start with Bryan Adams, Boyzone, Crowded house – move on through Genesis, Led Zepellin – past Rush – and end up at The Who, Yes and Zappa.
    Then I reminded him of Wham!

  • Skuds

    You could have also thrown in Yazz, ZZ Top, or We Wet Wet.

    And then asked if there was an implication that the Alan Parsons Project was more mainstream than the Thompson Twins.

    Being of a mathematical bent, you will notice that I hedged my theory by saying only that there was a tendency to a correlation – which is a get out of jail free card.

  • skud's sister

    Has all this upgrading changed the range of anti-spam words? They are quite dull at the moment and I haven’t seen any of the old favourites.
    I had a rep in today who sells in the Dummies books – he had one on WordPress and I was almost tempted but then realised that it was so much easier just to let you make the changes and ten tell me where I am going wrong!

  • Andrew

    Looking good here. The header image looks swish.

    I concur about the anti-spam words. Disappointingly lacking in obscenity atm.

  • Skuds

    Ah. Thanks for pointing that out. I did upgrade the plugin and it over-wrote the mods I did before to add my own words.

    The good news is that the latest version puts all the words in their own file so I don’t have to edit the plugin’s php file itself and should mean that the list will survive future upgrades intact.

    I can’t remember all the old favourites so I have put in some new ones.

    Jane – if you stay logged in you won’t get the anti-spam word: I never do.

    Andrew – have added a few Viz-level words for your amusement.

  • janeskuds

    The upgrades logged me out or would never have noticed. I may log out from time to time to see if I can get a Viz-level word….