January 28, 2008


OK, I had read more into Movabletype's marketing hype than I should have, the templates used are basically the same as 4.01, but there are a new Enterprise and Community Solution options that apparently give some more template options for setting up sites other than plain blogs, so that is of no help to me.

There is, I found, a new plugin that allows for template exporting, but it requires a paid license, so it looks like that's out for me as well. I was able to get all my prior modifications back in place, so I'm back to getting the final template and CSS changes put in place to make the new template look like my old one.

Posted by Jim at 8:55 PM | TrackBack

January 27, 2008

Movabletype 4.1 available

Well, just when I'm ready to get the final set of changes to my old templates into my test Movabletype 4.01 installation, I find that Movable Type 4.1 has been released, and included in this is a new set of templates and tools for managing them. So, I'm scrapping all the work I've done and moving my test setup to MT 4.1. I'm relatively confident that making changes to the bundled templates will be easier, and the learning I had already done should make this transition a fair bit easier.

Posted by Jim at 9:11 PM | TrackBack

January 24, 2008

Slowly getting MT4 template built

It's slow going... The new template structure is nice, everything is broken up logically, but there is a lot of new CSS markup that I'm working around, and I'm not crazy about how they have their stylesheets done.

Also, the formatting of the HTML and MT code is terrible, all the formatting is done with spaces, no tabs. This was done, I'm sure, because the templates are edited via the web browser, and entering a tab in a text field is a bit hard to do, but it would have been so much nicer if after saving the spaces had been converted to tabs to make things more readable and ensure that everything lines up, which the built in templates don't.

Posted by Jim at 9:03 PM | TrackBack

January 16, 2008

Playing with MT4

I've started playing with Movabletype 4.01, quite a bit changed from 3.x, and of primary importance to me is the new template structure. Since I'll need to play with this a bit before going live, I've set up a secondary installation of MT4 alongside my MT3 installation.

Basically, I used the new install instructions, but renamed the mtstatic folder to mtstatic2, and instead of a MT folder in my CGI-Bin, I created a folder called MT2 and placed all the necessary bits there. A quick setup of the new DB structure and config, and it was quickly up and running. Now to hammer out the templates...

Posted by Jim at 9:18 PM | TrackBack

December 13, 2007

Movable Type goes Open Source

Movable Type has gone Open Source. Personally, this sounds like a great thing, opening the code to a wider range of developers who will all be working towards making this an even greater product

Posted by Jim at 4:34 PM | TrackBack

November 3, 2007

Details on upgrades

To recap my recent upgrades here, I was transitioning my old web/mail server from a G4 box running OS 10.4 to a new Mac Mini running OS X 10.5. Funny that I wrote about using a Mini as a server back in 2005, and I'm only now finally getting around to putting one in here...

So, the basic process here was shutting down Postfix, then using Carbon Copy Cloner to clone my existing server to the Mac Mini (booted in Target Disk Mode), then rebooting the Mini into the Mac OS X 10.5 Installer. The Installer had absolutely no problems upgrading a PPC version of OS 10.5 to an Intel OS running 10.5, which was great. I really did not want to do a clean install, which would have been more of a hassle in converting mail files and other lower level items.

The next necessary step after installing 10.5 was to install Xcode 3.0, in order to compile all the apps I needed. Once that was done, I was finally able to start getting things up and running.

From prior dry runs, I had done a lot of testing of various packages to make sure that things would compile properly, and run without errors. There was a good bit of trial and error, and lots of googling. And thanks to someone else googling and finding an earlier entry of mine, a helpful tip out of the blue (Thanks to Paul S.) that helped massively. I had partitioned my drive so that I had a nice workspace partition to hold files between attempts at cloning and upgrading, and I had saved a few helpful notes there as well, which was very handy.

As I had mentioned a few days ago, the unix system accounts for postfix, mysql, www, and others, now for some reason all begin with an underscore character, so I had to edit a few config files where these accounts were specifically used to make sure that they reflected the current users. Also, 10.5 now runs Apache 2.2.x and not Apache 1.x, so I had to do some reading up on how this gets configured in order to migrate my config files, there were few surprises there, once I paid attention to the sample config files. Having saved copies of my working config files from earlier runs, it was a simple matter to copy these over before starting other work.

In retrospect, I should have worked on getting the mail server up and running before the web server, I didn't lose any mail, but I just hated it being offline as long as it was...

Starting with the web side, I installed MySQL 5.0.45 using a pre-build package, I used the one built for 10.4 Intel, and plan to upgrade that to a 10.5 specific build once one is available. After installing this, I simply copied my data folder over, ran the mysql_upgrade script, and all was well. Next, I compiled DBI-1.601 and DBD-mysql-4.005. For some reason I wasn't able to track down, DBD insisted on looking for mysql/lib files in /mysql/lib/mysql, even though my install never mentioned this path anywhere. Some googling finally revealed that the easiest fix was simply to fake it with some symlink trickery:

cd /usr/local/mysql/lib
sudo mkdir mysql
cd mysql
sudo ln -s ../*

DBI compiled fine, DBD threw up an error about incompatible pointers, which I was stuck at for a day or two before finding out that this was just a warning and could be ignored. Sure enough, it ran just fine, and I found that MovableType was now working fine. During the final install of everything, I discovered that I had to reset access privs for my web folder in order for MT to be able to write files, but after doing that, it worked fine again. I'm saving my upgrade to MovableType 4.x for another day.

Compiling Postfix was fairly straightforward, as before, I built Postfix according to the standard install docs to include MySQL and PCRE support, but this time included SASL in the mix. It is very important to read the SASL docs, there was a bit of needing to create symlinks and make sure that header files were in the right locations, but once I followed all the steps outlined, it compiled fine.

The Courier-IMAP pieces drove me nuts for several days. Courier-IMAP 4.2.1, the latest build, just couldn't be made to work here, I eventually tried building an older version, 4.1.3, and that worked just fine. Courier-Authlib 0.60.2 compiled but had problems running, the trick mailed in my Paul S. was to enter the following before doing the compile:


This handy command has been around for a few OS releases now, and forces some settings that apparently don't get set otherwise, a quick google search found many packages needing this to compile properly. Once set, AuthLib compiled properly and more importantly, ran properly.

Despite doing the 'migrate' steps, though, my old Courier settings never made it over, and so I had to edit the authmysqlrc and some other Courier files by hand using my older versions as templates, but this work was done in short order.

One site that helped a lot in checking over some of my steps was this one:


The versions used there weren't current, but helped to validate what I was trying to do here, and setting the proper CFLAGS and compile arguments. His setup there was very similar to mine, virtual domains, MySQL authentication, etc, which was a great help.

With this done, I was now actually able to check mail the last necessary step, which made a good stopping point for the night with a fairly functioning server.

The next day, I tested a few more functions of the system, and found that one of the web packages I had installed was having problems with MySQL. This turned out to be a PHP issue connecting to MySQL, it was looking for the mysql.sock file in /var instead of /tmp. The easiest fix here was to create a /etc/php.ini file, consisting of the following:

; Default socket name for local MySQL connects.  If empty, uses the built-in MySQL defaults.
mysql.default_socket = /tmp/mysql.sock
; Default socket name for local MySQL connects.  If empty, uses the built-in MySQL defaults.
mysqli.default_socket = /tmp/mysql.sock

The second section for mysqli was required for version of MySQL 4.1 and later, once this was in place and Apache stopped and started, this problem was now history.

The last hurdle I had was getting policyd running, this is the greylisting package I use with Postfix. I had been struggling for some time to get newer builds of this running. I had somehow hacked the 1.7.x version into running previously, and was never able to duplicate my success with later builds. Thanks to some outstanding work by the developers, the final fixes to this are now available in the latest SVN builds, and I was able to get the 1.9.x experimental build to compile successfully, and more importantly, to run successfully as well.

In closing, what I'd like to say here is that when you're rolling your own code, patience is your best friend. Take things one step at a time, make sure you have a backup, and when you hit a wall, do searches and ask questions on mailing lists until you find the answers you need. If all else fails, post about your failures, and someone else might stumble across your post and supply the answers you need, it's amazing how things like that work out sometimes.

Posted by Jim at 9:27 PM | TrackBack

October 26, 2007

Leopard Day...

Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) is available in stores, and of course I've been playing with it for a bit. The new tabbed Terminal is great, having several terminal sessions all open in separate tabs instead of multiple windows is great, it really helps keep things organized.

Anyway, my first pass at upgrading my mail/web server from PPC 10.5 to Intel 10.5 went pretty well, everything actually seemed to launch and run correctly, web services worked, postfix was running, etc. Of course, I want to compile Intel binaries and not use the PPC codes, so I've been testing some installs. So far, most of them are going well, a few minor snags though, but I hope to have things working on the new hardware by the time the weekend is done.

Posted by Jim at 9:19 PM | TrackBack

December 16, 2005

MovableType 3.2 and spam

One word, Wow. I had been running Jay Allen's MT-Blacklist plugin for some time on prior versions of MovableType to keep spam trackbacks and comments at bay, it worked great, but there was still a lot of manual rejecting/reporting involved. A week ago I upgraded to MT 3.2, which has built in plugins for handling spam, and so far I've not seen a one, where I had been getting up to 20 or more a day previously. Excellent! Worth the trouble to upgrade right there, not that there really was any trouble.

If you're running MovableType, this one's a must have...

Posted by Jim at 12:29 AM | TrackBack

August 8, 2005

Movable Type 3.2 Beta

Tonight, I just found out that Movable Type 3.2 is now beta. While reading up on this, a call was made for feature requests for future versions, so here's mine.

Some time back, I wrote in their support forums for some help in finding a way to better control the default number of entries displayed in a blog. Currently you can either have a set number of entries, or entries from a certain number of days, but there was no way to combine these two the way I wanted.

A problem I've had is if you set up a blog to display the last 10 days worth of entries, and go out of town for two weeks, you come back and there are no entries listed on the blog's main page. Or you can set it to display the last 5 entries, but if you hit a busy day and put in 6 entries, the earliest entry for that day drops off the main page.

What I wanted was a combination of these two options, to be able to display the last 10 days worth of entries, and to display a minimum of the last 5 entries, and a maximum of 10 entries. At present, there's no way in Movable Type to handle this, but I'm hoping that something like this could be implemented in the future.

Posted by Jim at 9:06 PM | TrackBack

February 27, 2005

MT QuickPost hack

Since I started blogging with Movable Type, I've been using a feature formerly called Bookmarklet, now called QuickPost, for posting articles referencing other web pages. One thing that's driven me nuts is that I always had to go in and add the text 'target="_blank"' inside the link URL, so that folks clicking it would get a new window with that link instead of automatically being taken away from my pages and having the link open in that same window. Anyway, I finally dug into the code that the QuickPost code uses and found a fix.

The relevant file is (for my installation) /CGI-Executables/lib/MT/App/CMS.pm, your actual path may vary.

if ($q->param('is_bm')) {
    $param{selected_text} = $param{text};
    $param{text} = sprintf qq(<a title="%s" href="%s">%s</a>\n\n%s),
        scalar $q->param('link_title'),
        scalar $q->param('link_href'),
        scalar $q->param('link_title'),

The 3rd line there is the key, the one that actually puts the link into the web page. Simply change it to read as follows, and save the file:

        $param{text} = sprintf qq(<a title="%s" href="%s" target="_blank">%s</a>\n\n%s),

Now, open your Bookmarklet/QuickPost, and the revised link should now be used. Of course, you will need to revise this code each time you upgrade, so you may want to make a note somewhere to yourself about this. ;)

Posted by Jim at 9:18 PM | TrackBack

January 12, 2005

Upgrades and more upgrades

Last week, I wrote of my attempts to get the latest MySQL and MovableType working together. Well, looks like I now have things going properly. When I upgraded MySQL this time, I left all the password information in the old format, and the upgrades went without a hitch.

Of course, I also went ahead and upgraded to Mac OS X 10.3.7, which meant (read here for more info) having to reinstall Postfix 2.1.x, so I took the opportunity to upgrade to 2.1.5 and added in MySQL support there too...

So, after several attempts at getting it all going, it looks like I'm finally all up to date on the various bits of my server now, finally! The Postfix part was easy (oh, also upgraded the PCRE software to 5.0), the main trick was making MovableType 3.14 happy with MySQL.

It looks like I can finally get virtual domains going, now that I can work with MySQL in Postfix. But I think I'll save installing Cyrus IMAP for another day...

Posted by Jim at 11:26 PM | TrackBack

January 6, 2005

Movable Type & MySql 4.1.x

Not exactly a match made in heaven... I spent the better part of this evening attempting to upgrade to MovableType 3.14 and MySql 4.1.8. Things went well until I actually tried getting the web site back up... It turns out that the latest MovableType doesn't know how to talk to the new MySQL properly, the password encryption changed with 4.1.x, and so I was never able to log in properly.

I spent the evening searching for some official workaround, an update to some code, etc. The best I was able to find was a hack that told MySQL to use the old password scheme, which looked like it would have resolved the problem, but I decided to get the site back up and work on it more later.

Posted by Jim at 1:07 AM | TrackBack

September 8, 2004

Downloading Movable Type 2.661

Since version 3.0 of Movable Type has been out, downloading the last stable release, 2.661, has been... difficult. I stumbled acros some instructions on how to do this, and it worked fine.

I was sure that I still had the original install on my drive, but apparently I didn't, so now I'm prepared just in case my experiment with 3.11 goes bad...

Posted by Jim at 10:04 PM | TrackBack

September 6, 2004

Movable Type 3.11 released

Movable Type 3.11 has been released, this version fixes numerous issues that folks had in upgrading older versions to 3.1, database issues, and other oddities.

Still pondering if I'll make the upgrade move here... I haven't quite wrapped my brain around the new dynamic php page generation yet, or really seen how the new templates compare to the old ones. I might just need to do a test install in a new directory here and give things a whirl.

Posted by Jim at 1:42 AM | TrackBack

July 29, 2004

Bug with blogrolling fixed

I never posted about this, but for ages I've had a problem sending automatic pings to blogrolling.com when new entries are posted here. After several weeks of searching for clues off and on (apparently no form of support is available for that service anymore since it was taken over by another company, I never received any answers to the various email addresses I sent help requests to), the answer finally presented itself...

Since early July, I've been getting errors as follows:

Ping 'http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger' failed: HTTP error: 301 Moved Permanently

Pulling up that link manually brought up a page telling me I didn't use their service correctly, which was expected since that link wasn't meant to be used directly from a browser, but it had worked fine before that point, and there was no indication what might be wrong.

Searching the web for information on blogrolling and the 301 error found little, but finally this week I stumbled across the answer. It turns out that I needed a trailing slash at the end of the link for it to work, apparently with the automated pings, not having that was a big no-no after some change to their system, again possibly as a result of their service being taken over by another company and the back end system changed. Since putting the slash in, pings now seem to be happening, so my blog will again be appearing on the blogrolling system for those of you who use that service.

Posted by Jim at 12:18 AM | TrackBack

July 2, 2004

Site tweaks part 2

Well, it turns out the calendar WAS generating ok for all pages, sort of. I was expecting it to keep track of ALL entries, but instead it was smart enough to keep track of the calendar for the particular category selected, which is why it didn't look right. Also, since I was checking this right after midnight and a new month had started, there weren't a whole lot of entries to put on the calendar at that time, so all is well there.

And it looks like the calendar can't link to a whole day's worth of blog entries as I'm archiving individual entries instead of a day's worth at a time. So, it's doing exactly what it was designed to do, and I think trying to do it differently at this point would be way more trouble than it's worth. Maybe MovableType 3.0 might do things a bit differently, will have to wait and see.

Posted by Jim at 12:28 AM | TrackBack

July 1, 2004

Site tweaks

If anyone was online late Wednesday evening/Thursday morning and noticed some strangeness with how the pages looked, that was my fault. I was tweaking a few things and was making changes on the fly on the live web pages. Generally a bad idea, but I didn't think what I wanted to change would take much time. Oops.

So, now I get to go into a rant about the Movable Type templates I'm using here... ;)

The one big change I wanted for now was to change my 'Categories' menu so that the archive pages brought up only contained the summaries of my blog entries, and not the full text. Easy fix, and that's in there now. Should make finding articles in various categories a bit easier.

Next thing I wanted to change was my 'Recent Entries' menu, specifically the 'More' menu item at the bottom. What I wanted was for this items to take you back to the category listing for the entries in that menu, or the full archive if you weren't browsing a specific category. Because of how I built the menu, this wasn't an easy change, and the fix would have meant keeping several versions of my menu built for Monthly, Category, or Individual Archive use, and that was more trouble than I wanted, so I'll need to think on that a bit.

I did change the full archive listing to use a table, and show the dates for the articles. Should help somewhat to make it a bit more usable.

For those of you familiar with Movable Type, I'm sure you've noticed I've stuck pretty much with the default templates, but with a few tweaks here and there. One thing I've done which I've written about before is to make my right hand column present on all pages for a nice, uniform look. Well, that part is good, but it turns out that the Calendar doesn't generate properly on all the pages. It's going to take me a while to sort that bit out too.

Lastly, and a related item, when clicking on a calendar date, only one article for that date is brought up, rather than bringing up a page showing all articles. I 'thought' I had that working originally, but it looks like it isn't working now.

It's all the same issue as the 'More' menu item, and has to do with how the archive pages are built from what I can tell. So that means a lot of pouring over the MovableType docs, which is something I'll need to do another day. ;)

Posted by Jim at 2:29 AM | TrackBack

June 17, 2004

Movable Type almost gets it right...

Well, looks like I'm a bit late to the party, but the folks at Six Apart have announced their revised pricing for Movable Type, and it's almost there...

Many of you last month read various criticisms of the originally announced pricing, and the new pricing is much better for the most part. But my feeling is that there should still be something in between the Free version (1 author, 3 weblogs, no support), and the $69.95 version (5 authors, unlimited weblogs, unlimited support).

I still think that there needs to be something at around the $19.95 price point. Possibly a second author, 5 weblogs, and some form of limited support. I'm thinking that enough folks who would be running the free version might just see the value of chipping in for the software and getting the low cost version even if they don't need it, and I doubt it would seriously errode sales of the $69.95 version.

There are too many other free or very low cost solutions out there, and as I've said before, I don't mind paying a small bit for something I find useful, especially if I've gone through all the trouble just to set up a web server specifically for the task. I think that the folks at Six Apart are totally underestimating the number of people that might be interested in a low cost version of the software. If you feel the same way, please let them know by doing a trackback in your blog to their announcement, or by shooting them a mail if you're not yet a blogger.

Posted by Jim at 11:28 PM | TrackBack

June 1, 2004

New script coming...

As I commented here last month, my Apache log file has been getting a lot of bogus entries like "SEARCH /\x90\x02\xb1 etc, which is from a worm/trojan/whatever from the Windoze world where such things are the norm. Problem is that it was screwing up my log analysis software.

So, I've finally written an AppleScript to remove those offending lines from my log. I'm doing the final testing now, and should have it posted in the downloads area soon.

Posted by Jim at 11:10 PM | TrackBack

May 30, 2004

My Menus are getting around...

I've been having fun seeing the menus I created for my site pop up elsewhere. I usually find out about these when I see some page referrals in my web log from sites I don't recognize, so I go to investigate to see who's talking about me. ;)

I've found another site here in the US, dewjoy.net, another site in Australia, A Yobbo's View, and another site from Russia, The Private Daily Times. Pretty cool!

Posted by Jim at 1:50 AM | TrackBack

May 26, 2004

More MT 3.0 thoughts

I've been trying to do a bit more research into the MT 3.0 upgrade, and thanks to a forum post with answers from Shelly, some of the licensing was clarified for me, specifically the part about multiple blogs at the same URL, which made no sense at first.

So, responding again to Mena's How are you using the tool? posting, I have some additional thoughts.

It seems unlikely at this point if my wife will ever blog, I was kind of holding that out as an option, but it may never happen, so I won't worry about it. So the number of authors probably isn't an issue at this point. Though if I could pay some small amount ($9.95?) to add a second author, I might do that if it made sense.

Now, the big part about multiple blogs still seems somewhat hazy, but is slowly coming into focus. And it seems that the reason for this is that the MT 3.0 software isn't actally doing any checking on the number of blogs to see if you're violating the license, it seems to be more of the honor system at this point. Obviouslly checking Authors is probably easy and straightforward (I'm assuming this is checked by the license?), but blogs apparently aren't.

From what Shelly said, blogs that directly relate content to a main blog are allowed (side blogs, etc), but entirely separate blogs would count separately. So, it all comes down to the focus of your blog and how narrow or wide you want that definition to be.

At this time, I'm now leaning towards upgrading to the full 3.0 release when it ships, but I won't be installing the Developer Edition that's out now. And I'll continue to keep an eye on how the licensing saga unfolds.

Posted by Jim at 6:22 PM | TrackBack

May 21, 2004

Movable Type 3.0? Maybe.

The folks over at six apart, creators of Movable Type, the software I use to write this blog, have recently announced their 3.0 version, and one of the major changes is their pricing structure. For instance, they now have one. ;)

A recent blog entry there asked how users are using the software, so I'm writing up my response here, and some thoughts on the pricing.

My blog is fairly straightforward, it's currently one blog, one author. So, with that setup, I can upgrade to the free version of MT 3.0, cool.

However, one of the things that I've been wanting since I set this blog up is to do some writing on topics other than what I've blogged about so far, and haven't, because that might detract from the theme I have going. Adding these would basically involve adding two separate blogs to my system.

Now, according to the new license, it 'sounds' like I should be able to do this with the free version, but all sub-weblogs must be at the same URL, so I'm going to need to figure out how to make that happen, since it would seem that my 'main' blog would remain at www.wrightthisway.com, and sub-weblogs might be at www.wrightthisway.com/newweblog and www.wrightthisway.com/otherweblog. Since those are different URLs, would they be counted as separate URLs or not? Maybe MT3.0 handles the files differently, I'll need to look into that.

But, the one thing I know that will push me away from the free version would be if my wife wanted a blog of her own, that would mean adding a second author to the system, so boom, I'd now have to pay $69.95 for that privledge.

One interesting note on the pricing, though, is that once you've actually paid for a version, an additional $9.95 will get you one more weblog and one more author. I'd be more than happy to pay that to add another author to the free version, I'd actually be willing to pay $19.95 for it. I'd been planning on making a $20 donation for the 2.661 release I'm running now once things had stabilized here a bit so I could have my blog listed on movable's 'Recently Updated' list, but $69.95 is just way out of line for what I'm doing here.

And to be quite honest, after looking at the feature listing for 3.0, it really doesn't seem that different from 2.661. Their 'feature listing' only lists the main features, and doesn't give an actual 'What's New' feature list, so at present all I can see that's actually new in 3.0 is the licensing.

Movable Type is a great piece of software, I'll definitely continue to recommend it. Right now, they're shipping the Developer Edition, which seems to include some extra goodies for folks that write extensions to MT, presumably the full 3.0 version will be available at a later point and possibly include some updated and officially supported plugins, more templates, etc. I'll definitely need to review that more closely at that time, but for now, I think I'm content to sit tight and watch from the sidelines.

Posted by Jim at 11:37 PM | TrackBack

May 12, 2004

Trackback Blogging

For a while I've been wanting to comment on the use of trackbacking, or the linking of one blog entry or category with another blog's entry or category, and how it doesn't seem to be very widespread at this point. I will often run into a site that I want to mention, and would like the author of that article to know that I've written something about their posting, trackback lets you do this, creating a web based discussion thread.

Today I came across a discussion at Joi Ito's Web, which being trackback enabled allowed me to find a number of other excellent articles from other bloggers on the subject. Very good reading, and some food for thought.

On my site, I've made the decision to eliminate comments to my posting. I've seen too many other blogs get all bogged down with lots of little comments that don't add anything to the discussion, or worse, are just blatant plugs at other sites with no relevant text at all, the blogging equivilent of junk mail. There are some new techniques coming along that allow better control of this, it's something that I'm still keeping an eye on.

I figured trackbacks would be safer, coming from other bloggers, and folks who I figured would be more responsible and be able to contribute more useful information if they were bothering to link back to my page. But this new wave of one way trackback doesn't seem any better than the junk comments I was trying to avoid, but does at this point have the benefit of not being as widespread.

I suppose I'll need to look into something like MT-Blacklist or something similar before too much longer. My mail system is secure against such garbage, my blog should be protected as well (and yours should too).

Posted by Jim at 1:03 AM | TrackBack

May 3, 2004

New menus online

Ok, the new menus are online, and I have a writeup here documenting what I did to modify the menus to make them work.

Is there still anyone on the Mac that's using Internet Explorer? Keeping compatibility is getting to be a lot more trouble then it's worth, I think if there is anyone using a browser that isn't fully CSS compliant, they should really think about upgrading.

I need do some reading to see if the latest version of IE on the Windoze side is fully up to code, that'll make things a LOT easier if that's the case...

Posted by Jim at 3:29 PM | TrackBack

May 1, 2004

More menu changes, CSS problems

I've been playing with the menu I'm using on the site, and added in a 'Recent Entries' column. If you look at it, you can see it looks pretty bad since the width isn't wide enough to fit all the text in. And it's not a simple task to change this the way the menu is laid out...

I 'almost' had a solution that worked perfectly by making the menus wider, then sticking a negative offset in to have them moved to the left a varying amount based on the menu position. In Safari, this worked great, the main menu label was using a smaller width, and the items below used the larger width. But this didn't work in Internet Explorer at all... Back to the drawing board.

Posted by Jim at 11:44 PM | TrackBack

April 30, 2004

Oops... Menu article corrected

It seems that I made a small error in writing my article on Drop down menus a few days ago... The code that I pasted into the article was actually the OUTPUT of what I was creating, not the code actually CREATING it.

So, if you're interested please jump back and review that article again, the proper code is now in that article. My apologies for any confusion.

Posted by Jim at 2:43 PM | TrackBack

April 22, 2004

Drop down menus without Java

Since before I put this site up, I wanted to have a menu along the top for navigation and some quick links, and try to avoid the long list of stuff down the right side of the page. After reviewing a number of sites and doing many searches, I've finally come up with something I like (see menu above).

The primary thing I wanted was a pretty straight HTML solution, no Java. Why? Personal preference, mainly, and I don't feel like learning Java. So, with that in mind, I set out in search of sites that had menus somewhat like I wanted.

After a few days of hitting various pages and doing various web searches, I stumbled across a page at www.theimposter.org that was just about perfect for what I needed. Nice, straightforward code, easy to apply CSS styling to, and of course, no Java.

The examples on that page were fairly clear, but were missing the style sheet additions, so instead of looking at the examples I just looked at the source html for that web page. ;) After copying that to a local file, along with the style sheet used on that page, I was quickly able to tweak up my own version.

By now some of you are probably asking, 'but did you hard code all your categories in there?' Not at all, for that trick, I'll refer you to www.antipixel.com for a perfect way to handle the categories. The antipixel.com page was found thanks to an entry at www.thegirliematters.com, an excellent site full of all manner of web and Movabletype tips.

So, now for the guts. In Movabletype I created a new Index Template called 'Test Template', and had the contents of this be my current 'Main Index' template. To this I added my menu code, and tweaked and rebuilt until I had it where I wanted it. For my site, I wanted the menu to be just below the banner, stretching all the way across the page, so this needed to be before the Content block. I then needed to match the colors to what I was already using on the site so it wouldn't clash. After some work, I finally had it where I wanted it. Now came the task of getting this code into all my pages.

For that, I use the same trick I used to get the right hand side column on all my pages, I created a new Template Module in Movabletype, and I called this one Menu Template. Into this I pasted my new menu code, and then went into all my Index and Archive templates, and just before the content block in each pasted in this:

<MTInclude module="Menu Template"$>

Presto! Movabletype does all the work for me adding that code in, and if I change the menu later (or my right column), it only needs to be done in one place.

By now I'm sure some of you have probably skipped ahead and viewed the source of this page to see what I was doing, but if you haven't, here's the full details:

In your Style Sheet, you'll need additional code for the menus. The colors listed are what I used, change these to match your color scheme:

background-color: #036;
margin: 1px;
height: 23px;
z-index: 9;
#menucont {
color: #069;
background-color : transparent;
position: absolute;
z-index: 2;
.menublock, .display {
background-color: #036;
background-color: #036;
.subs a{
display: block;
.menublock .subs{
display: none;
#menucont a.tl, #menucont a.tl:hover, #menucont a.tl:active, #menucont a.sl, #menucont a.sl:hover, #menucont a.sl:active {
font-family: "lucida grande", "Lucida Sans Unicode", verdana, sans-serif;
font-size: 10px;line-height: 17px;
display: block;
text-decoration: none;
color: #fff;
background-color: #069;
margin: 1px 1px 1px 1px;
padding: 2px 2px 2px 2px;
order: none;
text-align: center;
font-weight: normal;
#menucont a.tl:hover, #menucont a.tl:active , #menucont a.sl:hover, #menucont a.sl:active{
background-color: #036;
text-align: center;
#menucont a.sl, #menucont a.sl:hover, #menucont a.sl:active{
text-align: left;

And below is the actual menu itself. The first two menus only have one item, so the menu name is actually the link. The Categories menu has multiple items, so the link on that one is null, so clicking it doesn't do anything, but it could if you wanted.

<div id="menubox">
<!-- BEGIN MENU -->
<div id="menucont">
<div class="menublock" onmouseover="this.className='display'" onmouseout="this.className='menublock'">
<a class="tl" href="http://www.wrightthisway.com/AboutThisSite.html">About This Site</a>
<div class="subs">
<div class="menublock" onmouseover="this.className='display'" onmouseout="this.className='menublock'">
<a class="tl" href="http://www.wrightthisway.com/Downloads.html">Downloads</a>
<div class="subs">
<div class="menublock" onmouseover="this.className='display'" onmouseout="this.className='menublock'">
<a class="tl" href="">Categories</a>
<div class="subs">
<a class="sl" href="<$MTCategoryArchiveLink$>"><$MTCategoryLabel></a>
<!-- CLOSE menucont -->
<!-- CLOSE box and the menu -->

One important point to note is the z-index: 9 in the style sheet for the menubox, that moves that layer more towards the front, if you're using layers, just pick a sufficiently high number to get it on top, that way when it drops down, it will still be visible.

For future reference, I've created an example page showing what this menu looks like, should the site menus change in the future.

Update 4/30/04 - Corrected problem with code pasted above, original didn't include proper MT tags, but instead was actual output of my code. The code given is now correct source.

Update 5/1/04 - An example menu has been put in to show what this menu looks like, as it is likely they will change in the future.

Update 5/10/04 - This menu is now officially out of date, see me new menu here.

Posted by Jim at 12:21 AM | TrackBack

April 13, 2004

The joys of web design

Yesterday I accidentally launched Internet Explorer instead of Safari, so I figured that since I waited so long for it to launch I might as well see how my site looked. Ugh. Now I remember why I hated IE so much.

I've changed some of the style sheet code around a bit to make IE just a bit happier and display the page like it was supposed to, and now it's fairly close to how Safari displays. I've got a bit more tweaking to do with the look of the site, but it's getting there.

One thing that I've done that most of the folks running MovableType apparently haven't (even some folks that I consider HTML and style sheet wizards) is to make my individual articles, date and category listings all use the same sort of look as my main page, with the banner across the top, links along the side, etc.

It was fairly easy to do, too. Movable has a neat function that lets you define common sections of code into Template Modules, and then use special Tags to call those modules (basically a #include function) when the pages are created. It was just a matter of putting all of my code after the main blog content in a separate module, then just substitute this into the various other pages.

One other thing I changed, after running Analog , a web traffic reporting tool, I discovered that the little boxes I use over on the right were much larger in size than I intended, I believe around 32k each! I opened them up with GraphicConverter, and saved them as PNG files, and now the largest one is only 277 bytes. ;)

Posted by Jim at 10:20 PM | TrackBack

April 11, 2004

Movable Type

The particular software I'm using for creating the content on this website is Movable Type . There are other blogging packages out there, but this one suited my needs pretty well. If you're not planning to host your own site, there are a few more choices out there, but MovableType let me handle everything locally, and works just fine on the Mac.

The folks over at MacZealots have a nice tutorial on getting Movable installed under Panther (Mac OS X 10.3). If you decide to follow their steps, be advised that the version of MySQL they're linking to is out of date, go here for the latest production release. It's probably best to avoid alpha and development releases unless you know what you're doing.

Be sure to read through the comments on the MacZealots page for info that others have written in regarding the procedures listed, some folks had issues and some good fixes are listed. In particular, I didn't care for my past entried to be in a directory called 'Archives', especially since even the most recent entry is stored in that directory, which becomes part of the URL if someone pulls up that entry directly. Instead, I called that folder 'Articles'. If you decide to go with a different name, be sure to change any other references to 'Archives' when you set this up.

The main Movable site has a running list of sites running this software that were recently updates, check through those for some ideas on what you can do with the software, there are some creative folks out there. You don't need to be a master web designer to get something decent up and running, and there's always time to play with the settings once you've got a site online.

Posted by Jim at 7:12 PM | TrackBack