Expand truncated feeds

I hate truncated feeds in my reader. After subscribing to a feed that turns out to be truncated I usually end up skipping every single post for a few days and then unsubscribe.

Admittedly I’m oversubscribed (a few hundred items a day) and don’t have time to read everything, and those truncated bastards are first up against the wall. Unless they’re from blogs I really like, hi Red!

I subscribed to a few new blogs recently, and alas they were mickey teasing little truncated fuckers. So I cracked open Google to look for a hack or a plugin, but found nothing. Then I thought “Help me Lifehacker, you are my only hope.” Fired off a quick mail and to my surpsise and delight they had a post the next day. http://lifehacker.com/5523024/google-reader-full-feed-expands-truncated-feeds-with-a-keystroke.

I’m using the Chrome plugin. Didn’t seem to work for me at first, but had to do a computer restart last night and today it was working just fine. I just have to press Z and the truncated posts expand.

That’s that problem solved. Next, world hunger…


Robot, originally uploaded by jbraine.

Test post for posting to WordPress directly from Flickr. Was driving me crazy getting this set up. If you have trouble getting this working this might be the problem:

Go to wordpress Settings page > Writing, then select the checkbox beside “enable XML-RPC”.

Bye Blogger!

Have been meaning to move from the piece of shit Blogger over to WordPress for ages now. The only thing that was delaying me was that I wanted to re-design the whole site but could just never get around to it. So I grabbed the irrestable theme instead. It’ll sure do for now. I think most things are working but I’ll probably be tinkering with it for a while. Hope the feed is working as it was, guess we’re just about to find out…

Irish Blog awards 2009

Just a quick one on the blog awards while I get a chance. What a cracking night. There was something in the air as soon as we arrived. Great atmosphere and good spirits all around. Really was a cracker. The production of the whole night was top notch.

Great to see some people win that who I always root for; k8 and Annie; both highly entertaining writers.

And congrats to Tommy for winning best newcomer (which I got last year), I hand you my tiara Tommy.

And congrats too to Justin Mason; best technology blogger, who I occasionaly sip ales with and was supposed to collect the award for – but I got stage fright and sent the missus up!

And the morning after, as I held my throbbing head, I had to deal with the mocking and dissaproving looks from these two:

Best technology blogger!?

In case you came here from today’s Irish Blog Awards nominations and wondering how the hell I got nominated as a best technology blogger… well, me too!

Ok I knew there were on or two technology posts so I had a look through the years posts and was surprised to find 9 ‘technology’ posts, so there are few more than I thought. Some are a bit of a stretch though.

Hey, I ain’t complaining! Very nice to be appreciated regardless of category, specially seeing as I’ve been very quiet lately. Bizarrely enough I haven’t had so much time to blog since leaving full time employment. Plenty of contracts and what not keeping me busy. I have a to-do list longer than recent dole queues.

So thanks for the nomination! Whoever it was.

No comment!

Oooh I love a bit of irony with my cornflakes. Blogger have a blog post about making comments easier. I went to leave a comment on it but comments were disabled! I turned on this new feature on my blog…to make comments easier. So now the comments are on the same page as the post, not a separate page, and there are a few other useful options.

But they’ve overwritten my favicon. A favicon is little icon in the address bar. Before this update my favicon was a little cartoon icon of my head but now it’s a blogger icon. My lovely little head is still on any other page of my site, just not the blog. I’ve got a big ugly blogger icon. So, I went to leave a comment on their making it easy to comment post, but couldn’t, and the irony just blew my mind so much that I just had to share it with the world!

Update: I’ve switched back. Someone mailed me to say they couldn’t leave a comment. I’ll wait until blogger have ironed out the bugs.

A thousand words

Last November Claire Gingerpixel decided that instead of moaning about the lack of non-denominational schools (which is all I manage to do) she’d try and set one up. Fast forward 10 months to the start of September, and there she is taking photos of the first day at school in the new Educate together in Greystones. Great photos at that, as ever. What an amazing achievement. First day of school is my recommendation for blog post of the month.

Installing and reskinning a WordPress blog

This post is both for people with web design experience but who haven’t yet used WordPress and it might be useful for regular Joes or small companies who want to install a default WordPress blog engine on a site at their own URL. So here’s how to install wordpress and how to reskin it. I’ve not gone into a huge amount of detail but it should be a good starting point. Let’s try the questions and answers format:

What is the difference between http://www.wordpress.org and http://www.wordpress.com?

On wordpress.com you can set up a blog that will be hosted on wordpress.com, and on wordpress.org you can download the blog engine to install on your own site.

Can you be a bit more specific?

On WordPress.com you can quickly set up a blog that will be hosted on WordPress.com, so the address of your blog will be http://websitename.wordpress.com. For example: http://whythatsdelightful.wordpress.com/. You can customise how it looks to some small degree (and a small fee). You would typically choose a template and maybe change the header image as in the example above. However you have limited access to the markup and css and have to access these through a web interface, which I personally hate doing.

However on WordPress.org, you can download the blogging engine and install it on your site. This gives you full access to all the markup (html code) and the css, so you can do whatever you want with in Dreamweaver or whatever you use to code. The other obvious major benefit is that your web address can be whatever you want, or at your existing site.

What’s the easiest way to install WordPress?

A lot of web hosts have good hosting packages that make it easy to install extra bits and pieces and this is by far the easiest way to install WordPress or setup a new site with WordPress. My web host of choice is www.blacknight.ie . I decided to setup http://www.beatingrsi.com one night before going to bed and a couple of hours later I had it setup and mostly reskinned.

  1. Get a Soho package for €35 a year.
  2. Go to your control panel and then go to The Installatron!
  3. Select WordPress and follow the very simple steps to install it

Where’s my blog?

Your blog will now be at the root of your site http://www.yourwebsite.com or http://www.yourwebsite/blog depending on whether you installed WordPress in the root directory or a sub directory. Now you’re ready to start writing blog posts or pages. It’s very easy to use. Go to www.yourwebsite/blog/wp-admin and you’re ready to go.

Can I reskin it now?

Yes. You have two choices, you can install someone else’s theme or you can reskin it yourself.

How can I install someone else’s theme?

The process for installing a theme or a plugin is much the same.

  1. Find a theme you like. Here are some http://www.freewpthemes.net/ http://www.wpthemesfree.com/ http://www.freewordpressthemes.com/http://www.woothemes.com/
  2. Download a theme
  3. Copy it to your themes folder
  4. Upload the theme
  5. Go to your Admin page http://www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin or http://www.yourwebsite.com/blog/wp-admin and in the Design section pick your theme.

How can I reskin a theme?

There’s no point in completely starting from scratch. Pick a barebones theme that somewhat fits the layout you want, ie the number of columns, if any, that you want. The default theme that you installed (Kubrick’s theme) is a good starting point for the standard layout. The sandbox theme is another good starting point. It’s unskinned but has all the elements marked up, ready for you to skin with CSS.

The typical process from there depends on your preferences. I tend to design in photoshop. Take a screengrab of the default theme. Then set up your grid to match the width and turn on snap. This will make everything from here on a lot easier. Now, do your design magic! Here’s what I did for www.beatingrsi.com. I didn’t bother with the footer or main content typography at this stage. I prefer to get a basic design and then tweak. This is what a few of those steps look like at a high level:

How did you go from Photoshop to WordPress theme?

Open the original images from your default theme. You will find them in /wp-content/themes/default/images. For example open header.gif. Then copy the header from your design and paste it into header.gif, position it properly and save (or export as gif and save over original). Do the same with the backgound image for the page, or the wrapper image. And you’re off to a very good start. It’s all tweaking from here on. Start messing with your CSS to match the widths and height to your new images if necessary. Then start tweaking your typography, and add your footer if you hadn’t already worked on it in the original design. Then tweak, tweak, tweak.

It’s easier to work locally when tweaking, so open your blog in Internet Explorer (It’s better than Firefox for saving pages) and save it as testpage.html in your site directory and then change the paths to CSS etc.

I already have a blog. Can I transfer to WordPress?

Yes. It’s delightfully easy to import all posts and comments into wordpress from blogger or wordpress.com. At the press of a button you can have all content imported. Although you will probably have to reskin from scratch or just go for a new design as the markup hooks will be different (that’s the only reason I haven’t moved this site yet.)

What about blogger?

No! Blogger is fine if you want a blog at www.mysite.blogger.com and don’t want to change the theme much. www.johnbraine.com is completely modified but it was a very slow process. I had to use the online editor, and managed to get most of the CSS into a separate file so I didn’t have to wait on the VERY slow blogger – it was a very slow painful and painful process, as is working with blogger: You can publish blogger to an external URL, as I do, but after a small amount of posts and labels build up, it times out whenever you publish a post. I’m dreading publishing this post! I will have to hit retry every minute for about ½ an hour! So avoid, if you want to reskin and publish to your own URL. It seems the only “fix” for this is to actually host with Blogger.

For writing, management, publishing, or reskinning, a dedicated WordPress Engine wins hands down.

Update: For a more detailed guide on installing WordPress, see Gav’s Guide to installing WordPress.

Another google reader tip.

next button=

Did you know, you can add a next button to your browser and it will open the next unread item in your Google reader list? But it opens the pages on the actual web sites they come from. This adds a bit of colour to your reading, and you get to see comments etc straight away. I also use Google reader to keep up with lots of sites that aren’t blogs, such as creative ireland. So it’s very handy for feeds like that, as I jump to the whole thread rather than just the first post, which is all you get in google reader.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to bother writing about this or not but here’s the clincher. When you’re at the last item, and you click next, this is what you get:

end of the internet

You guys!
*wags finger at those whacky google guys*

Here’s how: In Google Reader go to Settings then Goodies, and just drag the Nextbutton onto your toolbar

Bonus tip: Open (Windows) Accessibility Options / Mouse and turn on Mousekeys. The when you press 5 on your numerical keypad, it will open the next post, (after you’ve clicked the next button once).

Shocked and stunned

I was shocked and stunned to win best newcomer at the Irish blog Awards last night… for this frivolous little thing. Really. I personally thought K8 the Great or Roy were going to win. Or any of the other great new blogs on the list.

I also had a personal triumph in saying a few words in front of 400 or so people. I’m delighted to see my absolute dread of public speaking diminishing with age! This deed would have been impossible for me a few years ago. The thought of it had my heart pounding so hard I thought it was about to explode but I was assuring myself with the fact that they’d call someone else’s name out. Which they didn’t!

Like I managed to blurt out on the night, the blog awards is such a good-natured event and with such a friendly atmosphere that last year’s event got me blogging in the first place. Well, it was the icing on the cake anyway. This year’s event was great fun too. And it was great to meet lots more of you lovely people again. Special shout out to the girl who ran up to me and asked what blog I was from, then before I had a chance to answer said “look I’ve got a black tongue” before skipping off to someone else. And when I say girl I mean woman.

Thanks to whatever judges seemed to find the same stuff wotsits and thingies as interesting as I do. Fair play to Moviestar for giving out free DVD players to every winner too! I’m happy to give them a shout out, as I experienced some great customer service off them just last week. And also to Edelman for sponsoring best newcomer. And to Damien and all the organisers of course. Booyakasha!

Irish KC has links to all the blog awards posts here.