Do you like to chat?

I have a confession. I’m an avid internet user but I despise chat. Am I alone? I dropped into Facebook a while ago and a chat window popped up. “WASSUP Dude?!” said a guy I used to work with but don’t know from Adam. “Gaaaaah!!” said I, in my head like. I wish Faceache had given me some warning so I could have turned off the chat option straight away. Which I did. Right after saying WASSUP!? or something.

Admittedly like many I was briefly addicted to mIRC 12 or so years ago, and ran up some scary dial-up bills. But the insane thrill of chatting to someone from a different country quickly turned into an inane trill. When the giddiness wore off, all that was left was mundane chatter and people slapping each other with trouts, which was then the equivalent of being bitten by a vampire, except back then then you actually typed
*Braines slaps VirtualGurl72 with a trout*
. (Note: To be properly affiliated with the old school, you have to mention that you used to have to type lots of stuff to produce an action achieved by just clicking a mouse in this modern age). The attraction of slapping someone with a trout made about as much sense then, as virtual vampires do now. I have to admit, the Top Chat Quotes of All Time mostly gleaned from mIRC is well worth a gander now and then for some geek humour.

When ICQ was all the rage, I gave it a whirl but hated it, and uninstalled it quicker than you can say “Oh, I SEEK YOU! I get it!”. I briefly tried Instant Messenger some time after, thinking for some reason that it may be less annoying. It’s not just that I’m above the inane chatter in my lofty towers of deep thought. It’s those windows popping up all over the place when I’m trying to do something else of great importance. A disturbing attempt at doing a comedy sketch for example.

I’ll do my best to avoid the usual sexual stereotyping in saying this – but I am actually pretty useless at multitasking – and even more so when I’ve no control over the amount of windows popping up all over the place. I really don’t like lots of little windows. Not sure why. Maybe it was that brief stint in San Quentin. I also fret over chat etiquette much more than is necessary, which in itself is very distracting. “Can I close that window now?”, “How long do I have to wait?” “Do I say goodbye first?”. Nerve-shattering dilemmas I’m sure you’ll all agree.

When Gmail chat came along, I tried again. My list of contacts who were using chat was small enough so all was well with the world. People chatted to me with purpose. When the purpose had been purported, the chat was ended. Neat. But then the chit chatters began to emerge.“Yo John, what’s the story?”… “Well, I was working but I’ll be spending the next ten minutes wondering exactly how soon I can close this window.” (Apologies if you actually understand what the word purported means. I only looked it up after I abused it.)

I suppose a part of this is the fact that I’m not that good at chit chat in real life. I love a good old chin wag – and have friends I’ll happily listen to for hours. But bored hairdressers fill me with dread. And bumping into a co-worker I barely know on a long commute fills me with utter terror. An hour of small talk!!? I actually shivered just now. I also have a relative who, without fail, starts every conversation with “What’s the story?”. I’m never sure which story to tell. No – not good at the chit chat.

Myself and the missus have tried turning on chat now and then rather than sharing 40 emails to sort out some domesticalities, and profess our undying love of course. But we both get bombarded with chit chatters and run screaming, vowing never to turn chat on again, ever. It’s a bit like vowing never to drink wine then beer (in that order) – but not a fraction of the fun.

And the jury’s still out on Twitter. Ok it’s not live chat but it can get a bit chatty from what I’ve seen. Although none of it is directly to me, so that’s ok. It’s an odd sort of chatter. Like having a pint and listening in on the next table. A happy medium in both senses of the phrase. Maybe. I’m still trying to get into the swing of it.

By the way, I’m not talking about YOU in all of this. No no no. You and I had meaningful conversations. It was all those other guys firing up too many windows with the chit chat.

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.

Living the life

Anyone remember [the.path]? You still out there Kev? [the.path] was a free Dublin zine, mostly handed out at clubs and record shops. There was a piece on the online version that struck a chord with me and I’ve often thought back to it. I know a girl who shed a tear while reading it. I’ve tried to find it over the years and today I finally succeeded. I found it on the good ole way back machine, in the 2001 archive for thumped.com. Have a look around. Here’s the piece I was looking for. Deep breath… and go….

 

[I love…] lasagna – having sex first thing in the morning – watching the clouds phase in and out on a sunny day, making it cold and then warm again – getting the fightlink home and striking up a conversation with strangers – listening to wanky jazz on a sunday afternoon with a shitload of papers and supplements fired around the kitchen table – the singing of a glass as you run your fingers around the rim – the local green – destroying abandoned cars – walking up the railway lines on a saturday evening – eating coleslaw with my hands – the end of the acid – the way the bass kicks in and turns my spine to jelly at 1.30am – train journeys – the smiles on my friends faces – travelling around – crossing the liffey – sitting in abra for hours and cleaning my rings with the handwipes – walking under the westlink bridge in the middle of the night – sliding on ice streaks in runners with flat soles – reading – having sex first thing in the afternoon – walking down supposed dangerous laneways and streets – the smell off my fingers after chopping garlic – the sweet sound of escaping gas as the sixth dutch gold can is opened – dutch gold, god bless our brewing cousins in the netherlands – sleeping on the floor of a strangers house – not knowing exactly what day it is when i’m unemployed – being unemployed when the weather is beautiful – shaded lightbulbs – having a double bed duvet on a single bed – the way that pizza burns the roof of my mouth when it comes straight out of the oven – the scream of the baby behind me on the bus – getting nettle stings – climbing trees – the observation tower in smithfield – low grade graffiti on lamps, shop shutters and buses – getting crossbars off the phillips head screwdriver down gardiner street, and breaking the lights at summerhill and sean macdermott street – listening to filthy techno in a small flat on camden street at 9am on a saturday morning, drinking wine from the spar – knowing where different numbered dublin buses go to – kebabs – scoring with the girl standing next to me in the queue for the kebab – not knowing exactly where i am – walking for hours – the mosque in clonskeagh – playing football on the road with kids ten years younger than me – writing confusing graffiti – the terminus of any bus – the rustle of the leaves at night – writing letters to people i havent seen in years – swimming my chips in vinegar – bumping into people – paved streets – the way traffic lights switch colour and don’t have any effect when the streets are closed to cars and crowded with people – the way fireworks make me laugh uncontrollably and make my eyes water – the M50 – the airport – early houses – talking with barflies in early houses – trying to find out the literal translation of peoples names in irish – friendly dogs – getting photographs back from the chemist, six months after you first took them – sneaking into stephens green at night – cycling along shouting abuse at people queuing for arsehole pubs – the way wilma makes toasted cheese sandwiches – the way i get involuntary twitches and tingles at the base of my back when a girl whispers anything in my ear – being in a car going over a speed ramp at 40mph – the view from the smithfield tower – the horse market – the roundabout in ballymun – finding out the history of street names – the roundabout at the M50/navan road junction – letting a watermelon drop from a height and seeing it burst – putting a tomato in the microwave – handing out freesheets outside tacky chart nightclubs – doing the rounds of record shops on a saturday afternoon – the shatter of a back windscreen – climbing into boarded up houses – staying in bed all day to have sex – losing count of how many orgasms she’s had – turning down the heat at the end of a shower to freezing cold – the noise of two snooker balls clacking off each other – exchanging glances with people opposite you on the train – that second glance from someone you liked passing by you on grafton street – christchurch bells on new years eve – slopes – curves – ellipses – ovals – sine wave graphs – stone buildings – talking shit with builders – taking sick days off work, and getting paid for them – pirate radio stations – envelope seals that taste nice – dimmer switches – the hiss and crack from the stylus as it connects with the vinyl – old childhood toys – candles lit during electricity blackouts – cracked mirrors – hot presses filled with warm towels – getting locked with my dad – getting locked with my grandad – the noise a computer gives off when a mobile phone signal comes near it – tia maria mixed with milk and ice – eating a lemon – bonfires – the ordinance survey of ireland map book of dublin – cushions strewn around the floor – having pillow fights, and then having sex afterwards – playing chess for extended periods of time – plush heavy sofas – oranges – mandarins – strawberries – peaches – pears – emmental cheese – heavy stolen cutlery – sandwich toasters encrusted with crap after post-usage non-cleaning – beef burgundy – going to bed naked – going to bed naked, after a shower, with clean sheets on the bed – sleeping for 16 hours – eating dry pasta very slowly – the almost inaudible pop from the speakers as the amp is turned on – the way wheels appear like they are going backwards when a car is travelling fast – the doppler effect – the drone of a lawnmower – the smack of wood on willow – streetlights in stoneybatter – buzzing off kids on shoplifting sprees on a sunday afternoon – sitting on the back seat on the upstairs deck of the bus – the smell of skin after lying in the sunshine – freshly cut grass – snowfights – sitting on an old piece of carpet on the local green at 5am watching the sun come up, fucked off my head – fireflies – red hot poker plants in bloom – sitting around the botanical gardens in glasnevin with cold cans of dutch gold bought from the nearby off-license – having mess fights with your friends – playing chasing – making up new games to play with a football – making huts next to the canal – sitting in the IFSC circle of seats at 3am after the funnel – gossiping with mothers on the road about the state of the world – the smell of petrol – ringing wilma at night – leaving obscure garbled messages for shanahap from the toilet – the repetitive beat of the street crossing beeper – crossing the road when you shouldn’t – sitting outside porno shops and laughing at the people coming out – going into porno shops – doing ‘genies’ with matchboxes – the way my ankles click when i walk – weekend country excursions – climbing hills – walking through woods next to a river at midnight – fondling – caressing – tasting – touching – arousing – tickling – sucking – kissing – waking up and doing it all again – eating in bed – eating out in bed – eating out – flaking out – freaking out – making out – making up – cracking up – cracking eggshells – cracks in a glass pane – stepping to avoid the cracks in the pavement – shaving peoples heads – the digitised tweak of a voice on a bad 087 line – falling asleep on benches – arm wrestling – knacker drinking in o’connell street – buzzing off gardai while walking around on a sunday morning while looking for an open pub – making up fake histories to tourists – the whirr of an old line printer – digging out splinters – the woman who dances in the middle of o’connell street (where have you gone?) – religious nutcakes with megaphones – klaxon horns at raves – dreadlocks – happy cycling – puking after bad food – running around the black church backwards three times – rummaging in skips – jumping off walls onto mattresses – trampolines – tom tay – edenmore aok – the sticky floor of the savoy cinema – trams and the noises they make – hearing through the wall the adolescents next door having onset-puberty-driven rows with their parents – playing hide and seek – waking up in the sun with drool on your arm – doyles shop in blanchardstown (rest in peace) – free reading in easons – using the records and decks in hmv to hone my ‘scratching’ skills – calling for people at 4am – the blessington street basin – the lingering imprint of a kiss on my cheek – giving people presents for no reason – having curry for breakfast – silver birches – maple syrup straight from the trees – cycling on kids bikes – sheets of lightning flaring up the night sky – sitting on balconies of flat blocks and watching the people go by – the sheer size of dunsink dump – handbrake turns – the ring of car alarms everywhere after a flash hail storm – the way you can almost feel the sky go heavy before it rains – playing football ankle deep in mud – doing amateur diy work around the house – jumping into an outdoor swimming pool on a hot day – taking polaroids of each other – swapping tapes – getting tax back – watching an old factory get demolished with explosives – giving it loads – standing next to the speaker stack all night and then waking up the next day with a high pitched ringing tone in your ears – bullshitting to taxi drivers about what you do for a living – making up incidents you saw on buses before to the bus driver – pretending to talk in your sleep on the bus, making obscene sexual remarks – painting the kerbs weird colours – vapour trails of perfume – the flow of a warm breeze in my hair – seeing old neighbours around and talking shit with them – sending birthday cards – making websites – going to trad nights – drinking in shithole pubs – imagining the world in different colours – learning a new language – talking in slang – basements – attics – conservatories – hearing sandra’s voice again on the phone – drunken tekken marathons with my friends – hanging about in arcades all day.

Pork and Beans

No doubt this will be the most memed video ever, Weezer’s latest video features, nothing but memes, marketing genius.

Cubescape

Cubescape has been doing the rounds for the last week or so. Give it a try if you like building things with blocks. “A tool for isometric jiggery pokery” is how Themaninblue puts it. Here are some of his favourites. I’m surprised no one’s tried any animation yet. I’ve just done a simple snake animation. No doubt there’ll be much better ones.

Piclens

Here’s a great plug-in for your browser. It’s called Piclens, installs in the blink of an eye and works great. It’s a photo browser for sites like flickr, Picasa, and facebook. Searching through Google images is no longer a chore. Jesus I sound like I’m straight out of an Ad – it’s just really handy. Below is a video of me looking around Gingerpixel‘s Flickr photos, although the crap quality doesn’t really show off how good it looks, you can kind of see how easy it is to use.

There’s a better post at davidbehan.com, and here’s the actual plug-in page.

Dissection of a favourite web video

I got sent this clip years ago, pre-youtube. I downloaded it and watched it again and again. There’s something strangely addictive about it. I think its got less to do with the surprise of a buttoned-up choir boy being able to dance like that, and more to do with the power of that infectious bassline. The whole clip reminds me of a really good house night and those perfect moments where no one can resist the urge to smile and wiggle their ass to some ass-shaking bass.

Now that it’s doing the rounds on youtube, I noticed in the comments that someone has ID’d the track. I’ve been humming that for years wondering what it was. Go Web 2.0! It’s Hollywood Swinging by Kool & the Gang

Like most follow-ups to accidental internet fame, Jon Arons (aka “The Trombone Guy”) fails miserably in his attemempts here to include any of the elements from the Steve Harvey show. There’s no crowd interaction, he *doesn’t* look like a straight up card-carrying christian, there’s no crowd interaction, and there’s no kick ass track. Actually there’s nothing but Jon Arons looking way too cool for cats.


Having said all that (and all that being a lot more than I intended to say!), Trombone guy isn’t a patch on my favourite web video ever, Robotboy dance

I’ve since watched LOADS of David Elsewhere Bernal videos. And I’ve got Elsewhere’s Detours DVD. And there are some amazing clips on both but none of them give me the goosepimples that the Kollaboration video does, even after hundreds of viewings.

Next week, the man, the legend… Jesus, and just why he chose to appear on a dog’s arse…

Fighting with your neighbours through cartoons

This is hilarious. It’s the kind of situation I could easily imagine myself getting into. Jess Fink, a renowned illustrator and cartoonist has had a few weird interactions with an odd neighbour in her apartment block. She’s been documenting the story in the form of a cartoon and posting it on her livejournal page.

Here’s the story so far

This post has been blatantly ripped from a creative ireland post.

A real Chuck Norris fact

Voting is now open for the New Humanist’s bad faith awards. I think Chuck Norris is a clear winner. He said if he was a president he would tattoo an American flag with the words ‘In God we trust’ on the forehead of every atheist. What a cock. Though you’d be tempted to dismiss him as a looney and give it to that other cock who thought the summer’s floods were God’s punishment for Britain’s liberal attitude to homosexuality.