Yet another blog begun

[updated 2009.3.20]

George Fowler at U. Ark. has started the ball rolling on creating a group and an “unconference” for library technology sharing in Arkansas.  All credit to his initiative on that!

George and I will be handling a blog on the Collaboration UnConference.

We’ll be covering the developing “UnConference” in Summer of 2009 as it evolves, so keep track of it there.

Computer Helpers ready (more or less) to roll….

I’ve got all but the Programming tab page done, and that’s a new one I haven’t covered before.  I’ll probably use that page mostly to separate the programming languages.

So, disclaimer in place on that page, I think Computers Helpers is up and reasonably functional.  I’ll try to start changing links in the catalog over next week.

Now I have a mass of saved bookmarks to plow through, posting and linking to the right places.  But, it will be easier to do that than to keep going in and changing HTML on a standard page.

I certainly don’t claim this to be the best or whatever ranking for this type of site, but I think it might help a few people, at least here on campus.  And that’s enough.  Anybody else it helps is just icing on the cake.

browser swap while transferring

While I’m turning my entries from Computer Helpers into individual blog posts, I have Firefox up (to do the actual work) and IE up (to see the existing version of the page).

I copy from IE and paste to Firefox, and it even carries over the link without having to do HTML — but I miss the first word or two of the paragraph, especially if it’s a link.  Go figure.

Search posts not linked

Well, it seems that if I search for a subject, such as “DLL”, the resulting post(s) don’t have working links.  That’s a nuisance.  If you click on the “Read the rest of this post…” link, you get to a version where the links work, but will everyone know to do that?

Bug in the theme, I guess.

Converting Computer Helpers – Theme change

Okay, I tried another theme to see if I could overcome the link problem in Digg 3 column. Andreas09 is also three column and the links work in the Categories. It also has the advantage of showing tabs for the additional pages at the top. I think I’ll stay with this for a while, despite the slightly smeary look of the header title. Even the subtitle of the blog shows, which is nice.

This is the work of one designer, Ainslie Johnson, modifying a design by someone else, Andreas Viklund. Nice piece of work by both of them, and still, it’s free. Thanks, guys. That’s a big advantage of open source software — lots of people doing stuff like this for it and making it available for others, for free. If one designer happens to leave out something that didn’t seem important at the time (or a feature that didn’t exist), somebody else may come along and work it in.

Yes, I’m going to keep repeating the phrase “for free” or “free” a lot in this blog. Deal with it. I believe in paying when it’s necessary, but I appreciate hard work provided by the generosity of talented people, and try to remember to compliment them when it’s deserved.

They both still have the tabs for Home as inaccessible (that’s supposed to be the actual continual blog page) and I have to create a default Welcome page which shows up first instead, with the list of topics. So, the Home (page order 0) and the Welcome page (page order 1) are both set as identical and both show in the tabs, in the page order I set. It’s not efficient, but I can live with it.

Transferring the Computer Helpers to WordPress, part 1

I decided first to document my attempt/effort/project to move my ever-changing web pages for the Library’s “Computer Helpers” pages to a blog format. Among other things. Maybe it will help somebody else. Those of you with more knowledge or capabilities, please be kind if you comment. This is, in large part, trial and error. Sometimes more of the latter than the former, but I get things done.

“Computer Helpers” were my pages to cover all the things that came up in my various readings, my email newsletters from various sources, and the details that students needed to have in user-friendly form, that weren’t necessarily covered in one place anywhere else. It’s definitely idiosyncratic and not intended to be definitive, just helpful.

Having just redone all the pages for our first major revision for our catalog web pages since we went to Innovative Interfaces at the end of 1999, I was increasingly aware that it took a lot of time to update and revise these pages, keep the links functional, etc., and it would take more time in the future. Was there a way to use a blog or a wiki for this instead?

Since I was posting new items to this fairly often (at least 1 or 2 a week, sometimes more), it looked like a blog might be the more appropriate choice of the two.

Since I’d already chosen WordPress for the host (it was free, it had the features, it was a likely candidate for campus software if/when we get some, it exports if we don’t get it) for the Boreham Library blog “Literary Lions“, I decided to try to use that.

WordPress will host multiple free blogs. Great – I can log in and work with several of them at once.

I wanted a format that would allow me to have fixed text at the top of the page, and then show the blog posts below. That way, I could just add a new blog post under the correct category whenever I wanted to add something. There would be fixed text, any standing explanations or instructions I wanted to have, and then the link to the posts.

There is a way to do that, using a widget — provided you have the WordPress software on your own server. Nuts. I was using the freebie service. Okay, workaround time. I created pages for my broad areas (Software, Internet and Email, Security, etc.) and put the text in. Then I put a link to the posts under that: “Click here for the latest posts on this topic.” Not ideal, perhaps, but still workable, I hoped. I’ll have to get some feedback on that – constructive comments are encouraged.

I choose Digg 3 column for the format. It allows me to import a graphic or picture for the header– should I ever find one — and it allows widgets. WordPress allows a limited but reasonable number of possible formats for the free blogs. Digg 3 column is a nice setup for what I’m doing with this. It’s by Small Potato and seems like a good fit. It has 3 columns (hence the name) and that gives me a useful arrangement. And it’s free, which fits my budget for all this.

The catch seems to be that it has some behavior rather different from the format I choose for the Literary Lions blog. The Categories don’t have RSS. Also, when I click on the categories links, the resulting display of posts doesn’t have the links working — they don’t even show up as links. That’s a nuisance. I’m compensating by putting the URLs in after the link-that-isn’t-working. I may see if the author can do anything about that, but you get what you pay for, and I don’t want to make a big deal out of it.

Enabled the Snap Preview option, which is very handy for checking links. The results are inconsistent, but for the most part it shows the page it should for that link.