One hundred and forty characters

This is my first post in RealTech using Drupal. Once I finally figure out how the template system works and finish setting up my other sites, perhaps I’ll be able to write something again.

I’m not sure what I’ll be writing, other than I know that nothing I write will be less than 140 characters in length.


Last post

This is my last post in the RealTech WordPress weblog. RealTech will be back, though whether it will be a weblog or stories, tutorials, and the like, I don’t know yet. Whatever I do will be implemented in Drupal.

I’m finding that Drupal really is a good solution for me, and not just because of the better support for both rich semantics and SVG. Drupal provides multiple types of publication models, including books and “stories”, the latter of which can be considered a “weblog”, but could equally be considered nothing more than a story published online.

I’ve long wanted the capability in WordPress to be able to associate a group of pages into a book, with an order specific navigation, rather than loosely into a category. Drupal supports this functionality, in addition to the category-based grouping. The tool also has better support for taxonomies, in addition to being able to fine tune the exact URL for each writing.

I also like the architecture of the modularization. Drupal isn’t a slam dunk installation, but then it’s not the same as a pure weblogging tool. It is a true content management tool, which means you’ll have a better time planning ahead with your installation than just throwing something out.

I’m not going to try importing my old posts. Instead, for both this site and Burningbird I’m cleaning out old crap and then I’ll be using the Linux utility wget to create a static copy of the site. I’ll then move the static pages in to replace the old dynamic web pages:

wget --mirror -w 3 -p --html-extension

Adding the following into the .htaccess file ensures the SVG in the page works for people using an SVG-enabled web browser, while still allowing IE access:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_ACCEPT} application/xhtml\+xml
RewriteCond %{HTTP_ACCEPT} !application/xhtml\+xml\s*;\s*q=0
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} \.html$
RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} HTTP/1\.1
RewriteRule .* - [T=application/xhtml+xml]

You wouldn’t believe how much cruft I had in Burningbird. Remember, this is a weblog I’ve had for over seven years. It’s also a weblog that started out with bad HTML markup, now being served up as XHTML. It is getting to the point that unless I really like a post, if it’s broken in XHTML, I delete it.

Too many of the posts, too, were nothing more than notes about “I’m going to do something”, “I am doing something”, “I have done something”, and preserving these types of posts is tantamount to collecting old Avon bottles. In addition, so much of my old writing was maudlin. Maudlin, histrionic, and full of hyperbole. It was exhausting just reading some of the old material. I found myself saying, all too frequently, “Oh my god, there she goes again”–about my own writing, which is a sad state.

I’m also fixing up the posts that I am keeping, including repairing broken links (using a tool, Xenu to find them).

When I’m finished, hopefully this weekend, the site will probably be hundreds of pounds lighter.

Creating the static copies frees up the .htaccess files, as well as “cleans” up the god awful redirect mess I have now. I’m also using the Google Webmaster tools to eliminate entire subdirectories that are gone. Since I stopped caching my stuff a long time ago, once the stuff is cleared, it’s gone. This aggressive cleaning will result in more 404/410 pages, inspiring me to be more creative with the error pages.

I’m not ready to move out new pages yet. I want to make sure I’m happy with my re-organization, as well as tool use. I’m made a lot of bad decisions the last several years, primarily because I ended up following some new meme or another. Now, I want to make sure what I end up with is what I want for the long term–not something that scratches a momentary itch, or puts me in the middle of the bees.

I don’t like “Under construction pages”, not the least of which the images are too damn cute for words, and “under construction” provides no useful information. Instead, I’m creating “to-do” lists for all of my sites that provides a brief explanation of what the site is, as well as an indicator of recent activity, and planned for activity in the future. An example can be seen at my Shelley Powers site, or Painting the Web.

I doubt that anyone would be interested in following along with this process, but then, I didn’t think Twitter would take off, either. If you are interested, I started an account at Ta-da Lists, where I will list my to-do items, and when they are completed. You can also follow along with my Burningbird Twine.

Speaking of Twine, I do have invitations for it, and for Aviary, the online graphics tool system. I created an Invites email address at, which will provide an auto-responder message letting you know what invites for what app I have available. This way if you ask for an invite for Twine or Aviary, or whatever I currently have invitations for, you’ll get immediate feedback on whether you can expect the invitation, or if the invitations are all gone. The invite request will then get forwarded to me to issue the invite.

My two book support sites, one for Adding Ajax and one for Painting the Web, are my priority, so I’m not sure when anything else will be finished. I probably won’t have my main Burningbird page up before these two sites are ready, but the main Burningbird feed will be running from the start. I’m continuing to use Sam Ruby’s Venus, and the main Burningbird feed will continue to be housed at Note that this will be my feed for everything–all the writings and what not from all my sites. Once I take down the WordPress weblog at the top level, I’ll then redirect my older feeds to this new location.

If you’re interested in Ajax, you’ll probably want to check out the Adding Ajax page when finished. It’s not just a book splash page. I’ll be adding new writings related to Ajax, as well as reviews, code, and book support stuff.

The same with the Painting the Web site. Painting the Web promises to be my most “fun” site, especially if you’re interested in photography and/or web graphics. The splash page I have now doesn’t represent what I’ll have when I’m finished. I’m not quite sure about all aspects of the page design yet. Page design is always the hardest task for me. Tech is easy.

I don’t know all I’ll be doing as I go forward, but I do know that all of you have made the last seven years of my life a richer experience. I must have broke an anti-matter mirror seven years ago, because I’ve had seven years of good luck, not bad. I want to thank you for your time and interest, not to mention patience with my many flights of fancy.

Burningbird Technology Weblogging

WordPress 2.5: Looks

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Though I will be using Drupal for portions of my site, I’m still debating whether to continue using WordPress for purely weblog activities, such as at RealTech. I decided to download the WordPress 2.5 release candidate 1, give it a run.

I’ve moved most of my XHTMLating work to plug-ins, so I didn’t have the problems with overwriting source code. The plug-ins I do use worked without a hitch, including the one that XHTMLates comments (though the commenter’s name field doesn’t support internationalization at this moment).

I like the new dashboard, which does a good job of putting important information at the top. I don’t like the fact that you still don’t have a lot of options–or at least I can’t see them–for eliminating all of the crud that gets pushed at you. I don’t care about top plug-ins. I don’t care about other WP weblogs of note.

As for the new site design, I like the coloring, but I do not like all of the design changes. Case in point is the Write Post page, with post in process.

Look at all that wasted space. There are four headers above the Write Post page, and in the Write Post page, we now have to scroll down to control comments, pick categories, add tags. Yet what takes up the valuable real estate to the right? Related items, ie how to manage comments, posts, etc. When you’re writing a post, what are the items you’re most likely to edit for that post on a regular basis? I would say tags and categories, as well as comment status. You’re not worried about managing categories or comments.

I do like that the Delete button is now more obvious, rather than buried at the bottom of the post. In addition, I was happy to see a link to draft entries rather than forcing us to filter on draft to find a post in process. There’s also only one Save button for a post now, equivalent to the older “Save and Continue editing” function.

I also like the fact that you can edit the permalink, though the creators didn’t go far enough–you should also be able to pick which category goes into the formal permalink. I had hoped that the developers would also list existing tags in the tag area, but you still have to guess what tags you have if you don’t want to add new ones.

On the other hand, I do think the media management capabilities are superior in this version. If you serve video, you can now more easily manage your video, as well as music and image files. For instance, you can click on more than one file to upload, rather than have to upload individually. The application will then upload all the files, and for photos, attempt to use the photo’s EXIF file to fill in the relevant information, though the application doesn’t seem to like my photos’ EXIF sections.

However, if you’re tempted to have WordPress 2.5 create an in-page gallery, think again if you’re serving your pages up as XHTML: the generated gallery HTML is not valid.

This is a trivial error to fix, and I’ve sent the error information into the special feedback email address. However, this does demonstrate something I find a little disquieting–the WordPress developers are not running their sites as XHTML, themselves, in order to ensure WordPress provides both valid HTML and XHTML. Nor are the developers validating what they generate. If they did, they would realize that their sites don’t validate.

Worse, the validation errors are such blatant errors that even relatively inexperienced web developers–and web designers–should have caught them early, and prevented their occurrence at this late stage of WordPress 2.5 development. The only assumption I can make is that form is taking precedence over function with this release. Definitely not an attitude I would have expected considering the involvement in the development of WordPress 2.5 by known standards luminaries.

The page containing the gallery does not open in Firefox, Safari, or Opera because these browsers read the page as XHTML, and the page has invalid markup. However, the page does open in IE8. Perhaps the underlying issue is that IE8 is the browser of choice for the WP development team.

In the other sections, if you make any updates in the user page you have to type in your password again, or it tells you that you only entered it once. That’s annoying. The rest of the pages seem the same, except for a new Media Library, which shows what images are used where. Handy if you want to track down in which posts a specific image has appeared.

Overall, the interface is cleaner and media file management has definitely improved, but the usability has, in my opinion, taken a couple of major hits. I include in this category the freedom to serve our pages up as valid XHTML without having to struggle with invalid generated page markup.

Now, I’ll publish and see what happens to the feeds.