Updates And Biographies

As I mentioned a few weeks back, the 28th and 29th were scheduled for some blog updates and maintenance. The blog (and my wordpress installation) was overdue for some work and revision. Here’s a rundown of what I did.

1. Simplified the typefaces. I use and love Typekit to deliver web fonts. However, a lot of readers were reporting problems. So, I’ve chased out some bugs and gone with one typeface for now (Myriad Pro).

2. Rewritten the about me pages. I made some small changes to the general about me page, but there are more substantial rewrites to the about music, about photography and about writing pages. The about writing page is perhaps the most direct and clear statement I’ve yet made about why I bother to blog and maintain this site.

3. Tweaked the colour scheme. I run with the Modularity theme from Graph Paper Press. It’s a great design, but I wanted a slightly more subtle look and thankfully it was fairly straightforward to make the changes. I also used the excellent Colour Scheme Designer web app to help pick some tones.

4. Cleaned up the WordPress dashboard. This blog is built with WordPress. The software allows each user to configure the look and feel of both their blog and the interface they use to run it. WordPress opens to a dashboard that lets you see important information at a glance. I simplified mine to show just recent posts, recent comments, links to the wordpress developer blog and incoming links. Everything else was just a distraction.

5. Cleared out unused plugins. WordPress allows a lot of customisation via third-party plugins. But, over time, as your blog changes and grows, it is easy to end up with lots of unused plugins that just take up space and require mental energy to scan through.

6. Changed the number of recent posts in the slider. In the middle of the front page of this site there is a slider that allows you to browse recent posts (while looking at their thumbnail images). The default is ten, but it’s easy to tweak it up to fifteen.

7. Integrated PhotoShelter gallery. This is my second attempt at using Photoshelter and the integration looks a lot better this time. You can see my PhotoShelter gallery here and hopefully you’ll find it easy to navigate back to the other pages on this site. Also, the PhotoShelter integration makes it easy to include slideshows (like the one below, from the upcoming Fuel Arts Series). However, these slideshows are flash based, which means they are only a temporary solution.

[photoshelter-gallery g_id='G0000zxJDiL.SrSg' g_name='Fuel-Art-Series-Ladakh' f_show_slidenum='t' img_title='casc' pho_credit='f' f_link='t' f_enable_embed_btn='t' f_send_to_friend_btn='t' f_fullscreen='t' f_topbar='t' f_bbar='t' f_show_watermark='t' f_htmllinks='t' f_mtrx='t' fsvis='t' width='592' height='444' f_constrain='t' bgcolor='#212121' btype='new' bcolor='#afafaf' crop='f' twoup='t' trans='xfade' tbs='5000' f_ap='t' bgtrans='f' linkdest='c' f_bbarbig='' f_show_caption='f' f_smooth='f' f_up='f' target='_self' ]

8. Modified the portrait image. I tweaked the old split toned image into something a little fresher, using the fantastic Pixelblender plugin for Photoshop (set to the Oil Paint setting, with some adjustments). Yes, I know I’m due for updated portrait!

9. Changed the permalinks from default, to date plus title format. WordPress creates a URL for each post with a default format, based on a number sequence. This makes sense from the point of view of a database, but it less than ideal for people (and search engines) looking to find your content. Was helped in this by the Term Management plugin.

10. Also, I updated the background and colour scheme for my Twitter homepage. Although most users don’t visit the Twitter site to use the service (for example, I use Hootsuite for all my Twitter activity), having a decent homepage is worthwhile for connecting with new followers.

11. Finally, I removed the blogroll from the about me section. This was a tough decision and one that people who’ve been reading this blog for a while might find controversial. But, there’s a number of reasons for doing this and I’ll write something later in the week explaining my reasoning.

I hope the blog feels cleaner, easier to navigate and little more full-featured. I’ll be continuing to make some changes during the day, as loading times are a little slow and one or two things remain to be tweaked. Please let me know, via comments or email if anything looks out of place or needs some extra revision.

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