Ramblings of a Techno-Viking

Tweaking my Blog

Over the past few days, I've added some new tags for subcategories of the rv tag, and updated the tags on the old articles. Hopefully this will make things easier to find.

There is now a test server where I plan on making changes to my blog, so I won't need to keep updating an article immediately after I've posted it for such things as broken links or bad markdown. This has let me play with the configuration and change a few things that irritated me about the default IkiWiki blog configuration.

The RSS, Atom, Preferences, and Recent Changes links have all been moved to the sidebar. The first two were the trickiest -- I wound up using feed=no on the main page and feedonly=yes on the sidebar. There is now an "Older posts" link on the bottom of the page for the previous 10 articles. The pictures and title are now placed over the sidebar. Let me know at blog@blars.us or in Comments if you like these changes.


I was going to ask about the sidebar, since I saw nothing in the single posts (I clicked through from the feed, which I figured out long before you posted a link to it. ;) Then I found it. Good--I like the new setup. It's clean.

Btw, we use Linode for our server and, lest, you hadn't picked up on it yet, we are also Linux users: CentOS mostly, but some Debian, too.

The single-post pages look a little plain, and it's easier to read when the reading space is shorter. I forget the supposed optimal size, but it's something in the 600-pixel range, I think. Unless I want to comment, it's not usually an issue for me because I read in the feed reader, which has a narrower view box.

Linda ravensroads.com

Comment by Anonymous Monday 08 November 2010 03:05 UTC

At some point I'll need to figure out this RSS thing. I know it's some kind of subscription to changing web pages, but I haven't found documentation on it that lets me use it properly. Since it's standard in the ikiwiki blog package, I left it in place.

Should I put the sidebar on the single post pages?

I usually use a 1080p monitor with Iceweasel (firefox rebranded) on the whole screen. Many web pages look silly taking only a small portion of the screen, since they have some "optimum" size hard-coded as the only size they look good on. The same pages look even worse on small screens, where you need to scroll left and right to read the page. My blog uses standard html formatting, letting the browser choose exactly how things are displayed so it should look reasonable on most displays. (If the screen is small enough, the sidebar will dominate.)


Comment by blarson Monday 08 November 2010 05:17 UTC

No, the issue is readability: The longer the line, the harder it is to read. It's why books are fixed width, etc.and why they have white space to guide the eyes. IIRC people read by scanning and looking at both sides of the page/screen. I'm about to visit my graphic designer friend, so I'll try to remember to get her input on how that works. When you can't do that, because the line length is too long, it is simply harder to read. I like the balance on your front page, so if you added the sidebar to the individual pages I think that might do the trick.

Feeds allow you to read the blog in a reader, such as Bloglines or Google Reader. Instead of visiting 20 blogs to see if anything changed, you view the updates in the reader. If you want to comment, you click through to comment.

Feeds also allows you to port the blog to places like Facebook and Twitter--I don't send my whole posts there, though, but instead work with a free service that posts updates for people to click through on. The more ways you give readers to read, the more readers you'll generally have (unless you just blog about pink yoyos, in which case your audience is limited to pink yoyo fans) ;)

Comment by Anonymous Tuesday 09 November 2010 06:13 UTC
Certain things are UI disasters -- like needing to scroll left and right as well as down, or up and down. (The latter is frequently needed on PDF documents after they have been resized to a readable font.) Click to get the rest of the article after a sentance or two, espectially when cut off in midsentance (or even mid-word) is another such thing. (I've learned to combat this by ignoring the sentences, and either clicking through just based on the author or on the title.) I'd much rather read a wide article than need to scroll frequently. Back in the days when everyone used hand-crafted html, I used to use one side of the screen for my web browser and the other for an xterm. When it got to the point when most web pages made stupid assumptions about the screen, I was forced to use the full screen for the web browser to avoid scrolling left and right. Now that I have a wider screen (1920x1080) than most pages assume, maybe I should switch to not using the full screen anymore. I find many web pages use a column width half of my optimum reading width, and leave large blank areas on the screen.
Comment by blarson Wednesday 10 November 2010 01:22 UTC