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August 27, 2008


Totally obscure pro tip: If you own a spyder2express monitor calibration thingy you may have been annoyed that the software only allows you to target 65k as your white point rather than using the native white point of your LCD screen, but felt that this wasn't enough reason to spring for the pro version. Turns out you can still download the old (2.2) software that defaulted to native white point if you go and register for their support site.

Now you can launch either version of the software to select the "option" of which white point you want.


April 28, 2008

Flash Ads

I've become convinced that those flashy blinking ads are designed to drive page hits. How? I just found myself reloading the New York Times web page five times in a row in the hope that I'd get an ad that wouldn't compel me to hold my hand over the screen so I could read the actual content without being distracted.

(And yes, I know there's software to fix that.)

February 20, 2008

Quick thought regarding the silly 24 hour iTunes rental limit

So we all know that the 24 hour limit sucks. That (along with the fact that you can only get HD content if you have an Apple TV, what could otherwise be the killer feature for me) certainly prevents me from me from even considering it as an option beyond something to keep in the back of my head for last resort instant gratification.

Netflix, by contrast is of course quite happy to let you keep DVDs for as long as you like. As a subscription outfit, they just make more and more money off of you. But plenty of people would certainly prefer to pay per rental and herein lies the problem as renting on a long enough time frame becomes indistinguishable from buying.

The solution: Instead of putting an arbitrary cutoff time after hitting play, there should be a virtual check back in. You'd a allowed to have, say, 10 movies checked out at a time, paying for the rental when you download them and keeping them as long as you like, but you wouldn't be allowed to download the 11th until you "check in" one of the 10, rendering it unplayable. Certainly this would introduce some more security holes and would set an upper limit on how many movies you could take with you on a trip if you don't want to access the internet from the road, but it would prevent wholesale abuse. On the whole I think it would work much better for most people.

January 16, 2008

This just in: New MacBook Air is for portable computing.


Or well, you'd think it would be "duh."

I'm not big on ultra portables. I use a mid sized MacBook Pro 15" (named Mallory by the way) because I like to have (and well, can afford) one machine that I largely take from desk to desk going from work to home to wherever else I need to be. I'm a large enough guy that carting Mallory back and forth from work isn't ever much of a problem, and making her smaller, even much smaller isn't going to magically solve the ergonomics of using her away from a desk.

So I've watched the complaints that Apple doesn't offer a decent ultra-portable form the sidelines as a somewhat disinterested observer. Ok, I get that for people with desktop machines who use their portables as portables instead of "transplantable" computers might like something super small to take to the coffee shop or the plane or class or meetings or wherever it is that they go when not sitting at their desktop.

So Apple comes out with just such a machine and all those same people, the people who derided the 17" and so clearly don't subscribe to the "transplantable" computer idea, complain that there are not enough ways to tether it down? Honestly? You really want lots of ports so you can park this super, super thin computer on a desk with wires sticking out of every end so you won't notice how thin it is because you can't pick it up without unplugging a bunch of things anyway? You're really concerned that you need to install software on it with the help of a larger computer? Do you really do much installing of software on the road? If you, like me, aren't willing to sacrifice much in the way of power for size then, news flash, you don't actually want an ultra portable. You want a general purpose portable, and congratulations, Apple already sells those in a variety of size-power-price points.

Update: Many people are further making the comparison to the Cube. I think that's deeply flawed as while both machines made compromises on price in order to achieve small size and exciting form factor, many people appreciate those things in a desktop, but few really benefit from them. Anyone who uses a laptop will benefit in very concrete ways from the lightness and thinness of the Air... even if many don't feel the trade off is worth it. I strongly doubt that anyone out there would find themselves buying a computer they otherwise wouldn't because they could fit it on a smaller desktop. There are definitely people out there who would choose to bring a computer with them at the weight and thinness of the Air that would decide not to bring one at all otherwise.

October 7, 2007


I don't think most ducks migrate, but this mallard has just about finished migrating tapirtype over to the new Joyent shared accelerator "Myrtle".

Just a couple more things to test (this post included) and I'm going to declare it done and switch the DNS over.

September 10, 2007

Cover flow audio stutter mini-kerfuffle

While checking out the new iPods at the Apple Store, I discovered a big defect in the new iPod's marquee feature: cover flow. On the first several iPods I picked up, scrolling through cover flow would cause the audio to distort and stutter unbearably. Not just a little or just when the song hadn't had a chance to cache and not just when scrolling all the way from one end to the other. I was just about ready to give the feature up for useless when I picked up another iPod, one attached to one of the iMacs on the other side of the room and there was no trace of the problem. A quick google search pulled up some other reports of the problem, so it wasn't just something wrong with the iPods in that store, and frankly I was a little surprised not to find more reports given the severity of the problem.

It puzzled me for a while. At first I figured that identical seeming iPods were getting different components. Then I figured it out: The ones by the computers were restarting when they got plugged and re-plugged. Sure enough, I picked up the first iPod again, stuttery as ever. A quick restart, holding down the center and menu buttons, and it was perfectly smooth. Mystery and, as far as I'm concerned, problem solved. Hopefully a future software update will prevent it from happening at all.

Unfortunately this doesn't change that, while cool, cover flow is of limited utility to begin with, especially so on a mobile device device with a large collection that can only be browsed in one long list. What's especially unfortunate is that on the go playlist creation doesn't seem to work with cover flow and that's where I could most see using it: brainstorming about what I want to listen to next.

Product Lineup

iPod LineupI've been thinking more about Apple's new iPods and my reaction to them. I think the basic force behind my disappointed reaction was that, for the first time ever, it wasn't entirely clear to me which iPod I would buy if I could. In fact, I think it is noteworthy that prominently displayed on Apple's webiste is a feature entitled "Which iPod are you?". Apple tends to strive for simple product lineups these days, balancing the need to make as much cool stuff available as possible with the fear of diluting their product image with a flood of sub-par options. Furthermore there is some tendency, I think, to feel that if a customer has to think too hard about which option is the best for them, they might think themselves right out of the purchase altogether, feeling that none of the options is optimal. Apple would much rather have you salivating over the one perfect product.

Apple is in a funny product transition with its iPods, based in part on the iPhone and in part on the increasing capacity of flash based players, and that has, unfortunately, left them caught making their customers choose between sub-par options whose flaws wouldn't even be evident if the other product wasn't available for comparison.

Continue reading “Product Lineup” »

September 7, 2007

A cache that stays...

Ok, I think I have the caching thing figured out. Seems that Smarty (which handles the dynamic publishing--and caching--for Movable Type) defaults to a one hour cache timeout. What Smarty does is write the time-stamp in a header on the cached file along with an expire time-stamp computed by adding an interval determined by the smarty variable $cache_lifetime which defaults to 3600 seconds (or one hour). When retrieving a page, smarty compares the expire time with the time the cached file was built and retrieves the cached file only when the cache has not yet expired.

Why it does this is another matter. One hour seems either far too long or far too short for the life of a cache. It especially makes no sense in the context of Movable Type which seems to clear the cache whenever there is a change to the database, such as saving an entry--whether or not the entry is published--or making a comment (although, not, for some reason, when comments are deleted). Incidentally, I haven't yet figured out how Movable Type achieves this. I can't seem to find where in the code it flushes the cache or checks the modification date on the database, however I have empirically determined that this is the behavior.

This caching behavior especially makes no sense for me, since this blog changes, at most, daily. Fortunately, the default cache lifetime can be changed by editing the smarty.class.php file (found at mt/php/extlib/smarty/libs/). At the top of the file, which defines the smarty class, a bunch of default values for variables are set, some of which are overridden by Movable Type when it creates an instance of the smarty object and uses it to display dynamic content, notably the $caching variable which defaults to 0 (off) is flipped on later if you have enabled caching enabled via publishing preferences.

Setting $cache_lifetime = -1 results in a cache that never expires until the Movable Type database is changed, the setting that makes sense (to me, anyway) assuming that the only way the content displayed for a given page will change is if a change is made through Movable Type. This does bring up an important caveat however (although one I haven't verified), which is that if you have dynamic content on a page that changes based on input other than the Movable Type database, it may not work, or may take some extra effort to ensure that it works.

September 5, 2007


I was hoping to get an excuse to upgrade my 20GB 2G iPod today. At first my heart sunk when I saw the iPod Classic announcement, thinking they had decided not to release the expected touch screen iPod. Then I hit reload, and it was there... Except it kind of wasn't. The iPod Touch has everything I could possibly want in an iPod, except it only has up to 16GB of storage. That's less than my 5 year old iPod which cannot, as of earlier this year, hold my entire music library--the main reason I'm looking for an upgrade. I just can't see a downgrade in storage. Sure, I don't need to take all of my music everywhere, but once I cross that bridge, I suddenly have to start making decisions about which music I am going to take. And now instead of just plugging it in and it's done, I have to think about it. I have to make decisions, and I have to keep things organized. And that's just less fun than the original wonder I had in being able to carry all my music with me anywhere without thinking about it.

I don't know. Maybe my experiments with downsizing my library to fit on my current iPod will convince me that 16GB is enough. Or maybe in 6 months there will be a 32 or 64GB version, or eventually I might get an iPhone and a touch screen iPod will seem less exciting, leading me to an eventual iPod Classic upgrade. But in any case, I won't be throwing any money Apple's way just right now, and I was kind of hoping to be pushed over the edge into doing that today.

Update: Seems about the least I can get my catalogue down to without having to make any really difficult choices is 15GB, which probably wouldn't fit onto a 16GB iPod Touch given the formatting and OS overhead. My next iPod must have at least 30GB.

Fishy Cache

As I mentioned previously, I recently switched a good portion of Tapirtype Blog--everything other than the front page index and the entries themselves--to dynamic publishing. I've been collecting my impressions, although I'm generally waiting for the upcoming move on to Solaris at TextDrive, my hosting provider for any final judgments about performance.

I like the idea of it, but I'm still not sure on all the details of the execution. This is partly because Movable Type uses Smarty for it's template system, so in order to understand what's going on, I have to understand both what Movable Type is doing and what Smarty is doing. Note, this isn't a criticism, I think Smarty is perfect for the job, and I'm glad they didn't try to reinvent the wheel, making their own php template compiler. The biggest concern when switching to dynamic publishing is that the efficiency equation shifts. During static publishing, it makes sense to make trade offs that make build time just slightly longer for the sake of convenience, simplicity, or feature-fullness. Using dynamic publishing, however, this could lead to intolerable page load times, so caching becomes very important in order to make only the first load any slower.

Smarty has two levels of caching. First it complies the templates into php files on the first request. In theory this should eliminate any disadvantage of a template based system as compared to Wordpress style php "templates". Second, as pages are requested the output is stored in a cache folder, so the second request for a given page should be able to simply echo that cache file with no computation necessary. Actually there's a third level of caching, though I'm not sure whether it is a Smarty or a Movable Type feature, which is that the blog will instruct the web browser that the page has not changed since the last request, allowing the browser to fetch it from it's own cache.

But the difficulty with caching is that any caching system is only as good as it's ability to tell when it needs to recompute the content. Preferably, the system would be smart enough to understand which pieces of the content have updated and which are still the same, but at the bluntest it must flush the entire cache every time any change is made. And here's where things have been falling down for me. In a given session, I can sit at the blog, load a bunch of pages, and see that after the first load, the loads get much quicker. However, inevitably, the next day, with no changes made the the blog, I'd find the caches recomputing. With no changes published to the blog, I can't see why this would be the case. The only thing I could think of was the fact that several trackback requests had come in and were marked as junk, resulting in no changes to the published blog. It would be quite silly if that was causing the cache to reset, but just to test, I've disabled trackbacks now. As much as I like the idea of trackbacks, they've never really worked out, anyway, and since adding a captcha to anonymous comments, they are my only current source of spam (although none ever get published due to the insistence that the trackback request come from the same IP address to which it points).

September 3, 2007

Who needs the networks?

In the wake of the current spat between NBC and Apple over the price and DRM applied to TV content sold on iTunes, many people have been considering the status quo of TV distribution and pricing. Fake Steve, through his usual hyperbole probably comes closest to the truth by asking, essentially, why we need the networks at all. Don't they exist simply to agrigate content produced by production companies in order to pipe it over the airwaves to consumers? Why should we need them at all when the content producers could sell directly through iTunes or any other internet distributer? What are they there for other than to take a cut of the profits?

Leaving aside the fact that--for now--vastly more people watch plain old, live, non-time-shifted network TV than any kind of content on the internet, you could come up with a few reasons for networks to keep on existing:

Continue reading “Who needs the networks?” »

September 2, 2007


Hey, I just noticed that I missed this blog's birthday.

Sad blog. I'll have to send it flowers.

August 31, 2007

Typography, etc.

I just discovered something odd... MT used to use SmartyPants to translate typography elements (such as quotes and em dashes) when using Textile 2 text formatting (as well, of course, as when using Markdown).

For a moment I thought it had stopped when I saw –– in one of my old entries instead of the — that they should have been translated into. But it's stranger. Turns out all my static pages, get the Textile right, but don't use SmartyPants (or any other html entities translator). However, my dynamic pages get it right.

Ummm... Hopefully someone will get on that real soon now, so as to not force me to learn about Movable Type text formatters and take matters into my own hands.

Also, MT seems to think I'm in Mountain time in spite of my best efforts to convince it that I'm in Pacific. Or maybe it stopped respecting daylight savings... Interestingly this only applies to the date applied to entries. The "Last auto-save" message tells me the correct time. shrug

Update (typography fixed): I fixed the typography problem by manually turning SmartyPants on in all of my static templates, adding smarty_pants="1" to the tags that write out content that might have typography elements in them (MTEntryTitle, MTEntryBody, and MTEntryMore). This should have the side benefit of ensuring that all entries get the best possible typography translation no matter the text formatter used. Also of note is that SmartyPants is smart enough to not process within html comments or php code blocks so it won't break javascript or php code in entries which is important for my galleries.

Still no idea what the time shifted-by-one-hour time-stamp thing is all about, though.

August 30, 2007

New comment policy

Subtitled: woot, no spam!

So spam was getting kind of silly. Akismet was not catching, well, anything.

Enter the new MT4 options.

Continue reading “New comment policy” »

August 16, 2007

MT 4.0!

I've upgraded to MT 4.0.

I thought I'd been smart by trying it locally before upgrading online, but it turned out to be a bit more difficult that I thought it would be. To be fair that's mostly because I took the opportunity to make a couple of changes. MT 4 has Textile and Markdown built in, including as dynamic php scripts. I know you could install them that way before, but I didn't want to go to the trouble and that provided a block to using dynamic publishing. So now I've enabled dynamic publishing for most indexes and archives other than the entries themselves. I can't have the entries themselves published dynamically for now because I use php inside entries to publish my photo galleries and that won't work in dynamic publishing.

I've also switched from MTKeyValue to CustomFields. Custom fields isn't compatible with dynamic publishing either, but it is a bit slicker and I'm working around that for now because I'm only using it to publish the recent photos feature which I publish as a static file that is php-included.

I also started using MTFastsearch and even got it working along side dynamic caching, using mod_rewrite to redirect requests to fastsearch directly to a custom mtview.php script which has the caching disabled. In the process I found out that I don't entirely understand what is going on with the .htaccess created by dynamic publishing. Many things that I thought should work would not (for instance I had to put the rewrite I just mentioned up at the top right after turning rewrite on), and some things wouldn't work at all. I seem to have everything but the redirect form the .org site working now.

I also disabled fastcgi for the moment. It seemed to work out of the box, however the memory requirements seem to be even worse than before and I was getting the strange out of memory errors very frequently. The CGI performance doesn't seem to be too bad right now and we'll see how things are after the eventual TextDrive transition to Solaris.

All in all, so far, so good. I'll have to spend some time investigating some of the new features. I got the updated authentication options working (with some difficulty involving the __trans business) except for the option to register directly with the blog, for instance.

Update: One more dynamic publishing snag. It seems that when I delete a comment via the admin interface, the change won't be reflected on dynamically published pages. It is reflected on static pages, so the actual comment disappears from the entry. But the indexes still publish the cached version with the comment total unchanged. The work around seems to be to jog MT to clear the cache by turning caching off and then back on after deleting a comment. I haven't tested this with deleting other content, but the process of actually making a comment on the page seems to work just fine.

June 22, 2007

With great power comes great responsibility

I was recently trawling through our site logs when I noticed that an IP address registered to Google had been doing an awful lot of searches on this blog lately, which made me think: "Hey, I haven't googled myself lately. Maybe this site's gone up in page rank."

And sure enough, I came to a most startling revelation. Not only is this blog the top result when searching for tapirtype blog (and believe me, this was not always the case), but by at least this one measure, I now appear to be the most prominent Michael Boyle in the blogosphere.

I'm as shocked as you are. All I can really say is: "Listen up, all you other millions of Michael Boyles out there. Men, get cracking. I mean, I don't update nearly often enough to qualify as the representative Michael Boyle blog."

April 28, 2007

Record Time

Mallory's (my MacBook Pro's) processor fan died recently so I had to take her in again, and I've got to hand it to Apple. I brought her in at 5:00 and she was all fixed by 8:30. What's more they fixed her for free even though I'm a few days out of warrantee (in part or whole because I had brought her in just recently I think). Given all the problems that I've had with her (and she really is a wonderful machine even still) it's so nice that I've had a positive experience every time I've had to bring her in for service. They've really got the whole "Genius Bar" thing down.

They treat me like I know what I'm doing. They're up front about what they do and don't know, and they do their best to look into everything that I bring up and fix as much as they can as quickly as they can.

Very pleasing.

April 5, 2007

For the last time people:


It's pretty simple people. If you download new DRM free EMI music from iTunes, you must have iTunes. iTunes can read and transcode AAC files, and without the DRM, there's nothing preventing you from converting them into anything you want, sending them off to whatever player or computer you want. There is no way that you could (legally) come into contact with an AAC file from iTunes and not have the ability to transform it to work with whatever player you want.

And for all you people who refuse to give Apple any credit because they are in the business of making money from selling music and have had their hands tainted by the evil DRM: Get over yourselves! If you can't recognize and support a step in the right direction when it's foot comes directly down on the spot where you have your head in the sand, then you deserve to loose the war. I swear, you must be the same people who refuse to vote for democrats because they aren't progressive enough and then complain when Bush wins an election. Go ahead, and go off to your corner to throw your tantrum while the rest of us try to make the world a better place one baby step at a time.


March 27, 2007

Sleeping on the edge

I've decided to disable the "Safe Sleep" option on Mallory (my MacBook Pro). Safe Sleep is the newish feature on mac laptops that suspends the contents of RAM to the hard disk so that it can recover if the battery is removed during sleep. While this is great for swapping batteries on a flight, I only have one battery at the moment. I think I've made use of the feature all of twice, and I wouldn't have done that other than to test it out or simply be lazy because I knew I could.

On the other hand, I'm annoyed by it every single day. Not only can it potentially be a security risk, but it can sometimes take a very long time to write 2 GB to disk. Especially when you realize that you are about to miss your bus. And you know what isn't a good idea? Grabbing your computer and running with it when the disk is busy. I have my computer set to automatically go to sleep when running off of battery power (though not when plugged in) so I think it would be far more likely that my desktop machine would die in it's sleep due to a power outage than my laptop.

So the solution turns out to be easy. Detailed (and overly cautious) instructions are at Macworld.

In short, simply open up a terminal window and first verify what your current sleep mode setting is, then change it to 0, plain vanilla sleep. The command pmset -g or, to zero in on the sleep setting, pmset -g | grep hibernatemode will take care of the first order of business. To change the mode, type:

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0

That's it. Apparently the system may reset to the default if you open up the Energy Saver preferences, so if you see it going back to default behavior just repeat the above steps. And if you are going on a trip and think you might be swapping batteries you can always change the setting back (usually 3 -- 7 if use secure virtual memory -- but you should check what your setting is and remember it). Also there's a Dashboard widget linked to in the Macworld article to automate the process of putting your computer directly into hibernation then resetting things back to normal when it wakes.

By the way, another place where Safe Sleep can save your ass is when you are having battery problems and your power cuts out before you think it will. However this only works if it actually cuts out while the computer is asleep. Usually the computer won't even have time to sleep. And, please, if you are experiencing battery problems take your battery in to be replaced immediately. Malfunctioning batteries can be a very bad thing.

March 26, 2007


The interwebs are all, well, atwitter about Twitter of late, and I thought it was time that I chimed in because I think that much of what I've read from both the lovers and the haters seems to miss the point. To be fair, I've only just signed up and I'm not exactly using it yet as I haven't gotten any of my friends on it yet (incidentally if you are a friend of mine and use Twitter, give me an email, my Twitter name is mjboyle).

Still, I don't get why everyone seems to be thinking of it as a "micro-blogging" or "IM" app. People have been sending IMs and text messages quite well for some time on their own now, thank you, and there are a million places where you can set up a small frequently updated blog.

One of my favorite technology writers, Andy Ihnatko seems to dislike Twitter because he sees it as a micro-blogging platform that is predicated on the idea that shorter posts are better. To be fair, he's giving it a try, and I would agree with him if I thought that was Twitter's purpose. But I've got a blog already. And if I want a more personal, managed, or community oriented one there's always Vox. Twitter isn't about blogging. It isn't about sharing ideas. And it isn't really about sending messages or having a conversation.

As I see it, Twitter is a way to let far flung friends who you don't see in your day to day life have a window into the kinds of experiences, moods, and fancies that are happening to you at the moment. The kind of stuff that makes up the flavor of life, that you share with coworkers or friends you see at lunch, but wouldn't really make it into a monthly letter or a blog post. I figure that if you are sending more than one or two "tweets" a day (and you aren't using it to actively coordinate with a group of people), you are using it wrong.

I know others have said it, but I think Twitter is less IM and more IM away message. I actually got the idea that I might like Twitter from a friend who I haven't seen or talked to in a long time. She went through a period of setting away messages that had a little detail about what she was up to. It made me feel much more connected to her than I have since we were going to school together, but none of the details were things that would be worth making a letter out of. She wasn't sharing every detail of what she was having for dinner, just what was on her mind that night.

If used right, Twitter lets you aggregate what your friends are thinking about right now with very little effort. You don't have to have it IM you or send messages to your cell phone, so you don't have to receive updates except for when you are wondering what's up in your friend's lives. It's just one more tool to help you feel more like you are living life with the people you choose as friends, rather than just those who are physically nearby. As someone far from most of my family and friends, I can see the appeal.

March 20, 2007

Backup snags: SuperDuper! after the honneymoon

SuperDuper! Icon

In my rush of initial satisfaction with SuperDuper!, I missed one or two flies in the ointment that make the situation less than ideal. The good news is that there are easy solutions to all of the problems that are graceful enough for the speed, reliability, and metadata savvy of SuperDuper! to win out.

Continue reading “Backup snags: SuperDuper! after the honneymoon” »

March 18, 2007

Backup strategy rehaul. Plus: Insomniac mac solved?

Hard Disk

Since starting graduate school, I've been trying to be better about doing regular, full backups. There's just too many stories about people loosing years of their lives to crashes for anyone without a death wish not to at least try. It also has as much to do with the fact that, for the first time since I've been thinking about backups, hard drives are cheep, and hard drive based backups have become a reality. Which means I don't have to backup 80 GB of data in 100 or 700 MB chunks like in the late 90s when I wasn't good about backing up because I was never going to sit there swapping out that many zip disks or CDs.

Now with high quality external drives of 250 GB or more available for $130 or less, there's no excuse. It helps that I use a laptop as my main computer so I'm stuck with smaller hard drives. Mallory's internal hard drive is 100 GB and I have a 60 and an 80 GB external drive. 100 60 80=240 meaning that for now I can perfectly fit all of my data on my 250 GB backup drive even if I fill everything.

But there's a problem. Just because storage is now economical doesn't mean that backup software is any better. And backup software just isn't something that I'm willing to give any slack. It had better work perfectly and every time or else there's no point.

Continue reading “Backup strategy rehaul. Plus: Insomniac mac solved?” »

March 15, 2007

A fresh set of bile, episode 2: Hard drive heartache

Subtitled: Brand name hard drive enclosures should last longer than a year.

This is just a short little rant today. The next thing that failed me was my hard drive. I have a little external hard drive. It's the result of the death of my old computer. Shortly before it died I'd sunk some money into it (I mean of course, I did, when else does your old computer die but when you've just put money in to make it last another year). So I took my brand new hard drive and bought an external enclosure for it both to ease the transfer process and so that my investment wouldn't have been entirely wasted.

After a cascade of events, I ended up buying a nice sturdy aluminum MacAlly enclosure for almost $40 at retail because I needed it right then. It worked perfectly for a year and lately I've taken to using the drive to offload things that I want to be able to access on the road but don't need all the time so I can off load in order to free up space on my already full internal drive. Mostly movies, older pictures in my Aperture library (Can I say how much I love that I can now offload the originals of some pictures while keeping low resolution stand-ins for offline viewing in the library? Pop my drive back in and they're all there just as if I hadn't off loaded them.), and a game that I've taken to playing.

While Sasha was here I took some time to offload some more pictures and when she left I decided that to console myself I'd have a nice long game playing session. So I plugged my drive back in and... Absolutely nothing happened. The drive seemed to power on as normal, but nothing I could do could make Mallory (my new computer) give any evidence that she had any idea that a hard drive had been plugged in. No drive utilities could recognize that there was a drive attached to scan.

So I figured either the drive was damaged beyond my ability to repair with the utilities I had or the enclosure had died. So I bought a brand new, cheap, Bytecc enclosure for about $19. It's not quite as pretty, but it's aluminum. It's compact. And it even comes with a very nice carrying case that I didn't expect. Worked perfect right away. No problems with the filesystem or anything. Hopefully this will be the end of my worries, but I still see a second LaCie hard drive in my future.

I'll say it again: A retail enclosure should last longer than a year. It's as simple as that.

March 4, 2007

Movable Type vs Wordpress From a Design Point of View

I've been meaning to collect my impressions of the different blogging systems I've tried for a while now, but I've never seemed to get around to it. But today via Daring Fireball I noticed a little post from Joe Trotter that neatly sums up my conclusions and the reason why I've stuck with Movable Type. So now's as good a time as any to quickly throw in my two cents.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that "I hate Wordpress," and Gruber's response is correct, we shouldn't confuse templates with blogging systems. You could undoubtedly make just about any site in just about any of the top blogging systems currently in use. But just because you can do something doesn't mean that your experience doing it will be pleasant. The key observation is in Trotter's final paragraph:

I think the problem is that Wordpress themes (and to a greater extent the entire system) are so designed that modifications stick out like a sore thumb - the themes never strike a good balance between flexibility and aesthetics. I’m thinking more and more to switch to Movable Type. The cachet of Wordpress just doesn’t appeal to me anymore.

Of course if you are a skilled Wordpress template designer you can make beautiful completely original or tastefully modified templates, but it isn't what Wordpress is good at. What's made Wordpress so popular -- and what has, in part, made Movable Type less popular in contrast -- is that Wordpress makes it very easy to do single click design changes. Whether or not this was inevitable, that (among other things) has made it conversely more complicated to implement templates yourself and encourages (though it doesn't demand) even original templates to conform to a certain "Wordpress way of thinking."

In order to make a new Wordpress template you have to know way more about how Wordpress itself works than you have to know about Movable Type. If you want to do anything beyond the standard you will quickly find yourself thinking about the mechanics of the database queries going on in the background, and if I wanted to think about that, I'd write my blogging software myself. In contrast, Making a Movable Type template is, simply, making a website. Not much different from designing a static page.

Therefore, I'd heartily recommend Wordpress over Movable Type to anyone who just wants to choose an existing template, maybe change a couple of colors and pictures, and get blogging. But anyone interested in the ease of customizing the design would be better served by Movable Type. People talk about how they love Wordpress in contrast to Movable Type because they always feel like they're fighting with Movable Type. But while the vanilla install was easy, designing my own templates in Wordpress felt like as big or bigger of a battle.

I think that explains a lot. Wordpress may have a somewhat slicker application, but if the design is what you care about, Moveable Type is an easier, more elegant, sandbox to play in. I'm sure that has something to do with why people who are primarily interested in design often choose Movable Type (or Textpattern or ExpressionEngine), even as the rest of the world is moving over to the plug and play "good enough out of the box" simplicity of Wordpress.

PS And yes, I know that my own blog looks fairly "Movable Typeish" as it has evolved from the standard templates.

February 16, 2007

Distilled Water: The best streak remover in the business

My screen got pretty dirty yesterday and it was bothering me so I grabbed a couple of those iKlear polish wipes and went to work. I've normally had pretty good success with them, but after a few minutes of wiping away the situation was worse than before with large splotches all over from drying unevenly. I tried again, being very careful. Same deal. So fine, I think, I'll risk using the fancy lens cleaner we've got. If it's safe enough for expensive coated optics, it's probably safe enough for my screen. Same problem.

Finally it occurs to me: You know what they usually tell you to use in the instructions? Distilled water. I work in a lab. There's distilled water and kimwipes all over the place. Instant streak and blotch free screen.

Now I'm not saying that this would have cleaned it best from the beginning. After all I'd wiped it off like five times with other cleansers, so there was plenty of opportunity for them to do the real work of dissolving grease. But it does go to show you that just because someone makes a fancy specialized product for a task doesn't necessarily mean it'll do any better than the most commonly available tools.

February 5, 2007


Ok. I love my MacBook Pro (her name is Mallory, she's pleased to meet you, too). She's the best computer I've ever had. Maybe adjusted for inflation the Apple II+ or original Macintosh I had when I was growing up give her a run for her money, but we're talking top echelon computer royalty here. She's fast, she's sleek, she does everything that I need her to do with enough left over that she keeps me looking out for solutions to problems that I don't even know I have yet. And did I mention that she's fast? I've even gotten over the silly "MacBook" branding.

This makes her handful of flaws that much more frustrating. She's so close to perfection! A couple of weeks ago my power cord gave out. Apparently because the MagSafe design requires pins to be held together with no physical interlock, the plug has spring-loaded pins. And springs can fail leading to stuck pins and no power. This prompted me to do a mad dash at a backup before I ran out of power so I could bring her in to the Apple Store folks to get that and the host of minor annoyances taken care of.

So... How is she now after a complete working over (which by the way involved a complete wipe and reinstall so I'm really glad I got through that backup)?

  • Annoying display smudge that was there from day one? Fixed!
  • Annoying "processor whine?" Still whining away as strangely as ever.
  • "Display whine" when not at 100% brightness? I didn't used to have that, but I do now! (It's really soft, though.)
  • Airport reconnecting after sleep? So far so good!
  • Strange Airport lockout after waking from sleep? Again, so far so good.
  • Bent part of the case (manufacture defect, not from dropping her or something)? Only partly fixed, but good enough for me.

    And last, but not least...

  • Failure to go to sleep upon closing her lid after running fine for a few days? As of this evening, a big old not fixed!

Looks like Mallory's going to be taking another trip down to the Apple Store...

January 21, 2007

Blog Design Tweaking

I just tweaked the design of the blog a bit. One of the remaining hold overs from the standard design that I wasn't happy with was the way the bottom of the entries were handled. It placed the authorship and date of the articles at the bottom, meaning that you had to look get through the entire thing to see who wrote it and when, and almost worse, the horizontal lines got very repetitive and harsh. Hopefully this update addresses this.

Incidentally, I made the design changes with using Bare Bone's free TextWrangler and MacRabbits's appropriately named CSSEdit 2 which they sell online for about $30. TextWrangler is about as good as it gets for a free text editor and is really useful for editing files in place on sftp servers.

I adore CSSEdit for so many reasons. First off, you've got to love a company named MacRabbit who, when they charge you for their software, have the transaction be with "Space Carrot." The real reason I love them, though is that when I originally bought CSSEdit 1 it was full of bugs and I kind of regretted it. But just when I was about to give up on them, they sent me an email telling me that they were giving me a free upgrade to CSSEdit 2 which fixed almost all of my problems.

CSSEdit has a few killer features. First, it allows you to instantly preview the changes you make to the file as you type (though it still seems to get out of sync occasionally and require a manual reload of the preview). Even better it allows you to look at any web page, extract the css files it uses and override them with the version you are editing. This makes tweaking existing styles very easy, as any new page you preview that references the same css will preview with the new overriding file. It also allows you to click on any element, see it's bounding box--with padding and margins--and see all the classes it has inherited. It's hard to overstate how useful it is to be able to see the bounding boxes of your elements as you edit, because, love style sheets as I do, it isn't always very clear how the bounding box will end up. It also does a good job of making it easy to switch back and forth between editing the code and using their own GUI.

Anyway, I'm a fan, and between those two tools, for under $30 I've pretty much completely replaced my need for an expensive web editing program from Adobe.

January 18, 2007

Comments under FastCGI

I think I've fixed comments under FastCGI. I added one line from the Bootstrap module to the dispatch.fcgi that wasn't in Brad Choate's original instructions and that seems to have done it. I'll update with better instructions soon.

Update put up some more details at the top of the old instructions. I promise I'll get around to putting up comprehensive updated instructions one of these days.

January 17, 2007

Updated to MT 3.34

Well, I did the update and basically seem to be back at status quo. Comments are still flaky under fcgi, so I'm still using normal cgi for them. That may be because I'm not using the Bootstrap module right, this way works for now.

MT 3.34 and FastCGI

Well, looks like Six Apart has released a new version of Movable Type with increased FastCGI support. Presumably this means they've finished tweaking the whole MT::Bootstrap setup, etc. Well, I'm glad I didn't get around to revising my instructions yet.

Hopefully this update will fix the remaining stability problems I've been having with my FastCGI setup. Of course they recommend using Apache and Textdrive previously frowned upon that to me, so we'll see. First I'll just try the update with my current setup and then I might try it under Apache again to see if that'll work now. Either way, a more public, stable, and accessible way to use Movable Type under FastCGI is a very good thing if for no other reason than that there will be just that many more people noticing bugs and clamoring for fixes.

December 10, 2006

Pointless Spam

Ok, yes, I know that's tautology, but usually spam at least has a chance of benefitting the spammer somehow. But why, oh why, did I get trackback spam pointing to, and only pointing to, google?

December 5, 2006

Running Movable Type 3.3 with LightTPD and FastCGI

Update 1/27/07: MT 3.34 is out with improved FastCGI support and between that and some experience, I've tweaked my setup some. I need to write up a better set of instructions, but right now my computer is in for repairs and I'm not up to writing a lengthy entry on a borrowed computer right now. The main things that I've changed are that I'm now having LightTPD spawn only one dispatch process and I've added one important line to the dispatch script as follows:

Just inside the eval block right above the line that reads: while (my $q = new CGI::Fast) { I've added in require MT; and right above the line that reads: $app->init_request(CGIObject => $q) unless $app->{init_request}; I've added the line: MT->set_instance($app);

These changes are to more closely match how the bootstrap module handles starting up a script and adding that line seems to allow comments to be reliably published through FastCGI.

However I am still getting periodic out of memory errors when I do more than a couple of big actions in a row such as a rebuild a comment and another rebuild. That makes me worry about what will happen as the blog grows.

Original text below:

Since it seems to be a bit of a moving target (and just so I remember myself), I thought I'd share what I did in order to get my Movable Type installation running with LightTPD and FastCGI at TextDrive. Needless to say, your milage may vary, especially at other hosts (and really I'm not sure that any other host will let you make this setup).

Why did I do this and was it worth it?

If you want to skip the background and get straight to the step by step instructions skip to the extended entry.

Unfortunately the real answer is probably a not so high minded "because I could" or "to see if I could" but in general if there's a better way to do things, I like to at least try to take advantage of it. To be certain, I'm seeking to solve a problem that I don't suffer from all that much. The problem being that standard CGI is slow. Every request for the CGI program will cause the perl (in this case) script to be compiled and loaded into memory even if you just used the same program a few seconds ago. This means that the user waits and the server gets the load of repeatedly starting new processes. It's easy to see how a stateless protocol like http would encourage this, but it can suck, especially when your blog gets hammered by spammers (or users for that matter) generating a huge number of requests to the comment or trackback script in quick succession. Even in normal operation, it simply slows things down and is one reason some people may find Movable Type less appealing than blogging applications which take a different approach, such as using php. The "standard" approach for fixing this in recent years has been to compile a script interpreter into Apache via a module like mod_php, but for a number of reasons that I don't entirely understand, mod_perl is not as secure or common as mod_php. FastCGI seeks to remedy this problem by starting one or more persistent processes which start up once and handle requests for scripts, staying active between requests. Unfortunately, Apache's implementation of FastCGI isn't very good (again for reasons that I do not entirely understand), however LightTPD was designed with good FastCGI support built in. Some people may favor using LightTPD anyway, even for serving static content because it apparently scales much better than Apache for handling high levels of traffic without requiring unreasonable amounts of resources.

So... Was it worth it? Well, as I said, I have neither a high traffic site nor one that has so far attracted (much) spamming, but the second at least is inevitable with time, and who knows, I could see more traffic someday. The bottom line, though, is that where I see the most difference is in the responsiveness of the application, and there you really can tell the difference. You click and the new page pops open. To be sure, there are still delays sometimes, and it isn't as if the rebuilds have gone away, but I never, anymore, have to wait for a link to open longer than I would expect from any static website.

Disadvantages? Well, anytime you stray out of the standard or increase the complexity of your setup, you do risk something unforeseen going wrong. You should probably keep a bit of a closer eye on things set up this way than you would otherwise. At first I did have a couple of major ongoing complaints with my setup: If you want to avoid having the port number in all of your links to the Movable Type application, you will need to proxy through from Apache to LightTPD which, in my hands anyway, causes Movable Type to see all incoming connections to be from localhost, confusing the spam filters. Also, the proxy setup means that you can't adjust mod_security yourself (you'd have to file a ticket to get them to disable it or modify the rules for you). Because of these problems, I've scrapped the proxy setup and simply have links to the application go directly to my LightTPD port. I'm waiting to hear from anyone about whether this could be a bad idea for some reason, but I'm happy so far.

Update 12/10/06: Thanks to a comment from Brad Choate, I've now fixed the problem with Movable Type seeing the wrong IP address and so I am now using the proxying method instead of pointing directly to the LightTPD port, and I've described that setup below.

Ok, here's the goods. Read on for the detailed version of how I got things set up:

Continue reading “Running Movable Type 3.3 with LightTPD and FastCGI” »

November 22, 2006

PC Design “Innovation”

Ok, I just have to comment:

I don't mean to come off as an Apple zealot. Love Apple as I do, it certainly has no monopoly on the innovative and interesting, but a quick scan through a New York Times article on PC case design revealed this gem of contradictory logic about Apple and it's role as an innovator computer case design:

Apple Computer is widely credited with long ago shattering conventions that had for years dictated how a computer had to feel and look. Windows-based personal computers generally lagged far behind in fusing function with form in ways that consumers found exciting. But that is changing, executives from mainstay computer companies like Dell and Toshiba say.

Gotta love how the sentence contradicts itself. So... Apple is no longer the leader in PC industrial design, with the Windows-based makers lagging behind because, now, long after Apple started innovating, PC makers are coming up with innovative designs?

I'm not sure that sentence means what you think it means...

(And I'm not even touching the obvious question of what the hell else the executives of the competition would say.)

November 12, 2006


Thanks to Textdrive, I've now got my Movable Type application running under fastcgi using lighttpd. All the normal serving of the pages generated by Movable Type is still going through Apache. More about what I had to do to get it to work shortly...

Update: I'm just testing out a new feature... Nothing to see here... Move along... Did it work now...?

November 11, 2006

Migrated over to TextDrive

My second pre-paid year of web hosting is coming to a close this December, so I figured I should re-evaluate my choice of service provider. Two years ago when I first investigated buying hosting for Sasha to put up Tapir Type I chose, somewhat at random, to go with OLM. When I say randomly, that isn't entirely true because I agonized over the choice somewhat, never having signed up with a hosting provider or registered a domain name before and having for the most part dropped out of exploring the nuts and bolts of Internet hosting before the bubble had even peaked. But they had a good recommendation from CNET and seemed to offer a lot for a little (but not so much so as to be too good to be true) so I jumped on them feeling they were a safe bet.

And they were. They've served me well over these first two years, never giving me much trouble and generally allowing me to do what I wanted to do. But they weren't very exciting or flexible and the few times I did want to do something different or figure out how something was working on the servers I didn't feel I had good options to turn to. And in general they didn't seem to have given too much though or put much interest in how they had things set up, they just made it work--a perfectly valid business model.

But since I got more involved with Tapirtype after setting up this blog, I became interested in going with a host that seemed to have a little more spirit and flexibility. Fortunately, naive as I was when first signing up for hosting, I did get the message that it was a good idea to register your domain name with a different company, so I had the flexibility to jump ship. When I started researching alternatives, TextDrive seemed like a good fit from the beginning. They don't offer the most raw numbers for the money, but on the other hand they were more than just an upgrade in power. Several things got me excited as I explored their website:

  • They have a focus on free software and web standards and have a good Mac OS X community.
  • They have a strong community with forums where people can and do help each other hash out their problems.
  • They have clearly put real thought and pride into how they have set up their systems and have already thought of and come up with solutions to most common and many uncommon problems.
  • There is a decent amount of documentation about how things are set up.
  • Finally, while I might not need it now, they have many powerful options and are staying on top of the most current advances, giving me many opportunities to play with new technologies and expand my horizons, should I, say, get the desire to write my own app in Rails.

So I copied my files and databases over, tweaked things a bit, and pointed the domain over to their nameservers, so this is now being served up from Textdrive.

The move went pretty smoothly. I'll write more about the process and my impressions later, but I got it all done in under a week (and it was a very busy work week with only a little time every day to pay attention to hobbies) and I've only got one strange lingering issue--not TextDrive's fault--that doesn't seem to cause any real problems (for some reason the Movable Type summary screen thinks I have two identical weblogs even though in all other lists there's only the one).

I've already benefitted from the move in one concrete way. One of the problems that I had earlier while decrufting my links was that I was getting some strange behavior related to doing URL rewriting from the sub domain (probably to be expected). At TextDrive I was able to set up blog.tapirtype.com as an independent virtual domain from tapirtype.com giving me the ability to do redirects from mod_rewrite without bouncing back to www.tapirtype.com instead of blog.tapirtype.com.

So my rewrite rules now look like this, as they should, neatly funneling requests to entries in 2006 that might link to the old ".../basename.suffix" to ".../basename" and bouncing direct requests to the index back to the directory:

RewriteRule ^(.*)/index$ $1 [R=301]
RewriteRule ^(.*)/index\.(.*)$ $1 [R=301]
RewriteRule ^(2006/[\d][\d]/)([^/]+)\.(.*)$ $1$2 [R=301]

October 30, 2006


I didn't get it...

I got into blogging almost by accident when I decided on a whim to downloaded Movable Type and install it on a subdomain of the website that I'd gotten set up for Sasha. Since it worked so well and turned out to be such a rewarding experience, I've kind of taken off with it and in the last few months I've done a great deal of exploring the world of writing and reading blogs. I'd kind of sat on the sidelines of the whole "blog revolution," reading a few from time to time, but never participating and never taking the time to explore things more than briefly. The last time I'd done any serious web authoring myself, frames were the next big thing. As a consequence I didn't really get it on a number of levels.

I didn't understand how the technology worked any more. I didn't understand why blogs had become such an effective and popular mode of communication on the internet. I didn't understand the shear breadth of kinds of blogs. I didn't even get what the deal with Flickr was, thinking that it was trying to be some kind of iPhoto replacement only slower and over the internet. And although I still think that the term "Web 2.0" is about the stupidest thing ever, I certainly didn't get what made it different from "Web 1.0."1

Now, I think, I do get it. And playing around with Vox in the last few days, I think it has the potential to have a very important place in it all.

Continue reading “Voxiness” »

October 29, 2006

Tip from Daring Fireball: Auto-Completion

I've been using macs for so long that it always comes as a bit of a surprise when I find out that there's a really useful feature that I never had any idea existed. John Grubber at Daring Fireball points out that MacOS X has an auto-completion feature based on the built in spell checker1. You start typing a word in any cocoa text field and hit f5 and a popup menu appears with possible completions for the word. Grubber says that you are supposed to be about to use the escape key unless you are in a context where escape means cancel, but I haven't been able to get it to work anywhere, which is too bad since I'm using a MacBook Pro and to access the f5 key I need to hold down the "fn" to switch the increase volume key into its alternate role as a function key. Maybe it's configurable in system preferences. If I have to use two keys, I'd rather it be an easier key combo...

1 By the way can I say how much I love that there's a built in spell checker. It's the #1 reason I wish all applications would move over to being cocoa, so I can have one standard way of checking spelling in every single text box.

October 28, 2006

A footnote solution: fixing MT-Textile

I wrote a whole entry about my solution to the footnote problems that I'm having since I de-crufted my links. Basically I worked out that it isn't that hard (or long winded) to use Textile directly to make footnotes instead of using the specific Textile footnote syntax. It was great, a little longer than the simple [1] type of input you are supposed to use, but it worked... Except it didn't work1.

Continue reading “A footnote solution: fixing MT-Textile” »

October 27, 2006

The son of cruftless links

Ok, so I went and did the whole "cruftless links" thing and no sooner had I finished writing the post but I found about a million little reasons why what I did and had just described didn't quite work.

I'm still not quite sure what the deal with some of the behavior I'm seeing is, but I've got things to a somewhat stable point now. This is what I've settled on:

Continue reading “The son of cruftless links” »

October 26, 2006

Cruftless URLs without breaking links

Update, the second: Well, so it's not perfect after all. I'd figured that some of the problems encountered by other people had been fixed in the current version of Movable Type. However it looks like for some reason it still insists on sending you trackbacks to the "/index.php" and on sending you back to "/index.php" upon completing a comment. And for some reason it seems to break autodetection of trackback URLs as well. There is no reason for any of this to be the default behavior!

Update: Oh, crap, this seems to break trackback autodetection...

Ok, so at least 90% of the point of this blog so far has been as a tool for me to learn by doing how modern web apps and design works. Sure this is also a great creative outlet and a great way to share little tidbits with friends and family that are far away. As a consequence I find myself being interested in things that are really the purview of much larger sites. Sites that aren't so obscure that they don't even get spammed.1 But because the whole point is for me to learn, and because who knows, if I keep at this for years (and I don't see why I won't) this site might grow, I want to set things up as much "the right way" as I can while it is still relatively easy to make changes.

Continue reading “Cruftless URLs without breaking links” »

October 15, 2006


Fall at Tops

I've just signed up to start using Flickr. I'm not sure what mix of photos I'll post to there versus to here. I figure that Flickr can be more of my unorganized organized (I mean they do make it so easy) photo pile: lots of pictures that I just thought were pretty. As opposed to ones that I specifically wanted to single out, format, and comment on. Anyway, I'll see how it goes with time.

For the moment I'm posting different photos there than here, mainly because I've got the bandwidth limit of a free account. If I decide to get a pro account I might try to just post everything to there and make what is here a selected subset.

I'm certainly enjoying the Flickr experience so far (although I do find myself cringing a little every time I type the "kr" for some reason that just works against muscle memory). It's very easy to post to there especially using the Aperture Flickr upload plugin which works like a charm. My only complaint with that is that I have many hierarchical tags in Aperture which I depend on for searching so that if, for instance, I search for "Plants" that will get me everything that I've tagged with "Gardens" as well as "Trees" and "Flowers." That greatly reduces the amount of keywording that I have to do. But Flickr doesn't support hierarchical tags and the exporter just exports the bottom level tag instead of the whole tree. Still, that's just a nitpick. I'm very happy so far.

Oh, and by the way, the photograph is one I took yesterday of the trees behind the Tops school in Eastlake. We do get some fall foliage here.

Continue reading “Flickr” »

September 13, 2006

Accessible Programming

I just came across an article in Salon titled “Why Johnny can't code” exploring the decline in availability of simple programming tools included with computers. It happens to be written by one of my faveorite Science Fiction authors, David Brin (a fact that I didn't realize until the mention of Startide Rising on the last page--bad me for not reading bylines). His basic thesis is that currently children (or students of any age) have no ready access to a simple programming language like the BASIC that used to be included with every computer, and that because of this, while computers are becoming more and more important, people have less and less of an inroad into understanding how they work.

Continue reading “Accessible Programming” »

Microsoft Internet Explorer hates Tapirtype Blog

I don't own a Windows machine or have access to one on a daily basis, so I took an opportunity to check out the blog from Microsoft Internet Explorer, and man, does it not render right! Of course, it also choked on the New York Times website, so we're not alone. Unfortunately I forgot to check what the version was (it isn't by any means guaranteed that the computer I was using was up to date), but it was under XP. Most of the main site was at least readable, but it couldn't handle the photo galleries at all. It didn't seem to get css widths right and it didn't even seem to be trying to display the pngs.

Anyway, I can't really bring myself to care. I develop this site on a mac and use Safari as my main browser, resorting to Firefox on the rare occasions that Safari can't handle. So I check the site in Firefox before I make anything really new and as long as it works there I'm happy. That said, if you are wondering why this site looks so broken, please do yourself a favor and use something other than Internet Explorer.

Update: Well, it looks like MSIE is back to being able to render the NYT website ok. Must have been a one day thing. The bottom line still applies, though, that imperfect as this site is, I'm going to use standards compliance and how it renders in Safari and Firefox as my target and not worry about whether that breaks things for MSIE (which I can't check easily anyway).

September 6, 2006

Migrated to php

I just migrated the blog to php so that I can later take advantage of php inside our pages. This means that if, by some chance, someone out there has linked to a page here ending in ".html," they should now be going to the same page but ending in ".php" instead.

August 6, 2006

Movable type entry formatting

You may of noticed that I kind of petered out on my last post about our Saturday morning tradition. That's largely because I spent all day working on a convenient way to format entries in Movable Type with multiple pictures and text flowing around them. We're using Movable Type here at Tapirtype, and largely I couldn't be happier. I looked into it the other day and discovered that I could set up a non-commercial blog for free, which is great, and I downloaded it, expecting to quickly run into a snag that I couldn't resolve. To my surprise, after creating a new subdomain on our webserver, I was able to install and set up the software very easily.

Furthermore, they've set up the software to be almost infinitely flexible, taking care of all the drudgery of blogging, while still allowing you to make your site look and behave pretty much any way you want. I've only done mild re-formatting so far, but I could, and probably will, do much more eventually.

Furthermore, publishing and management is very easy. The software is set up to easily manage publishing text based entries, comments, searching, trackbacks, and the like, and you can easily upload a picture and write an entry around it. But it is just flexible enough to encourage you to want to do more, and produce a well formatted photo essay like the one I wanted to make. Unfortunately, there things get more difficult...

Continue reading “Movable type entry formatting” »

You are visiting Tapirtype Blog. Unless otherwise noted, all content is © 2006-2008 by Sasha Kopf and Michael Boyle, some rights reserved. Site design by Michael Boyle modified from the standard Movable Type templates. I've made an attempt to generate standards compliant content which should look best in Safari or, otherwise, Firefox. Use of Internet Explorer may be harmful to your sanity and I've made little attempt to support it.

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