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Welcome to WordPress!

December 27th, 2004

Hi everyone! Welcome to my new WordPress blog. I’ve switched from Movable Type because of the problems it was causing to my hosts, Textdrive, notably in dealing with comment spam. In addition, WordPress is much less intensive on servers.

I’m now on my third blogging system, my fourth blog and my fifth host, but I’m hoping to stabilize things at this point. I’ve got my domain name for the next ten years, I’m very happy with Textdrive’s service and I have high hopes that WordPress will prove to be the software I’ve been looking for.

As usual in a shift of this kind, some comments have been lost. I had to run in parallel for a little while to get things working. In addition, I’m still dealing with the blogroll. On previous occasions, I’ve promised an attempt to retrieve comments, but not delivered. This time I’m not going to make that promise, but I will try and find a way that those who’d like their contributions accessible can retrieve their comments and repost them.

I welcome comments, particularly from other WordPress users, pointers to designs I could pinch and plug-ins I should adopt, and so on.

UpdateThe MT version of the blog is still accessible here. As Tom DC/VA, the first commenter on the new version observes, mindless reposting of comments could cause trouble. For example, if your comment points out the fundamental logical flaws in a previous comment, reposting it alone may not be helpful. But I’m going to leave that up to the good judgement of my readers. If you think your comment should live a little longer, and makes sense on its own, feel free to repost it (or not).

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  1. Tom DC/VA
    December 27th, 2004 at 13:34 | #1

    Reposting old comments in the new threads is likely to make for a real mess. Why not just make the old archives available on a read-only basis if someone wants to see the original discussion? The old site could live on for a time at johnquiggin.com/mta or something similar.

  2. Nabakov
    December 27th, 2004 at 15:10 | #2

    However WordPress can’t do anything about the beard can it?

  3. John Quiggin
    December 27th, 2004 at 15:17 | #3

    I don’t think it admits improvement!

  4. December 27th, 2004 at 16:17 | #4

    John, it might be possible to export the “gap” comments from Movable Type, and then import them into WP. It would require a bit of fiddling with template tags, but I’m reasonably sure it could be done by a competent fiddler.

    Posting a question on the MT forums usually gives you a solution (or rules one out) quite quickly, so perhaps you will consider that approach?

  5. December 27th, 2004 at 18:33 | #5

    If it is any help I think you will find that any comment from Nabakov about anything at anytime will repost anywhere with equal meaning or not.

  6. December 27th, 2004 at 18:51 | #6

    This has worse look and feel, at any rate on my browsers, and it has no preview facility.

  7. December 27th, 2004 at 19:03 | #7

    JQ – I’m partly with PML. No preview is a nuisance. I say the look and feel is ok except that a sans serif will work better on line than the current font. I see some blogs have a “toggle font” button for the reader to control font and size – maybe the new software will do it?

  8. John Quiggin
    December 27th, 2004 at 19:22 | #8

    An interesting difference in perspective. I don’t use preview much, so I hadn’t even noticed its absence, whereas I’m particularly happy to get an RSS comments feed as part of the standard setup. I’ll look into options for restoring preview and also consider changing the font. The standard approach is sans serif for headlines, serif for text, as in the old blog, so I’ll probably go that way.

  9. December 27th, 2004 at 19:55 | #9

    The Daily Flute is running an as-you-type comment preview system, which seems quite effective. You can download that plugin here.

    If you want to set up a “toggle font” button, let me know. It’s quite straightforward. I’m using a style switcher on my blog; it’s basically the same thing on a smaller scale.

    As for the new format — I agree with PML, it’s not particularly good. It’s really just the gradient in the background that does it, though.

  10. December 27th, 2004 at 20:00 | #10

    Oh, and another thing: you should use the htaccess rewrites so that you have /2004/12/27/welcome-to-wordpress/ instead of index.php?p=2110

    It’ll be helpful if you need to move to another system in future, and it is also better for your google rankings.

  11. kyan gadac
    December 28th, 2004 at 02:15 | #11

    Can I vote for the Live Preview Plug In that Robert refers to above. I end up typing goobledook half the time if I can’t preview it. :-(

    You’ve still got some layout problems . This comments block should be kept within the post(LH) column. It is transparent over the right hand column – which can have text in it. I’m using FF on 800×600 and the subtitle “Commentary on Australia..” overlaps with you picture. Also the email/name dialogue box could be longer than the current default(?) settings.

    Apologies if you’re already on to these.

  12. John Quiggin
    December 28th, 2004 at 06:37 | #12

    I’ve installed the plugin, but nothing happening so far. It may be a while before I get on top of all this, given various family holiday commitments

  13. December 28th, 2004 at 10:38 | #13

    No rush, John! It’s a reasonably steep learning curve, especially when you’re used to MT’s nice template tags. (That’s the one thing WP should sort out if they want to take on MT in a serious way.)

  14. December 28th, 2004 at 13:50 | #14

    More details, clarifying what I put earlier.

    I use preview mostly when I want to make sure I’ve got a link right or something like that. Its absence is not a huge problem.

    The look-and-feel is bad from trying to override the HTML ethos of letting the viewer sort things out. Since it appears to be “optimised” for the usual mob of browsers, that ends up pessimised for everything else. On one browser (Arachne for Dos) I get a lot of blank space being generated whenever there is an apostrophe or some other unusual punctuation. On this, Netscape 2.0 under Windows 3.1, quotation marks get rendered as question marks. I’ve sometimes had to guess which button to press to post, since it is sometimes blank with no text (but not consistently).

    By the way, I’ve been posting a link to my own home page where you’ve been asking for someone called “Uri”. Is that OK?

    I think it comes down to someone who wrote the blog software thinking he was in charge of what the browsers did, and optimising according to his lights without reference to what was actually optimal or not.

  15. Tom DC/VA
    December 28th, 2004 at 14:00 | #15

    As exciting as being the first to comment is, I do hope that this doesn’t use up my entire 15 minutes of fame…

  16. December 28th, 2004 at 15:14 | #16

    It looks very pretty on my browser, which is an ancient version of IE for Mac on OSX.

  17. December 28th, 2004 at 15:21 | #17

    PML, people can’t be expected to cater for browsers that predate the dinosaurs.

  18. December 28th, 2004 at 15:59 | #18

    Robert, you’re missing it (and Arachne is under active development).

    The smartarse approach goes something like this: “Hey! why don’t we change all those punctuation marks to control codes which will produce the ‘right’ look and feel on the browsers our target audience uses?”

    Then of course that won’t work properly on “dinosaur” browsers – but not from any fault of theirs but from disregarding what HTML is supposed to do, i.e. work by embedding tags in ordinary text and not control codes with idiosyncratic behaviour.

    What happens to “dinosaurs” is a symptom of what will happen under any browser other than the expected audience, even up to the moment developments. What is the effect under Firefox, for instance? Does anyone know?

    For a wider discussion of these issues see the anybrowser site (http://www.anybrowser.org, in case that doesn’t show up properly).

  19. Nick Caldwell
    December 28th, 2004 at 18:22 | #19

    The markup on this site is mostly very good, clean and semantic. Browsers such as Lynx should be able to serialise it coherently and screen readers should be able to present it to vision-impaired users very well. If a text browser can’t render unicode or standard character encodings ( a hash followed by a number ) then it’s pretty much not a web browser, regardless of claims otherwise.

    I would note that there are a couple of validation problems; firstly, two unescaped ampersands, secondly, a repetition of id=”header” where the id should be in a div that encapsulates the h1 and p. Oh, and attributes such as href can’t be uppercase in XHTML.

    All in all, I think it’s looking pretty good.

  20. December 28th, 2004 at 21:53 | #20

    I find WP better than MT but the one complaint I have is the apparent lack of ability to change post categories in large numbers at the same time.

  21. December 28th, 2004 at 23:04 | #21

    Nick, Arachne does have unicode support – it had to, since it needed to support Czech special symbols for its original author.

    Are you assuming that being unable to cope with unicode is the most likely flaw in my browser, and filling in a flaw at this end in your imagination?

    Punctuation marks that are perfectly capable of being rendered almost anywhere are being converted to special characters, in order to optimise for some preferred target. On Arachne, “this doesn’t work” comes out something like ___this_doesn___t_work___ (replacing spaces with underscores here, for illustration, and in Netscape 2.0 it comes over as ?this doesn?t work?.

    The highlighting and emphasising can cause the emphasised text to be repositioned and overwrite something else on the same line. There was no occasion to do that optimising, and it is wrong to decvlare a browser broken simply from not adapting to someone else’s extension of a standard (that makes it non-standard and defeats the whole object of HTML, as I already pointed out). There isn’t even any reason for it – regular HTML can already handle punctuation.

  22. Nabakov
    December 29th, 2004 at 04:40 | #22

    Doesn’t work in Mosaic.

    Also I think many of us do quite like the “latest comment” function.

  23. Nick Caldwell
    December 29th, 2004 at 10:42 | #23

    My point was that, apart from a couple of small errors, this site is really close to valid XHTML. I don’t understand what you’re talking about in reference to “someone’s extension of a standard” given that XHTML is a standard, devised by the creators of the World Wide Web.

    I downloaded Arachne and attempted to use it; it’s always good to have a range of browsers at one’s finger-tips. It crashed every time I attempted to set up networking. Not very impressive. The Arachne homepage is also badly broken (dead image links, dead pages, etc).

    What could be happening is that some commentators are pasting text into the comment field from an external text editor, one that produces non-standard character encodings. (this, by the by, is a pretty good reason to use a Textile or Markdown plug-in for comment fields, as they should be able to normalise character encodings before rendering).

    But on the other hand, I keep viewing the source code and not finding anything particularly out of the ordinary. There are (and I’m putting spaces between the letters to prevent accidental rendering) & # 8 2 1 7 ; , which are perfectly normal numeric character entities.

  24. December 29th, 2004 at 10:58 | #24

    What is the effect under Firefox, for instance? Does anyone know?

    Yes, I run Firefox. The site looks fine, because Firefox supports web standards.

    Nick, WordPress converts punctuation to typographically correct punctuation. It’s an option that can be turned off if one wishes. However, as you point out, the numeric entities that WP substitutes are entirely legitimate — and in fact predate XHTML, so one wonders what PML is on about.

  25. December 29th, 2004 at 11:00 | #25

    Nabakov, I’ve emailed John a file that will allow him to restore the “recent comments” list, so it will be back soon.

  26. December 29th, 2004 at 14:24 | #26

    Ah – Nick, you’ve found the original Arachne home page, now abandoned (it’s literally years out of date). Arachne is now supported by a user group. Try googling on “Glenn McCorkle”, or go directly to his home page – he hosts the latest release, which I think is 1.77 now (I’m still on 1.75).

    Robert, I don’t know what the codes being sent are. I have described the look and feel I’m getting, but I don’t claim to know what is causing it, merely that since two distinct browsers are rendering weirdly (and didn’t with the earlier blog) it seems to be more likely to be the fault of the new blog. It is precisely because the older officially accepted stuff is supposed to work that I suspect that the coders decided to do something else instead, maybe in some back end that intercepts and converts what is originally being generated. I think it’s worth raising this issue with the Arachne support mailing list – it may turn out to be some minore config file setting at my end, but as against that Netscape shouldn’t be responding the way it does either, if the codes being sent genuinely are standard.

    It doesn’t seem likely to be a javascript issue, which is the only non-enabled thing that I know both my browsers have in common.

  27. December 29th, 2004 at 18:47 | #27

    PM, as you guessed, WordPress substitutes plain punctuation for typographically correct punctuation. In doing so, it transmits numeric entity codes to your browser. These codes have been an accepted web (and non-web, such as desktop publishing) standard for many years. If your browser doesn’t display them, then it is because it does not support the standard.

  28. December 29th, 2004 at 22:15 | #28

    As a ratty typist late at night, I find that glitches creep in whenever I don’t use a preview button, so I really value it. And the space to type comments on Safari is now a thin letterboxy thing which is much less user friendly.

    I find the bullet point thingys for links a bit offputting too, and I am not sure about the numbering of comments. The testimonials section is occupying valuable real estate high on the right hand column, which may not be pulling its weight.

    In time, i think you will find a better banner too. Great to get away from corporate blue though. .. ah the pleasures of change.

  29. Rafe
    December 30th, 2004 at 14:30 | #29

    Speaking as another ratty typist…still it is the thought that counts, people can make allowance for the odd typo and even some awkward writing. As the box down below exhorts …..

  30. James Farrell
    January 1st, 2005 at 22:40 | #30

    ‘…if your comment points out the fundamental logical flaws in a previous comment…’

    Easy to get around that one. Just repost all of Jack’s comments, then all the logical errors would be near to hand.

    Happy New Year to the Captain, crew and passengers of HMAS Johnquiggin.com.

    I support the call for comments preview and ‘recently commented’ to be included somehow. Both are indispensible.

  31. James Farrell
    January 1st, 2005 at 22:44 | #31

    I just noticed that ‘Recently commented on’ is back anyway. Good.

  32. January 1st, 2005 at 22:52 | #32

    So is the comment preview — as you type, it appears below the comment entry box.

  33. January 2nd, 2005 at 09:02 | #33

    No, Robert, comment preview does not appear as you go, in two respects:-

    - It needs javascript, right? (I don’t use it).

    - It does not let you have a separate stage you can check, i.e. a frozen snapshot (which is true preview). Rather, it does an estimate – an estimate which could be upset by certain sequences of keying around (I’ve seen interactive responses go wrong this way before, and you can never test the facilities enough for confidence the way you can with a batch preview).

    And for what it’s worth, precisely because your attention is on the keying in box, you have to do what amounts to batch use to get the preview anyway, either scrolling to it or looking across if it’s short enough. There’s no gain in functionality and a loss of reliability with interactive preview.

    I know that’s “just my opinion”, but in the computer game, particularly interfaces, I do have quite some background; it’s an expert opinion, which you are quite at liberty to ignore.

    If the interaction screws up with strange use of keying around, I’ll give you the “I told you so” for free.

  34. January 2nd, 2005 at 22:57 | #34

    I take your point. I don’t use preview buttons — occasional typos aren’t worth the effort, imo — so perhaps I’m the wrong person to listen to about this issue.

  35. January 3rd, 2005 at 16:27 | #35

    I don’t care about previews either, except when they really matter, which for me is when I need to check out a link before locking it in.

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