IFRAME and Amazon Product Feed:

Posted at 09:46 PM Gems, Instruction Manual, Notebook, Toolbox
How to display inline searches in your templates and pages

A Newbie Tutorial

On my HTML pages I figured out how to use SSI to display the results of amazon_product_feed searches on my web pages. However, Neither the SSI or PHP methods described in the documentation will work if placed within the templates. I've got this great sidebar in my page design but very few of the useful Amazon Product Feed variables are available at the page template level. What to do?

There are two HTML options <OBJECT> and <IFRAME>. These are fairly well supported on the more popular browsers, though OBJECT is the only one of the two specified in the HTML 4.0 standards. Nonetheless, I went with IFRAME for some of its more useful features.

Continue reading "IFRAME and Amazon Product Feed:"


cOUNTER fLOW category index

Posted at 03:35 PM Notebook, To Do List

The template currently in use is the NoMad Man version. Need to update this. Should create a new IndexedEntry module and incorporate the phpbb comment engine integrations.

More RSS goop to figure out.

Posted at 05:27 PM Notebook, To Do List


It's making my head spin too much to try and deal with this now.

Not idle

Posted at 05:08 PM Notebook

Haven't posted for a bit, but I certainly haven't been idle.

Finished off the general design and implementation for a couple sideblogs, MediaThings and cOUNTER fLOW. You'll see them in the sidebar of the main index page of every blog.

Also did a bunch of work to the main index sidebar and set it up to be the default on all blogs.

One of the cute little upgrades is to provide RSS feeds by category. Thanks to the girlie matters for that. If you choose to implement that, I've got a couple suggestions for editing the default RSS template to make the feed a bit more informative. I'll post them in this blog when I have the time. (Or sooner if someone asks me to.) RSS is still making my head spin.

Still trying to figure out why some blocks in the sidebar bleed into one another in IE. Doesn't happen in Netscape where all blocks remain distinct. Can't see a difference in the code between blocks that work and blocks that don't. Things that make ya go, hmmmm.

Oh yeah, finally got around to acknowledging (most of) the MT plugins that power these blogs. Thanks!

Blog List -- A list of blogs on this site.

Posted at 01:57 PM Notebook
Eventually, I'll create an index that builds this, but for now:
My Messy Workbench
This blog, which is where I test and work on my blogs, post hacks, mods and plugins that I install, write reviews and post my todo/toodone lists.
NoMad Man
Is a more literary blog, where I write about various subjects.
Media Things
This is a sideblog, which means it's primarily designed to create links to appear in the sidebar of the main index. You'll see it in the sidebar on this page. However, I've upgraded MediaThings to function as something of a sideways blog. That is, it can stand on its own. In this form, I use it for posting reviews of various books, films and records I read, view or listen to.
This one is a full-blown sideblog, though I may upgrade it to function like Media Things. For now I just use it to post interesting links, typically to dissent/activist pages I like.
That's it for now. More coming, I'm sure.

Fill in the Amazon "Line" for Media Things sideblog.

Posted at 12:35 PM Notebook, Too Done List

Simply providing the author/artist and album/book title in the keyword search isn't doing it -- I keep getting books instead of DVDs and audio CDs.

Fortunately, that's just rewriting a Macro or two (er, four).

Some good reasons for using phpBB as your Movable Type comment engine.

Posted at 11:08 PM Notebook, Reviews

I've integrated my phpBB forum installation to run comments on my Movable Type blogs. ((Here's how.) There are several very good reasons for doing so. Continue reading "Some good reasons for using phpBB as your Movable Type comment engine."


Taking MT Editors Offline

Posted at 02:09 PM Notebook, Reviews

I've already talked about offline editing in a general way in the article Editing your blogs offline -- not ready for primetime.

At this writing, I manage a Movable Type installation (or try to) comprised of 3 full blogs and a pair of sideblogs. Four of these are (or will be) fairly active and in a single writing session I may post to all four. I'm writing this entry on my laptop which, as is often the case, is presently not connected to the internet.

I write a lot; I write in several blogs; so far, I'm the only author on my blogs; I write away from the web. This set of circumstances presents a number of feature requirements which the currently available MT editing tools generally fulfill poorly, if at all.

I'm going to talk about offline blogging with three popular and generally well-designed desktop editors for Movable Type blogs: Zempt 0.3, SharpMT 2.1 and w.Bloggar 3.03. First, I'll identify some basic requirements for editing mulitiple blogs offline, and how each of the editors fails or succeeds to meet those requirements. Then I'll discuss additional offlining pros and cons for each editor.

Continue reading "Taking MT Editors Offline"

New Topic notification

Posted at 11:07 AM Gems, Notebook

There's a phpBB hack to add Forum-wide email notification to phpBB boards. It's a good hack, except that it generates notification emails for all replies to all forum topics. This is a bit too much notification.

Following is a method for reducing forum-level notification so that they are only sent when a new topic is created.

Continue reading "New Topic notification"


Add Quick Reply phpBB hack to MT.

Posted at 02:28 AM Gems, Notebook, Too Done List


I've already got this simple but elegant hack working in phpBB. Now it's just a matter of porting it to my MT installation.


Done! Want to know how to do it yourself? Read on! (Note: This MT add-on assumes you've already installed the fluffyblog Using phpBB as your MovableType comment engine in 23847392 easy steps tutorial to your MovableType installation.

Continue reading "Add Quick Reply phpBB hack to MT."


Rand McNally travel store no longer sells Eagle Creek

Posted at 06:54 AM Backburner, Notebook

Have to update the affiliate links on multimedia guerilla 'cause the merchant's no longer selling travel supplies (wish they'd tell us they're doing that!)

While I'm in there, might as well get around to updating the whole page with embedded links to REI and popups.


Done with the Rand McNally stuff. and made some headway with the general page update. Now just need to complete that.

[EDIT Jan 19, 04]

Done for now with link updates. Won't bother with popups for the timebeing.

Wolfe Camera dropped from linkshare merchant list

Posted at 06:37 AM Notebook, Too Done List

So I'll have to update the Fujifilm affiliate links in my bicycle touring packing list outfitting the multimedia traveller and to some new merchant.


Actually, wasn't linked to Wolfe Camera anyway, but this got me motivated to clean up some of the other stuff.

Side blogs

Posted at 08:53 AM Notebook, Too Done List

Here's something to research...

Side Blogs


Presently listening to:
A Place for my Head - Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory (03:04)

Continue reading "Side blogs"

Redecorating MyMessy Workbench

Posted at 12:43 AM Notebook

Getting the colour scheme to match the eJournal site.

Probably going to have to do something with the link colours in the right hand sidebar...

Any comments on the current look will be appreciated -- critical observations most welcome.


Presently listening to:
Solsbury Hill - Peter Gabriel - Shaking the Tree: Sixteen Golden Greats (04:20)


Renovating and redecorating the eJournal site

Posted at 08:06 PM Notebook

Been redecorating over on the eJournal site. Like it?

In the process I also discovered the site's become so large the free site search engine from Master.com was no longer indexing all the pages (max, 30MB, and the site's over that by nearly 10 MB.) Spent a fair bit of time renovating the search facilities. To accommodate all that content, I split the search between photo galleries and text pages, which brings the page count and total size under the minimums, for now. The image gallery alone chews up 29MB -- and that's only counting the text on 1900 pages!)

While I was at the search bit, also added indexing and search for these blogs to the text search (example)

The Master.com engine's a good one -- the advanced search options are pretty powerful (example). Great functionality for a free service -- particularly considering the page/size maximums are a very generous 5000/30MB. Very few sites attain such sizes.

Being on the subject of search engines, I've deployed ht:dig on the Suitable for Framing online gallery. It's open source, meaning not only is it free, you get a copy of the source code to mess around with. On that site, I extended ht:dig to display thumbnails of the images returned by the search (example). Pretty nifty, actually.

It may be time to revisit ht:dig for the eJournal picture gallery search, just to get the thumbnails. I'd have gone with ht:dig the first time around, but my synaptic.bc.ca ISP at the time didn't support the software libraries required. Perhaps my newest ISP does?


Forgot the guestbook

Posted at 03:44 AM Notebook

Forgot to apply the textbox class to the Guestbook page...http://www.synaptic.bc.ca/guestbook/ [EDIT Got that]

Oh, and the grey in the context bar too. [EDIT Got that]

And the contact form has that nasty width=100% thing happening. [EDIT Corrected]

Might want to do something about the mailing list too. [Hmmm. I'll just leave that grey-green for the moment. -- create a new todo and close this one]

Ahh, yes, and don't forget the drop-down menus...


Posted at 03:38 AM Notebook

Spent much of the last couple days reworking the eJournal's site design. Shouldn't have taken that long, but there's this pesky difference in the behaviours of Netscape and IE. In IE, specifying a percantage width for an object in a table may not work the way you'd expect.

<table width="100%"> in IE produces a table fully 100% of the size of the current element, without taking into account any formatting done on it.

This caused no end of grief -- well, eventually I figured it out. On the pages, the box the main text appears in often contains a 100% wide table, and this table was forcing the box to contact with the context bar rather than have the little space between.

Worked great in Netscape, though. Just have to remember to be more careful to test on both platforms.


Add Amazon links to Feb 15th Chomsky event in Critical Events

Posted at 07:45 PM Notebook, To Do List
Presently listening to:
The New Messiah - The Philosopher Kings - Famous Rich and Beautiful (04:07)


Fix 100% width banner table

Posted at 06:40 PM Notebook, Too Done List

With the current CSS banner class, a 100% width table forces the banner to be GT the window width. In Netscape, this doesn't cause any problems...but in IE -- lookout!

Have to rethink the banner formatting.

[EDIT] OK, that's done. Much better...

Also changed the templates for NoMad MaN to match My Messy Workbench.

AHA! Add forum notification!

Posted at 11:30 AM Notebook, Too Done List


Look for Davil's MOD.

Provides the user with the ability to subscribe to a whole forum!

This will also provide a "backdoor" method for allowing blog visitors to receive notificaiton of all new updates.


That was just too complicated -- mod never seemed to get out of Beta, too many posts with suggested changes...

I'm about to try this one instead:


Or at least I was until the site went down, just now!

It's back. We're on.

[EDIT jan 18, 04]

Completed. Want to know how? See New Topic Notification.

Presently listening to:
I Against I feat. Massive Atta - Mos Def - blade 2 (05:43)


Look at the Page Parser

Posted at 10:42 AM Notebook, To Do List

Page Parser has some built in modules for scanning powell's and IMDb -- hmmm.


Presently listening to:
Like A Hurricane - Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Live Rust (08:02)


Add a referrer's list

Posted at 10:38 AM Notebook, To Do List
Since I've got AWStats running on my server, might as well take advantage of the AwStatsReferers.
Presently listening to:
Weather Storm - Massive Attack - Protection (05:00)


Editing your blogs offline -- not ready for primetime.

Posted at 05:39 PM Notebook, Reviews

I've been looking for a good offline editor for posting entries to my Movable Type blogs. There are several exceptional freeware and donationware editing clients available for MT, and a few are useful when disconnected from the internet, so long as only one blog is to be edited. SharpMT, Zempt and w.Bloggar, in particular, make for serviceable single-blog offline editors. However, no editor provides more than the most rudimentary functionality and features called for in an offline environment. And bloggers who publish more than one weblog are in a particularly cumbersome bind.

Continue reading "Editing your blogs offline -- not ready for primetime."

Complete integrating changes for phpBB comment engine

Posted at 03:49 PM Notebook, Too Done List


Still working on step Get the correct comment counts.


Comment counts installed.

Now working on comment display, which is not working at the moment. fetch_all is not getting the list of posts, for some reason.


got that going (Missing CRLF at the end of a comment in the code, caused a crucial line to get deleted.

Next item up on this list is to integrate fluffy's display code, which includes login/logout links. Very nice.


OK, done with that. Next up: recent discussions list, which should be easy enough...


Actually, that took some debugging. Fluffy's php was hard-coded for FluffyBlog, so I abstracted the hard-coded stuff to allow a bit more flexibility for use in both my blogs.

It's operating in MyMessyWorkbench, just have to port it over to NoMad MaN -- but it's time to head out to my cousins' for xmas dinner...



Presently listening to:
Peter Gabriel & Massive Attack - Games Without Frontiers - Peter Gabriel - (05:17)

/" target="_blank">

Hey! Where's the sidebar?

Posted at 11:35 AM Notebook

Hmmm. The sidebar's gone on the Main Index page. Wonder what happened to that?

Must be something I've done with the continued integration of phpBB as the new comment engine... oh, <sigh>


Turns out it's a bug in the fetch_all plugin for phpBB which is coughing-up on square brackets [ ] if they appear in the forum comments. Now fixed in integrate.inc, the code for integrating phpBB as the MT comment engine.


Presently listening to:
Cry - The Philosopher Kings - (03:03)


Changed comment engine from MT default to phpBB bulletin board.

Posted at 05:10 PM Notebook, Too Done List

Just completed phase I of implementing phpBB as the new comment engine for this blog.

If you like the way the commenting facility is implemented on this site, kudos should be forwarded to fluffy, who wrote the tutorial describing how to do it (and added a bit of code to integrate MT and the phpBB forums which do it.)

The tutorial is big and takes numerous steps, but if you follow the instructions explicitly, it'll get you where you're going. I'd misread a step and fluffy was prompt and quite helpful in resolving the issue.

Presently listening to:
Damaged Goods - Gang of Four - Entertainment! (03:21)


Add user notification via email

Posted at 04:58 PM Notebook, To Do List
There's a plugin out there somewhere. [EDIT] Trying to accomplish this through phpBB bulletin boards. It's sorta there, but needs some work. [EDIT 11 JAN 04] OK, it's working well in phpBB -- user can select to be notified when a new topic appears in a forum. Also, default phpBB reply notification is still setup. Now I need to integrate it a little more fluidly with MT. EG:
  • Add notification links to MT templates as appropriate.
  • Add links in phpbb ui back to MT entry as appropriate.
Presently listening to:
Breakdown - Tantric (03:11)


Need more glue

Posted at 04:39 PM Notebook, Too Done List


Install this plugin to provide "glue" functionality for MTCategoryList and other listing tags (Only MTEntryEntryCategories is empowered by MT to glue entries together.)

Use it to glue the category menu appearing at the top of the Category Index.

[EDIT completed JAN 06 03]

Also made some minor formatting revisions to the category archive.


Presently listening to:
Warm Ways - Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac (03:55)


Created a Category Archive Index

Posted at 08:37 PM Gems, Notebook, Too Done List

I created a Category Archive Index template in the Index Templates section. It creates the file http://www.synaptic.bc.ca/NoMadMan/CategoryIndex.html, listing all categories, with their descriptions, and the entries in them. It also uses <a name="..."> to create links to anchors within the document, which I use to build a menu bar at the top of the document.

To do this yourself, create a new index template called CategoryIndex.

Copy the default MasterArchive index template to your new CategoryIndex template.

Insert the code below into CategoryIndex, replacing the <MTArchive> container.

<div align="center">
<MTCategories glue=" | ">
    <a href="#<$MTCategoryLabel$>"><$MTCategoryLabel$></a>
<div> </div>
    <dt><a name="<$MTCategoryLabel$>"></a><a
     (<$MTCategoryCount$>)</strong></h3></a> </dt>
        <a href="<$MTEntryLink$>"><strong><$MTEntryTitle$></strong></a> :: 
        <MTEntryCategories glue=" | ">
        <a href="<$MTCategoryArchiveLink$>"><em><$MTCategoryLabel$>
        </em></a> </MTEntryCategories><br />
      <br /><br />

When you rebuild, there'll be a new CategoryIndex in your blog root directory. Just add links in your other templates and you're ready to go.

Presently listening to:
September Fifteenth - Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays - As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls (07:45)


Hmmm. Time Travel test worked, sorta.

Posted at 05:34 AM Notebook, Testbench

If you post an entry with a date sometime in the future MT behaves pretty much as I would have expected it. Except that it's displayed in the Main Index as well, which is a bit counter-intuitive to me.

It's OK to have the future date archive appear in there. However, the Main Index should be a place for current news. Not the distant pass, but also not the future, whether close-at-hand or quite distant.

I hope I'm not going to be looking at that thing for the next year.

Maybe I'll just change the date...

There's more about future behaviour in in This is a calendar/date/archive test

Bug report at MT coming up.

Presently listening to:
Lord of the Rings Soundtrack - - - (02:07)


Q: How can I get the category(ies) to display with my entry?

Posted at 07:52 PM Gems, Notebook, Too Done List

How'd I get the "Notebook" category link to display on the same line as the entry title?

This one's really easy. First, take a look @ The MT Wiki MTCategory page. You'll get the basics there. And while you're there, bookmark the MT Wiki site -- very useful.

Armed with that little tidbit of knowledge, all I did was find MTEntryTitle tag in my index templates. They looked like

            <h3 class="title"><$MTEntryTitle$></h3>
I wrapped them in two-cell tables, like this.
<table width="100% border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0">
<tr valign=top><td>
    <h3 class="title"><$MTEntryTitle$></h3>
</td><td align=right>
    <MTEntryCategories glue=", ">
        <a href="<$MTCategoryArchiveLink$>"><$MTCategoryLabel$></a>

The title is in the left hand cell and the piece of code from MT Wiki is in the right-hand cell. I set that cell to right justify.

No sweat!


Presently listening to:
Letter to Hiro - The Vapours - New Clear Days - (06:23)


Presently listening to:

Posted at 06:10 AM Gems, Notebook

This is a tutorial for installing a Windows-only implementation for Moveable Type (MT) bloggers, though Mac users may nonetheless find some useful ideas here, as certainly will enthusiasts for other blogging systems..

If you want to be able to insert Amazon links to whatever's playing on Windows Media Player or WinAmp into your blog entries, read on. It's not all that difficult: it does require some trival edits to some of your MT templates, and you'll have to install a couple plug-ins. If you don't already use Zempt 0.3 SharpMT 2.0 or w.Bloggar, you'll need one of these too, if only to generate the required code.

Continue reading "Presently listening to:"