A Whole New Dented Reality

Back in April, this blog celebrated 10 years of existence, and it’s been almost five years since the theme on this site changed. Yesterday I decided to just go ahead and flip the switch on something I’ve been working on here and there since late last year. It’s a complete new, very experimental theme that I call “Homeroom“.

There are some specific things driving what I was aiming for with Homeroom:

  1. First and foremost, a lot of the decisions are based around the intention that it would use Keyring and the Social Importers to pull in my content from all over the web. With that much data being collected and displayed here, I realized I couldn’t go exactly with a traditional blog layout, and had to get a bit creative with some types of data.
  2. It’s intentionally heavily integrated with Jetpack (although it works without it). Jetpack powers the comments, infinite scroll, sharing buttons and more. I’ve taken care to try to make that integration feel as native as possible (although I know there’s more to be done there).
  3. Homeroom started out as an _s-based theme, although it’s been pretty radically modified from there.
  4. I’m using a technique that I’ll call “post lookahead” when going through the loop to check the next post, and do some things like collapse sequential posts if they’re the sam type of thing.
  5. I wanted something with a bit of a timeline feel, since it’s now collecting some much data, and it’s all sequential; I wanted to show the relationship of different things along that sequence of time.

It’s not particularly beautiful because, well, I’m not a designer 🙂 In the near future I’ll be talking to some friends who are though, so hopefully I can get some advice on improving things there. I’ve been mainly focused on getting it working the way that I wanted it to. Here are some other bits that might be interesting:

  • Allows custom Header and Backgrounds via wp-admin
  • Options (currently defined in a file, because I haven’t built a UI) to control some preferences around stuff like hiding Foursquare check-ins until a set amount of time after they happened (to help avoid the creepers!).
  • Heavy use of Post Formats
  • Ability to hide Twitter replies, which you probably don’t want showing up on your site.
  • There’s the beginnings of a front-end post box (partially inspired by o2), although it doesn’t actually work yet
  • Handles Foursquare checkins differently. Rather than showing them all as individual posts, it “collects” them and shows a single, multi-point map at the end of each day.
  • Shows a map automatically on any post using the WordPress-recommended postmeta fields.
  • Using the new taxonomy introduced in Keyring Social Importers 1.4, allows you to easily filter your display based on where posts were imported from.
  • Includes a custom icon font from IcoMoon to display social icons indicating where things were imported from.
  • Search results use a Masonry-based layout so that you can quickly scan the results. Unfortunately something is broken with the search mechanism on this site right now, so that’s not working 🙁
  • Automatically lists out child-pages when you view a Page that has them, for example my Projects page.
  • Dynamic heading re-writes: format your posts for individual viewing, and the H1 etc tags are automatically “stepped down” on listing pages to maintain hierarchy
  • Has some fun mapping stuff for TripIt in particular, which draws out a “flight path” between airports. Check it it out in my TripIt section. Here’s a fun one.
  • Uses Photon to apply some effects to images in places
  • Borrows liberally from the styling of sites like Instapaper and Readability.

There’s still a lot of work to go, both on the theme itself and the importers that power a lot of the content. I wanted to get this online because I knew that’d motivate me to spend more time on it. I’m also hoping that other folks might be interested and/or have some ideas on ways to improve the theme. I haven’t got all of my content imported yet (that takes a while 🙂 ), but you’ll see more and more things fill in over the coming week hopefully.

If you’ve got any ideas for improvements, I’d love to hear them down in the comments!

10 Year Blogoversary!

10 years ago today, I posted my first blog post on this site. That’s pretty much forever on the internet, and I think it probably also makes me old. A lot has changed in the last decade, both on this website, and for me personally (and the world at large). Let’s have a quick look shall we?

dentedreality.com.au

When I first created this website, I was using a little tool called blosxom to manage the blog. It was a tiny little Perl script that pulled the contents of your blog from text files on your filesystem. Pretty awesome, nerdy stuff. Dented Reality also looked something like this, pretty hot huh?

dented-2003

(more…)

Welcome to the new server

I’ve finally gotten around to moving this site (along with all my other random sites) onto a single server. It’s all now hosted at Media Temple, on a 512MB (dv). We’ll see how that goes. I’ve got a bunch of things to write up once the move is complete, but if you’re seeing this then it looks like we’re most of the way there.

There’s definitely some more tuning and tweaking to happen, but at least I have my memory usage below 100% 🙂

Dented Reality v5.0

You’re now looking at (I think) the fifth major revision of this website.

It’s been a (long) time coming, but I finally got it online today. I thought it would be fitting. It is a day of change after all. It’s definitely time for a change here at Dented Reality — the previous version was online for around 5 years (April 20, 2003 according to the WayBack Machine). I think it stood up quite well considering the changes that took place in the browser landscape in those 5 years.

Dented Reality v4.0

Dented Reality v4.0

You may notice that there are a number of new posts here, which just magically appeared. That’s because I was posting while I was developing this site on my laptop, but I didn’t want to post to the old site. For the record, here are all the posts that are new as of today (oldest to newest):

There are going to be a lot of small tweaks to be done still, and I’m sure there are some broken links etc, but I think this version is quite a step up from the previous one. It reflects a change in direction for the site and I think does a better job of showing who I am and what sort of projects I engage in.

Dented Reality v5.0

Dented Reality v5.0

Comments are now open (and powered by IntenseDebate), so please feel free to leave a note on what you think of the new site on this post!

And Then It Was Live!

Yes, I finally got my new site live, and it all appears to be working, including the new and fancy, blosxom-driven “Notes” section.

This has taken quite a bit of work to get live, but I am quite happy with the way that things have turned out. The main addition(s) that I want to make at this stage are writebacks on my Notes section, so that I can hear what you guys out there have to say about things, rather than this being a 1-way only information device 🙂

Keep an eye out for the ability to comment on my postings here in the nearish future (hopefully!). When I get it working, it should also allow for trackbacks, so you can register comments on my posts on your own blogs if you like

More Projects To Come

The main 2 sections of the site to be completed are the projects (still have some micro-sites to put together here) and the search system. I will also need to bring across the copyright info from the old site, but that will largely be copy/paste. The search system will be the most interesting part to develop, and I have some nice plans for it as well – We’ll see what I can do as far as combining 2 XML documents and an XSLT together (server-side using PHP of course!) to create the results.

The projects really could use a little work, but I just don’t have time to work on them right now. Once the site is live, I will be working on RESTments again to get that going, and then when that is up, the projects will all receive a make-over to ensure that they work with PHP’s register_globals off and magic_quotes_gpc off as well. I will also eventually get to working on new versions of webpad (which I have some great plans for) and AvantBlog (want to make a few versions, so that there is one for each major type if possible.

So now, with no other external contracts to take up my time, it is just a matter of not falling asleep and then all I have to do is my website, should mean that it’s up within a week or 2.

Slowly, slowly…

I am making progress on the new site. It is taking longer than I had hoped, but that is mostly because I actually took the time to enjoy my holiday, rather than spending the whole thing working on this 🙂

I am currently working on the Services section, which will include details about all of the things that I can do for clients, including some “elevator-pitch” style descriptions of what some of the things mean, since it’s likely that they will be new concepts for a lot of people I deal with. I am going to be trying to simplify things as much as possible with the descriptions, and provide examples or diagrams if at all possible!

It’s times like these that I wish CELIA was active already and filled with useful information and resources, then my job would be simple 🙂

Trudging Along

Work on my site is coming along. I have added in blosxom v1.1, which went pretty much without a hitch. I had to modify my template slightly, but that was more because of my dodgy custom handling, rather than anything to do with blosxom itself.

I’ve been spending some time on the projects section, getting the project pages up to scratch and re-formatted; it’s looking pretty good. I am taking a few of the old projects offline, because they don’t have any documentation, don’t work anymore, things like that 🙂

I’m not going to put a date on when the site will be live, but given the current progress, and the list of things to do still, I would estimate about 2 weeks. Here’s the current list;

  1. Projects Sections
    1. Blogger API (functions, classes + meta)
    2. phpMassMail (also requires some work to make it 4.2+ compatible, and re-format documentation to include)
    3. JSSearch (would like to get some more information/documentation/examples included)
    4. JSValidate (want to update this to include the ability to open a popup window rather than an alert – optional)
    5. Client work and websites
  2. Contact Form
    1. Layout/design
    2. Contingency design
    3. Processing/handling
    4. Result/output page
  3. Search System
    1. Layout/Design (of the results, as well as extra options, defining manual entries etc)
    2. Processing system (integrating my manual results with Google/XooMLe’s results)
    3. Management of my manual entries (and a decent name for them 🙂

So there we go. That’s what I’ll be working on in the near future. And for those interested, I will be creating a custom search system, which integrates Google‘s results for within my website (using XooMLe) with a selection of manual “Top Picks” or “Best Bets” which I have selected for certain terms. I have the rough idea planned out already, just need to implement it in code. I will probably make the code available for download once it’s complete as well, so keep an eye out for that 🙂

That’s all for now – time to get back to life.