|Tuesday, May 28, 2002
A Radio Tip
Did everybody but me know that in your Radio text entry box SHIFT+ENTER causes a single line space? Enormous thanks to Ian McKenzie for the tip.
Photo Albums Enhance Weblogs
Among the many things I want to learn to do with this weblog, HTML, scripting and whatever else people are using to build great personal web sites are photo albums. I posted some links to good work yesterday. However, few photo albums equal these! What are the ingredients and the steps for doing this?
Please avoid VoiceStream!
Remember how many times you've seen someone - often a sports figure - get fed up with some reporter. The commentary after he blows his stack always goes something like, "Joe should have known he can't win an argument with a reporter; they get free airtime (or space or whatever the medium may be)."
Well, tonight this weblog is being used to describe how VoiceStream is about to lose a customer. I may not prevail, but I'll have the last word! Thus far, everyone at VoiceStream I've spoken with, seems unconcerned about losing a customer. I won't wear you down with every ugly detail, but this all began in 1997 when I decided to become a customer of a regional cell phone service called PowerTel. Until April of this year, we loved PowerTel; no contracts, great service, friendly people. In April, VoiceStream began to put their own name and methods in PowerTel, a company they acquired last year.
April 26th, VoiceStream should have drafted their normal monthly payment from American Express as they have done each and every month since 1997. It was like a blank check for them. They didn't have to bill me. I didn't have to write a check. Their payment was always at their beck and call. I got frequent traveler points.
For some reason VoiceStream's computer couldn't talk to American Express's computer on April 26th. Ever since a May 9th phone conversation - there have now been three - VoiceStream has considered me a past due customer and today's mail brought a letter threatening to cut off our cell phones. Without exception I have been treated as someone who didn't take proper care of his account and his credit reputation!!
My AmX account was ok, current, valid expiration date, etc. Three times I authorized VoiceStream to draft the account again. This required giving them my account information again and again after they've been billing the same account for over five years! Two of those times I got confirmation numbers from VoiceStream employees. Once, during a conversation, the phone call just went dead. A week later I got a call from someone saying they couldn't return my call because they DIDN'T HAVE MY PHONE NUMBER, and how did I want to handle my past due situation! I'm not smart enough to make any of this up!
I'll go to my grave discouraging anyone from using VoiceStream products or services unless that company precedes me! If they precede me, I'll simply use them as one of the worst examples of service, systems, training and customer rapport in every presentation and consulting engagement I'm involved with!
My schedule for tomorrow is now getting rearranged so that I can go "shop" the cellular phone providers. I wish I thought I was going to stumble into a place that was delighted to provide service for all of our phones and a credit card they can bill as needed. I'm not holding my breath!
Radio Themes - Part 2
THE DESKTOP WEBLOG: While I'm rolling on the notion of themes in Radio, let's cover a couple of additional topics. First, there's the matter of the desktop weblog and the text entry box. I'm fine with all of that with a tiny exception or two. I'd like to know what controls the font that I'm typing in right now, what font this shows up as when posted and the details of line spacing, etc.
If I press 'enter' after typing a line of text, I'm automatically at a paragraph break. In other words, I've double (line) spaced down the page. Where is the control for this? When I conclude something and post it, there are a couple of lines after my post and a short line - left justified - containing the time, the permalink icon and my comments indicator and counter. Does the #itemtemplate control 100% of this? Is it telling this short line of information to left justify? Is the same template specifying the color, size and font for the time, comments, etc.? Where is the permalink icon specified?
If I wanted the first line I type in any post to be all caps in a specific font, can I make one of the templates force that?
MY HOME PAGE: Now let's consider my home page as rendered in the Transmitter theme. If I start in the upper left-hand corner and identify every component of the home page, how do I "map" those into a new theme? For the moment ignore the large button graphic and notice that the title begins a certain distance from the left-hand edge of the screen. Where is that specified? What do I change to alter that? The title is also in a certain font at a certain size. Again, where does the Transmitter theme find the information to render the title that particular way?
Right below the title is this: Updated mm/dd/yyyy; hh:mm:ss A/PM. Where is this specified - both the look and the placement?
Further down the left-hand side is a list of navigator links. Does the pref called navigator links specify their font, size, etc.? Does that same pref specify that they are X distance from the left-hand side? Is the orange background that the navigator links are on specified in the navigator links or does that come from the home template or possibly the main template?
Can you move the location of the calendar over there on the right to somewhere else? If so, where is that controlled?
By now you understand that I want to be able to take every piece of my weblog as rendered in the Transmitter template and remap those pieces to a new theme. Placement on the page, colors, fonts, sizes, graphics - everything is fair game; but, where do you begin to build a new theme?
Anyone interested in helping me reverse-engineer a theme?
Click here if you missed Radio Themes - Part 1
Radio Themes - Part 1
I know enough about Radio to be dangerous only to myself. I don't know enough about Radio to be dangerous to anyone else. However, I've had an idea about what I want to do with this tool for quite some time. I haven't had a clue how to get started in that direction.
This post is an attempt to launch my efforts in the proper direction. The summary statement goes like this, "I think that what I'm trying to envision is a different theme for Radio." Earth shaking isn't it?
What I mean is that no matter how good I become at editing, altering and embellishing the #hometemplate.txt or the #itemtemplate.txt files of this weblog, I'm simply changing minor things about the Transmitter theme that comes with Radio. What came to me like a bright flash in the night is the fact that every icon, every font, every placement of anything on every page is a result of something that is "programmed" or "scripted" into the Transmitter theme.
Trying to piece-work all the changes that I want for my own site is probably a far greater task than simply starting with a blank HTML page and beginning to do the layout and design work for the look that I want to wind up with. In other words, it may be easier to lay out a weblog home page with one of the popular page design tools and then begin to understand where all of Radio's templates, macros, directives and pieces should be placed.
If any of the readers of this site have "broken the code" and identified a specific sequence of steps that yields a brand new Radio theme, please let me know!
Click here to go to Radio Themes - Part 2
Buffett calls this a business with a moat!
Well, not literally, but everything that Warren Buffett has described about the businesses he most wants to own are present with the brand known as Dilbert. Scott Adams is cleverly positioning and furthering the brand.
Why Dilbert loves the Internet. Scott Adams, creator of the popular comic strip, spills his guts to News.com about his plans to become a Web mogul and conquer the business world--all from a nice cozy cubicle, of course. [CNET News.com]
Unknown. "I'm not worried about the bullet with my name on it... just the thousands out there marked 'Occupant.'" [Quotes of the Day]
I realized the other day that it wasn't that long ago that I had no idea what a weblog was. Terms like blogging in all its forms were foreign. I had used the Internet and web sites a lot, but I didn't really grasp the difference in a vanity site, a weblog and other web sites I might have visited. My first involvement with this medium began on January 13, 2002.
Lately, I've identified in my writing some horrible traits. Many of my references have become veiled to all but those who are "deep" into the weblogging culture or the Radio (by Userland Software) culture or in other ways insiders to this whole arena of weblogs.
With this post, I'm committing to do a better job of clarifying my references, questions and comments so that weblogging takes on much more of a personal publishing look-and-feel. Those who are getting their first exposure to this on any given day should be able to pick it up fairly quickly.
Ed Cone's guest column below was the inspiration for this thinking. He has written a guest column or essay for Davenet, which is a weblog edited by Dave Winer, CEO of Userland Software.
Guest DaveNet: A Personal Look at Blogging. [Scripting News]
So many choices
in the technology business involve selecting 'the winner.' For those who are early adopters, it isn't always clear which device or technology will be 'the winner.' This example isn't merely one of Palm vs. Handspring. This involves cell phones, cell phone services, mobile email and on and on and on. Handspring's got a better mousetrap. It's one thing for our selections to be obsoleted by new features, new speed or new prices, but it's another to see our choice going the way of the sliderule before we've got our address book completely entered.
Handspring Counts on Duo of Treos. In a move analysts say will determine the company's survival, Handspring releases two new handheld devices. By Elisa Batista. [Wired News]
Try Changing Their Accounting Software!
Scott is so right. Today's small and medium businesses are so entrenched with whatever business management software they use that getting them to embrace the change to a better application is like sewing a button on a poached egg!
Marketing 101: How Do I Get People to Change Platforms, Parts 1 and 2. The single hardest marketing pitch in all of computing, both hardware and software, is this: Please Mr. Customer, Change Your Platform to My New Thing!
There is just nothing harder. This article will tackle this non-trivial (that's semi sarcastic computer geek speak for "wicked hard") problem from a theoretical basis and then, in a follow up piece, with a real world example -- Drupal. [The FuzzyBlog!]
For the unindoctrinated
People who write weblogs like to be pointed at or linked to by other webloggers. It's a way to build traffic to a site and its a way to gain credibility in the weblogging world. This link points at Jonathon Delacour's site. He and another prominent blogger have apparently had a minor dispute over the value of links. This apparently escalated to the point of possible bribes, etc.
Links for Tim Tams scandal. Any pleasure I may have felt at seeing that Burningbird linked to both my Moral Clarity and 100 Best Works of Fiction posts immediately evaporated [Jonathon Delacour]
For those in the deep South who don't have a clue what's going on here, Jonathon lives in Australia. Apparently, Australians consume vast quantities of Tim Tams each year. Here's what I learned about a Tim Tam! All in good fun!
VOIP will displace traditional revenue streams
for the legacy providers of phone and data services. The fact is that all revenue streams will soon look more like data streams than voice streams for those who have made the distinction for so long. The question remains as to whether the legacy providers can make the transition from circuit-switched copper to end-to-end IP networks quickly enough.
SBC, Lucent team on Net telephony. The telecom twosome play up the technology as a way for companies to use voice over the Internet without having to make investments in new equipment. [CNET News.com]
A Radio Lesson
I've grown pretty fond of Userland Software's Radio product. I'd estimate that I understand 5-10% of what it can do! The simplest things bog me down, so I'm very slow in learning how to make the product do the things I want to do with it.
However, during the long weekend, I accomplished something with about 6 to 8 hours of work that might have taken a lot longer. Other users of Radio might benefit.
I wanted to add a list of links to my public home page that would allow my posts to be viewed by category. I use 20 categories right now. However, after adding the links to my home page, two things were wrong. First, those links weren't showing up on the pages that showed posts by category. Second, none of the other changes to my #hometemplate & #itemtemplate were available on a 'category view page.' For example, my comments weren't available and the search feature for my weblog wasn't available.
Using the Radio Discussion board, Matthew Ernest solved my problem. (I think Matthew works for Userland, but I'm not certain.) He pointed out that each category folder under the www folder has its own set of templates. I don't know whether Radio defaults to this condition or whether something I did in all my trial-and-error work caused there to be templates in the category folders.
In any case, he suggested I remove all of the # files from each category folder - except for the #prefs.txt file. That file determines what gets posted in that category. Once those folders no longer had #hometemplate.txt and #itemtemplate.txt files in them, Radio began to look back up to the primary #hometemplate & #itemtemplate files. Now I have category links, comments and a search feature in all the views of my posts. Thanks Matthew!
© Copyright 2002 Steve Pilgrim.