Scott Johnson / The FuzzyGroup, Feedster / PHP Consulting / Random geeky stuff / I Blog Therefore I Am.

 Wednesday, May 21, 2003

PHP, Smarty, CSS

Well I've taken the leap and dove into the Smarty waters.  Its a little brisk and refreshing but it does taste fine and seems to work quite well.  I've moved over the Feedster Preferences page, the Drill pages and more that isn't released yet.  I've already found that when I think too hard about Smarty matters, I make mistakes.  If I just run with it, things seem to work out.  So, anyway, I was just now moving from an include to a $smarty->display($template) when it went kerfluey.  You guessed it -- CSS { and } in the template file.  How do you get around this?  Do you have to shift to an external CSS ?  Or do I chunk my template into an include for the CSS bits and a display for the non-CSS bits.  That's viable but seems, well, grody.

Any thoughts would be duly appreciated.

NOTE: Thanks to help and a strong push from Mike, I shifted to an external CSS which solves this problem.  I'm still curious though.

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Feedster, Translation and Images or "What's That Sheep All About?"

I just took a quick hack and added the "translation" link (I had to abbreviate it to "Trans" for now) to the Feedster Images page and I think it is actually pretty neat.  If you check out this blog's images, they're all pretty cool but he's French.  One click on the Trans link and I've got Google's view of the translation (with the correct url so Google gets credit).  To me that's just plain nifty.

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I Never Expected This!

Even though Feedster has been caching articles all along, I never expected this result -- being able to add comments to a blog post from the cache.  Neat.

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New Feedster Stuff

A lot of what I've been doing over the past few days has been cleaning up lots of little ui things including:

  • Profiled Urls.  Improved handling of "Profiled Urls" where by for a term like "Pirillo", "Scoble" or "Halley" or "Winer" which are so clearly identified with a particular blog, those blogs always show up at the top.  Now you can easily drill right down into All Posts, All Links, All Images and the RSS feed for that blog.  Examples:
  • Cache Term Highlight.  At the suggestion of Trinity, I added cache term highlighting which was a big improvement.  Its always the little things you know.  Example
  • Improved the display of images when there are 0 images for a given rssurl
  • Dramatically improved the ability to drill into all posts or all links for a given url.  Examples:
  • Added the ability to search both at the blog level and then expand out to the main level
  • And there's more actually.  Tons of bug fixes also.

Back to work.  More later.

When: 1:33:29 PM  | Permalink:   | comment []  |  IM Me About This   

Why You Have to Have IM These Days (and Hey Geodog!)

I've had a lot of people tell me recently that they don't like to use IM -- distracting, too bothersome, etc.  I hear you, but you know what?  You really have to have it and there's a simple reason -- Spam Blocks.  I just got incoming mail from someone (Tim Bishop of the wonderful SarsWatch ) and when I went to reply to it, the damn mail was blocked.  So now I just can't reach Tim.  Now if he had IM, I'd at least have another way.

And I strongly think that spam blocks that let you send email to addresses it isn't going to accept email back from are pathetically stupid.  Shouldn't they just bounce the mail back to the sender letting them know about the problem?  After all, its their spam block, not mine.  Why am I burdened with this crap?

Oh and a final point about IM -- I communicate with more than a few people who don't like it but also don't release their IM address to anyone other than 1 or 2 people.  For them its become highly special purpose and that limits the distraction factor hugely.  And when their IM address escapes out into the wild then they just create a new one.  They are free after all.

Note: I just found another address for Tim and I'm trying that now.  Still the point of this rant is still true.  And I guess I could have fired up my Yahoo email account, still ....

When: 6:17:32 AM  | Permalink:   | comment []  |  IM Me About This   

Thanks Simon -- You Sent Feedster to Weight Watchers!

Anyone who ever worked on one of my engineering teams knows that once a system starts running, I'm hugely conservative.  "If it works, don't mess with it" is a mantra that has always served me well.  And it has served me particularly well with respect to areas of the system I don't really understand hugely well.  And in Feedster that has always been the CSS.  I based my initial CSS on a php implementation of the Plone stylesheet and while I'm sure that Plone did a great job (as did the person I took it from), I never took the time to really understand it -- or benefit from it.

Now thanks to my reading of Simon's fine CSS work, I was inspired enough to "Send Feedster to Weight Watchers" -- by looking hard at the css and stripping out stuff I don't use, I dropped the page size by 50% in 1 place and 1/3 on the home page.  Now I'm continuing the work.  That should be a big bandwidth improvement.


  • And I'll be the first one to admit that this wasn't rocket science or even particularly hard but like a lot of engineers, I tend to avoid trouble spots.  Conversative, remember?
  • I tested the new home page in: IE 6, Mozilla Linux, Mozilla Mac, Safari Mac, Internet Explorer Mac.  Anyone finds anything on the home page, please let me know.
When: 6:07:30 AM  | Permalink:   | comment []  |  IM Me About This   

Feedster -- As Covered by Research Buzz

Hey wow.  We just got analyzed by Research Buzz -- very cool.

What is this site good for? Well, think Daypop, only without the news sources and with a longer time span. Daypop seems to index only about 30 days' worth of material and indexes a variety of news sources. Feedster may index news sources but doesn't separate them out the way that Daypop does. If I was doing current event research, I would go to Daypop. If I wanted to extend my search beyond recent happenings, I would refer to Feedster. 

More ...

Thanks!  I'm pleased with what Research Buzz said here but I'll have more comments tomorrow.  I've been stuck in one of those debugging loops where something simple grows and becomes better and better.  But then I really have to blame Scoble.  Even though Feedster has always had the feature he requests, I did make it better just because.  I should be able to turn on that later today or tomorrow. 

Need to run now. 

When: 6:03:54 AM  | Permalink:   | comment []  |  IM Me About This   

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Last update: 6/2/2003; 7:50:39 AM.