Shallow Thoughts : tags : blogging

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing, Science, and Nature.

Sun, 18 Aug 2013

Nominated for FOSS Force Blog Competition

Shallow Thoughts has been nominated as a competitor in round two of the Foss Force Best Personal Linux or FOSS Blog Competition. There are plenty of excellent blogs on the list and I'm flattered to be included.

If you have a moment, take a look and vote for your favorite (whether or not it's Shallow Thoughts). You can vote for up to two. If nothing else, it's a good excuse to check out some excellent articles on free software from a variety of writers. Voting ends on Monday.

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[ 11:05 Aug 18, 2013    More blogging | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Fri, 11 Mar 2011

Testing blog comments

Based on the offline comments I got, I'm going to try Disqus for blog comments.

Setting up an account was easy, and I think I have the PyBloxsom side working now. So this is a test post to see if comments are working. Feel free to post comments and see! In theory, you should be able to use OpenID, Twitter, Disqus or various other types of accounts.

Comments aren't visible on the blog home page, only on the pages for individual stories.

If you want to try commenting but can't think of anything to say, how about the Japan earthquake? Wow! My heart goes out to everyone affected by the huge quake or the tsunami that followed. Any good links to information about the quake?

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[ 16:09 Mar 11, 2011    More blogging | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Tue, 08 Mar 2011

Blog Comment Services

People periodically ask me why I don't have comments on my blog.

It's not because I don't want to see user discussion -- I'd love that. In particular, several people had opinions on my recent post about locations for the SCALE conference, and I would have loved to see and participate in a discussion on that.

The hold-up is purely technical: my current blogging setup makes it difficult to add them and keep the system maintained.

But lately several services have arisen that apparently make it easy to add comments to otherwise static pages, and I'm considering trying one.

The candidates I know about are:

None of these is perfect. I believe they all require signing up, though the first two can use an OpenID account, and of course a lot of people already have a Facebook account. But it might be a lot better than no comments.

Readers of my blog: do you have a preference, or any experience with any of these services? ("Don't bother adding any of these" is also a valid option, as are suggestions for services I didn't list.) If there's a preference, I'll go with it ... otherwise, I'll probably just pick one and try it.

Please mail me your thoughts or suggestions. Thanks!

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[ 21:16 Mar 08, 2011    More blogging | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Fri, 29 Feb 2008

Script to add tags

Python is so cool. I love how I'll be working on a script and suddenly think "Oh, it should also do X, but I bet that'll be a lot more work", and then it occurs to me that I can do exactly that by adding about 2 more lines of python. And I add them and it works the first time.

Anyway, it turned out to be very easy to go through all existing blog articles and add tags for the current category hierarchy, being careful to preserve each file's last-modified date since that's what pyblosxom uses for the date of the entry. add-tags.py

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[ 18:37 Feb 29, 2008    More blogging | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Wed, 27 Feb 2008

Got tags working with pybloxsom

Entries on this blog are arranged by category. But all too often I have something that really belongs equally well in two categories. Since pyblosxom's categories follow the hierarchy on disk, there's no way to have an entry in two categories. Enter tags.

Tags are a way of assigning any number of keywords to each blog entry. Search engines apparently pay attention to tags, and most tagged blogs also let you search by tag.

I wanted my tags to follow whatever canonical tag format the big blogging sites use, so search engines would index them. Unfortunately, this isn't well documented anywhere. Wikipedia has a tags entry that mentions a couple of common formats; the HTML format given in that entry (<a rel="tag" ...>) turns out to be the format used on most popular sites like livejournal and blogspot, so that's what I wanted to use. Later, someone pointed me to a much better tag explanation on technorati, which is useful whether or not you decide to register with technorati.

Next: how to implement searching? The simplest pyblosxom tags plug-in is called simply tags.py. All the others are much more complex and do tons of things I'm not interested in. But tags.py doesn't support static mode, and points to a modified tags.py that's supposedly modified to work with static blogs.

Alas, when I tried that version, it didn't work (and an inquiry on the pybloxsom list got a response from someone who agreed it didn't work). So I hacked around and eventually got it working. Here's a diff for what I changed or just the tags-static.py plug-in.

Additional steps I needed that weren't mentioned in tags.py:

I also wrote a little python index.cgi for my blog's /tags directory, so you can see the list of tags used so far. Strangely, tags.py didn't create any such index, and it was easier to make a cgi than to figure out how to do it from a blosxom plug-in.

And as long as I'm posting pyblosxom diffs, here's the little filename diff for 1.4.3 that I apply to pyblosxom whenever I update it, to let me use the .blx extension rather than .txt for my blog source files. (That way I can configure my editor to treat blog files as html, which they are -- they aren't plaintext.)

Anyway, it all seems to be working now, and in theory I can tag all future articles. I'll probably go back and gradually add tags to older articles, but that's a bigger project and there's no rush.

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[ 15:04 Feb 27, 2008    More blogging | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Wed, 26 Jul 2006

Shallow Thoughts URLs changing

Administrivia: I've switched over to using static files with pyblosxom, instead of generating everything from a CGI, to save some load on the server.

That means that URLs on this blog are changing to be a bit cleaner. For instance, this entry, instead of being http://shallowsky.com/blog/index.cgi?blogging/tostatic.html, becomes http://shallowsky.com/blog/blogging/tostatic.html instead. The RSS URL changes from http://shallowsky.com/blog/?flav=rss to http://shallowsky.com/blog/index.rss

The best top level URL to use is http://shallowsky.com/blog/

I've hacked up a python CGI script that will try to remap the URLs appropriately, so old feeds will continue to work for a while. But it probably isn't very robust, and I'd like to get rid of the script eventually, so please update any bookmarks you might have to this blog.

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[ 22:38 Jul 26, 2006    More blogging | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Tue, 15 Feb 2005

Blogedit -- edit a file without altering the date

Lots of Linux blogging software, such as the pyblosxom I'm currently using, uses the Unix file date on for each posting to determine the date at which the entry was made.

This makes it very convenient to add new entries, but it also makes it tricky to go back and update an old entry without losing all information about when the entry was originally posted.

I've been using a little sh script I hacked up for the purpose, which parsed the output of ls -l and then passed that in to touch -d. It worked, but it was ugly and had problems with postings that crossed a year boundary or were too old (because the ls -l format varies).

I finally got around to rewriting the script in python. It's more robust now, and cleaner, plus it checks EDITOR and VISUAL instead of always using vi. blogedit

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[ 22:51 Feb 15, 2005    More blogging | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Thu, 26 Aug 2004

Switched to PyBlosxom

I discovered this morning while trying to improve the layout of this blog that Blosxom (the perl version) keeps six processes running once a query has been made. So changes to the CSS don't actually show up on the web site, because the copies in the running processes' cache don't have the new changes. That makes it rather challenging to integrate new CSS changes into a Blosxom site. (There must be a trick -- I've seen some nice looking Blosxom sites, but there aren't any templates or hints in the documentation.)

So I went looking for alternatives, and decided to try PyBlosxom first since it didn't require any changes to the existing entries. It's very nice! Much easier to configure than perl blosxom, plus it comes with (a) CSS template samples and (b) a collection of basic plugins that actually work. Nice!

So now I have a sidebar and a category list as well as a calendar, and CSS configuration should be much easier from now on.

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[ 16:07 Aug 26, 2004    More blogging | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Fri, 23 Jul 2004

Tried nanoblogger

I tried nanoblogger yesterday, wondering if it would fix the problems I'm having with blosxom (primarily, not being able to limit the display to a small number of entries then offer some way to get to earlier entries). It does fix that, but it has other problems: it has a lot of bugs involving duplicate entries that show up if you remove items or add them to categories, and the category management is a hassle (you have to refer to categories by number, there's no menu offered, and the command to list the current categories is nonobvious though of course it could be aliased).

A slightly bigger problem is that since entries are generated when they are initially input, any change to the entry format later doesn't get reflected in what appears on the web. Only sometimes it does. I wasn't able to find a command that just did "refresh entries" though adding a new entry sometimes accomplished that for older entries (as well as also introducing duplicates and other strange problems).

I was also a little bothered by not being able to preview the site locally (nb hardcodes the site's url, so links all go to the real site rather than the local copy, and css files work inconsistently -- they work on some pages but not others) but OTOH blosxom, being a cgi, obviously can only work through a web server and not as local files, so they both have that problem as far as maintenance on a disconnected laptop (and in both cases it can be worked around).

The default nb look (when it does use the css, which it doesn't always) is much nicer than the default blosxom look. For blosxom I'll have to write css and collect a bunch of plugins to get things that nb offers automatically, like a sidebar with topics and a calendar of past entries. That's an appealing side to nb. I'd be really tempted if those duplicate entries weren't such a problem. Hmm.

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[ 09:48 Jul 23, 2004    More blogging | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Sun, 18 Jul 2004

Tried Blosxom

I'm testing out the possibility of switching to Blosxom. It was very easy to set up, and wasn't even that hard to move my entries over (thank goodness there weren't that many of them, though) but there's a showstopper: I can specify $num_entries, the number of entries shown on a page; but there's no way to get to the previous entries! You can specify a date if you know it, or a year, or a month; but in each case, it will only show you the first $num_entries entries for that time period.

Who would want to have a blog but have a bunch of unreachable entries?

I've asked around, googled, and spent an hour or so in the source (which makes it look like $path_info is set if a date or topic is specified, otherwise unset, and patti found a yahoo posting that suggested doing something like

$num_entries = ($blosxom::path_info ? 999 : 3);
but in fact, $num_entries is always null). I've been through all the plugins, too. How could this popular package be broken in such an obvious way?

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[ 22:59 Jul 18, 2004    More blogging | permalink to this entry | comments ]

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