Category Archives: Web Design

FFS have you guys (and ladies) not heard of email?

I’m just wondering, because when something goes wrong on LibDemBlogs, it seems that you no longer email me, but instead write blog posts. Which due to things going wrong mean I can’t see them!

I have now spotted the second “Am I banned?” post, which tries to make out that the blogger is a victim of a secret LibDem blogging conspiracy, whereas emailing me would have got the answer quickly.

Then when LibDemBlogs goes down because my webhosting company think it’s funny to display error messages instead whilst I’m busy at work, do bloggers think “I’ll just drop Ryan an email to let him know, I’m sure I’ve got his email address around here somewhere as I emailed him before about being added to the site”? Nope, instead they post on their blogs “Who has stolen LibDemBlogs”, or visit forums or cix and try to guess what has happen.

My email address and information about why your posts might go missing is included in the About (FAQ) section of LibDemBlog, I suggest some of you might want to read it.

Liberal Tweets

The eagle eyed of you may have noticed the “Tweets” tab on LibDemBlogs. With conference now starting (I’ll be there tomorrow), it though it was time to let the latest project go live.
Liberal Tweets is a sort of LibDem Blogs for Twitter and hopes to cover the micro-blogging experiences of those both at conference and away from the venue.
It’s still in quite an early phase, but hopefully will hold out whilst I’m away from ftping for the week.
Feedback and suggestions in the comments.

Liberal Democrats for Obama

Liberal Democrats for Obama

A while back I sliently closed the focusFodder spreadshirt shop. However after looking at the Barack Obama site I decided that I wanted a nice Obama top.
Due to foreign donation laws I’m not allowed to buy direct from the Obama Store, and the graphics on CafePress weren’t that great. So I’m pleased to annouce that I’ve launched “Liberal Democrats for Obama” in five different styles for you to purchase.
Postage to the UK is only £2.20 and their turnaround should be around 5 days.

Minor LibDemBlogs Outage

Some of you may have noticed LibDemBlogs going down today. Turns out after two hours of code checking and finding nothing odd, I discovered that my webserver had run out of file space. This meant that the dump file of all the blog posts couldn’t be saved in full, and in turn made LDB look ugly.
Luckily for me I only needed to delete some rather large temp files to get my file space back to normal. Hopefully future service will be a bit more realiable.

LibDemBlogs Redesigned

I’ve spent the last month working on a new version of LibDemBlogs, most likely you are now reading this on it.

The most obvious change is the new theme, which is modified version of the Rainbow theme from Theme Lab. The old theme has been around for two years now, and didn’t actually work in IE6, so it needed replacing.

The newest feature is the Mute function, this allows you to hide/silence blogs that you don’t want to read. More info about this feature can be found in the about pages.

Some of you may have already seen the new version of the mobile site which went silently live a few weeks ago. It’s moved url to partly because mobile phone companies shouldn’t try to adjust the layout, and also because the url is easier to type. (No need to update bookmarks as you should be redirected automatically).

On top of these front end changes the whole back end has had a refit. When I first started LibDemBlogs the project was set up to allow others to use my code, since then so many changes have been made that it got in quite a mess. For example all the blogs were stored in a text file. With only 20 blogs to edit it was quick and simple, now with a list 285 bloggers it was clearly time to move to mySQL with lovely indexes.

Now whilst I’ve had the site running in beta for a few weeks, I’m certain that something will go wrong, so please do let me know.
I hope you like the new design, but if you don’t sorry, I’m not changing it again for another few years.

Ooops, blogger posts go missing on LibDemBlogs

Sorry for all you Blogger bloggers. I upgraded my webserver to PHP5 and didn’t notice that one of the scripts used in LibDemBlogs no longer worked. What this meant was that the site thought all your posts were made on the 1st Jan 1970 and so didn’t bother to display them.
I’ve now found the offending piece of code and hopefully everything should be back to normal by now.
I did wonder why it was so quite on the site, but I just assumed that everyone was in Crewe or Henley.

Youtube and embedding correctly

For some reason when you select the embed option in Youtube the code they provide includes <embed> tags. However these are big no-no’s in HTML. Youtube also have empty <param> tags, which should really end with />. On top of that I’ve still yet to work out why Youtube insist on having the video at 425×355 pixels, when clearly the resolution is only 320 pixels wide. Thus creating a rather blocky video as it is badly upscaled. So instead here is the “easy” way to embed Youtube videos.

Take your original code from Youtube:
<object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value=""></param>
<param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="355"></embed></object>

take note of what is in bold (red) and replace with:
<object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="" width="320" height="267"><param name="movie" value="" /><param name="FlashVars" value="playerMode=embedded" /><param name="wmode" value="transparent" /></object>

making sure that the bold bits in the original are in the new bit of code.

Hopefully no errors on a HTML validator now

Code tweaked from this post.

(Edit 05/12/09, you might also want to replace any &s with &amp)

Twitter fun

This weekend I have been mostly playing about with Twitter.

First I created a CNPS (Consecutive Number Plate Spotting) TwitterBot. The bot watches for @ and d messages to it, it then adds the plates to my database. Anyone with a Twitter account AND and Artesea account can get it to work, just visit the mashup page here for more info.

Next I managed to exceed the weekly allowance for tweets to my mobile. Think it was something to do with a large number of followers at Conference.

And just now I’ve installed a New Post -> Twitter plugin. This one seems to be one of the best as it’s run from my webserver (doesn’t require frequent polling of the rss feed), and it has the option to enable/disable tweets for draft, edits or new posts, so unlike other who have similar plugins you should only get a tweet from my blog when I hit Publish.