William has taken the external link identification to a whole new level. I love the elegance of this solution, so much better than either the MTMacros or Blosxom macros answer. It’s a crying shame that more browsers don’t support it, though. Apparently, the only PC browser that display the images is Mozilla 1.3. Safari and Camino for Mac OS X also handle it, apparently, but that doesn’t do me much good. (At least, not right now!) Even a browser that operates on some kind of pay model, like Opera 7.1, doesn’t support it, which somewhat dampens my desire to pay for Opera.

CSS is such a cross-browser nightmare. Everywhere you read about it, people are scrambling for ways to achieve similar effects for their pages on different browsers. I have recently been introduced to how horribly IE 5.5 renders my page. Sure, at least things are in the right place, but the buttons with the background images for e-mail and external links don’t appear to be inheriting the extra padding for those classes and the border around the heading doesn’t look the same as any other browser. However, IE 5.5 was surpassed by IE 6, so I’m not too worried about that. It’s not like my page is anything but a personal playground, as William says about his decision to use the CSS 3 selectors. Perhaps if I used a browser that displayed that code, I would use it too, but I like to see my pretty accomplishments. 😉 William’s code also has the advantage of applying to text flawlessly whether it was generated by the blogging tool or just coded manually.

Opera 7 also has a strange effect with links that cross lines in a paragraph. I think it’s related to text-align: justify;. Often, if a link starts the next line, I will be able to click on it at the end of the line above it, like a little residual bit of the link code is applied there. This also applies to the background images for external links, leaving strange little artifacts at the ends of lines.

Well, I feel a little better for getting this out. If Opera could support stuff like this, I would feel a lot more inclined to pay for it, as they so desparately want me to. I kind of object to paying for a browser that really doesn’t render pages better than its free cousins. Of course, with Opera there’s also the UI advantages, which is one of the reasons I continue to use it instead of Mozilla. I just can’t give up that MDI!

I really like Blosxom. I like the software. I like the community. I like the plethora of plugins and how everyone is so helpful. I have some issues with it,but I am confident that they will be fixed sooner or later.

There’s just one thing. I wish there were other ways to post to Blosxom. An application on my computer. A web interface that could edit past files. (PHPetal is well and good, but it only does new entries. The simplicity is nice and all, but I’d like a little more flexibility. Something that could be integrated with a news reader like, say SharpReader.

I’m so unbelievably frustrated that I can’t get multiblosxom to work. It would make thinks a little simpler for me, with regard to upgrading Blosxom. For that matter, I’m unbelievably frustrated about the way Blosxom config info is in the CGI file. It drives me crazy to have to copy and paste all those settings when I upgrade Blosxom.

Sigh. I need to learn Perl.

I was recently made aware of a new aggregator that came on the scene, SharpReader. Following some other reviews by some people, I’m going to try to gather my own thoughts about it.

Reasons I like SharpReader better than Syndirella

(I figured I’d start with the nice things.)

  1. Categories and sortable feed lists. This is something that bothered me about Syndirella. The list was in the order that it was added in. If I had to delete a feed in order to replace it with a new URL for the feed, the order would get screwed up. Categories are a nice touch also, especially when you consider the next feature of SharpReader I like.
  2. Selecting a category shows you all of the entries of every feed in that category in date order. This is a nice way to read all new entries at once and an interesting alternate view.
  3. The subscribe feature is a mixed bag. Like Mark, I was thrown for a loop the first time I tried to add a feed. I’m used to boxes like that being display only, a la Syndirella. However, I see Luke’s point. Once you get the hang of it, it is easier in a lot of ways. Perhaps a submit button akin to the “Go” button found in so many browsers, such as IE, would add a needed visual cue to help first time users along. You could always make it an option, like the browsers do for users who no longer want it hanging around.
  4. I like the bar at the top of the content pane that holds identifying details. The comments link is a little more accessible than Syndirella’s, which is a context menu off the list item title. SharpReader’s positioning of the comment link in the content pane makes sense to me, since I’d think you’d be most likely to comment on a feed while you’re reading it.
  5. SharpReader is under more active development than Syndirella. At least for the time being. Dmitry is apparently out of the game from this point on. Sad news to me, since he did a lot of good work on Syndirella and was very responsive until near the end. I have to admit that I wasn’t surprised to hear this, since he had abandoned Syndirella for several weeks beforehand. It remains to be seen if Luke will continue to improve SharpReader.
  6. An important point, especially in light of Syndirella’s possibly ceased development, is SharpReader’s support of <html_body>. This is apparently replacing <content_encoded> as the new fad for putting encoded, full content of entries in an RSS feed. Getting the full content is something that I consider de rigueur for any feed. It drives me crazy to have to switch back and forth between mybrowser and reader. Until they can be more interwoven, I’ll stick with full text content whenever possible.

Reasons I like Syndirella better than SharpReader

  1. The interface does feel a bit smoother. I like the key bindings, like space bar taking you to the next unread item. SharpReader could well benefit from some more key strokes for doing things. Ins brings up Syndirella’s add feed dialog.
  2. Syndirella allows me to specify the font it uses for displaying the content of an item. SharpReader currently only allows me to specify the font for the feed and item titles. The dialog box for this is also a little confusing. It demonstrates the fonts for both read and unread, but you can’t modify them separately. There is a single button for changing the font. It pops up the standard Windows dialog box for fonts. The changes you make will show up in both read and unread, but unread is always bold. If you set the read font to bold, then they will both be bold. Not that you’d necessarily want to do this, but the interface seems a bit off to me. It should be clearer what properties apply to what.
  3. Syndirella puts a link at the bottom of the content that is the text of the URL. This isn’t necessary, but I like being able to see the location of the entry at a glance. SharpReader has a similar link, but does not use the URL for the link text.

While SharpReader has a lot of good features and I enjoy using it, I’m not sure that I would be as likely to stick with it if Dmitry wasn’t giving up on Syndirella. Syndirella really does have a more polished interface and I was looking forward to where Dmitry was going. C’est la vie in the free software world, though. You can’t dictate somebody’s hobby. Dmitry released what I think is his last version of Syndirella. I would be really happy if someone else would take up the Syndirella flag.

I decided that the entries_index plugin that Rael wrote wasn’t really working for me. It’s a good start, but it doesn’t deal well with moving files, and it doesn’t change the mtime, so when I had to delete the index file, I would lose my saved times. So, I decided to go for a simpler approach and used a simple little script from SciFiHiFi. All it does is save the mtime, launch an editor, and then reset the mtime when you’re done. Sweet and simple, and maintains the integrity of my Blosxom file system in case I try another way later.

I’ve also been playing around with trackbacks. I’m going to try my first ping with this post. I still have to set up the script that shows the count of trackbacks to my site.

I bit the bullet and moved to Blosxom to power my weblog. I have conquered Apache mod_rewrite so that requests to my main domain name are forwarded to /blog and to disguise Blosxom’s cgi script so that it looks prettier.

I have set up Blagg to run every hour in cron and push any new posts it finds over to my LiveJournal weblog so that the few people I know there can read it. Or something. 🙂

I am having lots of fun with the plugins for Blosxom. Maybe because they’re way simpler than Movable Type, I will finally be motivated to learn Perl so I can write my own.

But that’s all for now. I have tinkered all night to redo my blogging and my design and I need sleep.