New Stylesheet

As you can see, I changed the stylesheet for my template. Actually, Steve was using it at his missing persons blog, and I decided I liked it. I need to do some tweaking — there are some problems with the look of some of the pages, but if I don’t get off the computer now, I’ll be messing with it all day, and frankly, it can wait. Overall, I think it’s a nice change, and it’s more in line with MT 3.0 and higher stylesheets, so it will be easier to change in the future. I had 2.66 codes up still. I am still working on getting my “Currently Reading” list (and Media Manager items in general) to show up correctly.

If you’ve been noticing it’s difficult to access the site lately, it isn’t you. We have been having intermittent problems, and our host really hasn’t given us an explanation as to what is going on. If you ever have trouble connecting with this site, you can try my education website to reach me.

Currently Reading

You may or may not have noticed that I disabled the section in the sidebar to the right labeled “Currently Reading” when I upgraded to MT 3.17, because the plugin didn’t appear to work correctly anymore. Now that I have upgraded to 3.2, I was able to also upgrade to Media Manager, which replaces the older Book Queue Too.

Media Manager is really cool! It automatically detected all the books I had in my previous book queue. It is much easier to use than its predecessor, as well. So, for those of you who care to know, you can once again see what I’m reading. I even moved the “Currently Reading” section up so it’s more visible — just below the calendar.

A list of things I like about MT 3.2:

  • The cool, easy to navigate interface
  • The plugins bundled with the release
  • The ease of assigning entries to multiple categories
  • Ease of navigation
  • Easier and better comment and trackback management
  • Unlimited blogs no matter which license — not that they stopped one from creating more than the allotted number of blogs before, but now one can do so… um… legally
  • System Overview for Evil Site Overladies (isn’t that the feminine form of Overlord?)

MT 3.2

Powered by Movable Type 3.2

I have successfully upgraded to MT 3.2! I like the interface. The icons are cute. Not that cute icons are necessarily a real selling point for most people. I like the fact that SpamLookup is a bundled plugin. SpamLookup is a majorly cool plugin — it has caught tons of trackback and comment spam since we installed it.

After I upgraded to 3.17, Book Queue Too stopped working (actually, it might have been MT Amazon, a plugin that Book Queue Too relies on to work. I really missed it, because I used it to keep track of what I was reading, and it was so handy for posting reviews. Now that I’ve upgraded to 3.2, I can use Media Manager, which looks like it will be very cool indeed.

I love new blog toys. I’m thinking I’ll check out the new blog styles. This place might look different soon.

MT 3.2 and MT Media Manager

I’m thinking of upgrading to MT 3.2, but it is still in beta. Anyone using it? What do you think? I’m really nervous about upgrading to a beta product.

Also, I’m experiencing rebuild problems with Book Queue Too, and I discovered there is a new plugin called Media Manager. Anyone used it?

Cron Jobs and MT

Learning Movable Type has an interesting post about scheduled postings and cron jobs. A cron job is an automated task set to run in the future. If you have MT 3.1x, you have probably noticed you can save a post as “draft,” “publish,” or “future.” In order to make use of the “future” post status, you need to create a cron job.

Elise and Arvind do a wonderful job explaining how to do this, and their tutorial works very well, although I noticed my post did not occur *exactly* when I set it to occur; however, it posted soon after that. It was probably my server and nothing to do with their instructions.

When might you want to save a post for a future date?

  • When you want to commemorate a special event, like a birthday, holiday, anniversary, etc.
  • When you are going out of town, but want to continue to post to your blog, because daily posting (or something close to it) is important to you.

I did not find, as Elise and Arvind indicated, that the cron job needed to be set to run every fifteen minutes of every hour, day, week, and month, but my server’s cron job configuration may be different. That just seemed a little excessive to me.

How will you know if it works? Well, I set this to post on Friday morning. If it works, then you’re reading this. I promise not to cheat and change the draft status to “publish” if it doesn’t.

Update: It appears to have worked! By the way, I figured out the issue with cron job not running as scheduled. The folks who host PlanetHuff are located in the Pacific time zone. The cron job I set to run at 8:00 actually ran at 8:00 PDT, which was 11:00 EDT. You may want to find out if you would have the same problem. Also, make sure the permissions to your file “run scheduled tasks” located in your “tools” folder under wherever you have MT installed, are set to 755. I tried to run a cron job on my other web site and received a permission denied error, because I forgot to change the permissions.

Skinning Movable Type

I am trying to get brave enough to skin this site. It looks like it would be a lot of work, and I’m not sure I’m up for it. But the skinned sites I’ve run across are so cute! For example:

  • Big Pink Cookie’s pink is so cute, and I love the Paris theme.
  • Acting-Natural.com allows you to pick a skin the first time you visit. Lots of choices!
  • chastitycatt has pretty kitties on most of her “themes,” but I think I like the default best — it’s understated and pretty.
  • lily of the valley has monkeys! You can change skins by clicking the link above her search box.
  • Magical Musing has some pretty skins.
  • scriptygoddess not only has four background and link color options to choose from, but also lets you input your own hex code and colorize as you please!

First of all, I’d have to come up with the different layouts, and I’m well aware how long it takes to come up with one. There is a reason my blog has been the same for the entire time I’ve had it on this site. In the four years I’ve been journaling online, I can remember having a grand total of six layouts. Six. Some people change them for each season. I’m like Cranky Dragon — I don’t want to break anything. It took me forever to relent and redo my individual archive template so I would have the TypeKey login link.

If you are a bit braver than I am, and you want to try to skin your blog, you might try the following sources:

  • Skinning a Website from domesticat.net has a tutorial appropriate for any website.
  • This Chick has a simpler method that works well for MT blogs (thanks Arvind for the tip).
  • Skinning MT at Movalog allows you to skin your user interface if you have MT (thanks for the clarification Arvind).
  • BlogSkins has lots of designs. Quality is mixed, but you can’t beat free.

Of course, anyone who wants to donate their talents to beautifying Much Madness is Divinest Sense is most welcome. Yeah, that’s likely to happen. I’ll just hold my breath.

SpamLookup

I have been happy with MT-Blacklist. I have had no comment spam since I put in some common key words to block. I have noticed that more trackback spam seems to get through. I installed MT-Moderate, which seems to do a great job moderating trackback spam. Sometimes I would get 20 trackback spams a day, and while that is nothing compared to what larger blogs must get, it was still a pain to deal with. The last time I opened up Blacklist, I noticed a new item posted under “Blacklist News.” Brad Choate has come up with a brand new plugin called SpamLookup. If you manage your content with Movable Type, you should definitely check it out. If this works like it should, spam should be a thing of the past. If I haven’t convinced you, go see what Jay Allen had to say about it.

MT Amazon and Book Queue Too

Well, I have MT Amazon and Book Queue Too working. In the sidebar to the right, you may notice a difference. I tweaked the link so that you can mouseover the book image to see the title. I think this will be more versatile that All Consuming. In the future, I plan to create a books page with all the books I’ve mentioned in this blog with links to their reviews. I’ve been trying to figure out how to do more with books in this blog. I was interested in Book Queue, but you need a CueCat to use that plugin, and I didn’t want to be bothered if there was another way. I think I’m going to like the way these two plugins work together.

In other news, I heard from oldest friend Darcy. It was a joy to get her e-mail. If you’re reading this, hi Darcy!

A week ago, I assigned my students to write a story or play in which they set up Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson on a blind date and record the results. They were really good! I love that assignment. I know you’re shocked about this, but students rarely imagine Walt and Emily would have a good time. Three of the boys recorded their script and actually made a video. It’s easily one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen. How do you put a grade on that? I felt like Ralphie’s teacher in his theme fantasy: A+++++++++. My heart’s all a-flutter! Who knew Emily could put away five Big Macs, two fries, three Frosties, and a supersize cola? Man. And they managed to make allusions to the aforementioned A Christmas Story, The Scarlet Letter, Henry David Thoreau, Rapunzel, and my husband’s opera singing.

We’re Rollin’

Tech support from my host wrote me back today. I guess I have to take back my premature rant, because this actually went very smoothly. Maybe the incident from this summer was an anomaly. They installed Storable perl module, so now I’ve got MT Blacklist, MT-DSBL, Real Comment Throttle. Once I read the documentation and figure out what I can do with it, I’ll be using Book Queue Too instead of All Consuming to keep track of my booklist. I like All Consuming okay, but it is off-site, and having things in one place might be easier.

Oh, and here’s a clever poem via Roger Darlington’s blog.

</geekout>