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Alden Bates' Weblog

Feigning normality since 1973

October 9, 2010

The Scourge of Web Toolbars

Filed in: Internet.

So, I've noticed a new web design element spreading insidiously across the web. Suddenly you can add web toolbars, which float at the bottom of the browser window, to your website, so every user who visits your site gets an extra toolbar full of various tools which may or may not be useful depending on your usual internet hangouts.

Wibiya, for instance, has one which will link to your Twitter, Facebook, and/or YouTube account, and allow visitors to Tweet or "like" your site (you can see a demo of a Wibiya bar on Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic). The Meebo Bar similarly allows you to link to Facebook, Twitter, et al. I first started noticing the things when Wikia threw one on their new skin.

Is this a new trend? I note that, unlike toolbars which are actually built into your browser, you can't turn them off. I also wonder if there are privacy concerns here — if a company can get its toolbar on enough sites, they can start building up a pretty comprehensive picture of people's browsing habits. Of course, this isn't new, and web bugs have been around for years, but these web toolbars seem to add an extra carrot to entice webmasters to place them on their web site. Hrm.

Posted at 10:13 AM | Comments (1)

September 13, 2010

Farewell Bloglines

Filed in: Internet.

Some time ages ago, I picked Bloglines as a feed aggregator. I'd already tried a bunch of non-web applications, but running something separate from my browser to keep track of new posts on web sites somehow seemed counter productive. For one thing, it meant I had to have my computer polling all these sites itself, looking for new posts. It made much more sense to use a web-based service, that would poll the sites for a bunch of people.

Bloglines is a pretty good service, with a simple and clean interface. It worked well for what I wanted, and made it pretty easy to find new stuff that interested me. It wasn't perfect, but I suspect half the problems I had with it were at least in part attributable to my internet connection, which sometimes works well, and sometimes works like a brick. Unfortunately when I logged onto Bloglines about a week ago, there was a notice saying that it's closing down at the end of the month. For now, I'm giving Google Reader a go, since Google controls everything anyway.

So, thank you, Bloglines, for years of service. I hope the team goes on to even bigger and better things.

Posted at 6:17 PM | Comments (1)

July 11, 2010

Doctor Who, Series 5, episodes 11-13

Filed in: Doctor Who.

A tremendous end to an awesome series.

Continue reading "Doctor Who, Series 5, episodes 11-13"

Posted at 4:41 PM | Comments (1)

June 12, 2010

Doctor Who, Series 5, episodes 8-10

Filed in: Doctor Who.

This series is, so far, the best the new show's managed. That said, the latest three episodes have been variable...

Continue reading "Doctor Who, Series 5, episodes 8-10"

Posted at 1:14 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2010

Doctor Who, Series 5, episodes 4-7

Filed in: Doctor Who.

Yes, I'm slow about posting these. I blame RTD for sapping my interest in Doctor Who. Moffat is slowly winning it back, episode by episode, but it's a long, uphill struggle.

As usual, spoilers abound.

Continue reading "Doctor Who, Series 5, episodes 4-7"

Posted at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

May 1, 2010

This may be a Transformer

Filed in: Links, Transformers.

At last, a site dedicated to rooting out the cybernetic organisms hiding in plain sight:
Transformer Sightings

They're everywhere, man!

Posted at 2:54 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2010

Doctor Who, Series 5, episodes 1-3

Filed in: Doctor Who.

A very lightweight start to the season. More comments after the cut to avoid spoilering anyone who might not have watched it.

Continue reading "Doctor Who, Series 5, episodes 1-3"

Posted at 9:20 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2010

Save who from Berlusconi?

Filed in: Spam.

Here's a strange thing - web sites are showing up in google with the query string "Save Us from Berlusconi" appended to the end of their URL, like Witness: Google results. There's even a long thread about it on Google Support. I happened to notice it when a Google Blog search came up with the errant query string added onto the Transformers Wiki and URLs.

I suspect the way that they may be getting in there is by someone adding the URL with query string to Google Reader. Why someone would do this is a question in itself. What are they hoping to achieve? It's clearly a political statement, but delivered in a distinctly odd manner.

Posted at 10:02 PM | Comments (3)

March 25, 2010

Moonbases alpha and beta

Filed in: Transformers.

I love poking around in the corners of Transformers canon. Last night I was watching the Super-God Masterforce episode "God Ginrai - Into the Sky!!" and suddenly realised that the moon base captain who appears in a couple of scenes was the same guy as the commander of the Lunar Base in the Victory episode "The Brave Hero of the Universe - Star Saber". It's probably just a case of the animators pulling the character models out of a drawer - the crew exosuits and even a satellite are also duplicated across the two episodes. It's also kinda implied in the Masterforce episode that the moonbase crew were all killed. They're not mentioned as having been rescued, and the last time we see them, they're all zapped with Mr Freeze gun. Since they were all wearing space suits, it's probably feasible that they somehow survived, and since the commander turns up later, I guess it's canon.

Left: Victory, Right: Super-God Masterforce

It's a kinda cool bit of continuity between the two series, though I have to pity the poor guy - he was put in charge of two different moon bases, and both times the Decepticons came and blew them up.

Posted at 8:47 PM | Comments (1)

February 21, 2010

Paged Archives 1.4

Filed in: Movable Type.

[Paged Archives Logo]
I was totally not going to upgrade to Movable Type 5.1, but then I was emailed by German user Elisa Stulpe, who said that my Paged Archives plugin wasn't working in the new version of MT.

So. Long story short, I've just released a new version of the plugin, which you can download on the Paged Archives page. The new version only works with MT5.1, so if you're still running MT4.3 or what have you, stick with version 1.31 of the plugin.

I took the opportunity to fix a few things as well. One was that someone mentioned that <b> is a depreciated tag, and may stop pages validating. The current page in the page listing is now bolded using a <span> tag with a class of "pacurrent" set on it, so if you want to change the styling in your css, you can apply it to that class.

Also, there's a new setting that someone asked for a couple of years ago (Yes, that's how long it's been since the last version two years).

Also, now when PA writes the pages out, it runs them through MT's encode function with whatever your chosen Chartype is. This may seem an odd thing to need to do, as surely everything's stored internally in your chosen encoding, but apparently it's the right thing to do.

The only thing I didn't get done on my to-do list was to add documentation links to the tags. When you're editing a template, a list of available tags appears in the right-hand column. Normally the tags are linked to the documentation for that tag, but the tags for Paged Archives all point to Google searches instead. So far as I can tell, the only way I can fix this is by completely restructuring the plugin to use the new style "registry" introduced in MT4. Eh.

Tl;dr: There's a new version of Paged Archives, but only for people running Movable Type 5.1.

Posted at 2:53 PM | Comments (26)


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