Category Archives: Site News

New Look

If you’re not reading this from the RSS feed, you’ve likely noticed that I installed Scott Wallick‘s “plaintxtBlog” theme for WordPress last night (if you don’t see any changes, press Ctrl-F5 to refresh the page). I wasn’t happy with certain aspects of the old theme (which I designed) and I thought it was time for a change. I’m looking for a nice way to bring back the Recent Comments and Tag Cloud features that were active in the old theme, but it’s going to require some creativity (or a plugin) to get them integrated in a manner that pleases my eye.

In the meantime, let me know what you think about the new theme. How are the colors? Fonts? Font sizes? What’s your general opinion of the layout?

Broken Comment Links: Fixed.

If you tried to click on any of the comment links in the blog since yesterday afternoon, you probably got a “file not found” error. This was due to a change that was made when I activated hotlink protection (someone on MySpace.com was hotlinking one of my images and I thought I’d best put a stop to it). Instead of writing the rules myself, I let an automated widget do it for me. Well, the widget wiped out the rewrite rules that were used to make the WordPress “permalinks” work. Oops. I put the rules back in, and everything should be working now. Hopefully.

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Internet Explorer can [censored] my [censored].

Seriously.

I spent two hours last night poring over the WordPress template files and the stylesheet for the theme I’m building, searching for some error that would explain why IE was rendering the page improperly.

Exhibit A (Firefox):
Exhibit A - Firefox

Exhibit B (Internet Exploder):
Exhibit B - Suck it, IE

See that grey border on the right? It’s supposed to be a solid line from top to bottom, but IE was pushing it to the right partway down, and rendering it twice at the bottom of the page.

After much frustration, I realized that there must be something “special” about the content of one or more entries on the page. Through trial and error, I managed to isolate the problem to a single entry: a movie review for Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God. I tried removing any unusual formatting (image float, footnotes) without success. Finally, after hacking the entry to pieces, I removed a couple of lines where italic text wrapped from one line to the next. Voila, no more rendering problem. It didn’t make any sense, but there it was: italics.

So I searched for “internet explorer italics bug” in Google and I came up with this entry at PositionIsEverything.net. Seems IE doesn’t respect element sizing very consistently. The author provides several good examples as well as a couple of ways to work around the problem. I tried the “overflow: visible” method, which seemed to work until I put the rest of the contect back in the entry, at which point the entire middle section of the page got bumped down below the sidebars in IE (but not in Firefox).

This morning, I set the width of the rogue element to 95% and voila… all better. Well, except for a little “extra” padding on the right, but that doesn’t actually affect the rendering of the border.

I’m not finished working on the new theme, but this particular bug as been fixed. IE can still [censored] my [censored].

NaNoWriMo Progress Bar

I saw that Codeshaman has added a NaNoWriMo progress bar to his blog and I liked the idea so much that I swiped it. I have no idea what the mechanics of his bar might be, but the code behind mine will do the following:

  • Prior to 1 November, display a countdown to 1 November. Note that I didn’t account for the time difference between Willoughby and my server location (Chicago), so it’ll be an hour off.
  • Beginning on 1 November, display a progress bar and a daily target line. The progress bar visually represents the percentage of completion, while the target line displays the ideal word count based on writing 1,667 words per day. Target word count is also displayed numerically beneath the progress bar.
  • Upon reaching the overall target word count (50,000), remove the daily target line (and corresponding target word count) and display a message indicating completion.

That’s the theory, anyway. I’ll be the first to admit that this little widget is extremely kludgy. Most of the CSS that makes it work feels like a big, fat, inelegant cheat.

Oh, and of course it doesn’t look quite right when viewed with Internet Explorer. The real kicker is Opera. The version I’ve got (7.0, which I paid for) shifts the whole blasted sidebar about 500 pixels to the right, way off into Never-Neverland. Maybe I should download the latest version. I hear there’s no advertising on the free version these days.