Making the Aberystwyth SSAGO Website

Many Moons ago the webmaster of a AberSSAGO asked me to redo their club website for them. Having a familiarity of the club through a good friend called AberMary (who many readers of this blog also know as Fearless Guider) I wanted the club to put its best foot forward so I thought “‘what the hey’ I could do with a bubbly and friendly piece to add to my portfolio” and got involved Continue reading Making the Aberystwyth SSAGO Website

How Blogging grew into Microblogging

So far I’ve written about how blogging got started, its fairly interesting from a historical point of view but the story doesn’t have any quirks. Microblogging has at least some irony to it as blogging, the writing of posts and articles grew into something smaller.

With the advent of Web 2.0 social media kicked in, rather than just reading about news or businesses people where encouraged to write about themselves for friends in a socially interconnected setting, most probably on myspace or bebo.

As you can imagine writing a decent blog post about what your doing can easily take an hour or 300 words (and even then its a little short) so with today’s small attention span people rarely made the effort. With people wanting updates but not willing to read/write that much posts got shorter and shorter. When facebook and its traditional 4-6 word sentence came along everybody jumped on-board, you could connect just as easily and small updates were the focus of the main feed.

Meanwhile, blogging and content management systems soon started incorporating smaller scale posts called ‘asides’ into their feature set. On a persons blog you’d find a long stream of content and in the sidebar (hence asides) were smaller, more frequent updates to keep your interest between the main article releases.

Now there are the above mentioned social networks focusing on connectedness and blogs concentrated on content. By combining peoples ability to mini post with similar content you quickly get updates on the variety of content you choose which gives rises to websites such as Twitter and Moodmill devoted to just the 30 second / 140 character post. No longer do you have a main feed with all the drivel about causes, quizzes and games controlled by a complex set of privacy and filter settings that few understand or care to adjust but a main feed of what you do or do not want to follow.


There you have it peer pressure turned what essentially started out as an intellectually stimulating analysis of the social scene into pithy comments on day to day rituals.

Blog Design 3 and a bit

Hello to those previous few reading in RSS programs, I know there aren’t many of you but still you’re always welcome on the site, boot up your browser and drop by for a visit. If you’re viewing this post in a browser then you’re already looking at the improved site layout, it’s not a completely new layout but it certainly is easier to use than before and feels smoother on the eyes. Although, ironically, I have actually made the header image rougher, the sand it now grainy which changed the complete dynamic of the image, I applied this to the fire circle as well, hopefully I’ll find sometime to draw in some cooking equipment oneday…

Besides the cosmetic changes there are some usability improvements, I’ve tried to stick to as many intuitive practices as I can without making the site feel too corporate, which is what most tutorials on website design tend to do. I always try anything I add to the site first and if it works for me I keep it, what I’d really like to know is if it works for you. I’ve highlighted some of the noticeable changes below.

Design

I’ve always tried to treat this blog informally, trying out new styles without fear that a client will demand a refund or a potential employer will shun me. The transparency effect on the sidebars didn’t sit well and using a translucent image meant that if the site didn’t load quick enough then the background colour would just jump in a the end so I’m not using that effect any more. At least I know that the technique works for the most part and its potential limitations with current browser technology. Although nobody has mentioned it on here verbally its been mentioned that being too experimental has made using the site less enjoyable, as much as I have learned to date I’m going to start keeping my blog to a higher standard.

Twitter / Microblogging

I’ve added some asides, or microblog, to the sidebar. Mostly these will be one liners making updates to the site more frequent for you and more convenient for me as I won’t have to spend as much time making a substantial article. This is simply an import of my status updates on my twitter. As with all twitter updates these will be limited to the usual 140 characters which means a clean cut between my main and micro blogs.

Comments

I’m archiving the microblog encase Twitter changes its license or becomes a paid service, something although unlikely has happened in the past. With this new microblogging section the article layout is made a little bit ka-ka by the small content so I’ve just listed the date and text of each one and styled each mircopost like the comments beneath them making them a linear read. There is a new field on the comment form allowing you to subscribe be emailed about new comments on each blog post, similar to watching a topic on a forum.

Twavatars

With the new popularity of Twitter, and their gorgeous API I’ve plugged into a lot of their features. Now when you make a comment anywhere on my blog automatically either your Gravatar, which commenter’s on other blogs should already know about or use your Twitter Avatar (Twavatar) will be shown next to your comment.

Related/Recent posts

Having the ‘related posts’ out of the way in a posts sidebar for easy read through meant it didn’t get used much so its now between the article and the comment form, same thing for the recent posts sidebar block. Hopefully new visitors won’t forget to comment if they go to explore the older content.

Tweaks

  • Archive pages now show more posts so you can find what you’re looking for sooner.
  • Teasers are longer so you get a better feel of each post.
  • There is a links page for all the links in my sidebar, if yours is wrong or you’re not in there drop me a line.
  • Some of the custom coding is sleeker so the site loads faster.

Traipsing Along

So I’ve now accumulated 6 days as a 23 year old. How do I feel? No different. What has changed about me since last year? Nothing monumental.

I’m still doing the University thing, still haven’t acquired a concrete finance improver, still doing lots of volunteer work for very little reward, still going camping. I suppose I am camping more now that I’ve more close friends across the entire country that I want to see as much as possible. Its all EuroJams fault 🙂 If I hadn’t spent a month sleeping in the middle of a international multicultural field fiesta I could’ve been in Bristol getting the jobs before the student exodus in Aug/Sep time and nabbed one solidifying my monetary status. Question is: Would I change anything? Hell No! So I’m content.

Recent escapades:

  • Had a couple birthday drinks.
  • Been Bowling.
  • Tweaked the Go Jamboree forum, making it more usable.
  • Handed in 2 assignments.

Not greatly interesting but at least you’ll have something interesting to read about after this weekend…

Woohoo all upto date!

I’ve managed to find a potential new housemate for next year, with all the randomly assigned housemates I’m been lumped with I’m looking forward to living with someone I’ve chosen myself.

I’ve reworked the code for the Go Jamboree forum so that it’s all completely commented for official records, cleaned it up so it “runs” quicker and added exactly one mod, it would have been more but there seem to be some compatibility issues so I’m holding back on them.

Another of Western Eye Published, we’ve started switching over to using InDesign to collate all the material so the next few weeks will be interesting as the switch finalises.

SSAGO Rally in one 9 days, look out Brum, here I come!!

Every Blog has a first entry…

The inaugural post on what I believe in Psychology they call a tabula rasa, lets hope this is the first of many. So what better to start of than a brief low down on me?

  • Geographically I’m in the UK, home for the holidays for at least a week longer, mooching of the ‘rents is cheap but freedom is priceless.
  • So far professionally I’m doing okay, my practical job, filming an amateur game show ended at the beginning of December, if I can’t get a gig of some sort I’ll be relying on my student loan quicker than a promotional flyer on the street.
  • Romantically, nought, zip, zero, nah-da? You’d have thought that filming 12 beautiful young ladies would’ve opened up something more than first base?
  • And Existentially, I’m a giant floating tomato. 😀

That’s it, usually it’d be a week or so till I next touch this thing but with New Years tomorrow I’ll want to share my shenanigans with you, that is assuming you weren’t part of them.