Theme Change

As mentioned previously, the site has undergone another theme change. Hopefully this one should address the problems people had with the older one, and present a nice, pleasant look and feel to the blog.

As with last time, all comments and feedback is more than welcome. Please let us know if you find anything wrong so we can try to fix it!

[tags]blog, Blog Software, Compuskills, Downloads, Site Admin, Technology, Style, Themes, WordPress, Webdesign, Web Design[/tags]

Redesign

Taster of the new site theme - 01 June 07Another short note, the promised site redesign is under way – and hopefully nearly completed! The new theme should look quite similar to this screenshot here, notably with only a single sidebar, and ideally has taken on board most – if not all – of the feedback we have received.

If all goes well, the style will be changed before the weekend and we can settle down to more ranting about idiocy.

Thank you for your patience.

[tags]blog, compuskills, site-admin, webdesign, why-dont-you, whydontyou, wordpress[/tags]

Technorati links mystery

Technorati gives this blog a level of authority that could be considered pretty generous,given the unauthoritative nature of most of our posts. However, for the uninitiated, in Technoratispeak, “authority” refers to how popular you blog is, determined by how many other blogs link to it, not by how authoritative your content is (mercifully…).

But, links to us from the Atheist Blogroll that I can actually see on my screen – and that send visitors to us, according to FireStats – haven’t been listed for months.

I’ve tried researching the reasons for this, unsure whether the fault lies with our code (that would hardly be a first), our recent attempts to restyle the site (not an unmitigated success, yet), Technorati or the Atheist blogroll’s code.

I am none the wiser. This appears in Technorati’s explanation for why links may not get picked up.

If the link was in a blogroll, you may want to check to see if the hyperlink to your blog is located in the blog source of the blogroll. Blogroll links that are generated via a tool or script are not seen. The blogroll must reside in the blog home page as well. If the blogroll is in a subsection or directory of the site, it is not seen or picked up

On an experimental basis, I visited the most recent posters (at the top of the blogroll list on the left.)

onegoodmove.org doesn’t actually show the blogroll, nor have a link to Technorati that I could have used to check if it picks up the link from us.

Sans God has us on the Blogroll, on the index page and not below the so-called jump (other Technorati forum reasons for not seeing links) When I looked for blogs that link to Sans God, I see: “Why Dont You Blog? by Admin Istrator · 44 days ago ” Well no. It rather looks to me as if we linked to them today and yesterday and the day before and so on. When the 6 months from 44 days ago is up, we will disappear off their list of linked blogs.

God is pretend has a scrolling blogroll. Maybe that’s why our blog – which shot itself in the listing foot by starting with a letter as close as dammit to the end of the alphabet – doesn’t appear to be linked to from here. But, wait, God is pretend has only 3 inbound links and Whydontyou doesnt appear in the three. Maybe that’s because they are using a script.

We get lots of links from visitors to Gratuitous common sense and I can see us quite clearly on their blogroll, on the index page, not below the jump etc. Ahha. Technorati thinks this has links from whydontyou, but dates them as 35 and 50 days ago…..

I am getting bored with this. You get the picture. The only links that keep getting consistently
updated are from Parabiodox (ffs :-D) and content-scrapers. Any ideas?

Rules are meant to be broken

Spam us and you won’t usually get read, let alone answered.

In fact, a good few legitimate emails get thrown out accidentally in the rsi-inducing marathon of spam deletion that follows opening the email client. (Sorry to everyone whose mails get flushed)

All the same, this blog link, which came from a promotional semi-spam to the blog is actually very interesting. The blog name and blurb are:

Off the Page – Current Affairs Books, Comment & Debate
Source of content and opinion from some of the UK’s best published writers on a range of diverse topics, from the war on terror to the trouble with Tesco

We are of course holding you to ransom for a reciprocal link, seeing as you are such fans of the blog, as you mention in your email :-p ….

(Don’t take this a cue to comment-spam or spam us, though, all you cialis vendors and Nigerians who have unaccountably discovered how trustworthy we are and want to give us free dollars, you know who you are. This blog’s comments are protected by the magical shield of Akismet, not to mention the Power of Greyskull.)

Thanks and sorry

Infinite thanks to the people who’ve taken the trouble to comment on the downward spiral that is this blog’s theme. It has been a great help.

And an apology is for the fact that the redesign is interfering with there actally being any readable content.

On a “while the cat’s away” basis I’ve done some theme hacks that will bring down the wrath of TW for being deprecated and/or non-compliant (negative margins, for instance. I’ve havent cracked and used tables yet.)

I think that it works in ie6 at 100% and doesnt degrade too badly when you shrink the window.

Havent even broached ff yet so it may get rebuilt in the next few minutes and I am pretty fearful of what will happen on mobiles.

Over to me

Thanks to Chuck S (See comment on last but one post) for pointing out that the new style breaks in Internet Explorer 6, at 1024 by 768 if you don’t view it full-screen.

Sorry to everyone. It will be fixed up in the next 24 hours. Or replaced with an inexact replica.

Don’yt you just long for the days when tables were OK to use for layout?

New Style

As you may see from the site, we have taken the plunge and gone for a whole new style here. This has been designed for us by Compuskills and as far as I am aware it will be made available for free download from the compuskills blog site in the very near future.

This theme has also been tweaked a little to try and address some of the issues this blog has been having lately. Hopefully you should now find the site faster and more responsive. If you have any questions or issues with this theme please let us know. We are genuinely interested if you have any problems with the navigation or find the style is broken in anyway.

Thank you for your patience.

[tags]Site Admin, Style, Themes, Compuskills, Blog, Blog Software, WordPress, Downloads[/tags]

2.2 Upgrade Completed

As mentioned previously, we were intending to upgrade this site to WordPress 2.2. This upgrade has now been completed and everything seems to be running fine. If you encounter any problems or inconsistencies, please let us know.

Planet Atheism

Over on the Planet Atheism Blog, Dehumanizer has written a post letting people know the “State of Planet Atheism” and it certainly makes interesting reading. If you haven’t already visited the Planet Atheism site, you really should check it out. Basically it aggregates feeds from atheist-related blogs and combines them into a single, easy to read, source.

According to this post, PA is only 4 months old and it is already getting over 200 hits a day, with another 100 feed hits. This is very good going and shows it is not just a niche blog. If you are already a reader, why not spread the word? Add a few links to PA on your own blog.

If you have your own blog, and you think it would be good to have your posts collected on PA, have a look at the Way of the Mind pages for details on how to join. It really is easy. If you have an atheist blog you really should get on Planet Atheism and the Atheist Blogroll. You wont regret doing either 🙂 . Apart from anything else, these two sites (services?) go a long way towards creating an international “Atheist Community” which certainly is a good thing.

Speaking on behalf of this blog, I would like to say a big thanks to PA, it certainly drives a lot of traffic this way (at the moment around 50 hits a day come from PA which is good going) and it provides an excellent resource. It is free so anything people can do to help keep it this way would be great.

[tags]Planet Atheism, Blog, Software, Aggregator, blog-aggregator, atheism, atheist, atheist-blogroll, society[/tags]

Plugin Admin

In a previous post, I wrote:

Secondly – I will be getting rid of some plugins and experimenting with new ones. Your feedback is welcome, if one annoys you or breaks your feedreader or what ever, then please tell us. I think the “Sphere It” plugin will have to go, as it looks like it is slowing down the pages by a considerable amount now.

Following that post (and it was only a few hours ago), I removed the plugin but it did not help speed things up with the site. Add to this a couple of comments made which drew my attention to the problem still being there and I have had a ruthless clean out of plugins.

It does seem like the “Sphere It” plugin was innocent but I have no removed so many other plug ins I am far from happy about saying it was any of them causing the problem. I removed ones like the popularity contest, the duplicate social bookmarking plugins and some obscure ones which rarely seem to have been used. In my testing here, the site is now loading in about 20 seconds so it seems to have cured the problem. I would appreciate it if people could let me know what they are getting (estimates and approximations are fine, it is what I used 🙂 ).

[tags]Admin, blog, Blog Software, Feedburner, Feeds, plugins, RSS, Site Admin, Sphere, Sphere It, Technology, Upgrade, Web Design, Why Dont You, WhyDontYou, WordPress[/tags]

Site Matters

Just a few “site admin” comments to make, so I thought I would make them all in one post.

First off, WordPress 2.2 has been released. Normally we would follow the generic Compuskills advice and wait a while before upgrading but, following some off-line playing, it seems this blog could upgrade sooner rather than later. For this upgrade we will have to delete all the existing files and upload new ones, so there could be a period where this site becomes unavailable or unusable. As, recently, we have been having a fairly continuous run of traffic (around 360 visitors per day) there seems no “low traffic” time to do this. All I can offer is an in advance apology if you get funny page layouts and the like.

Secondly – I will be getting rid of some plugins and experimenting with new ones. Your feedback is welcome, if one annoys you or breaks your feedreader or what ever, then please tell us. I think the “Sphere It” plugin will have to go, as it looks like it is slowing down the pages by a considerable amount now.

Lastly, as I am about to move house there will be a significant interruption of service. Hopefully Heather will be able to hold the fort, but given VirginMedia’s abysmal service there is no guarantee. Please, feel free to continue to comment or email us. They will be read eventually.

On a related note, if any one is a Sky Broadband customer I would love to know what the service you have had is like and how reliable it is – also is the service really uncapped? (Sky Max). I have my doubts over the veracity of Sky when the broadband thing gives three options – Base (£40 set up, no monthly charge, 2MB bandwidth, 2GB cap), Mid (£20 set up, £5 per month, 8MB Bandwidth, 40GB cap) and Max (no set up, £10 per month, 16MB bandwidth, no cap) – all of which seem amazing value for money.

Worryingly, when I put in the telephone number for my current address, I am told the only broadband option is Sky Connect (not one of the above) which is 8MB bandwidth with a 40GB cap (looks suspiciously like “Mid” above) but this will incur a £40 set up fee and £17 per month. Why on Earth does it cost over three times as much as “Mid?” Does this imply Sky have headline services and rates (which are very good) but in reality customers can not get them? (Would this even be legal?)

Still, I will for a while give Sky the benefit of the doubt and consider it as an option- unlike Virgin Media which I would, now, only consider if it was free and uncapped…

[tags]Site Admin, Why Dont You, WhyDontYou, WordPress, Blog, Blog Software, Admin, Web Design, Broadband, Cable, VirginMedia, RSS, Feeds, Plugins, Feedburner, XML, Technology, Virgin Cable, Virgin Media, Internet, ISP, Upgrade, Sphere, Sphere It, [/tags]

Atheist Blogroll Problem?

Is anyone else having problems with the Atheist Blogroll? For some reason the code include doesn’t seem to be showing updated blogs (it used to mark them as “**new”), even though I have the rolling code set up. This is not a critical error really, although it is giving a lot of exposure to the 25 blogs currently showing 🙂 , but it is annoying as I used to use this to give me leads as to which blogs were updated and worth visiting.

It is possible that Blogrolling has finally bit the bullet, and it seems MoJoey is already looking at alternatives, and I suspect they cant come soon enough…

Are Rights ‘Different’?

Again, over the course of the next few weeks I am going to be spending a lot of time listening to the perennial source of annoyance that is the Radio. Today, understandably, the Virginia Tech shooting is pretty much the most dominant news item. This is a terrible event and my heart really does go out to those who have lost loved ones, friends and family in, what appears to be, a senseless act of violence. I am not “touched” by this [*] as much as some people and this blog wont deliberately have a day of silence on 30 April, but I can see why others will.

As could have easily been predicted, an incident like this reinvigorates both sides of the gun control debate. Here in the UK, it is always presented with a touch of amazement that guns are so “easy” to get hold of in the US, and killings like this are trumped up as further reasons to prevent the average person having easy access to firearms. Interestingly on one of the radio news items there was a piece from the US pro-gun lobby going on about how if the students had been allowed to have guns, they could have defended themselves. Ironically the university was, apparently a “gun free zone” which resulted in the law abiding students being unarmed, and the nutcase being armed.

Now, while this is an appealing line of reasoning, I am somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of a “wild west” style shoot out in a university and, for once, this is not the main reason behind this blog post. Following on from the radio debates over gun laws, I am curious as to whether or not some rights are considered more fundamentally important than others.

Continue reading

Easter Message to the Faithless

This post was inspired by a cake I ate today. It was so miraculously kitsch it should have its own weblog. It wouldn’t fit on a scanner without serious damage to its hull integrity, So no picture.

You’ll have to imagine a birds’ net made of meringue, filled with cream and studded with fake bark made from shredded chocolate, interspersed with those tiny chocolate eggs that have a hard shell that’s patterned to look like the eggs of imaginary but colourful bird species.

This brought to mind the chocolate anatomically correct Jesus that offended Catholics.

Shouldn’t ornithologists be campaigning about this cake? Maybe, representing their most cherished idols in confectionery format is just water off a ducks’ back to ornithologists but I believe they should be warned.

Shameless Why Don’t You blog-promotion. This was last year’s Blog Easter message. I’ve posted the link in the absence of a currently working site-map or site search thanks to various upgrade attempts or the will to write a fresh Easter message for our faithful.

Atheist serpent eating own tail

We will now bow our heads in worship of the marvellous Mojoey’s Atheist Blogroll (see below right – or elsewhere, depending on whetherTW is experimenting with another new theme at the moment) The serpent eating its own tail bit means that this blog, being on the blogroll, is about to discuss the blogroll.

This blog has leapt from Technorati insignificance to the lower reaches of the blogistocrcay thanks to its magical touch.

Firstly, there are some blogs on the roll that I find utterly infuriating. I’m buggered if I can identify any logical connection between a miltant pro-Israeli stance and atheism, for a start, but there seem to be more than their fair share of blogs emitting very pro-Israeli rants. I’m obviously missing something here, but isn’t Israel by definition a Jewish state?

I seem to remember that Judaism is normally considered a religion. Couldn’t you even argue that the behaviour of Israel has been the biggest single spur to the rise if militant Islamic fundamentalism. Just saying. (There are no problems with the “Jewish atheist” site, which is totally what one would expect to belong on the blogroll. I.e. It’s by an atheist who was brought up into the Jewish tradition.)

I’m going to ignore these odd blogs. Free speech and so on. Instead, I’m going to unfairly pick out the most stunningly brilliant atheist blogs in case you haven’t read them. (Unfairly because this is on only the basis of the most brilliant ones I’ve read recently.)

Blog of the gods God’s own blog, written in the first person. As infernally brilliant as you’d expect from the creator of the universe. Can be almost unbearably funny. The Sycophants section is particularly good, with God slagging off the people who are shamelessly flattering Him/Her to get in His/Her good books. S/He writes a few more new commandments, sends a few deserving people to Hell for all eternity. You are even guaranteed eternal life in heaven if you click on a sponsored link. (This appears to involve you getting pop-up spam, sadly, though, maybe for ever.)

Nullfidian The blog would collectively say Nullfidian was God, were it not for the fact that the Blog of the Gods suggests the post has been filled. Never seen a boring post on his blog. That’s not a challenge, by the way.

There would be some danger of turning this blog into a scraper and just posting content from Pharyngula, Nullfidian or Blog of the Gods, if we let ourselves do that. So I won’t point you to nullifidian’s 2000-years-of-learning/ blogofthegods’ godmen-tyler-durden-meets-ned-flanders/ (These are just tasters, linking to their most recent posts. Trawl the rest.)

I was going to add another half dozen links here, but I started worrying about choosing excellent blog x over equally excellent blog y. Or the list would have been massive, Ah, isn’t that what the blogroll is for?