Current Web Design Resources

I’ve been steadily working on a new web design project which will eventually become a custom WordPress template. In the design process I’ve slowly managed to amass several browser windows full of tabs of related things that I was looking at for inspiration on the site.

Safari is getting pretty slow with all of those tabs so I kind of needed to do a complete dump of the tabs. Without further ado, here are the links (for my benefit as much as yours).

Wireframes

CSS Galleries

WordPress Themes (Inspiration)

Photoshop and Illustrator Tutorials

Other Stuff

What is Interference Robustness?

There is a really helpful article over on Macinstruct about the weird feature in Airport called “interference robustness.” I’ve always wondered what that did, and more importantly, if it does something good, why is it off by default?

The answers are here:

Using Interference Robustness will essentially slow down your wireless connection. As discussed above, if you’re looking for speed, you send a high frequency of large packets. If you’re looking to battle interference you send smaller packets at a lower frequency. So your connection will be slow but strong.

Another important thing that this article notes is that “Use Interference Robustness” only applies to Apple’s AirPort networks:

It’s also important to understand that if you run a Mac and use a Linksys, Netgear, Belkin or one of the many other options one has, checking the “Use Interference Robustness” option will not work. Interference Robustness is specific to Macs connected to Apple’s AirPort Express and Airport Extreme.

Creating An Archives Page In WordPress

In my most recent blog design I’ve created a single page for all of my post archives. Previously, I had links to my monthly archive pages in the sidebar. After blogging for about 14 months, this list became a little bit unwieldy. My solution was to move the entire archives section out of the sidebar, and into its own page. The archives page is now more prominently linked from the main navigation bar.

Unfortunately, doing all of this in WordPress is not quite as straightforward as one might hope. Now that I have mine all set up, I figured I’d post a walkthrough of how to set up something like my archive index page.

Get A Plugin To Do the Dirty Work

Unless you’re interested in writing the PHP code and MYSQL queries to retrieve all of your archives in an organized fashion, a plugin is the way to go. After a quick Google search, I found the SRG Clean Archives plugin. This plugin is quite nice I’ve found. It’s realatively easy to implement and also (and importantly), it’s also very easy to modify to fit your site design.

The plugin will give you a list of all your post titles, organized by month. There is also the nice feature where the post titles begin with a post date. Check out the clean archives demo page for an example.

Simply install the plugin like any other normal plugin and then activate it.

Set Up the Archive Page In WordPress

The next step is to set up the actual archive page in WordPress. There is a tutorial in the WordPress codex about how to do this called Creating An Archive Index. I’m just going to briefly outline the steps here.

archives.php

Open your archives.php file. If you’re using a basic template, then this file probably already exists. If you’re using the default Kubric theme, your archives.php file will look like this:

<?php
/*
Template Name: Archives
*/
?>

<?php get_header(); ?>

<div id="content" class="widecolumn">

<?php include (TEMPLATEPATH . '/searchform.php'); ?>

<h2>Archives by Month:</h2>
    <ul>
        <?php wp_get_archives('type=monthly'); ?>
    </ul>

<h2>Archives by Subject:</h2>
    <ul>
         <?php wp_list_categories(); ?>
    </ul>

</div>

<?php get_footer(); ?>

As always, I would suggest making a backup of this file before changing anything. Now modify the archives.php file to look like this:

<?php
/*
Template Name: Archives
*/
?>

<?php get_header(); ?>

<div id="content" class="widecolumn">

</div>

<?php get_footer(); ?>

If you’re using your own template (like I am), then you may need to either update or create the archives.php file to make sure it is consistant with your blog design. A good starting place for this is to simply copy your single.php file to your archives.php. Now, delete the entire “loop”.

Note on Page Templates You can create any kind of page template you want. All you need to do is insert the following code at the very top of your PHP file.

<?php
/*
Template Name: template-name
*/
?>

Make sure your archives.php file starts with these lines, or else you’ll be banging you head against the monitor trying to figure out while ‘Archives’ isn’t listed as an option in the Page Template dropdown menu. Believe me, I speak from experience.

Create A Page In WordPress

Now have to set up a plain old page in WordPress.

  1. Login to the WordPress Admin area
  2. Go to Manage -> Pages
  3. Click Create a new page
  4. Enter an appropriate title. This will be the title of your archive index page.
  5. Leave the content area blank
  6. In the Page Template box, select Archives.
  7. In the Page Slug box. Type something suitable as this will be the permalink for your archives page (http://www.your-blog-name.com/page-slug/).
  8. Click Save.

Now obviously, you have to create a link to your new archives page. We already set it up, complete with the URL. Yours should be in the form of http://www.your-blog-name.com/page-slug/. Just make a link to it somewhere on your site.

Call the Plugin

As you’ll notice, our fancy Archive Index is empty. In order to get all of our archives in there, we have to use a simple PHP function to call the SRG Clean Archives plugin.

Open your archives.php file again. Find this section of the page:

<div id="content" class="widecolumn">

</div>

Now add the following PHP function to call the plugin:

<div id="content" class="widecolumn">
    <?php srg_clean_archives(); ?>
</div>

Save the archives.php file and refresh your browser. You should now see a nice list of all of your archives.

Customization

As I noted earlier, the SRG Clean Archives plugin is nice because it’s easy to modify if you want to. The Clean Archives website is well documented and the plugin contains a readme file explaining this as well.

The default style for SRG Clean Archives is to output the month and year, surrounded by <strong> tags. You might want something else, like a list or header tags.

To change this, open the srg_clean_archives.php file in your plugins folder and find the following line:

 echo get_archives_link($url, $text, '','<strong>','</strong>');

Modify the strong tags to suit your needs. For example, mine now looks like this:

 echo get_archives_link($url, $text, '','<h2 class="archivemonth">','</h2>');

You can find more information about this on the SRG Clean Archives plugin website.

SRG Clean Archives also provides you with class names so that you can style list however you want in your CSS. I’ve added the following styles to mine:

/* For Archive page */
h2.archivemonth {margin:30px 0 0 0;padding:0;}
    h2.archivemonth a:visited {color:#9db550;}
ul.archivelist {border-bottom:1px #ddd solid;list-style:none;margin:0;padding:0;}
    ul.archivelist li {border-top:1px #ddd solid;}
        ul.archivelist li a {display:block;padding:2px 0 0 20px;}
        ul.archivelist li a:link, ul.archivelist li a:visited, ul.archivelist li a:active {color:#000;}
        ul.archivelist li a:hover {background-color:#eee;color:#000;text-decoration:none;}

 

Note: I changed SRG’s default class name from ‘postpermonth’ to ‘archivelist’.

That’s All

Well, that’s pretty much it. I hope you guys find this useful. Feedback and corrections are always appreciated.

Update 2/25/09: This method was tested and works on SRG Clean Archives version 2.1. This version is old! Please check out all of the feature upgrades for the plugin from it’s home page. If you still want to proceed with my method, you can download the plugin here:

Transfer LP Records to Your Mac

I stumbled across a tutorial from Macinstruct a couple of weeks ago on how to import vinyl records into digital files.

The tutorial seemed straightforward enough and more importantly, free. All you need for hardware is a Mac, record player and a receiver with a headphone jack. The only thing left after that is an audio cord and one of those funny headphone plug things. I had one laying around from the last set of headphones I bought. The software used in the tuturial is the Audacity (open-source) and the LAME codec (for converting to mp3).

I spent the better part of the weekend working on importing my records. It’s a happy time for me, since I do love my records. The only problem is that I never actually listened to them. About six months ago I gave up and moved my whole stereo to the basement. The plan was to trade it in for one of those nifty iPod stereo thingys. Well, I have yet to actually buy any sort of iPod stereo, and my records, until last weekend were still just records. I’ve been using my PS2 for a stereo. Sigh.

I’m happy to report that the whole process is pretty easy. Everything listed in the tutorial works as they say it does. The sound quality is as expected, not terribly good, but it sure beats replacing my record collection with CDs or iTunes songs. The process is very slow though. I mean, you do have to actually sit there and play the records in real time while they import. But, as far as I know, there’s no way around that.

So for now I’m enjoying my long lost B-52’s, Blondie, Blonde Redhead and Tom Waits albums.

Mac OS X: Creating a login hook

Why here? Because I can never find this aricle when I need it. From Apple’s KB article:

[Things to keep in mind] with a login hook:

  • The script specified as a login hook must be executable.
  • The login hook will be run as root.
  • In the login hook script, the variable $1 returns the short name of the user who is logging in.
  • Other login actions wait until the hook has completely executed.

How to set up a login hook:

Mac OS X 10.3, 10.4, or later

  1. Open Terminal (Applications/Utilities).
  2. In the Terminal window, type: sudo defaults write com.apple.loginwindow LoginHook /path/to/script (where /path/to/script is the full path to the script that you want to execute when a user logs in—it doesn’t have to be in the user’s Home directory). This modifies the /var/root/Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow file.
  3. Type your password at the prompt, then press Return.


appointive
appointive
appointive
appointive