More Navel-Gazing

We’ll get back to normal operations tomorrow, I expect, but for today I’ve still been twiddling around with this new layout. (Reactions have been mixed, and I’m still making up my mind about it.) It’s taking me a little while to figure out how to customize the design — there are various PHP and CSS files to tinker around with — and I have no particular gift for graphic design in the first place. I realize this “theme” is rather austere, but I’ve always rather enjoyed the look of such sites (McSweeney’s is a good example), and I was getting awfully tired of the old one, which had begun to seem rather juvenile and hokey.

Our reader Charles warns us that the “Captcha” comment-spam blocker (where you have to type in some numbers to leave a comment) will wipe out what you’ve already written if you fail to enter the code correctly. I’ll see if there’s any way to fix that. Meanwhile I always recommend typing your comments on your local machine, then pasting them in — and of course if you register as a user here you don’t have to bother with the Captcha at all.

Charles also suggested that the page might be too wide for comfortable reading. I actually had widened it a bit, but I’ll set it back to the default.

Thanks to those of you who have written in; I am grateful for any and all suggestions or complaints.


  1. JK says

    I rather doubt anyone else will have to do what I’ve learned to do – but before I tackle the “Captha” thingy, I usually just copy whatever inane thing I’ve typed when (almost invariably) I mis-type one of the letters.

    Of course there’ve been many times I’ve wished I hadn’t bothered.

    Posted December 7, 2009 at 1:40 am | Permalink
  2. Charles says

    JK: Fortunately, I have gotten into the same habit, and given my tendency to write long comments, it has saved my bacon on a number of occasions. Considering that it is simply a matter of Ctrl+A followed by Ctrl+C, the return on investment is pretty good in the long run.

    Still, the user shouldn’t *have* to do that. Repopulating the fields is a very simple thing, and not doing so tells the user that you are assuming they are a bot or spammer.

    Malcolm: I did register as a user here… were the registrations wiped out when you switched templates? I don’t see an option anywhere to register or sign-in.

    (This is all sounding vaguely familiar… I think I had these exact same difficulties before. If only I had a better memory. Oh, wait, maybe it’s on the front page… I’ll have to go check that.)

    Oh, and I like what you’ve done with the header graphic. Still understated, but with a touch of style and personality.

    On the Captcha front, if you have access to the code (and assuming it is PHP), I can tweak it for you so that at least the comment field is repopulated, if not all of the fields.

    Posted December 7, 2009 at 7:49 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Charles, I’ve removed that Captcha plugin altogether and am going to see if Akismet does the job. If not, there’s another plugin that will present a Captcha whenever Akismet flags a comment as spam. Let’s see how that goes.

    Oh, and by the way, you are still a registered user. The Login box is at the bottom of the sidebar on the right.


    Posted December 7, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink
  4. bob koepp says

    I’m still not decided about the new layout — a bit buttoned down. Am I right that the header graphic is from your recent view looking north on the beach at Maguire’s Landing?

    Posted December 8, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says


    Am I right that the header graphic is from your recent view looking north on the beach at Maguire’s Landing?

    Indeed you are! Well done.

    I rather wanted the new look to be “buttoned down”. Most WP themes have such a frivolous look to them.

    Would you agree that the old one was getting rather tired? I never really liked it all that much; I was just too lazy to change it until now.

    But i’m not quite done fooling around with this one.

    Posted December 8, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Permalink
  6. Malcolm says

    I’ve just noticed also that I lost the “Random Post” link when I made the change. I’ll have to put that back, if I can remember where it goes.

    Posted December 8, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Permalink
  7. Speaking personally from behind my tired, old eyes, I would prefer a slight background colour, much as you have behind *your* comments here, in order to cut down on the glare from a white background. Also, is there any chance of increasing the font size – please – pretty please?

    Posted December 8, 2009 at 2:47 pm | Permalink
  8. Malcolm says


    One of my younger (they’re ALL younger at this point!) “training brothers” down at the kwoon is a professional web-designer, and has kindly offered to tweak the design a bit; the mockup he made is already a great improvement. So hold tight…

    Posted December 8, 2009 at 11:35 pm | Permalink
  9. Charles says

    Ah, excellent! I knew the log in was around there somewhere. It’s good to be back.

    Looking forward to further tweaks!

    Posted December 9, 2009 at 12:54 am | Permalink

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