On Templates

I got my colleages of the Bloggers Hotstove to have a look at the new template (the latest, and last for a few weeks, hotstove is here) and they paid it the ultimate complement: “it’s a bit cleaner, but it’s not much different from what you had before.”


Seriously, if I can convince the default MT templates to look the way my old site used to look, with as few modifications to the actual HTML as possible, then that’s reason enough to switch. The big improvement that this offered — placing the sidebar and the footer near the end of the code, limiting most of the off-server calls till after the article text loaded — was just too good to ignore. As I said, there are some things I’ll miss (the calendar, and the funky horizontal bar navigation), but the faster useful loading speeds and the cleaner look will make up for that, in my opinion.

I’m still thinking about how best to handle the banner. Should I choose a different colour, or what? It’s a shame that only Safari recognizes the CSS code “text-shadow”, as that little touch of grey around the lettering really helps to make the text stand out.

A word about the banner: this is taken from the Toronto Archives online photo archive. This shot is of the upper platform of Bay station, within weeks of the opening of the Bloor-Danforth subway in Toronto. Eagle-eyed history buffs will be able to figure this out by noticing that there’s a Gloucester (“red car”) subway train sitting on the tracks on the right, and the signs point to “eastbound”, “westbound” and “downtown”, something Bay station hasn’t done since September 1966.

I’d still like to use a photograph that’s mine, rather than someone elses (even a photograph as good as this), so I’ll consider candidates, and when I’ve narrowed it down, I’ll have another blog poll.

Posting has gotten a little sporadic here of late. I have a number of writing projects on the go, not least of which being the one to hammer Fathom Five into submittable shape. Thanks to Erin, we’ve made considerable progress, but I’ve not had as much time to write on this blog. I also have two possible articles for Business Edge and a solicited article for the fall issue of Spacing magazine. The latter comes with a cheque and an intern, would you believe. I’ve never had intern assistance for writing an article, and frankly I’ve no idea how to use him.

Get your mind out of the gutter, you people. Geez, is there anything about interns that Clinton hasn’t ruined?

But, seriously, it’s a new and somewhat unnerving experience (I’m not good enough to deserve an intern, am I?), but I do have some research ideas which I hope to fire off to him this afternoon. And this along with the other writing projects should occupy my week… along with laundry, housecleaning, Vivi-watching, and preparing for the ten-day trip down to Des Moines, Lincoln and Omaha.

In the meantime, here are some random thoughts that have been rattling around my head.

  • By now some of you people have seen those Future Shop commercials where a customer and a salesperson have a badly dubbed conservation promoting their (Mr. Black — Simpsons reference) sale, with the punchline being that Future Shop is able to afford these low prices by recording one commercial and running it over and over again with dubbing to promote each sale. It was funny the first few times they tried it, but now I’m wanting a real punchline. Any hope that we’ll be seeing one anytime soon? Because right now those commercials are getting really annoying.
  • CM Magazine, put out by the Manitoba Library Association, offers up what I would call a tough but fair (very good, actually) review of The Unwritten Girl. It offers constructive criticism about the depth of the Land of Fiction, but uses such delightful terms as “quirky”, “fast paced” and “solid first work by a promising writer”. They recommend it, which I take as a great compliment.
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