The Reboot Story: Part Three

posted on November 8th, 2005 by Anthony

Oops I’m slacking a bit now aren’t I?

Anyway here’s the third part of the Reboot Story. I’ve already talked about the inspiration and the layout, so in this one I’m going to take you on a little tour.

Follow Me

While I was mucking about with the design I came up with lots of ideas that I hoped I could transfer to reality. I say hoped, as with most of the ideas I had absolutely no idea how they would actually work.

But I didn’t let that stop me, I mean I’ve had a quick look at PHP after all!

Only One Post

The recent articles

I decided fairly early on that I didn’t really need to have a long list of 10 posts. Do you realy need to see the full text from more than one?

So in my sketches I bravely drew in an area for one main post, and three small boxes to put in a brief summary of the previous three entries. I had no idea how to achieve it mind, but I thought the idea was sound enough.

My first port of call to solve the problem was obviously plugins. I assumed that somebody, somewhere must have had the same idea. I searched all the usual places, exhausted Google and questioned my sanity.

“Sod it!” I thought “I’ll work something out!”.

The concept stayed in the “Lorem Ipsum” stage, and into the build of the actual site. (which is way after the HTML mock up, and comfortably into the hacking into WordPress phase.)

Only once I’d got the major parts of the design working in WordPress did I begin looking at using my limited PHP nouse to actually take the info from the database.

It turned out to be pretty easy – but having said that the results aren’t exactly cutting edge. All I did was use a basic MySQL query of the wp_posts table, then apply a HTML stripping snippet of code that uses preg_replace. Then I echoed it all out with a character limit.

I then used the $i value to generate the id name for the different boxes, and bob’s your sister’s, auntie’s, brother’s, cousin twice removed!

It’s clunky, inflexible and very probably hideously inefficient – but by jove it works!

Tide Times

The tide table

Once upon a time I had an idea that I could use the tide times to power a header graphic along the line of Dunstan’s site. The level of the water (or whatever) would rise depending on the tide level at that time.

I eventually saw sense and scrapped the idea. (Though I may have just elevated the idea back to “hmm, interesting” status.) I still wanted to involve the tide somewhere though, because it is actually a talking point in household. As sad as that is.

I hunted around for a while to see if there were any weather site that provided a nice RSSy feed of tide times, but none were forthcoming. All I could find was a few site that offered html tables.

Fortunately the information is presented in a very uniform way. So I looked into the idea of screen scraping. I know this practice can be a bit of a grey area, but the way I’ve set it up (using a nice script from Troy Wolf) allows me to cache the data so it’s only fetched once a day, which to my mind is perfectly reasonable.

Unlike the recent articles hack, I had a bit more of a run at this one, and I knew that I could get it to work before even looking at WordPress!

Sill-y Comments

The comments, side by side with their inspiration!

In my last design I spent about two minutes on laying out the comments, and I totally hated them. So for this design I really wanted to make a feature out of them.

In fact, the comments look was one of the first concepts I had in mind after seeing the tide marker at the Albert Dock in Liverpool. The way the measure was laid out, and the simplistic functional look really got me thinking of how I could adapt it.

So on one of my location shoots I made sure I got plenty of good shots of that particular dockular apparatus. From there I chopped it up in Photoshop, ran it through Flash (something that’s happened to most graphics on here), then back into Fireworks for more chopping, slicing and gluing.

Then I specially selected the prime cuts and mixed them in with the health does of CSS and HTML. I also added space for the Gravatars and added a pseudo shadow top-border to round everything of nicely.

Overall it just adds that little bit extra to the whole sea fronty thang.

Goodbye Cats, Hello Tags

The tags

Once upon a time the only things you could tag were homing pigeons, these days you can tag anything. From Photos to music, and bookmarks to solid human waste (probably, somewhere, if not yet, soon – mark my words!) – the world (well the blogoball bit anyway) has gone tag manic.

That’s NOT why I’ve gone all taggy. I have one reason, and one reason only:

I like being able to make categories on the spot!

The amount of time that I had to go about creating new categories way after I’d finished writing a post was driving me mad! I’ve wanted for so long just to jot down a stream of related words. I don’t want to have to go through three screens to just add a new category!

Fortunately this was easy, I just installed the very natty ultimate_tag_warrior plugin produced by Christine Davis. It does everything you could possibly want, and it does it in a very configurable, customisable way!


That’s it for this post, I’ve already written far too much – as usual.

There might yet be some more parts to this series. I say might, mainly because I keep thinking of things I want to say, and then instantly forgetting them. And this has happened several times, while writing this post alone! But I think there’s definitely something left to say.

If anybody has any ideas, just let me know!