Some Cosmetic Changes

43 Comments

You may have noticed that “Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind” (RTDM) looks a little different today. Not as different hopefully as say Koena Mitra did after she had her disastrous nose job which in essence put a pakoda between her eyes.

But yes yahaan pe kuch to hua hain.

Well the news is that RTDM underwent a slight cosmetic enhancement over the weekend. This was necessitated by changes to WordPress, the software that I use to create and maintain my blog. In theory, WordPress is this marvelous bit of open-source community software which rules over all its competitors because of its extensive extensibility both in terms of functionality (through what are known as plug-ins) and in terms of visualization (through what are known as themes). In practice, it is riddled with security vulnerabilities and feature instabilities, requiring very frequent updates and releases (sometimes within weeks of the last) with the problem being that updates are prone to sometimes “break” your blog beyond repair. WordPress developers blame plug-in/theme developers for this state of affairs while they deflect the blame back and in the midst of all this passing the buck, the poor user as usual suffers.

On my side, I had made customizations upon a basic theme (K2) developed by some people close to the WordPress project and so I felt I had insulated myself from the deleterious effects ofย  changes. Not really. When WordPress went to version 2.3, it broke my theme leaving me unable to edit any of the blog’s sidebars, a standard problem faced by many people using the theme, caused by a decision taken by WordPress developers, in their wisdom, to no longer support a technology on which K2 was built.

I had persisted with the broken theme for almost a year and stopped updating WordPress because I had no idea as to what further terrors future releases would bring for my theme. But with the book release coming up, the need was felt to regain control of my blog. And so I made a sandbox on my local machine, installed a local copy of WordPress 2.8, got a totally new version of K2 and re-made my blog’s look (including re-doing the headers since my column widths had changed), keeping much of the old intact but adding a silicon implant here and a scalpel there.

And over the weekend, I felt confident enough to roll out the changes.

Here are the principal enhancements

  1. A new “Book” tab where I hope to keep everyone updated with the status of my to-be-published book “May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss”. Right now, it contains a one-line blurb about the book
  2. Social media integration. I have noticed over the past few months, a significant number of people visit this blog following links shared on Twitter and Facebook. Hence every post now has “Share this” buttons to enable readers to share the blog-post through these two social media outlets.
  3. I have myself taken to tweeting. So the left-sidebar integrates my twitter feed with the blog. The right side-bar contains links to my Facebook group and my Twitter.
  4. I have removed the “Categories” and the “Archives” section from my side-bar simply because they were becoming too long and increasing the blog’s load-time for every page-request. Now anyone wanting to read old stuff has to visit the Archive pageย  (linked from sidebar and also presented as a tab) where everything is helpfully arranged by month and category, as before.
  5. A new favicon has been added “GB” which you may be able to see in your browser address bar if you are using Firefox.
  6. A few of my posts have been copied and sent as email forwards with my name and my blog-name being stripped off (since giving credit for work evidently does not fall within the purvey of forward etiquette). A month or so ago, an old college friend forwarded me a mail saying “Hey this is a very funny piece I got on a mailing list. I am sure you will love this as this is your kind of humor”. Indeed it was my kind of humor. Very much so. Considering I had written it. Anyways, I have clarified my “Copyright” statement (the new “Copy Wrong”) so that at least people are aware that when they remove my name off a piece they are forwarding, they are making doves cry.
  7. My picture in the header (taken in 2007) has been changed to better reflect how I look today (This picture was taken last month).

Not everything is to my satisfaction however. For instance I preferred the old way in which “Recent Comments” were displayed on a per-post basis (with multiple commenters being separated by commas) as opposed to “on a per-comment basis” as it is now. However I was unable to get it to work the old way, despite checking out several plug-ins. Potentially the problem can be fixed if I tinker with some of the core theme files but then again that is a sure-shot recipe for “upgrade hell” , something I am most keen to avoid.

This is the way I hope the blog shall remain unless another WordPress update rips through its innards or I get another of my “let’s tinker around with my blog template” urges.

For now however let me get back to more pressing things of world-wide importance—-namely a certain Swayamvar. [Watch this if you have watched nothing else on the Greatest Television Show Ever]

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43 thoughts on “Some Cosmetic Changes

  1. I like! Awesome modifications! Makes it easier to share ur entries on FB now! Twitter will let me know of the latest posts & hence more Ipods ๐Ÿ˜€

    After you are done wiht your book, can we have an app for this? ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. The new layout looks very nice, Arnab. Very crisp and easy on the eyes.

    BTW, you’ve lost weight. Strict gym regimen? Jenny Craig? Fergie’s Diet?

    How about posting some more of your photographs (from Jadavpur, Stonybrook and College Park) – for your female fans, that is? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. @Bengal Voice: Corrected link. And as to the photo-progression of myself through different ages, shall keep that in mind. I now go regularly to the gym (thrice a week, a combination of interval training and resistance training) and try to follow a low-carb lifestyle (note the words “try to’).

  4. Cant say the font looks too good…I preferred the old font style….more smooth and neat looking…I noticed the changes yesterday…while trying to read Urvashi ka Swayamvar a second time…and noticed the first Urvashi picture almost overlapping with the text…thought somethin was wrong with my browser…then saw the new punk’s constipated smile on the top right corner…and thought…”ya….so does the Font”

  5. BTW, Desi blogging is indeed getting noticed by the big boys, eh? First the Confessor gets a book deal and now GreatBong. But IMHO the former’s not as ummm… versatile as you are….. and she has quite a literary pedigree you know. Her dad’s a Babu, one of the best novelists in Lolakutty land and her mom’s on the Outlook editorial board. Anyway…..

    The premise of your book looks interesting and the angrezi title is most subaltern…. phrom the beebul onlee! All the best Greatbong, you are only one virgin sacrifice away from Dark Lord status. (I guess Parnab would do, eh? ;))

  6. Looking at your photograph, boy, you have slimmed a lot… on diet or what.. -:)

    just kidding. Love your blogs as always. Hope only layout changes but not the witt.

  7. I like the new page. The font gets a bit small at higher resolutions, but nothing that cannot be rectified by readers.

    And I do believe that Anu Malik is far more sinned against than sinning. I feel you should replace his pic with that of Pritam Chakraborty, who has stolen 100% of his songs!

  8. GB! You are looking HOT.. why are all the best men in this world are either married or queer?
    Rakhi and Anu made it to the sidebar, hopefully, they shall make it to the banner in some time.
    You can now say ‘Koi Shaque?’ ala Mahaprabhu in Luck. When do we see the review? Only of Prabhu and Danny, and may be Sanjay Dutt acting.
    Eagerly waiting for the book. Wish you go the Chetan Bhagat way, in terms of sales and not in terms of plots .. and may be the next Slumdog Swarup way. Afterall, even ‘How to lose friends and alienate people’ got it’s movie, so why cant RTDM (sounds like RTDHM) ???

  9. BTW, your ‘cosmetic changes’ worked better than Sushmita Sen with Age Miracle and Malaika Khan with without ‘boring black hair’.

  10. I miss Featured Follies! I read those masterpieces whenever I was bored/downcast in office. Now i will have to search them! Arnab kuch adjustment ho sakte hai kya?

  11. You are getting more attractive to the female population with the “sensitivity to ‘women’s issues” (read Rakhi’s Swayamvar) and the weight-lost (yes, lost not loss) picture. I will buy the book the day it comes out. ๐Ÿ˜€ As pointed out to you, may you do business like CHetan BHagat, while continuing to entertain while maintaing the comic/humour/satire standards.

  12. Jio Arnab_da, ki laagche guru !!! Ekebaare “chomke” diyecho mayiri !!! Dekhle hobey, khorchaa aache !

    Seriously, its a lot cleaner, meaner and fat-free now. The Favicon would display on any good browser, eg, Safari.

  13. GB,
    I regularly send your blogs to friends who are too lazy to take the effort, but i think are worth reading your pieces. but i do send the link to your blog in the subject. actually im lazy too. most of the times i just do a “send page” from Microsotf Outlook. So, you copy wrongs are safe. hope thats okay, and wish others catch on to this as well!!

  14. Certainly, the most cosmetic change appears to be your mugshot. This is a far better picture than the older one. Please forward the recipe for the anti-age elixir.

    I agree that it was much better to have โ€œRecent Commentsโ€ on a per-post basis. You could see when the right wingers and the wrong wingers (for want of a better term) fly in, crap over several blogs providing interesting reading irrespective of the page you are in! Can’t you really risk fixing this?

    The other thing one would miss is the instantly clickable links to ‘1 800 hotties’ or ‘Desibaba – Death of a Dear Friend’ which were extremely useful when down in the dumps or when trying to show off to a professional colleague that ‘look, I too have a sense of humor, I read THIS’. Now all this is yet another click away. Sigh…

    All the best for your book though
    Cheers

  15. “My picture in the header (taken in 2007) has been changed to better reflect how I look today (This picture was taken last month).”

    wow! looks like the baby fat has disappeared ;-). good show gb – that should inspire folks like me who still own spare tire(s).

    – s.b.

  16. @Bengal Voice :
    Whats wrong with me dude? i always like him.

    Eagerly waiting for your book GB. looks like a good pass time in Toilet.(Dont mind that is the only place where i get 15-20 mins of isolation and self entertainment)

  17. My book will be released in the third week of February.

    @Rahul Ghosh: Dont have sufficient number of readers who access RTDM through mobile (or so I think) to take the risk of adding another plug-in (Each added plug-in increases the risk of WordPress breaking. I did do a bit of research and it seems, from community discussions, that WP plugins for mobile are pretty unstable as of today.

  18. Adding ’email this’ and stumbleupon, Digg it etc would be helpful for quick bookmarks. Whay don’t you add the readily available Share this icon ?
    Seems your smile have reduced with age ๐Ÿ™‚
    Cheers!
    ~uh~

  19. Tarzan wrote: “Whats wrong with me dude?”

    I don’t know. You tell me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Tarzan wrote: “i always like him.”

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    “[Toilet] is the only place where i get 15-20 mins of isolation and self entertainment.”

    Arrey bhai…by self entertainment, did you mean “self-gratification”? I am pretty sure GB’s book would not contain risquรฉ centerfolds. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  20. Typos galore:
    Tarzan wrote: “[Toilet] is the only place where i get 15-20 mins of isolation and self entertainment.”

    Arrey bhai…by self entertainment, did you mean “self-gratification”? I am pretty sure GB’s book would not contain risquรฉ centerfolds. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. GB, I hope you negotiated hard and bargained well on the royalties for the book.

    I have heard from a friend that some of these publishing companies tend to be “kanjoos-makkichoos” types… This friend (an author) is being paid, only about 60 cents to a dollar as royalty for every book sold.

    I am reminded of Mr.Micawber’s pithy dialogue: “One cannot obtain blood from a stone” (in Charles Dickins’s novel David Copperfield)

  22. Arnab,

    About your book, pliss be careful that Nazim of fraandship and loveship fame might sue you phaar yousing hees prop-rai-tari lengege ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Arnab, copy wrong could have been pritam that fellow is a threat to Anu malik , anyway You also have a nice different look this time (You look smarter ahem!!!!)

  24. good work..!!
    one thing – can’t the links posted by you be automitacally opened in a diff. window..?? one has to right click everytime to open it that way…

    P.S. – i am technologically challenged! Please tell me if this happens ONLY on my machine… ๐Ÿ˜€

  25. Yours truly certainly does not like some of the changes.

    I preferred the previous avatar of the “Latest Comments section”, where one could see the names of the latest commentators against the main five threads being discussed. Thus if I preferred a particular comment thread, I could concetrate on that thread alone.

    The current incarnation comprises a steady and continuous stream of comments, 99% of which relate to the latest comment. Thus any developments occuring in the past few threads is swamped by comments on the latest GB posting. So if someone finds those comment-threads more entertaining than the latest one, (s)he can no longer track them.

    Posting and subsequent comment developments are now inevitably straight-jacketing themselves in to
    (I) a brilliant (or good) posting by GB, followed by
    (II) 95 paeans on how great GB’s posting is, mixed with possibly 5 good comments which are worth reading and expand one’s knowledge

    There is nothing wrong with praising GB’s comments. I find most of them trenchantly side-splitting. However, the blogsite was something more than homilies. It was a fantastic forum for seeing how the relevance of a topic was far more wide-ranging than originally considered. It was an eye-opener, throwing up wonderful facts, mischievous factoids, and surprising implications.

    If the argument deviated too much from the original path, “Whack”. Slap on the wrist from GB !!

    This healthy debate, opportunity to present as well as imbibe facts was also a key ingredient, GB’s personal brilliant with and humour notwithstanding, that made this blogsite special.

    I can see it blanding (not a mistype) in to the blandscape of unusual blogs, comprising one benediction, followed by 99 supine homilies. Gratifying to the ego? Yes. Cutting edge? No longer.

    Sorry not to mince words. I was apprehensive that this would happen after the changes were declared, but decided to give it a month or so before voicing misgivings. Nothing has persuaded me since to alter that perception.

  26. HHBB,

    The change in the layout comment section was not prompted by a desire to stroke my ego. This is just the way comments are arranged in WP 2.8. The old plugin that laid out comments, per post, no longer works. I also preferred the old way of laying out the comments. Incidentally if you think that the number of ego-gratifying comments have gone up then I would kindly ask you to actually read the comments on a recent post vs comments on old posts and do a comparison. You may perhaps find, on evidence, that the opposite is true.

    Indeed if the tone of comments would change based on WP plugins, then WP would be a greater blogging software than I thought.

    If there is something that has changed, I have more severely moderated comments which I believe are 1)off-thread and 2) hateful. That has nothing to do with the blog template change though.

  27. GB,

    I was not suggesting the layout amendment arose out of an egoistical desire. You have no need for such resort; your posts are powerful enough to stand on their own merit and brilliance.

    However, the new layout, IMO, will “automatically” reduce both the urge and propensity of commentators to engage in animated discussions and debates of issues at hand.

    If you juxtapose and assess your prior posts against current ones, you will see that the level of robust debates has diminished significantly. Some of it is caused, as highlighted by you above, the rejuvenated cathartic zeal to decimate off-the-mark postings before they can raise their heretical heads. However, the layout change has also caused a great ennui to descend on your commentators. Mark my words.

    And thus my long sigh. This was a fantastic and exciting blogsite before. I hope that a puritanical zeal does not dessicate it of its animating succour. I would hate to see it blend in to the blandscape.

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