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 of 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 page (linked from sidebar and also presented as a tab) where everything is helpfully arranged by month and category, as before.
- A new favicon has been added “GB” which you may be able to see in your browser address bar if you are using Firefox.
- 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.
- 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]