The ISA-Bus

One blog to bind them all.

Category Archives: World Wide Web

MobyGames is its Old Self Again!

From what I read on Wikipedia, yet another company bought it three days ago and gave it back its former design. I only noticed just now.


The Growing Web

The web grows a lot faster than the Internet itself, at least if you measure the Internet by the number of people connected to it and the WWW by the number of results from a Google search. According to Pingdom, there were 361 million Internet users in 2000, and not quite two billion in 2010, more than five times as many. Internet World Stats, the number was 2.4 billion in mid 2012.

Now I came across an old page of mine, from mid 2002, where I had written:

It is astonishing how many websites contain the words “dumb” or “stupid” in their titles or are otherwise devoted to proclaiming that some third party fits either description. A Google search for “stupid” returned 4.5 million pages. Combining it with “dumb” reduced the number to half a million, still more than, for example, surrealism (158.000), LAN party (100.000), or Ian Fleming (30.700).

I decided to repeat these searches now, and got the following results:

  • Stupid: 230,000,000
  • Stupid+dumb: 97,700,000
  • Surrealism: 7,380,000
  • LAN party: 17,700,000
  • Ian Fleming: 6,590,000

While the number of Internet users has increased less than seven times in thirteen years, the number of Google results has increased between 50 and 200 times in eleven years.

And stupid is still a big topic.

Tumblr Dislikes Firefox

Tumblr supports Chrome a lot better than it supports Firefox. When they introduce a new feature, or change something, it usually works in Chrome from the beginning, but may take quite some time till it works in Firefox. Such was the case, for example, with the new editor introduced earlier this year.

Now there’s something especially weird. The Esquire theme (I use it for Vivat Crescat Floreat, Thirteen to Fifty, and The Latin World) shows an ugly anthracite bar at the top of the page—in Firefox, but not in Chrome.

Arachne has been updated again

After a hiatus of two years, there is a new version of the Arachne web browser again, 1.97. I’m not sure what is new, it seems that only the CORE.EXE was updated, but there’s no new readme. You can get it here.

Using characters as list markers in HTML

This isn’t supported officially. Going back to CSS1, images can be set as list markers, and all kinds of numbering styles can be chosen, but picking a character as marker of an unordered list isn’t part of the specs. Pity, there are nice characters in UTF for this purpose, like this one:

The workaround that I found is to set the list-style-type to “none”, and then prefix the character to the list items with the content property, like this:

ul {list-style-type: none;}
ul li:before {content: "☞";}

Unfortunately, there is no way to directly make it display like a list marker either. This can be done in a not very elegant way by setting a negative margin:

ul {list-style-type: none;}
ul li:before {content: "☞"; margin-left: -1.2em;}

I found that 1.2 em works near perfectly for this specific character. For other characters, you’ll have to experiment.

Does Google hate MobyGames?

Whenever I google the name of a game, among the top results there will be the Wikipedia entry (though Wikipedia is a lousy resource when it comes to games), the official website, if there is one, or a Facebook page or Twitter account, a specialized wiki, if there is one, maybe some newspaper articles, even the IMDb entry. But not MobyGames. If I want to go to the MobyGames entry, I have to add it to the search terms.

What’s going on here? After all, MobyGames is still the prime resource when it comes to games.

Free Mediawiki Skins

This blog was last updated in November 2009 and is probably dead, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Check out “dark” for rather atypical MediaWiki skins.

CMS Blues

Last summer, I systematically researched CMSes. It was a very frustrating experience. The most irritating thing is that none of the developers seem capable of describing the features of their product in simple, understandable terms to help you make an informed decision. Instead you get marketing buzzwords like “powerful”, “versatile”, “rich flexibility” and whatnot. And that goes for the free ones too!

To explain what I mean let me describe in simple, understandable terms the features of one of the very few CMSes I have personal experience with, MediaWiki:

  • Main elements are pages (articles) and categories.
  • For editing pages, a special, very simple markup is used. Line breaks are preserved.
  • The title of a page is its internal ID. Enclosing a word or phrase in double brackets will link to a page with this title, if it exists. If it does not exist, it will link to an editor where you can create it.
  • You add a page to a category simply by putting a link to it, which will be displayed in the footer. The category list is updated automatically.
  • You can put categories into categories.
  • The category page can be edited, everything that can go on a page can go here as well. This content is displayed above the automatically generated list.
  • You can upload files, they automatically get a description page that can be edited.
  • You can create templates, which can easily be inserted into any page.
  • Main drawback is a high server load, especially with images, and a rather bland, cluttered layout with few interesting themes.

That shouldn’t be to difficult, now, should it? But try finding a similar description for Joomla, Drupal, Typo3, or whatever. You won’t.

Categories on WordPress Pages

I didn’t know that there are more than 23,000 WordPress plugins. There are. New ones are added all the time. Between my first and second visit to the page the number increased by three. It’s kinda crazy. How are you supposed to find anything?

Anyway, there’s one I find especially interesting. It goes by the name Map Categories to Pages and allows you to put pages into categories just like blog items. I think that’s a very good idea, and it’s a pity that WordPress doesn’t support it by default.

Even as it is, WordPress should be a fairly good CMS for smallish sites, say, up to around a hundred pages. Some themes (Greyzed and Adventure Journal for example) support custom menus. Typically, you get a horizontal bar that might hold up to a dozen entries, with a drop-down menu for each. This system could probably support about a hundred pages before it becomes to unwieldy. With categories on pages, this number should increase significantly.

Of course the question is whether the WordPress developers want to move their product away from a mere blogging system. Maybe they don’t. But that would be a pity, because I see more and more blogs anyway that aren’t blogs in the traditional sense, but just use the software as an easy, accessible CMS.

Some Tumblr Themes

The Tumblr Theme Garden is huge, and unlike its WordPress counterpart not tagged by feature. Here are a couple of themes that I found useful. The things I look out for in a theme are:

  • Tags should display on listings, not just on the posts themselves. Otherwise your blog will be difficult to navigate.
  • The short URL should be displayed somewhere. It is sufficient if it is displayed on the posts, but if the theme does not display it, it isn’t accessible at all.
  • The theme should handle long tag lists well.
  • It should load fast and without problems. For this reason I generally prefer themes that do not show the high-resolution images immediately.
  • It should display cover images for audio posts, ideally at a fixed size. This is of course only relevant if the blog will have audio posts.
  • Ideally, it should display “next post” and “previous post” links.

Read more of this post