Look and feel

If you visit this site in a browser, rather than just getting the content via your RSS reader, you’ll notice it looks a bit different. I have reverted the site to the new default theme for WordPress whilst I figure out how I want the site to look in the future.

Previously I was using the Thesis theme for this site. However, various issues, neatly encapsulated in this post, mean I don’t feel terribly comfortable with that choice any more.

Hopefully I will have something permanent sorted out soon enough.

Update: this is another good summary of the situation.

DavePress redux

I’m currently having a good sort out of this blog – and will be relaunching it with quite a few changes in the near future.

I have found that running a self-hosted blog is a bit like running a PC, in that it gets clogged up with stuff that you install and then don’t use any more, you end up with files all over the place which aren’t very well managed, and then there is the look and feel of the thing, which I’ve never felt I have got just right.

You don’t need to worry about things going wobbly on the site though, as I am working on a local copy, running on my MacBook. This is through the joy of a brilliant little app called MAMP, which covers all the difficult stuff of getting Apache, PHP and MySQL running on the Mac.

With MAMP, all you have to do is download and install it, then start it up. It gives you instant and easy access to turning local servers on and off, creating and editing databases and all sorts. It really makes the whole process ridiculously easy.

For Windows users, there are equivalent apps like XAMPP, though not having used it I couldn’t vouch for how good it is!

So, for my local development of DavePress, I have locally installed a fresh WordPress 2.7.1, and then used the import function to pull in my posts and pages from the current version.

I did this rather than just import the whole database because there are tables in the current setup for plugins I no longer use, etc, and I want to keep things fresh where I can.

I’ve also installed the base theme I will be using, which will be Thesis, an extremely customisable theme which has had some great reviews from respected WordPress guys like Neville. I’ll be tweaking it to make it a bit more personal to me, and adding in plugins as I need them.

Another big job is to find all the images I have inserted into posts and make sure they are either a part of WordPress’ media manager or on Flickr. At the moment, files are all over the place: in different folders on the DavePress server, on Skitch, other image hosting services, on other websites where I have pinched them from… Having all photos on Flickr and other images inside my WordPress file structure will make managing my images and backing them up an awful lot easier.

Finally I want to take another look at the various static pages of content here – like About, Services, Resources etc – and give them a rewrite and make the whole site a bit more useful and professional.

This all means it may be a little while before I can relaunch this site, not least because it all has to be fitted round my proper work. Hopefully it will be worth it though!

Redesigning DavePress

I have been wanting to give this blog a redesign almost ever since I started it. For some reason I just haven’t taken to the Mandigo theme I was using – a bit dark, maybe? I do think that darker themes are less forgiving of some of the clutter that we bloggers like to fill our sidebars with.

So, I have settled on PopBlue, by Bob, which is a much lighter theme and hopefully the single sidebar will focus attention on the content rather than the widgets and other crud. I ‘designed’ a quick logo, using an icon from the free Crystal Clear set and a bit of text.

Couple of jobs to get done though, including:

  •  Sorting out the CSS for images so that text floats nicely  around them in posts (any help gratefully received…)
  • Making blockquotes stand out a bit more
  • Replacing the standard search bar with my Google CSE one

So, there is plenty to be done…