finally get a chance to revamp the blog

smemon revamp

I had yesterday off college which gave me the chance to do several things i needed to do (a) sleep (b) dissertation work (c) work on this site…

Back to my old tricks

This first thing you’ll notice here is that i’ve ditched the ‘full post’ blog posts. The ‘read more’ links are back and all the emphasis is once again on my the big featured designs. I just don’t like scrolling myself and i think the aesthetics of the homepage are destroyed by inconsistent blog post styling / layout.

So for those reasons i’ve made the decision to make you work that bit more to read a post. If i was a usability expert i’d be fired. You now have to click a button to read a full post from the homepage. But there’s usability and then there’s good design and structure. Finding a happy medium is tough and i tend to go for looks myself. If a website looks good, i’ll forgive tiny detail which would otherwise annoy me.

Google Custom Search

Up until today i also had no search feature on the site. Again i’ve brought back my old custom Google search box and that will search this blog for any terms you enter. It’s just a box, no buttons. Hit enter to search. Simplicity. I could have used the default search feature in wordpress but let’s face it, nothing beats Google when it comes to search!

CeBIT 2011 - Google
Creative Commons License photo credit: Patrick H~

Impressed?

There’s an old plugin i use called ‘impress’ which is no longer available to display my blog stats like post count and word count. I’ve brought this back too and i’m now showing off my stats in the footer.

This is my 1,990th published blog post and they add up to around 680,000 words. So we’re getting dangerously close to the 2000 blog post mark which will be a cause for celebration. Put put that in perspective, my 4th year college dissertation will contain around 15,000 words. That’s a mere 2% of my blog’s content so future employers, if you want to know what i can do, don’t read my dissertation, read this blog for you all you need to know about me 🙂

Categories

Since day one i’ve had a black and white view when it came to post categories. Work and Play. They’ve been the only categories i’ve had on this blog for the past few years. Today, i’ve changed that and realised i need to branch out a bit more for a variety of reasons.

Slimming down categories
Creative Commons License photo credit: leateds

When i look back on this blog, there’s a an awful lot of crap to filter through if you’re looking for a specific post. Let’s say i want to read about the time i went to London in 2006. Or was it 2007? Or maybe it was 2008? I don’t know, maybe i’ll google it. So i google ‘smemon london’ and get millions of results. Or i search through my archives and can’t find what i’m looking for.

I don’t want to have to go through this blog post by post, so i’d prefer if i could just filter through a ‘travel’ category which contains all travel related posts. The bigger a blog becomes, the more organisation it needs. You’ll struggle to find a larger personal blog than this one (in terms of content) so it’s about time i started organising things a bit better. The cynics amongst you will say i’m just doing this for SEO purposes and you’d be right too 😉

Photos

On my old blog / theme, there was one thing permanently on my ‘to do’ list. None of you will probably remember it, but in my photo gallery, the gallery was full page width, meaning the sidebar wasn’t displayed. It was one of those things that i was meant to do but just left alone because it was too much effort. So last week i installed the photo gallery from scratch (which is A LOT easier said than done considering the plugin is no longer compatible with the latest version of wordpress) and i customised it slightly to make sure my blog’s sidebar was included in all pages.

 and € Characters

This was something i spent a few hours working on yesterday. As you’ll know i have almost 2,000 posts on this blog so manually going through posts to find problems isn’t a option. When my database was restored after being erased a couple of weeks ago, it was littered with special characters like  and €. There has always been the odd strange character in a my older posts and that tells you just how long i’ve been using wordpress (before the days of utf-8 as the default character set), but now virtually all posts contained a random character or two.

I got rid of *some* of them by using a search and replace wordpress plugin which crawls the database for characters and replaces them with, well, ‘nothing’. I’ve also tried to replace these characters via sql but not with much joy. So i’m still looking for a solution and when i find it i’ll be the first to share…

Putting my database on a diet

When you’re blogging daily like i am and have racked up the post count i have, your database is going to be far from ‘average’ in size. Mine stood at a massive 91mb’s before today. Almost 70mb of that was used by the wp_posts table (blog post to you and me). The thing with wordpress is that it autosaves a blog post every 60 seconds. Kinda like microsoft word. So if the power goes out or if my connection dies, not a whole lot is lost and that’s great. However, these revisions are stored in a database permanently which means you’re database can quickly pile on the pounds.

database

So i decided to destroy all the revisions and just keep the published blog posts. Doing that meant by wp_posts tables reduced in size from 69.6mb to 18.5mb. So it’s now only 25% the size of what it was yesterday/ Nothing but ‘fat’ has been erased so you won’t notice any difference.

database

To do that, all you have to do is run a simple SQL query in phpMyAdmin;

DELETE FROM wp_posts WHERE post_type = “revision”;

Now if you have tags and categories etc… assigned it’s a little more complex, but that line of code above will delete all post revisions and shave a huge amount of your database. If for some reason you want to disable auto revisions in the future, add this line of code to your wp-config.php file;

define(’WP_POST_REVISIONS’, false);

I wouldn’t recommend that though, not if you’re writing posts in wordpress and want some level of security that nothing you write will go missing. For the lazy people, there is of course a plugin that will do all this for you and it’s called ‘Delete Post Revisions‘.

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