Wednesday, June 28, 2006

NT Redesign: RSS Tweaks, Statistics, File Uploads

The list of things left to be done before the new site launches is growing ever shorter. During lunch today I created the "RSS" page that points to the two major feeds on the site (the main site feed, and the podcast feed), I got the new "Hall of Fame" statistics page working completely, and added the last four podcasts to the web site.

Only two tasks remain: setting up the redirect to send folks to the new web pages, and the mod_rewrite redirect for the old podcast files, so that all the old podcast file links don't break.

After those two things are done, it'll be time to officially through the switch; I'm hoping that will happen tomorrow, and that the new site will be officially "live" by Saturday.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

NT Redesign: More CSS Hacking, Image Moving

And now we enter the dog days of the redesign, as I hack away at the lingering issues, back up all the files off of the new site, make sure that all the Radio Active MP3s and Nuketown images are re-loaded on to the new site, and generally try to avoid being too bored while doing the grunt work.

The most complicated task before me is manually updating the new site's database with the location of all the Radio Actives to date. It requires updating several tables manually (though I'm getting an idea on how to automate the process) and will probably take a good chunk of today to finish.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Sunday, June 25, 2006

NT Redesign: CSS Fixed, Geek Tree Moved

I got a few minutes tonight to work on the new site, something I haven't done for a few days. I was able to fix the float issues with the CSS (basically there are a couple of elements in the drupal.css file that had "clear: both" properties set, which caused elements in my design to float oddly).

I moved the "Geek Tree" feature over to the new site. I tested the user registration process, but for some reason it didn't work. I'm not sure if that's because the beta isn't in its final location, because I've got some toggle switched in correctly, because Google is blocking the e-mail, or something else entirely.

Once I've got that working, the last major project will be to setup the various redirects, either through PHP or Apache's mod_rewrite, so that a minimum number of links are broken. It just wouldn't do to have a spiffy new site, and then have no one be able to get to it because I lost all my search engine and cross-linking traffic.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It's a Boy!

His name is Lucas Kenneth Newquist. Full details on Nuketown.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

NT Redesign: File Uploads, Links

I hit an unexpected roadblock with the new site today as I discovered the new host doesn't let me modify the php.ini values, which in turn means that Drupal won't be able to upload any files over 7 mb in size, which is about 90% of the podcasts. Never fear though -- I think I can work around that by uploading the files manually and then hand-updating the Drupal file table. That's not pretty (enough so that I'll want to work on a short program to automate the database updating part of the process) but it should work.

Why bother? Because Drupal automates the creation of RSS feeds, and it will automatically include the file in the podcast feed, so net-net I'm probably saving 20 minutes by doing it this way rather than hand coding the RSS. That's the theory at least.

In other news, I've successfully moved the links index over to Drupal, but now I'm considering whether I want to use it or not. I'm going to experiment with having each link as a node in Drupal, which would allow the entire Linkport index to be referenced by the rest of the site, would allow users to comment on any sites, and possibly allow me to setup voting for links (though I'm not sure if I want to go that far, mostly for technical reasons). New links would be added on a freeform tagging basis, meaning I'd use tags, rather than categories, to organize them.

Keeping the Links section in Drupal makes them easier to edit, which could also help should any volunteers step foward and want to help with expanding the site.

W00T! 300 Posts!

Actually, 301. That's how many posts there are on The Atomic Age (not that many people have read them, this being a such a backwater burg compared to Nuketown...)

Monday, June 12, 2006

NT Redesign: Features, Registration, Breadcrumbs

The weekend wasn't quite as productive as I'd hoped, but I still managed to get all but one of the standing features over to the new site, I've setup the registration process (now with an improved e-mail notice letting folks know when their accounts are active) and the breadcrumbs module (which shows you where you are within the site).

I've got a few more modules to install (Google Analytics, Hall of Fame Statistics) but those should be easy. The "Similar Entries" module, which I installed this morning, is working but is displaying HTML entities (the encoded versions of things like apostrophes) as code rather than as symbols, so I need to fix that.

The two big sections of the site that still need to be ported are ones being driven by databases independent of Drupal: the Links page and the Geek Tree. Transferring them should be straightforward; it's just a question of getting a good block of time to back everything up and get it all moved. The NukeShop won't be ported in its current form -- if it arrives at all it'll be via a Drupal module that I need to test later this week on the old PowerMac.

Once all this is done (and it should be done this week) I'll open the site to beta testing, and focus my attention on managing the transition. There are a lot of pages on the old Nuketown who's URLs will change on the new one, and I need to work out a way to make sure everyone can find the new pages.

Friday, June 09, 2006

NT Redesign: Powering Up

Nuketown's main drives are now online, the habitat ring is spinning up, and minimal life support has been established. Which means that things are going pretty damn well on the ol'thermonuclear burg front -- I've ported over about 90% of the content from the site, which is basically all of the news and reviews from 2001 through to March 2006. I'll be manually moving over the content from March to now, partly to test of the systems, partly because I'm too lazy to modify my MySQL dump scripts to accommodate Drupal 4.7's new node structure.

I've ported all of the new categories over from my local Nuke-Drupal setup, and connected them to the primary navigation, which will consist of the following links (which evoke earlier incarnations of Nuketown):
  • Blog
  • Bookshelf
  • City Hall
  • Gameroom
  • Hoax Central
  • Linkport
  • Music Hall
  • Theatre
  • Podcast

Yeah, some of those names are kind of cutesy, but I needed a better way of naming the primary categories since simply writing "Books" didn't cover the other print products I review, like magazines and comic books.

I received a Google Analytics account earlier this week, and will be adding it to the new site this weekend. Analytics is useful for tracking traffic on your Web site, and coupled with Drupal's own internal reporting tools, it should help me fine tune Nuketown like never before.

A few minor CSS issues have turned up over the last two days, but I'm not overly concerned about them -- a night's worth of tinkering should solve that. Instead of messing with CSS I'm going to focus on porting stories to the new site, getting all of the modules I want to use installed, and working out the inevitable file-upload headaches (which require messing around with Unix permissions, and can be either easy or hard to resolve, depending on my host). With any luck, we'll be beta testing within a week.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

NT Redesign: Phase One Complete

The initial set-up of the new Nuketown site is done: I've got Drupal up and running, and I've uploaded the Neonuke template. This is the just-out-of-the-box configuration, so I've still got quite a lot of work to do: next up will be getting the navigation system operational and importing all categories from the copy of Nuke-Drupal that I have running on my PowerMac.

Still, it's a milestone, and I'm reminded strongly of the scene in 2010 where they've just arrived at Discovery and are in the process of powering up all of Hal's systems. I'm half waiting to hear the site say "Welcome home Dave..."

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

NT Redesign: MySQL Headache

I tried to setup Nuketown's new Drupal installation over lunch, but alas, the MySQL configuration of the new host stymied me -- I could create the database through a Web interface, but it wouldn't let me work with it (adding tables, data, etc.) until the domain was moved. Since I don't want to move the domain until the new site is converted, I'm in something of a Catch-22 situation.

So instead of getting Drupal installed over lunch, I left home with an e-mail off to the folks at the hosting service. I'm hoping they'll come up with a solution that lets me access the DB without jumping through the domain moving hoops.


Customer Support gave me the answer via their wiki last night: set up a free subdomain through their service, then assign the DB to that, and set up the subdomain web site so it mirrrors the eventual Nuketown web site. It took a while for everything to propagate properly, but I'm now able to access both the test site and the database.


The Senate is about to reject the same-sex marriage ban, which I'm very glad to hear. It's an idiotic, un-American, anti-individual proposal that should crawl back under the same rock where it was lurking with the flag burning amendment. To understand just how stupid this is, consider this quote uttered by Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana: "I don't believe there's any issue that's more important than this one."

I can think of a few thousand that are more important than this, starting with preventing terrorists from destroying American skyscrapers, and doing it in such a way that does not gangbang the Constitution. Then again I'm one of those wild and crazy guys who a) likes living and b) likes living in a free country.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

D&D: The Southern Arc, Part 3

The conclusion of the Southern Arc adventure sees the Dark City adventurers taking on a dark naga in the depths of the UnderOerth. It's also responsible for one of the great new campaign quotes by Damon playing his elven wizard Corash: "If only I hadn't blown that gust of wind fighting that monkey".

Welcome to the Apocalypse

Or not. Then again, when you've got crap like this going on, it's hard not to fear for the future of the Republic.

Monday, June 05, 2006

D&D: Pelor Twofer

Since I didn't post a D&D entry yesterday, you get two today:
  • Sir Peldonius Trueshield: Sir Peldonius Trueshield is the seneschal of the Church of Pelor in Obsidian Bay, an aging military leader who retains his cunning wit and excellent connections among the nobility of several countries.
  • Archibald Everson: The Herald of the Sun Father is the charismatic leader of the Church of Pelor, honored by aristocrats and respected by peasants for bringing the comforting light of his patron to Obsidian Bay.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

D&D: College of the Laughing Song

The College of the Laughing Song is Obsidian Bay's bardic college. It hasn't played a huge role in our campaign to date, but I'm planning on working in a storyline or two involving either the college or its alumni.

NT Redesign: Registration, Related Links, Search

One of the problems I encountered in the earlier Nuketown beta was that folks tried to login after they got their user name and password, but before I had approved them. I've solved that problem with the "Extended User Status" module, which allows me to send a message notifying folks when their account has been approved. I need to tweak it a bit so that it sends the username/password in the activation e-mail, rather than the "you've created an account but it needs to be approved" e-mail, but it should help considerably.

I also added a "related stories" module that lists the top five related links for each story in the database, which is something I do now on Nuketown, and wanted to replicate on the new site. I'm very pleased with the search feature built into Drupal 4.7, which offers users a fine degree of granularity in searching the site -- it's going to be a real quantum leap improvement.

I did find some lingering formatting issues involving the forum, but I don't plan to have the forum active when the site launches, partly because the old Nuketown forum didn't see a lot of traffic, partly because I'm not thrilled with Drupal's formatting of forums, and mostly because when commenting is turned on for all of Nuketown's posts, it won't really be needed.

Friday, June 02, 2006

D&D: The Southern Arc, Part 2

The Southern Arc, Part 2 features more dungeon delving, this time including a great ariel fight pitting the adventurers against gargoyles at the edge of a 100-foot tall subterranean cliff.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

NT Redesign: Primary Nav, Breadcrumbs, CSS Tweak

As I discussed over on Nuketown the redesign and conversion to Drupal has started up again, and I'm making slow but steady progress. I'm going to be chronicling that progress here, since it's easier to post to Blogger, the posts will be short, and everything I do here is one less thing I need to worry about tweaking back into shape over at the burg.
So, today's milestones included:
  • Primary Nav Fix & Breadcrumbs: Rather than rework Drupal's primary navigation scheme to indicate what section you're in as you're browsing the site, I've installed the taxonomy_breadcrumbs module. This will provide a list of breadcrumbs showing where you are in the site on every page save the home page, and provides the context I was looking for. I also fixed a problem with the formatting on the navigation block.
  • CSS Tweaks: There was setting in the core Drupal CSS that was causing headaches with the CSS for my theme, forcing content to appear below the right-hand navigation items (rather than at the same height with it). I saw it in the previous beta and fixed it; last night I figured out how I did it the first time, and re-applied the tweak (writing it down so I know how to fix it again in the future, should the need arise).

It lives...

My C#-based RSS screensaver is working now (no, you can't see it yet) -- it's built and running on another Windows machine. At first it wouldn't run because .Net Framework 2.0 wasn't installed, but once that was addressed it worked perfectly. The screensaver is a tweaked version of the one that ships with the Visual C# 2005 Express Edition -- I've added the ability to visit whatever RSS item is presently selected and disabled the ability of users to change the feed and image directories.

Of course, Windows Vista will come along, and its Windows RSS platform will negate all this work, but that probably won't be deployed at work for another two years, so it should have a short-but-useful life.

Scrambling Madly

Once upon a time, in the distant past, I was actually ahead on my Knights of the Dinner Table columns. Then I slacked, and fell back to the regular production schedule, and ever since then it's been a mad scramble to get things done. Fortunately the latest column came together beautifully (though I had to raid my Junk File of oddball sites to do it) and I have the makings of July's column already researched, so I may actually be able to get ahead again. Maybe. If I don't slack. And the baby doesn't come until next week...

D&D: The Southern Arc, Part 1

The Dark City adventurers begin their track into the UnderOerth in the Southern Arc, Part 1. The "Bard Descendent" part of this adventure was great -- a lot of people bitch about GMs running quasi-PCs as part of an adventuring group, but my bard Thom has turned into a good support and comic relief character, and I have no compunctions about killing him, as his near-death at the edge of the cliff illustrates.