Hi, all!
I have been working on the blog lately and I want to know what you think of the new format. Changes include: infinite scroll in the main page for more than 800px width, being able to choose in Tools your own color theme or custom font - including for dyslexia, better thumbnail support for list pages, style improvements, testing for various browsers. Let me know by commenting, using the chat or open the blog and start typing...

Thanks!

I have implemented a system that logs what people do on my blog, with the intent of making it more useful to my readers. In doing so I created a live dashboard where people going and leaving are displayed in real time. The conclusion is pretty humbling, but I have also noticed a pattern that might reflect badly on the state of the Internet today.

The conclusion I was talking about is that, even if I write about a lot of things, from books to software, from WPF to Javascript, the most visited posts by far are about why the Bittorrent client gets stuck, how to remove ads by installing Privoxy and Sift3, my string comparison algorithm. All of that info one can get from the Popular posts column in the right of the blog, but I had no idea how many people visit it only to find how they can download their movies faster!

And then there are the programming blog posts. I am filled with pride when people open a link to learn something from my experiences. And then I see that they are looking at the posts about Crystal Reports, AjaxControlToolkit and the old ASP.Net Ajax calls. Occasionally they come for the WPF bit, which is great, but the conclusion is clear: people are mostly interested in the old posts, the ones describing older technologies that no one is talking about anywhere anymore. True, I have not posted anything significant in the last two years, but still, I feel disappointed. My blog's merit here seems to be that it is still online!

But then I realized something else. Sometimes I feel joy at seeing that a visitor opens a post that no one has opened recently. Yet, in a very short time, other people are starting to open the same link. It has happened repeatedly several days in a row, so it can't be a coincidence. And people are coming from all over: Canada, US, Brazil, Mozambique, Ghana! I can only explain it with the theory that once visited, a link increases in visibility, its Google rank goes up, thus passing a threshold that makes it appear on the first search pages. It is a snowball effect, which in part I understand and agree with, but can't stop wondering if it doesn't apply everywhere. Instead of going for the relevance that Google and other big search engines aspire towards, they cheat by treating each click as a Facebook Like! More people read it, so more people should read it, which they do, and so on and so on.

The bottom line is that I wouldn't want to see a race towards a common goal be treated as a common race towards a goal. Let all pages share the glory, rank them based on content, not the preferences of people searching for stuff. How long before Google will helpfully suggest to me to go download a movie rather than search for something for work?

So I've finally created a Facebook account. Yes, it won. I also accessed the Twitter one I created a few good years before and never used. These new social accounts will probably be used to publish what I post here, but anyway, I've updated the blog layout with my Facebook and Twitter accounts (see the icons top right).

It seems that for a very long time, since Blogger implemented the ugly system that changes the blog domain to a local domain, my blog was inaccessible for people in the UK and other places where the domain country had more segments, like co.in, co.uk, com.au, etc. due to a bug in my solution for it. I need to apologize for that. I fixed the problem now, but damn it is a long standing bug, a full three years.

As much as I enjoyed the old format, I needed to change the design of the blog. This is the result. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

My personal preference is toward darker themes, and I've added a dark/light tool switch in the Tools menu. I also tweaked the template in order to work on mobile devices better. I hate the default Blogger mobile style. Please let me know if there are any issues.

Thanks.

In my opinion, when a software you have been using for a long time changes the way it works and intrudes on your already existing installations, not only it is disappointing and mean, but it should also be illegal. Today I noticed that the links from my blog went to intermediate sites (I apologize for not noticing it sooner) like vindicosuite. A quick Google search led me to this link: Goodbye Sitemeter. Apparently, SiteMeter, a software that I have been using to show a views counter on my blog, has been acquired by a crappy company called News Company. I mean, this is the actual name, I am not making fun of you; it's like displaying "Dr Doom's Evil Lair" on your house fence (and not kidding about it). Without the company saying anything, the SiteMeter script added these click and contextmenu handlers on my links, redirecting to other sites, maybe with ads on them (I have AdBlock Plus installed and so should you!, so I don't know). Anyway, the moment I realized this I removed the script from my blog. I have to apologize again for failing to notice this for so long.

There was a web toolbar at the bottom of the blog called Wibyia. Damn if I know where these web startups get their names, but it is as good as any other, I guess. Anyway, the bar stuck at the bottom of any page and offered some tools, addons like chat and who is online, and a welcome message to new users. So here I am, pretty snug about my little blog, when I get an email from Wibyia: upgrade for free to the new version of Wibyia! So I click on it, I log in, Bam! a completely new design (a crappy "social" a brightly colored big and ugly thing), less features, a ridiculous admin interface and no way to revert to the previous functionality. At this point I got mad and removed the bar from the blog. If you somehow found it useful, let me know, I will write my own version.

But this prompted some research on the net on how to host files for the blog and I found that I can use Google Drive (in a rather convoluted way) to store the additional js and css I added on the blog. And so here is the new version of the blog, which should work the same, but hopefully load a little faster due to caching of the 50k js and css files.

Oh! And congratulate me for reaching the beautiful round number of 1024 blog entries today! >:-)

I noticed that some links in the blog, for example YouTube links, did not show in the dialog that opens when you just click on the link. That is caused by a security improvement in modern browsers and I've changed the script to open the link normally in another window for the YouTube domains. However, there might still be sites that have this issue and I urge you to tell me about links that do not open in the dialog (aka, a black window that shows nothing) so I can fix the script for those domains as well. As usual, the workaround for this (or for if you don't like the dialog) is to middle click the link and it will open in a new tab.

Update: I've solved the problem, somehow, by filtering the domains (you report) that have the issue and making it so that links leading to them open in a new tab/window. Also, I added a link to the iframe so that if it does not load, you can click on the link and open it in another tab/window. Sorry for the inconvenience so far.

Due to the fact that Blogger thinks an iPad Safari browser is a mobile device and needs optimization of the blog template in order to fit the screen and the meagre computation resources and that there is no way to customize the way "mobileization" is done, I've decided to remove the mobile template from the blog. Please do let me know if this is an issue, so I could try to find a solution for it, but in the meanwhile I will just disable it.


Recently Microsoft released a tool that checks your site for web design issues, with focus on Internet Explorer 10. So I've added a few things, like more thorough gradients for the important quotes, touch behaviour for Microsoft Touch APIs and a color and logo for the tile that you guys will be placing on your Windows 8 desktop!

But even more importantly, I've found a bug in the chess board algorithm in IE: some of the boards would just show an ugly dialog error and not display anything. I fixed the bug and also made the boards appear only when the screen is scrolled on the PGNs. That means you will be able to open chess posts or even the chess category, even in IE, with the caveat that you will experience slower scrolling as each PGN becomes visible. On Chrome and Firefox and probably IE9 and IE10 there will be no visible delays, but I am still using Internet Explorer 8, so for you Windows XP guys, there is a huge usability increase!

I was looking for something on my blog using my iPad and I noticed that the format of the blog was horrible. It used a "mobile" mode by default. That meant no Javascript, fixed width, etc. Pretty nasty. There is a link at the bottom of the page that says "View web version" which changes the "m=1" parameter in the query to 0, which makes it accessible as it should have been.

I will be investigating this and how to address it. Meanwhile, there is the workaround of clicking the link mentioned above.

For a long time now, Flash was the de facto "cross browser video" technology. That is why many of the posts in this blog containing videos had embedded Flash videos in them. That until Apple came along and did not support the technology. As a result, more than half of my posts with embedded video were not available on an iPad, for example.

Today I've made sure the embedded videos were not deleted or otherwise unavailable and also replaced them with versions that also work on the iPad. If you browse the "video" tag in the blog and you see something that doesn't play on your device and it doesn't mention anything in the text about that, please let me know so I can update the post accordingly.

So, stop despairing, iPad people, now you can listen to the music and watch the movies Siderite style. ;)

I've added functionality to remember the settings of a user in cookies, so that when you return, the choices you made are persisted. These choices include the use of important quotes, the presence of flies and cats on the blog as well as the use of dyslexic fonts! If you are dyslexic you should definitely check that option. The tools are available from both the left side of the blog as well as from the new toolbar (which doesn't seem to appear on tablets).

The toolbar I've added has more options than these tools, including a one button RSS subscription feature, a nice button for sharing the content with your friends, a list of people online on the blog, miscellaneous notifications, as well as a chat! I will try to be present in the chat so that I can answer your questions, but I am not promising anything.

Please tell me what you think of the new features. (especially if you are dyslexic :) )

As part of the blog revamp I've modified the styling and code for the board that displays chess PGNs and added file letters and rank numbers as well as highlighting of the last move. I've also sped up the move animation a little. Hopefully it will be more helpful this way.

Also, I noticed that the link overlay I added for external links was behind the YouTube videos. Thankfully there was a relative simple fix, albeit one that had to be made on each post. On this occasion I've created the new 'video' tag that complements the old 'picture' tag which applies to anything visual, be it video or just images, I've refreshed the videos that were removed, updated all the links to the new YouTube iframe embedding mode.

The tag system is something that evolved organically on this blog, starting with 'programming' and 'misc' (which actually is anything not related to programming) and ending with such ridiculous stuff like the 'picture' tag or the 'essay' and 'personal' tags, for which even I get confused about what they are. Perhaps some day I will reorganize it, but until then (and until Blogger finds a way to remove the restriction that only up to 50 posts can be affected by tag changes) try to remember the main tags on the blog:
  • programming - refers to anything related to software development
  • misc - unrelated to software development
  • software - posts about specific software
  • music, movies, books - relating to music, movies and books
  • picture - containing embedded images or video
  • video - containing embedded video
  • administrative - related to this blog

I don't often have time to work on my blog so I took the opportunity of this personal time out to tweak the blog a little bit. Here are the new changes:
  • I've added a new way of exploring the links in the posts, meaning that you click on them and a dialog appears and opens the link. It has the advantage that you get to stay on the page, without opening a million tabs. It has the disadvantage of looking a little off and using extra javascript. It only applies to left button clicks, so if you want to open the link in another tab or window, middle click or right click and select your option. This introduced jQuery UI to the blog, so you might have a little more javascript and CSS payload, but taken from the Google CDNs.
  • The flies and cats have amused countless visitors, but I've decided to remove them. It streamlines the blog and makes it more accessible. You can still get them if you click on the Tools link "Bring back the animals!"
  • Finally, I've removed the blog chat. It didn't work for quite some time and the Plugoo people just didn't offer any support.
  • Some extra visual effects on the blog were removed as well.

Again, any suggestion on how you would like to improve the quality of your visits on my blog is very welcome and I am happy to implement all the reasonable requests.