Programming Note

Once again, I would like to apologize for all of those wonderful people whose blogs I usually visit. The month is almost over and I'm almost back to a normal schedule. Despite the regular posts you see appearing here, I'm not actually near a computer for about 5-6 hours a day now, which is really annoying. Come Monday, things will be more back to normal, and I should be annoying visiting you all once again!

But probably not this weekend, since the Stormreach Head Start Event starts Friday. What? You didn't know I was a geek gamer, too?

Layout Note

I think I'm going to have to make what appears to me to be a minor change, but may affect you, the good reader. Currently, this site actually appears with two completely different layouts. There is the wide, light-green, 3 column layout (triad) that has the flag on the pole, the yellow text menu on the left, and the ice border along the top.

There is also the "Drainpipe" layout -- with a dark green background for the text, the steel tile background, and a drainpipe leading from one post to the next.

As the site is currently set up, you do not get to select the layout -- it is chosen for you depending on the width of your screen. If your screen is too narrow to effectively display the triad 3-column layout, you are redirected to the drainpipe layout. If you view this site with the same size browser, it's likely you've never seen the difference.

However, as I make small adjustments and changes, I update the triad site, and the drainpipe layout doesn't get updated -- so I'm going to have to do something. I'm thinking of just cutting out the code that does the redirect -- but that would mean if you have a narrow browser, you're either going to have to scroll right, or the layout will be odd.

I'm considering making a new layout for the narrow browsers. If I do that this time, I'm going to have to make the whole site modular so that I can display all the items I add and change on both layouts. Of course, that makes even more of a challenge, because I have to take ALL the items I want to display and figure out where to put them on both a wide layout AND a narrow layout.

What this means to you, the good reader (and thank you so much for stopping by) is that over this weekend you might see some odd layouts as I experiment with different layouts and designs.

Does anyone use that left menu on the wide screen layout (the Site Navigation links to the left)?

Lack of visits

I'd like to take just a moment to apologize for the lack of visits to other fine blogs by Ogre. Normally, I have a rather large list of blogs that I visit daily because I have no life they're fun and interesting to read. One day (maybe tomorrow) I'll get that blogroll code on the right more organized to reflect the ones I read.

However, in the meantime, while all you suckers good subjects citizens gender-neutral people are working hard this week, Ogre's been away in Florida, ignoring the news, politics, and pretty much everything. Don't be jealous -- he worked for many years "up the ladder" to earn this position and vacation time.

He'll be back this evening to attempt to catch up on email and blog stuff. Starting next week, regular visits to everywhere else in the blogosphere should start back up, but perhaps with a more limited schedule, as punishment a reward for taking this time off, the workload will be slightly higher, meaning less time for playing.

Programming Note

Ogre's not here again. This time he's headed south to allegedly warmer climes, down to Florida. Once again, don't recoil in fear nor run away -- there will be fresh posts each and every day he's gone. In fact, you likely wouldn't even notice he's missing -- except for the lack or responses to comments.

So come back daily as there's a whole week's worth of commentary on and about news, especially news about the North Carolina government and their actions. And don't worry, he'll respond to all comments (and email) upon his return this weekend.

Thanks for stopping by!

Ogre's Not Here

Ogre's Not Here.

By the time you read this (unless it's nighttime) Ogre should be looking like this:


And hopefully NOT like this:


Don't worry, it's only for a couple days...and good stuff will still be getting posted here while he's gone, so don't go away (just don't expect responses to comments for a few days). And don't worry, Contagion, no quest blogger here, just Ogre's posts throughout!

Ogre's Not Here

Sorry for the lack of good, shiny stuff to look at this weekend -- I'm off skiing. Wheeeee!

New Layout?

Did you notice? :)

Programming Note

Today I'll be working on the site layout and the new design. Things may fluctuate during the day, especially in the late afternoon, as I'll be cooking out around and after lunchtime.

Please excuse any weirdness that you might see today. It will be all fixed today and you'll see a completely new layout by late tonight or tomorrow morning!

Programming Note

For any who tried to visit earlier today, I apologize. The site was down yesterday afternoon, some of the night, and most of the day today. It seems there was some catastrophic disk failures, but all appears to be ok now. Normal blogging will resume soon, and I still plan on hosting the Tarheel Tavern this weekend, so be sure and send your submissions along!

Programming Note

It's August.

Oh, sorry, did you already realize that? Apparently, I did not. There was no new blog layout for August, and it's mainly that I just didn't notice that August was here!

Actually, I've been working on quite the layout, and it's coming along very nicely. It's going to be a bit different (again), but navigation-wise, not so much layout-wise. It's about 80% done, so another week or so, and it should appear.

That is all.

New Layout

So, how does everyone like the new layout? Oh. Yes, you're right, there was no change in the layout this month. Sorry, it's not coming soon, either.

The next layout I'm working on is relatively complex. I'm experimenting with quite a few features that will work behind the scenes, so don't worry, it won't be a diagonal layout or anything. It will be a pretty different layout, however.

The idea is to have a relatively informative "above the fold" section. From there, there will be links and teasers to articles. I know Harvey won't like it, at least at first, because it is going to be designed to make you click some, not just scroll. But it should be very user-friendly, unlike the horizontal layout.

I'm setting it up based on cookies and larger screen layouts. If you're one of the 15% viewing with 800x600 monitor settings, sorry, you're not getting the fancy stuff. I'm going to set up an auto-detect that will send small screen viewers to a different layout. I'm also considering having very primitive logins (optional, of course) and a few other features that "remember" your visits.

The big thing that will make a difference will be cookies and computers. I'm wondering how many people visit this site from more than one computer? I can only track cookies on a computer-basis, so if you visit from home and work, the cookies idea won't work, but logins might. So...

How many people visit this site from different computers -- and if so, would you be opposed to a login to remember your readings?

Opinons Wanted

I'm working on the next layout that will appear for this blog. I know that there are still about 20% of the readers of the blog that view using 800x600 settings on their monitor. I usually use 1280x1024. I know there are many blogs that simply do not fit on an 800x600 screen -- they are too wide and you have to scroll horizontally to see all the blog.

I hate having to make the blog fit in only 800x600 when there really is so much extra space out there. I'm seriously considering making 2 different designs, one for people with the 800x600 layout and one for people with larger screens. For you who use 800x600, do you care? Does it matter to you that you have to scroll horizontally on some blogs? Would you tend to visit a place less or do you avoid blogs that are too wide to fit on your screen? Do you just accept the fact that you are using a small screen and you expect to scroll horizontally often?

Thank you for your input.

Updated Ogre

Thanks, Pambie!

For those who hadn't noticed, the Ogre at the top of the page had some rough edges, and Pambie was so annoyed by it that she just had to take the time to smooth off his rough edges. Thanks so much!

I had put that on my list. Of course, the list was started on Monday morning after being nearly completely unplugged from everything computer-related for two entire weeks. I've almost finished cleaning out my various email boxes and now am starting work on the final moving parts with the new design. Heck, I even lost my evil Glennn quote in the redesign! Yikes!

New Layout

Well here it is! The long-awaited (ok, maybe not) new layout and design. What do you think?

If you cannot read anything due to colors and contrast, please let me know right away. It should be very similar in both IE and Firefox, despite a few different tricks in play.

However, it seems that while I was gone, the original Ogre was stolen, so I had to find a replacement. How's that guy at the top for a replacement?

Also, thank you very much to all who came, read my various ramblings over the past two weeks, and kept at least some life to the blog (especially comments)! I'll be posting more about the vacation over the next week or 5 -- very interesting and quite non-uneventful.

This layout's not quite perfected, I'll be porting over a few other changes, including blogrolls, archive pages and the like over the next couple days. The main page will stay generally like this for now. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Programming Note

Ah, a new month, a new design.

What do you mean, nothing's changed?

Ok, you're right.

The new month has arrived, but the blog layout is just the same as it's been all month long. I am truly sorry for those who absolutely cannot stand this layout. However, for those who aren't regular readers, The Ogre is off on vacation. Yes, this post was written weeks ago!

So the new layout is ready, but although I could find a way to have posts appear magically while I'm gone, I couldn't find a way to automatically change the layout for the new month. Well, that's not entirely true -- I'm sure I COULD find a way to make that happen, but then I wouldn't be around to watch everyone's reaction -- or to make minor repairs to anything that didn't work just right.

I'll tell you the new layout is named the "drainpipe" layout. It's vertical again, I don't think I'll try this horizontal layout -- it is abnormal and violates many design rules. The new layout IS ready, and it will be in place as soon as I return, in the next few days or so. In fact, one way you'll be able to tell I've returned is that the layout will change. It will probably be July 4th or 5th.

And Boudicca's been helping me make plans for the blog layout change that should show up in August...


As you read this, I have started the drive on my vacation. Yes, gentle readers, I will be absent from you for a period of about two weeks. I know some of you will likely be depressed and lost. Others of you will already be planning parties of excitement. But never fear, it will be almost as if I am still here!

Thanks to the wizardry of Pixy Misa, I can write posts and have them automatically posted to the blog at any time and date I desire. So, over the past week, I've been working frantically, trying to write timely posts that would not be out of date in a week, in preparation for my vacation.

So, for the next couple weeks, you will see posts appear as always, but I won't be around to watch them :( Feel free to comment on them and talk amongst yourselves. I'll be back about July 5th or 6th. If you've got something that I absolutely MUST see...tough. You can email me through the link over there on the left, but I won't get it until I return -- for most of the time I'm gone, I'll have no access to electricity, much less the internet. And during this time I declare myself 100% immune to all tagging by any and all memes!

The posting will be a little lighter, simply because there's no way I could type that much quality stuff two weeks in advance. If anyone wants to submit any of my posts to carnivals for me, if you think they apply, feel free to, I won't mind at all!

As usual, each weekday morning, a post should appear regarding North Carolina State government from a conservative point of view. I think I've got enough good material up to have at least one other post appear each day, so keep coming back and see what's here. I might even have a made-up Alliance assignment slipped in...

I will read all your comments when I can...but again, that's unlikely before July 5th or 6th. So cross your fingers, hope I did this all right, and enjoy the automated posting for the next couple weeks. I'll apologize in advance for not responding to your comments right away.

And for those wondering where I'm going, I'll be in Williamsburg, VA for a week, then up to New Hampshire and hopefully a trip to Acadia National Park in Maine for a few (dozen) cases of fresh Blueberry Beer.

Have fun and try not to wreck the place!

And one final note for those who are tired of the horizontal scrolling -- one of the first things I'll do when I return is switch the layout over to the new layout, currently titled the "Drainpipe" layout...

Proper Appearance

I have noticed that some people are not seeing the blog as it should be. Of course, if you don't know what it's SUPPOSED to look like, you don't know if you're seeing it correctly. Here is a screenshot of what the page should look like to you:

(click to view larger)

I'm aware that some people are seeing boxes on top of boxes. I'm still trying to work out how that happens. I've tested this layout for weeks, and I cannot reliably duplicate the problem. I think it has something to do with the speed that the page loads in your individual browser...

If you are using Internet Explorer and do not see the blogrolls at the top and bottom, give it a minute, they'd likely still loading. IE will say it is done while the external blogrolls are still loading.

First Reviews

The first reviews are trickling in regarding the new site design. I have to say it's really about what I expected. A few people really like it, some think it's real neat, and others absolutely hate it.

I've done a bit of high-level educational research (doctoral-level at a research institution) regarding human-computer interaction, especially as it relates to the internet. The biggest thing related to design and the internet (and computers) is user expectations.

When viewing a blog, you, the good reader, EXPECT to be able to read from top-to-bottom and scroll down. When you're confronted with something else, your natural reaction is to rebel.

I understand that, and I apologize to those who really hate reading the setup this way. I imagine that a substantial number of readers will not like this setup. However, as time goes by, if you continue to visit, I expect that you will find that once you realize what you're going to see, it gets easier and makes sense.

Jim really hit it with this comment:

It's like going to a restaurant and finding the chairs on the ceiling.

Barring any drastic problems or severe violence, I'm going to keep this layout for the month of June. At the end of the month I'll be going on vacation, so the last ten days or so, there won't even be any updates. However, as July starts up, I'll be redesigning, as I try to do every month, and I'll go back to a more "normal" blog design.

In fact, since I wont' have a lot of time at the end of the month to work on it, I'm already starting work on the new blog design layout for July! I'm considering a vertical design that's a one-page type layout with numerous drop-down boxes for menus -- perhaps with a single box in the center that scrolls posts as you request them.

I know that's been done before, and I didn't really like how it looked the couple places I've seen it, so I'm not sure it will go that way, but even if you hate this layout, be sure to come back and visit in the first part of July, as it will be changed by that time.

And as always, thanks for visiting, and feel free to tell me how much you hate (or love) the design in the comments section.

New Blog Technical Notes

For those who are technically-inclined (you geeks know who you are) who are interested in how this blog was done, I'll include some notes here and answer any question about how it was done here as well.

First note to make -- this is no longer a Blogspot Blog. There's no way I could do this with Blogspot that I can think of. The reason is that this formatting and layout rely primarily on large amounts of php (and javascript).

For those less technically inclined, I'll mention that php is a server-side processor, while javascript is client-side. What this means is that when you request a web page, some of the work is done on the server, before the page gets sent to you (the php stuff), while some work is done by your browser, after you receive the page (the javascript).

This blog was created primarily by using the css box model. All the different blocks you see all over the place are simply div sections. The challenge came when determining how and where to place all the different div boxes. The site is completely flexible in that the boxes adjust size and spacing depending on the size of your browser.

What made it interesting is that the server doesn't know how big your browser window is! Therefore, I couldn't completely use php to determine where to place the div boxes -- only AFTER the php was processed could your browser determine it's own size.

The solution I used, which you can see some of if you view the source of the page, is to combine the two parts. There is a basic stylesheet that gives the basic layout of the page. Then there's 2 sections of javascript to provide the exact details and locations.

When the page is processed by the server, it determines the post number, counting as it displays each post. When the browser gets that data, the php-calculated numbers are then fed to javascript functions that modify the basic style sheets, replacing items like top, left, and height.

Initially, the page determines the size of the browser and saves that value. Then, every time a new div section is needed, you will see a call to a javascript function with the name of the section. That javascript function uses the previously determined variables to write to the document the div section and css layouts for that div section, based on the javascript variables and the php variable values that were processed by the server when writing the page.

Where this was particularly interesting was with the date headers. You may notice the date headers only appear where the date changes. When this happens, the smaller box between posts is actually slightly narrower than other boxes. Again, this is simply the php determining when to place a box, and when the date changes, it provides a different number for the width of the narrow box.

The blogrolls were another challenge. With blogrolls that I could maintain, it was rather easy to use Blogrolling and simply replace the <BR> tags with spaces. However, where others maintained the blogrolls, I could easily hide the <BR> tags, but that left no spaces. I never did figure out the best way to fix that, so those blogrolls all have no spaces.

Some blogrolls inserted div sections for each new entry, or made a table. In that case I couldn't even hide the sections, or I'd get no entries. Instead, those are the blogrolls that scroll vertically -- I couldn't find any way around that one either.

Everything else is pretty standard tweaks to MT. If you have any questions about how I did any of this, just ask here!

First Horizontal Blog

Well, this is it! This is the first horizontal blog design that I've seen. It may not be the first horizontal blog ever, but I haven't seen it done before. So, sort of like those who climb mountains because they are there, I just had to try and make this, just to see if I could.

Some credit has to go to Dave Shea and Molly Holzschlag -- the authors of The Zen of CSS design -- that's where my idea first came from.

It was challenging, it was fun, and I hope you enjoy reading from left-to-right for just a little while.

For more about this setup and layout, see the next post -- it's over there to the right, instead of just below here. :)

About This Site

I know this site is a little odd. It's supposed to be. This was an exercise in creativity, just to see how it would turn out. Yes, I'm well aware that the site scrolls horizontally and not vertically, as most blogs do.

I also realize the site is a little slow to load. That's from all the external links that are included here. Some are the huge blogrolls that take quite a while to load (like the Alliance), while others are external links that are just plain slow on some days (like Google). At least the content loads first, so you have something to read while the rest of the page loads.

For those of you used to using your scroll button to scroll down the page, you may still do so here! Just press down and hold the scroll button and drag your mouse left and right and the page will scroll for you. Click in an individual post or box and you can use the scroll button to scroll down in that block.

The site was designed for Internet Explorer, version 6.0, mainly because that still is the browser of choice for the masses. I've researched the numbers and types of people that use that browser to view my pages, and despite Firefox being a relatively superior browser, the majority continue to use Internet Explorer.

In some testing environments, IE had some trouble displaying the page. The page is designed with extensive amounts of CSS combined with javascript and php. In some situations IE had trouble converting and displaying all the various boxes. I think it had to do with low amounts of memory, but it was just spotty enough that I couldn't duplicate it with regularity. If you experience boxes on top of boxes, please let me know.

The web page is also designed to be flexible and adjust to your browser and monitor. It should always fit in your web page without requiring you to scroll up and down. Viewing on very small monitor settings (800x600 IS small), you will see a few odd things like extra scroll bars on the blocks between blog posts -- there's only so much I can do for you. It appears best at about 1024x768.

A few of the blogrolls you see may look a little odd. They are designed for vertical display, so when I forced them into a horizontal layout, they didn't actually fit. In some cases I was able to adjust them easily, but the blogrolls that are owned by others do look strange. Some will list the blogs with no spaces between blog names. Other force themselves into a vertical layout, so they end up in scrolling boxes. Again, sorry, I'm trying to force a layout that clearly was not intended.

I'm not sure, in the end, how successful this layout is. I think it's too abnormal for many people to adjust to, but again, I was just doing it to prove it could be done. I think it will stay this way for the month of June, but after that there may be an entirely new layout -- only time will tell.

If you like this layout, or completely hate it, just drop me a line in the comments. If you see anything extremely odd (taking all the above into consideration), please mention it as well. Everything should be visible, no matter what browser you are using. There should be no text hidden behind other text.