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Daily Check Ritual

Every morning, the first thing I do is click on a tab group called ‘check’.
These are the sites it brings up:


Shaun Inmans Shortstats are what I’ve been looking for a for a long time. It displays just the information I need – in one page. From this I can see that there are still a lot of IE6 users visiting the site (shame on you!), and that there are people still using the pre-beta Safari. Eh?

Anyway. I’m watching you.

Technorati Link Cosmos

Who’s linking to me and what are they saying about me? Call me paranoid, but I like to know these things. Its also an easy way of discovering new blogs.

Camino forums at Mozillazine

While I don’t have time to post as often as I used to, I still dip in every day to see whats going on with Camino – hoping that there is a new unofficial build of Camino 0.9. No other OS X browser (‘cept maybe Firefox of course!) has got such a good discussion forum.


I lose count of how many design portal sites there are, but nobody does it quite like NetDiver. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but the outstanding quailty of design showcased here is nothing short of inspirational. Whenever the creative fridge has just got some mouldy cheese left in it, this is where I stock up on the fresh stuff.

Shiira project homepage

The nightly builds seem to come very regularly, so I always check to see what those crazy Japanese have done this time.

Textpattern forum

This is relatively new addition, but I’ve gained some much from it. There is a really good community here.


I’ve saved the best till last. 3hive has been the musical equivalent to NetDiver for me. The deal is this: every day, links to free mp3 downloads are added. Many bands offer free downloads via their sites, and this is resource to list all these freebies. Its a no-risk opportunity to try out new music, and I’ve discovered the band ‘Low’, who I’ve gone crazy for. It’s also helped me categorise the kind of music I like – Slowcore! (So nice that I’ve now got a name for it)

What sites do you fire up first thing in the morning?

Link Dump

I haven’t done a link dump for a while, and I’d like to highlight the sites that have done it for me recently.

First, here are some new (well, new to me) blogs I have been reading in the last month: Skinny J, Row Boat, X Lab, Just watch the sky, Acts of Volition, I live on your visits.

Special mentions to these three:

  • Playground Blues – After all the hoo-ha about Stopdesign and Simplebits going fixed (and Stopdesign going back again), it’s good to see new sites using fluid layouts really well. Not all sections of the site are ready, but it all shows great promise. I wish I’d done it first!
  • You Grow Girl – At last, a gardening site that isn’t twee or marketed at the 50 years plus. Well written, practical and inspiring articles, plus global journals from gardeners. It also avoids the clichés of Gardening magazines (‘A Passion for Paeonies’, ‘10 Easy Shrubs’ ...). Gardening is cool, here’s all the proof you need. Thanks to the CSS Vault for this one.
  • Adam Polselli – This man is a godsend to the colourblind designer. Not only does he supply a series of theme templates, but he has also forecasted what colourschemes will be in for 2004. His site is an absolute delight to behold and the writing is high qualty. I’m ashamed it’s taken me so long to discover it.

a links database with MT

Inspired by recent articles on how to use Movable Type for more than just blogs, I’ve been trying this out on more areas of the site. The news, articles and album cover playlist sections are MT powered, and now the links database is too. This means I can now add content to the site from either the web or from my weblog editor in NetNewsWire.

The technique has been well documented on many blogs, (wholelottanothing’s is very well written) so I’ll skimp a bit. First I created a new blog called ‘links’ and removed templates I wouldn’t need (such as the stylesheets and individual entry archives). I also set archiving to ‘category’ and turned comments and convert line breaks off. Then I decided which MT tags to use for which piece of data:

  • MTCategories – the link category
  • MTEntryTitle - Website name
  • MTEntryKeywords - the URL
  • MTEntryBody – site description

I inserted these tags into the main MT Template:

<h3><$MTCategoryLabel$> (<$MTCategoryCount$>)</h3> <MTEntries lastn="100" sort_by="title" sort_order="ascend">
<p><a href="<$MTEntryKeywords$>" title="visit <$MTEntryTitle$>"> <$MTEntryTitle$></a> // <$MTEntryBody$></p> </MTEntries>

This then creates a page, listing all the links within their categories. The tags in the category archives page (where just one category of links is shown) needs to be slightly different:

<h3><$MTArchiveTitle$> (<$MTArchiveCount$>)</h3>
  <MTEntries lastn="100" sort_by="title" sort_order="ascend">
<p><a href="<$MTEntryKeywords$>" title="visit <$MTEntryTitle$>">
<$MTEntryTitle$></a> // <$MTEntryBody$></p> 

To get the links to display in alphabetical order, add sort_by=”title” sort_order=”ascend” to the MTEntries tag. I used

tags to list each link – you may prefer an unordered list. ‘MTCategoryCount’ shows the number of entries in that category. To make adding links easier, you can customise the ‘new entry’ form in MT, so that it only shows the fields you want to use – Title, Category, Entry Body and Keywords. The last thing I needed to do was create the list of link categories for the main menu. I created a new index template called ‘droplinks.php’ in the links blog, which just contained the following:

<a href="<$MTCategoryArchiveLink$>" title="<$MTCategoryLabel$> links">
<$MTCategoryLabel$> (<$MTCategoryCount$>)</a>

This is then called up an include in the main navigation under ‘destinations’. Job done.

Next – how to build your own house and landscaped garden using MT…

Blazing Fruit

A friend of mine, Jonathan Williams, has just set up an online portfolio so now you lucky folks can see just how good he is. He uses a mixture of natural and digital media to achieve his unique style – I love it, it’s so fresh and attractive. (His company name ‘Blazing Fruit’ comes from a poem by Roger McGough)