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Upgrading Movable Type

I'm about to attempt an upgrade to Movable Type, the software that's currently running this blog. If you start to see weirdness on the site, that's probably the reason. It doesn't help that I can't find proper instructions for upgrading...

This video shows a 1.1 -> 3.2 upgrade as being seamless, so 3.1 -> 3.3 is presumably no more difficult.

Expect some template weirdness once I've upgraded.

Photography in the world of Web 2.0

In a world where it has become utterly painless to share photos with the world, it has been difficult to justify suffering the time-consuming process of manually processing images, uploading them and then adding them into a database to be proudly presented in the place I've been sharing my photos since 2000.

The photography section of my site started first with just a few of my favourite photos but quickly expanded into a fully fledged, custom-built, gallery system where I could share all of the photos I was taking using both film and - increasingly over the years - digital formats. Putting them into a database allowed more flexibility than hard coding them into pages and simplified the process of sharing them. Unfortunately, I never spent enough time developing the admin interface that runs it all, so it doesn't do anywhere near as much as it could to help me out.

Then, just over a year ago, I tried a photo sharing community out of curiosity. It was getting some great reviews and the community was growing pretty quickly. My usage of Flickr was patchy at first as I experimented and didn't fully see what all the fuss was about. Soon winter started to fade into to spring and I started taking more photos. Tagging the photos with relevant topics and sharing them with groups of like-minded people, strangers started to come in to my corner of Flickr and leave comments as they flicked through my photo book. I was hooked.

Since that point I've added very few new photos to the hundreds on this site, and instead have added over 1,000 photos to my Flickr photo stream.

Hopefully before too long I'll start to pull some of those back into this site, but I'll have to make a decision of either updating my site to talk to Flickr and pull in some photos that way, or completely redesigning the way the galleries work. If I do the latter I'll almost certainly use the Drupal system as a framework to build the new site on top of. That would give me the ability to let people comment on photos, subscribe to latest updates and all sorts of good stuff. Then I'd just need to add the ability to pull in selected photosets from my Flickr account, and I'm set.

A little facelift

I've given the blog a little bit of a facelift today. I've wanted to do it for a while and never quite got around to doing it. Hopefully now it is a slightly cleaner interface, and the text isn't so small that it's difficult to read. There are still a few tweaks I need to make, but on the whole I'm happy with the new look for it.

Any comments greatly appreciated.

Learning about AJAX

Mapping my photosIn order to improve the interactivity of my photo map, I have been learning about different ways of linking the information that comes from my database of photos and the mapping data which comes from the Google Maps API to what the user is doing.

Using a mixture of technologies that are commonly known as AJAX (or Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), I have allowed the list of nearby locations - which shows to the right of the map - to update itself whenever the user moves the map around the screen. It will show a list of 5 places closest to the centre of the map and also the distance they are from the centre.

One next stage of development will be to allow the user to click on one of these name and automatically zoom the map to the right area, along with other features including improving what is actually shown on the map for each place.

Some of these new mapping features will probably require broadband to be able to enjoy them properly because they can be quite data intensive.

Mapping my photos

Mapping my photosDespite the fact that somebody seems to have hacked into my server this evening and deleted all of my photos, I have been working on a way of mapping all of the photos I've uploaded to the website over the past few years.

I had the idea of mapping them a while back but didn't progress further than showing roughly in the world a place is located. Recently, however, online mapping services have improved in leaps and bounds. As part of this, Google has just opened up their system for anyone to add their own data to as well. Tonight, this is what I have begun to do.

Each of the towns and cities in my gallery has been 'geocoded' to a specific location and is now pinpointed on a map of the globe which you can click, drag and zoom to your hearts content.

I am still experimenting with the opportunities here, but features you can expect from the site soon will hopefully include photos in the popup bubbles and maps on each town and city page to show nearest neighbours. Mapping travels would be something I'm interested in trying out as well.

Oops!

Whilst updating my MovableType blogging software earlier to let me tag my individual posts I seem to have dislodged the posts from the front page of the blog. They don't show up there at all now, though they do everywhere else in the blog.

I suppose that'll teach me not to make 'minor' changes when I'm in the middle of finishing off an essay and revising for my exams which start next week! I'll fix it in time (hopefully tonight), but for now please use the links down the right hand side of the page to find the latest posts.

On the positive side, tagging now works. If you look at the bottom of each post you'll see a 'Tags:' line with a number of tags after it, all linking to relevant posts over at Technorati. At some point I would like to extend it further so that you can click on a tag and it will show you all relevant posts on this site, but until then Technorati will do just fine. I will still categorise my posts using the categories shown on the right, but this just gives a little more flexibility.

Update: Boy, do I feel stupid now. Of course this post has to go and show itself on the front page of the blog, just to make me look like a fool. It did make me realise what the problem was though. In MT, the front page is set to only show 7 days worth of posts, so when I republished a week after my last post there was nothing to show. Now to see if I can fix that...

Cosmetic changes

Whilst I prepare the blog for launch, there will be some bits that do work, some that don't and some that are somewhere in between. So, if you have found your way in here whilst I'm still tinkering with it, please excuse the mess and I look forward to welcoming you back soon.

Welcome to my blog

Welcome to my new blog. I am considering starting up a blog, or web log, in addition to the news section of my main site. The news section will become more site-specific - the way it's been going for a while - but this blog will contain other bits and pieces that I find interesting, probably mostly in the world of photography, web design and development and geographic information.

The blog will go live soon hopefully, at which point I will announce it in the news section and link it from the rest of the site.

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