Upcoming Changes

There are a few changes coming up that I’ve been mulling over for a few months and have finally found the tools to make happen.

First, my “home page” at http://thecompany.net/jason/ is going to be changed a bit to become my Lifestream. The Lifestream is a history of stuff I’ve been doing online. Right now it’ll include information from Facebook, Twitter, Last.fm, and Digg. There are a few others that I’m going to look into becoming more active with, as well (e.g. Yelp).

The “home page” might also include some more prominent links to static stuff that people don’t check out as often such as my collages, fiction I’ve written, and the college papers I have posted.

I’m still going to keep the blog, but the URL for it will change to something like http://thecompany.net/jason/blog/ or http://thecompany.net/jason/doublereading. I have to look into the mechanics of changing my WordPress settings before I do that.

The philosophy of the blog will change a bit, though. It will only be longer, more thought-out postings/reactions to things. If I want to share a link, I’ll either digg it or tweet about it. If I just want to post about how I loved last night’s Battlestar Galactica but don’t want to feel guilty about not doing some deeper analysis/reviewing, I’ll just tweet about it.

I’m hoping that all of this will make me more likely to post things. That is the ultimate goal.

The one thing I do not plan on changing, at the moment, is the design of the site. I’m currently still really happy with how things like (that “distressed” feeling), so I probably won’t shake things up there.

From The Archives

A while ago one of my friends said that he was intrigued by the posts that I had in draft but hadn’t published. Unfortunately, it’s not like I was hiding them because they were so great or juicy, but instead they remained in draft because I was too lazy to publish them.

In a bit of housekeeping, however, I’ve decided to post what I have since most of them are way too old to even try to finish now (the thoughts I had at the time I started writing them are long gone). So enjoy the posts and feel free to comment or inspire me to maybe finish writing them of them…

See What I’m Working On

Posts In Draft
I’m pretty excited and/or proud of my first WordPress plugin. (It hasn’t been officially announced or anything, but I intend to in a week or so once I’m sure I’ve got all the cool features and whatnot.) The plugin is called “Posts in Draft” and lets WordPress blog owners add information about what posts are in draft status.

I, for one, tend to be working on a bunch of posts at one time, and I thought it might be cool to give visitors to the site a little sneak-peak into what I’m writing up next. You can see the new list added below “Recent Posts” in the right-hand sidebar.

If there is any other information that you think might be interesting for the plugin or other plugin ideas, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

New Design

I’m not sure how “known” this is, but as far as I am concerned, this blog still isn’t “live” or “official” yet. When I decided to start blogging again back in April, I guess I didn’t make this explicit, but it’s sorta been something I’ve known.

What does this mean? I’m not sure. But I do know that one of the first steps to making Double Reading “official” was to come up with a new and completely different design. So I can now check that off of the list.

I swear, I have been stressing out about the design since I started in April. I have folders upon folders on my hard drive with all my attempts at coming up with something I would be happy with. I learned a lot about Photoshop on the way here, and drew inspiration from a lot of places. Eventually I will get a page (the colophon) that will describe the process a little more in depth.

So where does that leave things as far as becoming “official” and open to the public? Pretty damn close. I want to write up that colophon mentioned above, get some sort of “About Jason” page written up (photos included!), tweak the design a little more (I already see a few things I want to change/improve)… and then it might actually be time.

Please please please give me feedback on the new design. Just don’t say, “It’s too busy.” I intentionally decided to go with a “maximalist” look rather than the trendy minimalist/clean design (though I do think that below the header things are pretty clean).

Damn 206-415

Is anyone else as annoyed/surprised as me about the fact that my blog has basically been taken over by a discussion (if you could call it that?) of this 206-415-xxxx thing?

The main post about me being annoyed/confused by the phone call currently has over 45 comments! What sucks, though, is that most of these comments are of little help. Mostly it’s just some random person from Anywhere, U.S.A. throwing in a “me too!” And really, nobody cares, right?

For the record, I have taken no action. I haven’t gotten one of those calls for quite a few weeks now, so I’ve basically given up. I’ll leave it to all of these other people to contact the FCC and whatnot. Plus, the calls I am getting are different than the calls they are. The people posting comments are the dumbasses who call me back saying, “I’m calling you because your number showed up on my caller ID.”

Anyway, these comments have been discouraged me and sorta suppressed my desire to post anything more meaningful. I know it’s stupid, but it’s discouraging when the most popular post on your blog is about something so inane.

I’ll work on getting over this ego-blow, though. I promise. In the meantime, go ahead and reflect on the 206-415 nightmare that seems to be afflicting people coast-to-coast.

Why Aren’t You Writing??

I don’t know why I’ve been so quiet lately. Nothing has been inspiring me to write. I guess now that all the SIFF stuff is over I’ve been like, “Well, if I don’t write about SIFF movies, what can I write about??!”

Don’t worry, though. I’m sure this dry spell will be over soon.

Blast From the Past?

Out of Control -- my old web site
I’m debating whether I should try to take some of the posts from my old website and migrate them to this site. I realize that there are a few really good posts saved there that might be worth saving and sharing. Does anyone else have thoughts on this? Or does anyone who visited my old site have any “best-ofs” that they remember? There are over 900 blog posts on there, so I’m sure there are a few worth saving, yah?

Netflix plugin

The Netflix plugin that I first started using wasn’t all to feature-oriented. It basically took a Netflix RSS feed and dumped it without any processing or formatting. That is, if you wanted to display your activity queue, it just spit the 3 (or however many DVDs you can have out at one time) most recent discs shipped to you, and the most recent discs you returned. Plus, it didn’t have any way of displaying your rental queue.

Well, I didn’t think that was too cool, so I decided to hack away at it.

First, I modified it so that it would only show the discs most recently shipped to you. Then I realized that it might be cool, also, to show the discs you most recently returned. So I took the function and gave it some arguments — you can specify an “action” as “rented” and “returned.” Then I realized that you might want to see both in the same list, so I added an “activity” variable as well.

To that, I added the “queue” action which spit out your rental queue… Well, my queue has over 100 discs, so that was overkill, so I added the ability to limit (mine is current set at six, since that’s about as far ahead as I plan my queue).

After I finished all of that, I thought sometime in the future it might be nice to customize the way the list is presented (mainly, whether it should be an ordered list — <ol> — or an unordered list — <ul>), so I added arguments for those elements as well.

I’m not sure exactly how to go ahead and submit these modifications as a plugin, but I’ll look into that. For the time being, here is the code if anyone else uses WordPress and wants the functionality:

function mynetflix(
 $action,
 $listtag="ul",
 $itemtag="li",
 $count=10) {

global $activityurl;
global $queueurl;

switch ($action) {

 case "rented" :
 case "returned" :
 case "activity" : {

  $rss = fetch_rss($activityurl);
  echo "<".$listtag.">\n";
  
  foreach($rss->items as $item) {
   $title = $item["title"];
   $link = $item["link"];
   $desc = $item["description"];
   
   $parts = explode(":", $title, 2);
   $act = trim($parts[0]);
   $title = trim($parts[1]);
   
   $parts = explode(".", $desc, 2);
   $date = strip_tags(trim($parts[0]));

   $a = "<".$itemtag.">\n";
   $b = "</".$itemtag.">\n";
  
   if($act == "Shipped" && $action == "rented")
    echo wptexturize($a."<a href="".$link."">".
     $title."</a>&nbsp;".$date.$b);
   else if($act == "Received" && $action == "returned")
    echo wptexturize($a."<a href="".$link."">".
     $title."</a>&nbsp;".$date.$b);
   else if($action == "activity")
    echo wptexturize($a."<a href="".$link."">".
     $title."</a>&nbsp;".$date.$b);   
  }
 
  echo "</".$listtag.">\n";
 
  break;
 }

 case "queue" : {
  $rss = fetch_rss($queueurl);
  
  echo "<".$listtag.">\n";
  
  $i=0;
  foreach($rss->items as $item) {
   if($i >= $count) break;
   
   $parts = explode("-", $item["title"], 2);
   $num = trim($parts[0]);
   $title = trim($parts[1]);
   $link = $item["link"];

   echo "<".$itemtag." value="".$num."">\n";
   echo wptexturize("<a href="".$link."">".$title."</a>");
   echo "</".$itemtag.">\n";
   $i++;
  }
  
  echo "</".$listtag.">\n"; 
  break;
 }
}
}

To use it, you define two varibles:

$activityurl	= "look on your Netflix RSS page"; 
$queueurl		= "look on your Netflix RSS page";

And call the function like:

<?php mynetflix('rented'); echo "\n"; ?>

or

<?php mynetflix('queue', 'ol', 'li', 6); echo "\n"; ?>

Magic! I love this stuff!

Update:
I really do impress myself 🙂 I just added some more functionality so that a page like My Entire Netflix Queue works… check it out. The biggest addition was the ability to show the description (which Netflix feeds in the RSS).

WordPress so far

I’m pretty impressed with this whole WordPress thing. It’s really powerful and the plugins are awesome. So far I have one to show movies I recently rented from Netflix, to show songs I recently played on iTunes (using the AudioScrobbler plugin), and to allow my to upload images into posts (hence the random Sexy Boy post). I will definitely be checking out more.

I also love how customizble things are. I can control how the URLs are created, how many posts to show on the home page, how to format time, and so on. It’s totally fun to play around with.

My next project is developing a theme. I really like the simple default theme. I do, however, want to customize it and make it my own. Except to see bizzare images and strange fonts soon enough 🙂

Other than all the technical WordPress stuff, the next step is to get back into the habbit of actually blogging. We’ll see how that comes along…