Important Site Change

Effective at 8AM tomorrow (January 14, 2008), I will change the policy of this website. This change will allow non-registered visitors to post comments.

Now that I have the Akismet (anti-spam) plug-in installed and working beautifully, there’s a reduced need for requiring people to register to post comments.

If this policy is abused, I will re-enable the “only registered users may leave comments” option.



No Christmas CD This Year

I first laid eyes on a CD burner waaayyyy back in 1996. At the time, even a lowly 2x burner cost around $499, so I couldn’t afford my own. Thankfully, my ex-girlfriend’s mother had one, and she let me borrow it whenever I wanted.

That year I made my first “Christmas CD”. As you might guess, it was a CD full of Christmas music. But not just any Christmas music – it was “cool” Christmas music from bands like The Ramones, Cocteau Twins, Sting, XTC, Captain Sensible, and other New Wave\Punk\80s artists I love.

As time went on, I downloaded more and more of these tracks, and the “Christmas CD” became an annual tradition. Last year, I even put together a “ 10th Annual Christmas Compilation”, but with one twist – I didn’t put it on CD. So many people have iPods and other portable players these days that putting out a CD image for people to download seemed much more complicated that just mixing it all together into one huge MP3 file. That way people could burn it to CD if they wanted, or just dump it to an iPod… or whatever they wanted to do, really.

I’m sad to report that there will be no CD\MP3 compilation at all this year. Why? Mainly because I haven’t found any “new” Christmas songs I like. I’ve completely tapped the store of 80s\New Wave Christmas songs. If there’s a Christmas song by an 80s performer that I don’t have… well, I’d be shocked. And although I’ve looked in to songs by 90s\2000-era performers, I’m just not feeling them. These songs seem… well, “sacreligious” isn’t perhaps the best word for it. But they seem to have a “let’s see how screwed up we can make this song!” vibe to them. It’s like they’re not taking it seriously. And that leaves “traditional” Christmas songs by Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby… which are fine, but it’s just not me.

Maybe next year I’ll find some new material. Or maybe I’ll feel inspired enough to choose from the same 126 songs I’ve been using for the past 10 years. Or maybe not. This year, at least, the Christmas CD just isn’t going to happen. My apologies!

A note about the site…

Well folks, I gave it a good college try, but I have to say that the DualFeeds plug-in for WordPress just doesn’t work… for me anyway.

The plug-in is supposed to allow you to have dual RSS feeds – a standard WordPress “summary” feed and a “full-text feed” that contains the entire text of a post. Sadly, I’ve just never gotten to to work correctly. By default, the plug-in changes your MAIN feed to full-text and creates a new “summary” text feed; the plug-in also has a “flip feeds” option that allows you to swap this around so as not to disrupt your current RSS subscribers. This option seems to “flip itself” any time I activate or deactivate the plug-in. By this I mean that if I activate the plug-in and choose “flip feed”, it will flip it, but if I deactivate and reactivate the plug-in it will “flip it” again. It’s kind of like two light switches at opposite ends of a stairway: instead of having a fixed “on” or “off” position, they work either way. DualFeeds seems to do the same, and that’s confusing.

Also, DualFeeds has a “feature” I really don’t like: a content cutoff. Normally it searches for WordPress’ MORE tag and cuts off the “summary” RSS post there. However if it doesn’t find a MORE tag, it simply cuts off the post after a certain number of characters. By default, DualFeeds cuts off your summary feeds after 500 characters per post. I’ve tried playing around with the character limits to try and find a sweet spot, but what I’d really prefer is an option to split the summary post only if there’s a MORE tag.

In any case, I’ve disabled DualFeeds and will actually delete the plug-in files later today. I’ll also be replacing my “hacked” Meta section on the sidebar with the original one, so the full-text link will go away. The good news is that if you’re subscribed to the feed using the “full-text” link, you don’t have to do anything: apparently, DualFeeds works by adding “&dualfeed=2” to the end of the existing RSS feed address. With DualFeeds disabled, WordPress simply ignores anything posted after “feed=rss2”. So you full-text guys need not change anything.

Sorry it didn’t work out, guys.

Awwww crap!

Sorry, folks! The new “full-text” RSS feed has been disabled due to a bizarre problem… It seems that enabling the plug-in causes the “summary feed” to generate blank entries. Although the full-text feed works perfectly, not having the summary feed means that anyone that subscribed to this site via the original feed is getting new feed posts with nothing in them. And, as my Dad would say, “that dog won’t hunt”.

I’ve asked for help over at the plug-in author’s site, and hopefully I’ll be able to get this fixed soon!


Wow – that was a lot of work! Sometimes doing things in WordPress is just a couple of mouse clicks; other times it’s a crash course in editing PHP files! If you look at the “Meta” widget in the sidebar, you’ll now see three RSS feeds available: “RSS (Summary)”, “RSS (Full-Text)” and “RSS (Comments)”.

The “RSS (Summary)” feed is the standard WordPress RSS feed; it will give you the full text of most articles, but it will truncate longer entries with a “click here to read the rest of this post” link. “RSS (Full-Text)” will display the full text of all posts, but be advised that this feed is powered by a third-party plug-in, so it may (or may not) work properly. The “RSS (Comments)” feed is an RSS feed of all the comments this site gets; since that isn’t much, you’re not really missing anything.

If you’re getting this news via RSS, the URL for the new “full-text” feed is:

Lastly, note that the Flash-based audio player will only work on the website (it does not attach the mp3 files from “Songs I Love” posts to either RSS feed). This is by design. If you’re interested in one of these posts, you’ll have to use a web browser to listen to the tunes.

Coming Soon: Dual RSS Feeds!

Back when I switched the site from FrontPage to WordPress, a few readers expressed a desire for a “full post” RSS feed. This can’t be done by default in WordPress, since WordPress uses the “More” page break as a cutoff for the RSS feed. In other words, if you see a post with a “Click here to continue” link at the end of it, that’s where the RSS feed will break, and RSS users will see a “please click here to read the rest of the post” in their feed. My only other option would be to not use the “More” break, but a single long post could take up the entire front page, and I think you’ll agree that that’s simply not acceptable.

Yesterday, I learned of the existence of DualFeeds plug-in. This plug-in will allow me to have two RSS feeds – a “summary” version and a “full text” version. Those of you that wish to subscribe to the “full text” version will get the entire text of the posts. Those of you that subscribe to the “summary” version will get the same RSS feed you’ve been getting all along.

I’m hoping to get the new feed up and running in the next day or two. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!


One quick note about the website:

I’ve removed the Viper Guest Book from the site, as no one was using it. I have added a contact form to the Contact Me page. This form will allow you to contact me through the site without having to register for an account. It’s similar to the old site’s “Feedback” page, but it has a built-in challenge question (to prevent spammers from using it). I hope you like it!

My Site’s Safe!

So I was searching the Internet last night for my own website. It sounds vain, but I was really just seeing if the new WordPress site had made it to Google’s index, and also to see what other sites were saying about this site. At one point, I stumbled upon my site’s results at McAfee’s Site Advisor, a website that analyzes websites for unsafe scripts, malware, viruses and such. And guess what? My site is safe!

McAfee Site Advisor

Woo-Hoo! And speaking of McAfee, they actually have a cool quiz on their site that tests your knowledge of phishing scams by showing you pictures of genuine and phishing sites – you have to guess which one’s authentic and which one’s fake. I got 9 out of 10 (hey, the Chase Bank one is hard!)

Anybody wanna do the test themselves and share their score?