This site is updated but still I never post here, so I guess I should probably post something sometime.
Category Archives: Site
Anything to do with the website.
Might revamp the site sometime!
Languishing due to more activity on Facebook with friends (so many photos there!) and less conferences and events attended, I must admit I’ve left this place a bit. Not even edited the automatic robots.txt so Google lost me.
However I feel I need a project and this one is just on the side of not-so-time-consuming that upgrading the gallery from Lazyest to Eazyest, finally removing WPG2 perhaps (so many left to remove!), and adding a better theme will help.
I can then start to do more posts and updates – I’m doing more photography, getting to grips with more cosplay work and doing more coding and AI, fun fun fun 🙂
I’ve got more stuff I should write up. Obviously! However, I have been investing time in stuff for The National Museum of Computing (and will be at their upcoming festival), so have really sucked at updating this site apart from mini things I’ve linked to. That, and some of the games I’ve been playing haven’t been really that great, and in some cases remain entirely unfinished.
I have a fair few games actually written up in some way or another. I’m going to shoot down the “countless screenshots” approach which isn’t easy to achieve with my gallery (which I still have to sort out, more work for the grinder…), and get something up there with only a odd few.
I’ve mainly been inspired by one Todd Alcott who has some brilliant summations and thoughts on a huge range of films (and even has a few comments on videogames), as well as lots of other bits. If you enjoy the Coen Brothers films, his writeups are really fun and in-depth. I’m going to seek to actually generally improve the quality and amount of my posts so I can build up some reference on what I think about stuff, good and bad.
Once I’ve got some more down I’ll get around to making pages for stuff. There’s a lot of stuff, and while it isn’t great to shove opinions around on the internet, if something isn’t updated here and now on an RSS feed it sometimes can get lost to the past (yet forever unseen by the present). Having forgotten several brilliant things both online and offline off the top of my head, I think it would be worth linking or posting brief one liners on some of them, mostly for my own sake! 🙂
Finally a Gallery2 WordPress Gallery Replacement
So I’ve got around to testing a large amount of possible replacements for Gallery2 and found one which generally fits (and I hope will be improved since it is entirely stable, but lacking a few features). The need was to have:
- A WordPress-integrated browsable gallery (so it cannot just be the “attach images to WordPress posts” WordPress uses by default). This would include the ability to have subgalleries and automatic thumbnail creation.
- The ability to put a gallery image in a post (with caption),
- Easy to upload images too (ie; would allow multiple file uploads at once. By Java, FTP, Flash, zip etc.).
- Ability to add some kind of description or name to the pictures.
It also cannot be a off-site host. I frankly despise putting too much on Facebook, while I actually like some of Flickr’s parts too, I have a website for a reason and both want to use it, and not give my photos intentionally to a third party. Faster too to link to my own photos 🙂 and no reliability problems.
Why get rid of Gallery 2 then? Well, Gallery2 itself isn’t too bad, as it goes (and is easily hackable with plugins, theme changes if you need it to be better) – it had also a great Java upload thing just to process a ton of uploads over HTTP, and resizing (and cropping), thumbnail and subfolder options (such as what was the folder thumbnail) were good too. Naming and descriptions were fine as well.
However, WordPress integration was always problematic. The rarely-updated and complex WPG2 likes things done in a very specific way, often messing up both its own settings and the main Gallery2 install settings (permalinks mainly). It liked its own gallery page, which simply embeds the Gallery2 page bizarrely – I couldn’t get it to work much better, so the Gallery2 part was always off by itself! The actual insertion of images in posts generally worked okay too – a little annoyance at adding odd CSS and HTML but in generally a-okay for what I needed, and finding images worked fine too.
This was a few years ago mind – some of the plugins below didn’t even exist then, and WordPress hadn’t even integrated things like auto-site-updates and its own media offerings were lackluster (and for me still are not suitable, see below). It worked with some effort before. Just I need a better and simply a more simple solution now.
So, in any case I’ll go through what I generally tested then! Some are rather popular ones I just couldn’t get working or were not suitable, cest la vie 🙂 In fact, there were no many that even fitted the “Don’t use the WordPress media upload system”.
Hopeless for the above criteria. I need accessible galleries, thumbnails and captions, while WordPress can deal with per-post images, it doesn’t have any captioning options, gallery options (although some plugins hook into it) and organisational options are limited to “by date and post” or “all in one folder”. With hundreds of photos to add at minimum this was unworkable.
Sad, too, since the upload interface allowed easy additions of titles and descriptions when uploading.
NextGEN was the most popular one I tested. It worked, nicer integration then many, but fails at the “subgalleries”. Some parts were utterly terrible to use – the way you have to make subgalleries and so forth simply failed for me – strange admin interfaces to get it to work, where it simply didn’t want to cooperate. The documentation was poor too, surprisingly. Finally, the upload interface didn’t work with any SSL options enabled, it simply didn’t (neither Admin SSL or what I generally use, forced WordPress SSL worked), which is required for me.
If you want a gallery, try it – but be aware of the issues with subfolders and pictures in those same folders.
Pixgallery was a nice and simple gallery, might be suitable for others (especially, it appears, comic sites). However, it didn’t work too well for me because of the lack of inline-post-thumbnail options – it works fine as a gallery, but not for having images in posts separately. However it did most other things fine – and has some options I miss in the one I chose, namely things like “Remove underscores and replace with spaces in filenames” and filenames being different from captions/descriptions.
One other oddity with this was nice permalinks were destined to never be added, for no foreseeable reason. Odd, since I rather like them, keeps URL’s nice and readable, which is the point (and is why my site isn’t all p=1412 or something!). Another thing was that ordering could not ever be done with “Folders come first”, which is a bizarre omission and makes ordering things a bit difficult unless you manually order everything.
Sadly, despite Coppermine looking like a competent 3rd party gallery, the only plugins allowed integrated galleries, nothing that helped linked thumbnails and captions into posts easily. This just made me miss this one out entirely, a latecomer in any case, sadly no one is dedicated to do a fuller implementation it seems.
The Final Choice
Lazyest Gallery was my choice for a swap. It has it’s own simple system to check a set directory for picture files (so FTP uploads work fine), and create thumbnails and cut down sized versions on the fly – done nicely in the folders themselves. Can caption images relatively easily, and users can comment per picture too. None of the captions are DB based, but instead XML based (comments are just in WP’s normal system). Simple to setup, and some simple options for how the galleries should be displayed (size, columns, amount of things per page, slideshow options and so forth).
The way you put a page up for it is dead easy, and it works with WordPress being in a subfolder thankfully, keeping my site structure neat. It also has excellent syntax for adding whatever kind of image in a post – whatever size, position and caption.
Still not feature-complete enough in some areas – permalinks are on the upcoming features list (yes!), there is little ease of use moving things around (see below for why), and I’d also like at some point separate “Name” and “Caption” fields, which would really solve file naming issues. It also doesn’t have a nice way to find an image to add to posts (the button helps but first you need the image path and name), but this is minor since it is easily copied from the gallery itself. It appears it will continue to be updated with some nice bits and pieces I could use too (such as multiple HTTP upload facilities).
Odd Apache Note
Apache running PHP has any files created by it set to the user “nobody nobody”. With the security risks involved, yes, this means I can’t physically remove some files or folders (arbitrarily sometimes) except through the same PHP scripts (and sometimes it’s just bizarre what does and doesn’t work mind you). Lazyest has problems deleting thumbnails/caches and their folders sometimes, but it can delete the photos themselves it seems from whatever source they were from. I’ve got some simple scripts so if I need to I can force things to be permission 777, then deleted by PHP itself, which should solve any major issues with this. Or I just won’t move much. As long as it is readable so it can be backed up, all should be okay.
There is no perfect WordPress gallery out there yet for me, mainly! I think Lazyest is by far the closest and most well integrated for my needs. I’m going to spend some time moving images over to it (along with their descriptions) and updating the hundreds of posts I have linking to Gallery2 images and replacing them before I remove Gallery entirely. Here’s to hoping it works okay in the end! (And if a better gallery plugin becomes available, I don’t know even then if I’ll bother to swap back, but Lazyest keeps everything quite neat if I ever did 🙂 thumbs up from me on that).
Had Enough of Gallery2
My Gallery2 has been always partially borked. WPG2 and Gallery2 just simply don’t like each other. Gallery2 doesn’t like me. WPG2 doesn’t like me. It’s a big mess…
Continue reading Had Enough of Gallery2
eSata Working Nearly Perfectly, and Comments on Pages
The System Restore has worked fine getting my FireWire working from the previous problems I had. It still isn’t a proper hot-swappable eSata port, and I’ve no idea why (internet reports that it can be). However, HotSwap! is a neat app that can do it since the drive can be removed, just needs to have the cache cleared so there are no write errors. Just means I’ll have to be a bit careful not having it turn off without disconnecting it!
I’ve also had time this week to enable comments on all the pages on my site, and now they’re enabled by default on new ones I create. I’m inspired mainly by php.net’s impressive comments (well, I say impressive, they’re notable for being usually better at explaining things then the real documentation!). Might be useful in the future in any case.
Finally, my Gallery2 installation with WordPress WPG2 plugin is again messing up (note the two Gallery links in the left navigation) – ahhgg, but for a proper permanent link setup which actually worked so it was /gallery/v/XXX instead of /v/XXX links from thumbnails! This is a PITA, and I’ll have to sort it sometime, or replace Gallery2 and WPG2 – which won’t be a small task (meaning: re-uploading *everything*), but I think might be necessary (and would allow me to cull some of the less worthwhile pictures and setup better thumbnail sizes so not so much HDD space is used on my server account), or at least I need to hack it to work better.
I’m leaving it since I want to also investigate hacking WPG2 to do better thumbnail HTML/CSS – at the moment it sticks the image and link inside a
Finally back online
My host has got my data back online after the shared server this site was originally on had a total network malfunction. I missed a few days of emails too, annoyingly. If I don’t reply to something, just send it again.
Sadly it took a while longer to get access to my WordPress admin page however due to SSL issues. I’ve got several things to post I’ll get up over the next week. 🙂
“Andrew’s Site” name
Meta-site thought here: I named my site “Andrew’s Site” all the way back in yesteryear when I created it using WordPress. I’ve been wondering if it is frankly a terrible name or not. I’m not the only Andrew out there – and seeing it linked to as “Andrew’s Site” is a tad boring, unlike say Chewing Pixels, Functional Autonomy or Ludus Ex Machina.
Maybe I should attach my surname (“Andrew Armstrong’s Site”), or use the URL (said as “A Armstrong dot org”, urg…maybe not) or something else, hmm, will think on this. My creative side when it comes to names is just about functional, nothing really more!
Late Resolution to Update Site
Yeah, I’ve not done too well this January. I have a few drafts, but need to really finish them (screenshots are involved, which take a while). I’ll have to nail down a good schedule for posting new things – certainly recommending things I like is something I’ll continue to do (I rewatched some of Haruhi Suzumiya today, go watch it! 😉 ), but I want to do some more technical posts, not just on my technical problems, and certainly some programming ones. Finally, I do want to do more on videogames – old ones (which I need to do more on!), new ones, thoughts on them and so forth.
I think two main posts a week is a good idea. No real pressure with this kind of vagueness, and also, I intend to do more miniposts (which appear as normal posts in the RSS feed though), such as Interesting Old Bookmarks I find, and other odd things I come across. Call me out if I’m really doing a load of crap, although this is honestly all for my own amusement and a nice journal of what I’m up to – my own little piece of history for my own enjoyment (since my memory is a sieve sometimes, this is also useful!)
I don’t have any other resolutions really. I don’t aim to not have any, I just am pretty happy with what I’m already doing (although I must admit I should go swimming much more often…). I wonder if anyone else is the same, saying “Well, it’s a new year, why do I have to change just this month? why not other months?” 🙂
Recompressing my Zip/RAR files with 7zip En Masse
I decided to relearn some batch file basics (since I hadn’t got anything else handy) to recompress a ton of ZIP and RAR files into 7zip format. I didn’t find a good example of this, so made it into my own little tutorial (given I don’t have any other place to stick the page yet anyway) if I ever have to learn the stuff again 🙂 Might be useful for anyone else recompressing things though or learning some batch file basics maybe. No doubt could be easily altered for other compression programs or other types of 7zip compression anyway, so I should find use for it in the future 🙂
I also altered my sidebar layout – no more subpages will be there, but they’ll pop out if you click on the category. One thing I can’t fix on this site is the WPG-2 stuff, gallery links should be to /gallery, but /gallery-2 keeps on being used for the thumbnail links, sigh. Will have to fix that one day and integrate my gallery better. 🙂