My IndieWeb story, Part 1: Jumping in the Deep End (eddiehinkle.com)
I hope it presents both some technical aspects of the IndieWeb but more so introduces how the IndieWeb experience is personal and is shaped by each individual.

This post from Eddie Hinkle was what prompted me to explore implmenting Post Kinds on my blog. This is the first official like from my own site to another using Indie Web technologies, it seemed fitting that I should give it a try with the post that prompted playing around with the technology.

About Me ›

For a while now I’ve owned the domain philbowell.me, I bought it while it was cheap and to make sure no one else got hold of it and thus cause confusion with the domain of this blog. I’ve wondered what to do with it for most of that time, briefly it acted as a micro‐blog but I merged that with this site a few months back. This evening while doing a bit of introverting I picked up my iPad (where I designed it and set the basic html structure), then my MacBook (where I implemented the CSS) and ended up with a new web page. A small about me should anyone stumble upon it. The only thing I’ve yet to do is optimise it for an iPhone sized display but it’s working pretty well on an iPad sized screen and upwards.

Archives

Back in October of 2014 I wiped this blog and started all over again in an attempt at a fresh start and the beginning of more regular posting. The lack of baggage was supposed to be the catalyst to help me post, to a degree it has worked and I’ve been posting here much more regularly since the turn of the year. The Week in Links has helped, and is approaching it’s six month anniversary.

On Monday evening I read a post by Paul Stamatiou about his years of blogging. I was struck by a particular sentence half way through:

The era of the personal website is over. It’s now just a personal landing page with a photo, bio and link to a Twitter profile.

I understand exactly where he is coming from, but I also disagree, to a certain extent. It’s true a lot of websites have disappeared over the last few years, but over the last few months I’ve seen a resurgence in the personal site/blog. Something that I want to be a part of. It got me thinking about my own personal site, and the changes it’s been through over the last decade. I’ve never binned it to replace it with a personal site, but I did recently delete all my posts and before that I had another blog that has gone the way of the Dodo.

It struck me how wrong that is. I put a lot of time and effort into writing those posts, and for them to be erased is just plain wrong. Fortunately I managed to locate a backup of this site from just before I wiped it, and I’ve now added all the posts back into the archive. There’s still a bit of tidying up to do but for the most part the archives now extend all the way back to January 2011. I’m also hoping to be able to locate an old backup of my very first blog, the one that existed prior to this one. I’ve been writing on the internet for nearly a decade now, it should be preserved and maintained in some form or another not consigned to oblivion.

All of this to say, I’ve added the archives back to this place. If you’re interested and have the time, why not have a dig through and see what you can find.

With a new year about to dawn I’ve been making a few tweaks to this place. I’ve finally added a bit of an about page, there’s a new look to the place thanks to the new Twenty Fifteen theme from the WordPress folks and there will be a new posting schedule to kick off in the new year.

Site Updates

Anyone would think I’m a bit of a glutton for punishment. Most people spend their weekends relaxing, I seem to spend mine thinking about work, my blog and side projects that I want to start. This weekend I finally finished one of those little side projects which I’ve worked on in my spare time. A little update to the design of this site to replace the last version which was only ever intended as a bit of a stop gap, even though it was up for the best part of a year.

The design will be familiar to most of you, who’ve been before. It’s largely an update to the typography of the site, which now uses Adelle Sans for the headlines and Adelle for the body copy. I’ve also finally added a proper about page, archives page and a site search which were lacking from the previous version.

Part of the desire to update the look of the site came from me wanting to be able to share more original content. I wanted to be able to post some photos, and use that as a spring board to begin using my camera more regularly.

I also took the opportunity to learn how to implement some of the responsive design techniques I’ve been reading about and to see how it worked with images. I’m pretty pleased with the result and the reading experience on the iPhone and iPad.

There may be a few little tweaks here and there over the next couple of weeks, when is a bog owner never tweaking the design of the site? But for now, I’m pretty happy with it.

Introducing PBcom

The last few months have been very quiet here at Electric Weekend, there’s been lots going on behind the scenes which have made it hard to write here. I covered some of those in the last post, but now I’m beginning to feel the desire to write again.

Unfortunately I also feel as a person I’ve begun to out grow Electric Weekend, particularly as I look to present myself to be available for hire on a freelance basis. With that said, I’d like to introduce you to my new site philbowell.com or PBcom as it’s affectionally known by me. Phase one, the log, has just gone live and phase two, the portfolio, will follow suit in the next couple of weeks.

What does this mean for Electric Weekend? It means I’ll no longer be posting here, the site will remain as an archive but from now on I’ll be posting on the log at PBcom. Please head over there, change your feed reader to point to the new RSS feed or give me a follow. Oh, and enjoy the new site.

Slight Realign

I’ve just put the finishing touches to a slight realign here on the blog. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for some time but never quite got around to it.

I’ve kept the same basic look and feel around the place but made some better use of space and added a few usability alterations. The body copy is now slightly larger so hopefully a bit easier to read1. Gone is the left margin which contained the meta data for the main posts making for a wider reading area and a less wonky look when a link post is at the top of the page.

I’ve revised the header section as well. Navigation now finds itself at the very top of the page and the search box has moved from the footer to the top right. Hopefully this will make the search more obvious and useful to people. I’ve also fixed my Twitter stream, which seemed to have stopped working, and it now finds a new position below my logo and just above the posts. There’s a bit of border‐radius action involved on the search and Twitter sections so those of you with Safari 3 or FF3 will be able to enjoy some nice finishing touches.

Everything has now lost the horrible background hover. I’m not sure what came over me when I decided to add that, but links are now both more subtle and natural to find.

Those of you with Helvetica Neue will notice some nice touches with the meta data on all the posts. I’ve employed a little Ultra Light and I think it adds a nice touch. I like to reward those of us on the Mac a little.

Disclaimer. I’ve not checked this in Internet Explorer, but aside from the border‐radius I can’t think of much that won’t work properly. Having said that please drop me an email if you see anything totally horrible.

  1. I’ve had a few comments about the light text on dark being hard to read on some monitors. I’m thinking of working up a light version of the site and providing a theme switcher. ?

Feedburner to Bird Feeder

As I mentioned last week I’ve made a change to the way I track the subscription stats here on Electric Weekend. That change seems to have gone well and I wanted to take this opportunity to outline the simple steps that made it possible.

My Feedburner setup was probably a pretty standard setup for a lot of WordPress (WP) powered blogs. I used the FeedSmith1 WP plugin to redirect my WP feeds to the Feedburner one I had set up. This enabled me to use a nice clean url, rather than the frankly messy url that comes from a Feedburner feed. I also used a Pepper in Mint to pull in the stats generated by Feedburner, no need to visit another site to view my stats.

Seems like a good set up right? Well yes, it was working for me and I had nearly a years worth of stats. So why the change? Well recently I’d gotten a little fed up of the delay from Feedburner in publishing my stats, but I also felt that there wasn’t enough variation in the figures I was receiving. Days where I posted received higher figures, but not significantly and this felt a little odd to me. I also felt I should be utilising the stats package I had bought a license to. Mint was working very well at tracking my visitors so why would it not work well with my feed subscribers?

The Move went very smoothly. The first step I took was to visit Feedburner and delete the feed I had set up. I made sure to take advantage of a very useful Feedburner feature. When deleting a feed Feedburner offers you the chance to have a 30 day redirection service, so any subscribers who got hold of the direct Feedburner feed have time to make the switch.

With my Feedburner feed deleted I had no going back so I went about installing the Mint side of things first. The Bird Feeder pepper comes in two parts. The first part is the Pepper itself which installs into the shauninman folder in the Peppers directory of your Mint installation. The second part is titled Feeder and resides in the base level of your site. After uploading these two folders I visited the Mint preferences to install the pepper. After you’ve done this make sure you visit yoursite.com/feeder to make sure your Bird Feeder is active.

However that’s only half of the story. There are some steps that need to be taken on the WordPress side. As with an install of Mint you need to add some code to the header of your site in order for Bird Feeder to do it’s stuff. Fortunately, just like when you are installing Mint, there is no need to go adding code to your themes files, everything can be accomplished with a plugin. I used a plugin called WPBirdFeeder. Installed like any other WP plugin I then activated it in the WP‐Admin panel after I had deactivated the FeedSmith plugin.

That’s pretty much it. Now all you have to do is sit back and let Mint do it’s stuff for you feeds, just as it does it for your hits and searches. I’ve now been using Bird Feeder for about week and I’ve found more day to day change, including a higher figure than I’ve ever received through Feedburner, but the weekly average is very close to the daily figures from Feedburner2.

  1. Originally created by Steve Smith of Ordered List it was then handed over to Feedburner when Steve moved away from WordPress and just before Google bought Feedburner.?
  2. As others have noted when they made the switch.?

Switching to Birdfeeder

My feed is moving. Well actually the way I monitor my feed is changing. The last few weeks has seen a very slow response time from Feedburner in delivering statistics about my feed. As a result I’ve decided to use the Birdfeeder Pepper for Mint to do the monitoring. It makes more sense to have all my stats monitored by the one piece of software1.

My feed can now be found at http://phil.electricweekend.com/feed so please check your feedreaders are correct. It should be ok, due to the way I was diverting my feeds anyway, but please do check to make sure. I’ve activated the Feedburner 30‐day redirect, so you have that long to make sure you are subscribed tot he right feed.

I hope this doesn’t cause you too much trouble, but I think it’s a worthwhile change, not to mention a neater looking feed url.

  1. And an excellent piece of software it is!?

Switching to Birdfeeder

My feed is moving. Well actually the way I monitor my feed is changing. The last few weeks has seen a very slow response time from Feedburner in delivering statistics about my feed. As a result I’ve decided to use the Birdfeeder Pepper for Mint to do the monitoring. It makes more sense to have all my stats monitored by the one piece of software1.

My feed can now be found at http://phil.electricweekend.com/feed so please check your feedreaders are correct. It should be ok, due to the way I was diverting my feeds anyway, but please do check to make sure. I’ve activated the Feedburner 30‐day redirect, so you have that long to make sure you are subscribed tot he right feed.

I hope this doesn’t cause you too much trouble, but I think it’s a worthwhile change, not to mention a neater looking feed url.

  1. And an excellent piece of software it is!?

New Design

Well guys, thanks to a little hiccough when I was upgrading my WordPress install (which I think failed!) I’ve been forced to activate my newly designed theme slightly early. The problem was most likely my fault, the update was the first time I had used Transmit to upgrade and for whatever reason it decided to delete my plugins and theme directories. I’ve quickly fixed the issue and we seem to be up and running again.

The focus of this post is to introduce you guys to my new look for Electric Weekend. After brief flirtations with this site trying to be my blog, my portfolio, and then a test with Tumblr the last few months have helped me to focus the purpose of EW. So for the first time, I think, I have a design that is not trying to be a portfolio site, not trying to be a general website for me, but is just being what it’s meant to be. A blog. It’s also a first for this place in that the theme is a dark one. I’ve always kinda wanted to give one a try, but never found one which I liked and never really felt the direction designs went. But this one actually feels like it could have some life in it. I like the initial appearance and I hope I have the tone of the text on the dark background right. As with previous designs, you will notice two distinct types of post. One for my “links” and one for my main posts. They are defined not only in format, but also with colour. The bordering line above each post will indicate which type of post is coming next, so that you can decide to read on!

I feel for the first time I have a theme on the blog which actually feels fairly refined and to a certain extent, polished. This has been helped by something which I’ve been trying to create for a long while. Electric Weekend now has, what I feel to be a strong identity. As I hinted earlier I now feel like I know a little more of what this place is to be and wanted to reflect this in a clear identity in the form of a logo. It’s taken me a while to arrive at this, and the logo went through a lot of revisions before arriving at the form you now see. Some of you may have seen the early version I posted on Flickr sometime before Christmas, so you can see where early things began.

So if you’ve read this in your feed reader, come and have a look.

Disclaimer: Due to the error in the upgrade, and the early launch, there might be a few funky bits that have yet to be corrected but rest assured these will be done in the next day or two.

Blogging Is Blogging

I’ve been wanting to sit down and blog for a while now, and I’ve had that age old problem of not knowing where to start. As I sat here trying to think about why I’m having trouble blogging, the thought came to me that until I started to use the offline blogging tool MarsEdit I didn’t have much of an issue.

So, I hear the question being asked, “Why don’t you stop using it?”.

The simple answer to that is I don’t want to. I like using the app, it’s a pleasure to use. When I’m sat on my laptop, hitting Cmd‐1 to post a link and a few thoughts about the page I have just read makes the simple posts a pleasure to use. Then there’s the advantage that I haven’t always got access to an internet connection (although I do have it at home now!), so being able to work on a blog post without it is nice. I think the problem stems from a deeper root.

When I bought MarsEdit, I think somewhere a change in my mindset occurred. I began to hoard a few titles in my local drafts, some slightly fleshed out while others were just titles with a sentence to remind me what the post was meant to be about. Now when I worked purely in the WordPress interface, I had the odd title but most of the time they didn’t amount to much. But with MarsEdit drafts I felt this pressure to write a backlog of posts so that I can just chuck one out when the timing seems right. But it wasn’t just the pressure to write a backlog of posts, it was a pressure to write a backlog of articles. Big long posts about something. Now for many people this is what their blog is for, writing big long posts about stuff. But I don’t work like that. Every time I try to do it, I fall flat on my face.

I guess what this post is doing is re‐aligning my focus. I’m not a blogger who can sit and write great long articles, I don’t work like that. I’m not the greatest writer and I’m the first to admit that. I’ll leave the big long posts to the people who are good at it like Shawn and Mr. Gruber, what I will do is bring my blogging back to me. If I’m in the mood to blog and have an idea then that’s it, I’m gonna write about it. I’m not gonna jot down a title start a post and then leave it for revisions to be made, for me that’s not what blogging is about, that’s journalism. I’ll just write when I want to and keep the links rolling.

With that I only have one more thing to say.

Happy 2008!

Going Commentless

Yep you did read that right. For the last few months I have been debating turning off the comments by default, in a similar manner to John Gruber, Jason Kottke and many others. The debate has ranged from many different angles, but in the end always returns to the same conclusion, and I just wanted to tell you a little about that.

When I started blogging I always envisaged having a blog that’s popular and has a lot of people read and comment on the posts. Over the two years I’ve been blogging, that desire has waned a little, well a lot. Yes, I would still like to have a “popular” blog, but that’s not why I blog. I blog for me, it’s my hobby, but I also blog to try and tell people about Jesus and how my faith in HIm affects and changes my life. It’s a personal blog that covers a few different interests in a bit more detail (but often not as much as I would like) and keeps a collection of links which I find interesting and that I would like to share with other people. I like to think that I do this reasonably well, not amazingly but I do enjoy it, and that’s what counts. Right?

Generally it hasn’t bothered me that I don’t get streams of comments, in fact I only just have more comments on this blog than I do posts. But, occasionally I write something which I think will bring comments and interaction and it doesn’t. It’s this disappointment I am trying to avoid. I enjoy blogging, I want to keep it that way. I don’t want to continually feel disappointed that no one is commenting on a post that I thought they would, nor do I want people to comment because they feel obliged. If people want to get in touch, and please do it’s great receive a response to something I wrote, I want it to be genuine. This little fact is what’s tipped the balance finally, and it was helped by a recent email from Wess Daniels.

I received an email through my contact page from Wess, because the comments weren’t working on a blog post. It made the thought behind it, much more personal and special and meant more to me and made more impact on me than I think a comment would’ve done. So with that I am closing the comments on Electric Weekend (but the contact page is still there!).

Blogs can be blogs

I had a bit of a realisation today regarding my blog. Recently as you might have guessed with my little flirtation with Tumblr, I’ve been having a few issues with my blog and it’s direction. I’ve been considering a lot of what I want from it, what I “should” be doing with it. I guess I’ve kind of been obsessing with finding a place in the big wide world of blogging. So many times I’ve read about having a niche, a specialism if you will, that in order to be a “success” you need to be a bit of an elitist. I’ve always struggled with that concept, I’ve never been able to carve out a niche, or develop my blog into something that can be considered a “success”. Today I think I finally realised why that is. It’s not me.

This morning in my RSS reader I came across this post from Khoi Vinh of Subtraction.com fame. He has this reputation for design, for his blog design, for speaking about design for knowing about design. I added Subtraction to my RSS because of that, but what’s kept it there is his writing. It’s not always about design, heck today’s post was about baseball. I know nothing about baseball. But I still enjoyed it. Which is when it hit me. I need to stop trying to be “someone” and be me.

People like me for who I am in reality, so why with my blog am I trying to be someone and not just being me. It’s not what you write about, it’s how you write it. So, instead of trying to give my blog a niche, trying to make it “something” I’m just going to let it reflect me. It’s going to be a natural reflection of the person who owns it. As long as I am able to write well, and in an interesting way that I enjoy, then that’s all that matters. I hope that you guys who read, will like my blog and me for just being natural. I hope my writing will grow because of it, but this is my hobby, and if I’m enjoying then that will reflect in what I write. That is, after all, the most important reason to be doing it.

GRRRRRRRRR! Why is it that IE 6 won’t display webpages how the other browsers display them. If you know CSS and are able to hack it so that webpages display correctly can you help. The site I am building is found here and I am having issues with the search bar and text updates no appearing. Any help would be greatly appreciated, please drop a comment or email via the contact form.

The Formal.

Introduction that is. I’m just going to explain how this blog works, what to look out for and to request design feedback.

You will notice in an earlier post I made a comment about only having 3 categories. Now the keen eyed ones amoungst you will notice this is significantly less than my previous blog which had around 10. Now the idea behind this is that each post will be either classed as ‘content’, ‘notes’ or ‘noteworthy’. The ‘content’ posts will be the main blog posts. They are most likely to make up the meat of my blog. The ‘notes’ will be little snippets of info, they maybe a link to a site I have visited which I want to share with the world or just a general post that doesn’t quite warrant being classed as ‘content’. This leaves just the ‘noteworthy’ category. Posts within this category are posts which I feel deserve a little bit of extra merit, something to make them stand out from the crowd a little bit.

Ok, so thats how the categories are going to work. You might be wondering how the heck am I going to find something about a piece of design Phil has done? Well the simple answer is this. Each post will have a list of tags. These tags will help you narrow down your search. For example, if I make a post about the project I handed in on Tuesday, it will contain tags along the lines of “design, my design, calendar, project, uni”. You could then go to the search, or the tag cloud on the archives page and select maybe calendar. This will then show you all the posts that have been tagged with this.

Whilst over the next few weeks you may see the appearance of my blog change, some of it is already nailed down how I want it to look. The overall look of the blog for instance is likely to stay in this single column view. The flickr stream (those pictures at the bottom) is also likely to stay where it is. You can see the comments module as well just above the flickr stream. Its likely this will stay here, although its appearance is likely to change. I can’t get the feedlink icon to move next to the comments heading at the moment, very frustrating!

Anyway, I will sign off now as this post is getting long. I hope to give you more of an insight of what is in store for my blog over the next week.

Welcome.

Welcome to electricweekend.com. This is my official blog. It is under a period of testing at the moment. It is likely to go through a lot of changes in the next 2 or 3 weeks.

Since this is my first post of the blog, I have placed it in the noteworthy category. Although it doesn’t say alot, it still represents an important mile stone in the life of this blog.

The Last One…

Well not the last one ever, just on this blog. I’m moving you see. Here is the link

NEW BLOG

so as a small request, those of you who read this, have it bookmarded, or have links to this blog please update them to my new one. You see the new one is more interesting. It’s more Phil. So everyone rush over HERE and read that one instead.

Thanks