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4 October, 2010

Now We Are Seven

Slightly belatedly: happy birthday, blog!

5 August, 2010

Content with a shallow identity

Khoi Vinh wishes he'd invented the Tumblr micro-blogging service, not least because he'd change a couple of key aspects.  However, I'm rather glad he didn't (dunno why; I haven't even looked at Tumblr, never mind used it), as I disagree quite strongly with his main objection.

9 September, 2008

The penny drops

The blog's activity log has been recording something slightly odd for a few days: since 07:23 on Saturday, Movable Type's internal search has been receiving a large number of enquiries for individual search terms, all from exactly the same IP address, which I've identified as the Googlebot.

7 May, 2008

Brits blogging alone

Anyone who happened to be a member of the Blogging Brits web ring* or Britblog directory should follow those links (so long as the domains still exist) to read important notices.

20 April, 2008

Just pointless

For the record, the 'Black Metal/Bluegrass' and Jethro Tull fan in Lucerne, Switzerland whose My Space profile lists the Ministry's URL as his/her 'band website' is not, in any sense, associated with the Ministry.

Why would anyone even bother to do that?

18 March, 2008

Important note: Phorm and other ad-targeting

In an open letter to the UK Information Commissioner, the Foundation for Information Policy Research (Fipr) has argued that implementation of Phorm, which targets adverts to users based on web habits, is illegal in the UK.

16 February, 2008

Read more carefully

What (US) level of education is required to understand your website?  A widget will let you know.

30 January, 2008

Three million

3,007,871 hits since 28 November, 2001, in fact, and 1,103,204 unique visits.  And counting.

14 January, 2008

Who's asking?

I was looking for a photo of Lancaster Almshouse and one cropped up on your site.
I thought to meself "this is an interesting site, I'll find out about it"
Couldnt find a bio page or make head nor tail of it.
Who are you and whats it all about?
Then we'll talk

7 November, 2007

Potential wobble

Just so you know: my web host is planning to upgrade MySQL from version 4.0 to 5.0 this morning.  No disruption is expected, but the company doesn't have a great history of anticipating the consequences of upgrades.

6 November, 2007

Yet another milestone

Oh!  That last one was entry number 2,500, though the MT editing interface says "Entries: 2495  Comments: 1084", for some reason.

26 October, 2007

T'other million

At the precise moment I added the full-stop to this sentence, the Ministry had received 1,000,151 'unique visitors since 28 November, 2001, who had viewed 2,748,891 pages.

Thanks, folks!

25 October, 2007

On the other hand

Isn't it annoying to begin a blog post on one subject*, then in the course of explaining the argument, produce the counter-argument too, rendering the whole thing redundant?

22 September, 2007

A different slant

When presented by LOLcats, the headlines of Ministry blog entries take on remarkably, even satirically, different emphases.

30 July, 2007

Feed singed, but won't quite catch

This blog publishes two RSS feeds.  One is produced automatically by Movable Type, and I direct that through FeedBurner to obtain a version I can track rather better.  Unfortunately, a number of longer-term readers are still subscribed to the first version, so I'm asking whether you could edit your subscriptions, please.

4 June, 2007


Hmm.  That was a first for the Ministry: a sequence of seemingly genuine, contextually-almost-credible comments which just happened to include the URLs of the commenter's SEO business.  Not exactly a great advert for the services of a self-proclaimed professional....

I don't think so.  Deleted & blocked.

1 June, 2007

More self-congratulations - well, not really

If May had been a couple of hours longer, it would have been the first month in which the Ministry received 92,000 hits by 40,000 visitors (91,941/39,857).

10 April, 2007

Invisible sp*m

Over the last month, the blog has been receiving trackback sp*m.  That's annoying, but there's a problem: I turned trackback off sixteen months ago.

18 March, 2007

The other shoe

I wasn't sure whether I'd be posting an entry today, as I didn't quite dare.

8 March, 2007

Big words

The MySQL server seems to be feeling much better, and the blog is flowing freely again, so I've just done an overdue backup.

6 March, 2007


As anyone who's tried to post a comment or use the blog's 'search' function will be aware, those elements of the site are running very slowly at present.  If it's any compensation, it's just as awkward for me to publish entries.

10 February, 2007

Outage over (I hope...)

Apologies if anyone struggled to visit the Ministry today.

11 January, 2007

Read the screen

Received via the Contact form:

I am very interested in having my own CD recordings of classical music refered to restauraunts or live venues. How can I send you a Cd of my recordings?

13 December, 2006

B-i-g milestone

Two million page views since 28 November, 2001.  Two millionTwo million.


21 November, 2006

Don't step on my black leather boots

I maintain this website simply because I enjoy doing so.  It's an outlet for my random thoughts, passing and pressing concerns, and whatever I've found interesting in the world.

28 October, 2006


At the time of writing, the Ministry has received 666,730 visitors (1,899,013 hits) since 28 November, 2001.  It's currently running at 666 visits per day, 66 in the last hour and 4,666 this week.

Spooky... nah; coincidental, and of no significance to atheists.

2 August, 2006

Can't feed and comment

Does any RSS/Atom/etc. feed recognise and distribute commented-out content?

2 August, 2006


You may be interested to know that the Ministry now syndicates its content via FeedBurner, for a variety of reasons.

1 August, 2006

Political? Me?

When another blog author categorises the Ministry as a 'political blog', that's a reason to question what I'm doing.  I don't regard this as a political blog, and definitely not party-political (I don't support any).

1 August, 2006

Everyone has to have one

Maybe not, but for what it's worth, here's my blogger code:

B8 d t+ k s+ u-- f+ i o+ x-- e- l+ c+

27 April, 2006

You want what?

It always surprises me that when I receive my referrer report from Amazon each quarter, the items people have ordered via the Ministry are wildly different from those to which I actively linked.  Plainly people follow my links, ignore those items, then buy completely different ones.

16 April, 2006

Not that buzzword again...

According to the Certifyr, the Ministry is "13% Web 2.0 Compliant".

Which, coincidentally, is one hundred times the amount that Web 2.0 interests me.

9 April, 2006

No use there

Has anyone else noticed that blog sp*mmers seem to be becoming careless?

13 March, 2006

Self-referential again

Probably the last milestone to note for a while: the Ministry served it's 1.5 millionth page earlier today.  At the precise time of writing, the 518,106th visitor is receiving the 1,500,899th page.

I might as well get rid of one more slightly early: this is entry no. 1,498.

22 February, 2006


This blogging thing, i.e. posting links to and commenting on discoveries made on the web, seems to be rubbing off into 'real life'.

22 February, 2006

Half-millionth visitor!

I'm never entirely comfortable when 'boasting' about visitor stats, but that's not a bad milestone: 500,561 visitors (1,455,504 hits) since 28 Nov. 2001.  I received about as many hits in the first year as I receive per week nowadays! ;)

12 February, 2006

Passing the Trough, but not going in

Has a newspaper, website or similar published a quiz today, in which people were asked about a mountain pass near Lancaster or, more directly, about the Trough of Bowland?

1 February, 2006

Ministry clouded

Word clouds, as seen at Flickr and Technorati, display the most frequently used words in a body of text, with frequency of use depicted by the relative size of each word.
Snapshirts has calculated word clouds for certain prominent books, and offers them on T-shirts, mousemats, etc.  Nice idea.
They also offer a vanity product for bloggers: a T-shirt depicting a word cloud derived from one's own website.

20 January, 2006

Blogging doesn't exist

Simon Dumenco's central point is a truism, but too often overlooked: blogging is writing; the publishing technology doesn't render it unique.

21 December, 2005

Trackback closed

As the title says, The Ministry no longer offers a trackback facility on blog posts, primarily because I've been receiving at least as much blog sp*m via trackback as via comments this year.  I'd be reluctant to 'surrender' to the advertisers and withdraw the feature for that reason alone, but there's another, almost as compelling: genuine visitors simply don't use trackback.

28 November, 2005

Not for me, thanks.

What a bizarre idea.

23 November, 2005

Setting my boundaries

It's taken me a while to find this article (via an El Reg response I didn't quite understand), but it expresses my opinion: that Creative Commons licences are pointless other than a naïve political statement, and existing copyright laws are more than adequate.

The most favourable interpretation I can find concludes that CC overlies, but certainly doesn't supercede, copyright, defining the additional rights (beyond standard fair use) the content producer permits the content recipient.

26 October, 2005

Warning: Mountweazelling in progress

To protect their copyright, it's common practice for reference books such as dictionaries to secretly insert unique, fake entries.  If the same content suddenly appears in a rival publication, the lawyers are called.  The New Yorker discusses the example of the recently published second edition of the New Oxford American Dictionary, and the efforts to identify one of its plagiarist traps.

24 October, 2005


Sorry if this seems self-congratulatory, but I just wanted to note it for my own future reference:
Whilst it took 1321 days (28/11/01-11/07/05) for this site to serve one million pages, the 1.2 millionth page was displayed last night – 20% of the way to the next million, within 104 days.

20 October, 2005

Sp*m trap

I've noticed that posts about sp*m seem to attract a disproportionate amount of comments sp*m themselves, so I won't use the word itself here, and see what happens!

14 September, 2005

V.meta: blogging about Blog Search

Google Blog Search is out in beta (a Google service in beta?  Surely not!).  I'm not going to review it in detail, but a few (very) brief thoughts:

4 September, 2005

Metablog spam

I've just done a periodic check on the Ministry's profile at Technorati, and noticed something a bit odd.

1 September, 2005


Largely for my own interest, I just wanted to record that the Ministry broke both the 50,000 hits/month and 20,000 visitors/month barriers for the first time in August, with ~56,500 hits and ~20,250 visitors.
Admittedly, the fact that one blog entry entered frequent rotation in the StumbleUpon database helped (on at least two occasions, that one page accounted for 30-40% of the hundred most recent visits at the times I checked the log), but it largely reflects a steady increase.  Traffic has at least doubled over the past year.

24 July, 2005

Troubles nearly over?

Having become thoroughly frustrated with the ongoing blog editing problems, I contacted my web hosts this morning.  Frankly, I wasn't expecting a particularly helpful response, but it's not as bad as I'd thought.
It seem their MySQL server "has been exceeding its bandwidth capacity during certain peak times and this may result in a slow service."  A new server is expected to be installed by the end of July, so the service ought (ought!) to improve then.

16 July, 2005

Service yet to be restored

I'm still having major problems with the blog.  Apologies again to those struggling to post comments; I'm struggling to post new entries, too*.  Right now, it's absolutely fine, but at other times I can't even log into the admin interface.

11 July, 2005

Normal service may be resumed shortly

I've been experiencing major problems with the blog during the last week.  Thankfully, nothing affecting the display of the public site, but the admin interface has been unresponsive – sometimes I haven't been able to log in, never mind publish anything), and I think it's been affecting people's ability to post comments, too.

23 June, 2005

Further anti-spam tips

Speaking of comments spam (yes, I was last week – keep up!), it's been a while since any reached the published blog (now that's tempting fate).  I'm still receiving quite a lot, but two refinements to my counter-measures seem to be working rather well.

15 June, 2005

Now we are 1000

According to the Movable Type control panel, this is the Ministry blog's thousandth entry.
I'm a little unsure about the precise figure, as five were deleted rather than reused (this is entry number 1005), and I have a few skeletal entries saved in draft format for later development – I don't know if they're included in the 1000 or whether that's 1000 published entries.
Whatever; approximately 1000 entries and 422 comments impresses me, anyway.

3 June, 2005

Just wondering

Semi-rhetorical question for blog owners: do you prefer to have regular readers of everything you write, or one-off visitors arriving via searches for specific topics?

It's not 'either/or', of course, but without devaluing the former, I think I prefer the latter.
I'm not entirely sure why.  Perhaps it's related to the fact that I'm not a single-issue blogger, many (most?) entries stand alone, and I'm not looking for an evolving debate.

30 May, 2005

BlogExplosion fizzled out

In adding that Individual-I button to the main page of the blog, I took the opportunity to remove a redundant one.  I no longer offer a permanent link to BlogExplosion (BE), the glorified link exchange scheme.

6 May, 2005

Not another...

Squirrels do 'West Side Story'.

Read it, but that's not the point of this posting; nor is the fact that Green Fairy found it.

29 April, 2005

First rule of marketing proven

Neatly supporting the whole point of this earlier posting, that one page has been accounting for ~30% of visits to the site (by entry page, not total traffic) for the past three days.

If I could offer a similar page about weather presenter Jo Blythe, that'd satisfy another large group of visitors – presumably for a similar reason, her name has been a regular draw since I happened to mention it in an earlier entry.  But this isn't that type of site....

21 April, 2005

I'm on this map, too.

Excellent!  Blogwise has released a beta of a feature I'd hoped would be native to Google Maps.

Blogwise's utility overlays location metadata onto the Google maps, displaying the locations of blogs.  Multimap has offered the same thing for several months, but let's face it, with the clarity of the mapping and seamless scrolling, Google has totally blown Multimap out of the water – it's not just 'better', it's in an entirely different league.

12 March, 2005

How to search the Ministry

The Ministry is divided into three main departments (this blog, the Jethro Tull Tour History and the annotated 'Passion Play') and an 'administration' section (sitemap, contact page, links and overarching home page).
These sections are served by two different search facilities.

27 February, 2005

We know where you blog

As Neil spotted, GeoURL is back, after an absence of several months.  For those who hadn't encountered that version (designed and operated by the creator of, GeoURL was the first major search engine to index websites (primarily blogs) geographically, according to lat/longitude coordinates stated in the headers of member sites.

16 February, 2005

I hope you wiped your feet

The 250,000 visitor to the Ministry passed through this morning, accounting for at least one of the 793,013 page impressions served since the end of November 2001.
That's a lot of bandwidth.  Sorry ;)

14 February, 2005

Mind yer own...

According to the logs, there have been a number of searches here today for 'About Me', 'About the Author', 'Info about the Ministry of Information', and related permutations.  Someone really wanted to know about me!

1 February, 2005

Link spamming from the other side

The Register features an interview with a comments spammer (aka ****ing parasite), anonymous but unashamed.  It's the expected mix of self-justification (apparently it's all the search engines' fault) and 'nothing personal, mate' insincerity, but there are a couple of interesting points.

26 January, 2005

Blogging the NY Times

Bloggers who refer to articles in the New York Times may find the NYT Link Generator useful.  Input the URL of a current story on the NYT website, and the Generator will provide its permalink.
Ordinarily, the URLs of current NYT articles 'decay' (i.e. change, leaving dead links in blogs) once they're added to the archive.  The newspaper also requires a login and the payment of a fee to access the ordinary archives, but not via the Generator's permalinks.

21 January, 2005

More on 'nofollow'

It seems a backlash is developing against the new 'nofollow' anti-spam initiative.  Internet purists regard it as divisive, denying PageRank to legitimate sites as well as the spammers.

I understand the solution to this admitted disadvantage is on the way.  Several of the participating software manufacturers are to implement varieties of 'whitelisting', whereby the comments of known, trusted commenters (commentators?) are not filtered, and whereby blog owners can remove the 'nofollow' attribute from links once they're approved.  That's how I'd choose to use it - all comments would be on 'nofollow' status until I'd seen them, at which point I'd 'activate' them (or delete them as spam, of course).

19 January, 2005

Follow this, spammers!

Just spreading the word....

The major blogging software producers and major search engines have announced a concerted, collective effort to combat comments spam.
In summary, whenever a visitor includes a web address in a blog comment, the publishing software will append the 'rel="nofollow"' attribute to it.  As the name suggests, this attribute will be recognised by a search engine robot crawling the page, which won't follow the link and hence won't log it in the search engine database.  The spammer's site won't receive a search ranking boost, thereby eliminating the main incentive to post comments spam in the first place.

10 January, 2005

Unfair use

A quick lesson in using copyrighted material: quoting a specific, short section, with full attribution, is 'fair use'.  Reproducing the entire content, without any indication that the material is copied, is plagiarism, and illegal.

It seems someone in Morecambe didn't like my comments about his home town ("... a shabby shadow of a seaside resort; rather squalid and depressing,..."), so duplicated that entire entry, in his blog.  Without a citation.  It reads as if he is the original author, and readers following the links to the accompanying photos might think he was the photographer (okay, that's unlikely, as the photos appear in my page template, which displays my copyright statement).  Since he is a photographer, one might interpret his action as using my photos to promote his business - not good.

I don't mind at all if people disagree with what write in the blog, and call me a 'prick' for expressing my genuine opinions, but theft of intellectual property does annoy me.

22 December, 2004

Someone else's problem

The last time I was hit by a serious quantity of comments spam, it coincided with a visit from Google's indexing robot, unfortunately, so for a couple of days I received numerous visitors wanting images I certainly wouldn't be interested in publishing.  That died away rapidly, but weeks later, my traffic logs still show a steady flow of people, all looking for one specific search topic (with a variety of wordings), which isn't diminishing.  It's always to the same blog entry, which definitely doesn't contain any relevant content, nor any spam comments.

9 December, 2004

Below the fold

This isn't specifically a Blog Explosion issue, but since BE exposes one to a large number of page designs* and restricts the visible height of each window by imposing its own header, the effect is particularly apparent when browsing at BE.
As Betsy notes, far too many blogs feature huge, graphic-intensive page headers, the modern equivalent of splash pages.

5 December, 2004

MSN Spaces: warning

Boing Boing notes that Microsoft's new blogging service, MSN Spaces, launched last Thursday, uses an unexpected intellectual property model.
The copyright statement at the foot of each page is "©2004 Microsoft Corporation" i.e. Microsoft claims copyright over all content, not the blog author.

3 December, 2004

Upgrade postponed

The following was posted at 16:40:

For reasons I don't want to advertise too widely, my installation of Movable Type 2.661 has become vulnerable to spam attack.  I could hack in a workaround, but I think this might be a suitable opportunity to upgrade the whole thing to MT 3.12 and MT-Blacklist 2.

I'd like to say this will be seamless, but I have some serious doubts, so this is advance warning: unless I lose my nerve, I'm about to make changes which could kill the blog outright.  If it goes down, it will be back, hopefully within hours rather than days!

Thankfully, I was able to repair the existing installation quite readily, so the more ambitious work is postponed indefinitely.

2 December, 2004

Blogmarks in lines

In case anyone's noticed that I've removed his/her site from my BlogExplosion blogmarks (a horrible, fabricated word...) and is upset, don't be. I haven't developed a habit of regularly checking my blogmarks, and don't really anticipate doing so, so I've merely transferred those links across to Bloglines, the excellent blog aggregator wherein I tend to do most of my blog reading.

This is with the exception of those blogs which don't publish RSS feeds.  If you don't use them yourself, they're easily overlooked, but be aware that they are ubiquitous nowadays, and their absence can seem a bit retrograde.  More importantly, their absence could cost you repeat visitors.

25 November, 2004

Why no comments?

Browsing BlogExplosion, one of the more common types of posting I encounter goes something like this:

"Hi BlogExplosion surfers!  I know a lot of you are visiting, but why doesn't anyone leave comments?"
The answer is fairly straightforward.

19 November, 2004

Just browsing

One of the best things about BlogExplosion (yes, I'm warming to it, after my initial doubts) is that I'm discovering topics and opinions which interest me, though I've never really considered writing about them here.  Maybe I will, in some cases, but I'm rather enjoying posting comments at other blogs, too.

17 November, 2004


Hey, what happened?
Yesterday BlogExplosion served 35 banner impressions for every credit allocated to that form of promotion.  Now it's only 30 impressions!

[Update 21/11/04:  Only 25 now....]

13 November, 2004


Having seen a posting at Spinneyhead, I joined BlogExplosion yesterday.

Essentially, it's a link exchange scheme.  After viewing the blog of another member for thirty seconds in the BE frameset, one receives 0.5 credit and can click on to the next blog.  For each credit earned, one's own blog is served to another BE member.  It's also possible to place a banner in the head of the BE frameset to promote one's blog; one credit buys 35 banner impressions.  Bonus credits can also arrive at random: typically two or three, though I received a 25-credit bonus yesterday.

6 November, 2004

Traffic blip

While I was away last weekend, the blog was quite badly spammed.  Only one domain name evaded MT-Blacklist, but there were 500+ instances.  A nuisance, but at least it gave a little insight into Google response times.

2 October, 2004

Spam slicing

Even with the wonderful MT-Blacklist implemented, comments spam is getting out of hand - my activity log shows that MT-Blacklist blocked 56 comments within the last 15 minutes, and three more got through.  In fact, I just cleared the activity log, wrote that last sentence and looked again, to see 19 fresh comments denials.

10 September, 2004

Anti-spam tweaks

Following the recommendations of Elise at Learning Movable Type, I've made a couple of changes to my MT installation to further combat comments spam.  Read the article for full details, but to sumarise those tips I used:

30 August, 2004

Comments flooding

Having just looked at my MT activity log, I've noticed a new pattern to comments spam, which reinforced what I already knew: MT-Blacklist is absolutely essential.

At 00:48 on Wednesday, MT-Blacklist successfully blocked a comment advertising a certain URL.  By 01:36, 130 more adverts for the same URL, from the same IP address, had been blocked; five per minute, at 'peak flow'.
There have been three other instances of the same practice since then (i.e. three URLs, 100+ comments each), in addition to the usual attacks of 3-6 comments per URL.

Update now!

25 August, 2004

Pinging proceeds

Aha!  Ahahaha!

Since my webhost ****ed up a few months ago, MT hasn't been working properly.  Specifically, it doesn't send automatic pings to blog directories, and I can't sent trackback pings to other blogs.

I solved the former problem by bookmarking Pingomatic.  I tend to ping Blogrolling directly at its own website; I forget why, but it works, so I'm not stopping.
The lack of trackback pings has been more of a problem, and I started adding unwieldy '[Via (name)]' links to the foot of posts (feet?) recently.

However, I just noticed a link at Sal's blog, to Simpletracks, a stand-alone trackback service.  It's not tied to specific publishing software, so is particularly useful for those using blogging packages which don't include trackbacks as standard, not just those of us with crippled MT installations.
Wonderful!  Well, I haven't tried it yet, but the concept's good, anyway.

12 August, 2004

You are here

Whenever I need a map of somewhere in the UK, or need to plan a route, I tend to visit Multimap, though their 'Directions' facility is poor and I've occasionally experienced problems zooming in or out of maps, so this isn't an unconditional recommendation!

14 July, 2004

This is entry number 400

Four hundred published entries (plus four deleted test postings) within 287 days is an average of 1.4 per day.  The true rate isn't far off that, as I do try to post something every day, and every 2-3 days I have something else to mention.

Coincidentally, the next comment will be the hundredth, not counting those deleted (mainly spam), but that doesn't really mean 1 in 4 postings receives a comment.

I hope some entries are of wider interest than just to me, unlike this one....

30 June, 2004

Searching revised

Apologies to those using the 'Search' function at the main MoI site, as the last few updates have been failing to index some pages, as it seems the script has been attempting to index blog posts too.  This is the 379th, there are 194 indexable pages at the main site, and the search database is capped at 492, so 81 pages have been skipped.

That 'Search' facility is now restricted to the Tull Tour History, annotated 'Passion Play', and the blog's image galleries.  Blog entries themselves have their own 'Search' facility anyway, built into MT, so everything is searchable.

It's unfortunate that one no longer covers both, but I don't get the impression that there's significant crossover between users of the two wings of the Ministry.

20 June, 2004

Use MT-Blacklist

I waited for my web host to sort itself out and restore the Storable perl module after the server 'upgrade' on 5-6 June.  And waited.  With no protection against comments spam other than vigilance and manual deletion.  No Storable module, no MT-Blacklist.  There was an alternative technique for MT-Blacklist installation, but how long does it take to reinstall a perl module, thereby reactivation my existing blacklisting facility?  Two minutes?  Three?  I thought I might as well wait.  And wait.

10 June, 2004

Blog back

On Saturday, I thought the Ministry Blog had died.  The published site was still there, but I noticed that the comments were inaccessible, having been replaced by barely-comprehensible error messages.  I tried to log into the blog admin section; same error message.  Oh well, the server must have been having problems; I'd try again later.
On Sunday, still nothing, so I checked my web host's website for any scheduled maintenance.  Ominously, they announced (after the event) that several changes had been made over the weekend, primarily upgrades to PHP and associated security settings, which drastically changed the functionality of customers' web space.  Far from expressing regret, the blunt message was that anyone who needed the withdrawn services should get a dedicated server.

10 May, 2004

Browser switch campaign

There's some new content on the blog's main index page, exclusively for those viewing it in Internet Explorer.  Lucky you.
Not for everyone else, as that'd be preaching to the converted, but I'll explain anyway.

Following the lead of Neil Turner, I'm suggesting that people make the switch away from IE.  I'm not inclined to criticise Micro$oft (ahem, Microsoft) merely because it's fashionable to do so; I genuinely believe IE is an inferior product, in several respects.

9 May, 2004

this wouldn't work

Just in case it has escaped anyone else's attention, Movable Type code tags are case-sensitive.

Nearly broke my installation last night.  It's a good thing I was in a bad mood, and didn't fancy going to the pub anyway....

20 April, 2004

A plea

If you maintain a blog but are thinking of taking a break or stopping outright, please remember to withdraw from blog directories, webrings, etc.  It's really annoying to find that of the ten nearest (geographically or by keywords) blogs listed at such places as Blizg or GeoURL, three or four are dead sites, unnecessarily relegating active sites to the no.11 or 12 spots (i.e. off the list).

One of my biggest criticisms of blogging is the difficulty in finding new readable blogs amongst the dross and dead links, forcing one to interact only with those few sites one has been able to find.  Devalued search directories are of little use.

C'mon, folks.  Have a bit of consideration for others.  Think of the poor kittens.

NP:  Opeth 'Still Life'.  Maybe my favourite of their albums.

21 March, 2004

MT text formatting fixed

As mentioned earlier, the text formating buttons (bold, italic, underline and URL) of the Movable Type 'Create New Entry' interface only appear in Internet Explorer; in Mozilla Firefox, they're missing.  Having done a little research, there's a straightforward fix, which has been known for at least a year.  The following code and instructions are largely (and gratefully!) taken from a post at, but significantly differs from that in two respects, so is worth presenting here too.

11 March, 2004

Blacklist is working

Having just checked my Movable Type activity log, I see MT-Blacklist has blocked 16 attempts at comments-spamming within the past six days.

If you have a MT-based blog, and comments spam, you need MT-Blacklist; what more can I say?

4 March, 2004

More on MT problem in Firefox

Update on Firefox's failure to display the 'B', 'i' and 'URL' buttons in the 'Edit New Entry' window of Movable Type: having done a little more research, it seems this is a known problem, the buttons being rendered by a proprietory feature of IE that's lacking in Firefox.  As a post at Sugarfused and the associated comments explain, the necessary code tweak may be in a future release of MT.

1 March, 2004

Movable Type problem in Firefox?

Hey!  Where did the buttons go?

I've only just noticed that viewed in Firefox, the 'Entry Body' box of Movable Type's 'Create New Entry' page  omits the bold, italic, underline and URL buttons.  Viewed in IE, they're there.

That's annoying.  I tend to type the html tags along with the text or prepare blog entries in Homesite before cut-and-pasting to MT, but I don't like to lose potential functionality.

30 January, 2004

Added blog functionality

I've just added a refinement to the blog's 'Comments' forms: now visitors can italicise or make text bold, or insert links, by clicking buttons rather than having to add the html directly.  Perhaps a trivial difference for web-literate bloggers, but it adds a touch of professionalism to the interface.

What, you want the feature too?  After a bit of hunting, the best version I found (neatest code, and best instructions) is available from the rightfully ubiquitous Scriptygoddess.

Note that this is a Movable Type feature, and doesn't work in all browsers; possibly only IE, in fact.  However, Jennifer cunningly used a javascript parameter to hide the feature from those who can't use it.

Let me know of any problems, okay?

19 January, 2004

Movable Type tip: open links in new windows

For a while, I've been hoping there's a way to automatically insert "target=_blank" into all URLs I quote in the blog.  This attribute of the standard HTML anchor tag causes a linked page to load into a newly created window, leaving the linking page in the original window.  It's a useful way of offering links without encouraging visitors to leave the site.

Frustratingly, I remember seeing a website offering a simple way to do this in Movable Type, but couldn't find it again.  I just have.

7 January, 2004

Flood dammed

I did get more comments spam, so as anticipated, I've installed some protection, the highly-respected MT-Blacklist.  Installation and configuration couldn't have been easier, a large user base seems to keep the master blacklist extremely up-to-date, and today's spam was seamlessly eliminated, so I'm really happy with it up to now.  Recommended for all Movable Type users.

8 December, 2003

Blog migrated successfully - at last

I didn't want to announce it until I knew it was working, but I've spent far too much time over the past fortnight setting up a blog here at the Ministry domain itself, replacing the remotely-hosted Blogger/Blog*Spot one.

4 October, 2003

Template replaced

The new template is online. It's taken longer than expected to modify the standard Ministry page design into the header graphics and write a new template, not least because it's been an educational process! I've learned a lot of practical CSS today, which is a little disturbing when one considers I'm supposedly a pro web designer....
When I first learned CSS, incompatible browsers were usual, so I left most attributes to be defined by HTML i.e. I only learned a cut-down version of CSS. Today I tried to do it properly - and struggled!

3 October, 2003

So... The Ministry has a blog

Dunno what we're going to do with it. This post is mainly just a test, to configure the template.
Incidentally, we're starting out with remote hosting and a blogger default template, but we'll probably move it to a Ministry address shortly, definitely with a custom template, so watch your bookmarks!

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