Summer Update

I've been in a creative rut and haven't eeked out a blog post in over two weeks. But I haven't been idle... I've been wrapping up a number of projects that I've had on the go, which is nice. A bunch more are also starting up but smaller stuff at the moment. If there's one thing that I enjoy about the freelance, it's the fact that I can adjust the type of projects I take on to give myself different things to work on. Having worked on a number of long term, programming projects, I'm currently taking on smaller projects with a healthy mix of design and development. This is partially because it's what I'm in the mood for but also because August looks to be a pretty crazy month (on a personal level, that is).

I have made some adjustments around here, though. Minor stuff but I like how things are evolving. I still don't feel the need to redesign. Depending on how long its been since you've actually visited the site, here's a quick rundown:

  • Subscribe via email. I finally re-integrated the FeedBlitz form to allow people to receive updates via email.
  • Down to 2 ad spots from 3. In the right-hand side, there was the potential for 3 ads but when the time came to show them all, it was too much and I dropped it down to 2. I don't find it overpowering right now but I still feel like I want to mix up the right sidebar a little. The advertising has been going strong, too, which is fantastic. Is it time to expand, ala The Deck?
  • Left sidebar cleaned up. I added the books and upcoming speaking engagements, giving it a little style.
  • No more quick links. It was a little burdensome. So instead, I switched to and used the Zend Framework to pull out the latest ones. Feel free to subscribe to the Snookie Cookie feed.
  • Added bookmark bar. You can now add an article to or ma.gnolia from links at the end of the article. Once again, I use the Zend Framework to pull the number of times an article has been bookmarked. Check out this article to see the link count. It only does the count for and not ma.gnolia but only because I haven't looked at their API.

Some stuff that I hope to get around to adding sooner rather than later:

  • Search. That's right, there's no search here. I just rely on Google to search my own site. But I'm going to look into integrating the Lucene search engine from the Zend Framework. It'll be interesting to see how well it can integrate into CakePHP and what performance will be like.
  • Comment Feeds. This isn't even hard to do...I just have to do it.
  • A podcast! Yeah, I talked about the idea back in January but I actually have a cool mic now. I've got the concept together (I think), I just need to produce it. I'd also like to do some screencasts but we'll see if I have time for all that.

Otherwise, I hope to get back into the swing of things by this weekend. We'll see how that goes as life has a way of throwing some curve balls.

Published July 31, 2007
Categorized as Other
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14 Comments · RSS feed
Peter said on August 01, 2007

Some nice updates. If you do end up integrating the Lucene search engine, I know I would like to see you write an article about it.

Adrian said on August 01, 2007

Looks good. Only issue I'm seeing now is in the left column, the Sidebar Creative image under Projects is being covered by the top commenter's name and posting details. I'm viewing in the latest version of Firefox on a pc.

Josh(ua/y) said on August 01, 2007

@Adrian: Yeah, I'm seeing that too. I think it's because this is too short a post.

Nate Klaiber said on August 01, 2007

Integrating Lucene would be very nice, and I would also be interested to see the integration process with Cake. I hadn't even noticed that you didn't have search until you mentioned it.

Jonathan Snook said on August 01, 2007

@Adrian/Josh: fixed. I tweaked the algorithm that determines which side elements are visible when.

@Nate: very few people use the search, or at least, that's what I remember from back when using Movable Type. Also, since Google works, I could also implement a basic search engine using the Google API. But I really want to see how well Lucene works and I think it'd be a great topic to cover.

Oliver said on August 01, 2007

Don't forgot the portfolio page!

Jonathan Snook said on August 01, 2007

@Oliver: oh yeah, that, too. :) I updated the Work page to actually post a few projects since going freelance. Not sure if I want to add more or just keep it to a few.

Damian Karlson said on August 01, 2007

Jonathan -- Nice job! I like what you've done here. Great touches and attention to detail on the header/footer, too.

One small thing: Check the right-side drop shadow on your comment identifier. Looks like it is missing.

Jonathan Snook said on August 01, 2007

@Damian: Fixed. A very keen eye you have. ;)

tony said on August 01, 2007

If you're running mysql and if you haven't already, you might want to check out their full text search capabilities. It works really well, and you can configure the results to be based on relevancy. Check out the Porter Stemming Algorithm too. Best of luck.

Jonathan Snook said on August 01, 2007

@tony: indeed and I've used the full text search capabilities before on other projects. Integrating Lucene is more of an academic exercise but will also allow me to index non-database powered content like delicious links and some static pages (among other stuff I might want to add at some point). It'll also allow me to pull comments into the same index and have those searchable as well.

Also, some initial research seems to show that Lucene outperforms MySQL's full text searching capabilities — at least, for larger datasets (which my little blog does NOT have).

tony said on August 01, 2007

Dude, I didn't know Lucene could do that... sounds awesome. Be sure to keep us updated on how it goes for you.

Mathew Patterson said on August 01, 2007

Hey Jonathan,

Looking forward to hearing the podcast - I only just listened to you on the SXSW panel podcast, which was great.

Mark G said on August 05, 2007

Wow it looks smicko Jonathan. I read alot and post very little, but i must say the overall look is much cleaner to the end user.


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