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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Web Development

It's Alive! Nuketown 7 is in production!

by Ken Newquist / November 26, 2012

It's alive! Nuketown 7 is now in production. It's not quite finished yet -- there are a couple of bugs here and there that need to be squashed -- but the site has been upgraded to Drupal 7 and it's running its spiffy new theme. The social media buttons are active and -- amazingly -- working and we can now post microcontent updates directly from the site to Twitter.

Nuketown Redesign Update, September 2012

by Ken Newquist / September 28, 2012

It's the little things that kill you. Most of the broad strokes of the Nuketown Redesign are done: I have template for pages, nodes, microcontent, and blocks, and the site renders under the new theme without any major errors. Since last month my work has focused on building out the nooks and cranies of the theme. It's stuff like block headers, the "read more" links, and sidebar bulleted lists.

In short, the little stuff ... and it's time consuming. Each component takes about two hours to knock out (though in the case of captions for images that's more like 8 hours ... and I'm still not done) as I tweak css and tweak template files. It is satisfying, in that each small piece that I complete brings its own sense of accomplishment but man, there are a lot of pieces.

I was distracted from my theming adventures by needing to re-jigger how Nuketown 7 handles Twitter updates but that landed in a good place.

Integrating Twitter into Drupal 7 ... without RSS

by Ken Newquist / September 25, 2012

One of my goals for the Nuketown 7 redesign project was to tightly integrate social media options into it. In particular I wanted to be able to capture all of that microcontent -- the quick movie and book reviews, the game news, the retweets -- that the site currently misses and incorporate it into the design. The key here isn't that I'm simply trying to post tweets about new articles; I want to make microcontent an integral part of the site.

To do that the tweets needed to be captured as nodes, which would then allow me to manipulate and display them however I see fit. I accomplished this by creating a "microcontent" content type and then setting up the Feeds module to import tweets from my NuketownSF account via RSS.

Naturally once I got this working Twitter deprecated RSS feeds. As of March 2013, you'll no longer be able to use them ... and Nuketown's microcontent import would cease to function.

Fortunately I have a Plan B: the Twitter module. When I started building out Nuketown7 I'd considered using this module, but it had two drawbacks:

    Nuketown Redesign Update, August 2012

    by Ken Newquist / August 24, 2012

    Nuketown's redesign project has slowly crept forward for the last year, but it saw a nice surge in progress this summer. First off, I have a solid Drupal 7 foundation for the site, with all of my social media, audio and visual, and content tools chosen and functional. I've also learned a heck of a lot about drush -- Drupal's command line tool -- and that's helped considerably with quickly iterating through build outs.

    Rebuilding the Griffin's Crier

    by Ken Newquist / November 25, 2009

    The Blackrazor Guild -- my local gaming group -- has had a web site since 1997. It's gone through many iterations over that time, usually in tandem with some project I needed to research at work (being a gamer means never wanting for large reams of test data for web apps).

    The site's known as The Griffin's Crier, and for the longest time it was the archive for our Dungeons & Dragons campaign. However, over the last few years our group's changed. Our primary campaign's now Star Wars, half the group is blogging, and we've created a small galaxy of spin-off sites supporting our different efforts.

    The GriffCrier needs to reflect these changes. To that end, I'm redesigning the site using Drupal. The new site will serve as a gathering point for our various interests; it will include campaign and group news, links to the latest blog posts from group members (using the Feed API and Views modules), and serve as a jumping off point to our various wikis, web sites, and forums.

    Comparing TinyMCE and CKEditor

    by Ken Newquist / July 23, 2008

    TinyMCE and CKEditor (formerly FCKeditor) are two of the most popular open source WYSIWYG editors for web applications. I'm researching which would be the best to implement at the day job on a campus-wide basis; ideally I'd like to pick one editor, and then use it with all of our web apps. Here's a run down of what editors are available for what apps:

    Advice on building a Second Life Island?

    by Ken Newquist / July 7, 2008

    So I find myself in the position of needing to buy and help build up a Second Life island for the day job. I'm excited in about it insomuch as it's a new project, and something I've never done before. Plus, hey, it's almost virtual reality. Granted, it would have been far, far cooler if the college had gone ga-ga for World of Warcraft instead, but hey, I'll take my virtual worlds where I can find them.

    In the meantime though, I find myself having to work through questions I don't really know the answers to. Specifically:

    1. Preferred Grid Location: I know we want our island to be on the public grid, but where on the public grid? Is it better to be off by yourself? Should you be next to another college? Or the New Media Consortium? Or does it not really matter, because people will be 'porting in, not wandering the wilds of SL looking for college islands to explore?
    2. What island shape do we want? Is one type of island better to build on than another? For example, we're thinking of either the "donut" shape, which is an oval island with a lake in the middle, or a mountainous shape, which sticks an mountain on one side of the island. Which is easier to build on?

    Darwin Streaming Server: Lessons Learned

    by Ken Newquist / April 26, 2008

    I spent a couple of days messing around with Darwin Streaming Server, the open source port of Apple's Quicktime Streaming Server. Here's what I learned from my poking and prodding of Darwin installed on a Redhat Linux box:

    1. Darwin streams over port 7070 by default. There's an option to have it stream over :80, but since Apache also uses :80 to serve web pages the two servers will conflict if you're planning on running them on the same box.
    2. Darwin will stream .mov and .mp4 files, but the movies must be hinted. I'm not sure how one goes about hinting an .mp4 file; I assume you can add such hints via Final Cut Pro.
    3. Darwin will not stream individual MP3s, but it will stream MP3s as part of a playlist. The Quicktime Streaming Server under Mac OS Server may appear to stream individual files, but in reality it just pretends to do that by by creating playlists for each individual file. You could do the same with DSS, but it's cumbersome via the web interface; it's likely something you'd want to script. On a related note, there is "muse" add-on for Icecast (another open source streaming server) but it has the same playlist limitation; there's no streaming of individual files outside of a play list.

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