Sunday, November 21, 2004

I'm a Linking Badass!

For the last.... 3 hours? Yup - 3 hours, I've sat here tinkering with my links (to see the full list of links, click on "Click Here to View" in the left column.) See, I wasn't really happy with it because it meant that I had to maintain two Bloglines accounts - one for my personal use and one for the blogroll on this blog. The problems with this included:
  • Throwing off people's stats - it looked like two separate people were linking to their blogs, when it was actually me twice. Sorry guys.
  • Updating - It meant logging out of one account and logging into another account to add blogs to my list.
  • Non-RSS blogs - I couldn't include blogs that I couldn't subscribe to. I don't have very many at all that don't have RSS (which stands for Really Simple Syndication).
So... wait, I'll back up a sec...

Allow me to slip into geek mode for a sec. Anyone who isn't interested can go get a drink or a snack or something - this won't take long.

The Blogger template that I'm using as the basis for this uses CSS, which stands for Cascading Style Sheet. It's a way of formatting everything, from background colour to underline style, in one place. For example, if I were using plain HTML and wanted all the section headers to be a different font, colour and/or size than the rest of the font on the page, I would have to tell it the font, colour, and/or size every time I wanted to add a header. With CSS, I can tell it that whenever I use header tags, I want them to be a certain font, colour, and size. It saves room in the body of the source code, because all the formatting info is in one spot. It also guarantees that if you change the formatting for, say, underlining, it's changed everywhere, and not just in the places you remembered to tell it be dotted as opposed to solid.

You're back already? No, this won't take much longer - can you go change the CD? Thanks.

Anyways. The nice thing about CSS is that, since it's all together and in one place, it can be stored in a separate file and linked to in the source code. Which is what I did. The file for the CSS for this page is stored off-site, which freed up some screen-space. (It doesn't take up actual memory. But since the code was quite long, I had to scroll through a massive amount of stuff to get to where I wanted to edit anything - which was usually the Reading section.)

So now I have more screen-space to play with. Which is why I decided to change how I linked to other blogs and web sites. (Okay, you can come back now. I'm out of geek mode.)

(And to the real geeks reading this - leave me comments if I've FUBAR'd the explanations in any way, shape, or form.)

Now the links are right there on the page. Yes, it's a lot longer than the snippet of javascript which Bloglines gives you for your blogroll, and updating it means poking at the raw code with a stick, and it takes up a load of space. However, the benefit for me is that it's easier to add blogs and such that don't have RSS-feeds, and it gets rid of the little advert at the end of each of the lists. (Bloglines is useful, and I love it, don't get me wrong!)

The benefit for the people whose sites I've linked to is that if they search for sites that link back to their sites, mine will show up. So that's one more person linking to them and giving them notoriety, and the fame and fortune and everything that goes with it.

As to the links themselves...
  • You'll notice there are a boatload more than there were. Pre-tinkering: 47. Post-tinkering: 73.
  • "Commenting on Things" is the closest thing I have to a "Miscellaneous" category. Some of them are media/political commentaries, while others, like Boing Boing and J-Walk, are more generalists.
  • "Secret Masters of the Universe" are librarian and library-related blogs. It's based on a line in a Spider Robinson novel where he refers to librarians as being "secret masters of the world." But I like "universe" better. So there. This is also the section I should work on breaking down somehow.
  • "If You Can't Stand the Heat" is cooking/food blogs.
  • I have a list of blogs written and maintained by women, but not one for men. The problem is that I don't have that many blogs written by men that didn't fit into another category. I think the only strays are Ironpants, Postcards from the Reg, When Crustaceans Attack!, and Wil Wheaton. Hmm... two of them are Antipodean, so maybe I'll group the other ANZACs together and call it "I Come From a Blog Down Under." I'll think of something.
  • The assigning of blogs to one category as opposed to another was completely arbitrary. So, while Chicklit could be in either the Canadian or Literati groups, I put it where I did because the contributors are international, and the literature they profile usually has something to do with women's studies.
Aaaaand.... it's taken me another hour to write this up. Sheesh. For now, or at least until I redo everything, this is how it's going to stand.