Tagged: theme

Ramsay Ramblings 2009-08-02

Renewing my visa

After being told it was too late to apply for permanent residency a few months ago, I recently tried to apply for a renewal of my spouse visa. Typical of me, I didn’t take half the documentation I needed so was sent home with instructions to gather the rest. Surprisingly, this time I was told to submit both my spouse and permanent residency applications together so I’m filling out all the forms, including a “please let me stay” letter to the Ministry of Justice and a hand-drawn map to my house (real maps aren’t acceptable!).

Upcoming nose operation

Breathing through my nose has become increasingly difficult over the last couple of years and finally the doctor recommended an operation instead of sending me away with more ineffective medicine. Such operations run in my family, so it doesn’t come as a surprise. No details yet, but I’m having an X-ray this week and will find out more then.

New project, Hotaru CMS

I was a huge contributor to Social Web CMS, the platform that runs JapanSoc.com, but have decided to build my own system instead of constantly modifying something I’ve never been altogether happy with. My new project is Hotaru CMS, which means “Firefly” Content Management System. It’s still early, but I expect it will quickly catch up with the likes of Pligg and offer a far more flexible plugin and theme system (more akin to WordPress). I’m currently looking for people interested in helping out, so let me know if that’s you.

Rikuto to start nursery school

Ricky starts nursery school next week. For four days a week, he’ll join about seven other children in the nursery school at my wife’s hospital. It’s set up especially for hospital employees and the staff there seem very nice indeed. The children are from 1 to 3 years old (Ricky just turned 2) and they look like a lovely bunch of friends for our son. Incidentally, they are having a dads-only event in late August. Should be interesting!

My broken toe

Remember my broken big toe? Well it’s been a whole year since I broke it and I have a new nail replacing the old one. That means the old nail is yellow and kind of hanging off and it looks really gross.

Wrap-up

That wraps up this edition of Ramsay Ramblings, the first post on this lovely new WordPress theme I’m using called Cleanr. Big text for my bad eyes!

JapanSoc Revamped! New Features!

Note: I’m writing this at nearly 5am. It’s been a long night of upgrading the site and I know there are some loose ends. The FAQ and blog will be updated in due course, and any bugs you find (there are always some) will be eventually squashed. Oh, and I deleted all your profile bios by accident, sorry about that! 😛

For occasions such as this JapanSoc overhaul, Deas from Rocking in Hakata has created this fantastic video logo for our favorite social bookmarking site. Watch, gasp, then download the high definition version for your own JapanSoc-related videos.

Incidentally, Deas made a very cool JapanSoc OS X widget and some great social bookmarking icons, too. Thanks, Deas!

Who’s behind the new JapanSoc.com?

Before I give you a run-down of the new features, let me give a big, big thank you to Chris Gaunt of Nihongo Notes and J-Pop Japan. Chris just happens to be a multi-talented web developer, who completely rewrote the JapanSoc template. That’s no easy task when you consider a typical Social Web CMS template weighs in at over 60 files. I can’t thank Chris enough for the work he’s put into the site over the last month, and I’ll be using his services again in the near future. Chris does a lot of freelance work, particularly for WordPress and Ruby on Rails sites. He’s also a PHP wizard and can dazzle with CSS. Learn more about what Chris can do for your site on his LinkedIn profile.

The engine that powers JapanSoc is Social Web CMS, an open source project which I’ve become heavily involved this last year, developing over 20 modules and contributing to the SWCMS SVN. Together with Chris, we are quite a formidable team! 😀

16 All New Features!

1. The Design

This is what JapanSoc.com now looks like:

japansoc2009

2. The JapanSoc Community News bar

Click the bar at the top and it will drop down, showing you links to JapanSoc.org related sites and RSS feeds from the Community Blog and the Twitter #jsoc hashtag.

communitybox

3. Drop down categories and new ones, too!

I’ve split the categories into a few very generic groups, and using the drop-down “Suckerfish” menu makes it easy for us to add more categories, not to mention them being much more accessible than before.

categories

4. Easy Submit button

When you click on the new submit button, a little drop-down box opens where you can directly add the url you want to submit.

5. Enhanced sidebar comments

Not only is there a little avatar next to each comment, when you hover the mouse over the comments in the sidebar, a tooltip shows you the name of the commentator and the title of the post the comment was made on. Very handy!

sidebarcomments

6. Avatars have gone Gravatar

I ran a poll recently to find out whether you preferred to use Gravatar or upload your own avatar. The response was clearly in favor of Gravatar, so we’ve dropped the uploading feature altogether. That’s a good thing because it saves you from faffing around with avatars, it saves me from fixing bad uploads, and it gives the site more flexibility in how avatars are used.

7. Nice4Rice or an umeboshi?

I used to have a website called “Nice4Rice” which I customized to allow readers to get a free backlink by “giving rice” to my reviews. It was a lot of fun and I miss that site a bit. Fortunately, I kept hold of the original Nice4Rice rice bowls and have used them in comment ratings!

comment

If you like a comment or agree with it, give the author some rice! If it left a bad taste in your mouth, an umeboshi would be more appropriate. Of course, this is just cosmetic and three umeboshi will still bury a comment.

8. Filter comments to your friends

You’ll see in that image above a small link that reads “Show friends’ comments only”. If you click that, all comments from people not on your friends list will temporarily be hidden. You can view them individually by clicking the show/hide link, or just click the “Show all comments” link to view them all again.

9. Filter stories to your friends

Why limit it to comments? On the top menu bar, logged in users will see a new page called “Friends”. Clicking that will filter all the latest stories to show only those from your friends.

10. HTML in comments

BBCode has been an option for a while now on JapanSoc, but very few people used it. I’m not really surprised because we’re all so used to WordPress comments. With that in mind, we dropped BBCode (which has left a bit of mess) and now allow limited HTML tags in comments, just like WordPress. Smilies can still be used, and I’ve added a link to Ken’s Evoticon site which opens in a new tab so you can copy and paste so zany Japanese emoticons, too!

commentform

11. Subscribe to comments

This is one of my favorite new features. Instead of just allowing the story submitter to subscribe to replies, now anyone who comments has the choice of getting reply notifications sent to their email box.

12. The Social Bar

This is the big one! Far and away the most significant addition to JapanSoc is the social bar. When you log in, you’ll see the social bar glued to the foot of your window, showing your own user stats and links to your inbox, profile and settings.

socialbar

13. Send a Quick Message

In the Social Bar is a Quick Message icon which gives you an instant messaging form so you can send out to your friends. Whenever you send a message, your friend will be notified by email (unless they turn off email notification), and if you get a message, the inbox icon will light up to indicate you have mail. How very convenient!

quickmessage

14. View other users in the Social Bar

The best thing about the Social Bar is that when you click on somebody’s username or avatar, anywhere on the site, their user info will be loaded into your Social Bar with a spot of Ajax so you don’t even leave the page.

socialbar2

Clicking the avatar or name here will take you to their main profile, but you can also use this bar to add or remove the user from your friends list, send them a message, visit their homepage, their Twitter page, look at their JapanSoc favorites, see if they are currently online, or return to your own Social Bar stats.

15. New-look Profiles

We’ve decided to drop the MySpace style profile and keep things simpler, but more focused on getting you connected with the viewer.

profile

As you can see, your own sites and social network profiles get loads of attention, as do your friends and fans who will appear in your Social Bar with just one click! These are the icons Deas came up with, and there are others for Lang-8, LinkedIn and iKnow! too.

16. Oyakata

The Top Users box in the sidebar has been fun to watch over the last year, but what happens when everyone’s a Yokozuna? JapanSoc Sumo no longer ends at Yokozuna. When you get 15,000 points, you’ll be moved to the Oyakata box, a sumo stable of fame! Hat tip to Jordan for the suggestion.

oyakata

Wrap-up

That’s about all of the major changes, though there are many smaller ones, too! Remember, you have to be logged in to enjoy most of the new features, so if you haven’t registered yet, please do! Visit JapanSoc.com.


New LongCountdown Theme

For the first time in ages, I’ve decided to ditch my own homemade WordPress theme and use somebody else’s instead. I chose the Amazing Grace theme by Vladimir Prelovac, and spent most of the day customizing it. I think Vlad’s theme is one of the better free ones, and I chose it because it was WordPress 2.6 compatible, with support for widgets, gravatars and a few other features. Yes, Jason convinced me to upgrade to WordPress 2.6.

With the extra space, I’ve been able to bring back the JapanSoc web widget and recent comments, as well as keeping the 20-man “Most Comments” list which I use as a dynamic blogroll.

I hope you like the theme. I do have another surprise up my sleeve, but I’ll keep you waiting for a while. 😉

Tetsu & Tomo mime Shouten theme!

I love this video of a popular Japanese double-act Tetsu & Tomo. The music is from the variety show ‘Shouten’. Watch and laugh, and if you can’t view the video, you can see it here at youtube.com.

I’ve become a fan of Japanese TV now that I’m married and live with the TV on permanently. While many people think that the Japanese are expression-less, everything on TV is really exagerrated. There’s a lot of Tom and Jerry style comedy with people hitting each other around the head, and over-reacting to things like how delicious food is on cooking shows.

All this makes it much easier for a foreigner to understand what’s going on. I find British comedy very clever in its use of words, but Japanese comedy is very visual and will have you in stitches!