December 30, 2006

Neo and Outlook - an analogy!

I came to know that some people wonder why Neo supports only one post in the main page. I can understand that they have seen so many blogs with many posts in the main page and so they find it wierd.

Here's an analogy for the way Neo works. The idea behind Neo is that your blog is viewable at the speed of a desktop application. Compare it with Microsoft Outlook 2003 where you have 3 columns: Folders, List of emails, one particular email. With Neo, we have the blog equivalent: Labels, List of posts, one post.
  • Outlook doesn't show multiple emails to start with but instead the list of email subjects so that one can choose which emails to read. This avoids scrolling down too much which is a pain if you have a mouse without scroll wheel. Neo uses a similar approach for blog posts by showing list of post titles and one post. Click, click, click on post titles and you're done reading all posts! You may have to scroll down only for longer posts.
  • Outlook doesn't restart when you click to view a particular email - that would be really wierd ;-). Similarly, Neo doesn't reload the page for every post.
  • Outlook shows the recent emails first in any folder. Neo shows recently updated posts first for any label. It also shows the newer comments before older ones.
So, there you go. Think out of the box and you will appreciate the difference.

P.S. I didn't realize that my design for Neo matches with Outlook until today morning :) To see what else can be done using AJAX/JSON, check out the new hacker in the block, Deepak's AJAX Labels. Also, keep an eye on the "young gun" Aditya as he might come out with something amazing anytime ;)

December 29, 2006

Neo Add-ons - Peekaboo posts etc

I have come up with some add-ons/modifications to Neo based on the requests from those who bought Neo.

1. Peekaboo posts - Yes, it is now possible to use peekaboo posts with Neo i.e. even asynchronous posts will have peekaboo functionality ('Read more' link). This makes sense if your posts are long enough that you would like to shorten even if there's only one post in the page.

2. It is possible to show comments in the usual oldest to newest order. If you prefer it that way, I can make it work.

3. If you are using Phydeaux3's label cloud, you can load the list of posts Neo style when you click on a label. It just requires one line change.

4. You can limit the number of recent posts and/or number of posts per label.

In short, Neo's feature list has increased!

December 28, 2006

Disneyland fireworks video

I am back from my memorable vacation at Disneyland (actually two days back itself). I hope you all had a great Christmas. We were there at Disneyland on Christmas day and the fireworks was astounding! I captured the entire 10 minutes' magic in my camcorder. If you are interested, you can download the video from here and watch it (size 180 MB - so it might take several minutes to download).

Off topic: Neo is being used in some more blogs now - Alan's eyes and Tech gardens are making good use of it. Alan has managed to get Label cloud work Neo style (asynchronous) with my help. I have also added the list of blogs powered by Neo to my sidebar.

December 22, 2006

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Yes, it's Christmas time! I know many of you will be busy buying presents on behalf of Santa claus. It's the time for families to come together and have a wonderful time. Merry Christmas to all of you! I will be going out of town for a few days starting tomorrow. I am not sure about accessing the Internet and so I may not respond to your comments/emails etc. Enjoy your holidays. I will.


Neo powers "DeMediacratic Nation"

DeMediacratic Nation, a blog by Greg Dwight, becomes the first blog powered by Neo (other than Hackosphere). It had quite a few items in the sidebar and Greg felt that the blog loaded up slower. He chose to switch to Neo and sent me his template. I then added all his sidebar elements to Neo and gave him a customized version so that he doesn't have to create his widgets all over again. And his blog became "Insanely fast!!" to quote his own words. Greg is quite pleased with the result. I will be working with him to adjust some widths etc so that it looks perfect. I am quite happy to see my product in another blog. Check out his blog to see it yourself. Again, Neo awaits you :)

Updating labels without affecting feed

As the new Blogger is out of Beta, I wanted to relabel my posts as "New Blogger Hacks" and "Old Blogger Hacks". Due to my prior experience, I was worried if all the posts will re-appear in the feed. But as Susan rightly pointed out in a comment, I used the Label Actions dropdown that appears when you goto Posting/Edit posts and thankfully the feed is intact (I was checking the feed once in a while with fast beating heart :)). So, it is safe to update labels like this instead of going to post editor and republishing. Thank you Susan!

(One useful tip: If you want to re-label all the posts under a particular label, it is better to first apply the new label to all of them and then remove the old label. Blogger doesn't have a way to list only unlabelled posts.)

December 21, 2006

Neo - The lightning fast template for new Blogger

Neo template is not just some CSS magic. It is an ultra-fast template with which one can navigate through your blog very quickly. As a result, your visitors would enjoy their stay in your blog. It employs the cutting edge technology called AJAX (in particular JSON) and makes best use of the advanced features of new Blogger such as Label feeds and Per-post comment feeds. And it's free too! To summarize it's features:

1. A visitor can navigate through your blog much faster because the entire page (all the sidebar stuff) won't be reloaded while viewing every post. When he selects a post from the list of recent posts (or posts under a particular label), the selected post and its comments are displayed instantly. When he selects a label, the list of posts under that label are loaded asynchronously too.

2. Newer comments are shown before older ones instead of the usual oldest to newest order. Also, comments are divided into pages with 10 comments in each page. Both these features make a big difference if your blog gets many comments.

3. Rounded corner boxes and pleasant colors add to the visual impact.

But, it does have some limitations. It doesn't go well with blogs that use Adsense/other ads because it results in fewer page impressions. Please go through the Neo FAQ to find out how to modify Neo (to show comments from oldest to newest order) and understand other limitations/requirements of Neo to work properly.

I am using a modified version of Neo in this blog. Check out the demo blog to get a feel of how Neo would work with your posts. To this basic template, you can add header image, change colors/fonts using the new Blogger's WYSIWYG interface etc. Various blogs using Neo are showcased in this page. You can see how people have customized the look and feel of Neo.

Neo template is available free of cost. More details in this post. Neo awaits you!

Related posts:

List of the add-ons available for Neo

Neo and Outlook - An analogy

December 19, 2006

Unveiling the new Hackosphere

Welcome to my Web 2.0 blog. The new Hackosphere is very different from any other blog. In other blogs, everytime you click on a permalink, the entire blog reloads i.e everything in the sidebars, not just the post that you want. But here, you can read the entire blog (pretty much) without reloading the page ever. The difference is that my blog is now driven by the power of JSON feeds. End result is that you can navigate faster through the blog.

I divide the blog into 3 sections - labels, posts under a label and a particular post (each in a different column). You start by choosing a label upon which the list of posts under that label is asynchronously loaded. Then, you pick one of the posts and the post along with its comments are displayed (instantaneously, no page reload). I have used JSON version of label feeds and per-post comment feeds to do this. Using the feed for comments enables me to do two things:
1. Showing the comments from newest to oldest. So, you can easily find my response to the comment you made within the past few days.
2. Paginate the comments. Many of my posts have received more than 50/100 comments and so, I now show the comments in multiple pages with 10 comments each. This helps me to avoid insanely lengthy display.

I have also attempted to improve the aesthetic appeal with rounded corners (only in Firefox) and pleasant colors. I call this template Neo (yes, there's a Matrix inspiration in the template). It is based on Minima but lot of the code has been rewritten. Browse through the blog and let me know what you think. If you find any problems, let me know so that I can fix them. And I will be adding things like Backlinks, links to other hacker blogs etc in the coming days.

On this auspicious day :), the new Blogger is also out of beta. What I have been able to do in this blog is a testimonial of the power of new Blogger. I also thank Hoctro for his vertical tabs hack that I have used in this blog.

December 15, 2006

Coloring comments, 3-column Rounders etc

I just wanted to update you all about some nice hacks that are available in the neighborhood. Vivek has written about how to add background colors to your comments. This one builds upon my author comment highlighting hack. If you are somebody who gets excited about using colors, this is a great way to improve your blog's visual impact.

John Figth has managed to convert Rounders 3 template to 3 columns. He has written a descriptive post on what changes he did. If you are interested in this, try it out and ask him if you have any doubts. Here's the blog where he uses this new template.

And, Volker has created a Feeds page where he displays the latest posts from all the various Blogger hack blogs. One page, too many hacks!

December 7, 2006

Apologies for the repeat feedcast!

Today, I noticed that my label "beta hacks" had grown really big with lot of posts. So, I decided to move some of the posts to different label and adjust some other labels. I did that and what I saw later got me really irritated. All the posts for which I changed labels had been brought up in my post feed. I think many of you might see a repeat telecast of these posts in your feed readers. Please accept my apologies if you are irritated by this. And Blogger folks - you have failed to think through this :(

I knew already that changing post title or content will move the post up in the feed because feed orders posts by updation date and not published date. So, I was updating old posts only when I felt it was absolutely necessary. But I never expected that changing labels will also result in this messup. What has labels got to do with post updation? In my opinion, labels are something that helps in organizing the blog and shouldn't be considered as part of the post. Yes, they appear in the feed under category tag but I can't accept a change in label affecting the feed. I hope Blogger folks will rethink about this.

Want to update labels? - think twice!

While we are in the topic of feeds, let me also clarify one more thing. The reason why I provide only summary feed for posts is because I have hack code in many of my posts. I am not sure how it will appear in the numerous choices of feed readers out there. I don't want somebody picking up erroneous code from a feedreader (even an extra space matters!) and finds that the hack doesn't work for him/her. I check and double check the code that appears in my blog and so I would like you to pick up the code from my blog. Also, I believe you wouldn't mind visiting my blog often because it makes your blog better ;)

Updates to some hacks

This post is just to inform you that I have updated my Drop-down menu creator as follows:
1. The menu options will open up in a new window when selected. This is to avoid a visitor going away from your blog. You wouldn't want him/her to leave just by clicking something in the sidebar, right?
2. You can provide some default text such as "Select a blog" or "Select a book" etc which won't have any associated link. This text will be the one shown in the menu when the page is loaded.

Also, Abhisek indicated to me that there's a correction needed in the URL for Digg hotlink (phase=3 to be corrected as phase=2). I also noticed that it is possible to add the post's title to the link for Digg just like Delicious. So, I have updated the code for the hotlink in my previous post.