Ultimate Category Cloud 3.0

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Ultimate Category Cloud 3.0

Finally, I found found the time to do some much needed work on some of my plugins. the first to receive an update is Ultimate Category Cloud (UCC) which now moves to version 3 and is fully Wordpress 2.3 compatible among other things.

Changelog

  • Now WP2.3 compatible, thanks to Mephisto, Jason Ellis and Jan Weinschenker for their suggestions.
  • Now displays weight and coloured categories as default behaviour
  • Default ‘largest’ size is now 200% not 250%
  • Removed the get_all_cats function, it is no longer needed
  • New function for better conversion of hex colours to decimal values
  • Font size weight should now more accurately reflect the largest and smallest font sizes that you specify
  • Reworked weighted colouring, now only requires you to specify one colour.

Installation and Usage

To install UCC simply download the zip file below, extract the contents and upload to the wp-content/plugins directory on your server.

The display a ‘cloud’ on your site simply modify your theme to insert one of these snippets of code where you would like the ‘cloud’ to appear.

Default Weighted and Colored

<?php weighted_categories(); ?>

Weighted but not Colored

<?php weighted_categories(1,0); ?>

Colored but not Weighted

<?php weighted_categories(0,1); ?>

Neither Weighted nor Colored

<?php weighted_categories(0,0); ?>

To choose your own color add the third parameter

<?php weighted_categories(1,1,$basecolor="#ff0000"); ?>

Advanced usage

You can also specify how large or how small the weighted text should appear, if needed you can also exclude specific categories from the cloud, and by changing the $method option to ‘0′ you can reverse the coloring of the categories (ie. the lightest becomes the darkest and vice versa
<?php weighted_categories($weighted=1, $colored=1, $basecolor="#CCCCCC", $smallest=70, $largest=200, $unit="%", $exclude='', $method=1); ?>

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Lost Season 4 - I can’t wait

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In a break from the norm this post has nothing to do with wordpress, twitter, html, php design or any of that. Whats more I’ve even included a youtube video. Why? Because the first ‘teaser’ trailer for season 4 of Lost was cool, but the new longer trailer is even better, I can’t wait until January 31st.

I’ve already watched a couple of times, but no doubt I’ll be watching it several times more looking for something, anything, that might be hidden in it. On a related matter, my urge for Lost got the better of me and I’ve started rewatching from the start of season 1. I’ve setup a separate blog (instead of cluttering this one even further) where I’ll note down ‘points of interest’ as I work my through the first three seasons (hopefully I can get through them all before Jan 31st), and I’ll also post some theories. If you want to check it out (and why wouldn’t you) just jump over to http://lost.deanjrobinson.com and have a read (no comments setup yet, I’ll try and get that done soon Actually looks like the comments are there, just not styled…yet). Be warned though if you don’t want any spoilers what so ever, even they are most likely not even true, you probably won’t want to read. There you have been warned.

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2008 HRT Toll Livery Concept

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With Garth Tander moving across from the Toll HSV Dealer Team there are rumours suggesting that Toll might go with him to HRT. Personally I don’t really know how likely it is, but then again who would have thought that the 2007 Champion would change teams either. Anyway, after many (not so great) attempts I’ve ‘finished’ a Toll HRT livery, I’m not sure whether I’m happy with it or not, its certainly a bit different, don’t know if thats a good thing or a bad thing.

2008 HRT Toll Livery Concept

UPDATE 29/12: So I had another go at a HRT/Toll livery last night, and came up with this, I think I like this one a little more, even if its not exactly what I was aiming for.

2008 HRT Toll Livery Concept 2

UPDATE 14/1: And another….

2008 HRT Livery Concept 3

UPDATE 18/1: One more…

2008 HRT Livery Concept 4

UPDATE 18/1: A little bit retro, because I just can’t help myself…

2008 HRT Livery Concept 5

2008 HRT Livery Concept 6

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2008 BJR Bigpond Livery Concept

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So it’s that time of year again, when the V8 Supercar silly season swings into gear and I get out Illustrator and start playing around with some designs. First off this year is a concept for Brad Jones Racing who, if all the whispering is to be believed, will be switching from Ford to Holden for 2008, and some rumours also mention a change of sponsorship from BOC to Bigpond.

2008 BJR Bigpond Livery Concept

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Gazing into my crystal ball

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Ok, so there hasn’t been as much activity on here in recent months as I would like, but finding time to do all the things I want (and need) to do is the problem. With a bit of luck I will be able to recapture some time to work on projects in the next month or so. I am now inside my final month of University (finally), with a handful of fairly large assignments to complete, but no end of year exams to worry about. However also over the next month I also need to find somewhere to live which will no doubt consume a fair amount of time. But then, hopefully, I should be able to get back to work on my side projects. Lets have a quick look at those projects.

Redoable

I have received so many requests for me to update Redoable, initially for Wordpress 2.2 (which only introduced a couple of small issues) and more recently for Wordpress 2.3 compatibility. This one is a bigger issue since the way that categories are handled has changed completely. Then there are all the little bits and pieces that were never really “just right”, most probably due to Redoable being my first Wordpress theme, or in this case theme modification (Redoable is based on the code of K2). Mind you these ‘issues’ haven’t stopped over 30,000 downloads.but with the last update way back in April it really is time for some progress to be made.

So where do I begin. Well, it just so happens that Michael Heilemann and co are into the ‘release candidate’ stages of K2 1.0. K2 has become even greater over the last 10 months, and it is already Wordpress 2.3 compatible. Tyler Longren (creator of Unwakeable, another K2-based theme) recently announced that he planned on basing the next version of Unwakeable on K2 1.0 when it was released. A couple of months ago I had planned to do Redoable 1.3 and fix some of the main issues that had come up since the release of 1.2, but I simply couldn’t find the time that I wanted to spend on it. I can now say that there will be no Redoable 1.3.

Nope, I will be jumping straight to Redoable 2.0. Again I’ll be using K2 as the base, and although I have started some initially work, the main body of work on 2.0 won’t begin until the final stable release of K2 1.0 is available. While its not going to be exactly the same as 1.x, it will keep a lot of the ‘flavour’ of it since that seems to be what people want. I’m still thinking through about which additional plugin support, and other features I’ll add to the K2 base, but hopefully before Christmas there will be a new version of Redoable for you all the play with.

Wordpress Plugins

I am well aware that just about all of my plugins need to be updated to work with the latest Wordpress 2.3. In particular Ultimate Category Cloud, which no longer works due to the previously mentioned category changes in WP2.3. Other plugins just need a tidy up, and general bug fixing. I will hopefully get at least some of the plugins updated to go along with the release of Redoable 2.0

More Wordpress themes

I didn’t take long for people to start requesting a download of the ‘Pipedream’ theme that I am currently using. The thing is that Pipedream was designed for my site and my site only, its not really ready for a public release (yet). It doesn’t really work like a normal theme, due to the number of customisations that are built in. Beside the idea was that I wanted my site to be unique, which I had lost while I was still using Redoable. However I have begun thinking about a ‘Public’ version of Pipedream, but as far as a release date it probably won’t be until the new year.

A couple of weeks ago, I was sick of doing uni work one night and just started playing around with a magazine style layout which has kind of progressed into the beginnings of another new Wordpress theme. Unlike Redoable and Pipedream this new theme is going to be much lighter and brighter, with a slightly different approach to the way that posts are arranged and displayed. More about this new theme in the coming months.

Hahlo

Although I’ve only just rolled out the new version of Hahlo I’ve still got a list of things “to-do” which just didn’t make it into 2.0. Most of them are minor behind the scenes things, but there are also several things that have been requested by users. Things such as an quicker way to refresh the current timeline, currently it takes two ‘taps’, one would be ideal. Another thing I would like to try and get working is some form of user options to allow people to customise their Hahlo experience. For example some people would like to login and be taken straight to their friends timeline, other would like to be taken to their favourites list, I would love to be able to implement this.

I also have plans to release a very simple Hahlo desktop application, still using the webapp but in a standalone webkit-based application. I had considered turning Hahlo into an Adobe AIR application, they seem to be all the rage at the moment, but since just about everything in Hahlo relies pretty heavily on php and the functions within, and AIR doesn’t support php that pretty much canned that idea. In the meantime if you really want a Twitter app running on AIR, I suggest trying out Snitter.

Others…

And on top of all that I’ve got a couple of other things that I’m working on, one of which I’m working on at the moment as part of a University assignment. Plus no doubt I’ll run off on a tangent and end up working on things that aren’t on the list above as well.

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Pink for October •

As you will probably notice I’ve gone pink. I first heard about ‘Pink for October’ through Chris J. Davis, and after reading through the ‘Pink for October’ website I decided that I’d join in too. ‘Pink for October’ was started to bring attention to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For more information about ‘Pink for October’ you can check out their website. http://pinkforoctober.org

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Hahlo 2 - the original just got better

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Hahlo 2.0

Version 2 of Hahlo is now live! It has been in the works almost since the day that version 1 was released. The short timeframe that version 1 had ended up probably doing more harm than good, and while the basics worked well enough it had a few failings which unfortunately resulted in many people switching to other alternatives. Now with Hahlo 2.0 a lot more thought has gone into how things should work, and how they should fit together. On top of that there are also a huge pile of new features and enhancements which will hopefully bring those that had left back to Hahlo. Keep reading for full details about the additions and improvements that have been made in this all-new version.

The Interface

The basics of the interface should still be familiar to users of v1 despite that fact that pretty much everything has changed in some way. Lets start with the navigation. Gone is the unintuitive ’star’ button which was used for updates, in its place is a nice, simple “Update” button. Give that a tap and up pops the familiar update box, the same as before.

Hahlo Toolbar

One of the biggest changes is the relocation of the menu/toolbar form the bottom of the screen to the top, and by default its hidden to keep screen real estate free. This was also done out of necessity since the mobile version of Safari doesn’t support fixed positioning. Tap the ‘Menu’ button and the toolbar will appear, and you’ll see a whole bunch of brightly coloured icons to navigate your way around. You’ll also see the arrow, tap that to reveal more toolbar options. They have been split like this to make the buttons themselves larger and easier to use on the iPhone.

Hahlo Toolbar

On a number of the ‘timelines’ you will see a few little circular icons in the top right of each tweet. The star icon allows you to quickly, and easily save the tweet as a favourite. Just tap it and it will turn ‘gold’ once it has been saved. The message bubble with the ‘M’ in it is for Direct Messaging that particular user, give it a tap and the direct message box will appear with the recipients name already filled in. The third button is the highly requested reply button, tap that and the update box will appear with the @username already filled in and ready for your reply.

Hahlo Tweets

From any screen you can easily tap on a users profile picture and you will be taken to that users individual timeline. Coming soon you will also be able to follow and unfollow other twitterers directly from Hahlo.

What can I do with Hahlo?

First thing that you will probably notice when you log in to Hahlo is that there are a lot more options. You can now do just about everything that is available from the twitter website all from Hahlo, and there are still more features in the wings. Lets have a look at what you can do.

  • “My Timeline” - this is your timeline of tweets
  • “My Friends Timeline” - this displays the most recent 20 tweets from you and your friends, at the bottom there is a button to show 20 more tweets, tap it and the next 20 load directly onto the bottom of list. You can view upto the last 200 tweets in your friends timeline.
  • “Friends I’m Following” - a list of all the friends who updates you are following, with easy links to DM or reply to any of them. There is also a ‘grid view’ button in the top right that will take you to a screen displaying all your friends avatars, just tap their picture and you’ll be taken to their timeline.
  • “Who is Following me” - a list, 20 at a time, of the people who are following your updates, along with links to send a reply and view their timelines. Again there is the ‘grid view’ option.
  • “Replies to my Tweets” - simply view a list of all the @ replies that have been sent to you
  • “Direct Messages” - this is a list of all the direct messages that you have received. At the top you’ll notice three buttons, the ‘outbox’ button will take you to a list of all the messages that you have sent, and the last button will open the ’send message’ box for you to direct message one of your friends.
  • “My Favourite Tweets” - a list of all the tweets that you have marked as favourites, great for saving funny, informative, or useful tweets.
  • “Public Timeline” - pretty self-explanatory, its the public twitter timeline

As already mentioned you can easily update your twitter status by tapping the ‘update’ button at the top of the screen no matter where in Hahlo you are. Replying to tweets has never been easier, just use the @ button that appears on many of the screens. The same goes for sending a direct message, just tap the ‘M’ button as mentioned above.

Optimised for your convenience

Since I wrote an article recently comparing the relative load sizes of some of Hahlo’s competitors its only fair that I try my best to optimise Hahlo to the best of my ability. All images have been optimised to provide minimal file sizes, my css is now gzipped which reduces the load size greatly, and the javascript is now packed and gzipped further reducing load.
With regards to the CSS there is still more room for further optimisation in the future.

When you first login to Hahlo the inital page load is just 60kb, almost half that of v1, and a full load of the public timeline is just 100kb, but approx. 40% of this is user profile image which are beyond my control.

Its also worth noting that now that the full interface is AJAX many things such as icons and the UI images only ever need to be loaded once, after that pretty much all that you are loading is the content of the page in questions, this helps to reduce load times across the board.

Ask and you shall receive

In the past couple of months I have had many requests from users, and I have tried where possible to include their requests. Two of the most requested features were @ replies and clickable links. As already mentioned sending an @ reply is dead easy, and you will now notice that whenever an @username appears in a tweet it is linked directly to that users timeline. You will also notice that any link that is in a tweet will be linked up automatically, something that was request by numerous users.

Hahlo Replies

When I opened the beta version of 2.0 up for testing the first request I got was for an easy way to bookmark the friends timeline. Within about 20 minutes I had that sorted, along with a bunch of other ‘pretty’ links that you can use.

The Future

Yes there are still more features that I hope to add to Hahlo in the future. The first on that list will be adding the functionality to allow you to follow and unfollow fellow twitterers quickly and easily. If you have a request for something that you would like to see Hahlo do, I’d love to hear it, just leave a comment or contact me at dean@hahlo.com.

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Is a native app necessary? •

Maybe I’m biased (very likely) but I don’t necessarily see the point of a native Twitter app for the iPhone. As cool as it may be, I don’t really see the point when you will still need to access the web to use it anyway, so really isn’t a web app sufficient? On a completely related, and biased, topic the Hahlo 2.0 beta is now open. http://beta.hahlo.com

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Advertising Trial •

You’ve probably noticed the block of Google ads just below here, its something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, and the redesign is the perfect time. Don’t worry though as I plan on only showing the google ads to vistors who reach my site from Google search, regular visitors won’t see them.

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Science is pretty much theory. It’s a miracle that anything works.

- James Pamplin [0]