Recently in Blog Facts Category

Test Post from BlogPress on my iPad

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I've been searching for a long time for a way to access my blog from my iPad. I've tried BlogPress before but couldn't log in (in spite of following all the instructions). Could two years of patient waiting have changed my situation? Testing things out with this post, including adding a picture.

20120831_KissingHand.jpg
In case you want to know, this is the kissing hand that Z created for me on her first day of school.

Note: photo was uploaded after resizing with Big Photo and then was added to post after logging in via Safari. Seems like when I do that, the image gets named "image.jpg" which is not very handy if there is name clashing. So images still seem flaky unless I upload to flickr or another service and then link out....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:S Main St,Chelsea,United States


A Trip Back in Time

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Hey, look at me!  A second post in the same week.  Amazing, eh? 

First off, thank you to everyone for your kind comments on my Blooming 9 Patch -- it's one of those projects that looks complicated, but is actually pretty easy and mostly involves strip piecing. It's also easy to size for all different sizes, so it's a great project for a color study.  The book that I used for it is called "Tradition with a Twist" -- it has a large collection of great strip piecing projects and the instructions are clear and easy to understand.  So for anyone who wants to try on their own, I say go for it!    Those of you who thought I was fast on this made me smile -- I made a baby in less time than this quilt.  It started right before Ms. Z was born -- and she's almost three now.  And I just made the top!   The enthusiastic reception has made me reconsider where it might "hang out" for a while.  It may go live in my room for a while after all!

I was cruising through my blog reads and came across this on Wendy's Blog:

Back in the olden days, way before Ravelry, there was an Audrey knit-along in the knitblog world. It seems that there must have been an online group associated with it as well -- wait -- I think there was a special blog, just for Audrey-knitters. Anyone else remember that?

Do I remember that?  Indeed I do.  The Audrey-a-Long was the brainchild of myself, Becky, Elisabeth and Morgan.  Becky did most of the blog styling (creating an incredible Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany's theme!), I did the hosting and administration and we all contributed to the writing, knitting, cheering and good vibes.  What made this blog really special, was that it was one of the first knit-a-longs where the participants were invited to post for themselves. The beginning of an era!  The project started on April 1, 2004 and I retired the blog on October 15, 2005.  All Audrey finishers received special sweater labels that we had printed up... I think I mailed out over 50 of them.  Such a fun ride for me. 

When I upgraded to MT4, I didn't migrate the blog and archives, but you can still take a peek if you want to check in on the blast from the past -- there are many interesting comments about Calmer (we certainly, as a group, put that yarn through its paces), familiar faces and tips and tricks about shaping.  The ever fabulous Bonne Marie Burns wrote a number of special features (as Tiffany, no less!) on knitting technique.  All in all, probably one of my favorite personal "bloggy" projects. 

In the Cloud

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20100418_WordCloudWordle.jpgWhat's the old phrase... good artists borrow, great artists steal...

Consider this Word Cloud idea well and duly stolen from Norma, and created using a tool called Wordle.  I think it's pulling this mostly from my current RSS feed, but I like how "WORK" is in the center, flanked by "WEAVING" and "KNIT" -- that pretty much sums it up for me at the moment.  It also amuses me how dominant the words "LIKE" and "ONE" and "LITTLE" are -- clearly I have some favorite verbs, pronouns and adjectives. 

Nicole continues, as does the color gamp blanket.  My Skew socks are stalled, due to my desire to keep my hands off wool for a bit as I try to sort out some of my skin sensitivities, but I do want to get them finished up.  I feel as if time is accelerating for me right now.  Every time I turn around it seems like a week has gone by and I've got very little crafty to show for it.  I think about my projects a lot, but I haven't had an easy time figuring out how to integrate my hobbies into the rhythm of my new schedule yet. 


The New and Improved Website/Blog is Here!

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Here it is, midnight, Monday morning and I have just finished up getting the new site to where I want it to be.  There's still a lot to do, but I'm really happy with what I was able to accomplish in the past week or so.  I'm now using Movable Type to control my whole framework for my website.  While some of my pages still have the look and feel of one or more of my previous generations of blog/website design, little by little, things are going to all migrate into this one.  How fast it goes is going to be dependent on how much html re-coding I can stomach at any given time. 

What things might you care about?

  • All navigation can now be accomplished using the top bar.  It has links to all the major parts of my site.  All my contact information is now on the Contact page instead of in the sidebar, and links to all my patterns are now on the Patterns page instead of in the sidebar. 
  • The "Recent Comments" widget in my side bar is fun and a nice way to keep track of the dialog in my recent posts. 
  • All my entries have been republished and my category archives and tag cloud should be up-to-date. 
  • I think overall the site and my blog pages are cleaner and easier to navigate. 
  • I hope it will be easier to publish comments now.  My comment templates are pretty much the default MT4 templates, so they (in theory) should be optimized to perform well.  Please consider giving me a holler if you run into persistent problems with trying to submit a comment.  My blog has gotten rather large (1367 posts and more than 24,000 comments) so I think sometimes that my web host chokes on processing and re-creating all the pages it needs to whenever you leave a comment.  Added after testing... seems like for some reason when you use the "Preview" option for your comment and then submit, it gives you an error about not accepting the comment because of too many submissions in too short a time.  For some reason (and it happens for my blog posts, too, when I preview them before posting) when you do a "Preview" it seems to posting the comment and when you hit submit, it thinks you're posting the same comment a second time.  So if you get that message after a preview, don't worry, your comment most likely got through.
As I was working on updating my site, I got kind of nostalgic looking back over all the posts I've made, all the different styles my site has had.  And I was extremely appreciative of how clean and flexible Becky made my site styles when she gave it the spectacular facelift that produced all main images color themes.  I still think of it as my "new look" even though I can't exactly remember how long ago she created it for me.  I still love it and only tried to update/change it to be compatible with some of the new goodies made available by MT4.  Any oddities you see now are all my responsibility.  But I hope they are few and far between.

My next project will be to bring my technique section back on line -- I'm still pleasantly surprised by the fact that my little tutorials are useful to folks.  After that, I'll work on getting my project gallery back in to shape.  I've been using Ravelry for that for awhile, but I think I'd like to get things back here, in house, where I have more control over how they look.  I'd also like to create a book and tools review section for the site -- I have so much fiber arts stuff now, I'd like to share what I've learned about it with my readers.

But, most importantly, my next posts are going to be back to focusing on the crafty good stuff.  While I love all manner of coding, I've really been missing having some needles in my hand!

And the Blog Upgrades Continue

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Thought I would pop in just to say a few words about where the blog is...

  • I am fully migrated to Movable Type 4.31.  It was relatively painless and went smoothly. 
  • I got rid of all the anti-spam plugins except TypePad anti-spam.  In my previous installation, I actually had several modules installed and active and I'm suspicious that they didn't all play nice together or make for a better user experience.  So far, I haven't seen a wave of exciting new spam with just the TypePad anti-spam plugin, so I'm going to leave it on its own in the hope that maybe it will improve the commenting situation on the blog.
  • All of the links for purchasing my patterns have been converted over to Ravelry.  Unfortunately, this does eliminate the shopping cart option that I had with E-junkie, but it also saves me some money for months when pattern sales are low to none. 
  • I learned a bit about the concept of "pages" in Movable Type -- these are web pages built from a template that are separate from blog pages and entries.  The idea is that they are meant mostly as static pages that have some consistent HTML wrapped around them.  I converted the pages for the patterns I have for sale into this system and have decided that I need to move all of my old static pages into this system.  Previously I maintained the static pages with an elderly version of DreamWeaver and my blog with Movable Type.  I'm now going to migrate everything into Movable Type, which, I hope, will save me time and be easier for me to maintain.
  • The newest version of Movable Type has nice basic templates for building full on websites with multiple blogs, community sections, etc.  After installing a test site just to see what it looked like, I realized that not just my blog, but my whole website could use a little face lift.   Since I also suspect that some of the problems I have with commenting are related to page layout issues and how fast my templates can be processed and pages generated (I think that blank page comes up because the pages that are being updated with the comments are still building and the webserver times out the process) I want to try to move my blog into a fresh installation, moving my old templates into the new framework.   So far, the process is going well.  After a few evenings of jiggling around the base CSS and bringing in some of the stuff that Becky built for me I have a very presentable front entry screen into my website.  The blog is next!
So I'm pretty happy about where things are going right now, even though I am just beginning to appreciate the mountain of effort I will have to climb to perform the entire migration.  I think that after I get the main site pages and blog running, the rest will move over gradually as I get time.  Even though I am enjoying my dip in this particular pond, my fingers are getting itchy for a little knitting. 

Comment and Blogging Issues

Hi All --

It has become apparent to me that my blog system needs some overhauling.  I can't explain why so many people are having problems with comments (even I get them when I try test posts), although I suspect it has something to do with the interaction of my spam control plugins and Movable Type's native software.  Then there's the fact that I seem to be getting double posts when I preview a post before I post it.  Also, it's time, I think, to convert my current RSS feed into an atom feed to make it easier for people to look at in blog readers.  And I need to update my pattern pages to include sales through Ravelry.  And then there's the fact that Six Apart came out with a MT 4.3 all the way back in June that I haven't installed -- and this release promises better performance, security, etc.  I've decided that to best celebrate my 7 year blogiversary I need to get my poor blog into better shape!

So, rather than try to do a lot of things at once (like I usually do) and put myself into a blog update frenzy as I try to make all the code work correctly in time for my next blog post, I'm going to go on a little blogging hiatus until I get it all taken care of and hopefully come back mostly better -- at least from a back end perspective.  Unfortunately, web site updates and actual crafting also tend to be mutually exclusive, so if I want to do the former, the actual crafting is going to be lacking for a bit, too.  Which is the other reason for a little hiatus while I do this.

In the meantime, if you're trying to comment and having problems with that, please try again  and be patient with me.  I'm pretty frustrated with the darn thing not working correctly and am going to work hard to make it work better again. 

See you on the flip side!

T

It Had to Happen Sometime...

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I may not be at Rhinebeck, but I did get something accomplished this weekend!

Not only did I update to Movable Type 4.21 (which was not painful at all given that I started from MT 4.12 -- typical of MT updates, major updates are painful, minor updates are so trivially accomplished you wondered why you even backed things up before doing them) but I got my templates in order as well, so that my archive pages all are stylistically similar to my main pages.  And I learned a bit more about MT4 -- not as much as I would like to know, but enough to feel a little more competent manipulating my own website.

Even more fun, I now have real, live comment threading set up -- it's now possible to reply to comments.  Since this makes it much easier for me to share my responses and to have a better dialog with everyone, I hope that if you leave a comment that was looking for an answer or that was meant to start some discussion, you'll come back and check later to see what's going on.

I'm so happy about this I'm going to treat myself to some brownies and some actual knitting tonight!

Twitter With Me

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I suspect I am one of the last people on the planet to have discovered Twitter.  Twitter is a bit like a combination of blog, instant messenger/text messenger and social networking experience*.   Instead of  a full scale blogging experience, all Twitter "posts" are 140 characters long and once you upload them, anyone who is following your feed can see what you're doing.  It doesn't replace blogging (no images, for instance), but it does allow you to post bits and bobs when you don't have time for a large post to your blog or you just want to mention something cool or give your friends a quick update on what you're doing without sending out an email blast.  And, of course, you can follow your friends feeds and get similar information.

As someone who used to have time to share more on her blog, and who still has lots of stuff to share, just not enough time to type it, I thought I would try it out.  In my sidebar, I've added a "Watch Me Twitter" section where my most recent twitterings will be. And if you're on Twitter, you can find me here -- and my user name is KeybrdBiologist.

* I am also on Facebook but don't show up there very often.  So many webby things to play with, so little time.

More Forward Progress

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I got my main blog template back!  There are still plenty more things to do:

  1. Individual entry pages need to be "updated" to have my old "look and feel".
  2. My main archive page needs to be restored (I don't really like having all my archive links on the main page).
  3. My WIP blog that provides the feeds for my WIP listing in the side bar needs to be brought back online.
  4. Mourn the loss of my pop-up comment entry box -- it's not really supported by MT anymore
  5. Add the Tag Cloud widget to my sidebar.  The whole widget thing is a real improvement to template maintenance in MT4.  That one was easier than I thought.  It's already done you can scroll down and look in my side bar to see it in action.
  6. Work on re-factoring my template a little bit to conform better to the MT4 templating system, which should make my templates easier to maintain.
  7. Back up the whole shebang
If any of you want to know how not to upgrade to MT4, drop me a line.  I feel like I could write a novel about that.  And if you should notice anything else about my blog that doesn't work, feel free to drop me a comment and let me know.   

Blogvolution

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Yes, the blog is in transition... again.  Last night I lost control of my senses and decided that I needed to figure out why MT4 wasn't working correctly.  And I actually couldn't get to sleep until I was sure it actually would do all the basic things that it needed to do.  Clearly, I am now certifiable. 

MT4 is not bad, it's just a significant shift structurally and I did some dumb, blind things without thinking when I installed it.  I have been kicking myself for deciding to upgrade when what I had was working fine.  The lure of shiny new features is just too much to resist sometimes.  Some days I am just my own worst enemy when it comes to wanting to play with new toys. In the end, I ended up "starting fresh" by creating a brand new blog and importing all of the stuff from the old blog into the new one. And there are still a ton of issues that I still have to resolve.  Sigh. But at least you can read it and I can post to it, which is an improvement.  The look and feel of my blog is now just one of Movable Types standard on board styles... I miss my old template already.  But hopefully I'll be able to resurrect things as time goes on.  In the meantime, it's nice just to have a blog that actually functions. 

Right now I'm trying to look on the bright side and see this as an opportunity to learn something new and to clean up a bunch of old cruft that had accumulated in my template.  I'm hoping that once I get to start playing with some of the new widgets and toys in MT4 that I will be happier about the whole situation.  I do have to say that I like the image preview functions much better...

However, the moral of this story is most definitely the old engineer's adage: if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Yes, I know I am having problems with the comments... they want you to be authorized to log comment... even I am not authorized at this point, so don't take it personally...  more MT4 issues.

Comments now appear to work!  Woo hoo!  One issue down, a few hundred more to go....

Finally, a Neat Guestbook/Map

Check out our Frappr!

How very cool is this? Much thanks to Ann and Kay over at Mason Dixon and Rachael for pointing out this very cool Google-maps based tool. This is so much better than what I was trying to do before. If you come by and read, I'd just love it if you could add yourself to my map. And you don't have to be just in the US -- I zoomed it out so that you can see the whole world!

New Features

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For a long time I've wanted to have a section of my blog/website in which I shared information about the books I have in my collection. If there's anything that is true about me, it's that I love to buy books. Any time it's time to learn something new, the first thing I do is go and see if there is a book I can add to my collection. This means that I've amassed a pretty large collection of knitting books and other fiber arts related books over the last several years.

This morning, while I was going through my list of "in progress" projects that I would like to have to wear this fall, I decided that Liberty needed to be my next thing to complete. I chose Liberty for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I am concerned about having enough of one of the colors and if I need to get another ball of Mist, I want a halfway-decent chance of still being able to find the dyelot somewhere on the planet. So in order to get the right front cast on and on its way, I had to remember how to do a tubular cast on. And the first book I reached for was Nancie Wiseman's "The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techiques".

As I was paging through the book, I realized that I had used this book enough to give it a good evaluation. Relative to it's size, it's not a cheap book, but I find myself coming back it over and over because her explanations and illustrations are excellent. And that got me thinking about getting a little bit more serious about sharing my opinions on books. In many cases, it takes a long time of living with a book, especially a technique or pattern book, before it's really possible to talk about what makes it good or not so good. I've been blogging and knitting and buying books for quite some time now, and I've definitely got both a good library to talk about and a growing collection of books that I've had time to live with and really understand whether or not they are treasures, trash or fall somewhere in between. I hope that my growing expertise in knitting will be able to give me a good perspective from which to judge new and old entries into the field and that my writing skills are sufficient to provide anyone who reads my reviews with a good overview of the book in question.

So today is the day that the book reviews start. You can find them over at The Keyboard Biologist Collects Books. I've also added a link to the page to my side bar for easy access. I don't anticipate that I will have a regular schedule for updating this blog, nor will it be totally restricted to kntting books. Not surprisingly, given the subject of this post, my very first entry is Nancie Wiseman's book. I invite you to read, leave comments and add anything that you think would help me or someone else understand what the book I've reviewed is all about. My goal is to help others get a good picture of what's between the covers of my selections.

MIT Weblog Study

Because I can't resist helping a scientific cause...

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Around the World in 327 Comments

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Or at least that's what I'd recorded when I started to get this post ready. What a treat it was going through all the comments and tallying up where everyone was from. It's funny how the world seems to get both smaller and larger when I look through the results. When I was growing up, I'd often thought it would be neat to have pen pals -- people in far away places (for a kid without a car, that could be as little as 20 miles away) who would tell you about all the strange and wonderful things going on in their lives, let you know what the world was like outside your own protective bubble. At the time, I had no idea how one went about finding such people though. But I did collect a lot of stationery in the hopes that I might figure it out.

Now, a quarter century later, I think I may have figured it out. Granted "far away" has a different definition for me now, and the mechanism of communication is different. But the fact that it my horizons are broader and I'm using mostly electronic media instead of pen and paper doesn't make it any less wonderful.

I'm also pretty amazed by the number of you who identified yourselves as biologists or scientists or people connected with science in some way -- just over 13% of those leaving comments.

The place that has the mapping service has 4 maps to play with: an entire world map, and maps for the US, Canada and Europe. I decided to use them all so I could share all the stats with everyone.



create your own visited country map

During my short time sampling, I heard from people 323 people from over 16 different countries (17 if you count Hong Kong separately, as I am inclined to since it is a very unique component of China). 43 of you identified yourselves as having some connection to a scientific profession. Although last month I got hits to my blog from many of the places that aren't colored in, they are a relatively small number of hits, so I wasn't expecting to see too many of those in a couple of day window. However, I'm going to keep the comments open on the original post so that anyone new dropping by who feels so inclined, can share their location. You can get to it by clicking here or in the link I've added to my side bar.

4% of those of you who responded were in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan or New Zealand. Approximately 15% of you have some connection to science or biology. Given how far they are from Chicago, I consider myself fortunate that I've visited even one of these places -- I traveled to Australia for my honeymoon(we had a stop over in Auckland, but I'm not sure that counts as visiting New Zealand). We spent most of our time in Sydney and near the Barrier Reef. I'm hoping my next trip will take me farther inland.



create your own personalized map of Canada

8% of you hail from Canada. Only 4% of the Canadians who left me a comment were willing to admit to having a connection to biology or any kind of bench science. Perhaps, not surprisingly given population density, the largest number of waves came from Ontario. British Columbia was next.

Embarassingly, I've travelled very little in Canada. I've been in Ontario (Stratford Festival, anyone?) but haven't yet visited beyond that, in spite of having a cousin in Manitoba. Someday I want to take the Royal Canadian Pacific train across Canada. If only I could convince my husband to take a vacation that doesn't involve a beach!



create your personalized map of europe

11% of the responses came from Europe, with the most from England, followed by Germany and Finland. 16% (the highest percentage overall) of the responses were from scientists or biologists of various stripes.

I've been very fortunate that, since getting married and getting a real job, I've visited a few European countries. Most I haven't seen anywhere near enough of, and I've enjoyed every place I've visited: England, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Switzerland. I've spent the most time, so far, in France, but am hoping to get a few weeks in the UK this summer with my family. Watch out, Colinette factory!



create your own personalized map of the USA

Finally, the US. 77% of the responses were from my home country, and 14% of you identify yourselves as having biological connections. California, Massachusetts, New York, Texas and Virginia were the top 5.

I won't list all the states I've visited -- my parents did a pretty good job of making sure that I've at least driven through most of them. I've only lived in a few of them, however... New York (first 4 years), Michigan (14 years), Texas (4 years) and Illinois (14 years). Just seeing it that way gives me a bit of a surprise. I've been in Illinois for much longer than I thought, sometimes it seems like I just got here...

Blog of the Day
This mapping adventure has also brought a whole new collection of blogs to my attention. I've decided that every day I'm going to take the time to explore a new blog from this group and share the link here. I'll pick them more or less at random from the list. Today I took a little trip by Nadia's Crafting Adventures. Nadia hails from British Columbia, Canada and has an idea for a store that could completely clean out my bank account... a combination book store and yarn store! Good thing Vancouver is a long ways away from Chicago.

And for anyone who wanted to see the whole tally of responses, just open up the extended entry.

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