A Happy 12th Birthday for SJL.US!

On the Wall - New York City - 2013

On Monday, November 25, 2013, we’ll celebrate the 12th birthday of this personal blog of mine.

It’s gone through many difference phases over those years – beginning initially as a simply weblog linking to stories I found interesting (a very common use of Twitter these days is doing exactly that), starting what evolved separately into PaymentsNews.com, and then a transition to more of my photography passion as that interest grew in importance over the last few years.

Here’s to many more years of writing and sharing!

Over Ten Years Young!

If you look in the right sidebar of this blog, you’ll see a link to November 25, 2001 – as the “founded date”. Turns out that’s not quite right.

I took a walk back in time this afternoon – exploring what the Internet Archive had to say about my presence on the web. Here’s an example of an early page from my initial web presence – with the oldest entry on the page dated Sunday, June 20, 1999.

So, we’ve been around these parts for over 10 years.

Those early pages were “written” in Microsoft FrontPage – what an arcane experience that was. Later on, we used Radio Userland for some stuff – before eventually migrating to TypePad when it launched circa 2003.

What a strange trip it has been!

New Header Graphic: “Bookends”

[Update: Sep 17, 2010 – For the story behind this black and white image, see my post “Bookends“!]

I’ve updated the header graphic on my blog with a new photo that I shot in April of this year while on a brief four day vacation to New York City.

The venue was the Brooklyn Bridge subway station. I’ve titled this image “Bookends” – if you look at the right and left sides, you’ll see my inspiration for the title!

To see all of our previous header graphics, click here.

InMenlo.com – Our Hyperlocal Blog about Menlo Park, California

For the last several months, we’ve been incubating InMenlo.com – a “hyperlocal” blog about Menlo Park, California. My partners in this endeavor are Linda and Chris Gulker – active bloggers in their own right.

We started InMenlo.com on a whim, after a chat about hyperlocal news blogs over coffee last summer. Since we started, Linda and Chris have really managed the near daily cadence of blog posts for InMenlo. It’s been great fun to watch it grow – and to learn more about the people and places of Menlo Park in the process!

Today, the Almanac – the local newspaper for Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside – ran a story by Sean Howell titled “Menlo Park blog captures local life, people, vignettes” about what we’ve been doing with InMenlo – noting that “InMenlo sketches the community, and the people in it.” Indeed – that’s what we try to do. Explore what’s interesting and fun about the people and the community that is Menlo Park.

If you have suggestions about things we should cover, please email them along to tips@inmenlo.com!

WordCampSF 2009 – The WordPress Community

I attended WordCampSF 2009, the WordPress community gathering, in San Francisco today – and had a great time (pictures)! Held at the Rutter Conference Center at the new UCSF Mission Bay campus, this was a most impressive turnout of the WordPress community for an all-day session of talks about blogging, having fun and, yes, about all things WordPress. Eventually, the videos from today’s talks are to be available on WordPress.tv.

wcsf-smallbutton.pngI’ve been a long-time TypePad blogger and fan. This blog, my personal website, started out originally in FrontPage back in the 1998 timeframe then moved through Manila and Radio Userland to Typepad when it launched in 2003. Recently, at work, we launched a new blog – PaymentsViews.com – and decided to try using WordPress for the first time. Bringing up PaymentsViews was a great experience – thus my newfound interest in all things WordPress and in wanting to attend today’s conference! The $25 all-in conference price made it a no brainer to attend!

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Added Slimbox2 to This Blog for Better Image Presentation

While sitting out on the back deck this gloriously beautiful Spring afternoon, I started looking at a new Mac backup utility named Persistance.  I noticed that its screen images had that nice feature where when you clicked on them a new window would open showing a larger image against a black background.  This effect has been around for some time – but seeing it again motivated me to add it to this blog – so I did.

I chose Slimbox2 by Christophe Beyls – the latest optimized version of the original Lightbox2 Javascript package by Lokesh Dhakar.<p>Installation consists of creating two new directories (css and js) and uploading a total of six files.  You then need to modify the head portion of your templates to include the Javascript and CSS files along with Jquery.  

Once those additions have been made to your templates, you can then start using Slimbox2 on your images – by including rel=”lightbox” in the reference tag.  You can see the effect in action by clicking on any of the three images included in this post from my photo/painting outing with Don Neff.

Here’s another example – using a thumbnail of Don which, when clicked on, opens up to the larger image. Pretty cool!

There – now I’ve documented the change so when I try to remember how to use it again I can find this post easily!

Creating an iPhone-friendly Home Page for a TypePad Blog


Over on our Payments News blog, I’ve created an iPhone (and iPod touch) friendly version of our home page. The URL to view the iPhone version is http://paymentsnews.com/m. Here’s more about how I did it.

Basically, the process involved building on a basic template that the Six Apart folks have provided in one of their support items titled Tip: Creating a Mobile Friendly Weblog. We use TypePad’s Advanced Templates for Payments News so the process involved creating a new index template just for the iPhone page. The article contains the basic version of the index template that I started with.

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Starting a New Blog Using WordPress – PaymentsViews.com

At Glenbrook, we’ve started a new blog called Payments Views.

It’s intended to be a complement to our main Payments News blog that covers the news of the day in payments every business day. Instead, Payments Views will be a place for expressing opinions and insights beyond the news.

We’re using WordPress for this new blog – after years of using TypePad for all of our blogging efforts. For more background on the why and how, see Creating PaymentsViews.com.

How Did I Add Tweet This to My TypePad Blog Posts?

Over on our Payments News blog and here on SJL.US, I recently added the ability for the reader to “tweet this” post to Twitter. A friend asked this morning how I did that.

Here’s how. We’re running Payments News in what TypePad refers to as “Advanced Templates” mode – meaning that we can edit all of the various TypePad templates to do what we want.

One of the TypePad template modules – entry-individual – controls the display of individual blog posts. To add the “Tweet This” feature to every individual post in a TypePad blog, I added the following code to entry-individual:

 <a href="http://twitter.com/home?status=: ” target=_blank”>Tweet This

The code shows the Tweet This graphic (you’ll need to host the image on your server and change the IMG URL to point to it) and builds a URL that when clicked opens the user’s Twitter home page with the URL of the blog post pre-inserted. The user simply clicks “update” on the Twitter page and the tweet is generated.

I’d really like to enhance this code so that the pre-inserted URL is pre-shortened – but I can’t figure out an easy way to do that. If you can help, please comment here! Remember, with TypePad I can’t do any fancy PHP-kinda stuff!

Google Sitemaps for TypePad Pro

I was pulling my hair out last night trying to get a template for creating a Google Sitemap in TypePad for use with our Payments News blog. Unfortunately, the ones that have been posted for Movable Type are subtly incompatible with date formatting in TypePad. As a result, they return errors when published.

Frankly, it’s simply beyond me to understand why neither TypePad nor Google document how to do this (for TypePad Pro users) in either of their online help or FAQ material! Maybe this post will result in one or both of them posting these details – so that others can find these details much more quickly!

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