planning a new attack on the design

i’ve been thinking about hacking the site design again. now that i’ve got the lifestream set up and i’ve seen how it looks in use, i’m thinking of moving things around to make things feel a bit more cohesive and less random. maybe emphasize the “this is what i’m doing right this second” aspect of the lifestream. my main goal is to split off the posts from the stream so they appear on their own and don’t get automatically buried by tweets or tracks played on last.fm. it was sort of my original intent, it was just executed badly (read: not really at all and then forgotten), and i can’t really expect everyone to click over to the blog tab, as much as i’d like them to. i’ve also been thinking about changing the formatting of the lifestream posts. just some minor tweaks to some stuff that’s been bugging me that i’ve been staring at, especially since getting feedback about the concept from matt mullenweg some of which is repeated at the end of his recent micro/megablogging post.

apparently i also need to address the fact that my archives are lacking older/newer posts links…

new look for jazzsequence.com: presenting jazzsequence::metal::

jazzsequence2.0i’m still putting the final touches on the site, but the new redesigned look is here.  the theory is based on some stuff that has been floating around the net about how websites will become more like lifestreams.  since i’ve never been really happy with any single lifestream client (and i’ve tried a bunch), i decided it would be just as easy to turn my blog into one so that this site becomes, truly, a log of all the stuff i’m doing.

mockup1

as much as i really liked my old theme, discount browncoat (yes, a firefly/serenity reference), it was narrow, had some leftover bugs, and took a long time to load because of the heavy graphics.  i wanted something i could expand on easily, and offer the possibility for advertising.  i also wanted a way to showcase a lot of the projects and stuff i work on, which was hidden down in the sidebar on my old theme.  now that stuff can go prominently in the header.

so here’s a rundown: top nav listing of pages with dropdown menus for sub-pages — this allows me to have a generic top-level page, say fiction, and then have links to all the fiction i’ve written.  260 px wide sidebar, which allows for 260×260 and 125x125px ads — fairly standard sizes for a design blog.  magazine-style layout using the powerful by TimThumb script.  i really like this style of displaying posts, ever since i first saw it in mimbo, and i’ve been using it on a lot of different sites i’ve worked on recently.  i’m also using a hack that displays a little tag underneath the most recent post to identify it as such.  i thought about doing an author page, but a lot of the author fields in wordpress are information i didn’t want to share, and i already have an about page with other stuff, so i decided to just do a page template that added in where i’m available online to the about info i already had.  this way, too, there’s more flexibility to update and change content.  i also made a blog page which filters out all the lifestreaming stuff and just displays the actual posts, because i could see it getting out of hand, especially when i’m playing music (and therefore getting a feed from last.fm).  there are three, fully widgetized sidebars, depending on what part of the site you’re on.  i did this so i could, in theory, make what shows up on the sidebar somewhat relevant to what you are looking at.  there’s also a customized 404 page, and separate category and archives pages.  by the time i got to the footer i sort of ran out of ideas, so i just blathered on, offering additional links to various parts and features of the site.

this has been a project on my mind for a few months with various ideas festering and growing in there.  i hope it comes off well, and i think i’ll probably be making additional tweaks as an ongoing thing, but i’m pretty excited about the new changes.  w00t.

more thoughts on new jazzsequence design

i was thinking a bit more about what i want from the new redesign, and how i want to integrate feeds and activity streams from other sites.  in particular, i was thinking about what om malik talks about in this post on what he sees as the evolution of blogging.  one point he makes is that, for those of us who don’t use facebook as our source for streaming all our thoughts online, i.e., those of us with our own websites or blogs, blogs will become more like facebook activity streams or lifestreams.

i already have a lifestream page that i’m not all that happy with.  and i was already thinking about using an “asides” feature like ma.ttand the morning after use on their themes. what if my various activity streams were fed in between blog posts, so the entire blog was like a lifestream?  this concept is really interesting and fairly new, and i am thinking i want to run with this idea.  i’ve used wp-o-matic for another site that literally aggregated content from various blogs onto its own blog (it was pretty much a hands-off money tree for ads) for a project i worked on a while ago, so i know how that works.  it would be fairly simple to use wp-o-matic to do the same thing here, except pull feeds from various social networking activity rss feeds.  assuming it all works the way it should, it would be fairly awesome…

gwozdziec, stall

i realize that i have hit a stall on the gwozdziec project.  part of that has been due to technical difficulties — a couple of the times i tried to do stuff my computer decided not to output any sound from those applications.   but the main part is that i’ve gotten bored with the formula.  so i’ve decided that rather than just doing the same basic formula for each track, i need to change it up a bit once in a while.  i’ve toyed with the idea of using the analog synthesizer vst i used on the RPM project and rolling dice to determine the patch, where to put the notes, etc.  the last track i did any work on i did a random yahoo query and used windows’ built-in text-to-speech engine to read the text on the main page of the random site to use for the vocoder app.  this should make each post about the tracks be more interesting since it won’t just be a list of dice rolls and freesound samples, but it does mean i’ll need to spend a little bit more time figuring out how to compose each track and make it built on concepts of random and creative commons.

more as the project takes more shape in my head.

in the meantime, check out my new lifestream page.  I might change up the format but I’ve decided to use my own technology and site design rather than a 3rd party — storytlr was cool, but styling it looked like it was going to be an insane amount of work just to make it match my existing site, and even as I use this new technology (i’ve switched to profilactic), i realize that there isn’t anything special to any of these technologies — for the most part they’re just mashing up various RSS feeds that your online activities generate into a timeline.  storytlr had the option to break it down and create specific stories, which was cool, but something i hadn’t used and probably wouldn’t unless we went on a trip somewhere (and since I don’t have a laptop, the end result would be some pics from after the fact anyway).  lifestreaming is an idea, not bound to a specific technology, which didn’t fully occur to me until after i went to the lifestream blog. but the main thing i want to change on the lifestream page is to have the full articles for each item (where applicable), not just the headline for each post, which i’m thinking of doing by letting SimplePie handle profilactic’s main RSS feed.