For a while I have wanted this blog to be little more than an aggregator for some of the other thins I am working on. I thought LifeStream would do that and it does … sort of. LifeStream does a pretty good job of catching what is new, particularly from the Social sites (e.g. FaceBook, Twitter, etc.) and linking to it. What it doesn’t do is actually display content in a way where it can be read without leaving this site.
So I have moved LifeStream over to the sidebar using the LifeStream widget and reduced the number of feeds it monitors. In its place, I am now using FeedWordPress which is a plugin that monitors feeds and add the content as posts to this blog. Yes, some of the content is duplicated and I am ok with that. It allows me to have a single place where all of the content is available in one spot.
I prefer to post in content specific sites (e.g. on www.wp-SwimTeam.org) for certain projects so that material is self contained. But at the same time, I want that material to exist in the steam of all of the other things I am doing (this blog). So far it is working as I expected although I did end up with a category explosion when I added a couple feeds. That took a little while to sort out.
Off an on I have been working on a new Sandbox based LEGO theme for a while. I wanted something I could use for my own LEGO blog as well as the NCLUG and NCLTC sites and possibly the ILTCO site as well. I wanted to make it fairly easy to customize it by selecting a color scheme and allowing custom header images.
Color schemes were pretty straight forward. I wanted to base them on the Fibblesnork Backgrounds which I like a lot. The Fibblesnork backgrounds are very small images designed to tile across a web page. In my case, I wanted to use them to frame the content area. There are 18 different colors and two sizes for a total of 36 different background color choices. At some point I plan to support all 18 colors but initially I am only offering three: Red, Green, and Blue. Setting up a theme options page to select a color scheme was pretty straight forward, I had done that previously with my Soccer Theme.
WordPress has some built in functionality to do custom header images but it didn’t really do what I wanted. I wanted to allow a fair amount of control over the look and layout of the header. I decided to support three header images: Left, center, and right. I didn’t want to manage the header images so I decided to leverage the built in media management capability.
The theme options page will present any image that is in the media library as a potential header image. But how? I wanted to make it fairly simple to use. I decided to implement a drag and drop scheme based on the jQuery UI and discussed it in detail in a prior post. It took a little while to work it all out as I had done very little with jQuery previously.
The last thing I wanted to allow was the ability to tweak the header layout with CSS. For this I added what I referred to as “CSS Overrides” for the blog title, blog tagline, and the three header images. The combination of color schemes, custom header images, and CSS Overrides allows the Sandbox LEGO theme to take on a fairly distinct look.
The theme is currently in use on three blogs, I expect to make it available for download in the next few days. There are a couple issues I know of that need some styling help and I want to get two more color schemes finished before I release it. Color schemes aren’t too bad – I just need to pick the proper values. I have a script that actually generates the CSS files.