Daily Archives: Sunday, 24th Apr 2011

Weight and Stuff Report – 24 April 2011

Shock horror, up a wee bit today.

You know, I was planning to go out today, maybe take some pictures, maybe go to a museum, or just have a wander about. But instead, I did a bit of twiddling with the site, which seems to have taken most of the day. Never mind, there’s another day off tomorrow, then just three days in work before I have some more time off.

Today’s picture is an eye:

Got my eye on you

Got my eye on you

Showing off…

Another year, another theme with a different way of achieving a similar effect.

This new theme comes with some handy pre-defined styles. I’ve tweaked my functions.php to add them to the styles drop down in the Visual editor, which means I can now have suitably highlighted blocks of text.

Graphene has nice buttons in the visual editor for adding these.

This style is a “warning”

This one is an “error message”

This one is a “notice”

And this one is an “important message”

What I haven’t done yet is add these styles into the CSS file used to make them show up in the visual editor. Maybe later…

Graphene[1] uses shortcodes for these, so CSS in the editor won’t worl

Another new look!

Well, after having fiddled a bit with my child theme, I wasn’t quite satisfied with the results, so I did some more looking for a different theme that I could adapt to suit my needs. And after a few false starts, minor frustrations and general muttering, I found something almost excessively clever.

Suffusion is a highly customisable theme by Sayontan Sinha which allows the user to set layouts (sidebars on or off, various options for headers and footers), appearance (colours, fonts), and pretty much everything you might want to fiddle with, directly from its own configuration pages, which is really nice work. This is a very good example of a developer taking the tools provided by WordPress and making something special. By choosing your own colours and options, you can create a site that’s quite distinctly yours, without having to work out which CSS selectors you need to change, which files to edit, and how hard to bang your head on your desk while sobbing whymewhymewhyme. Well, that last bit might just be my traditional approach to theme editing.

Anyway, I had a quick play with Suffusion this morning, then quickly set up a copy of Losing it[1] for a more detailed test. As I have a few little tweaks set up in functions.php, I created a child theme and activated that. This is generally the best way to do this sort of thing – it means that if the main theme is updated, I can install the update without breaking anything I’ve edited.

I fiddled around a bit, changed a few settings here and there, and found that I could do pretty much what I wanted. So, pausing only to make a small donation to the theme author[1], I installed Suffusion and copied over my child theme.

Which leads me to one of the theme’s niftiest features. As it has so many settings, recreating them from one site to another would take a while. Not difficult, but certainly time-consuming. So there is an export/import function! Yes, you can save all your settings to a file, which will be downloaded by your browser. You then need to save this in a the admin/import subfolder of the theme in the new location and click one button. If you do this, make sure you create the folder in your child theme, otherwise it won’t work!

I’ll be tweaking a few settings over the next few days, but for now, I’m moderately happy with the new look.

[1] I’m generally happy to do this for people who make an effort to produce something useful

The Icicle Works – The Small Price of a Bicycle (Expanded)

I’ve been meaning to talk about this reissue for a while now, but intertia and lack of tuits got in the way. And then I was distracted by the more recent reissue of If You Want To Defeat Your Enemy Sing His Song. But here we are on a sunday morning, and I’ve got both the time and the inclination to get on with it.

Second albums are notoriously tricky things. In many cases, a band’s first album will be the product of years of songwriting, rehearsing and performing. If it’s moderately successful, there is then a demand for something new, and err, right now before people forget who you are, OK? This can lead to a dip in songwriting quality, and a general lack of interest in the band’s future. But when your band is led by Ian McNabb, this is less of a problem. You see, Ian can write songs.

The second Icies’ album opens with one of the man’s finest songs – the glorious Hollow Horse, which serves as much as a statement of intent as anything:

We’ll be as we are, when all the fools who doubt us fade away..

Other highlights include Seven Horses, and the distinctly odd Rapids, which includes such lines as:

Vagrant suspicious and quite out of breath
Stumbles into a town where the people wear frowns
Picks up a paper, the pages are blank
They say, “No news today, no more writers around”


I sing this song with my tongue in my cheek
For the jilted, the jaundiced, the angry young men
Who somehow believe the status quo changes
With juvenile slogans in downmarket rags

Either deeply profound, or deeply bonkers. Or being, Ian McNabb, quite possibly both. As ever, it all comes together very nicely indeed, with songs that sneak into your brain and pop up at unexpected moments. This is an album I’d recommend to anyone who has the slightest tendency towards appreciating good songwriting.

But there’s more! This is, of course, a properly compiled expanded version of the album, with two extra CDs. The first extra disc contains longer versions of some of the album tracks, otherwise hard to find b-side tracks, which include such gems as a cover of Ian’s idol Neil Young’s Mr Soul, demos, and a long version of the quite wonderful song that wasn’t on any of the original albums – When It All Comes Down, as near to being the definitive Ian McNabb song:

Stay here with me, tide me over
Not sure where I’m bound
Love is surely all that matters
When it all comes down

Or if you’d like to hear it:

And there’s still more! The third disc contains a nice collection of bits and bobs – a Peel Session[1], tracks recorded for the Janice Long show in 1985, live tracks and more.

Another essential reissue, buy it now.

[1] For the benefit of those not familiar, for many years, legendary DJ John Peel :bow: :bow: :bow: used to get people to record tracks in a small BBC studio to be played on air. The Peel Sessions include pretty much anyone who was anyone, and lots of people who weren’t , but got that chance at exposure anyway.