March 13, 2005

Weblog Technology: Plans for the Future

I've gotten an account at Dreamhost, and it does seem better than Powweb. Next, I need to try using Wordpress and to move the blog, and also to move my www.rasmusen.org domain over to Dreamhost.

After, that, I'll see what I can do about useful formatting of the weblog, and I'll redo the categories.

Another idea is to go over the old entries and consolidate, cross-link, and improve them. One of my hopes in doing this weblog is that it will help me keep track of facts and thoughts, and that requires organization and culling.

Permalink: 09:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 03, 2005

Fixing the Weblog: Switching to WordPress and DreamHost

Rather than try to reconstruct this, I will in a week or two change both software and hardware.

It looks as if Wordpress is superior to Movable Type as blog software, so I'll try moving to that. Not only does MT not work as it's supposed to, but it's anti-spam features are feeble, it doesn't have a "notify commenter" feature, automatic trackbacks don't work, and it doesn't allow convenient reorganization of categories (possibly the most important feature).

I am also not happy with Powweb, the company which has the computer that hosts my website. Powweb is cheap and has lots of disk space-- way more than I need-- but it is often slow, does not have much documentation, and does not allow a telnet connection that would let me log in and use unix commands. ince I can only use FTP, I can't delete entire directories, for example. So I'm thinking of moving to Dream host .

The domain name (www.rasmusen.org) won't have to change-- it's independent of the computer used.

Permalink: 07:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 27, 2005

weblog troubles

I am getting fed up with Movable Type. Trackbacks don't work; the categories don't have reorganization capability; comments and trackbacks are unprotected from spam; and now for mysterious reasons the index template isn't working all of a sudden. I don't have time to deal with it now, though.

Permalink: 06:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 05, 2005

Leftwing Blogs and the Ward Churchill Affair

As I noted on Feb 4 , Eugene Volokh, Steven Bainbridge, and Instapundit all weighed in on Feb. 4 on whether the University of Colorado should fire Professor Ward Churchill, and all agree with my position: No, of course not; all he's doing is stating an unattractive political position.

What of the Left? Brian Leiter clearly supports Churchill, though only by implication. Crooked Timber agrees with Bainbridge. My searches of other leftish blogs have either revealed no mention, or offense taken at rightish blogs saying Ward Churchill shows what leftists are like. I find lots of boring posts on details of social security, but nothing on freedom of speech. Have I missed something? (quite possible-- I'm serious, because I was curious what the Left would say about this) Are the leftish blogs scared, unconcerned, or just slow? UPDATE, FEBRUARY 9: I see more commentary by now; I think they're just slow or don't think academic freedom is an interesting topic.

Permalink: 02:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 21, 2005

Setting up TypeKey for Movable Type

With much labor, I have set up the Typekey registration for my weblog. As a result, anybody wishing to comment must sign up with Typekey. When you try to comment, you are given instructions for this easy procedure, which takes effect instantly and is useful for lots of different blogs. The advantage is that spammers don't sign up....

... This is a standard feature of Movable Type 3 blog software, and can be turned on easily. The problem comes in filling in the boxes. Typekey asks for the address of the weblog, e.g., http://www.rasmusen.org/x/, but that is actually not enough. In addition, as Pdq's Views explains, it seems one needs the address where you put your movable type software, e.g., http://www.rasmusen.org/mt-new/. To play it safe, I also included the address of my archives, http://www.rasmusen.org/x/archives/. If you have problems commenting, please let me know and I'll tweak it some more.

Permalink: 03:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 13, 2005

New HTML Format for Quotations

Do you like my new quotation format? It looks like this:
"A Reputation Model of Quality in North-South Trade." Countries have different comparative advantages in quality. These might be due to technological differences, or to reputation differences of the sort described in Klein \& Leffler (1981). Reputation differences are particularly interesting, since good reputations are a form of ``social capital'' that is amenable to modelling. They can explain why firms in these industries like to export even if the foreign price is no higher than the domestic one, and why governments would like to have large ``high-value'' sectors. ( http://www.rasmusen.org/papers/trade-rasmusen.pdf).
I got the commands from my old Uni High classmate Anton Sherwood, whose blog is ... muttered the ogre. Here's the command, adapted for Movable Type, where it goes into the Main Index template and the Individual Archive template, right at the start of each file:

<style> BLOCKQUOTE {border-left: 5px solid #bdc;
margin-left: 1.5em;
padding-left: 5px;} </style>

Permalink: 09:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 12, 2005

Bad Comments in Weblogs--- Kevin Drum's Weblog

Yesterday I thought I'd see what liberal bloggers had to say about the Rathergate Report (partly, I must admit, for entertainment value at seeing them squirm). Kevin Drum has a reasonable post in which he acknowledges that CBS messed up, and even adds extra weighty evidence of his own. At the end, to be sure, he says, in effect "the other side does it too" and "plus, Rather are not on our side anyway; this was stupid journalistic zeal, not bias", but if you're going to defend the Democrats, that's the tack to take.

What surprised me, though, was the number of vulgar, thoughtless, and partisan liberal comments his site attracts. In particular, look at the comments to his post on Republican sleaze, by which he means not bribery, such things as but partial repeal of the 1994 rule changes on transparency, big changes made to bills in conference committee, and holding votes open so members can be induced to change their votes in time. (My comment was that the backtracking from 1994 may be bad, but Drum's saying that "It took Democrats 40 years to start losing losing their soul to corruption. Republicans have left them in the dust in a mere decade." is curious given that the Republicans still aren't back to the 1993 rules the Democrats used for decades).

I haven't done a comparison. I wonder if conservative blogs with open comments attract just as many mindless, low-quality readers?

Permalink: 10:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 14, 2004

Latest MT developments--reinstallation

Well, I did reinstall Movable Type, and things seem to be working normally again. As in the previous two times I installed Movable Type, odd things happened in the installation process. This time, I smoothly Imported my old entries from an Export file, and I did not have to delete the old ones (I was afraid I migth end up with duplicate entries. The categories imported too. My old Movable Type installation is still up, so I could go there to get the templates to install.

Why "November" comes out as "Listopad" I don't know. Since nobody really cares for blog dates anyway, I am not too distressed.

Permalink: 07:05 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 13, 2004

Somehow my Movable Type is

Somehow my Movable Type is now working-- but erratically. It I'm not sure what I did to make it come back-- I was all set to delete the weblog and reinstall. Comments are working, too, though now my MT-Blacklist plug-in seems not to be working. It probably needs reinstalling... This makes me wonder whether I should return to my home-made HTML weblog. But I'll keep on with Movable Type for now.

Permalink: 09:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 11, 2004

Problems with Movable Type

I'm having problems with Movable Type. For some reason, I can't enter comments now, and even entering new posts requires an oblique procedure. I'm not sure why this problem suddenly started two days ago, so solving it may be difficult...

Permalink: 01:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 08, 2004

Links Recommended by Stromata/Veal

Tom Veal's Stromata has a list of his favorite blogs that is worth noting. Here's a sampling, without his numbering:

  • Hoystory -- This guy ought to have his own syndicated column.
  • Iraq the Model --The antidote to the American media’s doom and gloom
  • Nixatron Blog-Times -- Omnium gatherum of political news and opinion
  • Armavirumque -- Group blog of The New Criterion, a great cultural magazine
  • Cronaca -- Art, archeology, history, a dash of politics
  • Bjørn Stærk Blog -- Imagine what it must be like to be a young, right- of-center pundit in Norway!
  • Arthur Chrenkoff -- An Australian who is best known for publicizing the abundant good news from Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Right Wing News -- What the name implies, with a good sense of humor

Permalink: 01:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 01, 2004

Ellipses and Page Numbers for Web Quotes

I'm going to switch to using ellipses (...) in a more condensed way. I won't indicate whether I've omitted complete paragraphs or not. This will make my posts slightly shorter and more readable, I hope. It's interesting how proper documentation changes with the Web. Since I give you a link to easily get to the original document, the niceties of fomratting in quotation are less important.

The Web makes giving page numbers for quotes less important too, since the reader can go to the original document and do a search on one of the phrases in the quotation and get to it more quickly than if he had a page or line number. Were the canto and line numbers in my Sunday quote from Pope's Essay on Man necessary? I suppose not.

Permalink: 05:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 29, 2004

Comments Opened Again

MT 3.1 is working pretty well now for me. It will be some time before I restore my old weblog appearance-- I have to see how the templates work now. I've managed to merge in my old Politics entries into the archives, though, and to purge the old spam comments. I may have deleted some legit reader comments by accident-- my apologies, and it is to my regret perhaps even more than to yours. The newest version of MT-Blacklist, which I've installed, seems to deal well with spam comments, so I've opened up comments again. Note that comments on older entries are moderated now, meaning I have to approve them before they appear. Also, the first time you comment I need to click to approve it. These are the main MT-blacklist line of defense against spam.

Permalink: 09:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 27, 2004

Weblog Transition

I'm moving to Movable Type 3 now, and am having problems. My first priority is to make my new posts readable. My second is to get a search engine working so old posts can be found.

Permalink: 11:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 17, 2004

Organizing a Weblog

I've been writing writing this weblog for over a year now, and I see that for it to achieve its original purpose of being a record of useful thoughts I had better give it some organization. If I forget what I've written, the record is not working, despite the idea (from Nietszche, I think, that "The reason I write down my thoughts is to rid my mind of their bothersome presence." How, though?

Perhaps I should go over all my archives and look for good thoughts. A good project would be for me to maintain a "Top Ten Posts" list, or something like that. Will I get round to it? We'll see. I have three papers under submission now, three more (Gratitude, Options, and Trade Reputation) to get into good shape, and three book projects that ought to be moved along. We'll see.

Permalink: 02:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 04, 2004

Closing Comments Because of Spam

Alas, the spammers have defeated me. Even with the MT-Blacklist software, the number of spam comments is so overwhelming that I see I won't be able to notice legitimate comments if I use the comment forms. I'd like feedback, though, so if you have something you'd like me to post, just email me at [email protected] and say I can post it, and I'll put it at the end of my weblog entry.

Permalink: 01:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 29, 2004

Merging My Two Weblogs

My thought when I split up my weblogs was that I could better keep track of categories. Now, I've decided it was a bad idea. So until further notice, anything new, whether on politics or other subjects, will be here at the website you're at now, formerly the Not-Politics site.

Permalink: 01:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 23, 2004

A Trick for Quick Testing of Rebuilt Templates in Movable Type

I've fiddled with my templates in Movable Type a lot, and one problem is that if I want to see the effect of my changes, I have to wait a long time for lots of files to rebuild.

Here's a trick I'm now going to try. Movable Type makes it very easy to create new weblogs. I have created a new one just for testing. It will have just two weblog entries. Thus, rebuilding won't take much time at all. I'll try out my template revisions there, and then cut-and-paste them to my two real weblogs.

Permalink: 11:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Weblog Change-- Notifier for Comments

I've just added Notifier Plug-In for Movable Type. What it does is allow commenters on my weblog to check a box and get an email whenever someone else replies to their comment or makes new comments. I've wanted this feature ever since seeing something like it at the Swiftvets Forum.

I used the old version 1.4 of Notifier, since I haven't updated to MT 3.0. The documentation was obscure, and I had to sniff around the User Forums and experiment before I learned that I needed to add the following code to my Individual Archive Entry

LLLinput type="checkbox" name="subscribe"GGG Check here if you want to be notified of new commments in this thread

where LLL represents the lesser-than sign and GGG represents the greater-than sign.

Otherwise, Notifier is ready to accept check marks, but the Commenter has no box to check!

Permalink: 11:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 06, 2004

BackgroundColors for Quotes in HTML

I've just learned a new html command useful for weblogs from JAYNE'S ONLINE SANITY SAVER: the "background-color" command. This is nice for putting a shadecolor in the background of indented material. Here's the command, with @-signs replacing the less-than and greater-than signs in the HTML:

@[email protected]   BLOCKQUOTE {background-color: cornsilk}  @/[email protected]

The command generates this kind of output when used with @[email protected] @[email protected] :

Here is an example of indented material. I'll have to make it long enough to take up more than one line, so I'll type a bit more.

I've not yet figured out how to put a box around the quote, though. The "border" command doesn't seem to work.

Permalink: 09:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 25, 2004

Movable Type Templates

I'm slowly learning Movable Type. My newest Index Template is here. The new changes are:

1. I've added Category archives at the bottom, which list all entries in a given category.

2. I've put back the "Syndicate this site (XML)" command. A reader asked me why I removed it. I removed it because I didn't know what it did. I found a link that explains it (it is some kind of news feed to your computer from my weblog) and have added that link to my webpage too.

3. I figured out how to get rid of the blank space on the left side.

4. I found the standard DeSpamming plug-in, which strips off comments that people use just to increase the Google Count on their websites by citing them. Spammers-- you should be ashamed of yourself, and if I had my way, we'd pass a law putting you in jail for a long time. I've added the link.

5. Most of the ancillary stuff--archives and so forth-- is now at the bottom of the webpage.

I mention all this mainly because although Movable TYpe is a well-designed program, the documentation is lousy. MT currently has its default templates up on its website. What it also needs, very badly, is a set of "Alternative templates"-- various templates for the Index and other pages-- together with how the output pages from those templates look. I know it's a free program, so I'm not complaining too loudly, but this would be a good effort for some volunteer. And as a start, you can look at my template, as linked earlier in this post. I'm not the best person to set up a site listing different templates, though, since I don't know PERL or JAVA or even which of those is the name of whatever these templates are written in.

Permalink: 01:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2004

Splitting My Weblog into Two

I've used this weblog mainly as a commonplace book, a place to record my thoughts. At the same time, I like having other people see my ideas, especially if they disseminate them to others. And, I would like to be able to use my audience to get comments on my ideas and to ask questions.

For example, I am just working on a paper on optimal parking lot size, and I just thought of an idea that might be worth mentioning. A classic example in some branch of mathematics is a hypothetical town in which the opening of a new connecting road slows down traffic immensely, because of the bottleneck it creates. But I can't remember the source. Do any of my readers? If I had the readership of Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit, I could probably find a reference. This is a great advantage of weblogs, because a magazine writer with a readership of a million would *not* be able to get that kind of help from his readers.

So, I would like more readers. But at the same time, I want to write about things that interest me, and not many people have the same interests as I do. How many people combine conservatism, Calvinism, economistical thinking, Midwestern pride, and pleasure in statistics? Three, maybe?

So I will try a test. I will set up a second weblog. One weblog will be for current affairs, and the other will be for everything else. I intend to try doing some cross-listing, but we'll see how well that works. The original weblog address at

http://www.rasmusen.org/x/

will be for Everything Else, and a new address at

http://www.rasmusen.org/x/archives/c/

will be for Current Affairs. The search engine box for each will search both of them (which is why I have the peculiar URL for the Current Affairs blog).

Permalink: 09:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 15, 2004

My Movable Type Customizations, Links to Templates

Please excuse the untidiness of this weblog during the past week. In the shift to Movable Type, I've not gotten into a satisfactory routine yet as far as a method for posting and then checking the post. Also, I've done a lot of fiddling with the formatting, which is in some computer language of which I don't even know the name (java? perl?). I am happy that nonetheless I can use trial and error and a bit of thinking to make the changes I want.

Just in case anybody likes my customizations, and so I'll remember them myself, I'm posting my "templates". Unfortunately I didn't think till halfway through to start putting in comments to indicate where I changed things, but I did document a little of it. A preliminary warning: I first downloaded Movable Type 3.0, but the trackbacks didn't work and the manual is written for MT 2.6 and hence is wrong for the new version. So with some effort I found MT 2.661 and moved everything over to it, which seems to work better.

Movable Type has various templates. Most of them seem to be totally unimportant, I discovered after some effort. The two that really matter are the Main Index and the Stylesheet.

My new Main Index template is http://www.rasmusen.org/x/archives/main.index.july15.2004.htm. Here's some of what I did:

  1. I replaced the default search with a freeware Picosearch searcher box. This allows me to search my old archives as well as the new Movable Type archives (I copied the old archives to the new directory), and to allow ANY WORDS and SPECIFIC PHRASE searches.
  2. I deleted the calendar (who uses an archive calendar, anyway?).
  3. I added my photo.
  4. I moved the ancillary materials-- search box, archives, etc.-- from the side to the top, and widened the main entry. I would have liked to narrow the lefthand gray vertical strip, but I couldn't figure out how.
  5. I added a Policies link to a separate HTML file.
  6. I arranged the Archives listing, latest 10 topics, search engine, and so forth to try to look ok and not waste too much space. I retained the "Powered by Movable Type", even though I think I could easily have deleted it, since the MT people should get some credit for providing this for free.
  7. I added my email address and a link to the old archives and weblog.
  8. I put "Recent Entries" and the title of each entry into a red font.
My new Stylesheet template is http://www.rasmusen.org/x/archives/stylesheet_july14.2004.htm. I think the main thing I did there was to indent paragraphs.

The Individual Archive template controls posts viewed individually instead of all strung together. My new Individual Archive template is http://www.rasmusen.org/x/archives/indivdiual.entry.archive.july15.2004.htm. I increased the font size and put the heading "Comment" in red. I ought to put the names of comment authors in red too- haven't done that yet.

The Data-Based Archive controls the archives of a given month all strung together in one file. My new Data-Based Archive template is http://www.rasmusen.org/x/archives/databased.archive.july15.2004.htm. I increased the font size and put the titles in red, and changed the spacing.

Movable Type is nice because it provides satisfactory default formatting but does allow customization in this way.

Permalink: 11:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 09, 2004

Weblogs: "Movable Type" Software

Some observations, mainly for myself, on using Moveable Type:

1. In installing, make sure the CGI files all have 755 permissions, *and* that the directory they are in has 755 permissions (777 won't work).

2. Rebuilding works much more reliably in Internet Explorer than in Mozilla.

3. The stylesheet template controls such things as the width of the weblog. The manual explains this quite badly.

4. The index template controls the main weblog page. The manual explains this quite badly.

5. In preferences, set things up for POST rather than DRAFT; and so no hard breaks are inserted.

6. Automatic trackback-- sending pings to websites that I cite-- doesn't work. I have Moveable Type 3.0, which is different from what the Manual talks about, so I can't figure out the problem. If you can get MT 2.6, get it instead.

Permalink: 11:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack