Changes afoot at The House, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. So I thought this column might best be used for an introduction to some of the new features, as well as to note (and perhaps to get some feedback on) some of the inevitable glitches that tend to result from any technological upgrade.
This wave of additions and (so-called) improvements was instigated in good part by our switch of URL from http://mattzollerseitz.blogspot.com to http://www.thehousenextdooronline.com (make note of the new address if you haven’t already, though the previous one should still redirect you to the site, forever and always). It gave me enough of a concrete push to solve a longstanding mystery, one that had baffled both myself and House compatriot Jeffrey Hill, namely how to upgrade from the Blogger Classic template and still have the “span class” function in place.
Sans technobabble: the “span class” function provides excerpts of all articles (of whatever length the editor chooses) on the site main page with a prompt to “Read more!” at the end of the excerpt. Clicking “Read more!” takes you to the full article in question, archived on its own webpage. I’d tried a few go-rounds with Blogger Help to no avail, but I woke up the other day determined to crack it. Blogger Help again did not live up to its name, but it did direct me to a more baby-steps-at-a-time site that explained exact placement of the necessary HTML code. Finally figured it out on our sister site, The Criterion Collection Database, which gave me enough confidence to try it on the mother site. Switchover went without a hitch.
But I then came across the first of the inevitable glitches, one that I had sort of expected. You’ll note on several of these entries that either the entire text or a portion of it has less space between lines. Take a look at Kevin B. Lee’s latest Shooting Down Pictures entry (on El Topo) as an example. Looks like somebody took a marshmallow with writing on it and flattened it slightly.
Noticeable, not all that pretty when compared to other articles on the site, but a fault I was willing to live with during the upgrade period (however long that may turn out to be—I suddenly see visions of Sisyphus and his boulder before me). A little trial-and-error later and I think I’ve discovered at least part of the problem: if the article in question has a “blockquote” or “center” command it seems all the text following, even if the HTML tags are closed, gets squooshed. I’ve tried removing the tags, but no changes have resulted. The text is still flattened. With this, as with any other issues I list in this column, I would greatly welcome some insight from our readers/staff, either in the comments section or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before we delve into more quandaries, though, let’s go through a few of the new additions to the site. First thing you’ll note is that a good number of the entries now have “Labels” added to them. This is a method of archiving articles according to specific subjects of interest. So now, if you’re interested in finding all the episodes of the “Lichman & Rizov” podcasts (I just know you are), you need only go to the sidebar on The House main page, find the section called “Labels,” scroll down to “Lichman and Rizov “Live” at Grassroots Tavern” (all labels are arranged alphabetically and have a corresponding number showing how many entries are listed under that subject), click on it, and that will take you to a page with all the podcasts (ten entries per page) listed from most recent date of publication.
The “Labels” section will have more subjects placed in it on a daily basis. You’ll be able to search by directors (Kubrick, Malick, etc), by specific columnist (just today I labeled every article by Zachary Wigon and Andrew Schenker), etc. It will take a little time for everything to be listed as we’re currently pushing 1900 individual posts, but I hope this helps to ease searching for specific favorites at The House.
More, then, on the sidebar (screen right on all site pages): At the top you’ll note I’ve added a “Subscribe” function for our readers. Semi-Luddite that I am, I have only a vague conception of what this allows, though I’m sure our more techno-saavy visitors can enlighten and/or make use of the function accordingly (I’m just glad, truth be told, that it doesn’t take up all that much space).
Directly below “Subscribe” is “The House Archive,” where you can find all our published entries broken down by year, then month of publication. A nice feature allows you to collapse the “Archive Section” via the solid arrows next to the respective years and months so that it is not taking up too much of the sidebar. Directly below this is the “Labels” section, which I’ve explained above.
Below “Labels” is a section I’m particularly fond of: “The House Blog Roll.” Basically, this is a listing of specific blogs that I often visit, updated according to most recent posts. So when GreenCine Daily, say, puts up the latest of its voluminous link-gathering entries, it’ll move to the top of the “Blog Roll,” appearing with blog name, followed by the bolded title of the most recent entry, followed by the time since the blog in question’s last update. Both the blog name and the most recent entry title are clickable.
One issue I’m suspecting with this function is that it is conceivably slowing down load time of The House, and also giving me a good many 502 server errors. I’d ask our readers to let me know if this is also occurring for you or if it is an isolated incident, perhaps a day-specific Blogger glitch. This is a feature I’d like to keep, but it isn’t worth it if it is indeed slowing things down. Just note that this feature might be disappearing and/or re-appearing in the coming days, depending on what I discover.
Onwards: directly below the “Blog Roll” is a section called “The House Recommends,” which is essentially a static listing of sites I visit and/or ones that belong to our lengthy list of contributors. Easy one-click access to these webpages, and it, along with the “Blog Roll,” is always being added to, so if you don’t see your blog or name on here, I’m either getting to it, or you should send me an e-mail (see above and/or in my bio below) asking to consider your blog or site for sidebar publication.
Finally, below “The House Recommends” is our list of contributors, which I can only assume will continue to grow. Pitches now being accepted.
Exciting times. Going forward you’ll be seeing a good number of new features, our standard text entries, video and audio podcasts, etc. The House will keep expanding, with necessary feedback and comments from you, our readers, helping us along the way. Thanks for your continued support. I’ll be archiving this under the label “House Maintenance” in case you’d like to access it or any other such technical announcements in the future.
Keith Uhlich is Editor of The House Next Door and a contributor to various print and online publications. You can reach him at email@example.com.