Tag: hacks

Vox Homepage – Just The Way You Want It

As promised, I spent some time over the past week putting together a Greasemonkey script to reorder the modules on the new Vox homepage.

After the feedback people left, the new order I ended up using is:


Left Column                      Right Sidebar
 1) Posts                         1) QotD
 2) Comments                      2) Vox Hunt
 3) Neighbor Activity             3) Team Vox News
 4) [This is Good] Explore Box    4) Tips Box
 5) Vox MSN Advertisement         5) Themes Box
                                  6) Advertisement
                                  7) Find your friends box

Vox Homepage (After Script)
Vox Homepage (Before Script)

which can be seen in the screen shots to the right, here:

Want to install this script for your own use?  First install Greasemonkey, and then get the script here.  (Instructions to install Greasemonkey can be found here.)

As always, if you have any comments, feedback, or suggestions, or notice any bugs, please leave me a comment or send me a note.  I'll do my best to stay on top of any issues that arise.

Also, to those people who left me feedback but didn't get the exact order they wanted – I'm willing to make a custom version of this script just for you with the modules in the alternative order that you wanted.  Please leave me a comment as to whether you still want the order you suggested, and I'll send you a PM with the location where you can download/install your custom version of the script.

Enjoy!

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Pocket-sized “Thumb Calendar” Perfect for Moleskines

For those of you using your Moleskine, Hipster PDA, or other notebook for any sort of productivity use, or for those who just want to have a calendar with them, check out the Thumb Calendar created by Adam Sporka.

The concept is simple: by overlapping the months, Adam has been able to display six months worth of calendar dates on a piece of paper no larger than a business card.  The .pdf template comes ready to cut out and fold so you have a 2-sided card that can slide into your wallet, or you can cut the two halves apart and paste each of them into your Moleskine for a full year calendar on a single reference page.  Each half fits inside the width of a small Moleskine notebook with a small margin on each side:


For those wondering how to read this calendar:
1. Pick the month you want to read. 
2. Use your thumbs to cover the numbers that are not directly below the month header.
3. Note the color of the month header. The last day of the month is rendered in the same color.

The header of each month is appropriately aligned to show the actual days of the week, and there are versions of the calendar that go Sunday to Saturday and Monday to Sunday.

Thanks to Joe for bringing this to my attention.  This also seems to have been featured on Lifehacker last year, but I must have missed it the first time around.

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More Greasemonkey Goodness – Threaded Comments on Vox

In case my last hit of Greasemonkey on Vox wasn't enough for you, here's another great script to help your Vox user experience – one that moves comment replies and inserts them in the proper place so your comments are threaded, rather than ordered by timestamp! (See image below for example).

I can't take credit for this script, it's the effort of Dmitry Rubinstein, who is not only one of the hosts of the Hacking Vox group, but has also created a number of other Vox and LiveJournal related scripts (see full list here).

Dmitry's post on the topic has the direct link to install, or you can install via the Userscripts archive located here.

Installation Note: If you scroll down to the very end of the comments in the announcement post, you'll see that this script is initially set up for all POSTS only.  In order to make this apply to comments everywhere (audio, video, etc), you'll need to:

1. Go to Tools -> Greasemonkey -> Manage user scripts
2. Click on "Thread Comments"
3. Edit the Include pages to replace http://*.vox.com/library/post/* with this: http://*.vox.com/*

Enjoy your threaded comments!

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Take Control of Your Vox Recent Activity

Ever since Papi Chulo (formerly Pants Party) first pointed it out to me, I've been both happy and frustrated with the Vox Recent Activity page.  On one hand, it does provide an "easy" way to keep track of follow-up comments and favorites on posts you or someone in your neighborhood.  On the other hand, it can bulky with 30+ posts on the page, each with its own set of comments.  Scrolling down to older posts can put a serious case of carpal tunnel on your mouse-wheel finger, and if you have a couple of really popular threads going, you might not even know that one of the older posts has had a follow-up.  (I've also heard some people can't even load the page in their browsers, but I'm not sure this will fix that issue.)

I decided to jump on the Greasemonkey bandwagon and write a GM script to help out with this issue.  I came up with a solution that, while quick-and-dirty, does a good job of streamlining the Vox Recent Activity page: the script creates links in each post to show/hide the comments, with the default setting of all comments being hidden on initial page load.  That means your page that used to look like this:

now looks like this:


All you have to do to view the comments for an individual post is click on the [+/-] link, and they'll toggle from hidden to shown.  Click it again and they go back to being hidden!  Pretty cool, huh?


Now your recent activity page is a lot slimmer, easier to navigate, and you can click on just the posts that you want to follow up on to see the most recent activity.

Want to install this script for your own use?  First install Greasemonkey, and then get the script here.
(Instructions to install Greasemonkey can be found here.)

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions on how to improve this script, please leave a comment here or send me an email.

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Quick Tips to Avoid Nuking Your Post Content Accidentally

Have you ever started typing a post and did something silly that suddenly made you lose what you had written?  Maybe you hit the backspace key and your browser thought you wanted to go back a page, instead of back one letter.  Maybe you accidentally hit reload on the page, or accidentally closed your tab or window.  Or maybe your computer did something stupid, and crashed your browser.

Regardless of what caused it, you probably weren't too happy to lose what you had written.  Here are 5 quick tips for ways to avoid nuking your content accidentally, or how to recover what you have written after disaster strikes:

1. Don't Compose in a Web Browser
    Although painfully obvious, it has to be said – if you're drafting your post in something besides a web browser, you'll probably avoid 99% of all the problems you face with accidentally deleting your draft post content.  Most text editors nowadays have built-in auto-save features, so you can even set up your file to back up as often as you feel is necessary.  As an added benefit, you'll have a soft-copy of your post saved on your computer in the unlikely event that the publishing system hiccups and your post that you just submitted disappears into the aether.

2. Save as a draft intermittently (Vox-specific)
    If you don't want to go through the "hassle" of using a separate program to compose your posts, take advantage of your blogging system's features  – for example, in Vox you can save your post as a draft, and then go back and edit to add additional content.  If you lose something you type, you can always revert back to the version you had previously saved as your draft (hopefully without losing too much content in the process!)

3. Use the "Recover" features (Vox-specific)

    You may have noticed that as you begin typing your entry in the Vox compose screen, a small link pops up next to the spell-check button.  This Recover link usually allows you to get back what you had written, in the event you accidentally closed the window or your web browser happened to crash while you were composing a post.  When you return to the Compose window, you should see the "Recover" link directly above the post body. Click that link and it will recover your previous post for you.  Your mileage may vary with this solution, but it's usually better than nothing!

4. Use a Greasemonkey script to prevent unwanted page-changes

    The "Protect Textarea" greasemonkey script (found here and featured here on lifehacker) monitors the textareas on a web page and alerts you if you try navigating away from the page before submitting the changes in the textarea.  Although it will not work for you all the time, and may be more hassle than it is worth for some people, you'll be pretty happy the first time you accidentally click a link that was going to take you away from your post or blog comment and this popup intervenes.

5. Open compose screen in a new window/tab

    A very simple way to combat the infamous "backspace blunder" is to make sure there is no page to go back to while you are composing a post.  If you choose to compose a post in a new tab or window, the backspace key will never move you away from your compose screen, because there's no page in your browser's history to return to!  On modern browsers, a middle-click of your mouse button on a link will open the link in a new tab or window (depending on your browser's default settings).  Alternately, right click on a link and select "Open in a new tab" to do this the old-fashioned way.  Combine this with tip #2 above for extra security.

    

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Widgets, Widgets, Everywhere, and Not a Place to Put Them

Based on the response I received from a recent comment I left on Crankypants' blob, I realized not everyone knows that you can successfully add more than one widget to your sidebar.  It's really easy to do, and I figured I'd throw up a quick post to help guide you.  Don't worry, even if you don't know any HTML you can follow this guide to have a way to put up 2, 3, even 4 widgets (depending on how big they are) in your sidebar.

Here's the key – Your sidebar is basically a box sized to fit about one widget.  If you add a second widget (by adding the code for it below your first in the widget edit box), you may find it gets cut off, or worse yet, doesn't appear at all.  The problem is the widget is outside the dimensions of the default box.  The solution?  Change the size of your box.

In order to make your sidebar taller, so you can fit more widgets in, you want to define a box big enough for all your widgets.  Before your first widget, paste the following line:

<div style="height: 900px;">

and then after your last widget, paste the following line:

</div>

What this does is create a box 900 pixels tall in the sidebar – this is bigger than your original sidebar, and will allow you to fit in multiple widgets inside it, one after another (e.g. in my sidebar, I have a Creative Commons link, a last.fm widget, and then a KVOX music widget).  You can change the "900" to any number you choose to fine-tune for your choice of widgets.  If you're still cutting off a widget, make it bigger.  You can also make it smaller if you don't require so much space.

Things to consider:

  • You may think having 4 widgets is cool (and yes, they probably are), but remember that every time someone loads your page, they will be loading your widgets.  The longer it takes to load the widgets, the longer it takes to load the page.  You're also requiring someone's browser to use more RAM to display your page, which means you could slow their system down if you go overboard.
  • This will NOT increase the width of your sidebar, which is limited to 140 pixels.  Using widgets wider than this will either cut them off on one side or keep them from working properly (or both).
  • If you have a short post, increasing your sidebar's length may affect the length of your page for your post.  This may mean you have blank space in between the end of your entry and the bottom of the page.  This is the reason you don't want to make your sidebar 2000 pixels long when you only have 2 widgets in there.

Good luck adding your widgets!  If you come across a cool one, post a link to your vox homepage (where we can find your widget displayed) in the comments below, so everyone else can ooh and aah at your widget prowess!

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