About the slightly changed look of Sorting It All Out

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/04/03 13:12 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/04/03/405029.aspx

You may have noticed that http://blogs.msdn.com/ looks really different now. We were just upgraded from .TEXT to Community Server!

This blog looked really different for an hour or two yesterday, before I managed to make it look mostly like it used to. To understand why I made this effort, you can look at a bit1 from Mostly Harmless, the fifth book in the Hitchhiker's Trilogy2, basically the first few paragraphs of Chapter 6. I know you all have it on the shelf with the other Douglas Adams books, right? But to keep you from having to get up to read it, I'll quote it in brief here:

Ford Prefect hit the ground running. The ground was about three inches farther from the ventilation shaft than he remmbered it, so he misjudged the point at which he would hit the ground, started running too soon, atumbled awkwardly and twisted his ankle. Damn! He ran off down the corridor anyway, hobbling slightly.

All over the building, alarms were erupting into their usual frenzy of excitement. He dove for cover behind the usual storage cabinets, glanced around to check that he was unseen and started rapidly to fish around inside his satchel for the usual things he needed.

His ankle, unusually, was hurting like hell.

The ground was not only three inches farther from the ventilation shaft than he remembered it, it was also on a different planet that he remembered, but it was the three inches that caught him by surprise. The offices of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy were quite often shifted at very short notice to another planet, for reasons of local climate, local hostility, power bills or taxes, but they were always reconstructed exactly the same way, almost to the very molecule. For many of the company's executives, the layout of their offices represented the only constant they knew in a severely distorted personal universe.

Something, though, was odd.

This was not in itself surprising, thought Ford as he pulled out his lightweight throwing towel. Virtually everything in his life was, to a greater of lesser extent, odd. It was just that this was odd in a slightly different way than he was used to things being odd, which was, well, strange. He couldn't quite get it into focus immediately.

Now when you work for a company like Microsoft, you have to know how to deal with ambiguity and change. Not being able to do this won't get you fired or anything, but it will probably frustrate the crap out of you since things are often ambiguous and are constantly changing -- so being unable to deal with either one would drive a person bonkers. The strangest thing about moving to fulltime is the fact that every few years I am not working with an entirely different group of people on a completely different product with a vastly different code base and an utterly different management structure in a totally different office that sits in a wholly different building.

For those who were wondering, Microsoft Word's Thesaurus paid for itself with that last sentence. :-)

Even without all of those things changing, lots of other stuff does. But for some reason it is much easier for me to deal with the issue of the blog by keeping the look kind of consistent. I am only a few months in but I have gotten comfortable here....

Eventually the fact that my "admin" link (which you don't have) is now at the bottom left corner of the screen rather than the upper left. I say eventually because those month links on the left will push them further down the page and require me to scroll to get to them. Consider that my upcoming "ground three inches farther from the ventilation shaft" that I will be hurting my ankle on starting on May 1st unless I can figure out a way to delay it....

Things are largely the same as before though. As Josh Ledgard notes in his notes on the Blog Upgrade, there are some differences. I'll point a few that I have noticed that have impact here, for me (and maybe for you). If Scott managed to find this post, it might be the part he is interested in!:

UPDATE 03 APR 2005: I also noticed that the links, which used to be alphabetical, are now in order on entry. Although the Admin UI has ways of reordering, it is not very intuitive or easily usable (and changing categories is impossible; it is better to just give up, delete the entry, and re-add it elsewhere).

UPDATE #2 03 APR 2005: I just noticed that international characters do not work in the title (though they do work in the post body).

UPDATE #3 03 APR 2005: Uh oh -- it looks like none of either the category links or the month links show all posts. And there seems to be no "show all posts" link. The only way to get to additional posts is to search for them. That is pretty bad. Hopefully I am just missing the "show all posts" link.

On the whole though, I think the whole thing is pretty cool, and there are a lof of changes I do like (especially the timed blogging and the expanding comments end date -- on the site I now allow them for 90 days!). I will endeavor to keep my ankle from getting sprained as I move into the new digs. :-)

In any case, all the hard work that Betsy and Scott put in here is very much appreciated -- especially all of the late nights associated with the migration and upgrade!


1 - Understand that I mean "bit" here in the British sense of the word. It seems more substantial to me, and certainly both revelant and topical in this case where I am about to quote a British author, thus it qualifies as foreshadowing. As Berke Breathed noted years ago in Bloom County, foreshadowing is the guide to quality literature.
2 - According to Piers Anthony (in the introduction to the revised But What Of Earth?) he believed he may have pioneered the system of adding books beyond the third to trilogies that other sci-fi authors like Isaac Asimov subsequently profited from. In his words, "Trilogies stetech farther if they run to four, five, or six novels."
3 - I'd post my own efforts but they are pretty feeble so I would just as soon avoid the embarrassment!

# Dean Harding on 3 Apr 2005 6:58 PM:

Though I must admit I preferred the "Moderation has been enabled, blah, blah, blah, click here to return to the post" page in the old layout because I'd click on the return link and bookmark the page so I'd know to check whether my comment were replied to. I guess I can just bookmark it with the extra query string in place though...

# Dean Harding on 3 Apr 2005 7:03 PM:

I like the expanding comments link. The site looks good in IE, but in Firefox, some of the links on the left are too small to read, I posted a screenshot to demonstrate: http://www.codeka.com/tmp/small-text.png

I took a quick look at the page source, and there seems to be some <small> tags in there which are apparently ignored by IE.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 3 Apr 2005 7:32 PM:

Ok, I think I took care of the size issue (let me know if you think the rest of them are too small!).

I'll probably be tweaking this for a while. :-)

# Dean Harding on 3 Apr 2005 7:52 PM:

Looks good to me now!

# Michael S. Kaplan on 3 Apr 2005 8:48 PM:

I managed to get rid of the extraneous spaces. Someone who is running FireFox should let me know if I have destroyed the text in either column....

# ScottW on 3 Apr 2005 10:27 PM:

This missing show all sounds like a bug. I will try to track it down.


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referenced by

2008/05/06 By some accounts, the names can be changed

2007/05/13 There is no more Limonata at Trader Joe's

2006/02/23 On an upgrade, we maintain

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