media

Making your current Drupal theme responsive, simply

For a few of my smaller sites (like my portfolio website, www.jeffgeerling.com), I've had a little todo item on my list for the past year or so to make the them 'more responsive'—mostly meaning "make it legible on an iPhone or comparable Android phone". Most tablets I've used render traditional 960px layouts appreciably well, including the iPad, Kindle Fire, Samsung Galaxy Tab, etc., so I want to just focus on making the websites usable on smartphones.

What we had, and what we're going for (which one seems more readable and user-friendly on a small screen?):

Life is a Prayer.com - Responsive Design (Before)    Life is a Prayer.com - Responsive Design (After)

I'll show you how I quickly (in less than half an hour) added a <meta /> tag to the site's </code> tag to instruct mobile phones on the width of my site, and how I added a simple <code>@media query to my theme's stylesheet to apply a few layout rules to make the design of the site better for mobile phones.

Life, Liberty, and Social Media

Found: An interesting article from Gladden J. Pappin on Liberty, Technology, and the Advent of Social Networking. It's a bit tl;dr, but I've read through once, and hope to sit with it a little longer sometime.

The article (and many like it) makes me think a bit about the theme of personhood on the Internet, and how our use and overuse of social media, blogging, etc. in building our own self-image is something about which we must always be cautious.

I recently watched the Star Trek TNG Episodes 'Booby Trap' and 'Galaxy's Child', and while I'm no supporter of the strange philosophies that guide Star Trek morality/ethics, I wonder if we are becoming like Geordi LaForge, who fell in love with a projected image of a person on the holodeck.

The Catholics Next Door - Appearance on The Catholic Channel

I didn't have much time today to post this earlier (I was driving home from a trip which took me through five states in six days, and had to do this on the road), but this afternoon I was on the excellent 'Catholics Next Door' radio show on the Sirius XM Catholic Channel.

I was happy to speak with Greg and Jennifer Willits about flockNote, about parish communications, and about helping Catholic organizations get connected to their flock in various ways.

Then I continued driving home from Chicago :)

I don't know if they have an online archive of their shows, but if I can find a link to the audio at some point, I'll try to provide it. I'm also not too familiar with satellite radio, since I've never subscribed (Pandora + free radio has worked for my musical tastes), so I don't know if there are any rebroadcasts or ways of listening to past shows...

About Catholic Car Wash

Catholic Car Wash is a video podcast started in 2010 by myself, Jeff Geerling, just before the start of CNMC MMX. This podcast focuses on small snippets of Catholic teaching, and typically lasts less than 3 minutes (the length of a car wash).

Toyota Camry and Catholic Car Wash

All episodes are recorded inside an active car wash, most often in my 2007 Toyota Camry. Episodes are recorded with an iPhone 4, along with (usually) an external mic (setup instructions here).

Get Social: Catholic Car Wash on Facebook | @CatholicCarWash on Twitter

Should Pope Benedict XVI Resign?

...this is a question posed by KMOX Radio's Mark Reardon, who hosted an hour of some of the most confusing arguments for the Pope's resignation I've ever heard.

His basic principle was this: Accepting the facts of the New York Times' recent article bashing the Pope, should the Pope resign, as would any other head of an organization accused with being an accessory to a crime?

Unfortunately for Mark, most Catholics do not (and likely will not ever) accept the Times as a credible source of information when it comes to Catholic-bashing. There have been numerous posts on the problems in the NYT piece (some are linked to at the bottom of this post), but Mark would not for a moment entertain these problems, or any other arguments against the basis of his question.

Post Disgrace - Death of Anonymity

Petty and infantile, that's how I'd sum up the handling of a recent situation on the stltoday.com website (the website for the St. Louis Post Dispatch).

Kurt Greenbaum, after getting an anonymous commenter to resign his job [Ars Technica] when he looked up the commenter's IP address and ratted out the commenter to the school for which he worked, posted a little self-congratulatory post on the Post's website, as well as his personal blog.

Excerpt from the post:

I heard from the school’s headmaster. The school’s IT director took a shine to the challenge. Long story short: Using the time-frame of the comments, our website location and the IP addresses in the WordPress e-mail, he tracked it back to a specific computer. The headmaster confronted the employee, who resigned on the spot.

I'm not sure if Kurt understands the concept of anonymous posting and spam comments... on this little thing called the 'Internet,' people spam blogs and such with annoying, crass, rude, insensitive, and pointless drivel almost constantly. Even if you require people to be registered users / subscribers, you will get spam. You learn to deal with it. I could care less about the identity of anonymous commenters—and they should know they can always be tracked, to a certain extent—but the idea of selectively calling out certain commenters detracts from the idea of an 'open forum.' I've seen much more insulting and crass comments on the Post's website, so I don't know what got Mr. Greenbaum's feathers in such a kerfuffle.

You'd think the Post, a sanctuary for Catholic-bashing comments and radical vulgarity (in my experience), would either grin and bear the vulgar comment left by an anonymous commenter on the earlier post, or at most delete the comment and move on. Such should be the policy of a large news organization that leaves all their postings open to droves of anonymous commenters (a bad idea anyways, in my book).

Rupert Murdoch: No More Google News?

After reading a few articles mulling over the implications of Rupert Murdoch's purported move to pull out all News Corp content from Google News, I thought I'd share a few thoughts, especially since the 'pay wall' issue is something I deal with from day to day with a local news publication...

Online Ads - a Faltering Art

With the popularity of Google Ads and other similar ad networks, where impressions are free, and clicks cost money, it's no surprise companies are hard-pressed to make any real money with this traditionally-based advertising medium. Heck, only 16% of Internet Users actually click on ads—that's not something the accountants and marketers are excited to hear, when all their business models are based on CTRs (click-through rates). Impression-based pricing is problematic, as well, especially considering the many different techniques people have for tricking ad-impression trackers.

There are a plethora of problems with online advertising metrics, and with revenue from online advertising. There are a few areas where online advertising is extremely effective (YouTube and other video sites have a successful pre-video commercial model, which works well). But for simple news and blog pages, the flashy, arrogant and often irrelevant ads that display in and around the content are largely ignored.

I don't propose any solutions to this huge problem—especially for news companies who, in the past, received more than half their revenue through advertising dollars. However, it's necessary to acknowledge the problem.

The Google Generation

Bing, Google, Yahoo - whatever the site is, online search and aggregation is the way of the future—I can count on one hand the number of people I know who have any particular website besides the three above (or one of their sub-sites) as their homepage. The fact is, people don't use the Internet as a replacement for the morning newspaper and bagel. People browse topics that interest them, then follow a topic around to different sources, and gather more information about this topic than was ever before possible in such a short period of time.

In Other Old News... P-D Online = Anti-Catholic Sanctuary

Thumbs down to secular media's treatment of CatholicismFor years, I and other Catholic Saint Louisans have noted with sadness the often disgraceful anti-Catholic slant with which the St. Louis Post Dispatch writes. But until the past few years, the half-truths and boring/uninformed journalistic endeavor was limited to a single story or a single author in the print edition of the P-D. Now, unfortunately, the articles with which secular media (especially the Post) try to destroy Catholocism are a free range for hundreds of other anonymous anti-Catholic commenters.