I’ve been more in the mood for web design than writing lately. This has been the case both at work and at leisure. Lucky for me, both of those aspects of my life are flexible enough to accommodate these whims. At work I’ve been working on a beta of a corporate blog and researching the technical aspects of search engine optimisation. At home I’ve been looking for an excuse to author a site to use as some kind of content management system.
My first idea was a lofty one, but I couldn’t find an appropriate platform. My idea was to create some kind of self-serve CMS, open to the public, that would allow people to freely upload and describe their own creative works – music, poetry, art, whatever. I tried several Wiki platform and poked around the web looking for similar projects but they all seemed either too amateurish or too professional for my tastes.
In the end I tabled this idea and took some time to mull things over. I love mulling. It’s like thinking but much more lazily.
During this web design hiatus the day of the Hullabaloo 10-year anniversary rave, One More Group Hug, was rapidly approaching (I’ll write about this when I get my camera USB cable back!). As I got more excited I got into the giving spirit. I dug up an old tape of DJs SOS and Grimace playing at the Hullabaloo 1 preparty, ripped it to MP3, and posted it on the Hullabaloo message board. This was awesome because it gave me the opportunity to listen to this tape while I ripped it, and I got to share this enthusiasm with others.
With a little help from Tom Johnson‘s post about using WordPress as a CMS I slapped together a WordPress installation and played around with various plugins, most of which were not appropriate for non-textual content like audio files. In the end most of the functionality I needed was built right into WordPress – hierarchical categories, variable menu display settings, non-chronological organisation, and easy linking to static content.
Because CMS isn’t its primary function and there are few plugins to meet my specific needs I’ve had to dig under the hood a little more than usual. This has been hit and miss due to my crappy programming skills coupled with the fact that many functions (like the_category()) are missing some important array output formatting options. I’ve logged some suggestions on wordpress.org so hopefully they’ll be taken care of some time soon.
I’ve had a great time ripping my old rave tapes to 256kbps MP3s and so far I’ve posted three. My category tagging system is working okay for now but I might need to rethink my strategy if it gets too cluttered. I’m also struggling to find a nice way of displaying a tape’s tags below its description. By default WordPress orders the category list by the primary key ID number which is dumb and looks random, so I’ve been struggling to find a way to list subcategories by main categories and show them in ASCIIbetical order (0-9, [Aa]-[Zz]).
So it’s a work in progress and a labour of love! See what I’ve done so far at http://mixtapes.demodulated.com. Download and enjoy the music, and kindly let me know how usability can be improved.