Huge Site Update

You might have noticed some visual and functional differences here over the last couple weeks. Hopefully, they’re all for the better.

This site is administered by Movable Type software. The templates I was using were pretty old, and for the past 2 or 3 years, every system upgrade I loaded, resulted in more and more pieces of the site breaking. Most notably the comment features broke–every – single – time. The Search results page was also an ongoing travesty. I finally broke down a couple weeks ago with the most recent upgrade. I completely trashed my old set of templates and started fresh. The new Movable Type template system is much better–more modular–but the change resulted in a lot of glitches for the first few days while I mapped my old content over. In the process, I set up a new sketch gallery system that I hope will be more automated, more functional as content grows, and allow objects to be found more intuitively.

So, some things to look for:

Commenting. OK, so as of earlier today, this was still periodically broken, but I finally switched off one of the spam security options that was still glitching it. So it should be working nicely now. It offers you the option to ‘sign in’ with TypeKey–you do NOT need to sign in to comment. You don’t even need to submit an email address, although I prefer it if you would so I can contact you directly if it’s helpful. And the confirmation page doesn’t look like garbage anymore! Please email me if you have any problems posting a comment. (email address is in the banner at the top of the page.)

Local Search Results. When you make a search from the site (see the search field in the upper right), the results should be much easier to read and direct you to the appropriate posts.

Image Galleries. By making better use of categories and associating a sketch or sketches with each observation post, I now have image galleries that automatically break my sketches down into galleries by object type, as well as by Constellation. I’m pretty excited about the constellation breakdown. That’s something I’ve been trying to figure an efficient solution to for about a year. You’ll find these galleries in the sidebar. The Object galleries are preceded by “SG” and the Constellation galleries are preceded by “SGC”. Eventually, I’ll work out some goofy regex code to remove the SG and SGC prefixes, and make that appear a little more seamless.

Google Image Searches. Google has been very kind to my site when it comes to web searches. (Searches for astronomical objects I’ve written a post about, often wind up on the 1st or 2nd search page–which I’m still amazed by). But I haven’t been very good about structuring my image tags and so Google hasn’t been picking them up for image searches as readily. The way the galleries and new posts are coded and labeled now should help with that as Google gradually starts picking them up.

Astronomical Resources Page. I’ve been working on this one for a bit longer. I’ve added so many links to this page, that it was getting to be a big mess. I’ve updated it to follow a table format that I hope will make it easier to scan. The list of Astronomical Sketch Galleries has really gotten huge (which is great!), but I’m now in the process of sorting it alphabetically–and I’m not quite finished yet. I’m certainly open to any suggestions about how to make this section easier to browse.

There are a variety of smaller cosmetic & behind-the-scenes edits I’m still making, but I think they’re minor enough that I’m finally done breaking the site in order to fix it. Please let me know if you see anything that’s out of place, or difficult to use.