WordPress 3.0 Custom Post Headers

WordPress 3.0 is out, and is rather nice. I’ve been using the release candidate for a little while on another blog with no hassles at all, and so I was happy to upgrade this site as soon as the full version was out. The easiest way to see what is in the new version is to watch this video:

For now, I’ve moved to the new default theme Twenty Ten. It is a nice clean them, and does have a couple of very handy features. You can add your own custom header for the blog as a whole, but the nice feature introduced is the ability to define a custom post header for each blog post you make. Within WordPress 3.0 this is referred to as Featured Image.

It’s nice and simple to do, it will try and convert any image to a header you choose, but for the most control over how it looks, you need an image that is 940 × 198 pixels. When you write a post, simply click on the Set featured image link at the bottom of the right hand column. After uploading the image, you get the option to insert it into the post. Instead of doing this, look to the bottom of the dialogue box:


Click on “Set as Featured Image”, save and you are done. You can see a custom image for this post’s header as an example.


Marc Ellerby's Ellerbisms, cover and montage

I’ve already written about my trip to last month’s MCM Expo, and mentioned that I picked up a sizeable amount of comics. One of these was Marc Ellerby‘s Ellerbims.

It’s a sort of visual diary, lovely indie style to it, funny and charming. It isn’t a British Questionable Content, but there are certainly echoes there for me, in a good way. I think it would be hard to write personal stuff in the way Marc does, and indeed Jeph does, without reflecting one’s style and taste in music, and thus there is a bit of crossover there.

Marc sells his compilations on the site at a very reasonable price, hopefully one day he’ll have electronic versions available too (personal interest there). Go and have a look!

Attack – Bomb The Bass

I used to have the video single of Attack by Bomb The Bass on VHS years ago, and lost it in the mists of time. I was very sad about this, it was what got me into skate videos and the like. Finally a few days ago I found this on youtube (I will admit to an issue of middle age that meant I couldn’t remember what it was called, which didn’t help with my quest). Watch and enjoy.

Update to my Kurt Vonnegut page

Today I’ve updated my Kurt Vonnegut page, which now has on one page my whole dissertation on him from 1994. I’ve also added downloads of the essay in PDF and ePub format, which meant I could download it to my new iPad. Something very satisfying about being able to read my own work on there. I’m hoping in future to re-edit and add more to it.

Models of Communication

I had an interesting conversation this week with socialistgamer at oxtuttle about voice comms within games. It reminded me of my old communication studies A-level course many years ago, and of the classic formal models for communication. I promised to try and track them down, as they were very hazy memories, so here they are. These examples are all drawn from SHKaminski.com, who has made some useful notes on them, so I’m just providing links rather than using their diagrams.

The Shannon-Weaver Mathematical model from 1949 portrays a linear model of a single object of communication, showing the factors involved along the way. It nicely incorporates the concept of noise along the path of the message from sender to receiver, the factors that surround the message but are not part of what is intended to be sent.

Schramm’s Model of Communication from 1954 shows a more circular model of communication, with messages being sent between two sources at the same time. This is perhaps a more accurate model of the process, as in a conversation between two people, there often isn’t a clear back and forth, sometimes they will talk over each other, and throughout they will be sending messages via non-verbal communication, showing interest with their eyes for instance.

Both are basic classic models of the process, and indeed there are many more recent and complex models to explore. However I think they are both useful to remember when considering the process of communicating in areas such as gaming and social networks as a starting point. We were discussing the difficulties in playing multiplayer games when this thought came up, how in some cases playing at a LAN party was easier than playing online from your own home, and in some cases more difficult. The noise factors at a LAN party might be for one obviously more noise, more distractions from being in a room with several other people, playing in an unfamiliar place compared to your normal location. However also being able to see and speak in person to people, rather than through microphones and text chat, can make communication easier, reduce noise.

Similarly, noise can affect how a message may be received on say Twitter. How many people are each of your audience following, are you one of a few, very likely to be read, or are you one of many hundreds or thousands, part of a vast stream of information. Is the network solid, will your audience receive all your tweets, or is the network prone to going down, meaning they may miss it entirely even if they want to read it. Have you annoyed people with a lot of silly or spam messages, are they likely to ignore even a good useful message because of other things you’ve said previously? These and a multitude of other factors all can act as noise surrounding every single tweet you send.

Although both these models are over 50 years old now, they are still nice simple models to apply to communication to see how it works, and where the potential pitfalls lie.

Manga on the iPad

Whilst I may have a bit of a wait for a digital version of Pluto or 20th Century Boys (the Manga I am reading voraciously at the moment), there are options available already to access some Manga on the iPad. NTT Solmare have been publishing individual mangas as apps on the iPhone for some time, and have now brought out their first iPad HD release, Always By Your Side/Solaruru. Their books are translated into English for the UK/US market, and anglicised so that the books read left to right, rather than the traditional right to left.

I’ve tried out this first release (it was only 50p, their usual price seems to have been about £1.79), and having read it, it’s a very simple tale of a ghost appearing in a school, and befriending a girl. There isn’t much to the story, I wouldn’t recommend it. And the translation is a little clunky, the text seems to have been placed in rather large font onto the page with little care. However as they’ve published 120 iPhone mangas, there is the potential they could publish something interesting to the English-speaking market in future. So I would suggest having a look at the iPhone/iPad stores, and searching for “NTT Solmare” to see if anything takes your fancy there, if like me you’re looking out for digital manga.