“A nearly impenetrable thicket of geekitude…”

List of Ingredients

One of the reasons I decided to use Movable Type to run this blog was that you get the source, which means you can poke around with it if you want to. In addition, lots of other people have already written plugins for the basic system.

This article describes the ingredients that go together to make the current Technology Stir Fry. I plan to update it when I make significant changes to the site.

[Latest update 20040520: Upgraded MT-Blacklist to V1.63, then to V1.64.]

The basic system is Movable Type V2.65. I’d like to avoid modifying this directly as much as possible in order to make upgrading to any future version of Movable Type less of a hassle. All customisation has therefore been done at the level of templates and plug-ins.

[I had previously applied Yoz Graham’s quick-delete patch (see tip 6 on that page) as a way to quickly remove comment spam, but MT-Blacklist (see below) has made that unnecessary so I have been able to go back to a pristine Movable Type installation.]

I’m using the following Movable Type plugins:

  • MTAmazon V2.22 (with local tweaks to make it work against Amazon’s UK site instead of the US version)
  • MT-Blacklist V1.64
  • KeyValues V1.53 (with a local one-line bug fix)
  • Macros V1.52
  • Regex V1.61
  • PerlScript V1.4

MTAmazon is from Adam Kalsey; MT-Blacklist is from Jay Allen; the other plugins are from the prolific Brad Choate.

MTAmazon and KeyValues are used together such that I can put multiple Amazon ASIN product codes into an article’s keywords field and have images of and links to those products appear at the head of the article.

[I originally used Macros, Regex and PerlScript to implement Jay Allen’s comment spam killer. It wasn’t as hard as it looked, mainly cut-and-paste from his instructions. However, his new MT-Blacklist plugin is much better and I have switched over to using that now.]

For article submission, most of the time I just use Movable Type’s standard web interface. I have occasionally used w.bloggar, a Windows application, for the same purpose. If I was running several blogs at once, something like w.bloggar would be indispensable. To read other people’s blogs, plus news sites, I use a Windows desktop aggregator called FeedReader.

The only other tools I’ve used so far have been Adobe GoLive 6 for site maintenance and my trusty copy of Adobe Photoshop 7 for image noodling. Both are sledgehammers for the nuts in question, but I use them all the time so they are the tools I’m used to.

Last but not least, like probably every other Movable Type user, I’ve tweaked the standard styles and templates over time so that they do more of what I want and less of the standard stuff. The first thing I changed was to pick the Georgia Blue style from the gallery, but I’ve also made a lot of changes to the elements that appear in different parts of the site. The style and templates are held in the database and not source controlled (I store everything else in CVS, just in case) but if I ever want to go back to the originals, they are all available on the Movable Type site.