New blog design – finally live!

October 22, 2010

The theme I have been working on for the last few months on an off is finally live. I was really pushing it over the last week to get it finished. With college work piling up I wanted to complete the design so I could focus more on college.

So if you have been on my blog before you will immediately notice the difference, first off its WHITE! Last time is was all dull and dark black and green, now though it is like it has been completed inverted and is now a simple two tone colour of blue and white which I really like. In case you forget, below is a picture of how it used to look and how it now looks!

old leateds

new leateds

Since this is my blog there was a few things I wanted to change, and since I spend a lot of time on the site I thought it was important to have it nice and bright and easy on the easy, not dark! So that was the first change I implemented into the design. The next thing I wanted was to widen the area where my blog posts display, it has always been too squashed and if I write a long blog post it would carry down the page forever! Now though it has plenty of room at 715px wide just for the blog posts, the total blog width is now 1024px.

I have now got live stats of my twitter and RSS followers, the RSS followers is a bit low but sure I don’t really care, it’s just a number. As you can see I have kept my old logo as I mentioned in yesterdays post, I was really happy with it so why change it!

Last night I took my site down offline around 1.30 am and started working on setting up my clean install of wordpress, I wanted to start fresh with this design so I had a lot of backing up to do with plugins etc. I ran into a few problems with my new database but I got that sorted after a short while.

I ended up having everything up and running again by 3.00 am and it was taken back out of maintenance mode. I still have a lot of tweaks to make in relation to other plugins I need and I also have a problem with the CSS of my bloggers list that usually is in my sidebar, but when I added the theme to this blog it suddenly broke its style I set it and I didn’t have time last night to fix it, the bloggers box is working perfectly on my test domain!

A few other things I added which I think are noteworthy are that I have upgraded my search engine on my blog, I am now using Google custom search engine to power my results, it is a lot better than the default wordpress one and it also has the added benefit of not making my server & database work to hard as the search queries are run through Google servers :D!

another change I added is under the title of every blog post I make from now on and in the past, it now show the exact date and time I publish my blog post, this is useful as I have a personal rule where if I do not have the blog post up by midnight, first off I have failed and secondly I just won’t put it up if it goes after that time.

So those are the major changes that I have made, I will go into my views on designing wordpress themes from scratch in another post some other day, possibly next week. So hopefully you like the new design too, if you have anything then feel free to let me know in the comments (which I built 🙂 took ages!).

comfortable with CSS

October 18, 2010
A perfect desktop image for CSS developers

Image via Wikipedia

Over the past few weeks I have been working very hard on my theme for this blog and I am definitely making a lot of progress on it. I have always been familiar with CSS but not completely comfortable with it.

Over the weeks that I have been working on the theme, I have had to come to grip with a lot of CSS work, and CSS is now becoming second nature to me. I know this is something I should already know the in’s and out’s of by now, but I really just use what I need to get the design done.

I have now learned a lot of new CSS tags that I never knew existed!

Tonight I spent a lot of time designing my comments section for my new design, I know that it is an important part to a blog so I wanted to get it right. I have fully implemented my colour choice that I used in the rest of my theme and I also incorporated Gravatars into the comments section, I know I already have these in my current theme, but these were not in my new theme until tonight.

I have also introduced nested comments into the new design, this is completely new to my blog. I think this will be very useful as some of my posts do receive a lot of comments and with having nested comments it allows for people to reply to other comments and it will stand out that there is a reply to it whereas before all the comments were clumped together and were a little harder to distinguish between.

So now all that remains on my new theme is a few minor tweaks and my logo and then it will be complete and I can finally release it and hopefully receive some honest criticism on it :D.

Eircom NGB has arrived!

October 14, 2010

It turns out that Eircom have completed installing their new NGB (Next Generation Broadband) service here in Dundalk, and I hand even realised it

I rang up Eircom support earlier this week to tell them that when I finally got switched over to their new service that I wanted to be put on the higher “Unlimited” ( in reality it is a 250gb limit, fair usage, which is still great) package, they then informed me that it was already available and I had indeed already been switched over to the NGB.

Luckily I rang up to get my package switched then, otherwise I would of been paying through the nose for my broadband! After I got off the phone I went online to see when exactly the Dundalk exchange had been switched over and it was upgraded on September 30th and October 1st.

I actually do remember the internet disconnecting at midnight on September 30th because that was the day I was launching the eclips hair salon website and of all times for the site to go down it was when I was putting a site up online!

The Eircom site states that there would of been a disruption for about and an hour so it is my fault for not realizing that!

Eircom have a list of set dates when they are upgrading their exchange points on their website so you can check it there, if you were wondering!


I was also told that since my line cannot support more than 3mb of speed that I will not be able to take full advantage of NGB, however what I do benefit from is the consistency of my broadband speed now. Even though I only have 3mb, it would be very rare I would see anything over 2mb, usually I would get 1.5 on average, sometime worse, the best speed was always in the early hours of the morning.

Now however with NGB the contention ratio is gone so no more line sharing apparently, I have noticed the difference, I now get a solid 2.75mb at all times including peak times such as 1pm to 2pm and 6pm to 7pm! It’s great, I only wish I could get the full 8mb, maybe Eircom will pull the finger out and sort that one out!

eircom usage meter

When I was on the Eircom site checking out the exchange upgrade dates I noticed there is a download usage meter that you can get for your computer which show how much traffic you have used for the month, extremely handy if you are on one of the lower NGB packages, but for me on the unlimited bundle, it is just a novelty and some extra statistics for me!

website launched –

October 07, 2010

Last Thursday (October 30th) a website which I have been working on, for what would seem like a long time was finally launched live! I had actually completed the entire site except for one page, ‘Our Team’, by the beginning of the summer, but I couldn’t put it live because I was waiting for photographs of the staff. Finally last Monday I got all the photographs and I was able to complete the site and put it live.

eclips front page

So the site I was working on was for a local hair salon, eclips hair, and I created the entire site from scratch. This website was my first ever wordpress platform based design for a client. I designed the site in Photoshop, then I coded and styled it using Dreamweaver in basic html and css. Once I had the template coded I then began to port it over to wordpress, this was actually not too difficult, it was a lot simpler than I thought it would have been.

There was a few things that broke when I brought it over to the wordpress platform, such as a few styles, but I managed to get it sorted, thanks to a Firefox plugin called firebug.

eclips maps

The website has a lot in it, it has Php, JavaScript and jQuery (fancy JavaScript). It gave me a chance to experiment with things I wouldn’t of used before. I also took full advantage of Google street view, the day I launched the site happened to be the day that street view was launched here in Ireland so I just decided to throw it in and be ahead of the game!

I also set up custom email addresses (hosted by Google for domains) for the website, by custom I mean it would be in the format of [email protected], so for eclips hair I could make one that looked much more professional than there old yahoo account address!

So from design to coding I done it all, now all that remains is SEO, that takes time, and another reason I chose the wordpress platform was because it has such good SEO power. Already the site is at the top of Google, one site is above it, however it is linking to the eclips hair website so that’s ok, for now!

eclips google results

I reckon with a bit more time, it will be above all the other competition. I still have to get the keywords for the likes of ‘hair salon’ and ‘hair stylist’ into the site to try and get it into those search results.

The site also has a CMS (content management system) which makes it really easy to just log in and make a quick change if need be such as changing pictures or adding in special offers.

I definitely recommend using wordpress for building a site because you also have the huge plugin directory available to you from

So reflecting on this website, I am really happy with how it came out. I think next time I update the site, I will be able to do so much more as this has been a learning curve for me since it was wordpress based.

So if you want to have a look at the site, then the address is

Computer Forensics

October 04, 2010
Hard drive dock installed
Image by Steven Vance via Flickr

Today we had a guest speaker in one of our classes as part of a seminar series where a few guest speakers will come in and talk to us about their job and allow us to ask them any questions, from how they do certain things or how you can get to where they are, anything!

Today’s guest speaker was Dr. Vivienne Mee, she currently works for Deloitte where she specializes in computer forensics. Vivienne used to attend DKiT so there is some hope for us that we too can get a great job, providing we really work for it once we finish up this degree!

Vivienne told us all about her educational background from DKiT where she graduated with a BSc in Software Development and where she studied Computer Forensics in Glamorgan University in Wales.  I won’t go into everything she told us about, but I found it extremely interesting.

When I came home from college after the seminar I had a look at the course on computer forensics and I was amazed to see that it’s not actually too difficult to get into!

If you are an international student, which if you are from Ireland, you are, then they assess your results from college and school and make their decision if they will accept you or not. The course is 3 years in total, it’s expensive, and I would say it is an intense 3 years, however a great job would be waiting for you when you are finished.

It gives me something to maybe think about, maybe I will go into that area, maybe not or maybe something along those lines, it is great to see different options that are available after I finish my current degree.

So from this seminar we are expected to write up a report and then submit it, should be fairly straight forward, plenty of notes were taken!