Fixing (quickly) for IE8

Internet Explorer 8 beta 2 has been released. The night before a big PR thing in Melbourne (Premier of Victoria, etc) and I decided to install it on my demo laptop. Brave, yet safe move.

What about this website?

Not so good. Something is broken somewhere. In the week before TechEd 2008 I don’t have time to completely diagnose and fix the wordpress template. So, sort of like welding it together for a few weeks until things die down – it is time for a simple fix.

How can you tell? See the “broken document” icon on the right of the URL: this indicates that the site has been designed for older browsers.

IE8 Fix


There are two potential fixes. One is to click on the broken icon, and Internet Explorer will revert to Internet Explorer 7 mode.

A smarter fix for this web site is a one-line change to my template (in my case, header.php for this template)

<meta http-equiv=“X-UA-Compatible” content=“IE=EmulateIE7” />


IE8 Fix


Refreshing the site, and magically it renders correctly, and there is no “broken” document icon.

IE8 Fix

Hunting WordPress Themes

Time to change themes on this site.

I have a simple request: White-space is king, single left hand navigation with fluid right-hand content column. Tweaking the typography to look brilliant is more important than whizzy graphics detracting the eye.

As @evilsue says on twitter: “have reskinned blog…..again….its the poor girls substitute for buying shoes

So, with these demands in mind – my first port of call was to put a call out to the Twitterati. Here is my list of sites, in no particular order.

Let’s start the ThemeHunting:

What is a theme, and how do you create one?

At the bottom of the page, there is a list of Theme sites.

Very soon you head into nasty MySpace-themed sites with mega-advertisements ugliness.


This is the uber-viewer of themes, hosted by WordPress. There is a standard set of content you can apply to various themes.

For instance, for my next theme I would like left sidebar, 2 column, white, no header image and widget-ready.

Either the way the themes are classified in ThemeViewer, or the viewer itself seems borked as you get a mixture of everything when you search.

The themes here seem to be rather plain, but it is the place to start your search.

Elegant themes seem to involve lots of shading, blue and images.

No magical searching to make life easier to find that theme.

This is an uber-theme that alters the concept of WordPress as a blog into WordPress as a CMS.

Advertisements stating “earn $3506 per month from blogging” seem to harangue you on this site; again many pre-built images in the header.

Mega-click through blog with no smart searching. fail.

Interesting list of templates, but seems to be frozen in 2007

Now, if I was going super-trendy with lots of graphics and colour – this is the site I would choose first.

There is an excellent list of no-frills themes too in the 45+ Must-see Themes. And I think I’ve found my first contender: (although in review it lacks right-fluidity)

It is also interesting to see the themes borked by comment form ugliness

Des Walsh, of Thinking Home Business, posted this link.

Here, each of the WordPress themes earns an SEO score: how well the particular theme works with search-engine optimisation. In my instance, I have some WP plugins doing some magic behind the scenes to ensure the searchbots get it right.

From this site, I found my second contender: (Branches theme, I would howerver change the top-left image)


Of course! follow the tags, son.

First to pop up in the list is

Smashing Magazine has an excellent list of plain well designed themes:

I like BalanceWhite and TextBack


Meta-theme Generator:

This is fun: WordPress theme by form. I recall trying this about a year ago, with epic fail. Now seems to be rather cool.

Rocking Themes:

The current/to be replaced theme here is Ambient Glo Fluid 1.5. Looking around on that site, I notice that there are some excellent minimalist designs such as



WordPress Themes are like shoes. You can shop until you drop, install them all and wear different colours on different days.

Oh, the choices!

De-commissioning old Content Management System

Notes from De-commissioning old Content Management System: The MungenetEngine. The engine has rendered 10 million image views and 2.5 million page views from handcoded MySQL and PHP.

  1. “coding” in PHP feels wrong, wrong, wrong. A little dirty. After 6 months, I feel I should be writing in C#, IronPython; at least something decent. Not PHP. It’s too lose. Like Visual Basic. Sadly, this will probably the last time I use PHP for a significant amount of time as I move to CLR/DLR style languages and platforms.
  2. The code to complete the transition was a mere 138 lines of PHP; referencing some opensource XML-RPC libraries (to insert blog entries over the wire), and 2110 lines in the base library that acts as the old engine.
  3. Turning off for a few days helped productivity. Also working at home during the shenanigans of APEC 2007 helped productivity, too.  I also stopped being as responsive on email, voicemail etc to get some good “focus” time to get this happening.
  4. The code I am putting out to pasture was largely written in 2001-2. Small pieces were tweaked through 2002-7. It has survived PHP 4.0.x to 5.2.x pretty unscathed. details the history and philosophy of the self-written and maintained CMS.
  5. WordPress is not the final step. It is just a good time to move a platform I transition to other places in the future, somewhere in the cloud.
  6. As Joel Pobar says, “having no policy on cache is a memory leak”. In my instance, the smartness of a cache for production use to reduce hits on MySQL resulted in a bug that took 45 minutes to track down. Not as a memory leak, just unexpected behavior.
  7. Strategy: get images from the database into a fixed file system under As per the wise guidance of UncleMike, this futureproofs my data. A part of the strategy is to move the rss feeds to a local feed system as I am not trusting feedburner and feedjumbler for stats right now.
  8. Rendered pages: best thing to do is “wrap” what is content with markers, render the page via CURL, and persist what is wrapped into the WordPress CMS. The how came to me in an afternoon nana nap. Conscious brain was on hold, and the real smarts came to the fore. 
  9. Regular Expressions. Why-oh-why where they invented to make my brain explode? Thankfully, the intarwebs helps.
  10. A shim of the MungenetEngine will remain in place to “301” old URLs to new URLs. Full page rendering and image/binary rendering will be turned off. Therefore, the import mode will not be WordPress RSS style import. Using to post via XML-RPC
  11. Mangling dates, and doing hand-crafted fixes to my WordPress XML-RPC (note: this is patched for 2.3, evidently) took some hours.
  12. There are 761 blog entries prior to transition.  From an earlier blog transition on August 8th 2006, the count was 371. There have been 390 entries since. Post transition, there are now 940 posts.
  13. Raw transfer complete at 6:50pm 5th September 2007.
  14. To complete: neater classification of the new entries.

Mungenet Blogging Platform version 5.0

The blogging platform history of Mungenet:

Version 1.0: self-coded Userland Frontier, version 2.0: Radio Userland, version 3.0:, version 4.0: (self coded) mungenetengine.

Today, I’ve moved onto platform version 5.0: WordPress

Rather than re-coding a blogging engine to take into account all the Web 2.0 re/write hotness – moving to WordPress was a part-time project over the space of a week. Based on PHP, writing a plugin, import module and modifying the theme was a relatively easy project. WordPress is like a Lego base plate (or platform) from which a new mungenet may emerge.

The bulk of the content on remains in the self-coded mungenetengine; and thanks to Apache mod_rewrite, CSS and some other small PHP smarts – WordPress has snapped into place.