Fresh Layout for 2009

January 5th, 2009 by Samuel Santos Leave a reply »

With the new year starting, I decided to try some changes here at samaxes.com.

First, I’ve changed the blog theme to a slightly modified Derek Punsalan’s Grid Focus.
Some of these modifications were mostly due to some complains about the size of the content column versus the sidebars columns on the previous theme. Since this is mainly a technical blog it makes it easily on the eye to have a wider content column.

Another visual change was the code syntax highlighting plugin. I was using the SyntaxHighlighter Plus and now I’m using WP-CodeBox.
SyntaxHighlighter Plus served me well in the past, but it has some disadvantages, such as:

  • Escapes the code special characters, making it harder to edit code (also has a bug when escaping ‘&’ ampersand characters);
  • Require that a lot of JavaScript files are sent to the client in order to style the code.

Although I’m using browser caching, 70-80% of this blog visitors are new visitors, so the cache won’t help them. This means that I should try to minimize the number of HTTP requests as much as I can.
WP-CodeBox is based on the GeSHi syntax highlighter. All the parsing is executed on the server side and it supports a lot more languages than the SyntaxHighlighter.

I’ve been evaluating for some time to change my hosting provider. I’ve considered two well known companies, Media Temple and DreamHost. But after a quick look to their reviews I’ve decided to kept my current provider NearlyFreeSpeech.NET.

I’ve also tried to optimize my .htaccess file. I was using too many plugins to GZIP and cache static files. But excessive plugins will make your WordPress slower, so I try to keep them to a minimum. I’ll talk more about this in a next post.

All the images used on this blog have been moved to Google App Engine. The benefits of App Engine as a CDN are obvious: your own server doesn’t suck up the bandwidth, while your visitors will appreciate a faster site.

Please take a look at the following print screens and share your opinions about the changes made.

Previous themeActual theme

I think these are the most relevant changes for this blog’s readers and I hope they are for the better.

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