Posts Tagged ‘blog’

Although I clearly should be studying or doing something else more productive, I spent a lot of the last week building a miniature painting news aggregator. I didn’t want to build a miniature painting news aggregator. When I want to look at painted miniatures I have a few sites I go to. I subscribe to quite a few blog feeds. I frequent the odd forum. But one site I used to waste time on was From the Warp, particularly the From the Warp sidebars which contained the From the Warp Blogger Group. Miniature Painting News

It was a good way to waste time. It was also a good way to find other blogs to follow. There are other blogging networks targeting gamers or miniature painters, but I thought this one was the best. It certainly was the best curated. It was the one I chose to join when I split my miniature painting exploits off from Muskblog. With no progress seeming to be happening I inquired with Ron what was up. I did some research. I looked at Yahoo Pipes, but the tool I thought could do the job was SimplePie.

I’d previously suggested to Ron to move From the Warp to WordPress even WordPress.com as Blogger/blogspot seems to be limiting what he wants to do with his blog. I still don’t know when the From the Warp Blog Network will be up and functioning. I tried to help. In the mean time I think I’ll pay more attention to the TGN Blog Network and I decided to see what I could build with SimplePie using the feeds I personally follow plus a few more.

Not all feeds are created equal. There are technical problems even bugs in SimplePie. Ideally they’ll get fixed and new release will solve all my problems. In the mean time I decided to let other people poke around and see if they have any suggestions, maybe they are PHP wizards.

As I knew someone would ask, I took a screen shot to try and explain how it works. Most everything is pulled from RSS feeds. Flickr, TGN, even Dakka have working RSS feeds that SimplePie can work with. The rest of the information is pulled from two text files containing a list of feeds. If the From the Warp Network comes back online I’ll try to work it in, but given all the trouble I had with feeds from blogspot, I have my doubts that software will handle 1000 plus feeds effectively and gracefully.

The data in the red boxes to the left comes from one text file. The data on the lower right comes from another text file. The text file that controls the data on the left is going to be smaller and much more exclusive. There is no policy. I didn’t want to create yet another blog network, I just wanted a place to go to look at cool stuff. The most recent post appears at the top and one random feed is featured in the bottom box. I create a thumbnail from the first image in the post. This is perhaps the most intensive and problematic feature of my news aggregator. I’d prefer people just uploaded their finished miniatures to Flickr or a distant second Dakka Dakka. Cool Mini Or Not has no feeds for their gallery and has become more and more of an online store, although there are a lot of nice minis their site doesn’t appeal that much to me. I’m interested in knowing how something was done. Ditto Bell of Lost Souls which has too many writers and just a way too busy site design now. I just want to look at the minis not fight with their web design or told to go fuck myself.

If people want to know how to get their blog included, I suggest they join the TGN Blog Network. If they want to know how they get their website added to one of the two text files I created I suggest they create awesome content. If you consistently create awesome content I or someone else will notice and then I may add your feed assuming you have one that functions. The text file that controls the content on the left I intend to be more exclusive, difficult to get on to, easy to get taken off of. The other text file I’m more willing to just throw a website on, but I’m big on quality content. I can handle the odd picture of your new baby, but if you go on too many tirades or post too much stuff that should end up Facebook or more likely in a private message I’ll be unsubscribing from your feed, removing you from my sidebar and definitely deleting you from the text file that controls the miniature painting news aggregator.

I hope the news aggregator is useful to someone other than me, it took a long time to make. I also hope it isn’t too expensive to maintain so I can keep it lean and mean. Some people would like it to run faster and there are some optimizations that may be possible, but cutting the content in half may make it run twice as fast but is that really desirable? Finding the right balance and the coolest content is the key. If you know of an RSS (or Atom) feed I should include let me know via email or in a comment. Remember I’m a quality over quantity guy and I want painted miniatures or painting advice primarily not your opinion of why Swooping Hawks suck.

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I haven’t had much time and energy to devote to painting miniatures let alone playing any games, I am still seeking full time employment.  About all I do is follow blogs in my RSS readers.  I’ve found some new ones lately that I like and I have a few old favourites so here are some recommendations for those people interested in miniature painting, modeling, and miniature wargaming particularly games produced by Games Workshop.

  • Dylan Gould’s Model Works shares a love for the mid 90s GW models that we both grew up reading about as much as painting.  Kids these days don’t know how good they have it with the Internet, world wide web, and smart phones.  I’m still somewhat surprised that video games haven’t completely killed off the hobby.
  • Recalcitrant Daze is an even more recent discovery that seems to be working on Nurgle and Orks for Warhammer 40,000. Just like I would if my life was better and I had time and energy to spare.
  • Rust and the City is doing a Nurgle Renegades army based on the rules published in Imperial Armour 7 from Forgeworld, just like I always said I was going to do…
  • Fawcett Avenue Conscripts are also older than the average GW fanboy and seem to have a number of old school veteran armies that they drag out and use and continue to expand.
  • Roundwood’s World shows just how good a modular WW1 trench table can look.  Maybe I’ll finish my modular trench table eventually.
  • Kings Minis is another blog devoted to a large and growing collection of old GW models that still get used in games.

There, go subscribe to the RSS feeds of these blogs, they won’t be as disappointing as they are making progress on their projects and include lots of nice pictures and interesting models you don’t see every day.

I was doing better today/tonight at sleeping, but then I got up to do or check something and now I’m updating this blog.  I haven’t updated since, early, early in the morning which is suboptimal if you want to generate traffic.  You should probably update between 9-10 Eastern until about 1-2 Easter Standard Time.

This blog isn’t that popular, but it is new and I’ve put a lot of effort into it already.  Google will reward that eventually as will the rest of the Blogosphere.  I joined the From the Warp blog network, you can see their logo on my sidebar.  These networks are a big deal to some, I had to start this dedicated blog in order to qualify.  I may join one or two more, it depends on how stringent the requirements and who my peers will be.

Looking at my web traffic statistics, something I perhaps do too much, but old habits die hard, I notice where traffic comes from and where traffic goes to.  In my Blogroll, most of the traffic goes to the alphabetically first blogs which is good for the guy who called his blog A 40K Hobby Blog and good for Malcolm who called his blog A Canadian in Space, but it is bad for say Zac…

So after finding another miniature painter with a blog in Vancouver I went to bed.  I did add him to my Blogroll as he apparently goes to the same store as me.  But then I couldn’t sleep so I decided to create a category for just Vancouver miniature painters and bloggers.  Vancouver is one of the Social Media capitals of the world.  We have large networks on Facebook, LinkedIn, and PlentyOfFish, in fact PlentyOfFish. com is a local company, Flickr and Now Public were also started here.  You see a lot of iPhones and MacBooks now in Vancouver, when as a long time Mac user, I used to be ridiculed, even in programmer/ComSci circles.  Now let’s just say some of us were way ahead of the game.

Anyway now there is a Vancouver or Van City Bloggers category in my links.  Blogroll was still appearing first so I had to create five Links widgets and order them how I wanted to get the sidebar to behave how I wanted it.  This shows the power of WordPress even the dot com version.  One of the things I’m amazed at is people trying to run really elaborate blogs off of Blogger.com when they should just get a WordPress account or better yet a domain.  They’ve built up cachet or Google Juice for a domain they don’t own, which is always a no-no in web design/internet branding.  Can you even export your data from Blogger easily?  Of course I went with the free WordPress.com account myself rather than self host another blog.  I just wanted to try out the features of WordPress.com that aren’t available to self hosted blogs, there are one or two still…

So if you’re a gamer in Vancouver, you should pop by VancouverGamers.com or Strategies on Sundays and if you have a blog, a good blog, not some crappy thing you threw up back in the day and never update, but a good blog with pictures and tutorials on miniature painting and you’re in Vancouver, let Zac or I know.  Zac is big on building up the local gaming community, I just try to do my bit to help.

So as I mused, I’ve started a dedicated miniature painting blog for my various hobby projects.  Hopefully I’ll get off my ass in the next few days and paint something fresh for the masses.  I still need a job, so look at my resume!

I’m not going to move content over here from my personal blog, I’d rather spend my time creating new content and painting new miniatures rather than just import old text and pictures.  Plus I don’t like broken links, I remember when people cared about broken links, now people just trust in Google.

So what will be here? Everything I do hobby related basically.  Nurgle.muschamp.ca isn’t going anywhere, but it is a huge hand coded site, to an army that I’m going to use less as I paint some new stuff, I’ve ran just about every Plaguemarine squad possible.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve matured and I stay out of online pissing matches when I can, I still contribute to the odd forum, mostly the Bolter and Chainsword but occasionally the Waaagh or elsewhere.  I’ve been at this a long time, I have WIP threads that are years old, but I’m not sure if my efforts get viewed by that many people, so hopefully Google will find this stuff and it turns out to be of use to someone.

One thing I have imported by hand into WordPress.com is links.  I’ve been collecting links since 1994 or 1995, my biggest collection is pretty out of date, but more recent useful finds, were added to the sidebar for the benefit of all.

What you will also find here is some well painted miniatures and occasionally tutorials and advice on how to improve your painting.  Back when I was employed I bought a lot of paint and models, so I try stuff out, rather than stick to just GW paints and models.  That said most models I paint are for Warhammer 40,000 or 40K as it is known online.  One of the more famous things I’ve put online is the Diseased Sons homepage, so additions to that army along with the Nefarious Fire and new incarnations of Waaagh Musk will appear here.

I’ll continue using Flickr for finished models in higher res, but I’ll probably put most of my Work In Progress or WIP photos on WordPress.com, previously I used Muschamp.ca and I still may use it for somethings.  I pay for the bandwidth on Muschamp.ca about 10 bucks a month, I get about as much free from WordPress.com maybe, but they throw the odd ad around my text and pictures.  I’m happy with the theme I picked, it is new and gritty, and called Greyzed.  Thanks to the Forge Web Creations for that, apparently they are from South Africa, small world nowadays, especially online.

We’ll have to see if a more focused blog on WordPress.com rather than self hosted leads to an increase in popularity, as measured say by number of comments.  I always got traffic from the search engines, often from very strange keyword referrals, but I’d like a more social and interactive site, though that said it is just a hobby blog, if I get busy with my new job it will languish for a while.

As you may have noticed, I have a tendency to ramble, which is why Muskblog is an unfocused mess after being updated very regularly for years.  This blog will be focused on miniature painting and the hobby, if I want to rant against bad service at a restaurant it won’t appear here, neither will pictures of my sister’s dog, or any baby photos, or any thing else that will pollute the purity of Musk’s Miniatures.

I own a lot of miniatures, a lot of them are painted, but a lot of them aren’t.  Even if I never buy another model, I’ll probably never get them all done.  I’m going to have to have a liquidation sale someday.  I own a lot of older GW miniatures that I either bought back in the day, traded for, or got on say eBay.  I don’t have any immediate plans to sell anything, but at some point it is a good idea.  I’m building something of a dream table for wargaming, but it has gone slowly.  I got hundreds of dollars tied up in resin and other stuff like foam, plasticard, and balsa wood.  I kinda wish I had some of that money back right about now seeing as how I’ve been unemployed for over two months and I’ll always be paying for my MBA.

I promise this is the least focused and most off topic post that will appear here.  I need some text to test the theme further and make sure tags and categories are working well.  There are links to a lot of photos of my miniatures on the sidebar, but lets see if I can’t dig something interesting out of iTunes to see how the theme handles images.Assault on Black Reach Ork Nob

I don’t currently have access to a good digital camera, remember I’m unemployed.  I do have an iPhone 3GS which takes surprisingly good pictures of miniatures in my lightbox setup.  I also know a number of pro and semi-pro photographers, maybe I’ll con one of them into using their 1000s of dollars worth of equipment to take photos of my minis.

I also might submit this hobby blog to various specialized blog networks, that seem to be all the rage in online hobby circles.  I’m not sure how much more traffic they’ll add, but now with a focused blog and hopefully a month or two of good original content I’ll be eligible to join one or two.  In the mean time we’ll have to wait and see who’ll be the first to link to this blog and leave a comment besides me.