Friday, September 30, 2011

Possibly Related?

"Related Posts" was a feature I really liked when I was using Wordpress.  It was a plugin that would automagically find and list posts that might be related to the current post you were viewing (by a complex scoring algorithm that took into consideration tags and post content).

I found a less complex, but still very useful snippet of javascript that approximates the same functionality over at

The difference is that I chose to paste the code into a new widget instead of messing with the template directly.

The end result is a blank box at the very top of the left sidebar when you're on the main page that cycles through possibly related posts when you view a single post or filter by tag.  (the code had the text "Loading..." visible when there were no related posts returned, so I just erased that line.  If there are no posts, I'd rather just have an inconspicuous blank box)

Like dominoes... or maybe a funnel.

I finally decided on a way to keep the Facebook page and the Twitter account useful and updated regularly.

This is how it works:

In other words, every time I post a new story to, a tweet is generated.

Every time I post something to Creepy Cleveland's Facebook wall, a tweet is generated.

I guess what I'm saying here is that if you want the whole story with the minimum amount of commitment - follow Creepy Cleveland on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hitting the Links

Once upon a time, I tried using delicious to keep track of bookmarks I wanted to feature on Creepy Cleveland. Then delicious got bought out by Yahoo! Then delicious got bought out by AVOS Systems.

What the hell?

So today, in a continuing effort to consolidate everything under my Google account, I imported my old Creepy Cleveland bookmarks to Google Bookmarks.

It's pretty nice although not as "social" as delicious was. 

Google bookmarks feature a "List" concept where I can gather links together into a collection and share the collection as a "List".  So I have.  So far I've created a "Blogroll" list and a "Media" list.

The Blogroll list is reserved for other sites devoted to hauntings, ghosts, graveyards or ghost-hunting around the northern Ohio area.  This is the list I put you on when you say "Hey!  Here's my link.  If you put my link on your site I'll put your link on mine."

The other list is "Media".  Especially around this time of year there are lots and lots of Halloween-themed articles that appear on local (and not-so-local) newspaper websites.  Most of these articles are really good, but the nature of the internet makes them roll-off the sites or get buried deep within the site structure as time goes on.  By Christmas the pages are either gone completely or buried under two tons of other holiday links.  This list will try to keep them alive.  (At least until they disappear)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Not with a ten foot poll

So PollJunkie turned out to be a fail. It's been two days since I posted the poll and I've had exactly one vote.
I know I've had visitors because Blogger keeps those stats and there's been plenty of people visiting and viewing that post.  My guess is that either people hate being asked their opinion or the poll was erroring out on everybody else too.  I'm leaning toward the latter.

So I took a little more time and found another poll service.  This time I'm trying Easy Polls.  Instead of redirecting visitors to another site to vote, I've embedded the code right into the post (and boy is that javascript finicky.  It does not like being moved around or formatted)

So, hopefully I'll get some votes this time.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Making a Timeline

Over the years I've tried to keep archives of all the different versions of Creepy Cleveland and each time I moved the site or redesigned it, I added a little and removed a little.  Looking over all those files and trying to make sense of when things happened I decided to try to create a timeline.  Surely there must be a service for such a thing, right?  Indeed. was the first page I found and apart from the inability to enter pictures into the timeline (it keeps throwing an IO Error), I'm pleased with the results so far:

I'd like to keep adding to it and flesh out the details enough so certain events make more sense (I just sort of wrote up a sentence fragment - to help me remember) and see if I can get the import pictures-thing to work.  If I can get it the way I want it I may be able to replace the "History of Creepy Cleveland" page, which is getting too big to be interesting anymore.  (Not to mention the significant events I'm missing)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Taking the easy road to interactivity

I have the opportunity to participate in a radio show in October.  The theme is going to be "The Top 10 Creepiest Cleveland Legends".  I figured it would be a great time to put a poll up on the site and see if I could get site visitors to help me rank the popularity of stories.  It's all speculation, of course, but that's what makes it great.  Plus it might generate more stories and give me more things to talk about on the radio show.

In a fit of "I wanna do this quick" I just did a Google search and came up with PollJunkie.  Seems perfect: no registration, allows a "ranking-style poll", they host the poll and results, one link for the poll, one for the results and they allowed me to specify a deadline date.

Of course, trying to do this quickly has it's problems too... after posting the blog entry on the site I went to try take the poll myself and noticed that I misspelled and entry (*damn*) and posted the same entry twice (*double damn*).  I went back and created a new poll, being a bit more careful this time, and re-posted the link.

This time when I went to take the poll myself the site errored out on the submit button (*really?*).  I hit submit again and things went through OK the second time.  Now I'm wondering if I should have searched some more before choosing PollJunkie.

I'm going to leave things as-is for right now and hope for the best.  I hope people email me if they have problems.

Hell, I hope people take the poll.

Friday, September 16, 2011

What's In A Name

So I redirected the domain name tonight.  So far so good.  I put a meta-refresh on the old site, so even if the domain hasn't switched to the new site, you'd wind up at the new site anyway.

I'm surprised at the amount of traffic the blogspot site still received over the last couple years.  It's been active the whole time, but I had put a "We've Moved!" post on the front page redirecting people to the new domain name (and hence, the new site).

I was going through some of the referring links (I'm always interested in what brings people here) and noticed a few Google searches (nothing odd about that).  So I clicked on the links to see where Creepy Cleveland showed up on the searches people performed.

Dead link.

So I tried another.

Dead link.

Oh, shit.  The domain name!  A whole bunch of the links that show up on search engines don't point here anymore.  It's gonna take a while to build up new results and get them showing up in the search results.

Hopefully, hosting a blog with Google will speed up the process some.

In any event, if you run into any dead links from search engines.  Click through anyway and try the search on the site.  The content is probably here, it just hasn't been crawled under the new name yet.

52 Pick Up

Have you ever played "52 Pick Up"?  Y'know, that "game" where someone asks if you want to play "52-Pick-Up", you say "Sure" and they throw a deck of cards up in the air and announce "OK, pick 'em up!"  (har har har)

That's what this blog is right now.  I'm going through posts to check for broken pictures and links and...

Holy crap.

I've got links to pictures on Flickr (an account on which I don't even have anymore)
I've got links to pictures on Picasa (but in the wrong album)
I've got links to videos on news sites that have long gone to their archives

I guess it's not too bad, after all. But there is a lot of fixing and reformatting to do.  I might have to pull down some posts until I can find (*if* I can find) the pictures that belong to them.

I know I've archived every version of Creepy Cleveland I've ever had, so maybe the missing pieces are in a zip file or tarball somewhere on some hard drive in my closet?

I hope so.

Hooking up the wires

I spent a couple hours today trying to integrate the blog with some social media sites.  I have a Creepy Cleveland Facebook Page, but I'm not a giant fan of Facebook so I want to make it as easy as possible to put content on my wall without having to sign in and out all the time.

I also have a Twitter feed that I intend to just post blurbs to whenever there is a new post on Creepy Cleveland.

Enter Twitterfeed.  As it turns out, I had and existing account that was already hooked up to Facebook and Twitter.  I just forgot my password.  A quick click on 'I forgot my password' and I was all set (reset).  The only problem I foresee is that both feeds already have posts and tweets.  I suppose I'll continue using the interfaces the same way (a new tweet and wall post for every new blog post), but it may take a while for the old content on these sites to roll off.

I also pulled the photos from the old site and uploaded them to the Creepy Cleveland Picasa account.  I still have to go back through all the old posts and re-link the pictures, but I've already done some of them and it looks to be a pretty easy job.  I especially like the fact that I can embed a slideshow into the posts where I have multiple pictures.

On the old site(s) I had embedded a bunch of videos from Creepy Cleveland's YouTube Channel.  This time I just posted a link to the channel itself.  Why reinvent the wheel when I can manage all my videos from YouTube's interface?  (Note to self: revisit and clean up that've got friend invites from six months ago)

Once upon a time I had an idea to create a Google Map of the most discussed locations on Creepy Cleveland. After all, the most common question on the site is "Where is [haunted place]?".  I also threw together a map of the (Halloween) Haunted Houses around the Cleveland area.  This time I decided to trash that idea after finding  more dead links than live ones on the existing map.  I still like the idea of keeping track of the Halloween Haunted Houses, but I'm going to have to do it each year.  They come and go too often.

Lastly, I set up the Google Calendar for Creepy Cleveland.  So far I've only got a few Halloween Haunted House opening dates and the major Pagan Calendar Sabbats, but I envision posting things like interviews, lectures and special events that Creepy Cleveland visitors may be interested in.

Another new beginning

Another September rolls around and I stare longingly at Creepy Cleveland sitting over there on the shelf. 

Untouched for most, if not all, of the summer, it's time to wipe off the dust and get the web site ready for fall.

Like the Overlook after a long winter, I give everything a good once-over and do small repairs. Fix broken links, remove obsolete posts and check connections to outside services.

This year, I've decided to finally start a new blog to track all the behind the scenes stuff that happens with the blog.

 For years now, I've toyed with posting non-CreepyCleveland related entries (some may argue that I have indeed posted quite a few non-CreepyCleveland entries) to try to get some feedback on the technical side of things.

 I've also changed the blog engine a number of times in the last few years. Creepy Cleveland has gone from a flat, hard to maintain, straight-html custom web site to a semi-interactive php site. From there I decided to move to a blog format and feature the stories and contributions. I started on Blogger and moved to Wordpress.

As of 2011, I'm moving back to Blogger. Once again, I'm willing to give up some granularity in behind-the-scenes control in order to have better up-time and integration with the Google tools I already use to power much of the site (gmail, maps, calendar). 

This blog is going to feature all the technical and maybe not-so-technical flotsam I create and endure to run Creepy Cleveland.

 Sounds like fun.