Creating a Related Content Widget on Squarespace 6 with nRelate

I’ve been using Squarespace 6 for awhile now, and it’s been working well. The iOS apps are still not that helpful, and it’s taken a lot of time to figure out how to get a related content widget installed.

Unlike WordPress, there’s not an easy plug and play solution for it. You have to go to a third party to get something set up. I’ve worked with two: Outbrain and nRelate.

It’s tricky either way. Both will provide custom code to paste into Blog Settings > Advanced > Post Blog Item Code Injection.

Getting it just right is the tricky part. I had a problem with the widget appearing on the first post on my homepage in addition to the permalink pages where I wanted them.

Squarespace determined that the problem was with the code being used.

Outbrain couldn’t fix it. Or didn’t feel like taking the time to get it figured out.

nRelate, however, was fantastic about it. They tweak the code on their back end until you get it just right. It took a little longer than I thought it would, but it seems like everything is working great now. The widget appears on permalink pages, not on the home page list of posts. We are all big winners.

If you’re looking for something like this, reach out to them and they’ll hook it up.

Big Ice Cubes Cool Drinks More Slowly

I’ve been meaning to buy one of these for the better part of a year. But Dr. Drang points out that while big ice cubes dilute your drink more slowly, they don’t actually cool your drink as fast as smaller cubes.

Yes, big cubes melt (and therefore dilute your drink) more slowly, but at the cost of cooling your drink more slowly. How much more slowly?

[The recommended big cubes] cooled a glass of room temp water by 26.8 degrees in 10 minutes, diluting it by 26 grams.

… Using the same 100 grams of ice but in two cubes instead of one giant one, the small ice cubes cooled the drink the most (28.5°) and also diluted the drink the most (28 grams).

Though I am a gentleman, and gentlemen don’t turn down Star Wars novelties.

Via Dr. Drang

The Hummer Saw its Shadow—6 More Years of Recession.

I spotted this H2 out for a drive a few weeks ago. It seems like it’s been a few years since I’d last seen one. But I’ve noticed more and more of them on the road since then, returning from the dark recesses of McMansion garages where they’ve been slumbering since 2008. Clearly, someone forgot the double-tap to the head. 

There’s no “too soon” for a Hummer owner. It must take some big brass ones to dust off the harbinger of the end of Western Civilization to take it for a spin. But no one ever confused conscientiousness, nuance and empathy with traits that would be found behind the wheel of GM’s answer to the M1 Abrams Battle Tank. So move your ass out of the way, recession, America’s riding shotgun and we’ve got ass-kicking to do  … or …  groceries to get. And we might need to pick the kids up at the rec center while we’re out.  

Walking Dead: What happens after the zombie apocalypse stops being interesting?

This has been a weird season for The Walking Dead. Come to think of it, so was season 2. The show has always been full of annoying characters. Especially the women. Terrible. And they keep finding more of them. But the awe of an epic zombie apocalypse helped to offset all of that. 

Image via fanpop.com
Image via fanpop.com

During season two, I joked about it being a zombie show without any zombies. Then during a panel about writing for video games at SXSW, one of the panelists was describing the zombies in the Walking Dead video game as being like the weather. More of something that happened than any kind of focal point or target or objective. Which was an interesting way to look at it. 

Though on the show I’m not sure they are even that important anymore. In season three, no one is scared of them unless tied to a chair. They’ve gotten used to it. Desensitized. Corpses are just wandering around here and there, mostly in the background with the rest of the vegetation. And if one gets in the yard coud you please just punch a hole in its head? And make sure to pull that weed in the road while you’re out there.  

Really, the walkers on the Walking Dead have just become a nuisance. Like having rodents in the yard or coyotes in the holler. And what I’ve realized from this experiment in making a TV series about the zombie apacalypse is that on a long enough timeline, a show about zombies will eventually just be a show about people. And if your characters are annoying, it’s going to get difficult for everyone. Scary even.  

10 Reasons Why I Moved From WordPress to Squarespace 6

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit manic when it comes to digital tools like task managers and blogging platforms. Even when I find something that works, I have trouble staying committed.

Last year when I moved to WordPress, I felt like I was finally settling down. I had previously tried out the beta of Squarespace 6, I had already spent some time on Squarespace 5, before that I had tried self-hosting WordPress a few times using services such as https://www.hostiserver.com/ and others, as well as WordPress.com, Posterous, Typepad, and I’ve been using Tumblr on the side for a few years.

So I think that I have a unique perspective on this topic, and after typing out that list of services that I’ve used, one could argue that I need extensive therepy.

So why did I move back to Squarespace again? The long and short of it is that while WordPress is the absolute master of blogging flexibility, I found that with great flexibility comes great responsibility.

They've been super responsive to my whining on Twitter.
They’ve been super responsive to my whining on Twitter.
  1. Squarespace is faster than self-hosting—Here’s the deal: hosting is only as cheap as it is slow. I’ve hosted WordPress on Bluehost and on Dreamhost and I didn’t find either of them to be reliable enough at the base price. And while the front end was noticeably slow, the backend was *painfully* slow. It was like the world was moving in bullet time while the dashboard watched in disbelief at the blur of the mouse and keyboard. Squarespace is much faster.
  2. Hosting is a hassle—Do you like working with Mysql databases? Do you like navigating terrible UX at hosting companies? FTP? Do you like having your website crash because you suddenly get a surge in traffic? What about companies that aren’t but so concerned with the end user if their services go down? If you do like those things, you should self-host. If you don’t like those things, you’ll like working with Squarespace. Other web hosting options are SiteGround and Bluehost. If either of these appeal to you, check out this SiteGround vs Bluehost web hosting security review.
  3. Squarespace does caching for you—This is where my relationship with self-hosting really began breaking down. If you self-host WordPress, you are going to be responsbile for making sure that your website is caching correctly to avoid being even slower and potentially taking down the entire Internet. There are plugins that do this. They are super complicated. Squarespace does all of that for you, and if you’re anything like me, you have no business doing that kind of thing for yourself.
  4. Squarespace SEO is better than mine—When I noticed that my old Squarespace blog was still out-ranking my WordPress install in Google after being dormant for over a year, I started installing and configuring more plugins that I didn’t really understand. That lead me to believe that I probably wasn’t the best man for the job, and would be in better hands in any hands but my own.
  5. WordPress Plugins create flexibility, but also can cause trouble—There are billions of plugins for WordPress, which is where it’s flexibility comes from. But are you using the right plugins? Are the plugins that you use breaking things? I’m pretty sure that I had a plugin break my code in a way that wasn’t fixed by the traditional solution of turning them all off to figure out which one is the problem.It was giving me some kind of parsing error that made me think that the dwarves dug too deep and awakened a terrible evil that went a lot further than just Google+ sharing problems.
  6. WordPress invites noodling—If there’s one thing that I’m good at, it’s burning hours by noodling with software. There’s so much flexilibity that I found myself constantly figuring out new ways to tweak things and break things. Sometimes it was necessary. Sometimes it wasn’t. Squarespace is fairly restrictive with what you can do, which hopefully will translate to less noodling around and more writing.
  7. WordPress is vulnerable to hacking—When looking for help with the parsing error mentioned above, I started to come across article after article about how easy it is for WordPress to be hacked and exploited. Not that anyone would find much benefit from hacking my website, but it left me feeling a little exposed and if I did get hacked I’d be completely helpless. Like a baby in the woods. Often larger websites will utilize pentesting in order to hone in on any weaknesses present in the site’s security; services like those offered by Cobalt are often in high demand, which can be found here – https://cobalt.io/pentest.
  8. Squarespace offers the comfort of a paid service—I never would’ve considered using a paid service to be a positive. Then Yahoo bought Flickr and ruined it, Twitter bought Posterous and closed it, Tumblr heads towards an ad supported business model, and Google pulled the plug on Reader, I’m running out of trust for free services. Especially when it comes to my home base on the Internet. Eventually the adults move in and the bright eyed idealism that made the free service great is beaten out of it. I’m pretty sure that Squarespace has been profitable every year since they launched, and they’ve done that through subscription revenue. That means that I’m the customer, not Google or advertisers or shareholders.
  9. Squarespace is more fun to use—After working with the clunky, bloated WordPress backend for a year, it’s nice to work in something that is a bit more fluid more pleasing to use, and ultimately just beautiful to look at. It’s also a true CMS, you can build almost any kind of website out of it in addition to having a blog.
  10. Squarespace just looks great—The templates offered are so well designed that they make most WordPress themes feel a bit amateurish. It certainly blows the doors off of Typepad when it comes to design…no contest. Though sometimes the high design nature of their templates can feel overly serious. I’ve found that putting a ridiculous picture of yourself in the header takes care of that.

Is Squarespace 6 perfect? Dear God, no it is not. It can be a bit of an adventure as the software still seems like a work in progress. Sometimes when trying to compose a post I’m not sure if I’m using a blogging platform or participating in some sort of glitch art experiment. Also, compared to WordPress, it can feel rigid like a frozen corpse (though as I search around it seems like the right code can make it more flexible).

I am super bummed out that I can’t use Blogsy or Marsedit with it as they haven’t released an API, which was honestly within an inch of being a deal breaker for me. I still get a little anxious about it because I love working in Blogsy, and Squarespace’s iOS apps are consistantly raked through the coals in reviews. I haven’t used them much yet, but the company says that they are being completely rewritten.

But their design aesthetic, lightning fast support and customer driven revenue model lead me to believe that it’s only going to keep getting better and better (if they want to stay in business).

Also, there’s just something enjoyable about it. I can’t quite place my finger on it. My brain says no, but my gut says yes. I can’t explain it.

So for now, I’ll be sticking it out with Squarespace 6. Who knows where I’ll be at this time next year, but I’m really hopeful that this will work out for the long haul.