Movable Type Monday: Custom Header, jQuery, ImageMagick, and More

Happy Monday, folks! First off, I’m sorry there was no Movable Type Monday last week. Seemed like most of the community had taken off for the holidays, so I decided to hold what I had for an extra week. But now it’s a new year and there’s lots of new stuff to talk about.


Custom HeaderByrne Reese put out a new plugin for uploading and customizing the header image on your blog. Custom Header handles the whole process of uploading, cropping, and positioning your banner image. This will be great for personalizing template sets, and it modifying an existing template set to use this plugin looks very straightforward.

Share — This plugin lets you add an “email to a friend” form to your blog posts. Created by Dan Wolfgang, Share is customizable and works with MT’s junk filters. Thanks, Dan!

Tips & Tutorials

Besides his Share plugin, Dan also recently wrote instructions for using his Poll Position plugin with jQuery. Poll Position lets you add polls to your blog. I’m a huge jQuery fan, so I’m glad to see Dan write this up.

Beau Smith wrote improved installation instructions for the Action Streams plugin. Looking at Beau’s method, it seems odd Action Streams isn’t set up this way to begin with. Glad somebody explained the right way to do it.

Writer Susan McNerney posted instructions on changing your banner image. It’s clear that Susan was frustrated by how much trouble it was to change her banner. Sounds like she needed Byrne’s Custom Header plugin.

Over at TMCnet, Tom Keating out does himself, writing a tutorial that offers several things one can do with MT assets. He starts with listing recent image assets linked to entries, then creates a related entries widget that includes images, and finally shows how to add images to the FastSearch plugin. Thanks, Tom!

Finally, John Walker describes how to install Image::Magick on CentOS 5.2 for your Movable Type blog. His instructions may not be limited to MT, but since ImageMagick is one of the most difficult things I’ve had to install for any blog platform, I wanted to share his instructions.

What have you done with MT this week? Let us know in the comments.

Flickr Alternatives for Copyright-Conscious Photographers

Flickr has been in the spotlight a good deal recently, but a lot of it has not been good news. It has been revealed that Flickr, like Facebook, strips out copyright metadata from uploaded images. Combined with a confusing API, licensing scandals, companies selling photos as cell phone backgrounds and more, it is easy to see why some are skittish about keeping their images on the site.

This has some photographers, bloggers and artists uneasy about using Flickr or at least using the site exclusively. Many have begun seeking alternatives to Flickr but alternatives seem to be thin. Though image hosts such as Photobucket exist and are great for embedding images into other sites, they lack the sense of community that Flickr provides and, in the case of Photobucket, can raise copyright issues of their own.

So what other sites are there for photographers and artists that might fulfill some or all of Flickr’s function while providing a slightly better copyright environment? There are actually many, but here are three of the more important ones to watch. [Read more…]

5 Sources for Free and Legal Images


Everyone knows that almost any blog post is better with images. However, getting them can be a difficult matter. With a maze of licensing and fair use issues making it hard to decide what is and is not legal to use, many bloggers don’t wish to use images that they have not taken themselves.

But while using your own images is always the best way to go, there are several great sources to help you find and locate images that you can use as part of your blog posts. In fact, there are some very neat tools designed specifically to help you correctly license and use other people’s photography, art and more.

The best part of all is that these tools are free. They will not cost you a dime to use and, if used correctly, can let you fill up your blog posts with as many images as your heart desires. [Read more…]

5 Ways to Imitate the 10 Most Popular Blogs


Want to make your blog just like the 10 most popular blogs in the world? Here are 5 unmistakable ways to imitate the blogosphere’s giants:

1. Publish frequently.
2. Have a team.
3. Offer hot news.
4. Have an attitude.
5. Be visual.

Let’s explore each point a bit. [Read more…]

WTF Blog Clutter: Video and Pictures

Flickr with Flash Block enabled

As part of the ongoing series on WTF Blog Design Clutter, it’s time to tackle all those videos and pictures you want to share with the world through your blog.

There are two ways of sharing video and pictures with your blog readers and friends. Only one influences your blog’s design.

Example of appropriate use of videos in a blog\'s sidebar, reflecting the blog\'s purpose.

Example of appropriate use of videos in a blog's sidebar, reflecting the blog's purpose.

Typically, pictures and videos are shared through your blog posts as part of your blog’s content. Many bloggers want to share videos and pictures through their blog’s design, typically in the blog’s ever crowded sidebar. Some even want to go so far as forcing videos to start the moment someone lands on the page with the video, a serious no-no on the web. Let the reader choose to initiate the video.
[Read more…]