Saturday, February 16, 2013

Welcome to the Jungle

I'd like to say a warm hello to my readers (all three of them!). As you can tell, the site looks a bit different. This is because that redesign I was threatening a while back is now complete. I was able to go through with this in good conscience after I saw the results of the user poll:

 10 of the 15 people who voted approved of the change, and I was glad to see that. I decided the time was right to redesign the blog to make it easier to use. And so, using a trial-and-error approach with the HTML of an experimental “sandbox” blog, I slowly modified an existing template piece by piece. This redesign isn’t an attempt to give the site a complete makeover. I tried to make the result look similar to what I was using before, but with a few key differences to improve the already-rotten experience you must have, suffering through my prose as you do.

Here are the biggest design changes, ones that you will hopefully appreciate.

  • The crime scene maps are the same as before. However, I decided to change the background of my posts so that the background was white and the text was dark. I think this makes it a lot easier to read my posts, and it also makes it easier on me to select font colours on the occasional crossover review. (I’ve gone back in time and edited my previous crossovers to accommodate the light background.)

  • Although my initial attempts failed, I finally cracked the code to make the font size larger. For some reason it wouldn't display on my "sandbox" blog, until I found out that I had deleted a key piece of HTML, and that was why the text seemed so small.

  • There’s a new picture on the home page! I decided to incorporate the “scene of the crime” motif a lot more by making a slideshow with maps that didn’t quite make the cut for the background. (This, incidentally, is purely dictated by Blogger’s size requirements.) The beauty of this approach is that there will always be room for more maps if I feel the need to add them. Out of necessity, I had to change the picture at the top of the page, and so now you can have a completely different angle of a corpse lying in the snow!

  • I didn’t like my old search box. It was half-buried in the top left corner. So I went with a template that had its own search box, one that caught the eye better and thus made more of a use of itself.

  • One of my biggest issues with the old template is that, due to my background, a lot of things were transparent. If you were to click on one of my tags to see other posts that used the same tag, the box with the information in it would be transparent. If you wanted to subscribe to my posts, the text was almost entirely hidden by the background. (In fact, I had a few emails from people who were puzzled about how they could subscribe, and it took me a good six months to realize the option was even there!) I’ve fixed these issues so that the information doesn’t go unnoticed again.

  • You’ll notice that at the top of the page there is now a series of drop-down menus. I have tried to get such a menu on my blog before, but have had no success until now. I think it’s an efficient way of organizing links that were cluttering up the page before. All my author pages are still at the same address, you just have to hover over the “author pages” menu for the options to drop down. I have endorsed several publishers on this page, and I was able to gather all those links together under “Other Felons”. You’ll notice that I have several “placeholders” in the menu. Not wanting to lose that space (since my knowledge of HTML code is very limited), I temporarily filled these menus with quick links to, say, my impossible crime reviews or reviews of e-books I purchased from The Mysterious Press. As I gather more links, these placeholders will most likely disappear gradually (unless people like them enough for me to keep them where they are).

  • Under “author pages”, there are several sub-menu options for Paul Halter. One of them includes his official (French) website, the overview of his work that I’ve done, and the three interviews that I have had the pleasure to publish on this site. I liked this option; it gathered all things Paul Halter into one spot.

So, hopefully you folks enjoy the revamped crime scene! Please feel free to leave comments, and if you ever come across an issue that I somehow overlooked, don’t hesitate about bringing it to my attention!

I hope you will all join me over the coming days as I continue my forays into the world of James Bond, discover who really murdered Julius Caesar, and dip into the work of one Todd Downing. It’s officially reading week for students over in this part of the world, and I plan to use it wisely.


  1. I would have voted no if I had noticed the poll. Not sure what I think yet. I will ask Barry and he will gladly tell me what to think.

    1. I saved my old template, so that if this redesign is poorly-received I can always roll back the clock. But really this was an attempt to make the site easier to read and use as a reference. I try (and often fail) to give my posts creative titles, so that if you're searching for my review of Anthony Berkeley's PANIC PARTY it might not be very easy to find. But now with the search box searching to see if I gave [X] a review is easier, and the Criminal Record hasn't gone anywhere,

  2. To be honest, I was not too keen on a revamp of he site at first. However, I think that it does look nice and I will continue to frequent it (I really cannot keep away - you really do run a very entertaining blog Patrick). Also, I can't wait for your review of "Dr. No." That was the first Bond book I ever read and I really enjoyed it. It showed that in addition to a hard-hitting dramatic thriller like "From Russia with Love" Fleming could write pulpy fun.

    Also, I look forward to the second part of "Fair and Foul Play." It was an entertaining discussion and I am interested in hearing about the other audio recordings you will touch upon in the future. By the by, if you have not listened to Big Finish's Sherlock Holmes recordings, you really must. I have reviewed hem all on The Consulting Detective since they were all quite brilliant and wonderfully executed.

    1. "Dr. No" will forever be legendary, if only for the fact that it was the first film adaptation. But the novel is great fun, too, starting with a simple premise and then going on a mad adventure-filled extravaganza. I love it and will be sure to point that out in my review. ;)

      I'm glad you like the redesign. I didn't want to do anything too drastic like change the blog name or address or anything -- I have sent plenty of links out there in the wild and wouldn't like to lose any traffic that way! -- but I did want to make this nicer to look at and easier to use. I hope that I accomplish that much.

      As for the Big Finish productions... I've yet to hear them. I've intended to have a listen for a while now, but somehow haven't gotten to it yet.


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