This site is entirely self-taught. For those of you that are also teaching yourselves about web sites and web design, I thought I would provide a place for information about certain scripts/techniques/goodies I managed to find throughout this site's development.
Odessastreet is powered by Movable Type, which is the best tool I have ever seen on the internet. It is easy to use and flexible. I believe that I would have never gotten into this site if it hadn't been for Movable Type. I cannot recommend MT enough. Not only is the actual publishing system great, but so is their support team over there. I owe at least half of the things I have discovered about web design to the MT Support Forums.
The site is hosted by Hosting Matters, which I also strongly recommend. Hosting Matters has all of the features needed to run Movable Type at an affordable price. They have several small-scale hosting packages. Their support team is also to be commended.
Movable Type Related Scripts and Tricks:
Collapsing Entries: Scriptygoddess.com provides killer ideas for Movable Type. I found the expanding/collapsing php script on their site, and thought it was so much fun that I applied it to my comments, too. It was super easy to implement and seems to work all the time.
Multiple-Calendar Archive: The "words archive" is also set up using a Scriptygoddess idea, this time I believe it is courtesy of Kristine. The excellent and super-clear instructions to implement these calendars can be found here. I really like the end result, it is much more original than just a listing of all the entries ever made. I modified the stylesheet slightly, but it is pretty easy to figure out.
Calendar-Based Monthly Archives: I found the info for these archives over at dive into mark where there are plenty of other good ideas. The calendars themselves come from this page, but the stylesheet had to be severely modified to get my end result. Regardless, the basic idea is there.
Cross-Blog Info: The main page is set up using information from three different blogs: the main blog (odessa street), the music blog (odessa music) and the photos blog (odessa photos/paris). It is only possible to get all the info from these blogs onto the main page via the MTOtherBlog plus-in, a healthy alternative to some messy PHP and such. It's worked out just fine thus far, except that in order for the changes made in, for example, the music blog, to be shown on the main page of odessa street, I also need to do a rebuild in the main blog. Minor inconvenience at times. But really really minor.
Related Entries Plug-In: The categorization with links to other similar artists featured on the music part of the site uses Adamn Kalsey's related entries plug-in. I linked to the page on Kristine's plug-in directory but you can directly acces the plug-in's page here.
Other Random Features:
Collapsing/Expanding Headers: Dynamic Drive provides a lot of really good free scripts; it's been a great resource for me. I particularly like their menus/navigation section, which is here I found the code for these contractible headers. It took about two seconds to get up and onto the site, and I think it cuts waaaay down on messy links in the sidebar. Look out though - although the headers open in Netscape, they don't seem to close. Minor detail, but one to be noted.
Site stats: most of my stats I get via Site Meter, but a pretty thorough package comes with Hosting Matters' set up. I didn't need to upgrade and I stuck to the free version, and with the crossover of the two I pretty much have all the stats I need. Site Meter only provides keywords and keyphrases if you start paying them. I did, however, join their promotional service because I was pretty much clueless on the meta tags tip, and lo and behold, their service worked. They have a pretty good deal going and it's not all that pricey, so I give it my blessing.
Music downloading device: this was the easiest thing I put on my site, next to the Zonkboard. I was sure it was going to be next to impossible to figure it out, but it took me about half an hour. I believe that is a record for me. Everything you need is at this little dinky site. Yet, they were superbly thorough and their tool is sooo easy to use. I was stunned.
Last Heard on Winamp: You can pick up this easy-to-install WinAmp plug-in here. Very clear instructions make the set-up process relatively simple. Be careful though - the new, downloadable version of WinAmp does not work with this plug-in. Be sure to go pick up the previous version (2.8?) in order to get the plug-in to work.
Zonkboard: this was just a fun, stupid thing that I picked up. It's free and silly. Get yours here. It takes about five minutes.
Things I used to Have, Don't Anymore, But Still Recommend:
Nav Bar: I used to have a nav bar from Brothercake. Go over to Brothercake to see how great these nav bars can on the right kind of site. Once I realized how to organize my files, the set up process was bizarelly easy (for me). The nav bar can look super professional if done the right way, and I had no problems with mine. I highly recommend it if you are looking for something like this for your site.
Newsletter: I used to have a newsletter that has since been taken away, if only because I had few subscribers (read: 0). I hear that MTPro is going to eventually have some newsletter type of function, and I have decided just to wait until, as I am in no rush. Until then, I picked up a handy scripts from add2it that provides an alright newsletter deal for free. I found the administration a bit aggravating because of an atrocious choice of colors made by add2it's developer, but besides that, it served its purpose without any hassle.
Rotating Images/Quotes: I picked up both of these options at the CGI Resource Index, which is probably the most thorough CGI script source on the web. I can't even keep track of how many things I have picked up there. One of which I do remember, however, was the rotating quotes script brought to us by jedi mike. I had tried several random quotes scripts before stumbling across this one, and it was sssooooo easy to use, I was suprised I had been having problem with all the others. Matt Wright - over at Matt's Script Archive provided the random image displayer that was almost as easy to use, but a bit more complicated only because it uses images. Still recommend it, though. And I am still looking for a way to use it on the new site.
Forums: It seems as thought everybody is using Ikonboard's forum nowadays, including MT. I found them really, really hard to install, despite the fact that they provided a set-up wizard of sorts. I had been making stupid mistakes and figured it out. The admin of these boards is fascinating and extremely complex, and the boards are totally free. What bothered me was that I was having a hard time setting up the boards with the colors and images I wanted. However, I had decided to get rid of them before I got into any sort of thorough investigation because they were using up a fair amount of space for nothing.