The New Chicago Carless

Today I’m officially announcing the newly redesigned Chicago Carless. The new design–this blog’s third since debuting in June 2005–is an adaptation of the powerful, image-friendly magazine-style theme, Mimbo. (The change was inspired by the recent redesign of the thought-provoking personal blog, Jeff’s A.D.D. Mind.) I invite readers–especially those who read Carless via my RSS and email feeds–to come take a look around the new site and let me know in the comment thread what you think of the new set-up.

First and foremost, this third version of Chicago Carless now features six main channels to help individual readers better delve into the content in which they’re most interested. The new homepage features these channels in the navigation bar (with nifty dropdowns), and shows recent posts in each channel in the left sidebar. All topic categories are now grouped within these new channels, which include:

  • ADHD Life: A home for my well-received posts about my life experience with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder;
  • Chicago Way: Almost everything I write that has to do with living in Chicago and Chicago politics, history, architecture, and related lore;
  • CTA Blues: All content related to CTA service–or lack thereof–as well as Metra, Pace, Amtrak, driving, and walking around the Windy City;
  • Daybook: A home for my memoir posts–find love, sex, dating, spirit, my backstory, and the Tuesday night coffee gang in this channel;
  • Media Social: My observations about the blogosphere, social media, and traditional media, as well as a home for all cross-posts and promos from current and previous bylines that I’ve written for other websites; and
  • Technology: Including my “I’m Not a Mac” series–the chronicle of my ongoing migration away from the Apple Mac computing platform–as well as other tech-related posts.

In addition, the homepage is much shorter and more manageable now, featuring attractive thumbnails and brief summaries for new and recent posts instead of a long scroll of entire entries. The Recent Comments widget in the right sidebar has also been improved, now grouping comments according to the post to which they belong. And the Search and Subscribe functions have been simplified and grouped together atop the right sidebar (mouse over the buttons to see what each subscription option is for.)

Commenting now requires registration on the site and the submission of a verifiable email address and here I humbly ask the patience of my readers. This is an automated process that readers only have to do one time. I choose to enable registrations after much forethought. The new requirement will allow me to better reach out to commenters and should help generate a stronger sense of community here on Carless. Equally important, it will help guard against spam and anonymous verbal attacks on Yours Truly, other commenters, and public officials about whom I write. I expect the readers who will find registration most onerous will be such anonymous trollers who fear putting their email address where there mouths are. I‘m going to put this one back on hold for now, but I’d love to hear reader comments about the idea.

[Update, 2/13/10: Please see the comment thread, oddly enough, for the current status of commenting.]

Another, more obvious addition to the site (you can tell me whether they’re an improvement or not) are ad widgets. After nearly five years of keeping Chicago Carless non-commercial, I think it’s fair to finally explore revenue options for the more than 500 posts that I’ve written here.

You’ll notice an ad box in the right sidebar and another one atop the comment thread of each post. At the moment, I’m using Chitika search-based ads in the sidebar, alternating with an Amazon affiliate ad for readers who arrive on the site through bookmarks instead of search, and another Amazon affiliate ad in posts. This will likely change as I find my footing with blog ads.

And for those who constantly ask me, I’ve finally written an answer as best as I can give one to explain Why I Write Chicago Carless.

Finally, a technical note. Adopting the Mimbo theme has necessitated that I re-edit each and every post on Chicago Carless to ensure that thumbnails and summaries work the “Mimbo” way. So far, I’ve fixed posts dating back to September 2008. Earlier posts will unfortunately have a broken design container at the very top of the page. Scroll down–the post in its entirety is there below. I’m trying to edit 30 to 50 posts a day and will report on my progress in the comment thread. I hope to all archived posts “fixed” by the end of the month.

So…what do you think?

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