Sean’s Obsessions

Sean Walberg’s blog

Blogs as a Study Tool

I’ve recently embarked on my CCNP Recertification. It’s not due ‘till the end of the year, but I wanted to give myself time.

Normally when I study this type of stuff I make notes and drawings. However this gets lost once I’m done with the task. I thought this time around I’d try using a blog, and open up my study notes to others.

I don’t want the blog to simply track notes, I need some degree of summarization. In particular, I’d like a place to track all the references (ie other web sites) and key words. I found the Collect plugin, which lets you do a whole bunch of fun stuff.

The first thing I wanted was to put a list of all the links used at the bottom of each page. In the Individual Entry Archive template, I added the following:


[<$MTCollectedIndex$>]" target="_blank"><$MTCollectedAttr attr="href"$>

Basically, the MTCollect tag specifies that we’ll be only looking at “A” elements (ie links). MTCollectThis encapsulates the content to be evaluated, and then MTCollected iterates through the collection. You pull out the data items through the MTCollectedAttr element.

The next thing is that I’d like to make a page containing all the articles with a list of the references:

<$MTEntryDate format="%x"$>: <$MTEntryTitle$>


Here, the MTEntries tag is used to iterate through all the Movable type articles, like a for loop. After that, it’s the same thing as before, except that I print out the name of the article and the date, with a link to the article. Some other interesting points are the sort_by attribute in MTCollected, “content” referring to the stuff referenced by the A tag (ie what is linked). MTCollectedContent then pulls out the name of the link, rather than the URL as before.

The final goal is to pull out keywords out of all the articles and make a clickable list that lets me search for the term on my site. For example, if “OSPF” were a term used in various articles, I’d like OSPF to appear on the page with a link that lets me search for it on the site (and google, perhaps, as an enhancement)



When I’m writing the text, I put the terms in boldface the first time I use them. With this, I can pull out the B tags in the MTCollect element. This time, I iterate through all the entries on the outside of the loop, and MTCollectThis from the text of the article.

After that, iterate through the collected content, sorting by the name of the link, and skipping duplicates. The URL is formed by pulling out the various tags.

One item to note is that in order for Collect to find the information, it has to be in quotes. That is

doesn’t work, you need

If you want to see the site in action, it is at

Time will tell if it works.


I’m trying something new here. Talk to me on Twitter with the button above, please.