(part of brett's logjam.)
30 October 2008
It will come as no surprise to regular readers that the move from a 14-character domain to a 6-character one was driven by the desire to type shorter addresses on my iPhone.
We all do things for obscure reasons.
26 July 2008
Earlier this week, I had an email exchange with Banjocat about keeping track of what I’m up to. (She’s a senior Human Factors person, so when she talks about these things, I listen.) See, brettpeters.org was intended to be the place where my non-internet friends could keep up with what was going on — but sadly, it wasn’t working as well as it should.
Mostly, it’s Twitter’s fault; the volume of posts overwhelms the non-follower. Archiving them to LiveJournal didn’t help, mostly because no one knew I even had it! And reading the different flows via the badges on the front page is disjointed and lacks flow.
I’m taking Banjocat up on her suggestion that a quick summary of keeping track of me online is in order, and then doing something about the scattered pieces.
The short version: non-internet-obsessed friends go here, maybe here, and if you don’t know where my son’s site is, email me. Zen Masta Steve and Iron Chef Meat might find this interesting, too. And this is good if you’re pressed for time and need a laugh.
You don’t have to follow anything else. Not even this site.
The long version:
First, I post things from me to only six sites:
- Nobody Wants a Stylus, where I talk about iPhones and other technical babble,
- Brett’s Logjam, which has turned almost entirely into a personal log, and I haven’t been sure of where it’s going for about eight years now,
- Twitter, which is a 140-character stream of chatter from my cell phone. The bits that other people like wind up on Favrd or Favotter,
- Flickr, for my photographs,
- My son’s site, which is both the most active and the cutest of all my blogs,
- And, the latest, I just started a blog for Yahzie, my MkIV turbo Jetta.
(As an aside: frankly, this is crazy. It’s not as insane as my elsewhere page is, but it’s still insane.)
Second, I post things from other sites to only one place: Appendix A.
The last time I was in a consolidating mood, I dumped everything into this feed. That didn’t work: normal posts got overwhelmed by little trivial updates. People should be able to choose what they want in addition to getting it all in one place. Some folks are happy reading these infrequent updates. Others try to follow the Twitter firehose, while others just like the pictures.
With all this in mind, I went ahead and created Brettbot-147, an automated site that pulls from my two main weblogs, Twitter, and Flickr. You can read it on the web, follow it in an RSS reader, or even subscribe to daily emails.
I have something similar already in place for my kid’s blog, which if you don’t know the URL just ping me for it. I’ll leave my car’s blog and Appendix A alone for now.
Holy crap. I totally have to redo my home page.
24 April 2008
Found the bug. Everything’s working again.
23 April 2008
Astute readers will notice that the last few entries have some, uh, problems: no individual entries, missing pages, appearing on one index and not another, that sort of thing.
The short answer is that the weblog is borked.
The long answer is that Movable Type, the blogging engine that powers this site, has bogged down under 8 years of entries, and is failing to properly publish all of the templates.
Actually, it’s failing to publish any of the templates completely correctly, and I’m updating by hand.
And no, I didn’t change anything. There are, however:
- 2178 published entries,
- 6 different indexes,
- another 8 archive templates,
- all with nested modules.
Recent entries took 10 minutes or more to publish; the last complete site rebuild took over a half-hour.
I am running custom templates in the MT 3.x codebase on the BerkeleyDB backend, with no clear upgrade path to MT 4.x on MySQL. There are database issues. There are template issues. There are time and is-this-really-worth-it? issues.
It appears that the future of brett’s logjam is suddenly, unexpectedly … murky. Uncertain. Up in the air.
Suggestions on how to proceed are, as always, welcome.
8 March 2008
I’m trying another experiment: Appendix A.
I want this site to be clean, tidy, with a high signal-to-noise ratio. But that desire
sometimes often nearly always conflicts with my desire to share a whole bunch of neat stuff with you. The desire to centralize online stuff can distort one’s focus. So, I’m trying out a separate Tumblr site (yes, again) to post those links, removed from the main flow of this site.
The name comes from one of my favorite books, which makes copious use of appendices. I think nearly half of the book is appendices and footnotes, and some of them are better than the source material! So, I figured it was about time for my own addendum.
It’s only a few days old, but I’d love to know what you think about it.
2 January 2008
From Damon Cortesi’s Twitter Stats script, here are my 2007 Twitter Stats:
The monthly stats tell a pretty straightforward tale: my usage took off when I integrated Twitter in with my home page, because I use it almost entirely to provide a recent look at what I’m doing. The dip in July is due to my experiment with putting those updates in Movable Type.
September and October’s declines were entirely work-related, and therefore will not be commented upon here.
Mondays are travel days, Thursdays are workdays for my wife, Saturdays are downtown days. Otherwise, I don’t know that I can read much into this chart.
Hourly trends represent an aggregate of computer and phone usage; I’d wager that more of the evening posts are from a computer, while the morning and afternoon are from my phone.
4 December 2007
Ain’t broke? Don’t fix it.
Now, if only I could heed my own advice.
I was seriously considering upgrading the software that runs a few of my sites to Movable Type 4.x to allow the use of the the iPhone/MT interface plugin. Yes, you read that right: I’m considering installing an entire CMS to get an interface for my phone. This plugin makes posting from the iPhone very, very easy. And a clean install of MT 4.x is actually quite easy as such things go.
But upgrading from an old version, with an extremely custom template and unsupported database? Very, very difficult.
So difficult, in fact, that I gave up trying to upgrade the existing installation and instead evaluated how much effort it would be recode several sites on the clean install.
And the answer? Way more effort than it’s worth.
My first upgrade attempt resulted in an unbearably slow system. This was not the desired outcome.
So, after several hours debugging processes, killing off all sorts of little performance-stealing problems, I opted for a clean Tiger (10.4) install and trusted my backups. Tiger was great in all the areas I remember, and weak in all the other areas I remembered (cough cough Spotlight cough).
After a few days of that, I thought that since there were enough other people having success with a clean install, that I would give it a try with a clean upgrade back to Leopard. In other words, I lost my marbles.
You know what? I have not been entirely happy with Hithlum since I started meddling. And really, there’s no turning back.
Leopard may be faster than Tiger, but it doesn’t feel faster. The 10.5.1 update helped stabilize some of the applications, and I’m sure that on a newer machine that I would be happy as a clam with Leopard. But instead I ask, was this really worth the time, effort, and money I spent?
I suspect that the answer is no.
(I don’t know why I bother. Future Brett never listens.)
10 September 2007
Movable Type, darling, we have to talk.
I tried an experiment two months ago, where I tried to put all my online data into you. Brief updates, links, everything would get dumped into good ol’ Movable Type. You’re a workhorse, and I knew you could handle it.
And you did, but there were some problems.
- All the extra stuff has really slowed you down. It now takes 2-5 minutes to post even a simple blip.
- Your web interface is really not easy to use. Once I tried MarsEdit, I could see that it wasn’t just trying to write from the iPhone - it’s just not easy to write in your web interface.
- Putting everything together has resulted in a lot of clutter. The last two months are huge. And they’re mostly text. I looked up last night and saw pages and pages of links, with very little content.
And that’s just not right. You should be used for what you’re good at, not shoehorned into a whole set of other tasks.
So. I’m sorry I tried to make you do all those other things. Let me let you get back to doing what you’re good at - publishing stories.
Have a good night.
11 August 2007
- Being able to post iPhone pictures to this site while flying across the country, or to Trip’s website on a daily basis, admittedly rocks.
- Some photos that get posted here deserve comments, but you know my position on comments on this blog.
- The hundreds of pictures I post don’t count towards my somewhat limited space on my webhost.
Unfortunately, and I can say this because I know nearly all the readers of this blog, Flickr is not well-liked among my friends and family. And I can see why:
- It has a confusing interface for browsing many pictures.
- Multiple people had login problems.
- Organization is a) confusing to a casual browser and b) requires another step in organizing photos. (Sorry, but tagging doesn’t immediately make sense to a lot of people.)
I do most of my work in iPhoto; while I’d started bumping into the performance limits of iPhoto 5, I knew that I could always upgrade to iPhoto 6 to fix that problem, but I also knew that a new version was coming any day now. So that wasn’t a huge issue (but it was certainly making me grumpy.)
More importantly, there was no way to eliminate that second step of having to organize photos on the website as well as within iPhoto. There are good export plugins to Flickr, but that’s all they are — exporters. Once the photo is up, there’s no way to sync information.
Eventually, and you can probably go back in my photostream to find the exact date, I just gave up on organizing my photos on Flickr. Too much time was spent tagging, writing captions, assigning to sets. It was a step that I didn’t need, and no one commented on it when it went away, and it didn’t have any impact on my negligible social presence in Flickr… so it was gone.
Earlier this week Apple released their .Mac Web Gallery, which is seriously all kinds of awesome if you already use iPhoto and .Mac. Even if you don’t, it’s still all kinds of awesome as a photo gallery. Slick? Yes. But its also easy to use, with download and upload tools that make sense. Its interface is easy for visitors to change.
Or, at least, that’s my impression of it.
I was giddy when I saw how it integrated with iPhoto in the demos. (I was also giddy at how it integrated with the iPhone, but that’s another story.) You make a change in iPhoto and it appears on the web. If a visitor uploads a photo to the gallery, it goes back down to iPhoto. Hooray!
It’s shiny, it’s glossy, and it certainly holds a lot of promise for making my life easier. It doesn’t do some of the things Flickr does well, like generic camera phone uploading, posting to blogs, and holding large-resolution versions at the ready. I can see both as tools that work, and that this isn’t an either/or proposition.
But some feedback to Flickr was so negative when I switched last time, I’d be a fool to not ask you what you think.
my gallery. Please let me know what you think of it.
22 July 2007
7 July 2007
It’s funny what putting the “web in your pocket” (dirty!) makes you reconsider.
For example, Twitter. Before iPhone (BiP), it was undeniably cool to be able to text status updates to my website. Where am I? What am I doing? Just check my home page! Oh look, I’m downtown, taking pictures. Or mowing the lawn. Or driving to DC. Or driving from DC.
Wicked cool, I tell you. And for many users of Twitter, it really was, because the service would spit those updates right back out into a variety of places - SMS, IM, web, even email. But for folks like me, with normal, sane friends who do not need to know my every move, that’s not very useful.
I found that I very much enjoyed the minimalism of Twitter. 140 characters encourages you to post without having to think too much about it.
But there were a lot of things about it that I didn’t like, especially when they changed their badges so that you couldn’t publish private tweets somewhere else. (This was the infamous login problem on my homepage.) Why put it all somewhere else for the world to pick over with their APIs and fancy-schmancy web services … all because you like texting in the entries?
I’ve been hitting the mobile Twitter site on my iPhone this week, when finally it hit me. Why do I need this if 1) no one I know in real life uses it, and 2) I already have a blog? I can send out
tweets blips all I want now that I have an actual web interface at my disposal!
(I dunno. Sometimes these things take a while for me to put together. )
Right. As you were.
24 May 2007
Yes: I’m giving Twitter another try to see if I can figure out why it’s become so damn popular. It doesn’t make much sense to me when I’m at home, but the more I’m out and about I start to seewhy folks like it. I’m also trying to understand the appeal of many other mobile doodads, but this one seems like the best place to start.
Frankly, I don’t get the appeal of a lot of the mobile services out there; I look at them and ask, “why do I need this in my life?” without ever getting a satisfactory answer. Perhaps I haven’t found the right situation to let their utility shine through.
(Or, maybe, they’re simply not useful. That remains a real possibility.)
18 May 2007
At some point, the madness will end, right?
12 March 2007
As promised, I’ve been moving entries from The Blue Lamp Cafe and Flotsam and Jetsam into this weblog. The Cafe posts are complete, Flotsam will take a bit more time. This is mostly due to the nature of the posts, rather than the number (although that certainly plays a part in it, too.)
Honestly, it’s slow going. I’m hesitant to dive into the old posts; there are some that I feel I should bury, and others that I feel were written by someone totally alien, and then there are still others that make me think back to a particular day from years ago, and I wonder where the time has gone.
The oldest published entry in Flotsam and Jetsam is elaborate. from 1999. It was posted to a much different website than the one you’re reading now. I remember what I was trying to create when I first posted it, how frustrated I was when I couldn’t make that happen, and how I had to walk away from it all for a while and grow up before I could be comfortable online again. For several years it was the best post on the entire site. (It may still be, for all I know. That’s a scary thought.)
I’d done all the technical work for the import weeks ago, but it’s sat on my to-do list since then, daring me to attempt to edit my past. The temptation is there, and remains there, to just delete it all and present a blank slate to the world. I am not the same person who wrote those posts. I moved across the country, got married and became a father. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to just delete it all and start over from another point, say somewhere in 2005.
Reasonable, but dishonest, too. I was that person, and there was a lot of good mixed in with the bad. I guess this is what it’s like to come to terms with your past selves? Can’t change what’s happened, can’t unsay what’s been said, move on, there’s more to do. So mostly, I’m only editing the links, correcting the most egregious mistakes, and clicking Publish. It’s slow going, but not as slow as I feared.
Because, you know what? There’s a lot of cool stuff coming up ahead, and I need to get on with it.
19 February 2007
Hey look, it’s another sleep-inducing metapost about site changes! Here’s what’s new:
- Get posts by email. While many of you read this through a feed reader, the main audience of this site actually tends more towards direct visits or email. Given the success of my son’s email newsletter, I’ve decided to offer the same service here via Feedburner. Emails are sent once a day; feel free to give it a try. (Link is at the top of the index, too.)
- Blog consolidation. The front page has undergone another revision (7.0, by my highly-inaccurate count) and several sections have been cordoned off for editing. The material will end up here, so you don’t have to keep hunting through various blogs: The Blue Lamp Cafe has already been merged, while Flotsam and Jetsam and The Bookdragon Tales will undergo some editing before joining the logjam. Other pages are being revised as time permits.
- logjam changes. I recently took the plunge and updated from the 2.x tree of Movable Type to 3.x, and have found a few features I like, like hierarchical categories. The global forwards/backwards pages are gone (they were seriously screwing with my PageRank) and the entry title code has been reworked.
- Quick sidebar, please. The sidebar to the left is an experiment with several services designed to share information: my Shared Google Reader pages, del.icio.us bookmarks, and flckr photos are the first additions. (I’m still undecided about this.)
- Integrated feeds. I’ve also added my del.icio.us bookmarks and Flickr photos into the site feed. The bookmarks will probably take the place of most of the tidbits formerly posted in the web log, but for record-keeping I’ll have del.icio.us post them here under a separate category.
- … Well, almost. Unfortunately, Google Reader doesn’t have the same sort of integration yet with either Feedburner or sending digests via XML-RPC, so those articles will only be available via a separate feed. (This is probably a good thing: I’m worried about overloading the feed with too much noise as it is already. Please let me know if you think this is the case, or if I’m worrying too much.)
- Alternate Stylesheets: gimmicky, slow, gone. Based on some tracking pixels I dropped into the alternate stylesheets for this layout, they’re not getting used. White is nice. So those will probably disappear and make my
headcode block much simpler. Each page you view currently results in 13 file GETs before any images are requested, which results in slower page loads. Removing those file accesses will speed things up and make the logfiles pretty again.
- Plus la change… Many things are still the same: no comments, the archives run backwards from the rest of the internet, and I still spend too much time talking about computer drama.
What, you’re still awake after all that? Go to sleep!
25 November 2006
Why has no one pointed me to del.icio.us before?
19 September 2006
Yes, in case you were wondering: my ipod exists in the future.
It’s a long story.
4 August 2006
I’ve resurrected the /photos page. Enjoy!
1 August 2006
Note that I still haven’t digitized any of those tapes. Sigh…
Styles are back, now in the footer:
29 July 2006
There are times that I consider adding comments back into this weblog.
Then I go read some political sites and remember that there are really good reasons why I turned them off in the first place.
11 July 2006
technorati claiming, nothing to see here.
25 June 2006
Last month I decided that I was going to change some things around this site. I’d grown increasingly unhappy with the photo Gallery problems, and thought I would move to a more traditional blog layout at the same time.
Yes, this would qualify as an upgrade, which means, you know, major amounts of pain. No matter what else I may have learned through this weblog, I’ve learned that I should never upgrade “just because.”
So I set up a new weblog using Textpattern on a subdomain. It looked like many other weblogs:
After two weeks of working with it, I have to admit: I hated it.
Two sidebars? Too much clutter. Narrow center column? Wasted space. PHP? Can’t make the URLs behave the way I want.
I suppose that there is a part of me that doesn’t trust dynamic database connections for websites that don’t really need them: I smell overengineering. Why introduce complexity when the application doesn’t actually require it?
I find it interesting that setting up the database is actually really easy, much easier than any of the design work that comes later. I’ve had zero problems launching those Textpattern websites I actually use. The problems come later, when the MySQL database server goes down. And requiring every page to make a MySQL call is so sloooooow. Pages took seconds to load, and that’s just. not. right.
I know I sound like a curmudgeon, but seriously, people. The right tool for the right job.
Still, I could have gotten over the whole overengineering thing — I have gotten over it for other sites, like the new Bookdragon Tales and my son’s site — but I couldn’t get over the clutter, the amount of “stuff” that a weblog seems to require on every single page. Some of those things I really wanted to add (blogroll, recently-read books, recently-visited web pages), and some of them would be nice to have (Textpattern’s referral and visitor tracking), but in the end the design never satisfied me. I am attached to my idiosyncratic website. The archives go backwards from a normal weblog, but forwards in time, so you can read them like a book.
So I switched back. No real surprise, and no real harm done.
I took some of the features that I did like and added them to the new Links section: a blogroll, recently-read books (the only part of Input that ever saw any change), and recently-visited pages. The last are links I’m passing on without comment, as I found that most of the entries in the Web Log were basically that. I’ve cleaned up some of the categories, added some RSS feeds, etc..
(Still no comments, though.)
Anyhow. Enough of the tedious self justification. Back to work.
21 June 2006
Merrystar has taken over Hithlum (my 17” PowerBook) for a project she is working on. It’s always amusing to watch her using it, because it is wider than she is. The proportions are all wrong.
Some of this is due to her own choice in laptops; her 12” Panasonic W2 (Tsiolkovsky) is very small, very light, and very well suited to her size. (Very pretty, too! she will no doubt add, when she reads this.) Merrystar has an excellent sense of proportion.
Which is why, as I’m now using Tsiolkovsky, I am left wondering two things:
- How can she put up with these god-awful jaggedy non-anti-aliased fonts?
- How do I put up with them every day at work and not notice them?
Don’t believe that they’re a problem? Let’s review.
Here is how this site looks on Hithlum using Safari. The font is different (Lucida Grande), but even with the default Trebuchet MS, the anti-aliasing and smoothing is really apparent.
Now, the same site, but on Tsiolkovsky using Firefox. Notice the jagged fonts.
Can you see the difference? Does it bother you?
In Merrystar’s case, and I’m completely speculating here, it’s that she spends most of her day using Linux, so Window’s font display is on par with the environment she’s comfortable with. Or, and this may be more likely, Windows is so alien that it just fades into the background of strangeness. It is very odd living with someone who doesn’t equate CTRL-X/C/V instinctively with the Cut/Copy/Paste sequence. (When I asked her how to paste just now, she couldn’t answer until I specified the program and OS.)
In my case, I think it’s because there’s such a division between my work and personal computer use. Everything is different between the environments; not just the OS and hardware, but the sites I go to, the applications I use, everything is different. I assume that the sites I read at night just look better.
Isn’t that odd?
I’ve tried changing some of the display settings on Tsiolkovsky to make it better. Changing smoothing in the Display Control Panel from Standard to ClearType helps, but turns all the type fuzzy. I can see why it’s not the default.
(Merrystar, are you done yet? I miss my fonts.)
16 June 2006
1 June 2006
In my case, posting the versions of my website might be helpful. My obsessive need to tinker has gotten me in trouble again. I hope that this time will turn out better than some others.
Hello! You may have noticed some changes around here. Sidebars! Search boxes! Blogrolls! Cats and Dogs living together!
Madness, I tell you.
Anyhow, the short version is: I’m rearranging furniture. (It’s what I do.)
The slightly longer version is:
- Having used Textpattern for the last year on my son’s site, I’ve come to like it much more than Movable Type, the tool that’s been driving logjam and flotsam & jetsam.
- Gallery is harder to use than Flickr. Sorry, but it’s true. Gallery has a ways to go to catch up.
- Wikis are changing how I work on the web. I’m moving a lot of this site into my private wiki, and am taking the opportunity to clean house.
- I wasn’t blown away by WordPress; it seemed like a step up from MT, but not anything really different. Maybe I’m just addicted to Textpattern’s Textile and Referrer elements.
- I appear to have a terminal case of stupid when it comes to upgrading.
I debated leaving the new site on stage for a while longer while I polished it, but - you know what? Those sorts of controls are for work. I’m not so attached to version 4.x of my website that I can’t toss it back into alpha and make my changes right in production.
So, there are changes. Some of them are obvious - a whole lot more stuff on the sidebars. I have no idea if I’m going to keep them or not. Some are a little less obvious, as the backend moves from SSI to php. Some of the big changes:
- logjam, my former informal weblog, has been replaced… er, moved… er… well, it’s probaly going to stay where it is, and new posts will appear here, on website root. I may move the posts into Textpattern, but my initial attempts at importing them didn’t work, and I’m not going to copy over 1000 posts by hand.
- flotsam & jetsam, my rambling autobiography, is still where it has always been. I don’t know yet if it’s going to move and migrate into the main site, or stay where it is on Movable Type. I have been much happier with Flotsam the way it is, so I don’t have much incentive to change it. The only reason to move it would be to centralize everything, and that’s hardly a compelling reason.
- input has been effectively absorbed by the book list on the left and the “words which will make me leave the party” category in the posts. I don’t really watch TV or movies anymore, so I’ll just keep the booklist going.
- Various other informational pages (about, contact, etc.) will get rolled into Textpattern eventually.
Comments are, for the first time in years, open for business again. Let me know what you think and what you’d like to see.
Update 15 June 2006: New look? Not so much. Post on the subject forthcoming.
30 May 2006
Yah, Flickr it is.
Other site changes in the works, so posts will be sporadic — er, even more sporadic — for a while.
28 May 2006
All sorts of problems with the photo gallery this weekend; if you want pictures off of it, I would download them now. Probably going to switch to Flickr in a little bit.
17 May 2006
Still looking at new photo gallery options, because, you know, if it ain’t broke, I gotta fix it.
(Please reference the gallery’s death warrant as to why it must die.)
Stick with Gallery, because it’s too much damn work to upgrade?
pros: no more upgrading work, EXIF data already there. cons: lots of uploading work, need to manually rotate photos, bitter about upgrade woes.
Export from iPhoto and rsync to web host?
upside: simple, forces me to tag photos before putting them into iPhoto, potentially more space available if I keep it off the web host. downside: forces me to keep photos in iPhoto, with the attendant database hell.
Write my own perl script to generate the code manually?
good: perl or python, I could use more experience. bad: hello, time? EXIF data hard part.
Move to Flickr?
+: popular, lots of features, privacy controls. -: popular, public, none of my family actually uses it, so privacy controls are worthless, limited bandwidth.
Choices, choices. Hmmmm.
(Did I mention that I figured out a way around Gallery’s uploading wonkiness? FTP/rsync. Good old fashioned file transfer. Duh.)
13 May 2006
I really hate spammers.
Starting in April 2006, my domain (brettpeters.org) was picked up by spammers who began using it as a From: address in their spam. People all over the world started getting emails from addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org, which I only found out about because of the bounce messages/out of office replies that started pouring in. I’m now getting flooded with these bounces, which tells me that there’s a pretty heavy load of spam out there with my name on it.
I am not sending these messages, and am more than a little upset that someone appropriated my name to do so.
So: if you are receiving these spam emails and don’t know me, I suggest filtering all email coming from this domain (not my ISP or host, though, since that won’t stop them) away from your inbox with a local rule in your mail client. If you are getting them and do know me, blacklist the domain and whitelist my email address.
6 May 2006
So, my gallery software signed its death warrant tonight.
I recently upgraded (when will I fucking learn that this is not a worthwhile activity???) the gallery software to fix some bugs and “improve performance.”
Lies, lies, lies. I fixed some of the display problems — but at the cost of being unable to upload files in batches. All of the various upload tools are broken, except for the single-file HTML upload. And it can’t find ImageMagick anymore, even though nothing had changed. Brilliant.
Did I mention today is my son’s birthday? I had over 50 pictures to upload tonight, with grandparents awaiting with bated breath. Still not done. Seriously started looking at other solutions, including rolling my own scripts, because you know what? Screwing around with photo gallery software that people don’t bother to QA is a serious fucking waste of time.
I’ve been on the fence about Gallery since I installed it; I like a lot of the features (particularly the EXIF data and random image block) but there are other things that are just plain awful. It’s overengineered, too hard to modify, and strange things break all the time.
And I’m not just taking about the upload applets and remote gallery applications.
Well, right now I am talking about them. But don’t pick nits.
It’s too bad, because I had someone look at the gallery just last week and comment how cool it is. It is cool, but when it breaks, it breaks hard. Time to find a better way to share photos.
(Suggestions on new gallery options gratefully accepted.)
19 April 2006
23 December 2005
Still, not bad for a file that has been online since my very first web page in 1994!
15 November 2005
I’m going to close up the Daily Photo site. The daily format has its strengths (see Jim Brandenburg’s Chased By The Light for the idea in print, and Dean Allen’s Daily Oliver for a great online version), but it takes a lot of time and effort. The textpattern engine made it possible to put the site together quickly, but there are a lot of steps to process each picture. Each batch of photos took several hours every month — hours I could be taking more pictures!
I need something easier than that. That’s why I switched to a Mac — if I’m going to run UNIX, I may as well have it tightly-coupled with the hardware I get instead of spending days trying to get Linux working on a laptop. I’d much rather play with my son than play with an OS.
So, since the Daily Photo isn’t delivering what I want, I’m taking it down. Sorry.
I’m trying out the gallery software for solving the whole picture issue. Again, there are good things about it, and some things I don’t like one bit. So, the jury’s still out on it.
I suspect that when this is all said and done I will go and handroll something to create static pages on my home server and just call it done. Unless there’s a package that can automatically:
- pull the photos off the CF card,
- back them up my home server,
- copy them into a folder for editing,
- display them on the web,
- (rotating as appropriate),
- (and display EXIM data about the picture),
- allow some comments or captioning,
- not run me over my webhost’s limit,
- offer a RSS / Atom feed for updates,
and all while displaying the pictures in my own picky, idiosyncratic style.
Perhaps I ask too much. Any suggestions?
16 October 2005
Finally getting over a bad cold I got in St. Louis last weekend. A few (geek-related) updates:
- A problem with the photo site that cropped up in the last few days has been fixed; Michal updated some of the apache security modules and a misspelling in my .htaccess file was no longer passed over with equanimity. If you’re still having problems, you may need to restart your browser session.
- Most of my recent activity has been over at Trip’s site, not here, but there’s been an intermittent problem with connections to the photo galleries on Arbonne dropping without reason. I suspect that the cause is some incompatibility with the Netgear MA301 wireless PC card and the new D-Link D524 wireless router I recently got, some wonky problem that will take weeks to find. Restarting network services doesn’t restore the connection; a full reboot is required, which is ridiculous. So I went out and got a faster D-Link card that I’ll upgrade to eventually.
- Speaking of upgrading Arbonne, I got another 250GB hard drive so that I can increase the size of my RAID 1 array from 40GB to 150 or so. (I back up other computers on my Arbonne, so this will function as further backup for them.) I’ve pretty much filled up the 40GB with my CD collection and photo galleries. However, as this upgrade involes the disk with the OS on it, I’m much more worried. Should I copy everything and restore it? Copy some and upgrade to SuSE 9.3? Fresh install time? Questions, questions. I’m sure I’ll dither about this for some time and then do a fresh install.
- The move to a G network has gone smoothly, for the most part. I installed a print server — why did I wait so long to do that? — and the new G cards work well. I still have problems with Tsiolkovsky’s built-in Centrino A/B card, but that’s Intel’s fault. No news on the RHEL 3 → FC 4 conversion; now that Merrystar’s back at work, I’m reluctant to touch any machine that actually works.
And that’s all the network news.
30 July 2005
Now that I’ve got several gigabytes of photos that I’m trying to present every day, I figured it was time to go ahead and learn some batch conversion commands. Links from my search:
- Graphics from the command line
- More graphics from the command line
- Examples of ImageMagick Usage
mogrify looks the most promising so far.
mogrify -format png -sample 100% *.jpg -comment "Copyright 2005 Brett Peters" may do the trick.
10 June 2005
Though I don’t talk about it much in this log, I’ve been really happy with Cornerhost. Michal’s service has been fantastic, and that’s made all the difference in the world. There are plenty of companies who could learn from his example.
Anyhow, the deal is $400 for lifetime hosting. Check it out.
4 June 2005
Alternate styles are reenabled for this site. (I was feeling nostalgic for the Enterprise theme.)
23 April 2002
At the beginning, what holds us back; the blank page, or the one with words?
There came a point where I had to start over.
Perhaps you know the point; something you’re associated with both repulses and fascinates you. You can’t stop looking at it, editing it, trying to make it work. It becomes something you detest, despise, denigrate; slowly, you stop hating it and hate yourself instead for staying with it. At some point - perhaps when your disgust with yourself becomes more important than your disgust with the thing - it’s too late. Time to reboot.
Perhaps you know the point; perhaps not. I hate to say it doesn’t matter if you do or not, but that’s because I don’t like being impolite to people, not because it does matter. It would be great, for the sake of understanding and politeness and civility and whatnot, if you knew what I was talking about, but if not, that’s okay too.
Regardless, I had reached that point with a something called a website and trying to fix it was too much to bear. Even thinking of it as something that needed fixing is symptomatic, I believe. It was’t broken per se - the pages loaded fine in most browsers, the layout was readable - but it wasn’t what I wanted for myself.
So I gave up, and started over. Does that make me a coward, or merely honest? I don’t know. I just flipped the switch in an automatic, thoughtless motion. The system isn’t working, so try rebooting.
Perhaps one shouldn’t dwell too long upon the thought that rebooting returns you to the very same system you just exited, without necessarily addressing the issues that kicked you out in the first place.
2 February 2002
I decided to spend the time to change things over to get some real experience before recommending the product for some of my clients. I am, for the most part, impressed. I will likely end up using both CityDesk and Dreamweaver to manage my website, but that’s because the products have very different strengths. It’s not an indictment of either.
If you’re contemplating using CityDesk, I recommend you try out their free starter version first and see if you like it. Fog Creek does a good job documenting their product, but there are some drawbacks I hadn’t considered at first.
- The WYSIWYG editor shows a few of the symptoms of the syndrome Microsoft Word takes to an extreme; it tries to capture exactly what you put down instead of writing good HTML. After a few attempts with it, I now avoid the Normal View altogether and stick to handcoding.
- Actually building a site from scratch can be time-consuming. Because you must publish in CityDesk to view changes, altering a CSS can be a hassle. This feels more like a feature than a bug, as once the site is built the publish function works great.
- Occasionally, a page would fail validation because of a bug that causes old text to reappear at the end. This is a known bug, but I didn’t find the answer for a while.
- There is no remote file management a la Dreamweaver.
- Some of the functions do not have keyboard shortcuts.
- You can edit the date an article was filed, but not the time.
- There is no multi-platform support. I have been spending more time inside my Mandrake partition, and I would like to move off of Windows 98 entirely someday. A cross-platform implementation would really be nice. (Counterpoint: the publishing function makes it really easy to export your data in a non-proprietary format, so I’m not locked in to CityDesk. I appreciate that feeling tremendously.)
Overall, however, my impression of the software is certainly positive. I actually started working on my Enterprise RPG site, I cleaned up my personal site files and removed all the entries from my Slashdot journal. I have been slowly growing disgruntled with the user population of Slashdot; signal to noise ratio has been falling of late. It was especially prevalent in the journal articles, and this decline certainly contributed to my decision to pull it all in-house. But as much as I will miss the ability to submit articles over the web, I would really rather have control over the pages.
And who wouldn’t, really?
24 January 2002
A lot of random items today.
- My previous rant about phones led me to go back and look for batteries on ebay - it was the NiMH batteries that died after two years of constant use. Well, they’re available for $10. This is much better than the $70 retail I had found.
After some consideration I decided to skip this generation of phones (the Nokia 8260 is nearly two years old), return to my old shiny phone and wait for another generation or two before getting a new one. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
And yes, I do feel sheepish for not having checked ebay before. Baaaaaa.
- I’ve been trying out Fog Creek Software’s CityDesk website content management system in the background. I set up a template similar to the low-bandwidth slashdot display and entered in these journal entries; having some FTP problems uploading to my host.
There are several features missing that I would really like, like timestamping and web entry. That and the cost of additional pages are keeping me a little hesitant to switch over, though I’m thinking of recommending it as a low-cost alternative to Lotus Notes for some of our clients. Last night I decided to stay with Slashdot for now.
- Finally got Mandrake 8.1 installed on my machine without hosing my Windows installation. Because my computer shipped with a Winmodem, I don’t have an internet connection yet - but I’ll fix that soon enough - knock on wood.
- The more I work with other programs, the more I come to dislike Lotus Notes’s interface and working with Domino. I’m not convinced when Lotus touts RNext as the answer to all my problems - I remember the R5 rollout. We’re still cleaning up from that mess.
- First warm day in a month or so here in Northern VA; nice to have a little bit of a break from the unremitting chill. I took a few minutes to walk outside and enjoy being away from my beige box.
- The new issue of Fudge Factor is out.