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mdlbear: (technonerdmonster)

Here are a couple of little tricks that may keep you from tearing your hair out in frustration, and in any case will make your posts look better.

Tip the first: Make beautiful poetry with no effort.

There are two obvious ways to post poetry: enclose it in <pre>...</pre> tags (which tells the browser that it's preformatted, so it should leave your line breaks alone), or tediously add a line break tag -- <br> -- to the end of every line. Unfortunately, preformatted text uses a monospaced font, which is great for code and concrete poetry, but really doesn't look very good. And adding line breaks is just tedious.

There is a third way: use

<blockquote style="white-space: pre-wrap;" >to wrap your poem. </blockquote>

This tells your browser to keep spaces and line breaks the way you want them, but continue using the same font as the rest of your page.

There's one subtlety: that start tag is pretty long, but if you start your poem on the following line there will be an annoying extra blank line at the top. So do what I did up there, and start a new line before the >. It turns out that you can replace spaces with newlines anywhere outside of quotes.

That brings me to the next tip:

Tip the Second: Don't let your word processor try to help.

A lot of people compose their blog posts using a word processor, and paste them into the "post" form. If you don't, and aren't using some kind of posting client that lets you save your work any time you want to, you should. Especially if you have cats. But there's a problem. Word processors want to help you create great-looking documents. And that's a problem if you're trying to write HTML.

One thing word processors may try to do is to replace all your quotation marks with “curly” quotes (also called “smart” quotes), instead of using "straight" quotes. That's great except for when you're trying to enter a link, or one of style attributes I just showed you up above. A browser won't recognize them. So instead of

<a href="https://steve.savitzky.net">this</a>

you get

<a href=“https://steve.savitzky.net”>this</a>

See the difference? You may have to zoom in a little. Hover over the links. You'll see that your browser thinks that it's looking at a local link, because it doesn't start with https://, it starts with “https://! Oops!

Another thing I've seen word processors and some other programs do is, behind your back, replace "<" and ">" characters with "&lt;" and "&gt;". Those weird things are called "character entities", and they're HTML's way of forcing the browser to show something that looks like "<" without letting it interpret it as part of a tag. That probably isn't what you wanted, unless you're trying to write math inequalities or an article about how to write HTML.

Yet another problem happens because word processors use proportional spacing, so that your post looks to you the way it's going to look in a browser, more or less. The problem happens because some characters are really small in proportional-spaced fonts, so it's hard to select exactly the text you wanted to, and easy to overlook stray spaces and periods if they get pasted into your links by mistake.

That's why programmers use text editors with fixed-width fonts, and rely on programs like web browsers and LaTeX to make their pages look good when you read or print them.


By the way, I did a little searching and found The Mandelbear's Rough Guide to HTML, from back in 2006. It's still mostly good advice.

Another fine post from The Computer Curmudgeon.

mdlbear: (technonerdmonster)

Recently I read a couple of blog posts that set me thinking in some interesting directions. Like most of the things I find on LinkedIn, they were mostly a little annoying, with a few good points. For example, Why You Should Decisively Reject Using Wix gives a lot of good reasons not to use Wix, which is a free website builder and host that lets you throw together a website in half an hour by simply picking a template and dragging and dropping things into it. What's not to like, right? Well,

  1. You don't own it. It's on their site. It has their ads on it. Say what you like about ad-supported websites, it isn't your website they're supporting.. It's free, so you're the product, not the customer.
  2. But wait! You can pay them to take the ads off! But it's not cheap: plans go from $4-$24 per month. For that you can get a plan from, say, Hawkhost.com, that will give you full control over your site and its content, and a choice of hundreds of different content management systems that you can switch between any time you want.
  3. You don't have many choices in how your site looks. Sure they have 500 site templates. But once you pick one, you're stuck with it. And they have millions of users. Your site is going to look like at least a couple of thousand others.

The site this post is on, CMS2CMS, is in the business of helping you migrate a website from one Content Management System -- CMS -- to another. They'll help you get off of Wix, for example, and onto Wordpress or Joomla or... Interesting thing is, they won't just give you plain old HTML and build your site from scratch. They'll happily get you off of a plain HTML site and onto a CMS. They have this to say about HTML:

To create a static website may not cost you a thing but to maintain such site can be very expensive. You will have to hire programmers each time you want to perform some changes to your web project.

It is possible to develop and add any kind of functionality to your website. It is a well-known fact that you have stricter control over the file structure, design, and SEO. Although it is possible to customise your web project to fit your needs, there is the necessity to have deep coding knowledge. But even then there is the risk to make a mistake and to damage the code.

A static site is lighter than a website built on CMS and this makes it faster. Various plugins or extensions are not available for a static HTML site. In case you want some, then you will have to code every piece of functionality.

If the website is not very big, it is easier to make some changes, modifications and to customise it according to your needs. It is possible to design each page of HTML site in a different way with the available templates. But it will be your job to code in and around the template for each page.


Let's look at their main points:

You will have to hire programmers each time you want to perform some changes to your web project. Huh? With HTML your content is just text. Nobody programs a web server from the ground up these days. (I've done it -- it's fun.) On a shared-hosting site like HawkHost, it's already there. All you have to do is tell them your site's name.

Your site is just text. HTML and CSS stand for HyperText Markup Language and Cascading Style Sheets, respectively. They are not programming languages, they're markup. HTML tags say what parts of a page mean -- a headline, a paragraph, a link, an emphasized word, and so on. You can print the basic cheat-sheet on a bookmark. There are some more specialized tags, like the ones for images, tables, and audio players. But they're all simple.

[I]t will be your job to code in and around the template for each page. No, if you're writing in HTML, the "code" is already there. CSS is a description of what each part is supposed to look like: a headline in bold sans-serif, a paragraph in Times Roman, a link red when before you click on it and blue afterwards, emphasized text in italics or boldface. You can print that cheat-sheet on the other side of the bookmark.

Yes, there's more advanced CSS, too, and you can do strange and wonderful things with it. (Take a look at the CSS Zen Garden, for example.) You can get one of thousands of the available CSS stylesheets, tweak it with your favorite fonts and layouts, and add it to your site. Complicated multi-column layouts that change to look great on everything from a phone to a wide screen? Easy -- go to Pure CSS, add one line to your basic page template and a few words to some of your tags, and you've got it.

You don't even have to write HTML or CSS if you don't want to -- you can write plain text in any of a variety of markup languages -- Markdown is the most popular at the moment -- and have it translated automatically to HTML. There are also dozens of static site generators that do it for you.

Various plugins or extensions are not available for a static HTML site. In case you want some, then you will have to code every piece of functionality. As a matter of fact, people have already done that coding, and it's available for free in nearly infinite variety on sites like GitHub. And see "static site generators" above. They all have plugins and themes, and templates. Change one template, re-build your site with one command, and deploy it.

You may be wondering where Javascript fits in. That is a programming language, but it runs on the reader's browser. There are thousands of available libraries and pre-built Javascript applications -- plugins, effectively -- that you can add to your site to liven it up with animation and other special effects. About the only thing that you can't do with a completely static site is add interactive features like comments and user logins, and there are ways around that.

But the best thing about static sites is the way you work on them, because you do that on your own computer. Almost every CMS keeps your site content in a database on the server, and I have another whole rant about that. A static site lives on your laptop; you can work on it without having to have an internet connection, and deploy it only when you have one and you're happy with the way it looks.

Not only can you use your favorite text editor (and there are some awesome ones out there -- take a look at Atom for example), but because you have a complete copy of your site on your computer and on your web host, they effectively back each other up. And because you can use git for version control, you not only have backups but a complete history of every change you make to your site.

The next few posts in this series (did I mention that this is a series?) will go into how to write HTML in more detail, including the tiny bit of CSS magic that lets you embed poetry in any page including a DW post, and teach you the basics of git.

mdlbear: (technonerdmonster)

It's time to do a little planning. As you may remember from the previous post in this series, there are some projects I want to work on. (I also need to find a job, but that's a not completely separate issue. If anyone needs an expert Java programmer or a git expert, let me know.) The ones I want to concentrate on today are the apps, specifically the checklist app and the setlist app. The first major decision about each of them is which framework to base them on.

I really want to learn both React (with React Native on the back end), and Elm (with Electron on the back end), and I think it makes the most sense to write -- or at least start -- the checklist app first, and use React for it.

Here's my reasoning:

  1. React: React is by far the more popular of the two frameworks, so a lot of jobs ask for React experience. One reason it's more popular is that it's basically just a Javascript library -- programs look like Javascript with a little bit of HTML and HTML-like tags embedded in it. It's easy to learn (not that that's really a problem for me -- see below), and there are a lot of starter kits and tutorials around.
  2. Checklist app: It's pretty clear that the Checklist app will have a much wider audience, so it makes sense to do that first. It will also be easier to monetize (possibly as a freemium app, with the free version stand-alone and the premium version tied to a back-end service).
  3. The Setlist app, which includes a lyrics viewer and playlist generator as well, is likely to start out using my rather unusual music toolchain, and would actually be more useful (and get a lot more traffic) as a front end to the lookingglassfolk.com and steve.savitzky.net Song pages. It makes sense for it to start out as part of a website rather than as a stand-alone app.
  4. Elm is a pure functional language (I love functional languages, which is why it would be easy for me) that is closer to Haskell than to Javascript.

Next steps:

  1. Make a place in my working tree for projects. Try not to give in to the temptation to completely refactor the whole hierarchy.
  2. Pull down and install a React starter kit and some kind of Elm starter kit.
  3. Set up the projects' git repos and working trees.


2018-04-13 06:26 am
mdlbear: (technonerdmonster)

It's been just short of a year since I retired, and I don't have a whole lot to show for it in the way of programming, apart from a little work on MakeStuff. OK, a fair amount. And it has an actual user now. But still.

Somewhere around the New Year I started making a(nother) list of potential projects that I wanted to work on in my retirement. As these things do, it got out of hand -- at last count there were 86 unfinished items in it. Time to start something.

There are a few constraints. I can't start any of the woodworking projects yet, because the contents of the garage are in storage waiting for the remodeling to get finished; that includes all of the woodworking tools. So there's that. Same for the recording projects -- my good microphones have either been boxed, or vanished altogether in the last move.

More than half the "projects" on the list are ideas for articles or blog posts -- there are forty or so of those. I should start picking them off, one or two every week, but they're not really projects.

What remains is mostly software: programs (the young people call them "apps" these days) and work on my websites. These are also areas where I have a lot to learn, and where I can develop skills that will be useful if I want -- or need -- to do some consulting. And there's another factor: there's really no difference between a web app and a mobile app! Not any more: with React Native and Electron, one can now build stand-alone cross-platform applications using web front-end frameworks -- they basically bundle a stripped-down browser and a trivial server with your web"site", which is often just a Single-Page Application (SPA). And with languages like Elm that compile into Javascript,...

I can haz apps

One app I want to write will be for managing checklists. (There's an existing app called Checkmate -- my first choice for a name; grumble -- that looks worth mining for ideas.) Beyond being able to have multiple, named lists, I want timing information so that one can ask questions like "how long ago did I last take my pain medication, and is it safe to take another dose?" That needs to work for both scheduled items, and "as-needed", floating items that can start their timer going at any time. More like a combination checklist and reminder system. I'd also like to be able to track the time it takes to go through a checklist, both so that I know when to start if I'm getting ready for something, and so that I know how much I'm improving with practice. Eventually it would be nice to link this to both a website and an Alexa skill -- the website will be easy, since almost the entire app will be usable as the front end.

It would be nice to have a combined lyrics viewer and a setlist planner. (I used to have a setlist planner, but it was in Perl and kept its state in the HTTP query string - bad news for caching and sort of search-engine pessimization.) There would be some overlap with the checklist app, since they both involve going through a list of things in sequence, with associated times. It would be especially useful on a tablet for performances, but it would be most effective combined with a website that hosts lyrics and music, which brings us to...

What a mangled web

Another thing I've been looking at is "Responsive Web Design" -- making websites that adjust smoothly between tiny mobile devices and large-screen desktops. This has long been a design requirement of mine anyway -- almost all my sites do this, but they do it by simply not having much of a layout, and they look bad both on very large screens and very small ones. It's time to take this to the next level by adding responsive CSS and mobile.

There are several websites that need work: lookingglassfolk.com, steve.savitzky.net, Stephen.Savitzky.net, and hyperspace-express.com at least. The first one is by far the simplest; just songs, concerts, (proposed) albums, and a gig schedule. steve.savitzky.net adds writing and software projects, but there's still a lot of overlap.

It would make sense to do the others using different responsive design frameworks, just to get experience with a few of the options. Stephen.Savitzky.net, in particular, is my "portfolio" site; it's also the only one that has a sidebar at the moment. It might be a good idea to turn into a GitHub Pages site. hyperspace-express.com is my "commercial" site, and it would make sense to use a CMS like Joomla or Drupal for it.

(I have some other sites, e.g. rainbows-end.net and thestarport.org, but they're simple enough to simply copy the CSS from one of the others. The Interesting.Places sub-site would be worth some attention.)

Now, here's my plan...

The underlying reason for picking this particular set of projects is to market myself as a blogger, consultant, and developer, in hopes of making a little money on the side. That suggests that I should start with the checklist app, and probably start the site makeovers by moving Stephen.Savitzky.net to a GitHub site (which would give me an obvious home for projects like MakeStuff and my development-focussed blogging). On the other hand, making over steve.savitzky.net would probably teach me more about responsive design, especially if I make S.S.net into a GitHub site. It might make more sense to keep S.S.net as a separate site, and build the GitHub site from scratch.

In any case, my main blogging site will remain here on Dreamwidth; most likely I'll just cross-post development-related blog entries to S.S.net (and GitHub, if it's separate). Or would it make more sense to keep all of the blogging concentrated here?

Comments? Ideas? Suggestions? Over to you folks.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I actually got a few things done. Mostly research, but related to possible money-makers -- Alexa skills (which only make money if you tie them to something you can charge for); Jekyll, Hakyll, and other static site generators; frameworks for building cross-platform apps in Javascript and HTML5; Ethereum (there's a whole ecosystem of companies attached to it, via a company called ConsenSys, and many have remote jobs).

An interesting contact relating to Ethereum, which is how I got pointed at it. A highly amusing question on Quora, which I simply had to answer. A good music lesson.

I've been learning that I can sing at least a second or minor third higher than I have been, and a lot of songs (especially the ones with low notes that I have trouble with, like Desolation Row, The Mary Ellen Carter, and QV) sound better capoed up. That means that I'm having to re-arrange Desolation Row and QV in C or D, because they were already capoed up to C from G. Drop D has a lot of potential for QV. Last week's singing lesson was also notable because I'd forgotten my songbook, so I had to sing stuff I know cold.

I also got MakeStuff to the point where I could -- finally -- rebuild my Songs page properly, using templates. Also LookingGlass Folk's Song page, which has been lame since the site was created.

Aside for techies and musicians: Each song has a page, built from the metadata in the lyrics using a template. Tags in the lyrics are used to determine whether the lyrics should be visible on the page. The song page includes audio and body text if they exist.

Rebuilding the entire directory takes a couple of seconds per song. I haven't tried, yet, but it shouldn't be too hard to get it set up on a Mac.

Lunch with the Younger Daughter on Thursday (a couple of days before her actual birthday, which is today, but a day that she and her fiancé had free). Our first trip to Port Townsend by ferry, which requires planning because you need reservations. Door-to-door it takes most of an hour, but that's less than half what took from Seattle.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

So I took the week off from work. I'd originally planned to return from Orycon Sunday afternoon, and go in to work Monday and possibly Wednesday. The best-laid plans... Monday was occupied by the drive back from Portland, Tuesday by medical stuff (including a urology appointment on short notice for Colleen), and Wednesday by waiting for the tech from Acorn to show up and do the proper inspection that the tech who had arrived early on Monday had failed to do. So.

Spent much of the week on personal software projects. Wednesday and Thursday I was mostly hacking in my .emacs file, fixing some long-standing annoyances with html-helper-mode (and incidentally lj-update-mode, which is partially derived from it). Friday and Saturday I worked on the build software for my website Songs pages -- you can see the results (so far -- there's still quite a bit of prettying-up to do) on LookingGlass Folk's Songs. The LgF page was the main motivation -- it's been a broken link on the site for years. The secondary motivation was putting my songbook on GitHub.

In the course of doing this, I finally got around to writing tests for the makefiles -- predictably, they turned up lots of bugs. By no means complete, but I now also have an easily-extensible test framework that I can use for the rest of MakeStuff and my other make-based projects like Honu.

Thursday we had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat. Glenn spatchcocked the bird -- this was my introduction to the technique, which lets a 16-pound turkey cook in two hours with a beautifully crisp skin. Recommended. There were just Colleen and I, Glenn and Naomi, and N's kids. The YD had dinner with her boyfriend's family, and Chaos spent the day working on term papers. The tenants ate at C"'s parents'. (I may have to go to subscripts.)

Fair amount of political stuff in the links; not going to re-hash most of it because apparently Post-Trump Stress Disorder is a thing, and I haz it. I can, however, recommend moem's Cybersecurity for the Trumped series, and Tor Browser.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Slow week? Well, at least I practiced every day -- there's that. I'm rusty, but not as rusty as I was a week ago. So far I've just been working on guitar; my voice hasn't been up to singing after last week's flu. It's about time to start.

A search for rainbow bridge images set me off on a reading binge around SVG, HTML5 and CSS3. Also CSS2, because I had never used much of it. Fun! Plus a talk by, and conversation with, one of our web designers. I obviously have a lot to learn. (Can you tell I'm still worried about my job? I was secondary oncall this week.)

N keeps giving me turtles. And, last night, a gorgeous little print on canvas of a cat that looks just like Curio. (She got one that looks just like Desti, too.)

I bought my OVFF membership and made my hotel reservation. I'll book the flights and request the vacation time today.

Links in the notes.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

On my way home from work on Monday I started noticing flu symptoms; by evening they were in full force, and I spent the rest of the week working from home. Yesterday I was feeling almost normal modulo a cough, but still too easily tired. Will probably be up for work on Monday. I hope so.

The washer/dryer that Home Depot couldn't install has been hauled away, and the refund is in my account. They shouldn't have left it here in the first place -- we should have refused the shipment and had it taken back. I'm still looking for the repair receipts for the old one; that's probably hopeless.

I didn't go to my 50th high school reunion. Sad about that, but it meant that I'll be able to afford OVFF. And with my case of the flu, I would almost certainly have had to cancel anyway -- I was in no shape to travel. So it goes.

Mostly I've been worried about money. As usual. There's a reason why one of the tags on this post is "Trainwreck". 30 years of lousy financial decisions will do that.

I've been studying CSS and SVG. My website-building skills are basically 20th Century, and need to be brought up to date. Some of the things people are doing with CSS are impressive.

Details and links in the notes.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: A brown tabby cat looking dubiously at a wireless mouse (curio)

Fairly productive this week. Still feels like I'm getting farther and farther behind.

Lots of network administration -- I now have all three of the household's routers upgraded to dd-wrt. By the way, the fact that now Microsoft pushes Windows 10 upgrade to PCs without user consent gives you yet another reason to upgrade your computer to Ubuntu or Linux Mint.

Emmy had some lovely 4x6 prints made of "cat and mouse", and I finally got Curio's Rainbow Bridge page to a state where I don't mind posting the link. I cried while I was working on it. (This is not a bad thing, on the whole. Tears are better than being numb.)

More links in the notes.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

On the health front, I may finally be learning to relax the muscles in my lower back that make it hurt when I walk. Maybe. It also seems to have a lot to do with how heavy my shoulder bag is, so that's going to be an ongoing problem. A backpack would be better, except that it's hard to get off when I take a seat in the bus, and unlike a shoulder bag I can't swing it around when I want to get at something like my wallet.

I've finally started doing some serious system administration/scripting work to get my website working directories the rest of the way under git control. That's done -- I can now say "make deploy" in a web directory and have it committed, pushed to the remote repo, and pulled into the website with no further attention.

In the process, I had to write a script for converting a directory from CVS to git. There are a couple of challenges in that process because the old CVS repositories were in pretty bad shape, with stuff not having been checked in consistently. Not like a well-maintained software project, in other words. Bad bear. No cookie. My websites don't use cookies anyway.

The associated asset archive is going to be harder, because some directories have large media files in them. Like, um... the audio. The goal is to eliminate the use of rsync snapshots for backups (for reasons I will probably go into in more detail in a later post).

Detail in the notes, as usual.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

The big news: Friday Colleen went upstairs (supervised by two PTs -- they'd originally been planning to do car transfers but it was raining). They marked out where I should put grab bars; I got one of them in yesterday.

Lots of puttering, last weekend and this. Finally got new showerheads installed. The new hand shower has a vertical bar that can be used as a grab bar; it turns out that drilling tile is a bitch, so it's only held on by two screws at the moment. I'll work on that some more this afternoon. Brought up a box of cookbooks. Etc.

Friday came over yesterday (yes, Friday was here on Saturday) and made curried chicken. There are leftovers; not entirely sure what we're having for dinner tonight. We also had pizza (last Saturday) and Chinese (Friday).

I got some work done on the Steve.Savitzky.net and Rainbow's End Massage websites, though not all that much.

I had some notion last week of dropping the "Done" posts back to one per week, and doing occasional posts with real content in between. Well, I got halfway there...

Lots of links in the notes; you can read about the Autism Speaks kerfuffle, perfect forward secrecy and other security matters (Hi there, NSA), and Avengers AU fanfic with cats, among many others.

raw notes )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Much of the afternoon was eaten up by Colleen's phone. Yesterday evening it fell into her recliner and got pinched in the mechanism. It mostly worked, but a sensor was broken that caused it to turn the screen off when you made a call, and not turn it back on. We ordered a new one via insurance (which required a phone call -- the web interface didn't work), then proceeded to the AT&T store to get a GoPhone to tide us over in the interim. And back to the store, when we found out that her contacts hadn't gotten transfered. So I spent most of Earth Day making two trips in my car. Right.

The fact that smartphones and dumb phones use different size SIM cards is stupid and sucky. Also the fact that smartphones aren't available cheaply. *sigh*

When I first realized that the contacts hadn't transfered and that I was going to have to make a second trip, I had a brief screaming meltdown. Apparently I'm closer to the edge than I thought. I guess it's not surprising -- I am under a lot of perfectly understandable stress right now. I just hadn't realized it.

I need to pay more attention to self care, don't I? I always have a lot of trouble with that -- walks and music are about the only things I know of that I can do to relieve stress, and I never make the time for them when I have "important" things to do. :P

Silly old bear!

'One Day on Earth': The Most International Movie Premiere Ever looks pretty amazing; I hope it comes out on DVD sometime soon. FORTUNE Magazine's Top 100 Employers to Work For was interesting, but not as useful as one might hope -- there are only two or three with IT-type jobs in the Seattle area (though, oddly, Google's Seattle-area offices aren't mentioned).

raw notes )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Not a terribly productive day, but I got in quite a few phone calls, and a 2.7 mile walk. And got the year's non-tax receipts sorted out and put into envelopes for the annual file box.

And my medicare card arrived. That was a bit of a weird feeling.

So... Why Do Magazines Look So Terrible on the iPad 3? Because most of them are shipped as PNG images, rendered for the iPad 2, which has 1/4 as many pixels. That's why. Idiots! Didn't they learn about assuming a fixed screen size when the Mac II came out? Apparently not.

raw notes )
mdlbear: a locomotive engine dangling from a hole in a building (trainwreck)

It was a weird but basically good weekend. Basically, I hit the ground running after receiving my layoff notice on Thursday. Somebody at our party on Saturday (you probably missed it) asked me whether I was planning to take a couple of months off before I started job-hunting. My answer was a very cheerful "Hell no! Would you like a copy of my updated resume?" I can't afford to gather any moss.

Because of the combination of a rather large refinance and a serious drop in the housing market, I am no longer planning to stay in Grand Central Starport after I retire, whether that's six months or six years from now. That realization has been extremely liberating (can you say "albatross"?); I am now looking for work both in the South Bay and in the Seattle area. The ideal, of course, would be finding someplace near Seattle that's willing to pay for relocation expenses. Many thanks to my dear sister-of-choice, [personal profile] pocketnaomi, for the conversations that helped me realize what I had to do.

The selfsame moment I [let go]
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.

Link of the day: House of Cards - James Keelaghan - YouTube (via philkmills' comment on my S4S post).

raw notes )
mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

It's a bit of a grab-bag today. I found myself needing to finally learn the melody to a couple of songs that I'd so far only played guitar on, because I want to do them in my upcoming concert at Consonance. You know that thing about dominos? That.

So the only recordings I could find were back in 2009. And, for some unaccountable reason, I hadn't put up the audio for that concert. It soon became clear that one reason I hadn't was that the performer tags in the audio files were wrong...

... and once I'd fixed that, I decided to put my concert index into a sensible, most-recent-first format. (It had been most recent year first, but most recent last within each year.) So that's done now. And Baycon 2008 didn't have an index.html file. It does now.

So here you go:

... and if you're still with me, there's a somewhat off-the-wall bonus. You see, this week the R&D lab I work for publicly announced a subsidiary in India called Ricoh Innovations Private Limited (RIPL)

So what was the first song that popped into my head when first I heard about it? Right. The Grateful Dead - Ripple. I've been waiting five months to post that one...

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Pretty good week so far, actually. A lot of my mindspace early in the week was taken up by a River post on telling your friends what they need to hear, which replaced a previous post with, let's just say, more heat and much less light.

But I mostly kept up the momentum from the latter half of last week, and got quite a lot done. In particular, I managed to get some music-related work done every day, three walks and a drive with Colleen, and a lot of small but important tasks at work. Breaking things down into tiny steps really seems to work for me, and while there aren't all that many items here tagged with "15min", there probably should have been.

Sunday's drive was glorious. We reversed our usual route and drove up I280 to 92, then south along the coast via Highway 1 to Santa Cruz, and back by way of 17. This gave us a better view of the ocean than usual, and we saw a gorgeous effect that I'd never seen before -- bits of sunlight streaming through gaps in the clouds and making bright patches far out on the ocean, made more visible by the contrast. Just... wow.

I made chicken soup with rice for dinner. From scratch, using the chicken bones I'd saved from Saturday's broccoli chicken. Yum.

Monday I finally put two and two together and realized that the fact that my (AT&T) cell phone signal at work had gone from unusable to 100% and the fact that a group from Apple had moved in next door might possibly be related. Ya think?

Tuesday morning I had a nice conversation with the YD -- every once in a while she gets up early. Later that evening, I worked on the blackout code for steve.savitzky.net, lookingglassfolk.com, tempered-glass.info, tres-qique.com, and pocketpoems.net, using code from SopaBlackout.org. (I understand that PIPA won't be brought to a cloture vote today as previously scheduled. The net can kick ass sometimes.)

Wednesday I woke up remembering a dream mostly about plumbing. No idea what that signifies. Thursday I finally got printing back online for the netbooks and the YD's laptop. The latter also required booting from the "startup repair" partition and waiting for an hour or so while it cranked away, fixing what appeared to be a corrupt filesystem. Pretty slick, actually. F12. It would be nice if the boot screen actually mentioned that feature, though.

Note to self: make a restore disk first thing when configuring a new Windows machine.

I don't know whether batching up my daily updates like this is a good idea or not, but I do seem to have a little more time on days when I forget. I thought briefly of doing a "Wednesday Wrap-up", but I'd forgotten by the time I got home. They say your memory is the second thing to go.

I've forgotten the first.

Quite a few links, on a wide range of topics. I'm going to signal-boost [livejournal.com profile] moon_fox's Character Art Jam, in part because I left a prompt there (and a tip).

raw notes )
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

I've made my decision: Most of my posts will start out posted on mdlbear.dreamwidth.org, and be automatically crossposted from there to mdlbear.livejournal.com. If LJ is flaky, I'll get them transfered as soon as I can.

The exceptions will be fluff like birthday posts, LJ's "writer's block" (which I do occasionally), and other memes, which will originate on LJ and get pulled back to DW somewhere between weekly and every couple of months. Weekly if I can figure out how to automate the import process.

I may stop doing the birthday posts altogether except on rare occasions; I seem to resent the time even though it's not very much. Possibly because it registers in my tiny bear-like brain as a break in my morning routine, coming well before the caffeine has hit. Let me know what you think about that.

I still want to have a "blog" on my main website, but that's still in the future. I have "blog" in quotes because it will just be for my longer articles and series like The River and Adventures in Family Computing.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

A rather unproductive day, especially at work, where everyone was recovering from the stress leading up to a major demo in Japan (which went off successfully).

A little more information on work's DNS fiasco: apparently this isn't the first time this particular ex-employee has gone about holding his employer's domain name for ransom. I suspect he's not going to enjoy the next several years.

I did manage to take a 3-mile walk, just before driving home from work (since I'd gone to a brown-bag talk on pricing at lunchtime). And had an interesting conversation via IM with Naomi and Ame.

OK, and did some work on Ame's web page, my IJ profile (which I don't use, but it's paid for), and my "quick reference home page" which is the page full of links I start my browsers on.

So... ok.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

A pretty good day; lots of puttering. Typed in Naomi's script for the Norwescon concert as the liner notes for the CD. Bid high in the Interfilk auction at Consonance -- it's worth it. Spent more time working on the website.

I also went to Southern Lumber for 1x12's, to become shelves in what once was the "sewing room". (Before that it was the kids' bedroom, and it still does double duty as a guest room.) Getting there. And I pulled down a goodly number of guided-imagery mp3's from Kaiser.

On the downside, I had a blood sugar crash on the way back from Southern, so stayed home rather than going out for a walk as originnally planned. And then cooked up some chili for dinner.

A reasonably good IM conversation and a nice drive with Colleen finished the day; I went splat somewhere around 11:30.

Lots of good links up there under the cut. I think my favorite is OpenMesh via Humans Are The Routers on TechCrunch.

mdlbear: (vixy-rose)

Now that she's made the public announcement, I can point you at my dear friend [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi's shiny new website, PocketPoems.net. As webmaster perpetrator, any gaffes in the layout or HTML coding are mine, as is any delay in getting it from a hastily-thrown-up single page to an intricate and beautiful site more worthy of her poetic talents.

Go and buy yourself or someone you love a poem. You'll be glad you did.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

When a post of mine contains a link whose text looks like a hostname or URL (with the "http://" omitted, usually) you can be pretty damned certain that it's the web site or web page itself that I'm trying to draw your attention to.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
Techdirt: What Does It Mean For The Christian Science Monitor To Go Web Only?
Early Tuesday, I saw the news that the venerable Christian Science Monitor newspaper was the first major mainstream daily newspaper to decide to shift away from print and focus mainly on the web. For the last few years there's been plenty of talk about how this day would come eventually, but it's still quite a surprise to see it actually happen. While I think it's the right move, I had expected most major newspapers to hang on until the bitter end. I didn't have a chance to write up a post on it immediately, so it gave me more of a chance to think through what this really means. The cost of producing, printing and distributing a physical newspaper each day is quite high. So, removing all of those costs is a big deal. The paper still is planning to do a print version weekly, which will function more as a weekly magazine, allowing the staff to dig deeper into various issues and provide a more complete summary reading for the week. Thus it will still need to do some printing and distribution, but at a vastly reduced rate and scale.


2008-10-03 07:01 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I didn't think I could get this drunk on one goddamned glass of gin.

The Cat is still seriously under the weather. I'm glad I went to work today (after an impromptu meeting I have considerably less to do for an impending demo). But she's doing a lot worse than she was this morning, and I don't like the look of it.

Meanwhile, the kids are off at Silicon. It seems I have one panel to give tomorrow afternoon, but apart from that I'm off the hook.

Mostly I'll be spending the weekend at home, taking care of my Cat and working on music and the Tres Gique website, which needs it. More precisely, I'll be working on our collaboration environment. More on that soon, I hope.


2008-09-17 03:32 pm
mdlbear: (hacker glider)
CrossOver Chromium
CrossOver Chromium is a Mac and Linux port of the open source Chromium web browser. CrossOver Chromium is available for download from CodeWeavers, free of charge.
It is also fast as a bat. A number of glitches that may be due to my window manager, or may be due to general flakiness in WINE. But overall very impressive. There are packages for both apt- and rpm-based distros, plus the Mac.
mdlbear: (hacker glider)
Don Marti www/google-chrome.html
The idea of tabs being first class citizens makes a lot of sense, but why have a sub-window-manager that just manages browser windows in tabs, when you could have a tabbed window manager that can manage everything? I might want a browser and a spreadsheet to share a tab.

So the right "browser" for a Linux environment might just be a really fast HTML/JavaScript viewer that talks to a separate HTTP client/cache, a Google Gears server, and a preferences/history server -- all of which are also available to the rest of the desktop. The browser isn't necessarily the only thing that wants to speak HTTP, use Gears, or store preferences. And the "browser" application could fit into a tabbed window or a standalone window, just as the window manager would let you do for anything else on the desktop.
I'm in complete agreement. I already have a tabbed window manager (the venerable CTWM). I want very much to have all the browsers operating out of my home directory, which is shared among half-a-dozen machines using NFS, to share the same flat file preference file, bookmarks, and history. I wouldn't mind throwing my shell and emacs windows into that mix as well. I already have a text box with command history and completion -- it's called xterm.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Music: Have spent most of the last hour and a half marking and splitting up Monday's and Wednesday's practice session. And I still need to move the DNS for tres-gique.* over to Dreamhost, and renew a couple of currently-little-used domains.

My idea for a single of Quiet Victories never materialized, obviously. But I noticed a rather inexpensive disk duplicator at Fry's... If I can find a printer with enough throughput it might be worthwhile. Otherwise, I'll have to settle for whipping the website into shape and printing booklets, which might be better anyway.

Health: The Ace ankle wrap seems to be working well; I think I can get through a weekend on just one pair of low shoes if I have to. Hopefully I won't have to in most cases, but it's good to know for air travel.

I seem to be getting enough sleep on a midnight-to-6am schedule, as long as Colleen isn't too restless.

For the last month or two my weight has been stuck stubbornly within a pound or so of 185, in spite of what I fondly hope has been a low-carb diet. May have to get more aggressive on that score. At least it's been on the low side of 185 for the last week, rather than on the high side.

Neighbors: Had a good talk with the next-door neighbors yesterday evening. They seem to be bearing up well under their losses, but between water and smoke damage they've apparently lost almost everything. The house appears to be structurally sound, though; repairs will be comparatively inexpensive in that direction. The fire was caused by an exploding part on the controller board in the washer; Belen had started a load just before she left. It's a good thing she did leave, though; apparently the next thing to catch was some plastic part in the washer, and the combustion products were highly toxic. PVC, probably. Maytag front-loader. Same kind that we have, though they've apparently been having lots of trouble with the controller, and we haven't. Knock wood.

mdlbear: (hurricane)

...gustavbloggers.com, live from the Zipa datacenter in New Orleans. Via [livejournal.com profile] interdictor, who was there blogging Katrina.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

At the museum yesterday we spotted a man on a nice little folding scooter: almost certainly this one. Either folds up or comes apart; the combination of small wheels, plastic seat, and small battery means that it's probably limited to light-duty, mainly indoor use, but it looks especially convenient for travel. A bit pricy, though.

From my Mom, a link to pomegranate.com, an art publishing house.

From [livejournal.com profile] gmcdavid, this post linking to an obituary for the last surviving member of Nicolas Bourbaki. I've read a couple of their books - crystal clear even with my rather limited high school French. Sad: another Great Old One gone.

As long as I'm clearing my tabs, here's a link to an article on organizing a web site with git, on linuxworld.com.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)
Internet Traffic Begins to Bypass the U.S. - NYTimes.com
“Since passage of the Patriot Act, many companies based outside of the United States have been reluctant to store client information in the U.S.,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. “There is an ongoing concern that U.S. intelligence agencies will gather this information without legal process. There is particular sensitivity about access to financial information as well as communications and Internet traffic that goes through U.S. switches.”

But economics also plays a role. Almost all nations see data networks as essential to economic development. “It’s no different than any other infrastructure that a country needs,” said K C Claffy, a research scientist at the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis in San Diego. “You wouldn’t want someone owning your roads either.”

Indeed, more countries are becoming aware of how their dependence on other countries for their Internet traffic makes them vulnerable. Because of tariffs, pricing anomalies and even corporate cultures, Internet providers will often not exchange data with their local competitors. They prefer instead to send and receive traffic with larger international Internet service providers.
(From [livejournal.com profile] cryptome.)

Not surprising.
mdlbear: (tsunami)
Reality Check | Ephraim Schwartz | InfoWorld | NBC doesn't own the Olympics, we do | August 9, 2008 06:46 AM | Ephraim Schwartz
To NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and other commercial broadcasters around the world I say, figure out another way to make money. The airwaves, the Internet airwaves at least, belong to us.

It wasn't the opening ceremonies at the Olympics that was thrilling but rather reading the accounts of the grass roots collaborative efforts of people around the world doing an end run around the commercial sites who claimed to own the rights to broadcast the event by sharing, often over YouTube, videos of the Games.

People were not content to watch a sanitized, tape delayed version of a major global event and when YouTube owners Google played the subservient pawn in NBC's commercial endeavors we witnessed new videos pop up just as fast as they could shut down the old. And when that didn’t work users were sharing links across Twitter and other collaborative sites.

The New York Times quoted Gary Zenkel, the president of NBC Olympics, as saying "we have a billion dollars worth of revenue at stake here, so that means we're not public television, for better or worse."

Well it is going to be worse.
mdlbear: "Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness" - Terry Pratchett (flamethrower)

From this post by [livejournal.com profile] tagryn, a cautionary tale of the of relying on third-parties to store your important files and email: When Google Owns You.

One of my coworkers had an equally bad experience with Netscape Calendar: one day it was just gone. Not only had they cancelled the service, but they'd deleted all the user data. They had been careful not to tell their customers of this plan, because they "didn't want anyone to complain."

I'd been contemplating switching some of my domains over to Google for email -- Dreamhost makes it easy to set that up. Maybe not.

Yeah, almost all of my websites are third-party-hosted now. But the hosts are nothing but a mirror for the various internal working directories. And they're going to stay that way. If I can figure out how to do that with some Google's services, I may consider using a few of them.

mdlbear: (hacker traveling)

In about three hours I'll be on a plane waiting to take off for Portland, to attend OSCon. From there I'll be going to Seattle on Friday and meeting the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat in the airport for a weekend at the Big Green Monster. My luggage is piled by the door, with my little plush Cthulhu situated where he can greet anyone who opens my suitcase with appropriately unspeakable plushie horror.

My itinerary is under the cut tag )

Normally I would be calm and happy, but with the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat in the hospital I'm stressed and grumpy. Knowing that Colleen is safe at home, it turns out, has a big effect on my mood when I'm traveling. I'm going to miss that -- as well as her -- terribly. (09:44 The Cat's getting sprung this morning!!!! So that's a huge load off my mind. Happy Bear!

Keep in touch! My LJ username at gmail.com works, as does the email address in my profile -- I'll have good net access at the con, and expect to be blogging most of my trip report.

Almost forgot -- Kat's new version of the Tres-Gique.com website is live. Still have to move it to my hosting service at DreamHost, and it could stand some tweaking, but it's up.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

There are three projects needing work at the moment: the wheelchair ramp, which is high priority but very short term, my next CD, which is medium priority but longer-term, and the ongoing website reorganization. Guess which one is on my mind right now.

My song directory has gotten unwieldy, to say the least. With over 100 songs in it, both mine and other people's, and with HTML, Postscript, PDF, and two kinds of audio files, there are well over 500 files in there. Linux has no problem with this, nor do the Perl scripts I use to generate index files, but I do -- the directory listing is huge.

In addition, there are more things I'd like to do, for example have multiple versions of some songs, discographies, illustrations, more extensive notes, separate performance notes, transposed versions for performers, sheet music, ... You get the idea.

The obvious thing is to make a directory for each song. This worked well for keeping multiple tracks straight during my recent recording projects, and has the additional desirable side effect of making the songs' URLs shorter. There are, of course, zillions of links out there with the old URLs in them, but that's what redirects are for.

Since everything right now is driven by the lyrics files, which are in a local dialect of LaTeX, I'm going to move those to a Lyrics directory. I'll also put the Postscript files there, because it's very convenient for printing.

Everything else will go into Songs, in a subdirectory whose name is the song's shortname. The only real question at this point is whether the filenames in each song directory should be generic (e.g., lyrics.html, lyrics.pdf) or specific (songname.html, songname.pdf). The former makes more sense if I want to have multiple performances present, and will probably simplify scripts and Makefiles down the road.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled LJ soap opera.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

This post is an attempt to get my thoughts in order about how the household web space is evolving. Mostly cut-tagged, because it's mainly of interest only to household members working on websites (waves at [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf) and to that subset of my readers who are working on websites and/or have a home fileserver.

How things used to work ) How things work now ) How things need to work )

I still have to work out how web-based collaboration will happen; that will be of interest to members of Tres Gique, as well as anyone else thinking of collaborating with me on a website, CD, cookbook, or any other project. Clearly, simple uploading isn't enough at that point. More on that further upwhen.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Stayed home from work yesterday because we had our annual termite inspection scheduled for sometime in the 11am-1pm, and because it seemed as though there was some serious puttering catching up to do. Good call -- it turned out to be a pretty productive day.

Spent much of the day working on uploading the Tres Gique Concert from Baycon. This was a lot more work than I expected; since the last time I did it, I've made major changes in both the organization of the various websites, and the way uploading is done. (I'll get into that sometime upwhen.)

Squeezed in a trip to Fry's with [livejournal.com profile] selkit to investigate trading in the Fujitsu laptop that he bought back in March, and which has been giving him considerable trouble. That will work; we'll go in again today sometime with laptop and paperwork in hand.

Took a walk (Rose Garden) between the Fry's trip and dinner; cool and pleasant.

There were two background tasks: ripping CDs and uploading. At some point this week, the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat decided that we really needed to not only get the entire CD collection ripped to disk, but correctly organized; she's started listening to the entire collection, starting with the A's, and handing them off to me for ripping. I got a package of little sticky dots a couple of weeks ago and have been putting them on the jewelcase spine to mark the ones that have been ripped. We're somewhere in the middle of Joan Baez (filed under B) now, plus a bunch ripped from before. (Last week she listened through, and I ripped, all of the piles of unsorted CDs in the living room.) There are 281 CDs ripped at this point.

The other background task is uploading. I believe I mentioned that I have less upstream bandwidth than a carrier pigeon, but I have rsync and nobody needs much bandwidth late at night.

I also finally got the KDE desktop installed on Colleen's EeePC. She'd been finding the dumbed-down desktop extremely limiting. I did the one I was borrowing from work first; using the manual method in the instructions on the wiki. Then I discovered that Asus has taken KDE out of the repository for the 900! !@#$% Idiots!!!@#$ But I found a review article that said that the "easy way" (installing via a Debian package from an alternate repository) worked, and indeed it did. Still have to get mail working for her, which will involve making sure IMAP works on the server and that she has spamassassin properly set up.

Also spent some time just talking and snuggling with Colleen. Somehow sitting in separate chairs with separate laptops didn't seem sufficient, and we discovered last night that a drive wasn't really sufficient either. The living-room couch, which I made years ago, isn't really comfortable and in any case is covered with stuff, so we ended up on our bed, fully-clothed but with the door closed. (Not that the closed door stopped the Younger Daughter from coming in for hugs.) Have to do that more often. (Content also upwhen, under the River filter.)

Sometime in the evening I also pulled out one of the 400GB SATA drives, stuck it in a USB enclosure, and started formatting it with low-level checking. It's about half done now. The plan is to use it for data transfer between home and work, where I have a lot more upload bandwidth.

mdlbear: (audacity)

The Tres Gique concert from last Friday at Baycon can be found, in a rather unsatisfactory and preliminary form, here. It has ogg and mp3 files, but essentially nothing else. More this evening after I've had a few more hours to jump up and down on it.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

The title comes from "Gin, Television, and Social Surplus" by Clay Shirky. Somebody asked him "where do people find the time?" to create something like Wikipedia. Wikipedia -- the whole thing, articles and edits and talk pages and translations -- represents some 100 million hours of human thought. TV watching, in the US alone, amounts to some 200 billion hours every year. That's 2,000 Wikipedia projects every year.

Shirky points out that, in the years spanned by the Industrial Revolution, "The transformation from rural to urban life was so sudden, and so wrenching, that the only thing society could do to manage was to drink itself into a stupor for a generation." Gin, and more gin. "And it wasn't until society woke up from that collective bender that we actually started to get the institutional structures that we associate with the industrial revolution today."

The equivalent, in the latter half of the 20th Century, was television. Society is only now waking up from that collective bender. What are you doing with your free time?

I'm not watching TV much these days. Nor movies. Nor listening to radio, even during my commute. Nor even reading books and magazines. I am still drugging myself -- I'm a product of my generation, not yet completely adapted to life in the 21st Century -- but my drug of choice these days is mostly LJ. A decade ago it was Usenet. At least my current drugs are interactive.

Sometimes, my current drugs create things that last. Some of my LJ content finds its way onto my website; my songs and essays are already there. I'm working on it. I came out with a CD over the course of two or three years in, basically, the time I saved by not watching TV. I ought to try not reading LJ so much.

(First brought to my attention in this post by [livejournal.com profile] catsittingstill; recently seen on techdirt as well.)

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
Blogging and Newspapers, a Lesson in How Not to Brand and Market - Blog Maverick
Never, ever, ever consider something that any literate human being with Internet access can create in under 5 minutes to be a product or service that can in any way differentiate your business.
(from Don Marti)

The actual post is about why newspapers shouldn't have blogs, but it applies even more to things like web services. If somebody can duplicate your service on their own website in a couple of minutes (for example, by installing an open-source package), what makes you think you can make money selling it?

Yes, I know that I'm posting this on LJ. Ad-supported websites are another matter, but they're still vulnerable: a suddenly-popular open-source package could still make a deep hole in their user base.
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Got up at some ungodly hour with a brain that wouldn't shut up about my financial problems -- I'll get to that somewhere downwhen. Spent a moderately productive morning troubleshooting the subdomains of savitzky.net, finally resolved by moving my DNS hosting from GoDaddy to DreamHost (where the actual HTML resides). Subdomains for Kat and Colleen are up, but currently content-free. steve.savitzky.net is, of course, alive and well.

Spent some time last night setting up rsyncd on my fileserver and poking a tunnel through the firewall so I could upload from DH via a CGI script without requiring an ssh connection. That's essential if I want other people besides me to work on websites. The CGI remains to be written but should be straightforward.

Dreamhost's DNS control panel isn't as good as GoDaddy's: no AAAA records for one thing, and not as much control generally. Plus it's tied to their hosting, so it does clever things like make a web directory when you add a subdomain. And the main entry for the zone is always one of their servers, so I had to move savitzky.net off the DSL line and make an A record for dsl.savitzky.net. Darn. Needed doing anyway. It's just a lot less hassle when you can set up the web server configuration at the same time as the DNS; well worth it for a domain that really isn't going to be used for anything but web and eventually email.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)
Getting a static web site organized with git | LinuxWorld Community
Yes, I still end up maintaining some static web sites. I've started doing them under git revision control, just to be safe, and because "git push origin" is just as easy as rsync anyway. Here's a rough cut at a system for keeping these things organized.
Not as directly useful to me as it would be if I wasn't already syncing my entire web-related directory tree up to a large external hosting site for backup.
mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

Spent some time last night finally re-arranging the recording directory: it now looks like yyyy/mm-event/ where "event" is either a convention, a day or day range, or something like that. If I'm going to be recording practice sessions I should get in the habit of using day ranges -- and perhaps make each month a subdirectory -- for conventions just so things will be chronological.

scripting geekery )

Naturally, having done this, I had to test it, so when I came out to the living room to do some practicing I set the H2 on the music stand and recorded it. Very rough, and I haven't even listened to it let alone tried to do a normalize-and-split. But I will, because I want to have it done by Thursday. It was all stuff that I need for the album. Added a little more this morning.

I also need to get this onto the web, as the start of the collaboration area. In particular, this session has "The Toolmakers" and "The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of" in their correct keys.

web geekery )

I'm going to be a busy bear this week.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Excellent post by [livejournal.com profile] don_marti on becoming more productive by going offline. Git (distributed version control, basically syncing on steroids), ikiwiki (offline-rendered wiki), blosxom (offline-rendered blog), and more. It's related to a lot of what I've been saying about keeping control of your own data. In essence, what you want to do is to separate writing from publishing.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

This afternoon I had the opportunity to sit in on a technical presentation by Peter Thoeny of TWiki.net. Their product is an enterprise (i.e. supported) version of TWiki, a flat-file-based, structured wiki. Had some interesting conversations afterward.

TWiki is a good match for a lot of what I'm looking for in a collaboration environment: flat files, efficient, highly configurable, written in Perl... The support for forms and page templates is surperb. The latest version has a WYSIWYG editor, too, based on TinyMCE. On the other hand it doesn't match my existing directory structure or preferred version control system (it uses its own, based on RCS -- for excellent reasons, I might add, but RCS is lousy at handling large binary files, and I have lots of 'em). Ikiwiki's a better match for those, but has far fewer plugins and isn't so good at templating. Neither can handle publishing to multiple blog sites or compiling a frozen version onto CD or paper.

So I'm definitely going to deploy it internally -- it's a good enough database replacement to work for my minimal business bookkeeping and contact-management needs. It will make a good household phonebook, calendar, and message center, too. The page templates make it a shoe-in for the cookbook project, except that the WYSIWYG editor isn't in Debian or Ubuntu yet.

Meanwhile, I'll continue to evolve my own system aimed at mixed electronic and hard-copy media, multi-site publishing (including multi-platform blogging), and collaborative recording projects. While using it on my next album. Right. That one might very well start with Ikiwiki as it's web front-end.


2008-01-17 08:26 am
mdlbear: (ccs-cover)

Thanks to a post by [livejournal.com profile] singingpatient, I now know that I have a page on last.fm. Who knew? It has 30-second clips, so I'm guessing it came from iTunes or something else that CD-Baby put into digital distribution. Anyone out there using last.fm? Tips? Advice?

Any suggestions about Facebook or Myspace? (The subject of social websites has come up at work, too. More about that later, perhaps.)


2008-01-16 03:42 pm
mdlbear: (distress)
Techdirt: TSA Staffer Hires Buddies To Build Insecure Website For Folks Falsely On Watch List
We've had so many stories of government computer systems or websites that have terrible security or are just useless (but expensive!) that it shouldn't surprise us to hear of another one. Yet, there's always someone who can go a step further. Witness the news that the TSA's website for individuals who find themselves incorrectly on the security watchlist has been found to be insecure, with hundreds of falsely accused travelers exposing personal details by using the site. Even better, it turns out that the company that was hired to build the site got the job in a no-bid contract (meaning there wasn't any competition -- it was just chosen) and the guy responsible for figuring out who to hire just so happened to have been a former employee at that company. So, basically, what happened was that a guy who had taken a job at the TSA hired his former coworkers, with no competition for the job and apparently little oversight, to just build a website that turned out to be insecure. And, of course, without any oversight, it took months before anyone even noticed the site was insecure. And, remember, that this is the TSA we're talking about here -- an organization who's main concern is supposed to be security. I feel safer already.
Why am I not surprised by this? The original article is on InformationWeek.

Do you feel safer?

So far...

2008-01-15 10:15 am
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Nova was down again when I got up this morning; I took it as an excuse to disconnect the SATA drives (which I should have done yesterday, but it was getting late). If that fixes it, it's probably a controller issue. If not, it's probably memory. Worst case, I can replace it with Harmony (my current workstation), which has been absolutely solid since I bought it. In fact, that MB/CPU used to be in Nova. Would use more power, but a faster CPU would help for printing and some file operations.

Spent some good time this morning talking with the [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf about upcoming web projects and setting her up with an Ubuntu box. We'll use her old HP Windows box with the new 320GB IDE drive that I originally intended for a USB drive.

Making it

2008-01-08 11:01 pm
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

"If you want something to get done, ask a busy person to do it."

I haven't been accomplishing much lately, so obviously I'm not busy enough.

There are several seemingly-unrelated projects going on in the household at the moment: I'm starting my next album, the [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf is starting an HTML class, the servers are getting re-organized, and people have been after the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat to write a cookbook. Meanwhile I've been thinking about writing my blog locally and mirroring it up to LJ.

They're all more closely related than one might think.

You see, I'm a geek. I think nothing of writing a big pile of Makefile templates and Perl scripts to cobble an album, a songbook, and multiple websites together from the same set of sources. The Cat is emphatically not a geek, she wants to be able to type recipes in, maybe to a text editor or a blog client, and have them magically assembled into a cookbook. And a website, of course. Hmmm.

some geeky details )

... So that's the plan: to refactor my CD, concert, and web tools so that they work for assembling books and blogs as well, publish to hardcopy as well as on multiple websites, and do it in a way that's extensible (with plug-ins), collaborative, and simple enough to be used by non-geeks.

I'm probably going to need a lot of help with that last part.

mdlbear: (netscape)

It seems that somebody at AOL has finally noticed that Netscape is dead; they're pulling the plug in February. BoingBoing asks for memories, and points to the BBC's article.

I remember switching from Chimera to Netscape; I'd started using Chimera (the first one, not the one on the Mac) because it was lean and fast and took its style parameters from the X defaults like a well-behaved Xtk app ought to. Before that there was Mosaic, the ancestor of both Netscape and IE; it killed off a lot of innovative browsers in the early days of the web, and Netscape finished the job. I don't miss it much.

mdlbear: (spoiler)

From this post by [livejournal.com profile] technoshaman comes a link to a New Yorker article titled "Twilight of the Books" that asks "What will life be like if people stop reading?"

Like [livejournal.com profile] technoshaman and unlike Caleb Crain, the article's author, I'm rather more optimistic. I think that, with the rise of the web, we're well on our way out of the decline of literacy caused by television. Of course Crain's measure of literacy, reading "a work of creative literature", may well continue to decline. I know I don't read nearly as many novels as I once did. But I think nothing of devouring a 100-page legal document over on Groklaw -- it doesn't look nearly that big when it's all in one big, scrollable, HTML page. And my kids happily spend their bookstore gift cards on rollplaying game books. And read them.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

I spent much of last night and this morning cleaning up my directory tree, mostly building the working directories for the new albums and fixing up the build scripts to make them more generic. And the whole tree is mirrored up to dreamhost for offsite backups. So it probably shouldn't have been surprising that I was able to replace the tree for steve.savitzky.net, formerly ganked with rsync from thestarport.com/Steve_Savitzky/, with a simple symlink into the archive tree.

Dumb bear. How long did it take me to figure that out?

Eventually they'll want to diverge -- I have a lot more space on dreamhost than I do at rahul.net, so I can keep all my tracks up there for collaboration, but all I'll have to do on the dreamhost side is move a symlink.

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