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About introspection; looking at oneself. It has everything to do with the site itself, including its purpose, history, development and future developments.

2005 11 07

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Although I normally eschew self-reflection in the form of commenting on one's own posting frequency, the most recent hiatus deserves mentioning, if only because of the sheer amount of time that has gone by since the last time this blog was updated.

Rather than commenting on what happened during this time and/or why I have never gotten around to properly reporting it to the world at large, here is a preview of what is to come shortly:

  • Over the years, I have written a fairly decent number of shell scripts, showing off both skill (or determination to abuse a blunt tool--take your pick) and quite likely some bad habits in shell programming. I decided that I might do the world a service by putting my code online and turning the whole library into a tutorial.
  • On a parallel track, but no less obsessively executed, I have developed an intricate system of so-called 'Smart playlists' in iTunes, to achieve just exactly the right amount of randomness in songs played on autopilot, whilst taking into acount some real-life factors that plague my listening style. I ought to do the world a similar service with respect to that (almost Baroque) system of mine and tutorialise the lot.
  • In a freak combination of the above skills, plus a rather overdeveloped passion for Mac OS X, I have recently completed a working rough prototype of a shell script collection that feeds my iPod with Podcasts, exactly the way I want them. The iPodder family of products, fine as they are, just doesn't cut it for my particular wishes. The details of my setup might be of interest to other people with a similar skill set and/or sick preferences. Stay (i)tuned...
  • Who knows, one of these days, I might actually convince someone of the rather pressing need to inform me of a color scheme that doesn't annoy the hell out of the artistically sensitive. Until that time, I duly apologise for the design of this site. It is always and ever bound to demonstrate the fact that although I can put together just about anything eventually, I am stuck with the creative abilities of a tree stump.

2004 06 08

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Commercials for stupid people

It seems like a plan that I have had forever, but never acted upon: publically ranting about the inherit stupidity in a disturbingly large number of commercials. Sure, I have ranted about many of them at the time of being made to watch them, but the audience is usually limited to my wife. I suspect she hardly notices anymore; time to scale up.

I should point out that I only ever see Dutch television and thus I am only subjected to obvious stupidity aimed at the Dutch public only.

The rants will be collected under the Media tree.

2003 11 02

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Toolbox section

I have just added a section to the sidebar that is to hold references to my entire toolbox: there will be a list in alphabetical order of every single tool (mostly to mean 'piece of software') I currently use.

I am going about adding items to the list pretty much as I go along, so it may be some time before it is really complete. Nevertheless, it ought to grow substantially over the next few days.

As it is, I am not ordering the items in any other way besides alphabetical. In future, I might add subsections, such as for Firebird extensions.

2003 10 22

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Incoming section

I have set up an 'incoming' section in the sidebar. For the moment, it only holds the books I am reading (which I might just classify and limit to two or three per category any day now) and (just now) the comics. This also means the end of the 'comics' page. The latter was a relic of the first two days I had this site up anyway, so I don't feel bad at all to get rid of it.

Further content to be added to this section will be the blogs that I read on a daily basis. Writing truthfully, however, that will not be a long list.

2003 10 05

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Sidebar upgrade

The contents of the sidebar have been upgraded. On the main page, they now include what was the top-of-page leader. Also, behind the scenes I have cut up one file kept seperately into smaller chunks, so that the seperate sections in the sidebar can be manipulated differently for different pages. The most immediate impact was that I can now easily keep the navigation at the top of the sidebar, regardless of what else is in it.

Furthermore, I can do this without having to duplicate code for different index pages.

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Subtle permalinkage

I have added permalinks to the posts in this blog. They are, however, fairly subtle, because I did not want a big 'permalink' word with every single post. Also, making the whole title into a link (which was the next thing I though of) would make the page light up like a Christmas tree whenever some poor soul would innocently move their mouse pointer over it. I wanted something useable, yet subtle.

The solution I chose is a small symbol at the beginning of the title. At first, I tried to be clever and used the 'paragraph' symbol, aka the pilcrow sign: '¶'.

At the enlarged font size for the H1 post title, it was less than pretty. Moving it into another place was not really an option either, so after trying a few variations of interpunction characters, I settled on two colons: '::'.

2003 09 27

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Bloxsom powered

This site is now powered by Bloxsom. It has taken me a fair bit of work (of which more reports will be added later) but I have all the pieces fitting together good enough for this hand carved prototype to be replaced by a statically generated site, with only small bits of text and data to manipulate.

2003 09 10

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I was just trying to validate another site and to get to the HTML validation service, I used the button on my own page. This button links to the validation page, using an argument 'referer', which is a clever way in which the W3C determines which URL to parse.

Rather than the usual congratulations, I was slightly shocked that there were reported errors. (which I obviously fixed immediately). Now, I don't suppose the W3C is busy sending out a posse to my front door to beat me up for claiming to have a validated page, whereas it had 4 whole errors (gasp!) on it for at least a few days.

Nevertheless, the lesson learned is that until I reach the point where I just add content (and even then, actually) I should run the validator at least once a day. Or after every major edit, but that might become unwieldy very quickly.

2003 09 08

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General cleanup

Now that most of my design gripes have been put to bed, I spent some time cleaning up the content, because the use of different classes and divisions was showing three generations of the style sheet within one document. A side effect of prototyping in place, I guess. :)

In a concessive moment of the kind that I would like to keep to an absolute minimum, I have added a bit of invisible space in the header section, so that IE sizes the section properly. Sort of. In any case, I am now confident enough that the page will look decent with the settings with which IE ships by default. (read: settings which are suitable for reading 15 feet away from your monitor. Font control is not one of IE's strong points, is it?)

2003 09 07

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Future proof site design

This site is to become a full-featured blogging site, including posts by hierarchical topic, posts appearing in more than one topic (or maybe category is a better word), articles, stuff about the technology I used for the site itself, tutorials to rehash what I have learned myself, book and other media reviews, stuff about programming projects that I am working on and maybe more.

To be able to do all this, I will need a site design that is future proof to some extent. The current design looks like where I want to be going, but it is very much a prototype: hand-coded (I belong to the sub-species of human that uses vi and enjoys it), changing without notice, coded in-situ (my ISP offers shell access as standard).

Something I just thought of is that with all my tweaking of the three elements currently present (date/time stamp, heading and text), I am forgetting about the other elements that make up a blog. Here's a quick stab at how they could be integrated into the current design:

I am the only author here, so this is not relevant.
I take this to mean the path of the hierarchy in which a certain post belongs, such as '[Technology] - [Internet] - [Web design] - [Browsers]'. These categories might go fairly deep, although I don't think it should go beyond about 6 levels. In any case, even 4 or 5 levels make for a decent amount of text, even if the seperator is something minimalistic like a vertical bar or a slash. Or setting up the trail as a list with its items as inline elements with a 1px border on the left and just a dash of margin.
The position of this text, in the same size font as the date stamp, could be atop the date stamp and heading, as paragraph: wrappable and block level. The bottom border can carry the line that now is the top border of the date stamp and heading.
Date trail
For viewing a any (sub)set of posts through a calendar based archive, I think there should be a trail displayed such as '[this year] - [this month] - [this day]'. These links can be hidden, however, in the datestamp itself. That elements consists of 5 parts (year, month, day, hour, minute) of which the first three could be links to pages with posts for that period. My first idea about categories in this context is to maintain the category for this page, since that will be the majority of browsing use.
I do not want a special piece of text representing the permanent link, current practice on many blogging sites notwithstanding. Rather, I will use the heading (posting title), the first word of that or maybe a small symbol on the left or right of the heading to hold that link.

2003 09 06

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You have a bad browser

In IE6/win, this site looks sort of similar to the proper version now, but there will be plenty of visitors wondering why this site looks so, well, crap. For the benefit of these dimbulbs, I have put a link in the main navigation to a page that now merely contains a few harsh words and will shortly contain a rich set of resources to places of good reputation in the standards arena.

2003 09 04

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Now reading section

Also started last night, but continuing for some time to come, is my new 'Now Reading' section, placed in the side bar on the right.I looked at some other sites that had a similar thing to see if there is any obvious standard for referencing books, outside of becoming an Amazon Associate, but I couldn't determine one quickly. The alternative: roll my own; the result is on the right hand side.

There is currently a stack of books on my desk for inclusion in this list. It did occur to me that I might consider finishing one or two books before picking up another one. On the other hand, I have always been reading dozens of books in parallel and I have never suffered any serious negative side effects, so why bother changing an established pattern?

2003 09 03

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O, what a sucky browser IE is

I just had a look at my own site using IE. Does not work as advertised... Oh, well. From my point of view it is yet another argument to upgrade one's web experience and get a real browser. Or Firebird, rather.

2003 09 01

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As of now, I will be retrofitting entries into this blog. It occured to me that this would be the same thing as writing a diary and a memoir at the same time. I will figure out later how to organise backdated entries; there are interesting issues regarding any future RSS feed. At minimum, I would have to maintain two feeds: 'actually new' as in 'I just wrote this' and 'chronologically new' as in 'this is dated later than the last time you read my feed'. Comments and suggestions are welcome; this can't be a new problem.

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Daily comics

No sensible online individual should be without a daily dose of comics. I got tired of abusing my bookmarks (and exercising both Firebird and by opening the lot in tabs) so I stuck 'em all on page. Select the entire paragraph and then put the fantastic Linky extension to work. Get coffee. Read comics. Start day.

2003 08 21

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Britt's page is up

Obviously, when just mucking about with a new site, the first thing one does is stick up pictures of one's newborn child. Here is a page about Britt.

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And now for a blog

The main purpose for this site is to hold my (as of yet non-existent) blog. I am thinking or using Blosxom, but I haven't decided yet whether to host dynamically or to batch produce and upload. I am leaning towards the latter, but the deafult operation and hence all the support and tooling is geared towards dynamic serving.

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Page here but not quite finished...

The page is here, but as you can see it is not quite finished. I really do not approve of big black-and-yellow 'under construction' banners, so a bit of text will have to do in explaining that I am really in the very early stages of setting this thing up.