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Tripalog Goes Live

A couple days ago, I made this blog live.  "Going live" entailed linking to it from the Tripalot home page and some of my other pages.  That's all.  No big fanfare.  No launch party.  I even forgot to post on the blog itself about it.

Well, here I am finally posting about it.  And to be honest, I feel a bit disillusioned when considering the relevance of this blog, or any of my pages or thoughts or creations, to people outside my family.  There's so much competition out there, so many people clamoring for attention.  Most of them probably have more universally useful things to say than I do.  My world is very insular, as I prefer it that way.

Music, tech, travel, myself and my family… my interests don't extend much beyond there.  I'm not interested in current events, social injustice, social observations, or anything people-oriented for that matter.  I'm much more focused on creative output and outdoor activities.  Fun stuff, in other words.  Hobbies.  Productive hobbies.

What path this blog will follow I have no idea.  So far it is has been heavy on music, web development, and introversion.  I assume it will stay that way, as long as there's no external feedback to nudge it in a different direction.  It's not like anyone reads this besides me!  So the blog will likely be just a bunch of notes to myself.  "Oh yeah, that's the day I upgraded to Wordpress 2.3.4."

Hmm.

Yep.

PHP Handler

Over the past month or two, I have updated all of my sites' URLs to no longer include the HTML filenames.  So, instead of /games/catan.htm the URL is now /games/catan/. The latter is (I think) more SEO friendly, and allows me to switch to make the page dynamic later without changing the URL again.

I'd already converted a few sites to the no-filename approach, which resulted in each HTML file being called index.html.  This worked, but when I opened a bunch of pages in a text editor, each tab said "index.html" which made it hard to tell them apart.

So this time I decided to keep the HTML files named uniquely (e.g., catan.htm).  In order to get the sites to work, I wrote a PHP handler to parse the URL and read in the correct file.  This also lets me add global features, like a favicon, google analytics, and a google plus one button to each page.

To be able to view my sites locally before uploading, I setup a local web server, and, for times when I want to view the file without a server, I wrote a JavaScript handler to rewrite all the links in the page to point to the correct local pages.

So the end result is that I was able to keep the HTML files relatively intact (with only link urls changing), named distinctly (not all "index.html"), viewable locally and online, and now with google analytics and favicons automatically added.

All this programming was a lot of work, but it's a one-time effort, and lets me start using Web 2.0 features in my sites, something I wasn't able to do before.

Tech Updates

I upgraded to Wordpress 3.2.0 today.  This was the first update in years.  Nice to know it still works!

While I'm at it, I might as well catch you up with how the "uber-project" is going.

In 2009 I decided to implement my own blog for sharing photos, videos, and information with my family.   There are daily posts going back to November 2009, when we moved to NZ.  I've also retroactively added pre-2009 vacations and projects.  Posts can have images, videos, and comments.  Image thumbnails automatically expand when you hover over them, which is a feature that I wish Flickr had.  It all works pretty smoothly, and I update it almost every day, but it's private, so is worthless in terms of portfolio.  Anyway, the existence of that blog distracted me from this one, which is why there haven't been updates here in years.

In terms of music projects, Tripecac is inching along slowly.  I gave up on expanding the Triton's sounds and instead switched to soft synths, which required the purchase of a new computer.  Fatherhood has restricted my time dramatically, so I'm not churning out 5+ albums a year like before, but if I can do at least 2, and have some decent songs in there, I'm relatively content.

Trex has recently dominated my time.  I've digitized all the tapes, and am currently working on editing and making CDs of the 2007 recordings.  Once I finish that, I will be almost done; there's only an hour or two of stuff from 2008 and later, plus the possibility of extracting songs from videos.  I look forward to finally finishing the Trex project; hopefully it will be by the end of the year.

I've also updated the CSS for all my web sites.  They are a lot more uniform now, and look more modern.  I still need to normalize their urls and add Web 2.0 features like commenting and RSS feeds, but first need to decide whether to convert them to Wordpress or a similar CMS.  So I'm looking at other sites and researching best practices.

I have an idea for a blog and a podcast, but will need to solidify a plan before moving forward.  And I'd like to finish the Trex project first.  Right now I don't have enough time to move forward on all fronts and still be able to smile at people!

Done with Video Project – Now what?

Okay, I've finished the first (DVD-only) pass of my video project.  My next step is to edit those videos and put them on a website.  So now I need to figure out the next step of my "uber-project".

I thought about implementing a blogging system from scratch.  Then I realized how much time it would take.  Then I thought again about Wordpress.  And I realized that since we might start using Wordpress soon at work, there'd be an extra benefit to doing things in Wordpress.  So I think I've almost made up my mind now, and Wordpress looks good.

One thing I want to be able to do is specify start and end dates for specific events, such as trips, albums, grade levels at school, places I've lived, etc.  Then, I'd like to be able to see a list of what I was doing on this day last year, 2 years ago, etc.  I realize that no such feature is in Wordpress now, but I can add it (or find a plugin) later.

So, if I'm gonna use Wordpress, I need to setup a location for it.  I'd like to put it on franklindrive.com, since that is my "private" domain.  I hope it's not too much of a pain to port it over…  I need to first make sure the backup mechanisms are in place.  And I need to decide on urls.  How about something like this:

http://franklindrive.com/bio/travis/

http://franklindrive.com/bio/giovanna/

http://franklindrive.com/bio/jessica/

Of course, "bio" is a little wimpy.  Maybe I can think of a better name for it.

Then again, maybe I want to leave the bloggy stuff on tripalot.com and use franklindrive.com for something else.  I dunno… Need to think some more about it.

Wordpress 2.6.3 and Travart

Another update.  Or two.  I think I slept through the last one (2.6.2).  Shame on me!  Everyone knows that the world revolves around Wordpress.  Right?

So I'm wondering if my "uber-project" is doable in Wordpress.  It would let me get started sooner if it were, because I wouldn't have to implement anything.  It's the implementing that has me daunted.  I have a few weeks to make a decision, because right now I'm still working on digitizing my videos.  Once I'm done with that I will have to make a move on the uber-project.

Anyway, if I am to use Wordpress (or any software for that matter), I think I need the following features:

1) photo albums – Some days I took several pictures.  Some trips spanned multiple days.  It would be nice to see photos grouped by day *and* by trip.  This means a photo needs to be in multiple collections.

2) comments – I'd like to give people the ability to comment on individual photos or collections.  Ditto for videos, stories, and songs.  This isn't a must-have, but would let me get rid of my dependence on flickr.

3) category overview – I want to see a visual representation of all the "activity" in certain categories/tags (music, photos, videos, etc.) over a large date range.  For example, if I took lots of pictures in March 1998 and only a couple in April 1998, I want to see the difference immediately.  Ditto for 1998 vs 1999.  If each post is for a single day, and if single days can have varying numbers of photos, then I need to include different types of tags for photos (e.g., "1 photo", "2 photos", "5-10 photos", "100+ photos", etc.)  This can get complex, and goes against how Wordpress was designed.  I might need to find or create a completely different way of embedding quantitative information in posts.

There might be more requirements, but right now I need to go.  Life calls more loudly than Wordpress!

Wordpress 2.6.1

Another version.  More features, I assume.

One feature I really want is the ability to select a category and then "zoom out" so that I can see a multi-year timeline of all the activity relating to that category.  Maybe a plugin exists which can do that.  Maybe I have to write one.  I don't know.

Project Update

A quick update on my project status…

  • I finally finished working on Kim's tapes.  So now they're on CD and the Trex website.  Yay!
  • I also finished my sister's wedding video.  DVDs and online videos.  Yay!
  • Tripecac keeps puttering along.  I've finished Whatcom Home and 2 more albums, and am currently working on Composed Pile.  Still having fun with it, although I am definitely getting tired of the Triton's sounds, at least with my current effects template.  I haven't installed any new sounds yet, mostly because I haven't found a good librarian.
  • I've added a rating system to the Tripecac, Trex, IPECAC, and Anchovies sites.  So now you can rate songs and albums, and see the average ratings.  The songs page lets you sort by ratings, so you can hear the "best" songs first.
  • My next big project will be digitizing my 8mm videos.  For this I needed to buy an 8mm camera, since my old one doesn't play tapes anymore.  I haven't received the new camera yet; I hope it works well enough to let me proceed with this project!
  • The next project after that will be digitizing the remaining Trex tapes (from 2007 to present).  That will take a long time, since there are so many tapes.

Okay that's it for now!

Wordpress 2.3.3

Another update. Another yawn. Another retreat back into web 1.x.

Wordpress 2.3.2

Another Wordpress update.  Another post to test the update.

Oh, and Another Year, by the way. Happy whatever.

Swamped with Projects

Recently I've been drowning in projects. None are what I would regard as either very low or very high priority. They are all kinda medium priority.

God, blogs are boring. I am bored already. By the way, I upgraded to Wordpress 2.3.1 today. No big whoop. No small whoop either. It was trivial, just like this blog.

Anyway, here are my current music projects:

  1. Trex – copy Kim's tapes to computer. I had sent 24 tapes to my cousin Kim back in 1988 and 1989. For almost all of the songs, she had the only copies. A couple years ago I asked her if I could copy them to my computer and then send them back to her. Finally, this month, at my sister's wedding, Kim handed me the box of tapes. Today I finished copying them to the computer. That's the easy part. The hard part is:
  2. Trex – create CDs from Kim's tapes. This involves editing and documenting each track on the Trex website. I'm having to spend a lot of time editing, since the original songs were so sloppy (I was in my early teens). The most time-consuming part is the documentation: writing down every word of the lyrics and chatter, adding descriptions, date information, etc. Very tedious. It's taken me 2 weeks to finish processing 6 of the tapes (resulting in 3 CDs). 18 tapes to go. Sigh.
  3. Trex – record new practices. These are mostly guitar. I have a rule that everyday I can record at most 2 new songs. This forces me to slow down. I was recording too much music, about a tape a week. It was crazy.
  4. Trex – copy practices to computer. I've finished copying everything through 2006, plus a couple tapes in 2007. There are about 20 tapes from 2007 that I still need to copy. 20 and counting (thanks to project #3).
  5. Trex – create CDs of practices. I'm caught up through 2006, but haven't finished any from 2007. This is on hold until I finish creating CDs of Kim's tapes.
  6. Tripecac – create new songs for Whatcom Home. This is my latest album. I'm hoping to finish it within the next couple days. As soon as I finish it, I will start the next album.
  7. Tripecac – add more sounds to my Triton. I need to figure out how to use my "E" bank, which is currently empty. I'd like to try out a bunch of acoustic sounds and then use them on my next album. However, I need to figure out 1) how to get sounds onto the Triton and 2) how to save/load sounds with each song, so that it doesn't matter if I overwrite the sounds later.

In addition to these music projects, I have a video editing project (for my sister's wedding), and my Travart project, which I discussed in a previous post. Video editing is awaiting raw video from my Dad. Travart is back-burnered once again.

These projects have been swarming through my head this month.

Today I decided to focus only on Tripecac. No Trex. And it was great! As soon as I was done with work, I hopped on my music computer, had 2 productive hours, managed to finish a song. Yay! It was a nice feeling.

However, tomorrow I will probably get back to processing Kim's tapes. 18 to go. The only way to get that number out of my head is to keep plunging my head into the vat of molten tedium.