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August 19, 2004

Plugin Revisions

Moving to a non-hacked blosxom meant making a few plugin changes. There's no real need for a sorting plugin anymore, but I've come to like the idea of switching views. So, sort_order is out (reserved for the hacked blosxom), and sort_by_date is in. Similar operation, but the sort choices are now by date, by file name, or by category name; de/ascending.

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August 14, 2004

css overhaul

Hand-in-hand with cleaning up the site was an overhaul of the Waldo css, which had become a bit...cumbersome ;-) The basic two-column layout was retained, but without the messy hacks (Tantek box-model, etc.) — pushin' electrons is so much simpler with robust, viable alternatives to Explorer! Here's some of the nitty-gritty:

The layout is meant to be zero- or low-graphic, with visual color coming from links, heads, and a couple of block classes, and textual color coming from content face, weight, and leading. (For instance, the large navigation "buttons" are purely text-based; no graphics, no pre-loads, easy editing.) Full justification dramatically reduces "text rivers."

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August 12, 2004

site overhaul

Other than uploading plugin updates, I hadn't touched the site in almost a year; not too much bitrot, but a fair amount of cruft. No fixed abode has too often meant no modern Mac — making it increasingly difficult to test plugins with the site's hacked blosxom. So the first order of business was to convert the blog sections over to stock blosxom:

  1. configure and install a clean blosxom
  2. add entries_cache plugin to fake file modification times
  3. hack entries_cache to do what it should ;-)
  4. process entry files to proper blosxom format:
    • title on first line (was date)
    • mod time meta- tag on second line (was title)
    • blank third line to conform to meta plugin standard (unneeded, but standard)
    • modify story templates to use blosxom's $mo, $da, and $yr vars (was my hacked $dato)
    • modify .dl templates to mimic the old name-based hack
  5. write a fulldatenames plugin to get full month names
  6. fiddle with load order

It was all quite tedious, but I just kept tellin' myself, "This makes it easier. This makes it easier. This makes it...." Geez, this better make it easier! ;-)

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August 31, 2003

Writer's blok

Flew solo today...20 lines or so, without having to check the book. LOL! Got a suggestion from the Blosxom plugins page to add Windows line-end conversion to blox; just one line. But that presented a small quandary...the Pascal Protestant in me worried about crossing a line between attaining Perl's laziness and rewarding damnable ignorance. (On the Mac at least, Pascal's pearly gates bear a sign: "You must be able to generate at least this much machine language to ride this code." ;-)

And I mean, Great Bog...knowing about formatting text with newlines is as fundamental as knowing which side of the road to drive on. One of those underlying pieces of infrastructure that defines the world of multi-platform diversity. Isn't it? Or is there a new day coming when anyone can be (and should be) be a user, and lusers will only exist due to bad design or poor documentation? Does every specific convenience carry with it this cost of obscuring broader knowledge? Which is it -- can of worms, or slippery slope?

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August 18, 2003


Jaguar first impressions (new to X, too ;-)
A couple months ago, I installed 10.2.6 on the iMac(CRT)/600...figured that using the Apache server would be much more convenient than uploading endless Perl files to a host during script debugging ;-) So far my uses for X have only been Apache, IE, Moz, Safari, BBEdit, Photoshop, iTunes, Terminal, and Sys Prefs. As far as the system goes, it's fine.

But lord, that Finder sucks.....

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August 11, 2003

Perl-handled Revolver

Finally feeling like I have the tiniest grip on Perl. Finally! Almost as bad as trying to learn French....
After seeing that Blox 0.9 was just not going to treat <PRE> tags with any kind of grace, I started adding a means to block Blox from operating on a file. To my Pascal-ish mindset, this meant adding an if/then statement, as in: IF a blox-blocker exists for this file, THEN don't run blox on this file.

Looks like this in Perl:

if ($$body_ref =~ s/^$skipper\n//) {
  return 0;
elsif ($use_noblox_file) {
 if ($blox_ref{"$datadir$path/$filename.$file_extension"} == 1) {
   return 0;

Very much und ordnung; terraced fields; checklists; CS 101.

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July 18, 2003

Second Plugin

It's been awhile since I've considered the documentation to be the enemy, but this Perl stuff puts me in a mood.... I've just finished my second Blosxom plugin, and the frustration with Programming Perl mounts. Gotta get me a reference book by someone a bit less ADHD ;-)

This second plugin is every bit as lazy as the first.... I would just as soon write as few html tags inside these entry files as possible. Since the biggest tagging chore is marking each "paragraph" (or blockquote or dfn or whatever the main format is for the entry text) with an open tag and a close tag... why not let a plugin do it?

(Well, one reason not to let a plugin do it is trying to figure out how to make a plugin do it, when all you've got to read are chatty reference works by the Larry crew; about as speedy a guide as the Dictionary of the Khazaars....)

Since this plugin just makes a couple of substitution runs through an entry, its results aren't very sophisticated; we're not talking Tiki territory here. But for a mindless tool, it's not too bad....

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July 06, 2003


After slogging through a few plugins and much hand-waving over the reference books, I've got Blosxom tuned up to where I like it. I've replaced the sort routine with code to sort by filename (not mod date). The "seemore" plugin is being used to break up long entries and link to their permanent address for complete viewing. Not sure how seemore is supposed to work, but I modified it to use a distinct template flavour ("loner") for these links; works fine. Permanent links are provided in the entry title H1 heads.

And that's about it for Perling right now...gotta deal with WinXP in the shop this week, and I'm already weak ;-) Once I find a good syntax ref/cookbook, learning Perl might even be a bit of fun... despite all the irregular verbs.

(Actually, I'm so ashamed for the way I'm butchering the Blosxom scripts, I'll p'bly go overboard on Perl, obsessing until the day I can write a functional plugin ;-) But for now, the css is good, the js is good, the content is good. Just gotta keep tellin' myself, "It's good [enough]; its good [enough]; it's ...."

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July 04, 2003

Goddamned Army Jeep

I've always been a fan of scripting systems (except MS Office Macros ;-), so it seemed only fitting to learn a little Perl after moving to a *nix OS.... Big Mistake.

First, I didn't move to a new OS -- still too many clients on the old OS for me to risk putting something new on my main drives. Unfortunately, I was already hooked on learning Perl. So now to test my coding I have to run everything remotely (over a landline, f'r' Crissakes), which is about 1 step better than using punchcards.

Second, there's no such thing as "a little Perl" -- it's all or nothing. Larry Wall can talk about "natural language" all he wants, but there ain't nuthin' natural about Perl...unless maybe you're conversant with the code revealed by the Human Genome Project.

Third, Perl "textbooks" are just as dense and exception-filled as the language itself; something happens to the brains of people who code Perl that seems to destroy their ability to speak slowly and clearly. (Pay your $50 for Programming Perl and then try to find an actual definition of the ".=" operator, for instance.)

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