Archive for 2006

Frustration

7 October 2006
Categories: Self-referential

So this WordPress implementation is pretty good. It was easy to install, and is fairly versatile. If nothing else it’s a convenient way for me to learn about templates and style sheets.

But there’s one simple setting that I’d love to have, that I know many other people want too, and yet I can’t find it anywhere. I just want a way to set a user level by category, so that posts marked with a given category can only be viewed by users with an access level equal to or higher than that of the category. That’s a complicated way of saying, I want a “private” posting category that only I and chosen others can read (or post to).

Amazingly, I’ve found more than one plugin where the author says “hoping to add that in a future release,” and one that purports to do exactly what I want—but the author has pulled it offline in anticipation of a new release that may never come (it’s been pending since March) and is responding to all calls to reinstate the old version with, frankly, petulance.

Sure, there’s a plugin to set the level of individual posts. So why not entire categories?

I hate blogs

22 September 2006
Categories: Self-referential

So just for fun I’m trying a post from my BlackBerry. Not bad so far, although I need practice on this tiny kybard.

I already understand the attraction of weblogs. It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s frankly a form of mental masturbation. The best thing for any weblogger to keep in mind is that no one will or should ever find interest in this. The biggest risk is in thinking that you’re writing for some form of posterity. Keep the filters turned off, don’t pretend you’re writing for anyone but yourself, and you just might come up with something worthy some day.

I recall (perhaps erroneously) that Dave Sim, creator of the epic graphic novel Cerebus, once wrote that if you want to learn to draw well, get a six-foot-tall stack of paper and draw your way through it. Consider this the written equivalent.

I also put a lot of value in an excellent essay written by one of my favourite authors, Samuel R. Delany, that appears in the back of the collection Aye, and Gomorrah: And Other Stories. On the subject of writing well, he says (and I’m paraphrasing horribly) that one must never consider one’s work to be written in stone, that it can always be changed, even after publication. That false impression of staticness is just another form of self-filtering, and good writing almost always benefits from a complete lack of self-filtering. In that sense, a weblog is a good thing—because even after I hit the “Publish” button, there’s always another “Edit” button waiting for me.

The thing is, I hate blogs. More to the point, I hate the word “blog.” What a dumb truncation of a mediocre portmanteau that rolls off the tongue like a flu-ridden loogie. And of course, most weblogs, this one included, are really just what I said before: mental masturbation. Talky, in-jokey, rambling. I’m much amused to find, more than a year after I posted it in a fit of waggish pique, that “blogorrhea” (a portmanteau of “blog” and “logorrhea”, meaning excessive and/or incoherent talkativeness in a weblog) remains in Wikipedia’s list of blogging terms, despite a lot of discussion that implies (but never states directly) that it’s a made-up word that has never been used anywhere other than in that list. Of course it’s a made-up word—I’m trying to create a neologism here. And god knows there’s a lot of blogorrhea out there.

And in here.

Asia Trip imported

21 September 2006
Categories: Self-referential

Well, turns out that getting the cURL extension installed to PHP5 wasn’t all that difficult, although I had to figure it out mostly by myself for no good reason.

It started with this command:

    sudo apt-get install php5-curl --fix-missing

…which failed with several errors about being unable to download certain packages. When I checked the download server I found that it only had version 3.2, while my server was looking for 3.1. Sure enough, there’s a simple command to deal with this:

    sudo apt-get update

…which regenerates the local package list. Then the previous command worked fine and installed it with no issues. It even plugged the curl.so extension into php.ini and restarted the Apache server. No sweat… except of course that this is yet another case of an utterly simple procedure that is glossed over or entirely unmentioned in the existing documentation.

Once this was done, yanking the Asia Trip entry off my old Blogspot account (now unused, but squatting so no one else becomes “Kevin Forsyth”) was a piece of cake.

Well, here it is — my own weblog

20 September 2006
Categories: Self-referential

Finally set one up today. This WordPress installation was pretty simple. What’s surprising is how hard it is to find decent documentation on how to add the cURL extension to my PHP so that it can import my Asia photos off of blogspot. Yet another silly pain in the ass.

A new tool

23 August 2006
Categories: Self-referential

May have found a workable replacement for SSHTerm, which all along has shown signs of Java-related memory leaks, an unwelcome tendency to delay redrawing the screen when it regains focus, slow directory browsing, and some awful limitations (like not being able to sort a file-browsing window by date during a batch of uploads)… and the parent company having abandoned its development for a next-generation (i.e. payware) solution.

It’s called Bitvise Tunnelier, and while I always hesitate to say nice things about software that hasn’t yet failed me, it has some nice features. For one, when I connect to my SSH service, it will open both a terminal session and an SFTP session, while using the same single port. No more open this, then open that, and having multiple live connections between the client and server. For another—it’s free for individual use.