And the dust has settled…

Well, that was a little more involved than I’d thought… As I moved the home of this website/blog, I thought I would also take the opportunity to streamline how I put up pages about my finished fibre activities in my Fibre FO Gallery. I had been finding it a bit of a chore to put up a page after I’d finished an item — chiefly because of the workflow. I was still manually building HTML pages (with an editor), which is a bit painful when it comes to inserting a bunch of pictures. I thought there would be an easier way…
Of course, as in all things, when you start digging in to the requirements, simple things acquire new facets of complexity you wouldn’t have dreamt imaginable. I don’t want to bore myself with reliving the details of the process, but I thought it might be useful to capture a few “learnings” here.
First — I set up a new blog with a theme that supported the “gallery-like” overview I wanted. I had thought I would just use blogging software to post entries, but that became a problem almost instantly — it seems that few (Mac) applications can handle images by dragging & dropping them into the draft post, making a nice thumbnail, and linking that to the full sized image to be uploaded to the blog. Okay, when I say it that way, I guess I understand why 🙂 . So, having hit a dead end, I backed up and considered requirements.

Requirements

  • Easier than the old way of manually editing images and HTML.
  • Summary page with detail/gallery of photos
  • Storable — offline gallery (persistent) — I do use this as my own reference!
  • Will last/can migrate readily — burned by too many platform shifts!
  • A step forward in developing my own web skills

And then I looked at options

  • Raw HTML — ugly, but I knew I could (still) do it, especially once I got set up to rsync files to the host service
  • Raw HTML with blog — wait — that’s more steps!
  • Sandvox — Pretty! And I sort of got my head around its notion of constructing pages. Would have supported offline creation and update of pages, though it would have been hard to save out my projects as a local, offline “gallery”. And, it would mean tearing down the entire gallery site and building it with Sandvox. Overkill, much?
  • Concrete5 — interesting model of blocks. But, as a hosted service, it would not have allowed for offline editing. And, again, I was seriously thinking overkill…

Overkill and back again

So, I backed up, dug a little harder to find a good WordPress plugin that could handle multiple galleries reasonably. Enter NextGEN Gallery. I can make a gallery per project, annotate each picture, manually order them in whatever sort order I want, and then write a blog post and drop the gallery in. Saving out the project is a matter of saving a web archive locally. Perfect? No. But, at least it’s balancing my requirements against available tools instead of reinventing the (web GUI) wheel…

Did you feel the earth move?

Something just happened here chez Knitbot…  The blog and website just got flung across a continent, from a rack in Virginia to a virtual box (probably) in California.

Part of this move is about upgrading from WordPress “classic” to something a little more up to date and able to withstand the elements.

It’s going to take a bit of time to press the last bits into place and polish it up for primetime…

Newton v. Air

I have long struggled with finding the right way to keep track of
calendars, lists, plans, etc, while on the go.  I was an “early
adopter” of the whole “Personal Digital Assistant” (PDA) thing.  I
had one of the early (though not earliest) Apple Newtons, and bought a
final generation Newton
MessagePad 2100
in 1998, just weeks before Steve Jobs announced
that Apple was dropping the whole product (and screwing over thousands
of 3rd party application developers — you’d’ve thought they’d learned
a lesson? I doubt many of them are writing iPhone apps). 

The Apple Newton was cool.  It was quite powerful as a digital
assistant, and even occasionally useful for things like taking notes in
meetings, when you didn’t want to bring a luggable notebook (if you
even had one).    But, it wasn’t a fully-fledged
computer, and had challenges sync’ing seamlessly with your desktop
applications.  The Palm got that part right — drop  your
device in its cradle and press a button to sync. 

After the Newton, I went through several generations of Palm devices
(only some of them died from
deceleration trauma!), and my last one, the Tungsten T3, is still
sitting in its cradle, plugged into my computer.  I stopped
carrying it around last year when I finally found an iPhone app that
could do the T3’s last remaining task:  manage my grocery
list.  

Which is not to say that the iPhone does all the things I used to do
with the Newton.  I suppose I could download a Libertarian quiz
app for it.  But, mostly, I gave up on using these small devices
to manage my increasingly complex (and possibly indicative of neurotic
leanings) ToDo lists, etc. 

It all kind of felt like reverse progress.

So — when I saw someone with an 11″ Macbook Air, the week before
Christmas, a number of threads wound together in a momentary
flash:  here was a device that was not a lot bigger than the
Newton, and only fractionally bigger than an iPad, but which could
support all those new lists and calendars and applications as well as be a reasonable sole
compute platform for a week’s business trip.  YMMV, of course, but
this made a lot more sense for me than an iPad, cool though they
are. 

Enough about me — let’s compare the MessagePad 2100 and the 11″ Air,
shall we?

Okay — the Newton has a smaller surface area:

top view

top centred

But it is at least twice as thick as the Air:

side view

The Newton (sans keyboard) is most of a pound lighter than the Air:

newton weight

Air weight

And it has genuine PCMCIA slots for expansion!

Newton adds

But, when it comes time to set up for work, while the Newton’s keyboard
has a much nicer feel (key travel), frankly the Newton/keyboard combo
is a lot harder to balance in your lap:

open for work

Why, yes, the Newton does still work!  (Battery is fried, though):

still alive!

That Time, Again

Well, yesterday, it was that time again —  time for a different
view on my way to work.

(Luckstone Quarry lookout, W&OD bike trail)

view

A momentary aberration in my daily commute — Bike to Work Day! (Or, as
I like to think of it — “Guilt-free eating day” 😉 ).

bike 

Yesterday’s ride was 19mi in, and 19mi home, in about 90min
(each).  I was pretty pleased — given that the last time I’d
ridden seriously might well have been BtWD 2007.  I had arranged
myself not to have to bring lots of stuff with me (left the computer at
work the night before, et cetera).  It made a big difference not
to have to use a backpack.  Though, to do this on a basis more
regular than every 3 years, I’d want to do something about those knobby
tires, too.

Riding on the W&OD was mostly pretty good, except for the areas in
and around towns — it’s pretty hard to get bike traffic, cyclist
traffic, roller bladers (with their wide-swinging arms & legs),
dogs, toddlers (random and erratic trajectories) to mix on one
trail.  I only saw one accident — I think the toddler will
survive, and the cyclist picked himself up and passed me (again). 
But — far better than trying to deal with bicycle & car traffic on
some of the 8-lane concrete oceans around here.  It’s nice to have
the trail.

The Day After…

Leesburg VA reports 27.5″ of snow from the storm.

I’m still miles away on
a different continent, but, here are the reports I’ve gotten from
home — digging out.

08h00 Sunday, February 7, 2010 —
the sun does come up, post-snowpocalypse

08h00 feb 7

16h00 Sunday, February 7, 2010
dug out, to the road,
anyway
16h00 feb 07

Snowpocalypse 2010!

Here’s how the current winter storm  is playing out in the
Washington DC area:

Reporting from the LA
Times
(!).

“As of late afternoon, a total of 32.4 inches was recorded at Dulles
International Airport outside of Washington, according to the National
Weather Service. That two-day accumulation topped the previous record,
compiled during the blizzard of January 1996, the weather service said.”

I’m “enjoying” my first business trip of the year, so I’m miles away on
a different continent.  But, here are the reports I’ve gotten from
home — snowpocalypse in evolution!

10h00 Friday, February 5, 2010 —
first flakes fly

Feb 05 2010 10h00

16h00 Friday, February 5, 2010
hunkering down

Feb 05 2010 16h00

09h00 Saturday, February 6, 2010 —
buried

Feb 06 2010 09h00

16h00 Saturday, February 6, 2010 —
there are cars in there?

Feb 06 2010 16h00

Cats in Amsterdam

Many buildings in Amsterdam are old.  And they have a “native population”, that survives transfer of ownership.  To help deal with this, it is not unusual for restaurants to employ “peace keepers” of the four-legged sort.

I recently met Mavis:

Mavis

Mavis was not above supplementing her rodent-chasing diet with handouts from the restaurant’s kitchen:

a good thing going

While I’m not naming the restaurant above, it should be noted that I have actually seen mice running across the floor in a (different) restaurant in Amsterdam, and Mavis was not the first resto-cat I’d encountered in that city.  Sometime back in 2003, I met this “greeter”:

earlier

unnamed

Double-duty mouser & maitre d’? 😉

When I Say Fog…

Not fog...

I do mean fog…

Fog...

It’s like somebody turned off the CGI rendering of the background (cove, boats, rest of island…).

Or, here’s a different perspective of Flaggs Cove, Grand Manan, not in fog:

cove-kitchen-no-fog

The fog can also play tricks — fading here, and thickening there.  Here, you see a glimpse of Castalia.

cove 1

But, here it’s all equally fuzzy:

cove 2