Sites posts

Web sites which ought to exist to help out folk

And we’re back

I haven’t posted anything on this site since 2011. My “professional” site and related blog took my attention as I focused on my career. In 2011, this site was hosted from my home on an iBook. That server probably was taken down within a couple years of that post when I moved and didn’t bother trying to get it back up and running. By that point, I had my “professional” site on a shared host (Dreamhost) and liked what it had to offer. I no longer had to worry about keeping my IP updated with DynDNS or the downtime from internet outages (common with my Windstream DSL), server problems, router problems, etc.

This site was down for a period, but at some point I migrated it over to my Dreamhost server. I started it at personal.tobymackenzie.com. After a while, I decided it needed its own domain and would be a good candidate for a .name domain, so I bought tobymackenzie.name. The site was still not fully functional though. Some pages and sections were completely broken, and for a while I couldn’t log into the WordPress install this blog is run with.

Recently, I went through and got most things working and threw a more recent, responsive theme (Twenty Fifteen) onto the blog. A few sections still don’t work. I may have lost the data for the almost never used forums. The gallery is run by software that shared photos from my iPhoto library, no longer possible on shared hosting. I may replace these at some point, though I would probably only put the forum back in a read-only mode for posterity.

Anyway, this site is old and outdated. Some of the information is inaccurate. At some point soon, I intend to replace it with something new, probably something built on Symfony. I hope to merge the code-base and some of the content of my “professional” and personal sites, though in appearance and most content they will remain separate to serve their own purposes most effectively. I will leave this site as is on a sub-domain for posterity. As with most of my personal projects, who knows when I will actually get to it, but I have been itching to play with some things that I don’t get to at work.

As to this blog, I hope to get back into the habit of writing for it. I’ve put a lot of focus on my career lately, but miss thinking and writing about some of my other interests. It can be somewhat therapeutic to write down my ideas or about things happening in my life. Lately, my interest in homes and architecture has been coming back. Hopefully, this blog will be seeing me as regularly as it once did and my thoughts will be archived for my future self and others.

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Geocities closure

My former roommate/bandmate had mentioned a few months back that geocities would be closing.  I had my site on there until I started my own server and entered the world of server side scripting and databases.  The site is still up, though I haven’t used it in years.  The last thing I did with it was to simplify it, link only to the more important content, and make sure to have a notable mention of my new site.  But I still wanted to preserve the old stuff.  I’m not sure what I may have backed up from there still.

Geocities doesn’t offer any way to download files at all through its file manager, and I wanted an easier way than opening each file through the editor, copying and pasting into a local file.

A post mentioned using wget to download the whole site.  I guess Mac OS X doesn’t come with wget (a nice utility for downloading http stuff from the command line), so I had to install that.  Using it didn’t get all of my files though, because much of the old stuff was no longer linked, and some of the files were accessed with javascript.  It also didn’t get files linked from within CSS or javascripts.

I tried using iCab to download everything.  It has a nice site download feature that allow you to follow links and set limits on what is downloaded.  But it kept failing at some point with a cryptic error -1100.  It downloaded less than wget.

So I ended up having to get the items not gotten by wget by copying from the geocities editor and pasting into local files.  The images had to be viewed and downloaded.

So now that is backed up before the shutoff date in just 11 days.  I doubt I have any use for it, as I think all of the old stuff that was really in use was pretty well destroyed or disabled.

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WordPress.com blog

I have created another blog, separate from this one, on wordpress.com.  I did so as a requirement for the Web Design II class I am taking at Tri-C.  It mainly stores information about the project we are working on for the class.  Since it is my first project of this sort, full from start to finish for a client, it contains my first workings and views on parts of the process.

I am not sure how to handle this blog though when I am done with class.  It obviously will no longer be needed for that, and maintaining two completely separate blogs has its problems, what with increased maintenance time, separated data that all may be related, separate presences, etc.  It may work though if they have two distinct purposes.  I’m not sure that I really need it separate though.

WordPress.com has a number of features, such as integrated stats and greater connection to other blogs, but it has limited features and some important features such as style need to be payed for.  So I may not want to keep the account.

So I could potentially just merge it onto here.  I have also been thinking about maintaining two blogs or one blog that has a fully separated category of posts from the front end with completely different appearance and no access to the other categories.  I would do this on my planned portfolio site for my “professional” posts while I maintain the other blog for my personal posts.  So I could potentially place the wordpress.com content on the professional blog and move some of my older web and server related posts there as well, maybe after a bit of cleanup.

I am also considering breaking away from wordpress by building my own blog ware.  This would give me more control over the data, the blog functionality, and integration into the rest of the site.  But this would take some time, and I have a lot of other projects that would have priority over that.  Getting it anywhere near the capabilities that I like from wordpress especially would take a while (don’t even know how to handle pingbacks/trackbacks).

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Historic Sites

I am taking a look at some historic sites and deciding what I like and dislike about them.  The sites are:

Hale Farm

Hale Farm and Village was the first historic place I thought of.  I’ve been there before and it is fairly nearby where I live.

The site is a sub-site of the Western Reserve Historical Society.  This makes it more easy to find other historical places in the area, but gives Hale Farm less emphasis.  Some of the content bleeds together.  I think it could have a lot more information about what is at the farm.  The site is kept very up to date.  It has a fair amount of event and news related content.  There is an online donation function, though it doesn’t seem as extensive as many other non-profits:  I’m not sure if this is because they are less dependent on donations or get enough from other methods or what.  There is perhaps what is going to become on online store, but it is not functional currently:  It has a shopping cart, but no way to add anything to it.

Peninsula Historic Museum

A single page on the Peninsula Library site discusses the museum.  The museum is relatively small and new, so I suppose this is to be expected.  A basic description, location, hours, and basic exhibit descriptions are all the content.  I like that there are descriptions of the exhibits, though there could certainly be a more in-depth description of the museum itself, including perhaps a history.  A link on the page goes to another site where you can view some of the museums images, but the link only goes to the root URL of that site, and it tells you to search for the images:  it would be nice if they could have a link to their stuff straight off.  It’d also be nice if they actually seemed to have images there.

There is no dynamic content on this page, though the main site has a lot more happening, such as events, donations, and a good bit of information about the other stuff the library does (including all that book stuff).  The menu is somewhat annoying to use.  It has a top level set of items that don’t go anywhere, but open up a set of other links to click.  The links aren’t actual links, probably flash buttons, so they give no tells of the underlying URL or whether they are to an external site.

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

This site is not a sub-site of others, giving the item of interest a lot of emphasis.  There are advanced data driven features such as event listings, news, a calendar, and even a membership section.  Some of the stuff that is nested in sub-sections of the site can be hard to find perhaps, especially with no search available.

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homesteading wiki

The contents of this wiki would be a guide to do basically everything you need to do around the home, with all those tips you frequently hear about aggregated in one easy to find location. Will try to find the best way to do things. Acknowledging that different people have different needs for the same home tasks, sections will provide all the best methods for different situations and reasons why that method would be chosen over another.

All people would be able to edit a talk page for each actual page, like a forum on that topic. The community will decide together what should go in the article, and the editor(s) will then commit them to the actual article.

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Hierarchical Site DB Storage

a prototype hierarchical site database will be made containing a description and discussion of everything I own organized by category. for now this’ll allow children to have only one parent, but it will need multiple parents in the future.

page display:
a nav box at the side of each page will have links to its parent, siblings, and children. children will be ordered by type
the content will be in a box. content may also contain links to other pages, especially children, when mentioned.
a site map will provide a hierarchical link list of all pages in database

each page will be a entry in a database. It will have:
a unique id to identify it
the id of its parent page (what links to it)
type/template defining display of page by type
style of page (style sheet for colors, etc of sections). parent inherited if blank. will be unimplemented at first
content of page

root page will be home, with links to all first level sub pages.

example for stuff
transportation page
children: car, sailboat, bicycle, foot
content: It is essential to get from point A to point B: to get products stored elsewhere, see different things and people, go to locations better suited for certain functions. One comes with feet with which to travel about. This mode of transportation is very easily accomplished, requires as little as oneself, allows careful manuevering in tight places, and can easily handle terrain other transportation types have trouble with. It is also relatively very slow and tiring for longer lengths and can only handle ground. A bicycle provides transportation with the body as a motor, allowing more speedy and efficient travel. The bicycle is a fairly simple device, lightweight and easily storable in most places. A car is a much faster mode of transportation that requires very little exertion on the users part. It allows great distances to be achieved within less time and easy transport of goods. It is also big and much more expensive to own and operate…
(this is a brief overview of transportation. children are linked to in content with a brief summary of each. Each child will go into more depth.)
template: this would probably be a “summary” or “directory” type template, just a overview of a category with summaries of each child. Its children would probably be as well. The car category might have children that are of a “product” type, giving a review/discussion of specific instances of the parent. the parent of a collection of “product” pages may contain a comparison summary that provides a conclusion as to which is best for a given situation.

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Design Problem Solutions/Tutorial Database

I spend a lot of time writing html, php, and css for my website to implement various ideas and create a certain look. I very often find myself having trouble with one particular thing. I search the web with google or search forums to try to find a solution. Sometimes it’s extremely simple, while others it creates new problems. As I am often working on one part of my site at once, these problems are often related. I would like a site that is a central repository for solutions for all of these problems to exist.

The site would probably be a wiki so as to get input from many people, have a large source of authors, and continue to be updated with new problems.

Posts would be much like a tutorial. They would explain what to do, and also why.

Navigation would be critical, allowing one to quickly find solutions to a specific problem as well as for a more generic learning how to do something type fashion. A good search system would exist like most wikis have, allowing search of the title as well as the content. Also needed is a good way to relate articles and navigate to them through relations. A good, specific category system would be important, with related articles in related categories. The articles should be organized in such a way that they could be followed in a general sequence towards a specific goal like a tutorial. As an example, many people like to create CMSs to manage their site. They go through the same or comparable problems to those who’ve already made them, and thus would benefit from the knowledge of those who’ve already been through it. The cms tutorial would guide them through the process, with the most basic articles being the main path they follow and the less important articles forming side paths. Branching off based upon decisions would also lead through different paths. CMSs are similar in many ways, but some decisions in the design process lead to certain differences in the design process; branches would allow one to design their CMS and choose the branches that apply to them.

This would become sort of a code repository, with code for anything already generically written, and branches in logic allowing for all possible different needs to be accomodated.

Though I came up with this for programming and web design, it could apply to any problems, and thus web-design and programming would only be sub-categories. Examples of where this could be used are in designing a car or planning the construction of a house. Numerous decisions are made in each, though the basic concepts would be used in every implementation: every housebuilder must look at the types of flooring available and decide which is best for the application; every car body design must choose a balance between factors such as aerodynamics, appearance, and capacity to accomodate other parts; every design must choose between a more costly or less costly path based on available resource (money, time, etc).

This seems to work best for problems of design.

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