actuality.log


All entries tagged 'meta'

Saturday, August the 29th, 2009
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I’ve been spending a lot of time fixing up the journal lately. This effort has been two-pronged: refreshing the design and cleaning up archival content. The first of these wasn’t as painful as I initially anticipated, and I am pleased to report that the new implementation of the design is nearly complete. The second front, however, has proved to be far more challenging. I think I just may have bitten off more than I can chew.

The plan seemed simple enough in my head: Systematically go through, catalogue and clean up earlier content. What I didn’t factor in is how much the web has evolved over the seven or so years this journal has existed. Broken links, antiquated markup and bad writing ooze from every corner in the dark recesses of this place. The question is, is all that revolting enough to make me stop trying? I hope to answer this question with an emphatic no in a few months.

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Friday, August the 7th, 2009
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Same as the old theme.

After some months of idle planning, I finally commenced the process of sprucing up the journal earlier today. It’s not all there yet—I have a list of some ten significant things that are still broken—but when it’s done, it ought not to look too different from what you’ve known to come and love. I’ve just attempted to simplify and streamline the innards while making it look as consistent as I could across different browsers.

Fixes should be cropping up over the next few days as I go through things and run into problems, but you’re free to point out anything that’s particularly bothersome to you.

Happy reading loyal reader!

Tuesday, March the 31st, 2009
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I haven’t written (or done) anything site related in a while, so here’s me filling that quota.

I just realised the other day that nearly 80% of my traffic still comes from Windows users and nearly all those readers arrive on various flavours of Internet Explorer (IE). Furthermore, since I hadn’t been on Windows or seen my journal in IE for a long time, I only recently realised that things look very different there from how they do on my Mac. And when I say “different,” I mean “unsightly,” which is not acceptable.

When I first “designed” this layout, I remember making sure that things looked reasonably similar across different platforms. I guess it’s just that over the years, the numerous tweaks I’ve been making to the interface have added up to significantly different appearances on different platforms. That being the case, I think now is as good a time as any other for a reset. Toward this end, I’ve started working on a new style that looks remarkably similar to the current one, but has two main goals. One, to simplify and streamline the back-end code. Two, to make things look and feel consistent across major browsers and platforms. (Sorry, my three fucking Opera users.)

actuality.log redesign screenshot

The test page linked-to above serves to prototype and showcase the design. I’m trying to start with a clean slate by using CSS from the YUI Library from Yahoo. I’ll let you know how that works out. For now, notice how things look quite similar on two disparate environments: Internet Explorer 7 on Windows XP and Safari 3 on Mac OS X Leopard. I’m also maintaining a more detailed design status table covering different browsers and platforms.

At the end of this exercise, things should not be too different from what you’ve come to know and love. But over the course of the next few weeks, things might appear randomly broken as I move changes live into the journal. If you experience this, don’t panic. Go out, take a walk and by the time you get back, I should have things sorted out. If I seem to have missed something, do let me know!

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Monday, February the 2nd, 2009

(Can you taste the delicious irony?)

From flamewars defending one’s favourite publishing platform, to worrying too much about specific versions of obscure software plug-ins, to constantly tweaking the appearance of blogs, there’s an unfortunate tendency in the blogosphere to focus incessantly on the technical aspects of blogging to the detriment of everything else. In an attempt to buck the trend a little and bring into focus what’s really important—high-quality content—here are ten quick tips to improve your writing on-line:

  1. Focus on the things you know, enjoy and are passionate about.
  2. Never publish your first draft. Nor your second.
  3. Read your entries out loud. It’s amazing how many errors missed when silently scanning words get caught when you hear them out loud.
  4. Find a writing and publishing schedule that works for you. And stick to it.
  5. Recognise that this is not publishing on paper; things can be perpetually improved. Continue to evolve your entries even after they’ve made it to your web site.
  6. Learn to use a thesaurus and a dictionary to make your writing more apt (and stylish!).
  7. Know and engage your audience.
  8. While your writing environment (different blogging software, word processors, text editors, paper and pencil, …) is not of central concern, make sure you choose one that doesn’t get in the way.
  9. Don’t be reluctant to experiment with different writing styles until you figure out one that works for you.

I know I said I’d share ten blogging tips but only ended up presenting nine. Would you like to help me complete the list above?

Sunday, February the 1st, 2009
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If you’re still here to read this after my long hiatus, I have to commend you for being a loyal reader. So hello and welcome back, loyal reader! I hope you had a reasonably pleasant transition to the new year—amidst the higgledy-piggledy sky-is-falling-isms brought about by the crumbling ponziconomy.

I know it’s been a while, but I haven’t had very much to bitch and moan about recently. It turns out I only seem to be able to write of my own accord when I’m seriously depressed, and unfortunately, life of late has been pretty good. Also, without consciously realising it, I seem to have enacted some sort of unofficial policy across the journals. Entries over ~250 words wind up on a.l. Entries under 140 characters get posted to µ.a.l. Everything else (the vast majority of the content) ends up in limbo—unless they’re greatly condensed or expanded upon (which never happens). I realise I have to break this non-rule and find a better way of integrating both these streams into a unified consumption experience.™

While I am on the topic of not writing, I might as well point something else out. During the relaxing weeks of downtime around the new year, I started working on a very dark book. I was able to concoct a basic storyline and envision the primary characters, but since I wasn’t in a very dark place emotionally, I didn’t make much progress. At the beginning of the holidays, I tried to artificially force myself into that state by contemplating the merits of suicide. I didn’t get very far on that front either. Damn.

Anyway, the purpose of this entry isn’t to convey any real news, but to (vaguely explain-away and) proclaim that the hiatus has officially ended, and you can look forward to regular updates over the days and weeks ahead. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October the 12th, 2008

So much for writing more regularly. You wouldn’t believe how many pieces of paper I’ve lost to random rants soon devolving into even more random doodles.

Anyway, you know you’ve become really old when you only remember its your own birthday after someone else wishes you. Fuck.

Friday, August the 22nd, 2008

I was rudely awakened from a horrific nightmare a few minutes ago to the even more horrible sound of a terrified woman wailing. This was accompanied by the banging of doors, heavy stomping and other unabashed signs of an argument. This, however, isn’t a particularly new experience for me as my luck with neighbours follows a distinct pattern. But what was grating though was the woman’s annoying voice.

Even though her distress was obvious, I couldn’t once get myself to feel sorry for her or even have my usual (tainted) good Samaritan aspiration—where I contemplate knocking on their door to find out if all is well, despite the distinct possibility of getting beaten up (or worse), under the grand illusions of the payoffs accompanying rescuing a damsel in distress.

But her frickin’ whiny voice. Arggh! She’s causing my ears to bleed.

Oh, it’s suddenly gotten all quiet now.

And it’s been that way for a few minutes. Oh good, she must have run away or he must’ve killed her. Thank goodness. Now I can peacefully return to battling my own inner demons.

A programming note: Since the introduction of µ, a micro-journal featuring extremely small entries, my writing skills have gone further south.

Monday, December the 10th, 2007
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I woke up today to a message on my phone.
From my mother.
Telling me she’s going to be turning up here on Thursday.
Yes, Thursday.

Since then, I’ve begun to freak out and have frantically been attempting to sort out my dwelling environment and my life. I don’t really know why though, I’m going to fall short of her unrealistic standards anyway.

This entry was pushed through outside the regular chronology because it contains breaking news. You probably don’t know this, but the way this journal works is that everything first begins with daily tidbits on scraps of paper forming a physical journal. Under normal circumstances, portions of these scribbles are transcribed, polished upon or expanded into the entries you see here.

As you’ve realised, I haven’t been transferring anything from paper of late, and working through the regular chronology wouldn’t have allowed for this entry to show up in a timely manner.

Never to fear, there is more life news that exists on paper which will make it up here, and I don’t intend on falling from my on-average ten posts per month frequency.

Saturday, November the 17th, 2007

(Life news will resume when I know more. In the meantime…)

The past couple of years have witnessed my steady transition toward the dark side, and I believe that journey was completed yesterday. After voluntarily forking over wads of cash to the pimpled girl behind the counter, I picked up my new macawsex disc:

A picture of the Mac OS X Leopard box

And, since we’re talking about evil things, you might be disenchanted to hear that over the past few months, this journal (as well as its sister sites) have been entirely self-supported through advertising. (A cookie for anyone who finds one!)

Upholding principles and leading an upstanding life is only for those who are otherwise happy and contended in their lives. If you aren’t, all bets are off.

(Honestly, I have had life news. It’s just that I don’t have access to my notes as I’ve not been at home for the past couple of days; and I am in no mood to concoct solemn entries from scratch.)

Friday, November the 9th, 2007
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I’ve been experimenting with different looks for the journal, but I’m repeatedly failing to put together something I like.

An advertisement

Imagine the possibilities if I detach myself from shades of grey; not like that’s ever going to happen.

Update: After talking to a bunch of designer people:

An advertisement

Monday, October the 29th, 2007
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I’ve been comfortable with the way things have looked around here for a couple of years now. In many ways, I still am, but here are a few ideas I’ve been toying with every now and again. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the matter.

1. Simplicity two point oh two: Using this would be the laziest route, but I know it works well for different sorts of content. I think it needs some sort of slick header to complete it, but I know not what.

The first design option

2. Daily read: This stemmed from something I read a while ago which said “People tend to take sites that look like ‘news sites’ far more seriously than they do blogs.” And we all want to be taken seriously, don’t we? (The eagle is just a placeholder logo.)

The second design option

3. Amber lounge: The logo for this was stolen from a bar I visited while in Europe. It is the latest line of ideas I’ve been tinkering with, and the least fleshed-out.

The third design option

Perhaps the best elements from each will be amalgamated.


1 people conned into wasting their bandwidth.