New Coat of Paint!

So, that was a year, wasn’t it?

I’m not going to make any excuses, but 2017 was quite a year on many fronts.  Folks far more able to describe it clearly talked about how everything going on with our country and our politics and in the world made it nigh impossible for them to focus on, well, much of anything.  And so it was for me.  Updating here or writing or much of anything else besides just getting by got pushed to the background.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

But, it’s a new year and time to start looking forward and pulling myself out of the hole I’ve been living in for much of the last year (and occasionally wanting a blanket and a great deal of comfort), brushing myself off and getting moving forward again.

I suspect the new year will be better, at least in some ways.

Personally, there are changes for me as I’ve started a new job which is much closer to where I live.  Alone, this frees up more than an hour a day of additional time.  I don’t loathe climbing in to a car to drive 2-2.5 hours per day.  You can only listen to so many podcasts and I have listened to many.

I have found time to do some Making of stuff, and I’ll post at least the results of some of those.

I updated the front page of the site from something arguably artisanal (in the non-mechanized sense) and bespoke (in the made to order sense) while at the same time being of questionable quality and definitely showing it’s age to something that at least looks like it was made in the last few years.  That gave me a chance to look in to some more modern libraries like Bootstrap, so that’s good.



I’ve been using a couple of WordPress installations on my site for a couple of years now, one for the front page and one for the blog.  The main page has been h*a*c*k*e*d three times in the last three months.  Basically malicious code over-writes the main WP install and does Bad Things ™ and the site is useless after that.

Read more

Small site update

I did some simple hacking of the php for the blog.  For the non-techies, that’s the language that’s used for the dynamic creation of some of the content.

In this case, all I did was add some basic checking for the current month to roll the header image at the top through a series of per-month header images to add some variety as the months progress.  In the end it was two lines of php.  (And a couple hours picking header images that I could crop to 970×140, adding the month in the upper left corner in Photoshop, etc). I didn’t know (and don’t know) php, but it’s not difficult for something so trivial and it adds a bit more variety to the page.

Hacking a Technical Interview

This video hits on three great techniques for making the most of a technical interview.

While the technical skills are important, if not critical, the soft skills are the Jedi Mind Tricks that can make the difference in an interview.

It’s easy to underestimate the power of these interpersonal skills.

Everyone has been on the receiving end of these techniques, but it can be a valuable thing if you can apply them well.

But, as with all super power and Jedi Mind Tricks, use your powers for good, not evil.

Found via Lifehacker

Hacking the Technical Interview

New Year, new site

Okay, I might usually try and do this in January, but that didn’t happen.

Now it’s February.  And the latter part of February at that and I’m updating my site.

I’ve done some sort of redesign most years since I’ve had the site.

I started this back in 1999 according to my records.  Using the Internet Archive (or Wayback Machine) it looks like goes back to at least the start of 2000 in various incarnations.

So, this is the start of probably the eight year of having a personal web page.

I was thinking about why I have a personal web page.  Sometimes it’s been to share things like when I was doing CG animation (the results can still be seen at Desktop Studios).  Sometimes it’s been to share photos from trips with family.  Much of it has probably been just to have something to learn about and play with.  I’ve learned HTML and now some CSS for web styling and even touched a bit of PHP.  I’ve spent time working with Photoshop for graphic design.

Then when I was in the midst of fiddling with the front page yet again, I wondered why the heck I was doing this.  Do I care that perhaps no one will see the result or read anything I happen to write?  Maybe not.  If someone creates something and no one sees it, does the act of creation still matter?

If an artist (not that I’m claiming the status) were to paint his entire life but hide the results in an attic until his death, sharing with no one, is it still art?  Does art require the participation of a viewer to be art?  I don’t know the answer.

Same thing applies to the web page and this writing.  If no one were to read it or view it or interact with it, is the act of creation sufficient to justify the time and effort?  Maybe so.

Maybe it is enough to simply create for the sake of creation.

And maybe it’s enough to make something just to learn how.

I have built a few Adirondack chairs using a plan I found on the web (google “Jake’s Chair” to see what built).  Does it matter that I only made them for myself as an exercise in woodworking?  I never sold them or shared them with others, other than offering a chair to a visitor.  But I still made it and enjoyed the act of creation and the process and the learning.

Interesting side note: There is someone selling those chairs for $225, including the footstool.  They’re asking $225 for both.  I assume that’s for a built chair and stool.  Even with (relatively) inexpensive cedar, I think the materials are close to $100 if I recall.  Maybe $80.  That means the maker is netting let’s say $150 for the work.  It’s not a tough thing to build, especially after you have built a pattern, some blanks and done your first chair.  If they’re clearing $100, they’re making … maybe $10/hour?  I’m not sure I’d be willing to build them at that rate.  A pair can consume a weekend really easily, especially if you seal and/or stain them.  Anyway, that’s off topic, but does touch on the subject of art or craft for profit.  That’s another good reason to create, if you can pay for your time.

Back on topic: Is it sufficient for a personal web site, or any other crafted thing, to exist solely for the exercise, for the personal enjoyment and for the learning?  Sure, I think that’s reasonable.