Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Information textbooks

In the wee small hours this morning I heard "Digital Planet" on the BBC World Service (excellent geek listening!) and they featured something called "Information textbooks".  At first I was "set to stunned" and only vaguely listening because I had assumed it was some sort of e-book thing.  Well, turns out it is and it isn't.  It got me to thinking how much the world has changed.

For those too lazy to click the link yet, an extract;
"Intelligent books are different, because the information they present is only partly composed by the authors: most of an intelligent book is dynamically constructed and accumulated through conversations with its readers. More concretely, an intelligent book understands the principles and strategies of the subject matter, and uses those to answer questions, to fill in details, and to accumulate new examples as suggested by the conversations with its readers."

This is subtly but significantly different from both Wikkipedia and from e-books.  I thought how clever and potentially useful this could be for students and for research in general.  It is a bit like then I have seen notes in Library books or review slips which they sometimes put in, but it is also so much more with the way it can dynamically link in from many sources.  Truly this must make a text book "come alive" for the reader!
GitHub is the new cool thing for me!  If you code or even document, have any open source leanings, or even the mildest interest then check it out!  Needless to say I am mainframeguy over there also ;)

Monday, October 27, 2008

WOOOOoooo HOOOoooo - and on the 7th day there was BLOG!

OK, so persistence is a great thing. Especially when rewarded. I knew that in theory and with a clear headed approach all the goodness of my old blog could be rebuilt. And it has!

But it is better than that, because I kept alive the evil new broken blog too. Why you may ask? Well, next time I go for the upgrade I shall have copies of everything and shall see it working for myself and only then "switch" between the two. A simple idea, but it was a right pain to execute... I had to get to grips with the fact that my .htaccess files were being over written by the Cpanel redirecting - that was good to discover. Then I needed to introduce a one liner skeleton index.php at the domain level to point to the relevant Chyrp directory, last but not least I had to get the config.yaml files right. I think that was all? Oh no - yeah - had to have a RewriteRule in the htaccess and point it the right way from Cpanel too.

Invaluable in me finding my way was MisterBrandt over in the Chyrp! support forums. He wrote this minimalist guide which proved invaluable in enabling me to puzzle things out for myself. Now I am sorting and squaring away backups and deleting redundant tables etc - so all whall be ship shape and Bristol fashion for whatever I decide to do next (likely selective sidebar for registered users only)... I need to get to grips with theming too...

Well anyway, I have the infrastructure there now to facilitate this kind of thing. So we'll see.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Site traffic at didactic.me

this is odd, but I just checked stats and the visits to my site have NOT dropped off dramatically, yet the bandwidth has! Maybe some people even like it better this way?

Well - on another check the visits are tailing slightly now too... In either case my present strategy is to persist with the slightly broken blog, not to use the site level backup except as a very last resort (largely due to the fact it is almost a week before the event).  More significantly, there is no reason I can see why it SHOULD not be possible to rebuild an RC1 environment at the same time as keeping the diodgey RC2 I have there now... then when I get it working right move contents back to it.

From there I get to have a go at moving to RC2 again - but this time I shall do it in a manner where I keep the existing stuff live (I hope!).  This would make the changeover like flicking a switch - you'll only notice because of the new goodies!

However, I seem terribly busy with *sigh* just LIFE stuff - and after what I went through blogging seems a luxury... so watch this space (again!)

Why I am happy with Blogger

this is almost a more considered and also expanded version of the previous post.  I feel the need for blogging, of course! and also feel a need to justify having a blog here at all when my main blogging should be "elsewhere"!

firstly - it has high availability and seems reliable (even if the outages to my prime blog are of mine own making currently sometimes that may be out of my control entirely, as was the case in the timescale and confusion of this outage!).

secondly - the secondary blog has found a place to host my tech content and (as we see) give "backup blog" when required.

thirdly - I have a friend here and can help them with widget and the like for their own blog

lastly - I can link back and forth between the blogs.

Perhaps I am essentially schizoid in my blog personae!  Who knows.  It is good as it has turned out, made a positive from quite a negative scenario.  Also has made me reconsider the timing of my upgrading, since I know most of my (admitedly small audience) is Stateside I shall perform my site editting during daytime GMT, making it the wee small hours and early AM stateside.

I think that is all on the reasons front.  To drift a little from the topic... my latest strategem for the upgrading of my site is to try a rolling back to the very first Chyrp! RC1 (which will likely NOT have video, music, or pictures!) then, add the things I did to make it "cool" so getting back to where I was on October 20th.  THEN TAKE FULL BACKUP!  then and only then try going to RC2 again, after first ascertaining how much of my extended functionality is available to me.  And to try to do this on a basis where I keep both releases and databases available to me.  I think I have a better understanding of what is going on here now and with the table changes and so on understood may be able to do this.

It is impossible for me to say WHEN I can do this - mainly due to a very busy "real" life with half-term and choral performances and writing a novel in November.  However, all of those subjects are not for this blog, but for the others one which, sadly, I like to write on less whilst it looks somewhat sad and does not support comments.  I should do something - postwise there now but I find I cannot manage both (I feel "blogged out" after one post!).  I'll try to backlink when I do and am ever hopefull that some of my posts there which link here may attract comments here for me - because this commenting will work.  That could be a fifth reason!  Which neatly brings me back on topic to close the post!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

belay that order!


backup ahoy!

I have decided to roll back to a tar I made on the 14th October - just taken my database down, ignoring the RC2 posts and so should in theory be able to get things back close to where I had them - of course there will be a bit of development I have to redo for sure - but hopefully it will not take me so long doing things I already did before.  So long as I can remember what they were!

We'll see - I feel relaxed about it now.

At the risk of repeating myself

I still feel the need to say this again. I cannot quite believe it- but you have to laugh at the end of the day!:-

"...and - the latest update in the saga is that the backups are taken daily but not archived… I am in a peculiar limbo because I have made my own backup but cannot use it to recover. Going to explore whether my hosting guy can take it and supply it to the real hosting company - it must be the same format (a little large for my bandwidth - but not for theirs - could always post a DVD or something as last resort even a CD ISO would take it I think maybe…

anyway - like I say - all bets are off for recovery and life shall be very busy what with half term and so on. But I may blog a little and EVENTUALLY this blog will start to look half decent again!"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I need to save this!

Due to the credit crunch my father and I had an arguement - so I want to save this so that I can tell him we were both right!

Quadrillion is the right name, but the number of zeroes is a bit of a contentious issue - the more common version gives billion = 10^9, trillion = 10^12 then quadrillion = 10^15, a one thousandfold increase each time. The older,'English' version is billion = 10^12 (a million million instead of a thousand million) with trillion =10^18 (a million million million instead of a thousand thousand million) and quadrillion = 10^24 (which is fairly obviously derived). Very few people use the latter version now, as the newer 'American' version has replaced it pretty much everywhere except in old books. So you could possibly both be right. Hope this helps!

Didactic update (lack of) CAPS LOCK DAY and mIRC chyrping

You may find this blog appars quite busy during the time I am waiting for my own blog to come back - than it will suddenly go quiet until such time as some tech issue hits me.

OK - I could be paranoid and be thinking along the lines of, “if you build it they will come”…. leading me to the feeling of “if you destroy it they will all run away”!
But I prefer to think that anyone who has been interested enough to visit the site might have a level of patience or possibly even a sharpened interest in what happens when my didactic site is recovered.  I’ve been waiting over 48 hours now… so I am no longer going to make any forecasts.   

enough silliness - below is a copy paste of an idea I want to remind myself which the StarDust theme author and I bounced around in Chyrp IRC - it will give me something to write up in the forums if I ever have an idle moment.

[05:28] yea, i run the latest git revision whenever possible
[05:28] i've been on hold over the past couple days
[05:28] due to the tag changes
[05:28] and BTW - you picked a neat IRC nick - keeps you way down the googling (unlike moi!)
[05:29] * Mainframeguy nods
[05:29] fixed now - you must be happy bunny
[05:29] but i usually crash test his releases as soon as they come out
[05:29] thanks
[05:29] not entirely fixed, i need to run the upgrader
[05:29] ah
[05:29] which isn't fixed yet
[05:29] ah
[05:30] you're making me nervous
[05:30] about attempting upgrade again
[05:30] i'd hold off until he completes the tagginator migration
[05:30] I see a few others looking good on RC2 no probs though
[05:31] yeah - so first visibility of that would be on download page? (I am quite the n00b)
[05:31] rc2 is probably fine
[05:31] git is even newer
[05:31] sorry, i misread from the beginning
[05:31] sure - but that is source level, right?
[05:31] yea, git is what he changes from day to day
[05:31] rc2 came out on oct 12
[05:31] I am pending on unix boxen
[05:32] so the one on chyrp.net is from oct 12
[05:32] remote host makes me avoid git
[05:32] I know I should get over that
[05:32] how long is it from git to downloads page?
[05:32] i just download the zip from github and use winscp to overwrite files
[05:32] I need to change my ways

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chyrp RC2 fail

Today I was asked "are there stairs in your house" in #Chyrp on Freenode.

'nuff said on THAT score.

Memes aside - I seem to have become a blogaholic to the extent that when my Chyrp upgrade from RC1 to RC2 failed and I had to ask for a site backup (bit drastic for a restor, I know - but I am keen to be a "useful" beta for Alex Suraci and help others suffer less pain on the upgrade.

The waiting on the backup has dragged on a bit, and seven hours or so is about my limit for IRC so, with my Chyrp! blog at didactic.me out of action I gradually gestated the idea to have a "vanilla" blog here in which I shall talk exclusively of Chyrp and matters, shall we say, gravitating towards the geeky.

If you are wondering what Chyrp does - well it blogs... and it can be used in many and varied ways - but it is young code and unbloated (which I tend to find Wordpress blogs to be).  I like it because I can code a bit and it gives me scope to do that in combination with writing (on the blog of course!) Which I also enjoy.  I'm not pimping my blog as the best example of what you can do with Chyrp! - in fact right now it is possibly the WORST!  Then again it IS broken right now.

I shall try to remember to post here if I find a site which I regard as a stunning example of it being used in a way that may not be to my exact tastes (hopefully that will be mine own).  The closest I can come to that right off the bat MIGHT be AlisonW's so take a look if you like.  She is pretty cool in herself - made a couple of extensions and might have more in the pipeline (that's how we came to be in contact).

This is probably enough for an openning post.  Because the next thing I am going to do is see just how much I get tied down by Blogger (probably QUITE a lot by comparison with the freedom I am used to).  This is in large part due to the wonderful Marmite Lover - who asked me to see if she could do a few things emulating my blog (before I borked it).

Got to find something to do when I cannot blog or tweak my site pending the backup!  And frankly starting this blog is a cheap way for me to have a secondary blog and try to keep any "geek creep" from infecting my blog... reminds me of the term future creep I just heard - a whole new take on creeping elegance!

PS - the dark theme is not entirely to my tastes, but is in tribute to the Chyrp! site, given the subject matter of the blog's inception.