New Blog Platform for 2009

As I’ve hinted, I decided to rewrite my PHP blog platform again.  I’ve been working too hard to shoehorn features I want into the old code, so it’s time for a re-imagining.  Besides, it’s just fun to write new code.

Here are some of the new concepts I’m working on:

Nano Posts.  I’ve become fond of the “micro-blogging” concept.  Most of the time, a sentence or two covers much of what I have to say on a subject, and in such cases the drudgery of having to turn that into a modest-sized paragraph or two with a clever title is too much to bear, so most of those thoughts go unexpressed.  (Which, admittedly, might not be a bad thing.)  Anyway I definitely want to incorporate the concept of Twitter-like “status updates” or what I’ll dub “nano posts” into the new platform.  A nano post will simply be a short post with no title.

The Wall.  I never thought I’d be saying this, but there’s actually some nice functionality on Facebook that I want to steal.  In particular, I like their “wall” concept, where all of your content, be it a status update, note, picture, or whatever, is mashed together and posted in one place — your “wall.”  There’s nothing special about the concept, it just expands the scope of allowable blog content.  It also fits in with a long-standing goal I’ve had of adding “attachments” to blog posts so I can post pictures or mp3s.

External Feeds.  Another concept I like from Facebook is the ability to import external data feeds and post them on the wall.  This would be very handy for integrating with del.icio.us, twitter, or whatever.  I really like the idea of having one place where people can go to find all my “stuff,” instead of having to wander all around to del.ico.us, Twitter, Google Picasa, etc.

Filters.  Previously, there was the capability to create multiple blogs by grouping posts into “channels.”  Under the new system, channels will go away and “filters” will be introduced, where blog posts can be grouped according to their tags.  This essentially moves all posts into a single blog feed, but it will still allow splitting content into different feeds if, for example, you only care about programming posts.  (It’s also important so I can send only my commentary posts to Virginia aggregators.)

Code Base.  The code base will finally be moving to PHP 5 and requiring MySQL 5.  (This is mainly because my web host supports them now.)  I’m also making a number of improvements to the extensibility and arrangement of the code through plugins.  Performance should also be improved through the use of somewhat intelligent caching of page elements.  I’m also going to use jQuery to add some modest Javascript enhancements.

Christmas Eve Tunes

In order to demonstrate to the malls and radio stations when it is appropriate to begin playing Christmas music, I now present two more Christmas carols I recorded back in 1995.

The Snow Lay On The Ground

This peppy rendition cracks me up when I listen to it. It sounds like a bubble-gum pop song.

Silent Night

I’m rather fond of this arrangement of the classic tune. I went in a different direction than most people: Not quiet and slow.

Merry Christmas!

Blagojevich, the Transition and the Shoe

I haven’t written much lately because I don’t have a lot of spare time.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  The more accurate statement is that I don’t feel like using up my spare time writing.  I tend to be a more prolific writer when a) I’m bored, and b) I’ve run out of other things to entertain myself.  (Meaning, I suppose, that writing is one of my least enjoyable hobbies.)  Unfortunately, I have an enormous backlog of home projects to work on right now, and circumstances at work don’t allow much time for personal reflection.

Also complicating the matter is that I really don’t have anything to say.  Since the election, current events — which would normally be my main source of material — are just not interesting.  Every day’s news is a repeat of the previous day:  Bailout, Blagojevich and Winter Weather, with an occasional press conference by Obama.  Sometimes they shuffle the order to make it seem like something new is going on.

As for Blagojevich, I have no doubt he’s a crook.  However, I think he’s getting crucified by the media without a fair trial, a la the Duke lacrosse players and Richard Jewell.  In that sense I’m glad he’s fighting back.  The main bit of tape that I keep seeing referenced is the one where he says (paraphrasing), “I’ve got this thing that’s valuable and I’m not just going to give it away,” which seems like pretty thin evidence on which to convict someone.  I mean, seriously, does anyone think that any governor appointing a vacant senate seat isn’t going to do some wheeling and dealing?  Anyway, I think going from “it’s valuable” to screaming headlines of “he’s selling it to the highest bidder!” is a big jump.

Not much to say about Obama’s transition, either.  I’m surprised and pleased that he is apparently going to the center with his cabinet picks.  Not sure about the wisdom of picking Hillary over Bill Richardson for Secretary of State, though.  I hope Obama is forceful enough to control all those personalities.  I find it weird but not entirely surprising that he’s on television more than the actual president.  But then Bush gives every indication that he’s phoning in his remaining days.

Oh, and one quick note on the shoe-throwing incident:  While it was rather hilarious, I think there should be serious consequences for throwing things at the president of the United States.  Also, that reporter needs to turn in his journalism credentials because he’s clearly not very objective.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel, Three Versions

In the spirit of Advent, here are three different versions of O Come, O Come Emmanuel that I’ve recorded over the years.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel from 1992

This instrumental version features a Yamaha TQ5 and, if I remember right, a yard sale electric guitar running through a Digitech rackmounted guitar effects unit.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel from 1995

This recording was actually sort of an experimental accident.  I found that it had a rather mystical, hypnotic quality to it.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel from 2000 (with guest pianist Cynthia)

This is kind of a folksy celtic version featuring acoustic instruments, a harmonica and even a bodhran, which is a celtic drum that is quite fun to play.

Enjoy.

Congress vs. The Automakers

I have to confess that I don’t understand why Congress has been grilling the auto industry over the measly $35 billion they’re asking for, when they previously felt absolutely no restraint or shame over giving away trillions to the banking industry.  I guess nobody in Congress owns auto stock…

Anyway, I was happy to see that Sen. Chris Dodd picked up on an idea that I first heard from Mrs. Krehbiel.  Give them the money… if the CEOs resign.  Chris Dodd only wants GM CEO Richard Wagoner to resign, but I would prefer it if every single member of the Big Three management structure be forced to resign.