Monthly Archives: August 2003

While you were out…

Techie warning… the next few paragraphs will be filled with techie stuff, so feel free to skip ahead a bit. 🙂

I’ve been experimenting with code this week. I’ve switched the PCS Photo blog over to use PHP, and in the process learned a lot about PHP and how it interacts with MySQL. It’s kind of a refreshing change from the Perl coding I do all day. Perl and PHP are similar enough that moving code from one to the other is not too difficult. There were a few Perl-isms I had to correct, such as the fact that PHP doesn’t have “my” variables, or that PHP uses “elseif” instead of “elsif”. PHP also doesn’t seem to allow conditionals tacked to the end of statements. For example, in Perl you can write:

ccc| print “The value is $value” if $value; |ccc

And the print statement will only execute if $value is defined. In PHP, you must do:

ccc| if ($value) { print “The value is $value”; } |ccc

The latter may be a bit easier to understand, but the former definitely saves time and coding space if you don’t want to build a whole “if” structure around a simple line of code.

I’ve also done more tweaking of our website code. I think I may just ditch the archive link altogether… it was interesting to learn how to make it, but from the research I’ve done, the Weekly and Category archives aren’t terribly popular in terms of number of hits. We will still keep the individual entry archives around, since they’re pretty useful for when Google comes by to spider our site.

Anyway, enough of the techie part. Last night, I went to the “Mars Night” the Museum of Science|http://www.mos.org/ was holding.

BOY was it crowded. I got there at 7:15-ish. There was a line from the lobby all the way down the ticket lines almost to the garage to pick up tickets for the free planetarium shows. By the time I reached the part of the line where they were handing out the tickets, they were already giving out tickets for the 10:30 show!!

So knowing I would have to be there a while, I also bought a ticket for the 8:00 Omni show, “Top Speed,” which was only $5. Top Speed was actually very entertaining, it followed four people through their journeys in the realm of speed – an Olympic sprinter, a mountain biker, a race car driver, and an automobile engineer designing a new, faster, better-handling SUV. It was narrated by Tim Allen, who was actually not too annoying.

After the Omni show, I headed up to the rooftop for the “star party”. Unfortunately, the sky around Boston was rather cloudy, so Mars only peeked out every once in a while. There were hundreds of people up there, and they all cheered loudly whenever the clouds moved enough for Mars to show up. 🙂 There were 10 different telescopes set up around the perimeter of the roof, but unfortunately there was a line of about 100 people at each one of them… so I looked around at the night skyline for a while and then went back inside.

Inside at the end of the Red Wing, there was a guy giving demos of a miniature Mars rover radio controlled vehicle. It was really nothing more than a kids’ toy, but it was still fun to watch all of the kids playing around with it. I even learned a few things myself. 🙂

Finally, I got in line for the 10:30 Planetarium show on Mars, only to find out that everything had been moved back, and this was actually the line for the 10:00 show! The 10:30 show was going to be at 11:00…. I was just about to leave the line, but a woman said that I could have her husband’s ticket, since he couldn’t make it for some reason. So I went in to the show. I’ve always liked planetarium shows, and this one was just as good as the others I’ve seen at the MoS, very educational. The seats in there are very comfy, too… 😉

It would have been cool to see Mars through the telescopes, but the planetarium show was definitely more than worth the price I paid for it. 🙂

So that was last night… tonight, I’ve got to get the apartment whipped back in to shape before Becky gets back from the Vineyard (If you’re reading this – it’s really not that bad!!). 🙂 I’m looking forward to this 3-day weekend. We’ll be heading up to Townsend for some R&R and family time. Should be nice to see everyone.

Boston Photo Bonanza

This is a “lots of pictures of the day” entry.

Becky is taking a much-deserved break on Martha’s Vineyard for a few days, so I’m in Beverly and looking for things to do. Today, the weather was simply gorgeous, so I hopped on a train to Boston and spent several hours hoofing it around the city. I took lots of photos and put them in my Boston Photo Bonanza|http://gallery.prwdot.org/boston_photo_bonanza gallery for you all to see. I hope you enjoy them!

Also, you may have noticed a new ‘Archive Jumper’ on the right hand side of the page. This is a drop-down menu that will “jump” you to a given week of blog entries in our archives. It was rather complicated to get it set up, and it may not stay that way… but for now, give it a try.

A Mobile Blog

I’ve created a new blog, which you can see here:

PCS Photo Blog|http://home.prwdot.org/~prw/cgi-bin/pcsblog.pl

At first glance, it just looks like some photos with captions. But what’s really cool about it is how the photos and captions get up there.

My Sanyo SCP-8100|http://www.sanyo.com/wireless/handsets/scp-8100.htm phone from SprintPCS|http://www.sprintpcs.com/ can take small photo snapshots. Then, from the phone, you can add a text caption and a voice memo, and send it all to any number of email addresses, or other multimedia-capable phones.

So what I did (and I got the idea from “Maokh” at the Sprintusers.com forum) was write a program to capture the emails sent to a certain email address, extract all of the relevant information from them, and insert it into a database. Then, I wrote another program which goes to that database, selects all of the information, and displays it in a blog. Simple! 😉

So basically what this amounts to is that I can post photos, text, and audio to a blog, all by simply sending an email from my cell phone – no additional user intervention required!

I hope you all get a kick out of reading it. 🙂

Short Timer

Tomorrow is my very last day at Strawbery Banke. It has been a great summer and I’ve had a really good experience there. Because I’ve really gotten to like my co-workers there I am sad to go. But the future holds exciting things, too. Like Job Hunting!

Speaking of which…I’m on the prowl for a Educational Program development job in a Boston area museum. Any leads for me? Been to any Boston area museums that you’d like to recommend?

june the fourteenth

I was lucky enough to get to spend a large part of the weekend with miss jennifer. We left early Friday morning for the Island and packed the day full of ferry rides, lunch with an ocean view, sunning at Town Beach, swimming in the salty sea, yummy dinner and FIREWORKS! what fun.

And Saturday I ushered Jennifer into the world of blogging. She’s catching on quickly. Check out her infant blog in its new home|http://junefourteenth.blogspot.com. We’ve also added her to our link list. Happy surfing!

Rio For Sale

I’m selling my old Rio 500 mp3 player on eBay. It has 64 megs of storage, which allows it to hold about one CD’s worth of music. It is still in great condition, and it’s a great choice if you’re looking for a basic portable mp3 player. We’d probably still be using it if we didn’t have an iPod|http://www.apple.com/ipod/. If you’re interested, check out the auction|http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3041748065&category=15061&rd=1.

Be on the lookout for more auctions, as we will soon be selling off more electronic gear which we simply no longer have a use for.

What’s a boy to do?

Becky and Jenn are down on Martha’s Vineyard for the day and the evening, so I’ve been keeping myself busy by updating the website and doing other geeky things.

I’ve made some significant improvements to the blog archive system. Now when you browse individual entry archives (you can get to those by clicking on the post time at the bottom of each post), it doesn’t look like a mess. I also cleaned up the MovableType|http://www.movabletype.org/ templates, removing some things that didn’t need to be there, and adding some things that did. Speaking of MT, I also upgraded to the latest bugfix release, 2.64.

I also rewrote the way content is displayed on the site. Previously, the index script would simply read a file in, and print it to the screen. Now, however, the file content is read in to PHP, sent through a parsing process, and finally printed out on the main index page. What this means is that I can do things to the content of the page before it is displayed on the site. For example, I created a method for writing URLs in a blog entry – by simply surrounding a url with two sets of “***” and including the name of the link, and the URL of a link, the link will automatically be converted, and the proper link class will be written. This saves Becky and I from having to type in the whole long url. 🙂

Recently I’ve been toying around with Fink|http://fink.sf.net/ on my Mac systems. Fink is a system that closely resembles the Debian|http://www.debian.org/ apt package management system. It automates and simplifies the act of downloading, compiling, and installing open source software. While I do occasionally get a kick out of manually downloading a program’s source, configuring it, patching bugs, and installing it, it really is much easier to just let this program do it all for you. 🙂 An example of a very useful program I’ve installing using Fink is The Gimp|http://www.gimp.org/. The Gimp is an open source alternative to Adobe’s Photoshop|http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/main.html. It has most of the same features as Photoshop, but the most important difference is price – Photoshop is $599.95, and The Gimp is $0000000.00. I’ll take The Gimp, please!

Thanks for letting me fill up this blog with tech talk. Maybe Becky will chime in soon with some news and views. 🙂

Power Noutages

In a dramatic turn of events yesterday, the prwdot.org servers and personnel were spared from Blackout 2003|http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/08/15/power.outage/index.html. The prwdot.org server is actually located in Parsippany, New Jersey, which, although close to the NYC metro area, was not hit by the outage. In addition, the state of Massachusetts was almost entirely spared from the outage, as was most of northern New England. Parts of western Mass. and Vermont were hit, however.

There were also reports that some parts of Mount Vernon, Ohio were affected by this outage. In particular, some houses on the east side of the city were without power from approximately 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., while other parts of the city remained fully powered.

Thank you for your concern, and we now return you to your regularly scheduled website.

Where did the time go?

Last weekend, we forgot to mention, was my grandfather’s 80th birthday. So Becky and I took a weekend trip down to Schuylkill Haven, PA. Of course the camera came along too, and here are the pictures|http://gallery.prwdot.org/poppop_80th. It was great to see all the Keefer family we hadn’t seen since our wedding, and even some who weren’t able to be at the wedding.

I’ve recently finished Peter F. Hamilton’s Reality Dysfunction part 1. Overall the book was quite good. From the reviews I’ve read, his writing style gets better in the coming books. At times the story flow jumped back and forth between characters, which was somewhat interesting at first, but it did become confusing as to what was the current point of view. There was lots of really cool science fiction, though, and that’s what I like. 🙂