After a crazy week, this one started out with many changes for the future. I've handed the keys to the latest DVD project over to Ted. As much as I would like to spent time on finishing it, I just don't have the time right now; he does. I'm willing to help on the project, I just don't have the energy or the will right now to take the lead on it. Good portions of the project are finished: the main features, some subtitles, and some extra footage. I think Ted's talented enough to start where I've stopped and learn the tools.
Officially, by the end of this week I will be living in Louisville. I can't say I'm really excited. I hope the change works for the better, life seems rather soul draining right now. The plan is to live there for 6 months to see how it pans out. I'll be living with Will in Cavalier Apartments (the same place Newt and Victoria lived). Recently, I've been thinking about buying some property. It seems like the right time to get on it.
I don't really have much words in me right now. Tired? Perhaps. More than anything else, I feel at unease. I'm not sure about what. Maybe it was something I ate. It might be a continual daily routine that has dampened my soul. Lately, I haven't felt very creative or inspired. Outside of a few days, my life has be very routine. ''Familiar breeds contempt'', perhaps? I can't put my finger on it. I'm going to have to think about it for a while.
I decided to get out of the game today. Well, mostly, I sold off everything I owned with the exception of 5 shares of NTDOY. Not that I don't want to own NTDOY right now, the company is doing great. The problem is the market's turn to shit thanks to idiots who lent out money for houses that others couldn't payback. Now everyone's freaking out which doesn't help anything. I do think things are going to be fine, but just in case I'm deciding to play it safe. After seeing the 150% return on investment within a year I decided keeping as much as I have out there might be a little greedy; a 150% in a year is nothing to scoff at. Also, it will be one less thing to worry about right now. If thing keep going up, well I didn't make ''more'' money than I could have. Oh no. But if a further pull back does happen for NTDOY, which might happen, it would be a great opportunity for a buy. The real profits, not the sales of the console itself the games, royalities, etc, for Nintendo will be coming in within the next few years.
Here I am, running on no sleep at 5 a.m. I couldn't get any sleep tonight so I might end up just staying up through it all. Tomorrow, is bound to be hell at the current rate. I guess I'll make by. It was on my planned list to do for the site, but it looks like I had some free time today. I was planning on creating a Drupal module that allowed you to edit the CSS file currently being used by your Drupal theme.
For the uninitiated, one of the powerful things about the Drupal CMS is that all the logic and content management part of the software is completely separate from the presentation of the content. What this means is for the end users is that Drupal is skinable. Being able to create skins for programs, has been a big thing for software in the past few years. Drupal allows the web developer to create two looking and feeling websites but underneath it runs on the exact same software. Themes is Drupal's word for skins. As you can see in the picture to the side, my website looks completely different using a Drupal default theme. Any account on a Drupal website can change the theme for the site in their preferences if the admin has set it up.
One of the limitations I hit when coming to Drupal from my old site was in my old admin backend I could alter the CSS to fit the theme of my site. Unfortunately, Drupal couldn't do this out of the box. If I wanted to edit the CSS, I was stuck editing the file and then uploading it to website. I was not content with this. One reason I went to Drupal was so I could do all website administration through a web interface, no more Dreamweaver, text editors, notepad, FTP software, etc. So I decided to fix this.
Alter CSS allows you to edit and CSS used by any Drupal themes. After installing the module, you can go to the theme administration section for any theme to edit the CSS. The module adds a fieldset at the bottom where you can add new style sheets, alter existing style sheets, set a style sheet to be the default used for that theme. Some bugs still need to be worked out and the code needs to be optimized, but right now its working and running on this site.
Random Interesting link about our banking system
So I'm unsure of the state of the ol' BWM tomorrow. Peter never did get a hold of me about it proceeding at his house. I suppose I could call him tomorrow about it, but unless I hear anything I'm not going to bother. I'm going to be very tired and not wanting to deal with it. Lately it seems like the state of BWM is uncertainty. We have numerous successes with BWM at Lee Manor, not the least of which was the highest attendance ever with 20+ people. However a number of members have express their concerns and feelings of uneasy with the new BWM. One member even went out said that he doesn't like the new BWM and chooses not to go to it because of this.
To this I do not know what to say. I made a conscious effort to change things with BWM because I did not like how they stagnated. I never intended BWM to be shitty movie and video game night though that's what it became. I say this not with disdain, as I love both of these things, but as a desire for longing for something else. With the real jobby job, and other factors, continuing BWM as it was not sustainable. It looks like the change has killed off fun some while making it more appealing to others. I don't know what to say, I guess you can't win them all. Perhaps a emergency high council meeting is in order.
In a broader outlook, it looks like the links in my social circle a bending and shifting around. Some links grow together or others grow apart. These things happen, there's no way around it. Change is inevitable and I welcome it.
In the future, I'd like to implement a method that could add shortcuts to other elements of drupal, not just form widgets that have a specific ID in Drupal. How and when I do this remains to be seen. The last module I'll be working on for Drupal in any short term period would be a module that allows you to edit the CSS files of any drupal theme. This is convenient for me as I'd like to edit the font colors and styles of this site without having to use anything other than the Drupal front end administration panel. This is one of the last things I would like to see with the new ''Who is''.
==Clever Game, Google==
It looks like someone picked up the word today that Google is now paying people to get business information listing for them for Google Maps. To become a [http://www.google.com/services/local-business-referrals/repfaq.html Google Business Referral Representative] you just have to fill out a form, be able to work in this country, and have a computer and digital camera to send them information about businesses. $2 for Google accepting the submission and $8 if the business verifies the information. Its pretty ingenious really as everyone involved in the entire thing wins. Google gets leads on potential [https://adwords.google.com/ AdWords] customers (this is where Google gets 99% of its money), the reps get $10 for doing little work, the business get free listings on the world's best search engine, and the rest of the public get more accurate information on Google. I signed up for the program just because I can submit a handful of businesses I already know and can acquire this information easily from.
A first for a long while, I've actually felt relaxed most of the week. I've been cleaning up things around the house and getting rid of a lot of old stuff. I'm a minimalist; I prefer my life to be as simple as possible. Part of that means tossing things that really don't have relevance to me anymore. I think a lot of people, especially in our society where there's such a blatant focus on consumerism, hold on to a lot of possessions not for need but because of the feelings they associate with their possessions.
When I think about it, there's really two type of possessions people have, functional and comfortable. The former being a possession kept because of its utility and the later being a possession kept the way it make a person feel. Its hard to draw the line between the 2 because often the two are mixed in someway, and depending on a person's priorities a possession will be more functional than comfortable or vice versa. A pure functional possession would be a tool of some type that's only gauged on its ability to accomplish a task. Something like toothpaste would be a purely functional item; outside of the task of keeping teeth clean it serves no point to possess toothpaste. A pure comfortable possession would serve no point outside of how it made a person felt. Most of this stuff falls into the abstract, art, music, etc...these are all things we do because of how it makes us feel. We possess whatever physical form its tied down to (CD, paper, etc.) so that we can revisit those feelings again.
As I talked about above, there's a lot of possession (the majority of them I'd imagine), that are a mix of the two. If this was a continuum of functional possessions to comfortable possessions, I'd imagine right in the center is food. Though not a perfect mix of comfort and function-- I would probably place it just slightly more in the function category--its something almost everyone has because of the way it makes us feel and the purpose it serves. Based on our biases, our food choices are a reflection what category we emphasize more. Likewise, depending on our hobbies and interests, we treat a lot of items the same way. Some one interested in cooking places more comfort in cookware than a person who cooks every so often.
I found myself questioning the functionality and comfort of possessions I own a lot. Like everyone, I do have a good bias against throwing out things that are based on comfort. But at some point, I recognize that only matters to a point and I throw out all but the most important stuff. I guess its tough to throw away something that you have a emotional attachment to because, in part, it's like rejecting yourself (where you've come from, what you've done), however I try to get past that silliness and look toward the future, not the past. Functionality is much easier to deal with, if I can't still use or justify using it that much, toss it. It will be of much more worth to someone else who can use it better.
This year has been very productive for me. However, I'm in a slump, or so it feels. I can't really point to one thing that's troubling me. Given time to think about it, I guess the most troubling thing for me is the lack of time I have. I increasingly feel like I have less and less time to do everything I'd like to do. Just as an example, I frequently sleep around 6 hours a day. Often this gets balanced out after the weekend, but my time sleeping has definitely shifted to smaller amounts. Sleep has suffered at the expensive of accomplishing other tasks.
Despite the fun I have with reoccurring weekly events, they feel increasingly mandatory, like a job. This isn't something I disdain, however its just one more thing I have to calculate in my time budget that looks increasingly in the red. This time spent is well rewarding, however there a lot of times I feel like I'm outside with what I'm comfortable with. I have to deal with a lot of complexity in my job, I don't feel like I should have to deal with it in the rest of my life. Maybe that's just one of those things that comes with getting older, I'm not sure.
Anyway, I think I'm in process of shifting my perspective in life. To what, I'm not sure. Right now I'm looking at my goals, a little over half accomplished, and thinking what I'd like to do to finish these things and simplify my life. One of these things, the DVD project long in hiatus, I think I've solved. Ted has much more free time nowadays than I do. He recently set up his Mac to dual boot into Windows. He can run all the software that I was using for the project; therefore, I can hand him off all the files for the project and have him take the lead. I'm still going to help him out and teach him the things that he needs to finish the project. I think in the long run this will work out better for both of us and certainly it will lead to the project getting finished instead of languishing like it has so far.
Here's the 1.0 release of the AJAX session module I had been working on. I've trimmed it down a bit. I removed its admin panel page since it will only be used in conjunction with another bit of PHP code. I'll leave it to whatever code that implements AJAX session to set safe variables. I also had to make some changes put in by drupal 5.2. I've also added the ability to set variables to be restored across authenticated users sessions.
As far as site changes, I've turned on caching for this site. That should hopefully speed up page accesses. Unfortunately, doing that turns off the AJAX session functionality for anon users, but I'm sure most people don't give a shit anyway. I also had to turn off the news aggregator. Thanks to GoDaddy's slow ass database server's, MySQL would frequently timeout as PHP was still trying to get news feeds. I'll probably implement a solution to this later down the road.
So Brandenburg is in Korea. It's kinda of surprising really. Not so much that he did it, but that he did it so quickly. I recently got a hold of the guy a month or so ago after not hearing from since Christmas. Turns out that his car breaking down was just the start of shit to come. After that the IT job he had went sour and he was out of an income. No income & no car = even tougher time to get an income. After being tired of his job opportunities, he decided to teach English in Korea (all you need is a degree, a willingness to teach, and a native tongue). He mentioned thinking about doing this at the beginning of July. I heard from this week. Turns out he's already there.
Anyway, we get in a talk about cost of living there and hits me that I don't know either the cost of Korean money, nor what its called. So punch in "korean money" into Google and find out what it gave me. As a comparison, I plugged into live.com and yahoo.com. The results speake for themselves.
I was over at [http://www.newalbanian.com/ NABC] the other day. I had to pickup my check and after a long day I needed to relax with a beer. On the way there, I didn't know if I was going to be able to stay awake for it. The last few weeks I'd been running on about 5-6 hours of sleep a day and it was catching up to me. I persevered through it however. When I got there, Tony Beard was there drinking a Bell's Double Cream Stout. I decided to join him and talk about the latest going ons.
Invariable, the topic of video games usually gets brought up. He still hadn't finished the surrogate copy of Zelda I let him borrow through Newt; my copy still remains with Craig. Soon after Ben sat down and joined our conversation as well. After some gaming talk, I brought up the Jon Chapman incident to Ben (funny enough he's mentioned it on his livejournal). Being friends with both of them, I can empathize with both of them. In the larger cosmic sense of things, both of them came at odds with each other not directly for personal reasons, but because of two people (Will & Sarah) dumping responsibility they should of taken care of before they had moved out. Left cleaning up the mess, Jon and Ben came at a clash with each other over the matter of where to put a lot of personal stuff and when to do it.
Later in the hour at Sportstime, Misty stopped by listening to Tony and I talk about video gaming; Ben had left as he had to do the job he was getting paid for. She brought of the topic of making video games and how it would be fun. She asked what type of game I would make if I could. Thinking about the question, had made me realize how gaming for me has changed. I used to describe it as my passion. If I was asked that question back then, I would have bounced off a thousand ideas. This time I just muttered a few things about genres, not very specific nor interesting. I couldn't muster much excitement this time; I was pretty apathetic toward the topic of making games.
To me, it's all about playing new games. Sure the Wii has had some fun stuff out there. But in general, gaming for me lately has been repeating genres that doesn't offer any sort of ''new and exciting'' dynamics. I'm sure that will change down the road, but for now I've more playing Nintendo's stock symbol, NTDOY, than their actual console.
Over the past year so since I dropped money in a lot NTDOY, I've found learning about financing, economics, and the stock market, as interesting as a new type of video game to play. That's my approach to pretty much anything new thing new I learn in life; how does it compare to a video game? Sounds silly, but it helps me to learn and to decide what I want to get out of new things. And so far, it seems to be working.
Initially I set a goal of $40 to get out of the NTDOY game. However after reading an [http://ce.seekingalpha.com/article/40770 article] about Nintendo's performance I've decided to stick in there in a much longer term, perhaps a couple of years. I bought some more shares at $50, today its around $60. Outside of the fact some big investors are now realizing how hot Nintendo is, and thus pumping up its price, there are number of reason to keep sticking with it:
* '''Growth''': I was surprised myself how strong demand would be. If you told me on 11/19 that we'd still being seeing shortage, I would have dismissed it. Just looking at the [http://vgchartz.com/hwcomps.php?cons1=X360®1=All&cons2=PS3®2=All&cons3=Wii®3=All&align=1 rate of sales], I imagine that by next year Nintendo will have sold 20 million consoles. The best part about this isn't so much the console sales so much as the software sales that will follow it (where the really money is made). On top of that, Nintendo is growing the video game market. Competition with Sony and Microsoft, each with their own problems with their console, is a non issue.
* '''Business Practices''' Nintendo has been historically very fiscally conservative. Their earnings are usually better than they predict, have no debt, and have billions of cash in the bank. On top of all this, they often have raised their dividends with their growth.
* '''The Yen''' Right now the Yen is undervalued to other currencies so for Nintendo, a Japanese company, its earnings are higher just by converting dollars and euros made back to yen. While I don't think this will last, you can at least count on the value of NTDOY rising due to the fact its value is based on the 1/8 yen value of the Japanese stock.
If you're looking to make some money, I'd get started and buy a couple shares on a day when the value is down.
The site is near completed. All the old content is over. You can create [http://www.shawnconn.com/user/register accounts] (with added bonus features!). All the modules work. Everything is as it's suppose to be. The only thing that remains to be implemented is stuff involving the media section and SBB content. Other than that, I will have finished with the new version of ''Who Is''. After that, it will be a long time before I create another version of the website. All the work on this site, and the numerous other sites I've been working on, has burnt me out on web design. Not that I'm not enjoying myself, but just having to do so much gets to me.
The more I've been thinking about it, the more I've decided I need to change my attitude toward doing work. Usually, when I've been starting a project I just been thinking about the end results. This good to maintain your perspective of your inevitable goal, however its bad in that it makes me feel like I need to rush things to get done. Also, another personal flaw of mine, when I tend to work on something I tend to focus on every detail, every minutia, to the point where I think about it all the time which in turn makes me feel like I should be working on it every second I have to myself. One point for passion, motivation, and focus, one point loss for free time, enjoying life, and relaxation.
Since my professional job, freelance job (with the exception of NABC), and one my personal hobbies all kind of sit in web design right now, this is clearly unsustainable. I'm going to have to take a different approach toward development of web projects. I need to have an incremental growth perspective. I need to look at the big picture then start working on little things one by one. I need to not worry about getting everything finished all at once because it's just not going to happen. More over, it's detrimental to productivity. I believe at some point, how much I'm not sure, the # hours of working on the same thing doesn't make you any more productive; the pace of productivity slows to crawl. In fact it's worse than that; at that point the time spent crawling in one goal could be spent running in another. Once you do finally get running in that next goal, your total time left in the day has dwindled down so that you may not be able to get that goal finished. Then comes in all the micromanagement of time. Ugh, time management, I get fed up with having to do it so much these days...
It seems all I talk about lately is just web design, work, or something related to it. I promise this will be my last post for a long time about:
* Web Design (or thing related to the technical details of it)
There's still much left to do on the site before its finish. However I've gotten a lot accomplished. The biggest thing is porting over all the old content. The most time consuming part isn't the act of doing it (keyboard typing and mouse clicks) so much as it laying out the design in my head. I'm a perfectionist when it comes to things like. One big thing I'm planning is expanding out the SBB section for those people who come here via sbb.org. I didn't think the site was still popular after about 3 years since the last SBB event, but looking at my site statistics says other wise. After I port over the old content I'll expand out SBB content just to satisfy those other viewers.
Enough about work for now. The last thing I was going to bring up was video games, something I don't get to do enough of lately. I recently read a fun article about video game testing that I read...I think I'll leave it at that as weariness is coming on. More to come...
As I've been working on finishing the new Who Is... I've found myself in need of some functionality that Drupal doesn't provide. After searching Google, I couldn't find any solution so I decided to create it myself. These are the first 2 drupal modules that I've done outside of work. Right now they are pretty tiny but they provide me the functionality I need.
The first is a module that uses AJAX to set session variables. This is used in my navigation bar. When a user does something to the document that doesn't require a HTTP GET for a new page, I need to send information about changes to the document. This lets the server know when a user requests a new page that a element has changed on the page and that it needs to render the HTML differently to reflect that change. In my case, the server needs to know if the user has collapsed the navigation bar so it can render the navigation bar collapsed on the next page request. If anyone else requests further development, I'll do something with it.
I'm hoping to finish the porting over to content by the end of the week. Realistically, I know its probably not going to happen. Along with my real job, I have Sportstime that I'll be working at Thursday night. Also, I'll be there Saturday; it will be the 20th year that they have been in business. I might be working, I might be hanging out, either way I'll be drinking. Kate thinks if its too busy that she might be working as well that day. I told her that I would be working before she would. After all, it's their (Kate, Amy and Roger's) celebration. I can't imagine working 20 years on the same job. Granted, it's a really good job but after 2-3 years I felt like my weeks were on perpetual repeat. Its not a bad thing, but I needed a new challenge.
My original design for the new site was to be as minimalist as possible for the navigation and site design. I like to focus pretty much exclusively on content, but it also needs to have a good look to make it pleasant to the eyes. With this new version, I think I found a pretty good balance of elegant navigation design and elegant visual design, not too flashy or complicated. As you can see on the right, thanks to Drupal, I can add blocks to the left, right, or bottom side. I will probably keep these to a minimum, but once I enable user accounts I'll leave it up to others to add additional blocks if they want.
More to come...