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Author Topic: Web log hosts: does anyone know of good ones?
Michael Edwards
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Icon 1 posted March 13, 2004 12:46      Profile for Michael Edwards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
      I haven't been along and geeked here for a long time, but I did post a few dozens of messages soon after I joined, and joked a bit about computer names in the "I Love Computers Forum", related on another forum a story from my school-days about being locked inside lockers, and gave my views on the meaning of the universe on yet another forum - and a few other bits and pieces. (You will have to search in The Big Archive to find much from me. We're talking perhaps 2 to 3 years ago. But I did try to get into this group in quite a big way.)
      Just now I have revisited the Geek Culture forum site and read over some of the messages, and seen people I used to recognize. Perhaps I don't really belong here long-term - perhaps I'm not a true geek; but I come back every now and then, and feel I'd like to belong - and can feel quite nostalgic reading over again some of the old threads of discussion I knew so well, and laughing at the whimsical, geeky humour, which matches my own humour in many ways. At 50, though, I do wonder if I'm beyond a place like this, and can not truly belong.
      So many of you may be new to this forum, and some may be older members who knew me. This is my first post for a couple of years. I hope a few remember who I am, and a hallo or two from anyone who knew me would be nice.

      However, I would like to ask for information from anyone, please, who can supply it.
      I started writing a web log a couple of months ago, just to see if it would work - and it may do so. It is on my own web site so far, but it is apparent that, if it continues to grow at the rate it has done the last couple of months, I am going to rapidly run out of room on my web site for the web log and/or I will have to clear away many other legitimate pages to make way for it.
      I have heard of "blogging" sites which you use to post your web log entries. The schemes seem to vary: some seem to post the entries back on your own web site, but offer the use of their software - others seem to store the entries on their own site, and either charge for this, or else it's free but you have to accept banner advertising.
      I wish to ask people what web sites for doing web logging they would suggest. This may seem simple, since there are a lots about to suggest. However, I have three requirements which will probably narrow down the possibilities considerably:

1.
      The site I choose must not force me to post in reverse chronological order, as it seems most web logs do. I have always thought this is illogical, that it is illogical to read from recently back into the past, whereas causation in events works from the past into the future, and it would therefore make better sense to read it that way, too.
      So I want a site that will allow my web log entries to be in forward chronological order.
      I notice that the forums on *this* site start with the first entry at the top, with further entries coming below them - so perhaps geeky people will have some agreement with my opinion that you should start at the beginning, and end at the end - and not (illogically) the other way around.

2.
      Related to 1.: Sometimes I reread an entry and wish to add slightly to it, or to correct errors or change midjudged comments perhaps made in the heat of strong feeling. Yet I want such corrected entries to remain under their remain date, and not shift to a new date reflecting when I made the change.
      I would probably add "Edited on such-and-such a date", and would even like to consider the use of another colour to mark the particular passages I've changed - but I don't want this to change the basic heading of the entry.

3.
      I wish the text-editing window in which you write to be set up in a way that allows me to indent the first line of new paragraphs by 5 spaces, the way you see in books.
      On the Internet, most people have forgotten to paragraph like this, or else they get too lazy to do it, or sometimes software doesn't allow them to do it (completely inexcusable software design, in my opinion); but indenting paragraphs like this was the way I was taught at school, and it's the way found in most books - and that's good enough for me.
      I wish the final result to show exactly the way I type it out. I often use indenting rather in the manner of a computer programmer, to show hierarchical relationships between material, and I want any web logging site's software to allow me to do this.
      In writing this post, I have indented paragraphs by 5 lines, but I doubt that they will actually finally show that way if I just leave it at that. So, in addition, I am going to add the H.T.M.L. non-breaking spaces before each paragraph. If this post turns out paragraphed normally, it will be only because of this. Without that, I suspect my indentations would be removed, and my paragraphs all start bang against the left margin.
      Well, in my web log, I don't want this. It must allow me to choose the style of paragraphing I choose. Since, if I stay with it, I will be committing significant amounts of time to the writing and setting it up on the site, I really do want to be able to do it right.

      I'm just wondering if anyone knows of blogging sites that can meet these conditions, and whether they could let me know where to find them, and how they work.
      I'm in Victoria, Australia, if it makes any difference. But I don't suppose it matters if the service I use is on the other side of the world - although it would be helpful if they spoke my own language of English.
      Thanks for any ideas anyone may have.

                              Regards,
                              Michael Edwards.

Posts: 70 | From: Healesville, Victoria, Australia | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
supergoo

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Icon 1 posted March 13, 2004 16:25      Profile for supergoo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hi Michael! I haven't posted in a month or two, but welcome back!
I have a livejournal, and with livejournal you can add all the HTML you want to your journal entries and you can edit entries as you described. However, the entries are in reverse chronological order, which, IMHO, is more convenient in a blog because you don't have to shuffle through all the old entries to find the most recent one. However, livejournal doesn't have banner ads.
happy searchings!
-supergoo

--------------------
Y los sueños, sueños son.

Posts: 675 | From: Boston 'burbs | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged
Michael Edwards
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Icon 1 posted March 14, 2004 00:15      Profile for Michael Edwards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Hi Michael! I haven't posted in a month or two, but welcome back!
      Thank you. I think you weren't here when I last posted, and I see lots of new names, and a few old ones still around. It seems to move quickly if I don't keep up with things.

quote:
I have a livejournal, and with livejournal you can add all the HTML you want to your journal entries and you can edit entries as you described. However, the entries are in reverse chronological order,
      Well, yes - I've run into this all the time. Thanks for the idea, but I feel rather strongly about this, and don't wish to accept reverse order yet.
      And it reminds me of my long-time gripe that so much software these days is dictatorial. For example: H.T.M.L. makes it very difficult to indent any text from the margin; on-line forms eliminate indenting and sometimes even new lines before you see the final result; and now we have web logs insisting on reverse-ordering. There are probably other examples I've noticed, but can think of at the moment.
      I think all these things should be freely decided by the author, and that the software should simply enable that choice, without interfering with it. In other words, it should allow the writer control over his or her own work, and not enforce a style of its own.
      I learned computers using MS-DOS programs around 1990 - and I don't know if I'm imagining it, but I fancy that software back then (at least the best software) allowed the user greater control over such things, in contrast to modern software which (subtly or not-so-subtly) seems to try to impose a certain style or approach.
      If I want to have a web log, do you think I've got any chance of finding a service that won't try to dictate my approach to these matters?

quote:
which, IMHO, is more convenient in a blog because you don't have to shuffle through all the old entries to find the most recent one.
      That's assuming that readers come back every single day (or however often you add entries), and keep up with it, so they only have to read the most recent entry on any given visit. Much more likely, I think, is that they will come back every few weeks or months, and read through a whole bunch of stuff.
      However, I plan to have at the top an instant link to the most recent entry - so I feel that adequately addresses that issue.
      The problem I have with reverse order is that it is so illogical! - it quite grates with me, and I don't know why so many things these days are reverse-ordered; it was something I had never even heard of until 5 years or so ago. After all, life itself happens from the past to the future - I can see no logic whatever in reading it in reverse. I guess readers can have their freedom of choice on how to read any document - but, given that I have to use one arrangement or the other, I would prefer to favour that which seems logical than that which seems illogical.

quote:
However, livejournal doesn't have banner ads.
      I suppose it isn't free, then? If it is, how do they make any money out of it, with no advertising? I don't necessarily mind paying for it, but I want to know roughly what it costs.

quote:
happy searchings!
      I suspect I will be searching for a long time.

      On a tangent...

quote:
-supergoo
      Does your nickname come from the "grey goo" idea in nanotechnology?
      Apparently an early fear about nanotechnology was that replication would get out of control and turn all available matter into useless copies of nanoparticles, called "grey goo" - but experts now apparently think it would be quite difficult to reach this scenario, because you would have the problem of how those replicating particles would get energy to do it. Still, biological cells and microorganisms have solved this problem - so I guess the "grey goo" scenario can't be completely ruled out.

                              Regards,
                              Michael Edwards.

Posts: 70 | From: Healesville, Victoria, Australia | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Flashfire
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Icon 1 posted March 14, 2004 02:14      Profile for Flashfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hello,

If you know HTML, which it sounds like you do by your posts -- why rely on a blog software? After all, they're really for people who don't know the language but still want to publish.

You can simply write what you want in vanilla HTML, and maybe jazz it up with a little Java script if you're so inclined, and publish it via a webhosting service. That way, you won't be beholden to the blog software's restrictions.

If money is a big issue, most ISP's provide about 5 meg or so of space with a typical PPP account, for free. HTML doesn't take up much room, so that should be plenty of space for your log. If you want more, there are tons of hosting companies that don't cost too much, or you can always try to ingratiate yourself with a web geek or two and sneak in a subdomain on their account.

Free yourself of the blogging tyranny! [Wink]

--Flash

--------------------
"No silicon heaven? That's absurd!
Where would all the calculators go?"
--Kryten, Red Dwarf
-------------------------------
My Web Comic: NSTA: Semper Vigilantis

Posts: 368 | From: State of Denial | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Orpheus
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Icon 1 posted March 14, 2004 10:32      Profile for Orpheus     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well I'm not too sure about the details of bloging software out there, but there must be some setting in blogging software that allows you to sort in ascending order. Its not that big of a change. I don't use any personally so I couldn't tell you how to go about it nor which software is easy to configure. The indentation thing is probably a bit trickier since by convention HTML interpreters ignore more than one consecutive space character and just ignore all other whitespace. I think your best bet would be a short javascript function in the post submission page to read through a new post and substitute non-breaking space characters for long strings of single spaces and maybe line break tags for newline characters.

As for the hosting, I use www.fuitadnet.com and am quite happy so far. It's $5 per month for the least expensive plan which among other things includes 3 GB of storage and 25 GB of bandwidth per month. And if you decide to build your own blogging package that price also includes PHP and the ability to set up MySQL databases.

--------------------
my cats make me crazy

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illuminatus
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Icon 1 posted March 14, 2004 13:37      Profile for illuminatus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I got lazy writing my blogs in vanilla HTML. Took too long. So I wrote a back end using PHP. I'll be revamping it soon using PHP and MySQL. But writing your own HTML and uploading files each time takes too long.

--------------------
-illumina+us
http://illuminatus.oczombies.net/
I suck at life IRL

Posts: 124 | From: Boston, MA | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Flashfire
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Icon 1 posted March 14, 2004 19:44      Profile for Flashfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Orpheus:
Well I'm not too sure about the details of bloging software out there, but there must be some setting in blogging software that allows you to sort in ascending order. Its not that big of a change. I don't use any personally so I couldn't tell you how to go about it nor which software is easy to configure. The indentation thing is probably a bit trickier since by convention HTML interpreters ignore more than one consecutive space character and just ignore all other whitespace. I think your best bet would be a short javascript function in the post submission page to read through a new post and substitute non-breaking space characters for long strings of single spaces and maybe line break tags for newline characters.

Nah, I don't use any blogger either -- I'm too much a control freak, really. Besides, not much happens in my life that I feel I need to publish. My entries would go something like this:

"March 15th: Did laundry.
March 16th: Took cat to vet."

you get the idea. [Smile] I prefer to make up characters who have much more interesting lives. (insert blatant plug here)

Back to the original topic: the indenting thing isn't that hard to overcome if you take the time to learn Style Sheets -- they're a pain in the arse at the beginning, but are a godsend once you learn 'em. You can indent, change fonts sizes in paragraphs, pretty much any formatting you want. Long live the <div class="..."> tag! Multiple spaces are still an issue, though.

quote:
[QB}As for the hosting, I use www.fuitadnet.com and am quite happy so far. It's $5 per month for the least expensive plan which among other things includes 3 GB of storage and 25 GB of bandwidth per month. And if you decide to build your own blogging package that price also includes PHP and the ability to set up MySQL databases. [/QB]
What a coincidence: that's the company I use. I'm also very happy with them; they've never been anything but nice, even when answering my stupid newbie questions. They just upgraded their servers, too -- it went so smoothly that I don't think I would have noticed if they hadn't announced it. It's a good company, and I'd recommend 'em to anyone.

--Flash, who isn't being payed commission, contrary to popular belief [Big Grin]

--------------------
"No silicon heaven? That's absurd!
Where would all the calculators go?"
--Kryten, Red Dwarf
-------------------------------
My Web Comic: NSTA: Semper Vigilantis

Posts: 368 | From: State of Denial | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Atmosphere
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Icon 1 posted March 15, 2004 12:54      Profile for Atmosphere   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have Six Apart's MovableType content publishing system running on my webserver for my blog. They also offer a blog hosting service using the same engine: TypePad.
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Orpheus
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Icon 1 posted March 15, 2004 16:12      Profile for Orpheus     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Its a small world wide web afterall?

[Wink] Their tech support is great and they get back to you almost immediately even if it is 2am on a saturday.

About the style sheet solution though, I don't think that's exactly what he's looking for. If you made a class that indented the first line of every paragraph then you'd also be forcing a style on the author.

--------------------
my cats make me crazy

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Flashfire
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Icon 1 posted March 15, 2004 23:31      Profile for Flashfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Orpheus:
Its a small world wide web afterall?

[Wink] Their tech support is great and they get back to you almost immediately even if it is 2am on a saturday.

About the style sheet solution though, I don't think that's exactly what he's looking for. If you made a class that indented the first line of every paragraph then you'd also be forcing a style on the author.

ARGH! Now I've got that song in my head -- damn you, damn you to DISNEYLAND! [Razz]

Anyhow, what I meant by the style sheet solution was that the author can create his/her own style -- a <div class="..."> can be created, and the author can choose to use it or not. It is not automatically used. Admittedly, most other things about style sheets are automatic, but since the style sheet itself is created by the author, he/she can change it at will. It isn't forced on you like formatting in blogging software. You have to specify every style issue, nothing is assumed.

I think the reason that software is becoming more dictatorial is that it is also becoming more accessable -- most people (gross generalization, I know -- just go with it) don't want to put in the effort to learn HTML and Java Script and Cascading Style Sheets and maybe bits of XML just to publish a weblog. So the Blogsoft companies create programs that do most of it for you -- things are assumed. This means that there are less options for the author, unfortunately, but that's usually something consumers are willing to forgo for the convenience of being able to just type in their diaries without all those messy tags cluttering things up. Does that make sense?

The best example of this type of evolution I've ever seen is in In the Beginning was the Command Line by Neal Stephenson (required reading for geeks, IMO) -- where he attempts to explain why O/Ss evolved from simple DOS/*NIX command line interfaces to the slick, useless GUI of XP. He does it much better than I can...

--Flash, stepping off the soapbox now

--------------------
"No silicon heaven? That's absurd!
Where would all the calculators go?"
--Kryten, Red Dwarf
-------------------------------
My Web Comic: NSTA: Semper Vigilantis

Posts: 368 | From: State of Denial | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Orpheus
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Icon 1 posted March 15, 2004 23:59      Profile for Orpheus     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
True 'nuff. So just like anything else, the more control you want to have the more work you've got to put into it.

Oh and sorry about the song thing Flash [Eek!]

--------------------
my cats make me crazy

Posts: 554 | From: Galveston, TX | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
Michael Edwards
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Icon 1 posted March 16, 2004 17:43      Profile for Michael Edwards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
      Thanks for the further suggestions, Flashfire, Orpheus, and illuminatus (and supergoo before that). At the risk of posting rather a lot, I wish to respond to certain suggestions, and/or invite further discussion. These are interesting issues to me.

quote:
Quoting Flashfire:
If you know HTML, which it sounds like you do by your posts -- why rely on a blog software? After all, they're really for people who don't know the language but still want to publish.

      Yes, I do know basic H.T.M.L. quite well, and already have my own web site, which I code completely myself in WordPad, with no other tools than "search-and-replace" to do often-repeated bits of code. And any more advanced H.T.M.L. that I don't know, I can certainly find out without too much difficulty. I hate the bloated, unreadable code produced by, for example, Microsoft's FrontPage Express, and (apparently) by lots of other H.T.M.L. editors, too. That's one reason I do my own coding.
      (... Hmm... it occurs to me that I seem to hate so much to do with Micro$oft - I think it surely can't be a coincidence.)
      Your comments do make me think that perhaps I'm misunderstanding (and overestimating) what web logging is about. I was thinking of it more as a web site where you post your web log, than as simply software you use to produce the posts. If web logging software or sites produce similar unreadable and bloated code, I simply couldn't live with it - I somehow didn't think of that possibility.

quote:
You can simply write what you want in vanilla HTML, and maybe jazz it up with a little Java script if you're so inclined,
      I might leave the Java script alone. I don't know anything about that: I suppose I could learn it if I found a need for it, but am repelled from it by the fact that it so often seems to be the cause of web pages crashing, and also by the possibility of Java script containing viruses. I do put style into my web pages, but I use H.T.M.L. solely for that, and it seems adequate so far (and complex enough, without adding a whole new layer of complexity).

quote:
and publish it via a webhosting service.
      You mean such as my service provider, with whom I already have my web site?

quote:
That way, you won't be beholden to the blog software's restrictions.
      You make a convincing case, when you put it that way. Web site space is going to be an issue for me - but apparently some of the blogging services post to your own web site anyway, and that wouldn't solve that problem.

quote:
If money is a big issue, most ISP's provide about 5 meg or so of space with a typical PPP account, for free.
      Yes - I have 5 Mb., and it's already full of other pages I've written, which I don't want to remove. I've already written an amount of web log over the last couple of months that suggests I will just need lots of more space if I wish to continue, or else have to remove other pages I really don't want to remove. So I guess I was thinking of a web logging site as a possible solution to upcoming space problems.
      Also, I've been told that web logging sites do automate some of the more tedious aspects of writing web log pages. I know how to code this - but this doesn't mean that I don't find it rather time-consuming, especially managing the deeply-nested tables the format of my page requires, and I do often make mistakes which then have to be fixed.
      So I suppose ease of producing pages was also a factor in my thinking - although I'm not prepared to surrender control of the format of my own pages simply for the sake of ease of use. And I would hesitate to sacrifice readability of code for the sake of ease - because I might one day still have to directly modify it myself.

quote:
HTML doesn't take up much room, so that should be plenty of space for your log. If you want more, there are tons of hosting companies that don't cost too much, or you can always try to ingratiate yourself with a web geek or two and sneak in a subdomain on their account.
      I don't think I know anyone I can get a free account with. I suppose the other choices are either putting up with advertising on my pages, or paying. I could consider accepting advertising, if the content and style of it wasn't too disagreeable or intrusive or contrary to my own values - but I would prefer no advertising. Of course that means paying, which I could consider - like many other things, I guess this would depend on how much it would cost.

quote:
Free yourself of the blogging tyranny!
      If there is no advantage to using blogging softwares and/or sites besides overcoming a lack of knowledge of H.T.M.L., then I suppose it is a tyranny I can easily overcome. It's beginning to look as if I was overestimating the advantages of using such software/sites.

                              Regards,
                                Michael.

P.S.
      I've come back to "Geek Culture" after a break of a year or two, as I said before, and in earlier messages in this thread I forgot to post using the feature that places quoted text from a previous message into the box - so I had to do it manually.
      In doing this, unfamiliarity with the quoting syntax has also caused me to not quote quite properly: I forgot to attribute a quotation, and I failed to put it in bold, as is often done here. I hope I manage to do it better this time.

Posts: 70 | From: Healesville, Victoria, Australia | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michael Edwards
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Icon 1 posted March 16, 2004 17:52      Profile for Michael Edwards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Quoting Orpheus:
Well I'm not too sure about the details of bloging software out there, but there must be some setting in blogging software that allows you to sort in ascending order. Its not that big of a change.

      It may not be from the program writer's point of view (it might be as simple as a single line of code somewhere that reads something like "SortOrder := Ascending;", instead of "SortOrder := Descending;"); but is it something the user of the service has any control over at all? Or if you can write complicated scripts that do control it, it maybe quite a complex matter.

quote:
The indentation thing is probably a bit trickier since by convention HTML interpreters ignore more than one consecutive space character and just ignore all other whitespace.
      Now that is a brain-dead convention, if ever I saw one: I can see plenty of disadvantages to it, and not a single advantage.
      Widely-understood conventions may be a good enough things in themselves; but this illustrates to a T my long-held belief that poorly-designed conventions can be worse than no conventions at all, especially if the poorly-designed conventions are enforced even in situations where they don't fit well. At least in a no-conventions jungle, people with sufficient knowledge and/or patience can cobble together something that does what they want to do.
      I think a lot of modern software follows conventions that I find poorly-designed; and I preferred the MS-DOS approach where conventions, although existing, were not so strong, and program designers were more free to design a user interface that worked for that program. Some of the old programs were so marvellously designed that they commanded from me an admiration, even an aesthetic appreciation, that I have not so far been able to bestow upon modern Windows programs, which to me have a same-size-fits-all, mediocre, grey, drab sameness that, in trying to be universal, doesn't fit anything particularly well.
      When I learned computer programming about 15 years ago (Pascal, not BASIC), I believed that software design was almost the embodiment of qualities such as reliability, logic, efficiency, and elegance - however, I have long since lost that belief, with lots of more recent things I've seen.

quote:
I think your best bet would be a short javascript function in the post submission page to read through a new post and substitute non-breaking space characters for long strings of single spaces and maybe line break tags for newline characters.
      I manually put in the non-breaking space characters. I think I would be best advised to solve the more basic problem of how to deal with my web log, before introducing new issues such as Java script.

quote:
Winters nigh / Spirits pry / Fear is spread / Love is shed / ... / and hope?
      An interesting little quasi-haiku. I wonder about what it could mean.
      I got fascinated by haiku some years ago, and collected lots, and even wrote some of my own.

                              Regards,
                                Michael.

Posts: 70 | From: Healesville, Victoria, Australia | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michael Edwards
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Icon 1 posted March 16, 2004 17:55      Profile for Michael Edwards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Quoting illuminatus:
I got lazy writing my blogs in vanilla HTML. Took too long. So I wrote a back end using PHP.

      What's PHP? I guess it's too complex to actually answer here - but can you refer me to a web site about it?

quote:
I'll be revamping it soon using PHP and MySQL. But writing your own HTML and uploading files each time takes too long.
      So far, this has proven to be right - although I'm still thinking I should be able to set up a system of templates where the basic code is stored in a file, and I just take a copy and fill it in properly, then stick it into the web log file.
      I am already doing this, but it is time-consuming, because I don't think I've designed it right, and find it difficult to understand its structure. But, at least in theory, it seems to me that I should be able to make it simple and clear enough to use efficiently.

                              Regards,
                                Michael.

Posts: 70 | From: Healesville, Victoria, Australia | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michael Edwards
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Icon 1 posted March 16, 2004 18:22      Profile for Michael Edwards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Quoting Flashfire:
quote:
Originally posted by Orpheus:
blogging software.... I don't use any personally...

Nah, I don't use any blogger either -- I'm too much a control freak, really. Besides, not much happens in my life that I feel I need to publish. My entries would go something like this:

"March 15th: Did laundry.
March 16th: Took cat to vet."

you get the idea. I prefer to make up characters who have much more interesting lives. (insert blatant plug here)

      I used to write fiction - or I tried to. I think I'm almost the opposite to you, in that I am interested in writing non-fiction (a web log) in which I comment (in varying levels of depth) on real issues, because I couldn't somehow make fiction writing work for me.
      I don't lead a life that would be interesting to anyone; but I intend to write about various more or less public subjects on which thoughts occur to me - not about my own life at all. I suspect I live largely in the world of ideas, and perhaps don't have a sufficiently sensitive understanding of human nature to be able to create good fictional characters.

quote:
Flashfire:
Back to the original topic: the indenting thing isn't that hard to overcome if you take the time to learn Style Sheets -- they're a pain in the arse at the beginning, but are a godsend once you learn 'em.

      I've had a web site for a few years now, and I experimented with style sheets in the first few weeks of its life - and I rejected them in the end - for two reasons:

1.
      I found some browsers couldn't read them properly (Netscape Navigator ver. 3, if I remember correctly), and I thus lost formatting features which I considered unacceptably messed up the page.

2. (Admittedly, I thought up this reason later, not at the time; but it's still a valid concern)
      If someone saves my page for later reading, or even permanent reference, I guess I feel flattered that someone thinks enough of my page to want to keep it thus, and I want to look after them. They are unlikely also to save the style-sheet file (possibly not even know it exists), and thus the information it contains will be lost, and the web page itself spoiled - for ever, as far as that copy of it is concerned.

      The second of these reasons seems the more important. I know all the H.T.M.L. gurus, including the WWW people, talk about the separation of content and format - but why do they never think of the danger that separating this information could lead to some of it being lost? I like being able to tie the formatting to the content, thus ensuring it is not going to be parted from the page (short of someone deliberately editing it out). It amazes me that, to my knowledge, no-one has ever pointed out this drawback to using separate style-sheet files.
      I actually consider the basics of formatting (indenting, empty lines, white space, and the like) a part of the writing, not as an optional extra, and I believe that writers who use these features to show the structure of their writing should be able to control them. While style sheets may give this control, the possibility that this information could be easily lost - precisely because it is separated, as the gurus advocate - is enough to deter me from using them; at best, I would use style-sheets only for extra bells, whistles, and gongs that I considered strictly optional, and not all that important.
      So, given that everyone seems to advocate style sheets now, is there something wrong with this reasoning against them?

quote:
Multiple spaces are still an issue, though.
      They seem to be an issue in lots of situations. To me, it is one of the great mysteries of computing life as to why this has become an issue - why multiple spaces and spaces at the start of a line seem to be the victim of some kind of campaign to extreminate them, even remove them from the consciousness of writers.
      Just to give a few examples off the top of my head: you can't post multiple or initial spaces in Amazon.com reviews; in Yahoo mailing lists, these spaces are removed from the archived copies of messages; in lots of web forms, I've noticed that when someone replied to my submission they quoted my original message, and all multiple and initial spaces were stripped. Sometimes when you copy and paste text from one source and into a text editor, multiple or initial spaces are stripped.
      Why has this arisen, and spread throughout the whole computing world like a crawling cancer? When I was using old MS-DOS programs, without exception, they scrupulously and reliably respected every single character I typed. With modern software, you have to gamble on what will be done to your text - and, by the time you find out, it's often too late to do anything about it.
      Perhaps I'm getting a bit paranoid about it - but I have a kind of (mild) conspiracy theory about this: the software powers-that-be want to control more and more aspects of our computing lives, want us to be more and more beholden to their ways of doing things, want to make us more and more dependent on proprietary software formats - presumably so that we have to keep buying and using their software. Dictating the very way we should lay out the text in our documents would seem (if I am in a paranoid mood) to be one plank in this overall agenda.
      Can anyone demolish my theory, and explain the real reason for this - if there is one? It seems to me unquestionably superior in every respect to do it the old MS-DOS way, and respect everything a writer types, on the assumption that they know what they want to do - rather than the modern way where the software design assumes you don't know the way you want to do things, and dictatorially overrides it, and sets the general style of laying things out that you should use.

quote:
Flashfire:
quote:
Quoted from Orpheus:
As for the hosting, I use www.fuitadnet.com ... $5 per month... includes 3 GB of storage and 25 GB of bandwidth per month.

What a coincidence: that's the company I use. I'm also very happy with them; they've never been anything but nice, even when answering my stupid newbie questions.... It's a good company, and I'd recommend 'em to anyone.
      I guess I'd better take a look at them. That is quite a good recommendation. If they don't have the features I want, maybe, if their attitude is good, they might consider a request for them.
      And 3 Gb. ought to keep me busy for a while - I doubt even Isaac Asimov could have filled 3 Gb. with text. The 5 Mb. on my regular web site is already overflowing - although I haven't yet found out what happens if you go too much over it.

quote:
"Multiple exclamation points are a sure sign of a deranged mind."
--Terry Pratchett

      I don't know if I'd go quite that far; but I do tend to find that documents containing multiple exclamation marks also contain other features that make me question their reliability.

                              Regards,
                                Michael.

Posts: 70 | From: Healesville, Victoria, Australia | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted March 16, 2004 18:36      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm just going to briefly comment on one part - try *nix on for size some time [Smile] . A lot of us hackers (non-pejorative use, i.e. programmers/geeks) also like our stuff to remain intact, and use nice tools that might not have quite as much of a user friendly spin to them. Case in point - my favorite text editor is vi[m] [Big Grin] . With vi, you can move mountains [of text] with a few keystrokes, and it does *exactly* what you tell it to do.

Apropos of spaces - I subscribe to the "two spaces" rule, and always type them, even if they'll be lost, as its proper style IMHO. However, HTML dictates that only one space will be rendered between non-space characters, so one must resort to using an &nbsp; for more. In UBB, though, if you put stuff between <code> tages (but w/square brackets), text will be done as if in between HTML <pre> tags, and it will be monospaced, with all your spaces intact.

--------------------
There are three things you can be sure of in life: Death, taxes, and reading about fake illnesses online...

Posts: 9345 | From: Westchester County, New York | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michael Edwards
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Icon 1 posted March 16, 2004 20:44      Profile for Michael Edwards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by dragonman97:
I'm just going to briefly comment on one part - try *nix on for size some time [Smile] .

      I've sort of been thinking for some years about trying it - or Linux, at least, which I understand to be a version of Unix. If you think, based on my comments, that it would suit me, I guess I should try it out. The difficulty of changing from Windows seems to be the stumbling block.
      Still, I have a brother who is a programmer/systems analyst, etc., and who has used Unix and Linux professionally for many years - so I guess, if he's willing to help, it should make it a bit easier.

quote:
A lot of us hackers (non-pejorative use, i.e. programmers/geeks)...
      I understand the usage - that terms like "hacker" or "geek" are not pejorative. I'm not sure if I'm a hacker or geek myself; but I have read a good part of the "Hacker's Dictionary"/"Jargon File", and find it enlightening, interesting, and amusing. And it probably gives a very good insight into the hacker mind-set and culture, much of which I think I share to some degree.

quote:
... also like our stuff to remain intact, and use nice tools that might not have quite as much of a user friendly spin to them. Case in point - my favorite text editor is vi[m] [Big Grin] . With vi, you can move mountains [of text] with a few keystrokes, and it does *exactly* what you tell it to do.
      Thanks for the suggestion. It's a Unix/Linux thing, isn't it? - I have vaguely heard of it. If I do take the plunge and make the switch, I will look out for it.
      I have the MS-DOS word-processor XyWrite, which I managed to purchase a copy of - and I think it is a program whose design is compatible with the way I like to do things. But unfortunately I haven't found it to agree very well with Windows (that is, it can crash sometimes in certain situations), and thus (regrettably) I sort of put it aside and haven't used it much.
      Emotionally (can one be emotional about a piece of software?), I still don't think I've completely let go of the DOS system, and there are great programs I used a lot which I still badly miss (if I think about it too much). But they just don't work all that well with Windows, and I need to use the latter if I'm to do things like use the Internet or have e-mail.
      I also learned programming in Pascal around 1990; and, although it may not sound credible, I believe this profoundly shaped my whole outlook about computing matters generally - and possibly even affected the way I look at life overall (in a vaguer kind of sense).

quote:
Apropos of spaces - I subscribe to the "two spaces" rule, and always type them, even if they'll be lost, as its proper style IMHO. However, HTML dictates that only one space will be rendered between non-space characters, so one must resort to using an &nbsp; for more.
      I use two spaces between sentences, too: in web pages, I could enforce them by using this trick - but, between sentences, I don't care quite enough to go to this bother for every between-sentence space, and I keep it mainly for places where it really matters to the overall appearance. I routinely use indenting and spacing to show the structure of any document or web page I write, so I have to do this quite a bit, as it is, as well as tables in some situations.
      I really do believe some of the assumptions built into H.T.M.L. are truly brain-dead - and the way it treats white space (as almost unattainable in a reliable way) is pretty well on the top of my list of gripes with it.
      I have even heard that consecutive line-breaks, to insert several empty lines together, are collapsed into just one empty line by some browsers (but not all). I mean, where is the sense in a piece-meal, arbitrary convention like that, that is only sometimes observed, and which takes away information from a document, and doesn't add a thing to it?
      I think I would have liked H.T.M.L. to be more like Pascal, with variables and procedures and reusable, modular code. But in fact, it's just a clumsy dog's breakfast, in my opinion. That is, unless there are all sorts of clever tricks I haven't found yet - but I have scoured my reference books and various "tutorial-type" web sites for solutions to the problems I most often run into, and I haven't yet found tricks any cleverer than the ones I already know.

quote:
In UBB, though, if you put stuff between <code> tages (but w/square brackets), text will be done as if in between HTML <pre> tags, and it will be monospaced, with all your spaces intact.
      I've resorted to using the "PRE" tag in web pages, where it just seemed too difficult to format things in any other way. But it does have the disadvantage of not allowing the body of a paragraph to wrap to fit the window size.

      Anyway, I've been hyperactive on this web site recently, and I will probably leave it for a day or two - I'm nearly dropping, and need some food and a sleep, and do have other things I need to do also.
      This is the way I seem to go with anything I do: I'm hyperactive for a while, then I slump for a while. I can't seem to balance it out into a steady but moderate level of activity.
      But I must say it's nice to be back here again, having fallen away for two years or so.

                              Regards,
                                Michael.

Posts: 70 | From: Healesville, Victoria, Australia | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
csk

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Icon 1 posted March 16, 2004 22:36      Profile for csk     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Edwards:
I've sort of been thinking for some years about trying it - or Linux, at least, which I understand to be a version of Unix. If you think, based on my comments, that it would suit me, I guess I should try it out. The difficulty of changing from Windows seems to be the stumbling block.

I'd certainly recommend trying it out. Perhaps an easy way would be via a bootable Linux CD such as Knoppix? That way you can boot up the CD to play around with/learn Linux, and just remove and reboot to Windows when you need to use that. If you haven't got broadband, try Everything Linux for Australian-based reasonably priced Linux CDs.

quote:

Still, I have a brother who is a programmer/systems analyst, etc., and who has used Unix and Linux professionally for many years - so I guess, if he's willing to help, it should make it a bit easier.

Yep, and there are always Linux user groups around the place too (never been to one myself, though). They even do "install fests" where you can take along your machine and they'll non-destructively put a copy of Linux on there for you to play with.

quote:
Thanks for the suggestion. It's a Unix/Linux thing, isn't it? - I have vaguely heard of it. If I do take the plunge and make the switch, I will look out for it.
You don't even have to wait to switch, since you can get vim for Windows too. Oh, and check out cygwin for a port of a whole bunch of Unix/Linux stuff to Windows, which is good for getting used to the environment and approach.

quote:

But I must say it's nice to be back here again, having fallen away for two years or so.

Yeah, it's a fun place. Good to have you back [Big Grin]

--------------------
6 weeks to go!

Posts: 4455 | From: Sydney, Australia | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
Orpheus
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Icon 1 posted March 17, 2004 01:01      Profile for Orpheus     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Boy that was quite a series of replies! HTML was originally not supposed to be for heavy formatting tasks so its been working overtime for quite a while. It has its flaws but I think you can do most things you'd want to do depending on how much work you want to put into it.

Addressing a few other points:

CSS information can be included into a page via style tags if you don't want to link separate style sheets. I remember the early days of style sheets and how little support there was. Unfortunately browsers still vary in their support and interpretation of style elements, but they are much better overall.

PHP ( www.php.net )is a server-side scripting language that is aimed at generating dynamic web pages. One nice use in this case would be to write a script to read posts from an archive in a text file or a database and insert them into a template page. The language itself has a ton of functionality and is always growing.

As for the great Isaac Asimov not being able to fill 3GB I'd have to disagree, though that's not really an educated opinion and definitely biased by a fan's awe. Hmm... that has me wondering though... assuming the vast majority of his work can be encoded in the basic ASCII character set that would give you 3*2^30 = 3,221,225,472 bytes at one byte/character. After a little googling apparently the average english word is 4.5 letters which I feel safe rounding up at least to 5 for Isaac. This gives us 3,221,225,472 / 5 = 644,245,094.4 words. According to another table I turned up the average paperback novel is 35,000-80,000 words in 140-320 pages. Since the page-count matches up with the few books of his I have I'll assume an average of around 60,000 words per novel. 644,245,094.4/60,000 = 10,737.41824 novels. Now according to his website the actual number of books is closer to 500. This of course does not include all the articles, editorials, short stories, scientific papers, review papers, etc. that he wrote. Another given statistic is that on average the man wrote for 8 hours out of the day. So I guess its still rather inconclusive but I think it would be pretty close if you could manage to scrape together everything.

--------------------
my cats make me crazy

Posts: 554 | From: Galveston, TX | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
Flashfire
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Icon 1 posted March 17, 2004 11:45      Profile for Flashfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Orpheus:

As for the great Isaac Asimov not being able to fill 3GB I'd have to disagree, though that's not really an educated opinion and definitely biased by a fan's awe. Hmm... that has me wondering though... assuming the vast majority of his work can be encoded in the basic ASCII character set that would give you 3*2^30 = 3,221,225,472 bytes at one byte/character. After a little googling apparently the average english word is 4.5 letters which I feel safe rounding up at least to 5 for Isaac. This gives us 3,221,225,472 / 5 = 644,245,094.4 words. According to another table I turned up the average paperback novel is 35,000-80,000 words in 140-320 pages. Since the page-count matches up with the few books of his I have I'll assume an average of around 60,000 words per novel. 644,245,094.4/60,000 = 10,737.41824 novels. Now according to his website the actual number of books is closer to 500. This of course does not include all the articles, editorials, short stories, scientific papers, review papers, etc. that he wrote. Another given statistic is that on average the man wrote for 8 hours out of the day. So I guess its still rather inconclusive but I think it would be pretty close if you could manage to scrape together everything.

Hey Orpheus,

I think you forgot your <pedant> tags, there. [Big Grin] It's kind of a moot point, really, when you realise that he never, ever used anything other than a manual typewriter with real, actual paper in it to write.

And you're forgiven for the song thing, btw.

--Flash

--------------------
"No silicon heaven? That's absurd!
Where would all the calculators go?"
--Kryten, Red Dwarf
-------------------------------
My Web Comic: NSTA: Semper Vigilantis

Posts: 368 | From: State of Denial | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Flashfire
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Icon 1 posted March 17, 2004 12:08      Profile for Flashfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Edwards:
quote:
Originally posted by dragonman97:
Apropos of spaces - I subscribe to the "two spaces" rule, and always type them, even if they'll be lost, as its proper style IMHO. However, HTML dictates that only one space will be rendered between non-space characters, so one must resort to using an &nbsp; for more.

      I use two spaces between sentences, too: in web pages, I could enforce them by using this trick - but, between sentences, I don't care quite enough to go to this bother for every between-sentence space, and I keep it mainly for places where it really matters to the overall appearance. I routinely use indenting and spacing to show the structure of any document or web page I write, so I have to do this quite a bit, as it is, as well as tables in some situations.
      I really do believe some of the assumptions built into H.T.M.L. are truly brain-dead - and the way it treats white space (as almost unattainable in a reliable way) is pretty well on the top of my list of gripes with it.
      I have even heard that consecutive line-breaks, to insert several empty lines together, are collapsed into just one empty line by some browsers (but not all). I mean, where is the sense in a piece-meal, arbitrary convention like that, that is only sometimes observed, and which takes away information from a document, and doesn't add a thing to it?
      I think I would have liked H.T.M.L. to be more like Pascal, with variables and procedures and reusable, modular code. But in fact, it's just a clumsy dog's breakfast, in my opinion. That is, unless there are all sorts of clever tricks I haven't found yet - but I have scoured my reference books and various "tutorial-type" web sites for solutions to the problems I most often run into, and I haven't yet found tricks any cleverer than the ones I already know.

I really think it all boils down to the "least-common denominator" rule -- when HTML first came into existence, most web designers could not, in any way be classified as "programmers" (this has changed, with the advent of PHP, JavaScript and SQL, but that's because the programmers were jealous, IMO, and wanted their geeky spaces unsullied by non-techies [Big Grin] .), so the language had to be written for them. The framework for pages was built into the language, instead of making the designers create the framework every time a page was written. In doing so, though, some things had to be standardised -- spaces were collapsed to save room (gigs didn't exist then, remember?); the same with indents, which were replaced with a line break. Most people didn't even notice, and the minority that did -- myself included -- weren't vocal or numerous enough to get things changed. Well, they did throw in the <pre> tag to shut us up, but..

If you really feel strongly enough about it, you could gripe at the World Wide Web Consortium, the people who decide the standards. (BTW, just to twirk us old-schoolers off more, they've decided to deprecate all of the HTML style tags and throw their weight behind .css) If I remember right, they can be found here. Good luck,

--Flash

--------------------
"No silicon heaven? That's absurd!
Where would all the calculators go?"
--Kryten, Red Dwarf
-------------------------------
My Web Comic: NSTA: Semper Vigilantis

Posts: 368 | From: State of Denial | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged


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