Smokes your problems, coughs fresh air.


The decade-old posts bug

I just noticed that none of my posts older than a decade could be listed:

The culprit was in the following function, where I had to add "century" and "10" to the lists of $periods and $lengths respectively.

function bigsmoke_ago($timestamp_gmt)                                                    
  $difference = current_time('timestamp', true) - $timestamp_gmt;                        
  $periods = array("second", "minute", "hour", "day", "week", "month", "year", "decade");
  $lengths = array("60","60","24","7","4.35","12","10");                                 
  for($j = 0; $difference >= $lengths[$j]; $j++)                                         
    $difference /= $lengths[$j];                                                         
  $difference = round($difference);                                                      
  if($difference != 1) $periods[$j].= "s";                                               
  $text = "$difference $periods[$j] ago";                                                
  if ($j < 3) {                                                                          
    $current_day = date('j', current_time('timestamp', true));                           
    $arg_day = date('j', $timestamp_gmt);                                                
    $relative_day = ($current_day == $arg_day ? 'today' : 'yesterday');
    $text = "$relative_day, $text";                                                      
  return $text;                                                                          

While add it, I also got rid of the useless Google ads.

Plus, I improved the link text replacement for posts without comments and commenting turned off.

Commenting fixed for

To my great surprise, thanks to Tobias Sjösten, I found out that commenting was broken on I couldn’t pinpoint the exact problem, but it must have been introduced with some WordPress upgrade somewhere along the line. I never noticed it because it did work for logged in users. (If I must really guess, I suspect a silent ReCaptcha version compatibility problem.)

Upgrading WordPress and wp-recaptcha to their latest versions (3.3.1 and 3.1.4 respectively) seems to have solved the problem.

Blog competition

Wiebe’s posting of the two-hundred-and-first post, made me think of this image of the front page I made a short while after the new design went life. The image clearly shows that we have a little competition thing going on in that we both seem to be pretty determined to have our face dominate the home-page. 😛

Blogging: quantity over quality

They say that blogging is a long way down from essaying. Articles were already better than essays, and books even more so. So they say. A lot is said these days. I say: the more, the merrier. I say: let us say! Let us say whatever we want. And let people read whatever they want, now that they can.

I try to blog as much as I can, not because I think that each post is a piece of poetry that needs to be enjoyed by as many as possible, but because each post represents a train of thought that I need to get rid of. The sooner, the better. Noise is not a problem. The Internet is filled with noise, but nevertheless we only read what we want to read and we still find what we need. We filter. If you don’t, good luck surviving the digital age.

There is a convergence movement towards media integration. Eventually, this will lead to the collapse of all these media, meaning that the need for distinct, specific media will be less and less. This is good. We need to be truly press-less before the original promise of the press can be fulfilled: information liberation.

What I mean by this is that, when we publish, we don’t need to make a clear distinction between the weighty and the weightless. After all, God Google defines the weight of our publications not by means of what we say about it, but by means of incoming link frequency and the relative weight of these links.

When I say something worthwhile, I first have to convince others that I did, but before I can do that, I have to convince them to come look. Then, after visiting me and having been convinced by my great content, they might decide to link to me. Only as soon as that happens, do I gain weight. (According to Technorati, the weight of this blog is pathetic.)

Not every post I write resembles even an essay. Most postst don’t even come close. That’s because blog posts don’t need a point. I’ve made this point before, but I can’t repeat it often enough, because every time that I’m thinking “Shit, what did I do then and what was I thinking?” I’m reminded of it. I’ll stop reiterating this no sooner than I stop forgetting to write these things down.

When a blog post does attempt to make a point, there are even stronger arguments for quantity over quality, because publishing—really publishing—something makes it possible for others to respond, be this in comments or in their own blog. There’s something concrete for them to cite and to reference. This process gives me valuable feedback and I can simply republish my thoughts (which have matured not only through time, but also through argument) in a new post. Voila! And maybe the old post is so shitty that nobody is interested… Who cares?! Obviously, they don’t! So go on and do something else with the time that you’ve freed by not having to polish a turd.

Remember that blog posts are not naturally organized into some sort of reading hierarchy. There’s no reason that the same subject can’t be treated twice. Just hit that “Publish” button, get it out of your head and get on with your life!

100th post!

Fireworks reflect off the waters of Pickering Wharf in Salem, MA while the "Friendship" takes it all in.

Fireworks reflect off the waters of Pickering Wharf in Salem, MA while the Friendship takes it all in. Photograph by Flickr user snowriderguy.

I just published the 100th post here on Who would have thought that when I published my first post?

(Actually, that first post, although the first post to have been published through this blog, is no longer chronologically the first, not since I started backposting my older regular website content on this blog.)

Hopefully, the 1000th post will be a bit sooner than the 100th post; I still keep stumbling upon issues that I wish I had blogged about so that I don’t have to solve them twice. Also, there’s a lot of content that got stuck in the feeling of formality that was induced by having to give it a permanent place on a static website. That feeling made me want to elaborate beyond what was actually in my head at any given moment. This blog induces less and less of such inhibitions, which in turn generated more and more content.

Moving my traditional website content over to my blog

Cool URLs don’t change, but the relevance of my content does (and it’s declining). consists of content that has mostly never been updated. That’s why I want to move it over to my blog here.

I think one of the advantages of a blog is that it’s quite clear what gets published when. You can add this information to the pages of a good old fashioned static website, but it’s just not quite the same. One of the reasons is that, on my blog, my guideline is that posts are not edited anymore after hitting the “Publish” button.

Why blog posts shouldn’t change what they say

Once a post is published, it can be commented on below the post or from within elsewhere on the world wide web. If, after publication, a post changes significantly, it becomes very unclear what is being cited / commented on. Of course, simple formatting changes or grammar/spelling corrections are not considered significant changes, but changing the meaning of what is being said is.

(Because blog posts are so temporal it is habitual that if you do have to commit corrections which change the meaning of the text, you notify the readers of your post of this by adding an Update notification at the top or the bottom of your post. Examples of this are abound on the web. Here’s one example.)

The joys of being well-known to Google

The “Places” system in the new Firefox 3 is great. I’m still getting more effective usage out of just the location bar every day. But, sometimes I’m on a different computer, or I haven’t been to one of my web pages for a very long time.

How cool is it then that I can just Control+K to my Google search box and enter: bypassing smart completion to get my own page on the top of the result list?

Since my blog is literally a log that I mostly use to keep track of what I think and do while problem-solving, it’s great that I can rely on Google to find my way through memory lane.

Upgraded WordPress from 2.1 to 2.3.1

I’m now on WordPress 2.3.1. It was about time too; I was still on 2.1.

Importing the tags from Ultimate Tag Warrior worked fine. Before upgrading and importing, I quickly patched my local version of WP with a little help from Subversion:

$ svn diff > wp.diff
$ patch --remove-empty-files -p0 < ../wp.diff
$ svn revert wp-config.php
$ svn add `svn status|grep '^?'|sed -e 's/\?//'`
$ svn rm `svn status|grep '^!'|sed -e 's/!//'`

Then, after a few changes to my template files to play nice with WP’s new built-in tagging system, everything was running again.

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