State of the site
2014-04-12 blogmeta

Between 2009 and 2014, a lot happened to me, but none of it shows in this blog. Mostly that's because I wanted to blog the house renovation and my blogging code of the day was a horrendous, unmaintainable mess that never seemed to do anything I wanted - so I switched to Blogger. (You can see the house blog here, but as we left the country again two years ago and unloaded the house last summer, it's gotten kinda boring.

In November of that year, I started thinking harder about what programming actually means. And that turned into the semantic programming blog, also at Blogger. Over the next two years, that effort resulted in a kind of neat declarative programming system for Perl, which collapsed under its own technical debt shortly thereafter.

I had family stress for the year after that, culminating in our leaving the country for Budapest in 2012 after our daughter graduated high school. The summer after that we sold the house and I discovered that my blood pressure could best be measured in psi. And now things with family, health, and finances are actually pretty good, and my thoughts wander back to writing.

The Blogger system is great for short-to-medium text and pictures that can be written quickly and don't need any internal structure. It was a fantastic medium for the house blog. It is not fantastic for code given its rigid three-column format, difficulty comprehending monospace fonts, and refusal to handle indentation, and is also less than great for any presentation longer than a few paragraphs. So to write real technical articles, I needed to revitalize the Vivtek site.

Back in the day, the site was hosted on AOLserver for historical reasons, and elements like the sidebar menu and a lot of the other bits and pieces were handled dynamically. The content was compiled on the server. But as that system aged and the box was put to additional uses, the cracks in its structure became apparent. Anything exposed to Internet input becomes an instantaneous spam archive, MediaWiki in a different site I was hosting there was a relentless processor hog, the Despammed spam filter made sure that if there was any resource problem it would be magnified tenfold as the queue backed up behind the kink, and the accreted weirdness of twelve years of haphazard Perl scripts running behind the scenes had forced me to move the site's static content to Github hosting. The dynamic content was left to hang in the weather. I had more important fish to fry.

So to get the site back into working shape, I had to reinvent my content handling code on my laptop and integrate with the static site. And there simply hasn't been enough time to think about that - especially given my penchant, when given any programming task, to think about how it should be possible to code it at a higher semantic level. I can talk to myself at length about just finishing this damn script today and worrying about entire new programming paradigms at some later date, but it doesn't help.

But at the end of last month, after working two month's worth of jobs in March, I decided that what I needed in the first week of April was a sabbatical. I wanted to write at least one article. (Actually I have a whole page of one-line ideas of things to do this week. And instead, it's Saturday night, day 9 of the sabbatical, work already queued up for Monday, and I haven't even written the article yet - but I did do the research for it, and wrote a kick-ass tool for my daily work, and that's really the point of this week.)

And lo! I have the site compiling again - and with a tool I'm not even ashamed of! One that will hopefully soon grow into a more mature writing environment in the future, including a notion I've been calling "code exegesis", about which more later. Hopefully, now that the site builder works well, I can keep things moving with less than a full week off work, and build up some momentum. I have a lot of things I want to write about, so that's not a problem. Historically, family and financial stress have been my greatest impetus sinks, and those (knock on wood) are at low ebb currently, may they stay that way forever.

And that's why the blog below goes from 2014 to 2009 with no visible transition. I am cautiously hopeful that things will start moving again now.

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