Fourth year of blogging
It is 25th of December. Among other things, it means that it is the day of my first blog post, which was in 2012. That's four years ago. It's been a long and good ride, thank you for everybody who has contributed towards the nice atmosphere which helps me keep continuing!
I had been thinking that I'd like to polish and improve the Enormous Elk site for this fourth anniversary. As there still are so many unfinished and partially started and broken stuff around, and I always think like 'yeah, I'll take a look at them some day soon', and that day seldom happens. Which, as you might have already learned, is often the case with my life in general. Living in a house which desperately needs serious renovation, and the renovation project partially started, here and there nearly finished but a lot waiting to be done, yet the house is good enough to live in so I cope with it. Having long-term depression which needs some serious therapy, and the process has been greatly better year by year, yet it is the traces of depression which I feel that mostly affects my general inertia of getting things done - but hating myself for that won't help, so better just keep going. Also, there was a physical chaos building up in my house, due to previous weeks me being active with so many other things except cleaning, organizing stuff etc. So I've spent the first few days of this holiday season by catching up with restoring a physical order and cleanliness.
One of the things which has hindered my site development has been my hardware. For a long time I've been restricted to the laptop screen resolution. Once I discussed this with my son, and after a few days he posted me a link to a discussion board thread - someone was selling a 1920 * 1080 display. Second-hand price was affordable. I knew I was low on money, but I decided that I've been thinking about this for so long that now it won't help to postpone the action. So I contacted the person and bought the display. That makes software development so much easier - I can have the source code on the laptop display, and the application running on the bigger external display. (A philosophical point: pondering things in the solitude of ones own head is often good, essential in a sense. But sometimes it makes a big difference when you share your thoughts with another persons, getting live feedback. I think there is a psychological mechanism how this boosts the inner activity level and helps to get things done. But, of course, this is not a simple automaton - if the feedback conflicts with your inner thoughts, it is more likely to hinder the process. In the best case the feedback makes a connection with your inner thoughts, and expands them to some direction you feel ready to travel to. This was the case with my son, he kind of a said 'hey dad, if you've been thinking about buying a monitor, take a look at this'.)
Yesterday, after getting the house sufficiently tidy, I spent a moment lying down on the sofa, hiding under a blanket, listening to Abandon All Hope and slowly sipping a glass of red wine. A moment of rest, and soon I felt like taking a look at the source code running this site. It was around 7 pm, I opened up the editor and started tinkering with the site layout. I wanted to make it a bit more flexible, better suiting both wide and smaller screens. I also tested it on my android tablet browser, as the downside of web development is that different browser display things slightly differently. After some trial-and-error experimenting I got it improved. I'm not yet completely satisfied, but at least it now works better than it was. Slow progress is still progress, I'd guess =) And as always, feel free to send any feedback if you have suggestions. I'm more of a code nerd, and less a graphical designer, and I think it shows =) Also, here I also feel that on the deeper level this is connected to where I am with my process of recovering from depression. First in priority is to get things working. And as you gradually gain more energy, you feel like making things nice and beautiful. And having some beauty around you helps to further the process of recovery. On some areas I'm still focused on getting things merely working.
I had some other ideas, too. Like opening up a Pictures-section with a navigation menu that allows for photo albums organized under main topics. Like, topic 'in-the-making-of' could contain sub-albums for different sessions. That way I could just post a series of behind the scenes pictures of Enormous Elk sessions, having them neatly organized. And then topic 'picture-of-the-day' could host sub-albums for different series. Speaking of that, I've decided to start a fresh series in the beginning of 2017, again aiming to run it for a full year. Hehe, when I started this site, I knew so little about server-side development. And we only had vague plans what we would like to have on the Enormous Elk site. Over the course of time, some plans have changed, some ideas have become more clear. And I've learnt a whole bunch about php, databases, and the framework which helps to run this site. It is funny, the framework makes site maintenance and development so much easier - for the most part of it. Like, if I were purely writing code of my own, some tasks would require one hour of coding. But with the framework the same thing is accomplished in matter of five minutes - if you know what you are doing, that is. So it often happens that I first spend 50 minutes googling and reading and wading through the trial-and-error cycle, until I get to the point of accomplishing the task in five minutes. Which makes it total 55 minutes of work. Using the framework cuts 60 minutes of work into mere 55 minutes, yay! But of course, the good thing is that the next time I can get similar tasks done in five or ten minutes (if I still remember what I learned a year or two ago... again, it would help to keep up a steady rhythm of hacking with the code, instead of having too long intervals).
Well, but learning is fun and I like coding. I made some progress and got the pictures section almost set up. I ran into problems with the directory / url-path organization, as with my first series of Picture of The Day I had thought of it as a sub-category of the blog section. But now if I want to have all the picture albums under a separate section, it seems that I have to batch-move all the 366 pictures of the first series, to get them the url path I want them to have... Well, the good thing with computers is that it is not necessary to do that manually picture by picture. I can probably write a piece of code which would run through the mass of pictures, updating their data fields. As I was thinking of that I realized that it is already 4 am. I had effectively spent the whole night immersed in the source code running this site. A tiny voice of rationality in my head said that now it is time to get some sleep, as I also have a coding project my customers need to be up and running by the turn of the year. I think it will be something like two days of coding to implement the features they need - but as usual, one needs to reserve three or four days to ensure that a work of two days gets properly done in time.
This morning I woke up at 10am. After the morning coffee I started up the computer. Now there is a kettle of oat porridge simmering on the stove. I take a small sip of red wine, listening to A Lonely Girl by Multi Moods Collective. Time to post this, despite the site still being badly in need of further polishing... Time to get back to coding the project for my customers.
ps. my informal to-do list for Enormous Elk site development;
- Take a look at reviving the e-mail newsletter. Apparently, some users might like to get an e-mail notification whenever there is new content published on the site. That sounds like a doable task, and I'd guess it is possible to automatize. Again, this needs some more studying how things like these are done with the framework running the site.
- Separate 'music' and 'videos' sections, improve their respective navigation menus, and make videos up to date. At some point I was so busy with my main work that I forgot to post the then-fresh Enormous Elk video on this site, and so I collapsed into a state of videos being shared on YouTube but not on this site. This is not planned, but more like a symptom of my own issues.
- Update and polish the 'about' page.
- Finally, the heck, finally get the TaruPaja example story finished and published. At first the web-based reader would be a separate demo, but I'd like to see if I can get it integrated with this site, so for example that registered users could save a bookmark and later continue reading the interactive story from that point.
- Various other minor stuff, mostly polishing the layout and styling. Just like I have intended to do for fours years...
- Now hey wait what? Is this a new years resolution list or something? I hope so =) So let's again remember the sticky item on my overall to-do list: Learn to better organize my life, work and income. Seek better ways to regularly have time to work with projects I love to work with.