I have a WIKI

I’m not really sure I want one. I actually like writing html
(with emacs psgml mode)
better than learning new markup languages. The big advantage of
the interface is that if you’re setting up a new site, links to
the pages
that aren’t written yet are in red, and when you click on them you
get put directly into edit mode for them. But all the stuff about
lists and links and blockquotes and sections, which I do effortlessly in html,
I have to learn a whole new bunch of funny punctuation to do in
wikimedia markup.

But the application is a good one for a WIKI. There are three
of us giving a concert in December, and there’s a lot of
information about the playlist and the rehearsal schedule and
where to download the music, and where are the recordings of the
rehearsals and the drafts of the program and the program notes that needs to be kept in a central place.

The last few concerts I’ve done that on an html page, but the
WIKI concept of easily linking in new pages and easily traversing
the tree of linked pages probably will make for better
readability. And of course, the other performers are more likely
by some very small amount to write on a WIKI than on an html

So I’ll let you know how it works out. In combination with my
program, it was pretty easy to put up PDF and MIDI files for a
piece that’s only partially transcribed so I wouldn’t want to put
it up at Serpent
yet. It was more of a pain to put up the list of
performers as a list because I’d never written a mediawiki markup
list before, but maybe the second list will be easier.

I’m back, and what’s next

I seem to have returned to the land of the living — I woke up
this morning wanting to get out of bed and walk the dog. I then
did a reasonable imitation of my usual morning routine, and still
don’t feel like it’s quite time to go back to bed.

As far as what the diagnosis is, since it’s getting better and
not worse, I don’t see any need to burden the medical care system
with this problem, so you’re going to have to put up with my lay
diagnosis. I was running a fever for a good bit of Saturday and
most of Sunday, so I would normally call it flu, not a cold.

Because people have been worrying about flu lately, I’ve been
just saying it’s a cold. I’m not someone who’s ever had the kind
of cold a lot of people get where it slows them down for a week or
even longer, but they never run a fever or get into a state where
they should clearly be in bed. I suspect that this isn’t because
I’m immune to those viruses; I suspect it’s because the virus that
gives some poeple a stuffed up head but not much else for a week
gives me a fever and a stuffed up head for a couple of days.

But if it is flu, I had the regular flu vaccine 2 weeks ago.
So it’s either a regular flu virus that got in under the wire
before my immunity took hold (or even got a little bit of help
from the virus in the vaccine), or a flu strain that isn’t in the
regular virus. In which case, it’s entirely possible that it’s
H1N1. But if so, I don’t seem to be one of the people that H1N1

What I would have been doing if I hadn’t been in bed

I have to move the laymusic.org site from the old
ISP (hostrocket) to the
new ISP (dreamhost). Note
that this isn’t in any way a criticism of hostrocket as a host if
it meets your needs. I acquired the dreamhost account when I
desperately needed a way to move a bunch of mailman
mailing lists to a new place. They’d been hosted on my home
machine when I had my internet connection from speakeasy, and this wasn’t
going to work when I started connecting with comcast.

Hostrocket doesn’t offer mailman, and while I could probably
have managed to move the mailman lists to what they offer instead,
the non-technical people who’ve been administering some of the
mailman lists would have had a lot of trouble, and I thought that
even for my purposes, mailman was better. So I found a coupon
code that gave me the first year of dreamhost hosting for very
little money. Last Spring I moved the music publishing part of
the site to dreamhost, and now I’m moving the rest of it, before
I owe hostrocket for another year.

Just moving the existing site to a place on dreamhost and
pointing the laymusic dns to the new place would be easy, but what
I’m trying to do is to move the pieces that should be on this site
and that I want to maintain
into the laymusic wordpress installation, and then I’ll just have
a pointer to the old stuff for historical reasons.

The job is a bit less tedious than it might be because of the
program that adds files to the wordpress media library. I may
write a version of that that creates a post from the part of a file between
certain markers. But mostly it’s tedious because it involves
doing minimal updating of a lot of stuff that could use major
rewriting, but that would be major thinking, and that isn’t going
to happen before October 15.

Truce in the browser wars (on my machine, anyway)

I wrote previously
about my efforts to find a browser to replace Firefox 3.0, which
has major memory leaks and takes over the sound system.

I seem to have settled on Firefox 3.5 for the moment.

I still like the interface on chromium-browser from google, but the linux
version was too incomplete, and so I had to keep a firefox
browser going in addition. In addition, because it was
undergoing such rapid development, I was having to restart it
every day, which is a nuisance.

They have actually gotten flash working, so you could use it to
watch youtube videos, but I’m still not able to publish my
daily blog entry. And they frequently have problems with the
interface with X windows, so that you can’t move or view the
window the way you expect.

Firefox 3.5 still has some memory leakage, and of course when
it’s using 13% of my current 8G, that would have been more than
100% of the old 1G system. But it takes at least a week to get
to be a nuisance on the current system, and by then I’ve usually
had to restart it so that I can listen to the MIDI files when I’m
transcribing music. (This is a point for Chromium; I can play
midi files from the command line even if I’ve just listened to
music on Chromium.)

Another major advantage of Firefox over chromium is that there
are all those plugins, including one that lets you use emacs to
edit text fields, and the one that lets you share your bookmarks
between all your computers.

I’ve heard people complain about problems with Firefox 3.5, but
the only one I’ve hit is that my bank site complains that I’m
using an untested browser, but then it lets me do my banking

So for now, I’m putting up with Firefox 3.5, but I’ll let you
know if chromium grows up enough to be worth another shot.

Where I was…

September 11, 2001 is one of those dates that everybody who was
around remembers where they were and what they were doing. In my
case, it wasn’t anything very interesting, so instead of telling
you about that day, I’ll tell you about September 10, 2002.

Dog Walking

The first interaction I had with a human being that day was
when I was walking the dog on a public sidewalk and the owner of
a pit bull snarled at me for walking my dog on his sidewalk.
(Note that pit bulls never scare me personally, but pit bull
owners frequently do.)

Recorder Society

Then I was working on my responsibilities as administrator of
the Boston
Recorder Society
(I’m no longer involved, but at that
point they were paying me some money to keep things going.) I
received the news that the prominent coach who had wanted to be
named music director had decided that she needed to completely
break with the Boston group because of my completely
unreasonable request that other webmasters should link to the
up-to-date information on the official BRS website instead of
the out-of-date stuff she had on her site.

This sounds like something that should just be laughed off, but
in fact, at that time in the Boston early music world, if this
person blew up at you because you said “Good morning” (or “Please
link to the correct information”), a whole bunch of people would
tell you that you were being tactless.

Homebrew Club

Then the homebrew club blew
up, because someone decided to quit because the October picnic
organzers hadn’t taken his recommendation for what kind of
Octoberfest beer to buy a keg of.

Condo Association

Then I was going out to walk the dog for the afternoon and
there was a packet of papers from the condo association. At
this point I was serving as president, and was scheduled to
chair a meeting that evening.

One item in the packet was labeled “Action by the Association’s
Trustees without a meeting”, and contained statements about a dispute
I was having with my then next-door neighbor about how noisy the
Cantabile Band
rehearsals were. None of the other three trustees had ever
spoken to me about the issue, but all three of them had signed
this “action”. There was also a letter that one of the other
trustees had written independantly to a lawyer the association
was consulting, officially through me.

So I decided that if all
three of the other trustees didn’t want to work with me, I would
resign and go to a bar instead of to that meeting.


This was the one good part of the day. Several of my
friends from the homebrew club were there, the beer was good, we
spent part of the evening at the tables outside, and I was able to
tell them all about my terrible day.

One theory my friends proposed about why everything blew up in one day was that
people were unconsciously stressed about the one year anniversary
of 9/11. I’m not sure I believe that theory, but it’s certainly
the most blowups in one day I’ve ever had to deal with, in a long
life of organizing.

Notice the new look

Yesterday, I went to post my blog entry, and discovered that a
lot of links on my blog didn’t work. I eventually discovered
that it wasn’t an isolated problem, but was an instance of this

Before I found that article, I had already done most of what
Lorelle suggests, except that instead of doing it in
, I had moved from the web host (hostrocket) where I’ve had all of laymusic.org for several
years to the one where I’ve been putting SerpentPublications.org
(dreamhost). And done some
fiddling with the theme.

So I now have a brand new installation, with a different look,
and the same blog content.

I’m planning to move the whole laymusic.org content to the new
site, using the wordpress blog as a content management system.
I hope to finish this by mid-October, as that’s when I would
have to pay hostrocket some more money. That isn’t a hard
deadline, as of course I can move content as is from one host to
the other.

In any case, let me know what you think of the new look. If
there’s something you really like better about the old site, let
me know.

It felt like a lot more work than this, but what I did was set
up a child theme based on the Thematic theme, and modify
it to have:

  • A header that looks a bit more like the old
  • A sidebar that looks something like the old one,
    only better, I hope.
  • Slightly larger type, in the Arial font instead of Georgia.

Halfway through

Yesterday was my half birthday. This means two things:

  • In one year, I will be 59 1/2 and I will really own all the money in my
    retirement accounts.
  • I’m half through with this experiment in blogging every day.

I know I already told you about how I felt about being one third
, but I’ve had a couple of new thoughts since then, so I’ll
pass those on.

I think I’m writing some better. My current crusade is to use
the word “thing” less, and substitute a more specific noun.
I’m doing this in routine emails, as well as in these blog

I may be reading better, as a result of the fact that my
default is to write about anything I read that I really love
and want to tell people about. One of the more popular posts
on this 59’th
year experiment
was the one I wrote about Little Dorrit
after watching the BBC adaptation and rereading the book.
Part of what made that one good was that I took notes about what I
noticed and had to look up while I was reading it. I’m
currently rereading Anna
, and I’m planning a similar post about it.

I did finally get a request from a friend to change something.
I had goofed and left his real name in some text copied from
elsewhere on the web, and my blog turned up on
the front page of a google search for his name, and he was starting a job
hunt. Of course, I immediately redacted his name. It does
prove that this blog has a higher google page rank than the
page from which I lifted the quote with his name in it.

Of the top ten most popular posts, four are about the Boston Early Music Festival. I
got a request this week from the American Recorder
to use my blog post about the recorder
masterclass with Paul Leenhouts
, since the person who had
been assigned to cover it for them hadn’t come up with an

I still don’t know much about who’s reading this blog, but the
numbers of readers are going up steadily, so someone must be
enjoying it, or finding what they search for in google on

I still haven’t completely missed a day, although I admit that
days like last
are cheating a bit. But I had written real
content, just in other contexts from the 59’th year blogging
every day project.

Wrote a program yesterday

It’s a pretty short program, and it doesn’t do as much as I
wish it did, but it will make a tedious and error-prone job a
little bit less tedious.

I’ve mentioned this before, but turning a website from html
into a content-manged site is a pain in the neck, and one of the
most painful things is getting the images and pdf files and such
into the media library, because that’s a terrible web-based
program, that only lets you do one file at a time.

So my program uses the python wordpresslib. It takes
one argument, which is the name of the file to upload. (The url,
username, and password
for the wordpress blog are hard-coded for my purposes.)

The program uploads the file and returns the URL for accessing
the raw file in the media library.

This isn’t really as good as you would hope for — what you’d
want is to supply a title and caption for the item and get the
link that shows the image in your post as a link to the page
page in the media library. You have to do all of that through
the web interface. But at least that web interface is a
reasonable program. The one for uploading gives you two
choices, one of which never works for me and the other one makes
you pick the filename via the browser even if you know it.

I’m glad I got programming energy for this even if it isn’t
much of a program. I think it’s important to use skills like
that pretty often. Of course I’ve been writing some PHP in the
course of the website redesign, but that’s closer to writing
html than it is to real programming.

Here’s the program if you want to use it:

#!/usr/bin/env python

# 09-Aug-20 lconrad; created
# usage: addmedia.py filename
# adds filename as a media object to the serpentpublications.org wordpress blog

# import library
import wordpresslib, sys

if sys.argv < 2:
print "usage: addmedia.py filename"

filename = sys.argv[1]
# note that it's the xmlrpc.php interface you need to specify
wordpress = "http://serpentpublications.org/wordpress/xmlrpc.php"
user = "*redacted*"
password = "*redacted*"

# prepare client object
wp = wordpresslib.WordPressClient(wordpress, user, password)

# select blog id

# upload image for post
imageSrc = wp.newMediaObject(filename)

print "Image uploaded to: %s" % imageSrc

Serpent Publications Changes

I’ve already done a lot of writing this morning, so instead of
writing you a separate post, I’ll just point you at what I’ve
already written:

Giant social networking sites

I keep being surprised by how many people want their online
presence mediated by a corporation.

I have a friend I’ve been carrying on an email correspondence
with for 15 years or so, and she had taken some pictures of her
flower garden that she wanted me to see, but she put them on her
facebook page and couldn’t figure out how to let me see them if I
didn’t send her my facebook ID. I think she’s wrong — I’ve
seen other things on people’s facebook pages without registering
and logging in, so it must be possible to let non-facebook users
see things if you want to. But in any case, I told her I wasn’t
getting a facebook page because I have two websites that I
attempt vainly to keep up to date, and their URL’s are in all my
email messages and they both have RSS feeds. So I don’t want to
also have a facebook page to get out of date.

Her response was that several non-technical people she wanted
to stay in touch with now had facebook pages, and weren’t going
ot read a blog or follow a flickr url. If I know people like
that, they haven’t told me about their facebook pages.

I was surprised again yesterday morning yesterday morning when
one of the mailing lists I’m on had a discussion about how
disconnected they felt with twitter being down. (This turns out
to be a side effect of the Russia/Georgia conflict, according to
New York Times article.
So don’t say Americans are totally
insulated from the effects of war.)

Unlike facebook, twitter
does seem to have things to offer even the technically ept who
are capable of setting up a blog or uploading pictures to Flickr. But I have yet to
sign up to take advantage of them.

Between email and websites and blogs, I really don’t see why I
need to sign up for a mass-produced page. And I don’t see why
my friend wouldn’t be better off getting a flickr account or a
blog on wordpress.com if
she wants to share stories or pictures with the world.

I like to think I’m not quite as bullheaded about adopting
popular technologies as the rest of my family (who don’t have
cell phones or cable TV, and got broadband internet only because I
forced them to and paid for it). But I really do think people
should think about “What will this do for me?” before blindly
following all the other sheep to sign up for it.