idea for a firewood sled
Saturday, March 1 2008
At some point today I discovered how much easier it is to bring home firewood across snow using a sled than it is using a wheeled vehicle. I don't actually have a sled, but I used a canvas firewood carrier in that capacity, hooking a White Pine limb through its loop handles and dragging it behind me. This worked so well that I'm tempted to build a better version using dimensional lumber and sheet metal (since I've never seen anything suitable sold in stores).
When I was a kid, all of the firewood burned in our household woodstove was gathered using primitive human-powered saws and other tools. We'd cut that wood on the hills on either side of the house, and we'd bring the wood down from one of those hills by simply dragging it (usually in eight foot lengths) using ropes. We didn't always drag it across snow either; the pieces could be dragged nearly as easily across frozen soil or mud. I don't have the luxury of my wood supply being atop steep hills on either side of the house, but I'm hopeful that a sled could be helpful for moving loads of firewood along level trails.
For the past couple of days I've been working on a project to give my set of web-based database editing tools yet another layer of flexibility: allowing an administrator to directly edit data presented in tabular form for a bunch of records. This would make certain aspects of my tool more like a conventional offline spreadsheet application, taking it some distance further beyond the conventional click-and-then-wait-for-a-page-to-load-and-then-edit model of a conventional web-based admin tool. Today I was able to get the core functionality of this facility off the ground, allowing me to directly edit the tabular results of an arbitrary SQL query. I even managed to get this system to be compatible with tables having multi-part primary keys. Multi-part primary keys were such a nasty can of worms that I'd done nothing to address them in my tool until this past autumn.
This new functionality will come in handy on occasions when I add new columns to lookup tables and then have to add data to those columns. In the past I'd have to open ever column separately in an editor, make the change, and then save. Now I can open all the columns at once in a spreadsheet-style web page, edit all the items at once, and hit save.
Keeping track of all the rows in a table like using an HTML form is tricky business, particularly when your code has facilities to display several such tables simultaneously. The names of the inputs ended up being long hypenated concatenations of table names, field names, primary key names, and primary key values, the latter two of which could themselves be pipe-delimited lists.
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