Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   reinventing the wheel along the way
Thursday, March 18 1999
Kim had a rip roaring hangover and was missing some jewelry this morning, but I was fine and dandy and ready to get back to work on my content tools. I been putting so much time and effort into my latest robotic creation that I've been neglecting the dull routine tasks that also fall in my lap. I like to think of myself as too talented for such grunt work, but there's no one else with the talents or free time to do them. We're all under a lot of pressure to individually get lots of work done. But I know my limitations and I know the limitations of others. Sure, I don't finish everything handed to me, but neither does anyone else. Being in a situation where everyone is "expected" to achieve unrealistic goals is a little like not having any goals at all, realistic or otherwise.
I've been wondering a little if maybe some of my work is nothing more revolutionary than the re-invention of the wheel. The new Windows engineering superstar Marty seems to have a variant of the opinion that all the programming we'll ever need has already been done by someone in Microsoft and that it's pointless to make gadgets instead of figuring out what Microsoft tool applies best to the task at hand and shoehorning the project to fit the Microsoft tool. This view, though easily challenged and refuted, has left me with some doubt. I'm especially concerned about how much wheel-reinvention I might have been doing in light of the existence of such new tools as XML. You see, I've been marking up HTML text files with my own expanded version of HTML that uses tags of the form <$YYYXX> (where YYY is a field type and XX is a field number). These tags are later used by presentation front ends to properly format the data. Such front ends are chock full of my own field processing functions such as the following:

function GetField(strIn, intItem)
'returns a field from a content file string
	if strIn<>"" then
		do while not bwlDone and intStart>0
			intPreliminary=instr(intStart, strIn, "<$")
			if intPreliminary<>0 then
				intLocalFieldNumber=cint(mid(strIn, 5+intPreliminary, 2))
				if intLocalFieldNumber = intItem then
					intNextBracket=instr(intFieldStart, strIn, "<$")
					if intNextBracket=0 then
					end if
					GetField=mid(strIn, intFieldStart, intFieldEnd-intFieldStart)
				end if
				intStart=instr(intPreliminary+6, strIn, "<$")
			end if
		if not bwlDone then
		end if
	end if
end function

Even though individual components of my creations may well be reinventions of existing Microsoft tools, there had been nothing previously in existence that matched the total utility of all my tools viewed as whole. I've developed an entire publishing system that makes it easy for someone to set up an arbitrary number of navigable sites with changing content and archives while at the same time being able to easily copy that content from a development machine to an arbitrary number of web servers on the nasty side of a firewall. I'm definitely the one to know what such a set of tools needs to do; I've been manually maintaining a navigable site with hierarchical archives for over two and a half years.

Besides, the foolishness of Marty's overconfidence in Microsoft products is clearly demonstrated with the analysis of any instance where he's applied it. For example, when, during one of my many conflicts over the setting of server permissions, he heard of the various ASP-based content editors I've made for Al and John, he wanted to know why I didn't just have the editor boys use Microsoft VisualInterdev, which features many fine editing tools. My hasty retort: "But then they'd have to know the names of the files they were editing, and they'd probably lose track by the time they went to copy them to the live servers." I didn't even bother to go into the steepness of the VisualInterdev learning curve.
Kim and I watched part of Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, the flick based on the Hunter S. Thompson book. It was heavily propelled by Thompson's narration, though it was enunciated in a rapid, strangely-affected manner, in such a way that I found myself leaning towards the television trying and failing to get it. Watching the movie reminded me of being on tussin, complete with the non-horizontal camera angles. I didn't see the whole thing, but I wasn't especially impressed by what I did see.
Speaking of artsy-fartsy flicks (a genre for which Kim has a certain fondness), the other day we saw High Art and found it loathesome. Though it was chock full of small-breasted beautiful people, sex, heroin abuse, and though its heroine was a somewhat naïve chick with a fine ass, the flick lacked something fundamental: a sense of the comic. It was as drab as a piece of brown cardboard.

A couple of carpenters came into the company office this evening. They were trying to figure out exactly how to squeeze all of us employees into the limited real estate available. Before arriving, perhaps to aid their right brains with the necessary spatial calculations, they'd evidently smoked an enormous amount of pot. Traces of the marijuana fragrance adhering to their clothes managed to stink up a good half of the office.

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