Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

Engineering beautiful software jon aquino labs | personal blog

Saturday, July 10, 2004

The story of this blog

In March 2004 I wanted to start using the Blogger service to preserve memories of my life as well as ideas that interested me. The difficulty with keeping a blog is having enough stuff to write about over a prolonged time.

So I signed up for Blogger, choosing a template with puffy blue and orange text. As for content, I had a couple of strategies. The first was a continually updated time series chart of my internet activity. Google helped me to find a couple of free components to do this: a command-line chart png generator, and jwz's Firefox history parser. These I ran periodically with the Windows Sceduler. My other content strategy was to blog at the moment an idea came to mind, by writing an email on my palm. Unfortunately, Blogger didn't have a free post-by-email service at this time, so I Googled for a Python script to download POP3 email, and another Python script to post via the Blogger API.

That was Version 1 of my blog.

What you see today is Version 2. It all started when Blogger started adding features a couple of months back. They came out with new templates, so I tried some out, eventually settling on one that wouldn't fall apart on posts with long words (like my various snippets of BeanShell, Ruby, Python and Groovy). I ditched the graph (the history parser started failing) and added the photoblog on the right (daily uploading of the 25 newest pics taken on my Olympus D-395, thumbnailed and captioned by yet more freeware -- ImageMagick -- and ftp'd with a Ruby script -- pretty amazing considering Shaw does not allow server-side code). Picasa Hello lets me post permanent images on Blogger; another neat recent feature is audioblogging. And Blogger now offers post-by-email for free, so I don't need to run my own daemon. Through email, I can now send posts simultaneously to (1) friends (2) the Usenet and (3) my blog. And I'm experimenting with the concept of emailing people a link to text/data/audio/images on my blog rather than including it directly in the email -- this way the information does not get lost in a one-shot communication.

So now I have a blogging system that I'm delighted with -- attractive, with pictures and audio, and enabling simultaneous posting to friends and Usenet.

And content generation hasn't been a problem. This blog currently has 905 posts, which is the highest among Blogger users listed in Victoria BC.


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