< Piro >
Saturday - September 24, 2005
My brain has been pre-occupied with so many things recently, as usual it always feels like a kind of weird catch-up whenever i sit down to write rants. The build up to the landfall of Hurricane Rita and it's possible effect on people that i know in the Texas gulf coast region didn't help. It was like going through the approach of Katrina all over again. Luckily it doesn't seem to have been as bad as some had feared (i swear, listening to the TV a few days ago you'd swear that the entire state of Texas was going to be wiped off the map) but that doesn't change the fact that for some people it really was bad, and it sure didn't fix anything for Katrina victims :P. If you or your family was seriously effected by this storm, or from Katrina three weeks ago, our thoughts are definitely with you.
It's been well over a year since I first talked about the MT website rebuild that was in progress - a new design and rebuild to replace the current Megatokyo site and it's aging backend. There is no question that I actually outgrew the current site, like, 3 years ago :P (for example, the Drop Down of Doom really has to go). The project is not dead - it's been on hold, waiting for me to finish some templates and re-evaluate some of the functions of the new site.
The good news is that i have recently pulled this project out of mothballs and I'm working with DMC Insights to coordinate when we can finish this thing up. It won't be soon - we're looking at January being the earliest Larry will be able to get back to the project (he's quite a busy guy, and i am more than grateful for his patience and willingness to work with my... uh... quirky schedule ^^;;) It's not as bad as it sounds because i am positive i will need every bit of the intervening time to finish my stuff anyway :P
When i approached a fresh look for the site last year, one thing i decided was that i did not want to farm out the site redesign, i wanted to do it myself. Not because i felt i could do it better than anyone else (boy, wouldn't that be a hilarious delusion), but because... well, this is kind of a personal site for me, and i think people would rather see my hackneyed works than more polished efforts of a professional. Besides, it was a good excuse to get some mental exercise and un-learn all my bad HTML 4.0 habits. I was actually forced to completely relearn my approach to website design, using proper XHTML transitional and more or less proper CSS. It killed some brain cells, and i won't win any awards for the final result, but it was a worthy exercise.
Anyways, since it's been over a year since my initial crack at the re-design, i'm going to go back and take a fresh look at things and see if there any improvements and/or changes i want to make. This, of course, involves refreshing my memory (again) with proper XHTML and CSS coding. Yay. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and all that.
I have also spent some time recently getting myself back up to speed with PHP and learning to finally interface with mySQL. One of the big mistakes i've made over the years is that i dropped keeping up with the backend code that made my websites run, relying too heavily on others to keep things ticking. Back in early 2000, before MT started, i picked up my first (and one of the few of the time) books on PHP and actually programmed the entire fredart.com site from scratch. Real coders who have seen my PHP code for that site tend to be amazed at the Rube Goldberg nature of my bizarre coding :P (for example, i do not use mysql for data storage - i use flat files... directories work as 'tables' and each 'row' is an individual file. I do a lot of counting files in directories and... i'll stop now, you don't really want to know :P) But hey - it works, and it has worked for five years.
Anyways, there are a number of small things that i'd like to fix and tweak with the current site, to get me by till the new site gets online. I really would like to automate and make some of the RSS feed stuff more error proof (a real necessity with a bonehead like me), try to automate some of the advertising so things go up on time better... Also, i just think it's smart to become more aquatinted with what will be going on with the nuts and bolts of the news site as it gets put together.
The real amusing part about this is that i'm using one of the books Larry himself wrote to re-educate myself from. :P It's actually quite a decent book, and it's been quite interesting to see how PHP itself has changed in the past five years.
So, um, if you see things break in a rather catastrophic way here on the site in the next few weeks... you know what happened ^^;;
Speaking of things breaking, as i'm finishing this, i am noting that we are yet again having problems with the forums. I'm not sure why this problem is cropping up, but we are doing our best to fix it. Biggest problem, of course, is that our main forum guy, the guy who knows how to fix this stuff, is currently moving cross country and will be AFK for a few days. ^^;; doesn't that just figure. We'll do the best we can till he can get in front of a computer to fix stuff.