tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

Tweet tweet

As you might have noticed there’s a new item on the sidebar off to the right – that’s right, I have a Twitter account.

I used to be (and still am) pretty disdainful of Twitter as a whole – I remember thinking ‘wtf?’ when Ashton Kutcher suggested that the guys who wrote Twitter would be remembered in the same vein as Alexander Graham Bell. It’s very hard to find anything of substance on there – it’s hard to be profound in 140 characters, unless you truly have a way with words. That is not something I can say about the majority of Twitter’s denizens, most of whom seem content to dial a number provided to them by some teen idol on reflex.

That said, I’ve come to a compromise of sorts, since I have occasionally found that my immediate reaction to something can sometimes be fairly snarky, which is an attribute I value very highly. So I did end up getting an account to preserve quick thoughts like that, thoughts around which I might eventually craft a more coherent opinion.

So, long story short, if you’re wondering what I’m up to in the lengthy interval between my blog updates, the sidebar I just added should tide you over until I find something new to write about.

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Stretching is good

As you’ve probably noticed by now I’ve made the layout a bit wider, mainly so that the comment threads don’t get squashed smaller and smaller as more people reply. They still get compressed, but now it’s not nearly as much of a problem.

I’ve also added a new banner, which if anything emphasises my lack of creativity in coming up with something that actually matches my blog’s colour scheme.

And er, that’s all I have to say, so in the meantime have my favourite ending theme from the ARIA series.

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More WordPress tweaks

I installed a couple of new plugins over the last couple of days:

  • WP-Cache – this caches all the HTML generated by the PHP in WordPress, so that it doesn’t have to generate it every time someone visits the page. It’s a great way to improve your page latency, so I highly recommend it.
  • WordPress Thread Comment – this basically allows for comment threading, so that I (or anyone else for that matter) can reply to comments as opposed to having to leave comments under other people’s comments. If you leave your email address in the comment you’ll be notified if someone replies to it. There’s a limit to how deep threads can go, though, and the default settings for messages will probably need some, uh, cleaning up. Other than that it seems to work pretty nicely.

And now to go and re-post all my other replies as threads.

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Just about done, I think.

I took one of the existing themes and reworked it to suit my needs. I think it turned out alright. :)

In case you’re curious, the banner picture is from a photograph I took when it snowed here last December – my first real experience with snow in quite some time.

I’m not sure I want to migrate 5 years worth of posts given how tedious it is, but I’ll need to keep my Livejournal account for other things, so it shouldn’t be a problem. For now I’ve just imported all my recent blog posts up until the start of 2008.

So…welcome, everyone! Stay a while and listen. :)

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Importing old posts…

…from LiveJournal. I didn’t even know WordPress had a feature like that…

There are some caveats, though…embedded items don’t show up (those are stored on LJ servers for some reason), and LJ cuts aren’t translated properly. In addition, all the LJ user tags which I used to link to other people’s blogs are missing. And on top of that, the comments and tags don’t carry over either.

Looks like I’ll have a lot of cleaning up to do.

Another peeve – LiveJournal only lets you export your posts one month at a time. Seeing how my LJ post history goes all the way back to 2004, this may be more of a pain than it’s worth.

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I r l33t h4x0r

As you might have guessed from the title, this is another geekspeak-heavy post. I’ll try and make it digestible for the less technically inclined, as usual :p

This past week I took part in a course at work, meant to help Amazon employees understand Amazon Web Services (Click here if you don't know what those are). They’re basically a bunch of services that we vend to software developers to use in building applications. Examples of this are the Simple Storage Service (or S3) which is a simple data store which charges users based on how much space they use. There’s also the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) which is a service that lets developers purchase computing time to perform tasks that they can’t do with the resources that they already have (like, say, running complex operations on data sets). In any case, as part of the course, we had to build something using the services that we sell, without access to the internal tools that make our lives easier.

I teamed up with a friend from my team, and we set to work building a system that would allow people to search for MP3 downloads on the Amazon.com MP3 store (shameless plug!) using the lyrics from the song instead of the title or artist name. We did get it working successfully (about half an hour before the deadline), and presented it to the entire class. At the end an award was given out for the best project.

We didn’t win, but it didn’t bother me that much, mainly because of something else I found out from one of the facilitators of the course. Apparently, while testing our code over the weekend, we generated so much traffic to one of the services that the engineer who was on call for the service that week got paged, and had to figure out who or what was creating so many requests to the service.

So, we didn’t win, but we did cause some poor guy to get paged over the weekend.

Sometimes, it’s the little things in life that matter. :D


I’m looking at following and ’s lead and ditching LiveJournal for my own webspace. Not so much because I disagree with their policies, but because I want a lot more control over what I can do with what has essentially become my little corner of the Internet. Does anyone know of any good hosting services? I’m looking at running either WordPress or a Ruby-based content management system called Typo (because Ruby is one of my favourite programming languages). The idea behind running the latter is that I can modify the code if I feel like I need to (I don’t know PHP).

So, any suggestions/recommendations?

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