Sunday, March 28, 2010

Logstat: On Hold

I've spent some time this week, perhaps a bit too much of it, attempting to package a utility program for deriving usage statistics from server logs. I was able to publish a code snippet for parsing log lines, but am on the fence whether it's worthwhile to continue working on the analysis program.

There are already a dozen or so log analysis programs written in Perl, so I'm not filling any gap in the market, and my version has, over the course of fifteen years of constant tweaking, become even more bloated than the ones already on the market. In an attempt to be "comprehensive," it presents too much meaningless information, simply because it's there to be analyzed.

So I'm probably going to step back from the task for a while, until I can come back with a hatchet mentality and weed out all the frivolous stuff to make it a very lean tool that produces meaningful information ... if anything, that's what's missing in the "market" right now.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mnemonic Challenge

Got bored this morning and re-coded the Mnemonic Challenge I wrote back in 1995. I was able to get it down to a couple hundred lines of JavaScript code without much effort, and use CSS instead of images (which was a technique that wasn't even available at the time the game was originally written).

I've generally been dismissive of my skills, being as I haven't done much programming in the past few years and haven't made a coordinated attempt to bring my JavaScript skills up to date since I abandoned the language back in 1998 (when the browser wars required writing code four or five different ways to suit each company's unique implementation - and I decided it wasn't worth the bother) ... but all in all, it was a lot easier than I expected, and I'm fairly happy with the outcome.

And as in all things, I may look at it a month from now and be thoroughly disgusted with the clumsiness of it ... but that's inevitable, and probably healthy. If you ever look at something you've done in the past and feel you couldn't do it any better today, that simply means you haven't learned a thing since then.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Small Steps ...

I've finally put something other than a placeholder up on my personal Web site. Now that I look at it, there's quite a lot of content there, but all deadly boring.

I've been spending too much time shaping it up, and it feels too much like "work." The pile of content "to be reviewed" is far larger than the content I thought was in good enough shape to post ... but if I keep putting it off, I'll never get anything online.

So for now, it's a collection of reading notes and Web development resources. Yawn. I'll eventually shape up some additional content, maybe do something about my leisure interests instead, which should at least be less tiresome.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Slow Going

Still working on my reemergence, and it's still going slowly. I've let go of the notion that I need to resurface with a lot of material all at once, and just put things online in bits and pieces and let it grow over time.

And so, I did the same ill-advised thing most people do, even though I know better: I worked on the cosmetics (look-and-feel) while procrastinating on the important things (content). The result: a basic template with a clean, reserved design. Just enough attention to avoid looking sloppy, not so much as to be overbearing and narcissistic. It seems too conservative, too "not enough" - but then, I prefer that to the opposite extreme.

I'm still working, mostly behind-the-scenes, on getting content together. So far, I've come up with three kinds of content I'd feel OK with having online under my own name:
  • Pedestrian Studies - My reading notes and research on boring topics like marketing, strategy, operations, management, and such
  • WebDev Resources - Various resources for Web development on the LAMP platform, which I did for a decade or so
  • PERL Scripts - A fair collection of scripts that I wrote over the years, that I feel I could put online so people can steal and adapt my code (the way I did with other peoples' code when I was learning the ropes)
  • Random Crap - The various goofy little self-contained things that I've put together, either for my own amusement or as finger-exercises.
The task of rounding it up, sanding off the rust, and getting it ready to put back online has turned out to be much more than I expected. It may be realistic to predict I could have enough to go online by the end of the month.