Touching Base

I’m taking a break from all the chemistry stuff for now. If you thought that was just going to be my uninterrupted theme for eight months and that bummed you out, don’t worry. I was imagining more it would just be a series that I visit periodically, appending whatever comes to mind.

If you are one of those people who need everything to be in a series, then fine - just call this one Short bursts of unrelated content .

I'm getting married in 17 days. Maybe it's been nerves, but it's harder to focus on bigger themes (or do one thing for longer than two hours). The most I feel like doing now is simply Touching Bases . Mind if I touch yours, dear reader?

The direction of this blog

I have been thinking a lot about the direction of this blog - the first being the technology itself. Since the migration away from Wordpress, I have already changed the underlying framework twice. I submitted the new design to Reddit critics, and a general consensus admitted that though the idea was novel, it was kind of useless. One user pointed out I was basically renting a bulldozer to help build a sandcastle.

bulldozer.jpg

Figure 1: Or was it renting a bulldozer to build more bulldozers…

Since then, I have switched over to the micro framework Flask , but in the latest iterations I am even still under-using my framework. As it turns out, you can put whatever you want in the address bar following the site address, like alexrecker.com/yo-mommas-so-ugly/ , and my web server code basically just sticks a .html at the end of it. If an error is thrown, it redirects you to a “missing page”.

404-example.jpg

Figure 2: Now that I mention it, I don’t have a 404 page. I am taking suggestions though.

This happens to be the most important part of the site:

@app.route(“/<slug>/”)
def get_post(slug):
    try:
        post = open(join(appconfig.cache, slug + '.html'), 'r').read()
        return post
    except:
        missing_page = open(join(appconfig.cache, ‘404.html’), ‘r’).read()
        return missing_page

When I actually want to write a post, I just create a new .md file named in year-month-date format and run a big admin.py script I wrote. This sucks the text file in (along with every other page of the site), and pukes it through one of four templates that prettifies everything. I’m not even really using a ton of javascript (just a glob or two).

In the same spirit, I got tired of maintaining three files. I combined the entire site into one file. It sounds like it would be a lot of code, but it is only 260 lines. You can check out the current version here.

I’m not sure if this design is amazing or retarded, but time will tell. Ultimately, what determines the genius of a code design is how easy it is to maintain. If you visit my page tomorrow and are greeted by the fine marketing material of America’s favorite male enhancement pill, then you may presume I am rethinking things. But I am comforted by this - you can always break beautiful things, hack secure things, find weird cases for complicated things, and teach lazy programmers a lesson - but there is no good way to hack stupid . There is literally no place to post or save information on my blog. The comments are just iframes of Facebook and the search box is a dummy placeholder for text.

And then there is the content side of things. I have been seduced by my analytics page more than once. I even considered the extreme solution of locking myself out of seeing the number of hits per second. Refreshing the page all day encourages me to write click bait. If I continue down this path of people-pleasing posts, in no time I will be just blatantly targeting the Farmville crowd. Thirty totally pimped out Farmville rigs. #28 will make you LITERALLY PUKE all over yourself.

Planned features

The biggest thing I am working on now is a way to subscribe by email. I don’t think it is something that would be heavily used, but it just sounds like the most fun thing I could be working on right now. It will probably look like a little popup window containing a single-page-app (dorks feel the need to call them SPA’s , which feels a lot harder to say than “single page app”). In any case, if you live out of your email and you like to stay on top of blogs that way, it should be right up your alley.

Getting programmy

Speaking of code, this post is about “programmy” as I think I am going to get. I don’t think I want to turn this into a development blog - 1 part because I still sort of suck at programming, and 2 parts because that kind of writing is not quite as cathartic as spewing hate about a dumb movie you saw or projecting ridiculous social theories. All in all, the rule of thumb is that I never expose you to enough code talk to inspire Marissa to throw something at my head.

Guest writers

And, again, I open the door for guest writers. If you are thinking about writing a blog yourself, the best thing to do is write a post for someone else’s blog. It gives you the ability to better estimate the kind of commitment it is, and it gets you a decent number of readers to start off with. If anyone would like to write something that would not get my domain flagged by the NSA or make my parents uncomfortable, send it off!

So that’s it. Consider all your bases touched, dear reader. Goodnight, Internet friends.